Monday, 30 June 2014

Chapter One Extract - Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson

Hi all

Last week I reviewed the fabulous Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson. At the time I was raving about it and I am very pleased to bring you the first chapter of the book. Have a read and if you like what you see then you can click here to buy a copy from Amazon (even better its only £1.59 at the time of writing this). If you want to read my review then click here.


I hope you enjoy reading chapter one from Love, Lies and Lemon Cake which is out now.


Synopsis:

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake is a laugh-out-loud, bittersweet comedy about taking your life back before it’s too late.

Faye Dobson has lost her sparkle. Living on film star fantasies and vague memories of a marriage that once was, she can’t help feeling that life is passing her by. She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi fountain and having sex under the stars. But the wrinkles are multiplying, her husband’s passion is for plumbing, and the nearest she’ll get to Rome is a take-away pizza.

So when Faye meets Dan the gorgeous Australian surfer guy working in the local deli she can’t help but wonder what it would be like to see the world. He is blonde, tanned, ten years younger and bakes the most amazing lemon cake. Unlike her husband Dan actually listens to Faye, his smile makes her feel fizzy inside, and when he smiles... Oh. My. God.

But is Faye being silly? What would Dan see in someone like her? Even if he did have feelings for her, could she give up everything to be with him?

Click here to read chapter one now




How would you like to get involved?

Sue Watson who is the author, and her publisher Bookouture would love to hear from you:

Faye, the central character in the book makes a ‘living list’ full of all the things she’d like to do, and Sue would love her readers to do the same, and share how they are achieving their dream through Twitter or Facebook.  We are going to be using the Bookouture Twitter address (www.twitter.com/bookouture) and the hashtag #LemonCakeLivingList and would love you to join in and share, even if it’s just one thing.  Or you can tweet loads of things.   I can think of millions! You could even post your whole list on the Facebook page www.facebook.com/bookouture.  It should be lots of fun!





Friday, 27 June 2014

Blog Tour: That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler

Hello all

I am really pleased to be part of the blog tour for Tom Vowler's great book 'That Dark Remembered Day'. Thank you to Tom and Headline books for including me.

I am excited to be able to bring you an extract of the book (which is really good), as well as having 3 copies of the book to giveaway.



Extract from That Dark Remembered Day 


Spring 1983

In those last moments of childhood, before everything splintered forever, he watched her disappear along the lane. They’d got off the  school  bus  together,  made  plans  to meet later in the woods  behind his house,  nervous  and exhilarated at what  might  occur.  Their fumblings of the last few weeks, gloriously ardent explorations of one another that had so far been contained, now longed for a crescendo, a progression to unknown, untasted delights. He assumed it would  be her first time  too,  although when  he’d asked,  she’d just  smiled  and pulled  him  closer. It irritated  him  that his own bedroom was ruled  out  for  such  a momentous occasion,  his  father,  with the  exception   of  walking  the  dog,  home   all  day  since  his return  from  the  war, ghosting  between  rooms,  ever present, albeit   in   a  vacant   approximation  of  himself.   There was enough to contend with performance, the mechanics of the thing without the fear of someone walking in, though the woods hardly guaranteed privacy. He’d wanted  so badly to ask his friend  for advice, a sense of what  to expect, but  of course  the  one   person   he  could   ask  about   such  matters was now the one person  he couldn’t.
Once she was out of sight, he caught up with his friend, a friend   he’d  replaced   in  the  girl’s affections hoping  the awkwardness  between   them,   the  sense  of  betrayal,  would recede  a  little  in  the  days  ahead.   More  than   anything, he wanted  his  friend  to  punch  him,  to lash  out  in  a rage that would  see them  sprawling  on the ground, bloodied but with the tension broken. Anything but this silence. He wanted  to say  sorry,  how  neither   of  them had  meant   it  to  happen, that   you  couldn’t   help   your  feelings,  that   he  hoped  the three  of them  could  still hang  around together.

Instead  he kicked a stone along the road, watching  it skim and  buck,  hoping his friend  might  join  in, before  the hedge claimed  it. Passing the gate they sometimes climbed  over for a smoke,  he  suggested  a fishing  trip  at the  weekend,  if the weather  held;  he’d  found   a  new  spot,  miles  upriver  from the  old  iron  bridge.  There  would  be  chub  and  roach,  even a  barbel  if they  got  lucky.  They could  get  up  at  first light Saturday,  pack  some  food,  make  a  flask of  tea,  then  meet by the  oak  tree in the  top  field and  walk down  to the  river with   their   rods.   ‘How about it?’  he said,  looking   at  his friend’s  back. Still the silence, the unspoken allegation of theft, his friend striding on in anger.

Reaching the houses  on the outskirts  of town,  he saw a car on  the  brow  of the  hill,  sideways  on  so that  it blocked  the road,  and  they  stood   staring  at  it  for  a  moment. One of its doors   was open,   the engine ticking away.  Beyond the car, the town’s lone traffic lights passed through their silent cycle, the roads   leading off them empty as a Sunday morning. Someone was shouting, perhaps half a mile away, the pitch of the words rising, the sound just carrying to them on the breeze.

They walked on, around the car and up to the crossroads, where several dogs barked in a discordant choir.  A hundred yards  or  so  along   Cross  Street,  they  could see a bicycle abandoned on  the  pavement, the  groceries  from  its  basket spilt  on  to the  side of the road,  a trail  of fruit strewn  along the  gutter.  Opposite  the  bike,  outside   the  newsagent’s,  a pushchair was upended as if it had  fallen  from  the  sky, its contents long  gone,  and  he realised  that  that  was what  was missing:  people.  To the north, beyond  the  town,  they could hear a siren now,  distant  like white  noise.

At the fork in the road, the two of them  separated without speaking,  and  a few seconds  later he found  himself  running past  the  churchyard and  out  of town, over the  humpbacked bridge,  where finally he stopped to catch  his breath.  Hands on  knees, puffing,  he looked  ahead,  seeing  by  the  side  of the road a mound that looked  both  ridiculous and common- place.  Still  as  a  rock,  it  had  been  covered  almost   entirely by  an  old  grey blanket,   and  as  he  passed  it,  as  his  mind processed   what  it  was,  he  felt  his  heart  quicken, da-dum da-dum, as if it were dancing.

