My debut novel is called 'Jenna's Journey' and is a romantic mystery set in Greece. Part of my inspiration in writing this novel was a love of the country gleaned over many years but it is essentially a reminder of when I lived there during the eighties. I taught English as a Foreign Language and although the work is fictional, some of the amusing things that happened at that time may inadvertently have found their way into my book.
Synopsis: Leaving town, heading to the Greek Isles without telling husband or friends, is heady medicine for a failing marriage. Seduced by Grecian sun and sky, Jenna innocently buys a bewitching urn that tangles her into the web of a criminal world more sinister than she ever imagined. Romance is always afoot in the Greek Isles and Jenna gets a large helping with the seductive Nikos. Family is important in Greece, and Nikos helps Jenna learn all the richness it brings, and pass it on to the next generation.
Twenty-five years later, Allie takes this same journey, and a little time travel, a big “what if” dream, a fated meeting with a taxi driver and a sprinkle of paranormal intrigue intertwine in a story that spans the lives of a mother and daughter. Twisty as the streets in a Greek island village, full of unexpected characters found on a faraway vacation along with frightening threats from nasty villains, Jenna’s Journey will keep you turning pages far into the night.
Working out a lifetime of secrets, imagining what might have been, eluding nasty antiquities thieves, exploring a new love—how would you have managed? Follow Jenna’s adventure and see how she changed her life in one journey!
Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances, thrillers set in the Greek Isles.
Jenna's Journey is the first novel in Julie Ryan’s Greek Islands Series, a series she did not set out to create but which took on its own life and grew, rich and fascinating. This is the first of three published so far, and now as a newly released edition in the USA from Booktrope, it promises to delight readers looking for the hidden dark sides of dream vacations in the Greek Isles.
A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and dippy cat with half a tail.
You can find Julie on her websites:
Website/blog for the Greek Isles series
Website/blog for book reviews
on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/julie.ryan.3114
and on Twitter @julieryan18
Buy Links for the Book
Background for the Book
Jenna’s Journey is the first novel in the Greek Islands Series series. The story was inspired by the time I lived in Greece during the 1980s. Some thirty years later I was looking out of the window of my home in Gloucestershire on a wintry morning, idly wondering how my life would have been different if I’d stayed in Greece. I hadn’t intended to write a novel. Jenna’s Journey started life as a short story and thanks to a timely encounter with a fellow writer who persuaded me to turn it into a novel, it took on a life of its own and became the start of the Greek Island mystery series.
I’ve always been interested in fate or destiny, whatever you wish to call it, and this book is about all the ‘what ifs’ in life. It’s also about grabbing a chance of happiness with both hands when it’s offered – life really is too short!
Excerpt 1: Arrival in Greece: Allie
As Allie stepped off the plane, a rush of excitement and anticipation flooded over her. She wondered if her mother had felt the same when she arrived in Greece almost twenty-five years ago. She knew that there must have been many changes during that time. Instead of flying direct to the island, her mother would have had to fly to Athens first, and then taken a boat to the island as direct flights to the island had only started up a couple of years ago. She stood in line waiting to clear customs, feeling guilty even though she had nothing to hide. Just walking through the green channel, she could sense hidden eyes watching her every move. This automatically made her act suspiciously, and then breathing a sigh of relief, she was through and out into the bright Greek sunshine. Squinting to read the address on the scrap of paper, she hailed a taxi and the driver sped off towards the hotel.
“Hi, I am Leo,” the taxi driver said, introducing himself in fluent English.
“Allie,” she replied.
She’d been anxious about being ripped off or taken on a wild goose chase, but there was no need to worry. Leo seemed to be the exception to her stereotyped image of Greek drivers. Although he drove fast, he negotiated the roads with great skill. Driving up narrow tracks, he tooted his horn to let any other drivers know he was coming.
She wanted to ask him about the austerity measures that had recently been imposed on them in order to meet their euro-deficit obligations. She had been quite shocked at the effects that the cutbacks had had on ordinary people. Last year, the government had introduced a kind of surtax cunningly collected through the electricity bill. If you refused to pay or couldn’t pay, you were cut off—simple! People had struggled to keep warm through the winter, as many couldn’t afford oil any more. The news had shown piles of rubbish in the streets thanks to the refuse collectors going on strike because they hadn’t been paid. Allie remembered seeing pictures of Piraeus on the news with garbage heaped as high as cars. She wanted to ask Leo more about how ordinary people had coped, but when she pressed him for more details, he shrugged and smiled.
“Greece is not only Athens, you know. Here, sure, life is tough, but we survive. Maybe we spend a little less, complain a little more, but life is good. You are in the most beautiful place in the world. If you have the sun and the sea and a few vegetables—what more do you need?”
Excerpt 2: Jenna and Nikos, 1987
The taverna Aphrodite turned out to be almost next door to the hotel in a quiet little square with tables set out under an old plane tree. Jenna made a mental note to find out why the Greeks painted the bottom of the trees white.
They sat down at a rickety table with wooden chairs painted white. The set didn’t quite match, but it added to the overall charm. They discovered that there wasn’t a menu as such, but a few of the freshly cooked dishes were written up on a blackboard by the entrance.
When she discovered that their waiter was indeed Nikos, Jenna literally felt her heart flutter in a way that it hadn’t since the early, heady days when she’d first met Greg. She found herself virtually tongue-tied and was grateful when Tom ordered a Greek salad and keftedes, looking at her for confirmation that she agreed with the same order for herself. She just nodded and smiled.
