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Archiwum - Czerwiec, 2014

Cover of the Month: June

30 cze

So. June has seen not only brilliant, fantastic, amazin books being published but most of those books had brilliant, fantastic, amazing covers as well. All of them so bright, colourful, optimistic and I fell in love with all of them. Just have a look yourself:

page2page1page3page4page5See what I mean? Sometimes I wish I was not such a sucker for covers but well, nothing can be done, that’s me :) They are all so summery, with fantastic fonts and pictures and well, call me a softie, but I love to look at them all on my bookshelves. But. Enough with blabbing. In my opinion the first place should go to all of them but if somebody should twist my arm I would say that my absolute favorit this month is cover of Alex Brown’s book Ice – Creams at Carrington’s. The soft, pastel colours are my favourite, the picture is beautiful and, what is also important for me, it is very similar in style to the covers of the previous two books in the series. Tada :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Wrap Up # 5

29 cze

Oh, I’m wrapping up my weeks 5th time already :) Amazing how this time is passing by, isn’t it?

wrap-up

Last week I said that I’m not going to whinge if I won’t receive any books this week. As promised, I’m not whingeing. Absolutely. Because this week, although I was not expecting as much, I was again spoiled with book post. I love book post. My new postie gives me some filthy looks and I don’t know if it is my track bottoms or maybe the big books’ envelopes? Never mind:)

BOOKS I HAVE RECEIVED/BOUGHT THIS WEEK

PAPERBACKS:

Melissa Hill „A Gift to Remember”

Ali Harris „Written in the stars”

Elizabeth Forbes „Who Are You?”

Lucinda Riley „The Italian Girl”

Jessie Keane „Lawless”

Tess Stimson „An Open Marriage”

Lisa Dickenson „You Had Me at Merlot”

Anna McPartlin „The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes”

 

KINDLE:

Shirlee McGoy „The Cottage on the Corner”

Just one but first I must really try to reduce my Kindle TBR pile!

 

 BOOKS THAT I READ THIS WEEK

Jules Wake „Talk to Me”

Milly Johnson „The Teashop on the Corner”

Anna Bell „Don’t Tell the Boss”

Only three, it was a slow week, but not because I didn’t enjoy them, but because of the life getting in the way. All three of them are bloody brilliant and I am sweating over writing reviews that will do them justice – it’s not so easy when you could summarise those books saying: GO AND BUY A COPY, THEY’RE ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC :)

I reviewed this week:

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake 4/5

I am the Secret WAG 4/5

 
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Interview with Sue Watson, author of Love, Lies and Lemon Cake

27 cze

Yesterday I reviewed Love, Lies and Lemon Cake and today, as promised, I’m totally excited to welcome you to interview with Sue Watson herself. She was so kind and took her time to answer some of my questions (although she skipped one! The one about the recipe for lemon cake! Aaaahhh…). But you are for more treats today as on this website:

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  you can read the first chapter!
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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!

Q & A with Sue Watson

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I must ask, sorry. I have only read one book where the author gave the character her own name and it was in a crime – comedy, and the character was almost the same as the author. How much real Sue is in a fictional Sue?

It’s funny you should say that because in my first book ‘Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes’ the heroine is called Stella Weston – as you can probably imagine there is a lot of me in Stella – not just the fact we share the same initials!

Having said that, I wanted a challenge and my second book, Younger Thinner Blonder is about a glamorous, uptight, obsessively clean TV presenter – I am none of the above!

As for Faye Dobson, the heroine of Love, Lies and Lemon Cake – there are elements of her that are in the book. As a writer I will probably always put a little bit of myself into my ‘leading ladies’ I think it helps me to understand how they tick and why they do some of the things they do.

 

What was the inspiration for the story?

The inspiration for the story was a couple of things – firstly the title. It was a chapter title in Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes which I wrote more than five years ago and the ideas for this book have been percolating since then. Secondly, I wanted to write about something us real women can relate to… my heroine is in her forties, she’s not beautiful or glamorous and she’s married to an ordinary man, living an ordinary life with an ordinary job. She’s stuck in a routine and feels she’s lost her sparkle – but when she meets a younger man out of the blue she has some decisions to make – and some living to do.

 

Is there a scene in the book that is your favourite one?

That’s a tough one. I really live through my books and often sit at my computer and laugh at stuff I’ve written which amuses my family. What I don’t do in front of them is cry at my own writing (they would probably laugh at me if I did!) There’s a scene that makes me cry – but that would be a spoiler, so I would have to say I do enjoy the scenes in the hairdressers where Faye works, being in ‘Curl Up and Dye’ always makes me smile!

 

Are any of the characters in the book inspired by real people?