Part One

Autumn 2012
Grateful   to emerge from   the violence   of his  dreams,   he prepared for the   hangover   awaiting   him.   Somewhere   in the  fog of his  sentience  Zoe left for work,  the  front  door  if not  slammed, then  closed  with  scant  consideration. She’d have   made   their   daughter’s   breakfast,   got  her   ready   for school,   but   with   nothing  of  significance   to  fill  his  days now,  the  school  run  had  become   his  alone.  Reaching  for some  painkillers in  the  bedside   drawer,  Stephen   knocked over the glass of water, the last of which  trickled  in a rivulet into   the  paperback  he’d  yet  to  start.  A pallid   light  bled through the curtains  and  he winced  at the emptiness the day promised,  as  if  all  its  moments  had   already   been   glued together  with  inertia.  The steady  build-up of  traffic on  the road  into   town   could   be  heard,   an  insidious  taunt   from those   with   routine  in  life,  whose   days  were  a  series  of edifying events.

Downstairs, Amy was finishing her cereal, her lunchbox standing proud in the middle of the table. She looked  at him standing there  in  his  underwear, unshaven, her  face full  of concern  that  they’d be late again.‘Hey, you,’ he said, offering a reassuring smile as he made himself a strong coffee.  There  was  a note  from  Zoe:  some groceries  to  get if he  went  into  town,  a suggestion  of what to  cook  tonight, that  she  would  be  home  late  again.  She’d signed off with This can’t go on.

He too wondered how long it could be endured. Initially, for  the  first  couple   of  weeks,  he’d  savoured   the  leisurely rhythm of  his  days,  filling  the  mornings with  long-put-off jobs around the house, the afternoons with fishing for pollock or  bass  off  the  harbour wall,  perhaps a  few  quid  on  one of  the  afternoon races  before  congregating  by  the  school gates.  But the  absence  of  structure  gave his  mind  space  to lurch  into  darker  realms,  turning  in on  itself and  sabotaging the   quiet progress,   bringing   into   relief  the ‘episode’,  as Zoe now referred to it.

She  had  tried  to  draw  him  into  an  exchange  about   his recent  transgression – the  hows  and  whats,  if not  the  why something he’d resisted  for now.  And whereas  her instinct was  to  show  support, to  be,  as  they  said,  there  for  him, her face could barely hide the incredulity at the situation he’d brought upon  them.

‘What made  you do such a thing?’
‘I’ve tried to tell you, I don’t know.’

They   had   made    love   last   night,    a   frantic   scramble he’d initiated once she had stopped reading.  There was something   about    his    enforced  idleness    that    lent    the passion,  on his part at least, additional vigour, perhaps desperation, as  if  impotence, real  or  symbolic,  could  take root  in  such  times.  Once  he’d  finished,  she’d  rolled  over, patting  his thigh  with  her trailing  hand  in felicitation, sleep coming  for her in seconds.

After  walking   Amy  to  school,   he  took   the   binoculars and   trekked   out   of  town,   along   the   coast  path,   hoping the  brackish  air  would   calm  him  as  he  stopped to  watch cormorants  skim   over  the   water,  tight   to  the   surf,  their elongated necks cleaving the  air like arrow  shafts.  If he was lucky,  a kestrel  would  hover  at  eye level, out  over  the  cliff edge,  scanning   for  small   mammals  or  nesting   birds.   At this  time  of year the  sea could  be  black  as ink  as it roiled beneath a flinty,  turbulent sky. He  looked  out  beyond  the headland, picturing  the  rusting  hulks  of wrecked  ships  that ghosted  the  sea floor,  forests  of kelp  slowly  claiming  them. In  the  distance,  out  in  the  Channel, sheets  of  rain  slanted downwards  as   if   smudged  from   the   cloud,    while   on the  horizon a vein  of sunlight  divided  land  from  sky. If he made  good  time,  he  could  be  near  Helford  by  lunchtime; he’d stop  for a pint,  warming  himself  by the  fire. The beer would be honeyed, a pint would become two, his hangover almost forgotten. Later he would time the walk back to pick Amy up from school.

The terms of his suspension, although anticipated, felt ridiculous. None  more  so  than  the  mile  radius  of  campus he  was  to  remain  beyond   until  the  hearing.  He’d  held  on to   the   vague   hope   that   a  resolution  could   be   reached informally,  his  apology,   if  sincere  enough,  accepted.   But the lecturer had lodged   his complaint with unambiguous expectation:  he   would   settle   for   nothing less than   the full  disciplinary procedure. HR had  written  to  him,  stressing that  he  should seek representation – a friend,  someone from  the  union that  he  would  remain   on  full  pay,  but  a  return   to  work  was  out  of  the  question. A link to the university’s constitution was provided, should he wish to read it.

The day in question had unfurled in benign fashion for the most part.  As a senior technician in the marine biology department, his job was a varied one.  One  day he could  be collecting  plankton for  student research,  the  next mapping seagrass meadows on  the  ocean  floor,  or,  more  prosaically, feeding   and   monitoring  fish  stocks.   Colleagues   came   to him  with  all   manner  of   requests,   whether    practical   or scholastic,  his  knowledge respected  throughout the  faculty and  beyond  an  encyclopedic familiarity  with  his  subject that  had  emerged  from  a private  passion  rather  than  formal schooling. If  this  led  to  accusations of  arrogance,   he  was unaware   of  them,   though  some   probably  regarded   him brusque,  even   rude   on   occasion,   his   emails   lacking   the deferential etiquette required. But nothing had ever spiralled beyond the occasional tetchy or sarcastic exchange.

In recent months, however, small pressures had built up following a departmental shake-up. As their workload increased, resentment was cultivated.  Talk of cutbacks laced conversations, rumours that they’d have to reapply for their jobs.  Tensions between teaching staff and technicians could flare with minimal provocation as goodwill was slowly withdrawn. Lecturers,  though, while  often  ignorant of how much  work their requests  involved,  were generally courteous, his  relationship with  all  but  one  productive and,  at  least superficially,  egalitarian. But David   Ferguson   had   never   warmed   to   him.   Not since they’d clashed several years ago over conditions of an experiment into   the immune systems of trout.   Not  since  Stephen   had  confronted him  with  suspicions that  a  mass mortality  among   the   fish  was  his   fault.   And not   since Ferguson’s   fellow   lecturer,   Zoe   Wheeler,   had   moved   in with Stephen.   This  last  was  conjecture, but  Ferguson  was certainly  fond  of  Zoe  and  had  barely  hidden his  surprise when   she   got  together   with   a  technician  rather   than   a member of the  academic  staff. Stephen  had  once  suspected the   man   of   being   one   of   her   former   lovers,   but   this seemed  unlikely  on  a campus  where  extracurricular  pursuits between  members of staff rarely went unnoticed.

