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NEW BOOK ALERT: Her Rock by Sophia Bernard #Nigerian #romancebook

Nigerian author Sophia Bernard is back with a new book in the Hilly Town contemporary romance series. HER ROCK is out now. Continue reading for a sample from the opening chapter.


Her letter to him says she is leaving with another man. Five years later, it is Nedu or the end of her. Ijemma trades love for a life of luxury and comfort. She doesn't bargain that she will pay a high price for it. Desperate to find herself and the will to live, she goes back to Hilly Town. Back to the man she hopes still loves her. When the woman his heart refuses to forget comes begging for a second chance, Nedu wonders if loving her is enough to overcome her past. That is not the only worry, because he will require more than the muscles he carries on his body to get rid of the millionaire Dike Onyema.



She was in the village known as Hilly Town for one reason. Ijemma wanted a second chance with Nedu Anozie.

She did not deserve one. No deity or oracle, or even the Almighty God, had to tell her that. Hope alone gave her the audacity to seek it.

He was a kind soul, and he had loved her.

It was foolish to bet on both sentiments after four years, seven months and a number of days she couldn’t keep count on.

Foolish and presumptuous.

Yet, she had done the worst when she jilted him. What was the negligent act of being impudently forward?

No. A big no. She couldn’t get away with levity. Not in her present emotional state. Not with the gravity of what she did and intended to do.

She ditched the man she loved. A man who loved her. Without reserve, Ijemma remembered, a coil of pain in her chest. Nedu had loved her with so much heart and soul, with passion and fidelity.

He bared himself to her and taught her the meaning of love. She loved him, because it was impossible not to.

Then she traded their love for a life of luxury and comfort with another man.

Comfort, ah.

That word lost meaning three years ago. Longer. Because what a man promised and what he did were streets apart.

Unless that man was Nedu Anozie.

Ijemma shut her eyes as her attention slipped. Her next step caught on the root of an avocado tree, which had invaded the sidewalk. Even as she broke her fall, she perceived curious glances from folks in front of their homes or shops. The older woman with a child strapped on her back murmured words of sympathy, and added a counsel to watch her step.

With a nod, she accepted the advice and went on. She could have taken an okada to Nedu’s house. But no, she’d wanted time to settle her nerves.

As if it were possible.

Her nerves were in jitters. Despite having on a light sweater over her top, she was cold. She would turn tail and run if she wasn’t so determined.

Perhaps she was imprudent, Ijemma mused. It was a fool’s mission, wasn’t it? She had convinced herself to take a leap of faith, rationalising that she would never know unless she tried.

But she knew.

No man would forgive the woman who left him a note to say she was leaving with another man.

Coward. She had been one that day. Unable to face him because if she did, it would be harder to leave him.

Nearly at the end of the street, she stopped. Her heart squeezed with an equal measure of love and pain as she stared at the house.

Nedu’s house.

He had invited her to it the night they met.

The mind was a wonderful thing, Ijemma thought, her tear glands jerking even as laughter tickled in her throat. It brought back memories as if they were flashing images on a screen.

Her first visit to Hilly Town happened when she was twenty-three, enjoying her footloose and fancy-free existence. She and her girlfriend had sashayed into the trendiest bar in the village, seeking interested men to buy them drinks.

One had paid for her drinks, and although he gave her the creeps, when he made an offer she followed him home.

Two weeks later, she returned alone. Nedu was present at the bar. It took only a glance and a ball of fire burst inside her.

She had never met a man who looked like he did. When he spoke to her, she realised she’d never heard one who talked like him. He was strikingly male and impossible to ignore.

Unlike the man from two weeks before, he didn’t send off creepy vibes or make her an offer. He invited her home and didn’t touch her that night. It was the next morning, and her body never again felt like it belonged to anyone, as it did when he slid into her and held her like he would never let go.

But she had let him go.

Pulling out a cotton cloth to dry the wetness on her cheeks, Ijemma sucked in and released a deep breath. She slipped a hand through the bars to unlock the wooden gate and stepped into the large compound. The house stood at the centre, raised off the ground by a concrete base.

A flight of stairs led up to the porch. Six of them, Ijemma recalled, and covered in the same brown stone tiles that were found on the walls. He’d gushed about his love for stone tiles and how he couldn’t resist infusing them to the exterior of the house.

The memory of his enthusiasm brought on a smile. He’d only lived at the house a couple of months before the night she met him. After a month in the village living in the room she’d rented, he’d asked her to move in with him.

Breaking free from the memory, she told herself the hour had come.

Her hand shook as she rapped on the door. If she was not twenty-eight and to her thinking too young to suffer a heart attack, she’d believe she was in danger of having one with the way her pulse raced.

Perhaps it would serve her better to faint at his feet.

Don’t be any more foolish than you have to, Ijemma reproved the part of her head that came up with the idea. Then the door opened and her head stopped functioning altogether.

Those who went all the way in school and knew all the English expressions would describe it as—time stood still.

She wasn’t one of them, and her primary language of use was Igbo, so the fleeting thought meant nothing to her. Right then, only the man standing in front of her mattered.

Nedu. He was six-feet-four of bulk and muscle. Ijemma knew his height because he’d told her. With that height and his size, raw masculinity dripped off him. He still carried a mop of dreadlocks on his head, she thought fondly, her eyes smarting. The length was shorter, and contrary to his usual style, he didn’t tie it in a ponytail.

I missed you.

She longed to say those words. The shock in his eyes trapped the confession in her throat. As she fumbled for what to say, a sound diverted her attention. It came out as a hiss. Ijemma shifted her gaze.

Chelu. His brother. She got to know him when Nedu introduced them.

He came up behind Nedu. “What do you want?” he demanded, his stare flinty.

She understood his anger and did not think she deserved any less. It would be wise to expect the same reaction and treatment from the brother in a minute.

But he was Nedu, a large bear of a man and gentle to the core. Not only gentle. He couldn’t stand when a man was uncivil to a woman, let alone his woman.

She was no longer his woman, Ijemma reminded herself.

“Don’t,” he said in a voice that growled with warning. “I’ll handle it.”

He stepped forward, so she had to back up, and closed the door firmly in poor Chelu’s face.

Of course, her sympathy for the brother faded as Nedu stared at her. What did he see? What was he thinking?


“Let’s step away from the house,” he said.

His voice was a deep bass and sounded gruff when he spoke. She liked listening to him talk because it made her feel soft and so in love.

They moved to the guava tree at the left corner of the house. She thought of that first night when he took her straight into his house. When he offered her his room to sleep in because he was yet to furnish the other rooms. She’d lost that privilege.

She might have lost others along with it. “I wondered if you would look different. You don’t.” Her fingers ached to stroke his face. “You barely aged.”

“Why are you here?”

“A lot of answers come to mind.” She wished he didn’t feel so remote and unattainable. “I want to beg your forgiveness. I want to lean into you and ask you to hold me. I want to caress your face and ask how you are. So many things I want to do. I guess the one I can is ask you if there’s a chance you could take me back. Can I come back into your life?”

If her gaze wasn’t intently fixed on him, she would have missed the flash of pain. It danced over his gaze, darkened it for a second, and then it melted away.

“No,” he said without a trace of emotion. “You can’t come back.”

1 comment

1 Comment

Sophia Bernard
Sophia Bernard
Oct 25, 2023

Thank you for this

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