Faye definitely has a little bit of the dreamer in her which comes from me, but her boss and friend is inspired by an old boss I used to have. She was a lovely woman who had no children of her own so treated her staff like her children and would try to advise us on life. This was kind and well-meant, but she used to get her words mixed up just like Faye’s boss Sue does. Sue says with authority that ‘it was a matter of time before you two had carnival knowledge,’ and ‘the wine had an afterbirth of oak.’


Have you, like Faye, ever left everything behind to follow your dreams?

Yes I have. I was a TV Producer with the BBC for about 15 years and when I was 40 I abandoned my career to chase my dream of becoming a writer. I had to take that first leap – and it wasn’t easy, there were moments when I wondered if I was doing the right thing financially and career-wise. But once I started writing I never had a second of doubt – I just had to make that leap and six years later I have written three books and am currently writing my fourth. I loved working in television, but I love being a writer more.

 

How does your day as a writer look like?

I wish I could tell you I get up at dawn and sit at my desk and write all day… that’s what I should do! I get up early with the rest of the family and once they are all at school and work I enjoy some peace with a cup of coffee and some TV, then I go on Twitter and FB and then it’s noon and I might meet a friend for lunch and then I go back to my desk and check my emails (and FB and Twitter). Then before I know it, everyone is home and we have dinner together and I say how hard I’ve worked! Then some days I write novels. 

 

If not writing, what then?

Again, I wish I could say I live a cultured existence of art gallery visits and attending opera performances. But I read thrillers and watch too much trashy TV. I call my TV obsession research because now and then I can be inspired and find character ideas and plots for novels from some of the unlikeliest sources. I have been inspired by odd guests on Come Dine with Me, the dynamics on Big Brother and my guilty secret? I have The Kardashians on series link – just to see how the other half live.

 

What was your favourite book as a child?

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.

 

How has being a writer changed your life?

I don’t have to leave the house to go to work which is lovely, but it’s also changed the way I look at everything and everyone. All my friends and people I meet, conversations overheard are all potential characters with a story. I often write down phrases I hear and much of the comedy in my novels (and some of the sadness) comes from conversations shared with good friends.

I also now have even less money than I had before, which I didn’t think was possible! J

 

And finally, are you working on something new?

I am working on my next novel which is about two sisters who are both very different and live very different lives. When something happens that means they have to rely on each other the problems begin as does the heartbreak… and hilarity.

 

Thanks Agi – some great questions!

Sue x

Thanks Sue for answering the questions!!!

Here are the links to the books:

 

Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Lies-Lemon-Cake-Watson-ebook/dp/B00LAKWFC0

 

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Love-Lies-Lemon-Cake-Watson-ebook/dp/B00LAKWFC0

 

Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22351228-love-lies-and-lemon-cake

 
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Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson / eBook Review

26 cze

Be sure to come back tomorrow for a great interview with Sue Watson on Love, Lies and Lemon Cake publishing day!

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Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson

 

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 27th June 2014

Source:   Received for review.

 

Amazon Summary:

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.

Rating: 4/5


Love, Lies and Lemon Cake. What a lovely, lovely title! every time I see this title I want to go to the kitchen and start making a cake batter for lemon cupcakes. And every time I look at this very lovely, beautiful, colourful cover I feel a real desire to eat those lemon cupcakes.

It is my first book by Sue Watson although I have her on my very sharpened radar since long. Very long. Forgive me Sue, I’m going to be better.

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake follows a story of Faye. Faye belongs to my „favourite characters” category. She’s not the 20 – something, skinny, with legs like Bambi (and I mean, long ones, not so hairy), long blond hair and false lashes. No. She’s in her forties, and although she’s beautiful she doesn’t see herself in that way. She’s an ordinary woman, married to an ordinary man, living her ordinary life, living her life in a routine – y way: going to work, cooking dinner for her husband, living actually next to her husband (although they live together, but it feels like they lead two separate lives and they have nothing in common), waiting for telephones from her daughter who is at uni… She actually lived all her life FOR others, not for herself, and she feels she has lost her sparkle. So when she – accidentally – meets a younger man, she decides to make use of this opportunity and start to live her life for her this time.

Faye has many dreams. She dreams about Paris, about eating dinner in New York, travelling, having sex under the stars. I loved the way when, after meeting Dan, the young and totally sexy Australian, she started to unveil her womanhood anew and learn how it is to be a real woman. Her life with her husband was actually so dull that perhaps everything could be an adventure for her, but she wasn’t afraid to go big. I totally enjoyed the way Sue has described all the fears that Faye had. The feelings of „it’s not proper”, what will other people say, but then overcome her fear and livin’ la vida loca.