And so for years the two men  had  allowed  a tacit feud to steadily  gather,  its impetus bolstered by each  barbed  email, every point  of conflict  exploited  or stored  for future  vitriol. The fact that Stephen   suspected   he  knew  more  about   his subject than  Ferguson  only served to intensify  the ill feeling. And  perhaps on  some  level  Ferguson  sensed  this  too,  his behaviour  a  defence  against   a  perceived   inadequacy: that for all his  academic  prowess  and  stature  in  the  field,  when it  was  stripped   down,   he  knew  less  than   the  technicians he regarded  as serving him.
The escalation had occurred in the weeks before, midway through a six-month feeding trial. Part of Stephen’s role was to  look  after  the  automatic feeders,  check  the  power  to  the pumps, change  the filters when  necessary.

In a hurry to get away one evening, he had inexplicably forgotten to set one of the internal alarms.  Overnight, oxygen levels  had  depleted, and  with  no  intervention, most  of  a tank  of fish lay floating  on the surface by morning, meaning the  whole  trial  would   have  to  start  again.  It  was  his  first significant  error  in  the  job,  the  blame  his  alone.  Ferguson, perhaps mindful of Stephen’s past criticism of him, didn’t hold back, despite the presence of two technicians and several research students.

Stephen took the rebuke without reply, his own sense of guilt fuelling the admonishment as Ferguson left with a disdainful shake of his head.  But in the  hour  that  followed, a  sensation made  itself  known  in  his  chest,  a  tightness  of breath   as  if  his  own  ribs  were  compressing  him.   As the agitation grew, nausea   rose  from   his  stomach,  his  head pulsing  with  a quiet  rage. Even now, he couldn’t remember the walk to Ferguson’s office, who he might have passed and ignored   on campus.   What  he  could   recall  was  the  man’s expression   of  astonishment  as  Stephen   pushed  open   the door,  walked  steadily  across  to  the  desk  and  brought a fist down  hard  into  the side of Ferguson’s face. After the  incident, he was told  to go home,  a phone call from  the  senior  technical  manager  later  that  day informing him that suspension was inevitable.  The offence was a serious one, of course:  the  physical  assault  of  a colleague,  a facial injury   that,   although  not   requiring   stitches,   bled   significantly.  There  would   be  bruising,   a  black  eye  that   passed through the  spectrum   of  hues  in  the  days  that  followed, whispered outrage  from  all who  saw it. The police had not been called, though Stephen was advised that this remained an option for the complainant. There were three disciplinary levels he could be subject to. An oral  warning  would  be  normal for  a  first  offence,  but unlikely  given  the  severity  of  the  incident. Even  a  written warning  would  be lenient,  the  woman from  the  union had advised  him  in their  brief telephone conversation last week.

Either of these would stay on his record for a year before, in the event that   no repetition occurred,   being wiped   clear. Or,  quite  reasonably, the  committee could  decide  that  the offence  warranted dismissal,  which  he  could  appeal  against if he produced some  mitigating circumstances. And what form might these take, beyond the vague sense of his unravelling?   Of  the  appalling crisis  building  inside him,  the  likely cause  of which  he’d managed to  keep  from colleagues,  from  his  wife, all these  years? No, better not to resist whatever punitive squall they unleashed his way. Better to ride it out, hunker down, try for once not to pick a fight with life. The  hearing  itself  was  in  three  weeks,  enough time  for witnesses   to  be  called,   written   submissions  to  be  made. A supreme arbiter would be appointed, likely the Vice Chancellor, a brute of a woman whose sermonic emails displayed   a  level  of  corporate jargon  Stephen  could  rarely fathom. He could expect little sympathy from her.

He’d  waited  until  after  dinner that  evening  to  tell  Zoe, who’d  been  off campus and  hadn’t  heard.  She spoke  of the embarrassment,  of   colleagues’   reactions,   of   what   would happen if he lost his job, checking  every few minutes that  it had  actually  happened, that  a mistake  hadn’t  been  made,  or that  she  wasn’t the  victim  of some  ill-judged  practical  joke. And later, when her inquisition petered   out, she’d looked hard at him, scrutinising his face as someone might a stranger, disquieted and appalled, perhaps a little frightened even.

 The wind was gusting  now,  a fine  rain  blinding him  if he looked  into it. Herring gulls and fulmars rode the thermals in graceful arcs, the  easy rhythm of their  flight soothing him.  The gulls on  the  beach  below  issued  proud, barbarous cries as they  delved  into  the  seaweed  or jabbed  at stranded cuttlefish.  Beyond  them,  groups  of sanderlings gathered  on the  tideline   in  search  of  sand  shrimps, scuttling  comically back  and   forth   with  each  breaking   wave,  froths  of  foam eddying   around  them.   As  he   rounded  the   headland,  a couple  of walkers passed  him  on the path,  a genial nod  and half-smile  exchanged,  their  dog  scampering back  and  forth, nose  to  the  ground. Inhaling deeply,  he  felt that  the  briny air had  imbued him  sufficiently  now,  dulling  his  headache to a faint pulse.

Did it mean anything?  Beyond  the  fact that  his  temper could  flare these  days  with  such  small  provocation? A fuse that,  while  never  being  interminable, had  now  barely  any length  at all. When,  a couple  of months ago,  the  technical manager  had  called  him  in,  asking  if there  were  problems he  should be  aware  of,  mentioning that  Stephen   seemed uptight, often  curt,  he’d  tucked  it  away  in the  part  of  his mind  that resisted enquiry.  Last week Zoe had even suggested he seek help.‘The union know,’ he said. ‘They’ll help me prepare or the hearing.’ ‘I didn’t mean that sort of help.’ He took a few seconds to catch up. ‘That’s a bit overboard, isn’t it?’ ‘If you won’t talk to me . . .’ ‘We do talk.’ ‘Apparently not about this, though. Not about your childhood.’ ‘What do you want to know?’ ‘I don’t understand what’s happening to  you,  why  you did it.’ ‘I’ve told you why.’ ‘You don’t hit someone because they’re an arsehole.’ ‘It was a one-off,   an aberration.  I don’t   know,   stress of work.’ ‘I’m scared.’ ‘Of me?’ ‘Of it all.’

This they shared, for the manifestation of violence had left him shaken at this new capability.  Beyond childhood scrapes and  a  scuffle in  a  pub  a  few  years  ago,  he’d  avoided  any physical   run-ins,   despite   a  contrary   personality,  one   that shifted  easily to  aggravation  after a few drinks.  He’d always known both when to stifle the antagonising of others and how   to   stop   his   own   temper   rising.  The incident with Ferguson was inexplicable.  It  belonged  to  the   realms   of fantasy,  one  you  let play  out  in  glorious  retrospect  in  your mind,   while  acknowledging gratitude   for  decades  of  social mores    and    evolving   civility   that    prevented   you   from punching colleagues  you loathed.

