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That Woman Next Door (PAPERBACK)

That Woman Next Door (PAPERBACK)

Olivia hates having a neighbour and Marie is put off by Olivia’s cranky ways.

But maybe these two women have more in common than they first believe.

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Book specifications

Pages : 338
ISBN : 9789464339062
Weight : 325g
Dimensions : 127 x 19 x 203mm

Full description

Sometimes what you’re running from is exactly what you need

Olivia Chevalier is perfectly happy living a quiet life of solitude with her two cats in the tempestuous countryside of Brittany.

Olivia’s peace is disrupted when heartbreaker extraordinaire Marie Dievart moves in to the holiday home next door after an event at work makes her flee her everyday life.

Olivia hates having a neighbour and Marie is put off by Olivia’s cranky ways.

But maybe these two women have more in common than they first believe.

Best-selling lesbian romance author Harper Bliss brings you a slow-burn opposites-attract story about the power of connection and opening yourself up to the possibility of love.

Themes and tropes

  • Age gap
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Ice queen
  • Opposites attract

Chapter One Look Inside

Chapter 1


I kill the engine and stare at the house. It looks so desolate in the middle of winter. Maybe depressing is a better way to describe it. After all, there’s a reason we call it a summer house. Why couldn’t my family have bought a place in Provence, I wonder for the umpteenth time since I started the drive down from Brussels this morning. Along grey road after grey road, with no prospect of any new growth, for months to come. But I didn’t come here for fun. I came to cold, wet, rural Brittany on the first day of the new year with the single purpose of punishing myself. Of looking inside myself to find out if I still have it in me to continue doing what I do after what happened.

I suck in a deep breath and get out of the car. As I lift my suitcase out of the boot, a gust of wind whips up my hair, which I had cut a few days ago to look my best for my self-inflicted exile. To what end? There’s no one here to see me. My mother warned me the internet might be too spotty for a successful Skype connection, after she asked me, again, whether I, a purebred city person, was absolutely certain I wanted to sequester myself in Brittany.

I could have escaped to an exotic beach. Or ventured on a coast-to-coast road trip through the United States. Or embarked on a Scottish castle tour. But I chose wintery Brittany because, for the first time in my life, I’m not choosing excitement. I have to say no to anything thrilling. I have to create the time and space I need to evaluate what has occurred. I need to find out how it could have happened and if it will again.

I know myself. Put me anywhere amongst a group of people and I will pick out the most attractive woman and have her in my bed in no time. Or maybe I’ve lost that skill as well.

It doesn’t matter here. There are no people around. Our house is the only one on this road, although, through the barren trees, I can spot another house around the corner, about a hundred metres away. Distant enough to not have to see or hear the people living there, if anyone lives there at all at this time of year.

I unlock the door and am greeted by a cold blast almost as harsh as the temperature outside. I quickly close the door behind me. At least it looks the way I like—renovated to today’s standards, at my insistence.

I think of my warm, gorgeous apartment overlooking the Ixelles Ponds in Brussels. The light that streams in through the large windows even in winter. I shiver. Up until a few years ago, this house’s only means of heating was a fireplace, which may sound romantic, but is anything but when you run out of logs in the middle of the night. Or when you wake up in the morning and your buttocks nearly freeze to the toilet seat.

But I couldn’t do the kind of penance I’m after in Brussels, surrounded by the luxury of my daily life and the convenience of a city. Something had to be stripped away. Something major had to give. The house in Brittany was the first place that came to mind and here I am, trembling inside my coat, on the dreariest winter day. For some reason, I felt like I needed to arrive on the first day of the new year. As though it matters. As though I have to start an actual prison sentence mandated by the courts instead of this self-inflicted punishment I have chosen.

I switch on the thermostat but keep my coat on. It will take a while before it’s warm enough for me to relax. I transfer the rest of my stuff from the car into the house and unload the groceries I brought. I’ll have oceans of time to dedicate to cooking because there are no food delivery services to the middle of nowhere.

After I’ve dragged my suitcase upstairs and unpacked most of my clothes, I stand in front of the bedroom window. When there are no leaves on the trees, the house around the corner is visible from here. Because I’m already starting to feel like the only person left on the planet, even though I’ve only just arrived, I desperately search for a sign of life inside the house. I don’t see any lights glowing behind the windows, but there’s smoke coming from the chimney. Even though I’ve been coming to Brittany on and off for decades, I have no idea who lives in that house.

I’ve always considered my family’s holiday home a house without neighbours. In summer, it kind of is. When the days are long and the nights warm, and you can sit outside in the lush garden until well after dark, neighbours are of no importance. And I’ve never come here on my own. It’s always been with either family or a short-term love interest—the longer-term kind has never interested me until…

I take a moment to remember the last woman I was with. It was the night before the day everything went wrong. I shake off the memory of Véronique—again—although I know I will have to deal with it at some point. After the investigation into what happened in the operating theatre cleared me, the hospital administrator advised me to see someone to help me process the incident. I chose to take a leave of absence instead. I don’t want anyone’s help. I want to solve this crisis of conscience—and confidence—that’s waging a filthy war inside me by myself. It didn’t feel fair to accept any kind of assistance because for the woman who died on my operating table, there is no more help. For her, it’s all over forever. So why should I deserve any kind of help in dealing with what I did?

The light in the cottage beyond the trees flickers on. For an instant, I consider switching the bedroom lamp on and off to signal my presence. Instead, I think I might take a walk over there tomorrow.

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