Meet Dan, the hot Aussie, who’s not only handsome as hell but can talk food and can make food! Give me Dan anytime! I think he was a great character although to be totally honest I didn’t believe in his feelings, and was not sure if the age gap between Faye and him won’t be a problem, especially in their trip to Greece. I am not against the bigger age difference, absolutely not, and  was really curious how it is going to work out between those two, especially that they were so different in my opinion: Faye, already much more life – experienced, reserved, and Dan, the wild soul, spontaneous and grabbing life by the horns. This said, I was keeping my fingers crossed for them.

The book has many funny moments and dialogues, especially when Faye starts to speak and doesn’t know when to stop. Really. She’s a real chatter – box, especially when she’s nervous and then she tends to tell the things she shouldn’t tell because they are very embarrassing. Then I also loved the moment when Faye’s daughter thought that her mother is going to match – make her with Dan, oh my word, embarrassment is nothing in comparison:)

I actually realise that most of us who just want to leave everything behind and go on a life – adventure can’t do this and Faye was privileged with being able to do this, she knew that there is a job waiting for her and there is nothing at home that need her immediate attendance and it is not a luxury that most of us can be allow  but nevertheless, this book ring a realistic bell and it sounded very down – to – earth and possible to happen.

I totally adored the characters in this book, they were all so colourful, with their own stories that add so much to the story itself. They are like normal people, with normal problems but still trying to go through life with a lot of humour. Sue has a great way with words, she can brilliantly write about feelings, friendship, love and even when she’s writing about everyday domestic situations or food she can do this with a spark. She’s also a great storyteller and a normal, usual situation turn here in great adventure. This is a great book for a summer evening and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it.

 
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Welcome to the #sunathon !

26 cze

What is #sunathon? Well, basicaly it’s all about reading, what else :)

Sunathon

From the 21st to the 25th July, book bloggers from all around the world will be taking part in #sunathon. What is #sunathon? Created by Emma Louise (@EmmaIsWriting), for that particular week 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’ve decided to make it a full week: Monday-Sunday because a lot of book bloggers have full time jobs and they squeeze reading in between. I’ve made it longer just for them.

Use #sunathon 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 (waves to me :D) – it’s about us all coming together to read.

Make sure you follow each other, cheer one another on. Who knows maybe next year, we’ll be back? You can tweet along your book journey and at the end of it all, blog about what you read and what you’re going to read next. If I don’t follow any of you on Twitter, give me a shout because it’s being unfollowing a lot of people recently so just triple check.

 
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I am The Secret WAG by Secret WAG / Book Review

25 cze

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I am The Secret WAG by Secret WAG

 

Publisher: Corgi

Publishing Date: 5th June 2014

Source:   Received for review.

 

Amazon Summary:

Money, cars, homes, holidays, parties and all the shoes you’ve ever dreamed of. The life of a footballer’s wife or girlfriend must be as glamorous and exciting as her other half, right? But behind the closed doors of the WAG’s world, there are all the pressures as well as pleasures of success. So what is it really like?

The Secret WAG lays bare the reality of existence under the celebrity spotlight. It is about fashion and fame, sex and scandal, but, like the bestselling Secret Footballer books, is also an honest appraisal of life on and off the field of play which will change your preconceptions about footballers and their partners. It is sassy, outspoken, funny and above all, written from the heart. Meet The Secret WAG.

Rating: 4/5

 

I am the Secret Wag – doesn’t it sound exciting? Intriguing? Juicy and gossipy? For me – very, so as soon as this book with a great pink cover arrived on my doorstep I started to read it. I used to be a real gossip sucker as a teenager, and although right now I don’t have so much time/will to keep up with all the celebrities (and to be honest, I don’t know who the half of them are), I still like to read about them from time to time. So my kinda book.

No surprises about the plot – it IS about a Secret WAG. I personally have no idea who she is, although I am sure those who follow Premiership and are interested in footballers and their WAGs personal lives will be able to recognize her. Well, she, or rather her husband, looks like a big fish among the footballers, they have indeed had  their wedding covered by one of the magazines and were on the cover.

Our Secret WAG pose to be very modest, down – to – earth girl, promises that money and luxury and prosperity that she lives in didn’t change her and that she’s very thankful for this what she has. Says she doesn’t want to parade with her wealth but on the other hand, she has so many designer bags that she can’t count them and they spent their holidays in places that I have no idea exist or where they are. They can, of course, don’t get me wrong, but there is  a clash there – she doesn’t want to give herself airs but the names of the places that she mentiones and the name – dropping tells something different.