Again  he  tried  to  recall  details  of  the  seconds   leading up  to it. There was a hangover, as was increasingly the case these days. There was general resentment towards aspects of work. He’d argued with Zoe the night before.  Amy had been difficult over breakfast.  Yet none  of this  excused  what  he’d done,  the  terrible  person  he  was apparently becoming, the origin  of which  didn’t bear thinking about. He looked   out to the open   water, its irregular   surface specked with half a dozen fishing boats. A tanker sat sombrely on the horizon. For a moment he thought he saw the dorsal fin of a basking shark cutting through the swell a few hundred yards out, but by the time   he found   the spot   with   the binoculars, it had gone. Most, if not all of them, would have left for the warmer waters of the south by now.  On  the  tip of  the  promontory  ahead,   sea  heaved   at  the  rock,  slamming  into  its  coves,  the  water  forced  up  a  blowhole with each wave, spuming into  the wind.


Inland the  cloud  had  opened, just  a crack, allowing  the sun  to  wash  briefly  over  the  fields,  chased   by  a  surging line  of  shadow.  A pair of choughs squabbled in the gorse that flanked the path.  Ahead,  through the  drizzle,  he  could just  make  out  the  bone-white walls of the  pub  a couple  of miles  along  the  coast,  and  he  pictured   himself   sitting  by its fire indefinitely. 


For a chance to win one of 3 copies of the book please enter here
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A bit about Tom Vowler





Tom Vowler lives in south-west England. In 2007 he completed an MA in creative writing, and since then his short stories have appeared widely. Tom is the assistant editor of the literary journal Short Fiction. His debut collection of short stories, The Method & Other Stories won the Scott Prize (2010) and the Edge Hill Award (2011). He is an Associate Lecturer in creative writing at the University of Plymouth. That Dark Remembered Day is his second novel.

@tom_vowler


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Sunathon 2014



Hi all

From the 21st to the 27th July, book bloggers from all around the world will be taking part in #sunathon. Below is some information about what Sunathon is, from its creator, Emma Louise.

What is #sunathon? 

Created by me, Emma Louise (@EmmaIsWriting on Twitter), I hope that for the week 21 - 27 July, in the gorgeous sun (or rain in you’re in the UK), we’re going to read. It doesn’t matter how much you read, as long as you make time for reading. There are a lot of people around the world who are blind to the magical world books and it’s a shame. More of us should read. 

I have decided to make it a full week, running from Monday 21st July - Sunday 27th July to enable many of us who have full time jobs or struggle to find time to read, to squeeze in some time to pick up a book.

Use #sunathon on Twitter to follow book bloggers around the world talking about it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the UK, or America, or Malaysia (waves to Kev) or Germany – it’s about us all coming together to read.

Happy reading!!

Emma Louise @EmmaIsWriting

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson



Publication date: 27 June 
Published By: Bookouture
Buy on Amazon


The Blurb:

Faye Dobson has lost her sparkle. Living on film star fantasies and vague memories of a marriage that once was, she can’t help feeling that life is passing her by. She dreams of being whisked to Paris for dinner, making three wishes at the Trevi fountain and having sex under the stars. But the wrinkles are multiplying, her husband’s passion is for plumbing, and the nearest she’ll get to Rome is a take-away pizza.

So when Faye meets Dan the gorgeous Australian surfer guy working in the local deli she can’t help but wonder what it would be like to see the world. He is blonde, tanned, ten years younger and bakes the most amazing lemon cake. Unlike her husband Dan actually listens to Faye, his smile makes her feel fizzy inside, and when he smiles... Oh. My. God.

But is Faye being silly? What would Dan see in someone like her? Even if he did have feelings for her, could she give everything up to be with him?

A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet comedy about taking your life back before it’s too late.


My Review:

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson introduces the 21st century version of Shirley Valentine! I am in love and awe of Faye Dobson. As a 42 year old who is having a bit of a mid life crisis this book is brilliant. I am not sure I can do it justice in a review as I don't want to give the whole thing away.

Faye Dobson is in her early forties, has been married for years since falling pregnant with her daughter half way through a university course, has been in the same job forever and a day, and life just seems pretty dreary and dull. She has foregone her dreams of travelling and enjoying life to raise her family and work to make ends meet. However, as things get worse at home Faye discovers an old ruck sack which contains items she collected related to her dreams. This seems to ignite something in her, and realising that she can't go on she leaves her husband.

She also discovers a new deli in town with food that sounds so tasty I was at times drooling! Not only is the food tasty, so it appears is Dan, the young Aussie she discovers serving behind the counter. A younger. As I imagine many of us (well me anyway)would be, Faye struggles to remain composed and this makes for some really funny scenes.

Getting to know Dan seemed to me to change something for Faye and all of a sudden i felt that her character came to life. Gathering confidence I began to see her thinking suit what she wanted and being brave enough to go for it. As the book went on I became me and more hooked on Faye and her personal journey. I don't want to give it all away but it feels a bit like a more up to date Shirley Valentine in my eyes.

I have to admit that life has been a bit stale for me too recently, so the timing of this book is just perfect. Whilst reading the book and getting further along in it I have started to think about things I want to do and how to make them happen. I can imagine other readers doing something similar.

I found the book a fun read. I really enjoyed the characters and they, as well as the book were, in my opinion, written really well. The awkward clumsy moments in the deli seemed just like I could imagine me being, and I loved seeing the characters evolved. I could really picture the escapades and I could really imagine and connect with how free, happy and content Faye would be feeling. I did wonder how superficial the relationship might be and whether it would be a heartbreaking ending....I won't tell you what happens but I loved that it all worked out the best for them.

I am left wanting to pack a back pack, jump on the net, book some flights and go and try lots of 'out there' things that I never imagine being brave enough to do.

I would definitely recommend this as a great summer read and for some escapism from the hum drum of everyday life. I loved it and hope you will too.

Thank you for Bookouture for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Blog Tour: When Alice Met Danny by Trevor Williams


Hello

I am really pleased to be part of the blog tour for When Alice Met Danny by Trevor Williams. Thank you to Trevor, Carina UK and Leah from Girls Love to Read for the opportunity. 

In this blog you will find a sneak peek at When Alice Met Danny, a chance to read a bit about Trevor as well as an opportunity to enter a competition to win a copy of the book. 

Hope you enjoy...............


So what is all about you say? Carry on reading and find out...........

WHEN ALICE MET DANNY SYNOPSIS:
What's in a name?
Devastated after losing her job, eternal pragmatist Alice leaves London for a new start in Devon. It’s there that she meets Danny.
Then she meets another Danny.
And then she meets Daniel – Danny to his friends…
In fact, there seems to be a Danny at every turn! Her neighbour’s a Danny; there’s little baby Danny; there’s a vicar, a windsurfer, even a dog called Danny! And whether it’s laughter, comfort, a flutter of romance or a walk along the beach, they each bring something special to Alice’s new life.
You might say it’s a coincidence. Alice certainly would… at first! But when she suddenly risks losing not just one Danny, but all of them, she begins to wonder: might there be more in a name than she ever guessed?