In the past, when Greg had tried to order for her, she had really hated it, seeing it as a sign that he was in control. Why had she let him get away with it? She should have been more assertive and told him how she felt. It was too late for that now, though. At this precise moment, she felt like a schoolgirl with her first crush, and she hoped that Tom hadn’t noticed.
As Nikos brushed past her chair, Jenna could have sworn that she felt a jolt of electricity run through her. “How’s the ankle?” Nikos asked as he put a bowl of freshly cut bread on the table.
“I think I owe you a big thank-you for saving my life, not to mention appreciation for the fruit.”
“It really was my pleasure,” he replied as she noticed his twinkling eyes. She chided herself for letting her imagination run away with her and tried to focus on what Tom was saying instead.
The location was stunning, high enough to have a view of the sea below; but it was situated too far from the centre of town to attract too many tourists. She was relieved to find that she couldn’t spot any of the fellow guests from the hotel here; and looking around, she noticed that most of the clientele seemed to be Greek.
With no fish ‘n’ chips or steak and kidney pie on the menu, though, it probably wouldn’t appeal to the rest of the hotel guests, she thought, realising at the same time that she was probably being rather dismissive. There didn’t seem much point to her, however, of coming to Greece and not sampling the ethnic culture. She was much more at home in this simple taverna than she would be at a Greek night run by the hotel.
Nikos came over with the Greek salad and, rather pointedly it seemed, he lit the candle on the table. When he gazed at her, she could have sworn she melted into his deep-brown eyes. They were the sort of eyes that would be called “limpid pools” in the trashy novels that her mother used to read. When he smiled, she could see herself reflected in his eyes as if she were the only person in the room.
She hadn’t come to Greece looking for a holiday romance, she chided herself, and she’d heard too many tales of young girls falling for waiters who were looking for a passport to the UK. She wasn’t going to be another notch on his bedpost, and she was hardly a girl. Still, he was rather dreamy, she had to admit.
Never mind Rhett Butler, she thought!
Excerpt 3: The Urn and Its Long Shadow, 1987
It was pitch black, and Jenna had no idea how long she’d been left in the cellar. The intense darkness made her assume the kidnapper had blindfolded her; but when she checked her eyes, there was no blindfold—just the inky blackness of a dark cavern or dungeon. Her fingernails were broken from where she’d tried to attack her abductor. She could feel the broken nails even if she couldn’t see them. She’d known it was futile to fight back, but self-preservation meant that she had to at least try.
He obviously didn’t think she was a danger at any rate, as she could feel that she wasn’t tied up or handcuffed. Her ankle really hurt—she needed medical attention, but she doubted if her abductor would get her some painkillers and a splint. She sat up with her back against a wall, touched her ankle gingerly, and winced as she felt the swollen skin beneath her fingers. She wouldn’t be running a marathon any time soon, but it didn’t feel broken. Ironically, she hadn’t been likely to be running a marathon before she was kidnapped, either; but if she couldn’t walk, she was in a bit of a pickle, as her mother would have said.
Her stomach rumbled, and she cursed herself for feeling hungry at a time like this. She remembered that she hadn’t eaten any dinner, but what time was it now? Perhaps she would be left here to starve to death. She hadn’t been given any food or drink so far. How long could a person live without food or drink? She thought it was just a couple of days without water, perhaps a week or so without food?
Surely that wasn’t the kidnapper’s plan, though, but it mystified her as to the reason why she’d been abducted. After all, she wasn’t rich or famous, so it couldn’t be about money. He didn’t seem to be interested in her sexually, thank goodness, so he probably wasn’t about to rape her. That was reassuring, but it meant that there must be another reason.
She remembered the old man and his final words to take good care of the urn. It occurred to her that it could somehow be connected, but she didn’t know how. Would someone really want an old urn badly enough to kidnap her? Her mind wouldn’t allow the possibility that a worse fate might be in store for her.
Having finished writing 'Jenna's Journey' I hadn't planned on writing another book about Greece but the idea wouldn't leave me alone. My second book 'Sophia's Secret' can be read as a standalone although some of the characters from the first book do make an appearance.
Kat has never understood why she was sent at the age of seven from Greece to live in England with her Aunt Tigi. When she receives an email from her grandmother, the first contact in over twenty years, informing her of her mother’s death, she knows this could be her last chance to find out the truth. Little by little she finds out the shocking facts as her grandmother opens her heart. It seems everyone has a secret to tell, not only her grandmother, as Manoli, her school friend, also harbours a guilty secret. Then there’s a twenty year old mystery to solve as well as a murder and what happened to the missing Church treasure?
Sophia's Secret is available on Amazon
Then once I'd written two books, it seemed the series wouldn't be complete without a third hence 'Pandora's Prophecy.' This is slightly different in tone as it has a paranormal edge but ist is still set on the same island and includes mystery, romance and suspense too! I really hope you enjoy my books and look forward to connecting with you.
Lisa and Mark are going through a rough patch, Vicky is seventeen and has just discovered that the man she thought was her father really isn’t, Ruth is getting over her husband’s betrayal after nearly twenty-five years of marriage. On the surface they have nothing in common except that they are all staying in the same hotel on a Greek Island. As they each come into contact with the mysterious Pandora, their lives will change forever. Bodies begin to pile up as a serial killer is on the loose who might just be targeting the hotel. The Island’s Police Chief, Christos Pavlides, tries to solve the puzzle but he has problems of his own to resolve. It seems that the local celebrity author is the one who holds the key.