There is one big minus point. I found it very annoying that the Secret WAG wants to make us feel sorry for her that she’s a WAG, that’s she lives as celebrity and has no privacy. Well, this is WAG’s life I guess, a life where you get £250k deal with a glossy magazine, where the only thing that you worry about is that the paparazzis shouldn’t see you without a make – up, where you dine in a restaurants that minority of normal people can only dream of and listing how many cars you have in a garage and that you buy a new one every 18 months, while other people are happy when they can buy a second – hand car and drive it to the end of their life don’t make me feel sorry for her. Yes, I totally understand that having a lot of money doesn’t mean that you live a life without problems or troubles but let’s be honest, those money that our Secret WAG so belittles, help a lot.

Of course I sympathize with her. No matter who you are you don’t deserve the house break – ins, no one deserves to be attacked in the club.

There is also the matter of name – dropping. On one hand our Secret WAG tells us that it doesn’t matter with whom she is befriended, that the best friends she has are normal people, but on the other hand in one chapter she starts name – dropping and boasting about which celebrities she knows and which she can call her friends. And, one more thing to this, in my opinion dear Secret WAG, either you drops the names of the people AND tells us your name, or neither.

The Secret WAG tries really hard to deny opinions and stereotypes about WAGs: that they are not blonde bimbos with long legs and false eye – lashes who spends the whole days shopping. She tries to convince us that if they could, they would work, make their own careers but they have decided to follow their husbands and make it easy for them to make careers.

I have a feeling that this book is a kind of confession; it’s written in a very honest way. The Secret WAG allows us a look into her private life, writes about very intimate stuff, and is very open about her desire to be a mum and how much she fought for this. The author takes us on a journey through her university years, when she meets her Footballer, the early years of their relationship, their wedding and finally they everyday life as a couple. She tells us how she was becoming a WAG, how she was adapting, how she changed from a normal girl to a WAG and how she manages her WAGdom. What I observed, becoming a WAG was not a hard work for her, she quickly became used to changing houses, clothes, her monthly pocket money which increased very fast, to beauty regime and to the laws that rule WAGdom. She says she misses her career (but let’s be honest, what career? She didn’t actually have time to start it) and want a job, but I think that being a WAG is her dream job. Can’t imagine her now going to work every day and having only as much holidays in the year as normal people.

But. Don’t get me wrong. I have highlighted only the things that I think are a little insensitive but I understand that’s the way our Secret WAG lives. I have really enjoyed this book, from the beginning to the end and was hoping to spot some big name here or there. It was enjoyably written, in a very easy way and I have actually read it while my husband was watching World Cup. England v Spain… ekhm. Probably Secret WAG’S husband was not playing… I would recommend this book as your light, holiday read, I’m sure you won’t regret reading it.

 
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Blog Tour: When Alice Met Danny by T.A. Williams / Guest Post + Giveaway

24 cze

Today we are a part of T. A. Williams’s Blog Tour for his new novel When Alice Met Danny, and we are super – dooper excited. Really. The Tour is being organized by the lovely Leah of www.girlslovetoread.com . Trevor was so king to write a special Guest Post for us and i hope you enjoy it as much as I did. There is also a bonus of course, you can win an e – copy of the book, so scroll down to Rafflecopter and grab your chance!

TA Williams SHAREABLE2

About the book:

22369387.jpgWhat’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?

 

About the Author:

 

trevor williamsT.A. WILLIAMS BIOGRAPHY:

 

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.

 

GUEST POST:

How much of me goes into my books?

 

Well, they say you should write about what you know. And I suppose I should know lots about me. So it’s pretty inevitable that I’m going to transpose stuff from my life onto my characters. Let’s take When Alice Met Danny, my third book for publishers Carina UK, for example. Where does Trevor Williams rear his ugly head?

For starters, I didn’t make it easy for myself. I chose to write this one from the standpoint of the main character, Alice. Alice is a woman. I’m not. So not much chance of overlap there, I hear you say. Well, that’s not strictly correct.

You see, first of all, Alice falls in love with a black Labrador called – yes, you’ve guessed it – Danny. My old Lab definitely slotted in straight after my wife and daughter in my affections (outstripping both of them on occasions, but don’t tell them I said that). There’s a line in the book where the dog’s big brown eyes are trained on Alice. Her neighbour points out what she has in front of her.

‘You know what you’ve got there, don’t you? Pure, simple, uncomplicated love. It takes a lot of beating.’

So, we’ve established that Alice has inherited my love of big black dogs.