Love quirky, emotional reads? Check out this sneak preview from When Alice Met Danny, the new novel from T A Williams:
‘So, you see, we have no choice but to make cuts.’ All she could do was stare at him across the huge slab of glass that served as his desk. She was still trying to take in the significance of what he had told her.
‘You mean, we are going bust?’
‘Well, that’s a very emotive way of putting it.’ He gave a slight grimace. ‘Of course the firm is still financially viable. All that we have to do is make a few cuts and economies.’
‘Starting with me?’ It was beginning to sink in.
‘We thought it better to prune a few of the high earners, rather than chop away a whole host of lower paid staff.’ He could see from her face that she had understood. ‘Of course, we will be offering a very generous severance package.’
She just sat there. Of all the things she had expected Nigel to want to discuss at this morning’s meeting, her dismissal had certainly not been among them. ‘But the Tianjin contract?’ She had only just got them that. ‘It’s worth twenty-three million for crying out loud. Doesn’t that justify keeping me on?’
‘I know, Alice, I know. And if it were up to me, you would be the last to go. I put up a good fight for you, you know.’ He glanced hopefully in her direction, but stopped short of meeting her eye. ‘But the decision has been made at board level. It’s out of my hands.’
She stood up. Her mind was whirling. Out of his hands? For a moment she had a powerful urge to overturn the glass desk into his lap, but she took a deep breath and headed for the door.
‘Alice, I’ll see that you get details of our severance offer. It is a very, very good package. You won’t have to worry about money for a long time to come.’ He stood up and attempted a smile. ‘Think of it as an opportunity for a complete change.’
‘Nigel.’ She spun round and looked hard at him. He instinctively took two steps backwards. ‘I came here straight from university. I’ve given G&B seventeen years of my life. This is my life. And now you are offering me the opportunity to change? To what, Nigel, to what?’ Before he could attempt a reply, she turned on her heel and left the office, resisting the impulse to slam the door behind her.
As she reached her office she paused, her eyes fixed on the sign: Alice Grant.
After a few moments, she stirred, shook her head and went inside.

Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley, When Alice Met Danny by T A Williams is published by Carina UK and is available now from all good e-retailers. For more information, visit www.CarinaUK.com/when-alice-met-danny


Competition Time:

There are 3 copies of the book to giveaway. To win a copy of When Alice Met Danny enter here:


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Who is Trevor Williams?





I was born in England of a Scottish mother and a Welsh father. I now live in Devon, in south west England. I started writing when I was 12. "The Lake Dwellers", all 43 handwritten pages of it, draws shamelessly upon "Swallows and Amazons". A decade later I started writing more seriously and produced "The Man of Blood", a thriller set in northern Italy where I was living at the time.

Ten years ago, I began to write a trilogy of "serious" historical novels set in the Middle Ages. The medieval period is a brutal, often tragic era, and it was for a bit of light relief that I sat down in January 2013 and wrote "Dirty Minds". 

I had a whale of a time researching the nether regions of the internet and I discovered a staggering amount about the quirks and foibles of my fellow man (and woman). If you ever have a decade or so to spare, try typing "Sex Stories" into a search engine. You will be amazed. I certainly was.

When Carina UK offered me a publishing contract, I was delighted. They liked the first book, "Dirty Minds", so I threw myself into writing a second in a similar, fairly varicose vein. This book, "The Room on the Second Floor", came out on 22nd January 2014. It is a mixture of two love stories and a murder mystery, set in an old English manor house. Oh yes, and they turn the second floor into a brothel...

My third book, "When Alice Met Danny" came out on 3rd June 2014. This is my first attempt at romance or "chicklit". Maybe an unwise thing for a male writer to attempt. I await your comments with some trepidation. As usual, the canine glue holding the characters together is a black Labrador.

Carina UK are publishing my fourth book later in 2014.

At long last I have found my voice. And it's a voice with a smile. I hope you like my work.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

When Alice Met Danny by T A Williams





Out now
Published by Carina UK
Purchase from Amazon


The Blurb:

Devastated after losing her job, eternal pragmatist Alice leaves London for a new start in Devon. It’s there that she meets Danny.

Then she meets another Danny.

And then she meets Daniel – Danny to his friends…

In fact, there seems to be a Danny at every turn! Her neighbour’s a Danny; there’s little baby Danny; there’s a vicar, a windsurfer, even a dog called Danny! And whether it’s laughter, comfort, a flutter of romance or a walk along the beach, they each bring something special to Alice’s new life.

You might say it’s a coincidence. Alice certainly would… at first! But when she suddenly risks losing not just one Danny, but all of them, she begins to wonder: might there be more in a name than she ever guessed?

My Review:

When Alice Met Danny is a lovely, easy read. The main character is Alice. When we first meet her she is working in London, and her life revolves around her career. That is until one day when she is made redundant. This comes as a massive shock to her but is the catalyst for huge changes that see her buying a house in Devon.

A big theme throughout the book is Danny. Not just one Danny, but many of them. It seems that everywhere Alice turns she meets yet another one. Yes, there is a Danny love interest, but there are also dogs and babies named Danny too. It would be true to say that Danny brings her laughs, intrigue, heartbreak, adventure, and love....but I won't tell you which Danny brings what!

I found this book really easy to follow. It felt light and warm and a nice pace. I loved the character of Alice who seemed to change once she left London. I love country life and would love to move to the country myself so it helped me identify with her.

I loved the use of the other characters, particularly the love interest Danny. He's a windsurfer so I could picture quite a heart throb. Meeting the local characters really helped build that country life feel with the local gossip, the vicar, the caring older lady, The Lord of the manor etc. each of them felt warm and I could picture myself getting to know each of them.

As part of Alice's re-evaluation of life she decides she would like to return to study at university, and the topic was WW1. This was very moving and poignant to me given the recent D-Day commemorations. I know that was WW2 but thinking about the atrocities that the soldiers went through was really sad. Alice stumbles across some letters written by a soldier during WW1. I don't want to ruin the storyline but it adds another dimension of  beauty and sadness to the book.

I have never really read books of this genre written by a male author so wasn't sure what to expect in terms of writing style.....lets just say I will be looking out for his next book and buying it for certain!

Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop-Phane



The blurb:

I’m a street prostitute. Not a call girl or anything. No, a real street whore, with stiletto heels and menthol cigarettes.’ Narrator Nanou gives a detailed account of her day, from the moment she wakes up with a foul taste in her mouth, in her sordid rented room, until the minute she crawls back into her bed at night to sleep.