Second, Alice buys a house full of poo. Well, you see, I did that. In my real life away from the computer, I do a bit of property developing. I bought that little terrace house in a pretty Devon seaside town about ten years ago and renovated it. The history of my house is the history of Alice’s house. A loony lady lived there with some very, very idiosyncratic toilet habits. When the house was cleared, we found a toilet and a bathroom, both fully functioning. It was just that she hadn’t used them for ten years. She was a hoarder and had filled both rooms with junk. To the ceiling. So where did she go to the toilet? I won’t go into any more detail as you may be chomping your way through a slice of chocolate gateau as you read this, but it was really, really gross. The words of the house agent to Alice in the book are the real words I got from my agent.

‘This house is not for the faint-hearted.’ A strong stomach was definitely needed when viewing.

So that’s the dog and the house. Now, what about the handsome windsurfer with magnificent abs? No, I don’t have a thing for guys like that, but I did do a lot of windsurfing until I knackered my back. I know a lot about the sport and found it natural to write about it. And no, in case you were wondering, the only six pack I ever had contained lager.

What about the location? That’s me, too. I have the good fortune to live in a lovely Devon village, just like Alice. The six hundred year old church, the lychgate, the pub and the general store are the real McCoy. Although Beauchamp-by-the-Sea is my invention, it’s a composite of a number of towns near here on the east Devon coast.

The other characters? The builders are also invented, but my experiences over the years as a developer went a long way towards fleshing them out. The vicar probably owes more to Dawn French than to anybody in my life, but the handsome lord of the manor is based on a guy I know. Sorry, girls, I’m afraid he’s happily married.

Looking back over my other two books, Dirty Minds and The Room on the Second Floor, I find numerous other examples of how experiences and people in my life appear in my work. In Dirty Minds, where one would-be author is trying her hand at erotic prose, she has to explain herself to her flatmate.

‘Emile Zola wrote about coal mining, childbirth and prostitution. It’s a pretty safe bet he never tried any of them. It’s called imagination.’

And that’s what it is. Yes, you draw upon all sorts of personal experiences and memories, but, when it comes down to it, what we authors need is imagination.

 

GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2014 Releases, Blog Tour

 

One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin / Chapter 2

24 cze

And here is the chapter 2 of new Holly Martin’s book One Hundred Proposals. I don’t know about you but this book is my next read, for sure!

9781472097927_Cover

Chapter Two

I woke the next day with a start, being quite simply torn from a dream about Jack – a memory of playing with him on the beach as he tried to put wet seaweed down my back. As I became more conscious, the loss of losing him hit me all over again.

I knew immediately that someone was in the room with me. I was face down on my pillow and I leaned up and swept my curtain of tangled brown hair off my face. Harry was sitting next to me on the bed, sipping his coffee and reading my very dog-eared copy of The Hobbit.

I scowled at him. I wasn’t a morning person.

‘Do you not knock?’

Harry’s attention didn’t even waver from the page he was reading. ‘You gave me a key.’

‘I could have been naked.’

He put his book down and looked at me. ‘All the more reason for me not to knock.’

I blushed and climbed off the bed.

Most mornings I woke to this. I must admit, it was a lovely way to wake up. One night, after these early morning visits had become more regular, I went to bed in my sexiest lingerie in the hope that the following morning he would come in and be so turned on that he might immediately ravish me.  But not only did he not even bat an eyelid when he saw me in my black, satin nightie, he was more excited about his McDonalds breakfast and the free hash brown he had been given by the girl flirting with him behind the counter than what I had to offer. To add insult to injury, as I tried to arrange myself subtly into a sexy pose on the bed next to him as he chomped through his Bacon and Egg McMuffin, I had simply slithered off the bed into a crumpled heap on the floor. Nowadays it seemed much easier and more comfortable to sleep in my regular pyjamas.

Harry handed me a coffee fresh from the café round the corner. I took a sip – it was made exactly how I liked it, with three sugars and a dash of hazelnut syrup. As I went to take another sip, I realised that a small heart had been drawn in the froth on the top. I smiled and hovered near his side, peering round him to the brown paper bag I could see tucked by his hip.

He was busy reading so I coughed loudly to gain his attention. When he glanced up, I looked deliberately at the bag.

‘How do you know this is for you?’

‘Because you always bring me nice things from the café. What is it this morning, an apricot Danish, ooh a walnut plait or…’

He whisked it out the bag and showed it to me, and the words dried in my throat. Iced into the top of my favourite cinnamon swirl were the words ‘Marry Me.’

I had almost forgotten about this silly hundred proposals thing. I’d hoped he’d forgotten as well. But now it looked like he really did mean to torture me. One hundred days. One hundred different ways to break my heart.

I looked at him and he was watching me hopefully.

‘It’s certainly unique.’ I took the bun from him, and picked a currant out of it, averting my gaze from his. I forced my voice to sound normal before I spoke again. ‘If I bite into this am I at risk of swallowing a diamond ring?’