Interwoven with her story are portraits of her clients. Oscar Coop-Phane invents an astonishing cast of original and deeply human characters – losers, defeated by the world around them – who seek solace in Nanou’s arms.

Original and moving, this short book deftly paints a world of solitude and sadness, illuminated by precious moments of tenderness and acts of kindness.

My review:

This is a short book (97 pages) translated from French. It is very different to anything I have read before. The author is incredibly talented in being able to portray the characters so well in such a short book.

We are introduced to Nanou who openly admits from the start to being a prostitute, not a high end hooker, but a street walker. We are introduced her world which appears to be very lonely, bare and sad. The book is written as Nanou keeping a notebook, revealing very brief snippets of her life, but I do mean brief. Nanou says from the outset that she doesn't want to reveal anything about herself and her life, and as you look back at the book you will see that she hasn't.

The skill of the author in tellng Nanou's story via clients is very very clever. I felt a real sense of sadness and warmth towards her. I felt that her life was quite sordid and that she was very lonely but stuck without a way out. The brief snippets eluded, in my view, to quite a tough upbringing without the love and support to give her a decent go at life.

I was fascinated by the stories of Nanou's clients. It definitely challenged by perception of the type of man who used the services of a prostitute and I was really drawn in by the stories and sadness within their lives. They really make the book. It's a bit like being a fly on the wall in these men's life and seeing how behind their public masks they all, like Nanou, are sad and feel like key things to make them happy are missing. I felt desperately sad both for Nanou and the men. They were all, Nanou included, looking for happiness, but seemed unable to find it. The act of sex seemed like a mechanical outlet for the men rather than the feeling of intimacy, love and warmth that sex should bring. I also sensed the disgust and feeling of self loathing that Nanou felt towards herself.

What a fantastic book by a very skilled author. I felt so sad to leave her in the Zenith Hotel and wanted to write a final chapter where the knight in shining armour comes in and rescues her, just like in pretty woman. The book is a stark reminder of what women go through every day, invisible to most of society, and looked down on by those that do see them, and judge them without knowing anything about them or their lives.

Thank you to Arcadia for providing me with a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

 

The No-Kids Club by Talli Roland



The blurb:

At almost forty, Clare Donoghue is living child-free and loving it.

Then her boyfriend says he wants kids, breaking off their promising relationship. And it’s not just boyfriends: one by one, her formerly carefree friends are swallowed up in a nonstop cycle of play dates and baby groups. So Clare declares enough is enough and decides it’s time for people who don’t have children to band together. And so the No-Kids Club is born.

As the group comes together—Anna, who’s seeking something to jumpstart a stale marriage, and Poppy, desperate for a family but unable to conceive—Clare’s hoping to make the most of the childless life with her new friends. But is living child-free all it’s cracked up to be?

My Review:

Wow, where do i even start with my praise and love for The No-Kids Club? I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. I was hooked from the first chapter and found it hard to put down. I simply didn't want it to end, and want to know what happens next......

The book revolves around 3 ladies who meet when Clare, a 39 year old single lady, who is bored of all her friends having and talking about their kids, decides to set up a 'no kids club' where people can meet and talk about all things non child related. We meet Anna and Poppy who become inaugural members, each bringing their own story of why they dont have children themselves. We quickly learn about their lives and aspirations, which don't necessarily all mirror each other. As the story grows we see how they all learn from each other and how their friendships rub off on some of the decisions they make in life. We also meet Ellie, Clare's pregnant best friend who also plays a large part in the story, particularly later on.

I love that each chapter takes us into the life of one of the characters. The book is so well written I felt like I really was glimpsing into each of the characters worlds, and I grew to care about each of them very quickly. The dynamics of the relationships is brilliant and really strongly came across to me. I did feel like I wanted to protect and make each of the women happy as they each go through their own ups and downs.

Talli has a fantastic style of writing that grabs you by the shoulders and pulls you straight in. She can write with real warmth and affection for her characters and some how magically brings them to life without having to tell long back stories. It is soppy in parts and tells the story of love, family, and friendship, but also has many funny moments.

The idea to set up a club is ingenious, and if they don't already exist I can imagine them popping up all over the place once people get reading this book. I can imagine book clubs also reading this and then disappearing off to the pub after as it opens up the chance for people to feel free to get to know eachother better, without judgement over their life decisions. Acceptance is a strong theme throughout.

Now I have finished I have a book hangover and miss the characters. There feels like a sequel could easily follow to bring readers up to date about what happened next for each of the ladies. I truly loved this book and am now looking out to read Talli's other books too.

In summary, a heartwarming, feel good read that will tug at your heart strings whilst also making you smile and feel good about being alive and free to be accepted for yourself. Highly recommended read for the beach, home, bed, work...in fact anywhere!!

Thank you to Talli Roland for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

One hundred Proposals by Holly Martin - a sneak peek!

Hi everyone

Today I am incredibly lucky to be able to bring you a preview of Holly Martin's forthcoming book One Hundred Proposals, which is being published on 25th June (and can be pre-ordered now from here). I have heard amazing early feedback from reviewers and cannot wait to get my hands on a copy and get stuck in.

You may have seen and heard me rave earlier in the year about an earlier book of hers called The Guestbook which is just amazing. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet I would urge you to click here and order, especially as it is just 59p on kindle at the moment - an absolute bargain.

Without further ado I am pleased to reveal the prologue and chapter one of One Hundred Proposals, enjoy!!



Prologue

‘Ok, you can open your eyes now,’ Harry said.

I blinked in the gloom of the cave. Moonlight tumbled through the opening above us, reflecting off the waterfall as it cascaded into the pool below. We had been in Australia for just a few days but I knew it would never cease to amaze me. Dancing in the pockets of the cave walls were hundreds of fireflies, sparkling like fairy lights.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

The fireflies started to gather together and slowly a shape was formed. I frowned in confusion and then within seconds the words, ‘Suzie, Marry Me,’ stood proud against the cave walls, written by the fireflies.

I whirled round to face Harry in shock. ‘How did you do that?’ I looked back at the fireflies, not wanting to miss anything. Would they perhaps move to form the lyrics of my favourite song? Were they super trained fireflies and in a minute they’d all whip out their mini cheerleader pom-poms and start some kind of dance where they would balance precariously on each other’s backs?

‘It’s some kind of fruit juice, they love it.’

I fumbled in my bag for my camera. ‘We have to get a picture for the website.’

I fired off a couple of shots and I could see a few other tourists had entered the cave and were clearly waiting for my answer. They’d be waiting for a long time.

‘So what do you think?’ Harry said. ‘Is this the perfect proposal?’

‘It’s definitely one of your best, very romantic.’ I focused my attention on the photos I was taking. They were going to look fantastic with the waterfall in soft focus in the background and the fireflies in sharp detail set against the inky blue light of the moon.