 He shook his head. ‘No ring. You said a ring was clichéd. Besides, why propose with diamonds when you can propose with cinnamon and coffee?’

‘You should take a picture of it before I eat it. Put it on the blog.’ I had a huge lump in my throat.

‘Good idea.’ He whipped out his phone, pressed a few buttons and pointed it in my direction. I held it out for him to get a good angle and realised my hands were shaking. Harry realised it too. To my shame, tears swam in my eyes.

Harry was off the bed in a second. ‘What’s wrong, what’s happened?’

‘Nothing, I’m fine. Just tired.’ I stepped away from him but he pulled me back, holding me tight and squashing the bun between us. I breathed him in, his wonderful earthy smell as he started to stroke my back.

‘Did something happen with Tiny Tim?’

I couldn’t keep up with the lie any longer and it had achieved nothing anyway.

‘We broke up,’ I said into his chest, hoping that would explain why I was soaking his shirt with my tears.

‘Oh honey, I’m sorry.’ His hand moved to my hair and my breath caught in my throat. ‘Had you been seeing him long?’

Oh what a tangled web we weave.

‘A few weeks. It wasn’t serious, but I really liked him. But obviously I liked him more than he liked me.’

‘Well then the man’s an idiot. Who wouldn’t love a girl in a cow print onesie?’

I giggled.

He tilted my face up to look at him.

‘Right, enough tears. Any man who makes you cry is not worth it.’

If only he knew.

‘Anyway, I have a day out planned for you today, so stop moping around and get yourself showered and dressed.’

He released me and we both looked at the squashed bun. Although it looked a bit worse for wear, the words ‘Marry Me’ were still very obvious on the top. Harry took a photo and I quickly ate it so I wouldn’t have to stare at the empty words any longer. It tasted good, despite the fact that with every mouthful my heart broke a little bit more.

‘So, as proposals go, is this what you imagined for yourself?’ Harry asked, when it was gone.

‘Undoubtedly. The perfect proposal. So you don’t have to bother with the other ninety-eight different ways now. Write on the blog that you bought me a cinnamon swirl and I caved. I’m a cheap date, easily pleased.’

Harry pulled a face. ‘It was a bit cheap and naff, wasn’t it? Ok, for my next one it will be something huge.’

‘Really, the cinnamon swirl was cute… and don’t underestimate the value of cute.’

But Harry was already walking away into the office, scrolling through his phone as he went.

‘Harry, are you listening? Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a personalised cinnamon swirl.’

‘Get in the shower, woman, I need to make some calls.’

I sighed. I had to sway him from this path. Ninety-eight heart-breaking days stretched ahead of me like an endless desert, with no respite from the sun.

I got in the shower and stuck my head under the stream.

No, I could do this. Proposals were my entire waking life. My dreams were plagued by them too. Something like this could only be good for business. I just had to become immune to the words. They were empty and meaningless. And now I knew that I was to expect it every day, I could prepare myself for it, pretend in my head the words meant something else.

I got dressed quickly and walked into the office.

‘Hey.’ Harry was busy typing. ‘Our blog has nineteen followers already.’

‘Our Proposer’s Blog? This hundred proposals malarkey?’

‘Malarkey? I’m offended.’ He smiled up at me briefly before returning his attention to the screen. ‘Yes, I guess they want to see what I come up with next.’

I leaned over him to see what he had written and caught a whiff of his wonderful clean earthy smell. There was the close-up picture of my squashed bun, and another picture I hadn’t realised he had taken – of me eating it, my hair a full bird’s nest, my face red and blotchy from the tears, dressed in my rather unflattering cow print onesie. Great!

Under the picture was Harry’s blog.

 

Proposer’s Blog

 

Day 2: The Cinnamon Swirl Proposal. Location: Suzie’s bedroom (I assure you, nothing saucy going on here).

 

Is the way to a woman’s heart through her stomach?

Our Suzie McKenzie has a very sweet tooth and so I thought to charm her with a sweet proposal of her own. Nadia’s Bakery, St Patrick’s Road makes the best Cinnamon Swirls in the world and it’s one of Suzie’s all-time favourite things to eat for breakfast. So when I explained the situation to the lovely Nadia this morning she was more than happy to provide me with a personalised one along with a heart-topped latte.

So what was Suzie’s reaction? She seemed a bit blasé about it actually. Wolfed it down and barely registered the words.

 

That wasn’t true of course, but it was better he wrote that than writing that I burst into tears.

 

I always thought those proposers that pop the question with a ring at the bottom of the champagne glass were silly who wants to fish the diamond ring out of the toilet a few days later? Though now Suzie’s eaten my proposal, there’s nothing left of it apart from the icing on her lips.

 

I immediately checked my lips and I saw Harry smirk out of the corner of my eye.

 

Next time, I will do something grand. Something she can’t possibly miss. Plus, who would really say yes over a 59p Cinnamon Swirl?

 

‘That makes me sound shallow,’ I said, squeezing past him to log on to my own computer.

‘Not shallow, just greedy. And don’t bother logging on, we’re going out.’

‘I can’t, it’s our busiest time of the year, you know that. Three days before Valentine’s Day, all those last minute Larrys will be phoning us up for support.’

‘I’ve already diverted the calls to your mobile and you can still pick up your emails, besides today is completely work orientated – we’re sourcing new locations, so stop making excuses and get your boots on.’

When I hesitated, he grabbed my hand and pulled me out the office.

I laughed. ‘Where are we going?’

‘First stop, we’re going to buy you some decent pyjamas, so the next boyfriend won’t be scared off by seeing you in that onesie.’

I stopped dead and when he turned to look at me, his eyes were kind.

‘Jack bought it for me,’ I said, quietly.

‘I know.’

‘I’m not getting rid of it.’

‘I’m not saying throw it out. But I know Jack, he had a wicked sense of humour and you know as well as I do that he bought it for you as a joke because you used to take the piss out of onesies and people that wore them. You know that he never intended for you to wear it at all let alone every day since his death. If you want to keep it, keep it. All I’m talking about is options. Something else you could wear that would show off that fabulous figure of yours.’

I opened my mouth to protest as the last words he said slammed into my brain. Fabulous figure?

He moved his hands to my shoulders and when he spoke his voice was soft.

‘I know you’re trying to keep your brother alive, keep him close, but he would be cringing if he could see you wearing that thing and you know that. Keep him close with your memories of him, not by compromising who you are.’

I blinked. That was very profound for half nine on a Thursday morning.

‘I’m just saying, the Suzie McKenzie I know and love wouldn’t be caught dead in something like that.’

‘I think it’s funny.’ I knew I sounded like a petulant child.

‘Yes, for about five minutes after you opened your present – it’s not quite so funny eight months later.’

He had a point. I’d washed it so many times that the white patches were now grey and the udders were looking decidedly limp.

‘And while we’re on the subject. You can stop wearing black as well. We’re not in the Victorian times anymore.’

He pulled me into the bedroom and I followed, still in shock over his brutal honesty. He opened my wardrobe and pulled out my favourite scarlet jumper dress. ‘You can wear this today with those purple leggings.’

They would clash horribly. I smiled

‘And you can wear them with those Barbie pink boots you love so much and…’ He rooted around in one of my drawers, finally found what he had been looking for, pulled it out and thrust it into my face. ‘This. You’ll wear this.’

‘But –’

‘No buts. Get changed. You have five minutes.’

I stared after his retreating back and then down at the black shirt and black trousers I had put on out of habit. In the months after Jack’s death my taste in bright and garish clothes had seemed disrespectful somehow. Was one month too soon to return back to my colourful spots, stripes and swirls? Was two months? But now it had been eight months and I had seemingly been wearing black ever since. My bright clothes even seemed to have a thin layer of dust on them as they hung forgotten in my wardrobe. Harry had a point. Again.

I came downstairs a few minutes later, dressed in my purple leggings, scarlet jumper, pink boots and my red and gold spotted sequinned beret that I adored and Jack hated because he said I looked like a toadstool. I felt lighter already.

Harry grinned when he saw me. ‘You look beautiful.’ He offered me his arm. ‘Now let’s go.’

I leaned into him and walked out into the early morning sunshine.

*

‘No way. I’m not doing that,’ I said, staring at the scene before me in horror. ‘There’s nothing romantic about that.’

‘Who says proposals have to be romantic?’ Harry said as he bent down to forcefully remove my boots.

‘It’s the rules. Flowers, fireworks, chocolates. A stuffed teddy with the words emblazoned across a red heart. Not this. Never this.’

‘I disagree.’

‘You would,’ I said as Harry pushed me gently but forcibly forwards in the queue.

‘I think proposals can be weird, funny or in the case of this little adventure, adrenaline filled.’

I was next.

‘If I die –’

‘I’ll wear a cow print onesie to your funeral. Now get up there.’

My phone rang in my pocket.

‘Oh I have to get that, shame I’ll miss my turn.’

But to my annoyance, Harry had already wrestled my phone from my pocket and had answered it. He was more than capable of dealing with our customers and he knew I knew that.