‘But still not the perfect proposal?’

‘Not for me, but someone else would love it.’ I watched the faces of the other tourists fall at my callous response. ‘We’re not together, we just work with each other.’ One couple looked at me dubiously, so I pressed on. ‘Our company creates the perfect proposal, this kind of thing is our bread and butter.’

I resisted the sudden urge to rush over to them and start handing out business cards. As if reading my mind, Harry slung an arm round my shoulder, restraining me with his hand.

I looked up at him innocently but he didn’t seem convinced.

The tourists moved further down the cave, leaving us alone.

‘You always do that,’ Harry said.
‘What, promote our business? I know, I can’t help it. I’m just so proud of what we’ve achieved that I want to tell anyone that listens and anyone that doesn’t.’

‘No, not that. You always say our company, our business. It’s yours, you started it.  I’m just the tech guy.’

It was just me to start with. I created the.PerfectProposal.com over two years ago when my boyfriend at the time proposed drunkenly to me over a greasy kebab. It struck me that maybe the menfolk of this world might need a little helping hand to create a proposal their girlfriends would remember forever. Although the greasy kebab is not one I’m likely to forget.

Harry was my web designer. When the business first started he would come by my office, the back bedroom in my home, every day to help update the website with my new ideas, photos and special offers. In the end it made sense to make him a permanent feature. Our website looked fantastic and as an online company this was integral to our success.

But Harry wasn’t just the geeky IT guy, far from it. He was the biggest man I had ever seen in my life, with large thighs and big feet. He had stubbly, dark hair and chocolate eyes. But he also had a vivid imagination – where I was organising the logistics for a champagne helicopter trip, he would be the one that would come up with something completely unique like using fireflies.

‘And you always put yourself down. We’re equal partners now, you helped to make the company a success too,’ I said.

He shrugged, never keen to accept that he played such an important part in it. He gestured to the fireflies that were starting to break formation now. ‘Is it too sickly?’

I let my camera hang round my neck and leaned into him, I loved the way I fitted against him. ‘I love it, I really do, it’s… magical. But there’s still something missing.’

Was there really such a thing as a perfect proposal? Three months ago, just before Valentine’s Day, Harry had made it his mission to provide me with one. But deep down I knew what I wanted and I doubted Harry would be able to deliver it. I should have told him that when he first started this wild goose chase. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.


Chapter One

Three Months Before

I put the phone down on another excited client and sighed. It was February 11th and we’d had a surge of customers all desperately wanting to propose on top of the Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day. I felt like screaming. It was only by careful planning that I’d arranged that my customers weren’t going to be there at the same time. That’s just what a girl wants to feel special, to see other girls being proposed to at the same place and time that she was. Was there no originality anymore? Harry was brilliant at coming up with unique proposals, but no matter how many times I had tried to sell Harry’s ideas to them, they wanted the traditional and that was that.
‘Another Eiffel Tower?’ asked Harry as he absentmindedly uploaded photos to our rolling gallery.

‘He wants a dozen red roses delivered to the observation deck at eight.’ I rubbed my head in defeat. ‘What about something different, going to the ballet or proposing over a bag of chips at the end of Brighton Pier?’

He swivelled in his chair. ‘What would be your perfect proposal?’

I looked at him and had a sudden flash of him holding me in his arms and asking me to marry him.

‘I don’t know, the perfect guy would definitely be a bonus.’

‘Ok so you have your perfect guy and it’s not greasy kebab boy –’

‘Let’s be clear, it was the kebab that was greasy not the man.’

He waved away the details. ‘So Orlando Bloom or some other non-greasy hunk is asking you to marry him, how would he do it?’

I took a sip of tea whilst I pondered this. If one of my customers phoned up at a loss for inspiration I had a hundred ideas. But for me, my mind was blank.

‘I have an idea.’ Harry’s eyes were suddenly bright with excitement. He whirled round on his chair and started tapping away furiously on his computer. I peered over his shoulder at our website.

Proposer’s Blog
How Do You Propose to a Proposer?

Over the next hundred days I intend to find out. I will find one hundred ways to propose to our Chief Proposer Suzie McKenzie, and post the results here for your enjoyment. One thing’s for sure, not one of my proposals will be on top of the Eiffel Tower with a dozen red roses.


‘You can’t put that, we’ve had fifteen customers who want to propose like that over the last week,’ I said, ignoring the sudden thundering of my heart that Harry was going to propose to me.

‘Then maybe they’ll have a rethink.’ Harry was already uploading a picture of a diamond ring onto the blog.

‘Or ask for their money back.’

But Harry was still writing.

Day 1: The Traditional Proposal. Location:  Our office.

He stood up and got down on one knee – yanking the snake ring off his thumb, he held it aloft to my shocked face.

‘Suzie McKenzie, you are my best friend and I cannot imagine finding anyone I would rather spend the rest of my life with. Marry me.’

The world stopped. My mouth was dry. How unfair was it that the one thing I wanted most in the world was happening right in front of me and it was as real as a pair of breasts on Sunset Boulevard.

I wanted to snatch the ring off him, stuff it on my finger and march him down to the nearest registry office. But I didn’t.

I cleared my throat of the huge lump. ‘Too clich├ęd, wrong location, wrong ring.’

He grinned as he appraised his ring and stood up, clearly not fussed by this rejection. He started typing.

Crashed and Burned. Apparently a snake ring with evil red eyes and the beige walls of our cramped office isn’t good enough for her. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Surely not. A hundred days of this torment? I didn’t think I could bear it.

He looked at his watch. ‘Oh, I’ve got to go, hot date with Sexy Samantha again tonight.’

Samantha was his first girlfriend in nearly a year. When I first met him he seemed to go through a different girl each week, so I wasn’t sure why he’d gone through the sudden dry patch. But Samantha was definitely the type to tempt him out of it.

I’d had the pleasure of meeting Sexy Samantha the night before. Suspicious of Harry’s relationship with his best friend, she’d barrelled into my home and demanded that Harry introduce me. I came downstairs in leggings and an oversized black hoodie – I knew I was hardly dressed to impress. And impress her I didn’t. The look of relief when Samantha saw me was palpable. She, on the other hand, was a vision of heavenly loveliness. She was almost as tall as Harry, with long blonde hair and curves everywhere. My eyes were immediately drawn to a big pair of breasts, squeezed between an overly tight top. Harry was definitely a breast man. All of his girlfriends were very well-endowed in the breast department. Some of the breasts, I suspected, weren’t even real – though Harry didn’t seem to mind. I was more in the straight up, straight down department, definitely no curves and not really any breasts to speak of.

I watched Harry log off his computer with haste and obvious excitement about what Sexy Samantha had in store for him that night.

‘I have a hot date too,’ I blurted out, watching for any flicker of jealousy. Of course there was none.

‘That’s great Suze.’ He looked genuinely pleased. ‘You haven’t seen anyone since Jack…’ He trailed off. My life was defined into two segments. Before Jack and After Jack. I wondered if Jules felt the same. He grabbed his jacket, averting his eyes from me, perhaps knowing that he had said something he shouldn’t. ‘It’s about time you got back on the horse again. We can swap notes tomorrow.’

‘Or not.’ I couldn’t bear thinking about that conversation. The literal ins and outs of Harry’s date would be something I really didn’t want to hear. I’d changed the subject twice that morning already when he started giving me explicit details that would be right at home on the pages of an erotic fiction novel.  Sexy Samantha was far kinkier than those baby blue eyes might suggest. Besides, what did I have to contribute to that conversation? My hot date consisted of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and a night in with the beautiful Brad Pitt. I logged off my own computer, keen to show him I also had something exciting to run off to.

‘Where did you meet him?’

I racked my brain as I fluffed out my hair in the reflection of a photo showing me and Harry covered in snow and grinning ear to ear after sledging at the indoor Snow Zone. Before Jack.

‘Skiing,’ I said, then wished I hadn’t.

He stopped in his hasty exit. ‘Skiing? When have you been skiing?’

‘I go every Sunday, skiing lessons, he’s my ski instructor.’ I was making it worse.

‘You hate skiing.’

I had said that hadn’t I. Because this photo was taken when we had our first and last skiing lesson a year before. I had spent forty minutes falling on my bum – as kids as young as five glided effortlessly past me – and the last twenty minutes of the lesson, after Harry had been upgraded to the adult slopes, trying to get up and rolling around on the floor with my skis in the air, looking like an oversized beetle stranded on its back. Harry had felt sorry for me that I had failed so spectacularly and had taken me sledging instead. Much more up my street. There was no skill at all involved in sliding down a slope in a red plastic sledge.

‘I like it now. I’m very proficient. Obviously just needed the right instructor.’

‘Well that’s great, maybe we can go together sometime.’

I fixed a smile onto my face. ‘Maybe.’

‘What’s his name?’

I cast around for a suitable name and a suitable adjective to describe him, something comparable to Sexy Samantha. I had nothing, no names in my head at all. The only name in my head was Harry and that would be too weird. He was staring at me, waiting for me to come up with a name, the silence stretched on. I had to say something.

‘Tim.’ I almost shouted out with relief. ‘Tiny Tim.’

Great. Just great.

Harry’s face fell. ‘Tiny Tim?’
‘Yes.’

‘As in…’ he waggled his little finger at me.

‘No, no, of course not, he’s very big in that department. Big all over in fact. Huge. It’s kind of an ironic name.’

‘Big like me?’

‘Well I have no idea how big you are in that department.’ My eyes cast down to the sizeable bulge in his jeans and I felt my cheeks burn as he clearly saw me checking him out.

‘I meant in height,’ Harry said. I’m sure I saw his mouth twitch as he supressed a smile.

‘Oh yes, he’s very tall.’

‘Good. That’s good. I have a friend who’s a ski instructor at the Snow Zone, he might know your Tim. What’s his surname?’

‘Timmings.’

I was a terrible liar.

‘Tim Timmings?’

‘That’s right.’

A horn tooted outside and Harry peeled back the net curtain to wave at Sexy Samantha as she leaned on the bonnet of her sexy red convertible. I didn’t think I’d ever be so relieved to see her again.

‘Well have fun.’ Harry threw me a cursory wave as he thundered down the stairs. A second later I heard the front door slam.

I peered out the window, hoping not to be noticed as Harry swept Sexy Samantha into his arms and swung her round as if he hadn’t seen her in months. As he deposited her on the floor she waved up at me and I was forced to wave politely back.

With a wheel spin and the stereo blaring out something young and hip, the red convertible roared up the road, taking my heart with it.

I’d been in love with Harry for two long, painful years and we were further away today from getting together than we had been when we first met. We were now firmly in the friend zone and there was never any coming back from that.

Two years was way too long for unrequited love. It was time I moved on with someone else. I would just fall out of love with him, simple as that.

I sighed as I walked into my bedroom and got changed into my cow print onesie. I flicked through some songs on my iPod until I found something suitably rousing and as Gloria Gaynor started belting out ‘I am what I am’, I turned up the volume, leapt up onto the bed and danced and wiggled my bum in time with the lyrics. I was highly skilled in the playing of air drums and as Gloria reached a crescendo so did my frenetic drum playing. As the instrumental kicked in I leapt off the bed, doing the splits mid-air. I pulled a muscle in my groin and as I flicked my hair theatrically out of my face I saw Harry’s eyes widen in horror as I landed on top of him, one leg somehow hooked over his shoulder as my other foot kicked him square in his crotch.

He screamed in pain. I screamed with embarrassment as he staggered back and landed hard on his bum, my leg still wrapped round his neck.

Gloria was still singing loudly in the background as we stared at each other. Finally I managed to speak.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘Currently, wondering if I’ll ever be able to have sex again. Can you please get off my lap?’

I quickly climbed off him, kneeing him in the face as I tried to stand up. He slowly staggered to his feet, doubled over in obvious pain.

‘I forgot my wallet,’ he said, by way of explanation.

I swallowed. ‘You saw me dance?’

He lifted his head and this time there was no mistaking the grin. ‘From the very beginning to the dramatic finale.’

I groaned.

‘I better go, Samantha will be wondering where I am. Nice onesie by the way. Does Tiny Tim have one too? A horse or a pig perhaps?’

I stared down at myself, at the pink udders hanging limply from my stomach, and wanted the ground to swallow me up. ‘He’s not coming round till later.’

‘Of course not. And I imagine he thinks you look quite cute in it.’

Cute? Puppies were cute. Is that how he thought of me, as a cute little puppy?

He moved to the top of the stairs and I followed him.

‘Do you think I look cute in it?’


He turned and walked back up a few stairs, kneeling on the stair below me so we were eye to eye. ‘Yes.’

My heart dropped. I was so far in the friend zone I was now categorised as cute. He’d be patting me on the back next and telling me he saw me like a sister.

‘Sexy cute?’

‘No.’

My heart sank into my feet.

‘I bet Samantha would look sexy in it?’

‘I doubt it. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to look sexy in it.’

I felt slightly better at this.

‘And don’t underestimate the value of cute, it’s a great quality to have.’ He leaned forward and kissed me on the nose. ‘And don’t stay up too late, I have a big day planned for you tomorrow.’

He ran down the stairs and was gone a second later.

I touched my nose, still feeling the softness of his lips. He thought I was cute. I smiled as I fell in love with him all over again.

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