‘Are you going or what, love?’ asked a big gruff man whose face looked like it had been punched several times. His nose was bent in two places and he had a huge scar across his forehead. Had he sustained these injuries doing this? I shrunk back but Harry pushed me forward.

‘Yes she is, and send her as high as you can.’

The man nodded, somewhat evilly I thought.

I climbed the steps to my doom and they attached thin rubber cables to my harness. I kept my eyes on Harry as the man bounced behind me for a few seconds, causing me to bounce as well. A moment later I was propelled some ten feet into the air, a scream tearing from my throat. I fell back to the earth but no sooner had I touched the ground than I was sent back into the air again, this time even higher than the last.

We had been walking along the Thames when the sounds of screams had attracted us. As we rounded the corner, we saw the bungee trampolines and watched with amusement as we saw people screaming, being bounced higher and higher in the air. My amusement had quickly turned to horror when I realised Harry had paid for me to have a go, and that we had come here deliberately for this reason.

I screamed again as I flailed in the air, kicking my legs helplessly in the hope that it would slow my descent. Each time I thought I was going to crash into the ground, I came to a slow stop, bounced gracefully off the trampoline and was propelled back into the air again. As I was thrust into the air for the fifth time, a bubble of laughter escaped my throat. It was a rush – a terrifying, brilliant rush. The man bounced with me, sending me higher, and I roared with joy.

All too soon the experience was over, and the man slowed me down and stopped me. He unhooked me and I quickly clambered down the steps and ran straight into Harry’s arms, still laughing uncontrollably.

Finally my laughter subsided.

‘Thank you.’

‘You’re very welcome,’ he said, into my forehead. ‘You see, at this point, while your heart is still pounding furiously and with the grin plastered on your face, I would propose.’

‘And I would say yes.’

I felt him smile into my hair.

‘So one we can definitely add to our repertoire?’

‘Yes, I take it all back. I love it.’

‘They’re not here all the time, but the guy is going to give me his card as they go all round the UK. We can phone them up if need be and find out where they are.’

‘Excellent, it’s great to get contacts like this.’

‘Are you ready for the next part of our day?’

I pulled back, intrigued. ‘There’s more?’

‘Yes.’ He chivalrously picked up the bag containing the pyjamas he had bought me earlier. Very simple, very elegant satin pyjamas. I’d liked the black but Harry put his foot down and we’d eventually agreed on a dusty rose.

‘Was the phone call anything good?’

‘I’ve emailed over to him our basic package.’

I sighed. ‘That’s the fourth today.’

‘Hey, the basic package is a good little money earner. You know – on average – half the customers that buy the twenty pound package from us, come back and spend ten times that on a big extravagant proposal.’

‘I know, but at this time of year I kind of expect to get more big proposals rather than so many basic packages.’

Harry was right, we earned quite a bit from our basic package. For twenty pounds, we sent our customers a brochure of our top fifty proposals. Ideas ranging from the romantic to the ridiculous, top class restaurants to tiny little tucked away cafés strewn with fairy lights. We included days out, fun experiences and romantic getaways. We also included vouchers for discounts and special offers at these hotels and restaurants and if our customers went there, we also got ten percent of their final bill from the companies for introducing our customers to them in the first place. It also gave brief details of more elaborate proposals, something only we could organise, with the promise of a refund of the twenty pounds if they were to book one of the grander proposals with us.

‘Romance isn’t always about big gestures though,’ Harry said. ‘Sometimes it’s the words the man finds or the effort that he has gone to. It doesn’t have to be something expensive.’

‘I know that, the smaller gestures are sometimes the best, a message written in the sand on a favourite beach or a personalised cinnamon swirl.’ I nudged him as we walked along the road and he smiled. ‘But from a business point of view I’m not sure people paying us twenty pounds to send them to propose elsewhere is the best idea. They could spend a hundred pounds or more at these posh places. That’s a hundred pounds they could have spent with us.’

Harry switched sides with me and I wondered why as he put himself between me and two men who were arguing, placing his hand on the small of my back as he nudged me round them. I felt embarrassed by the goose bumps that suddenly exploded over my body at his touch.

Harry continued on as if he hadn’t noticed my heart leap out of my chest. ‘Most people have in their mind what kind of proposal they want to do before they contact us. For most of them it would involve some kind of romantic meal, so they’re not likely to spend their money with us anyway. By providing them with a list of romantic places to eat, not only do we get the twenty pounds but also any kickbacks from the restaurants too. We’ve probably earned more money from the basic package than we have from the big proposals – so I wouldn’t knock the smaller gestures if I were you. Come on, through here.’

Harry ducked into a tiny alleyway that wound round the corner out of sight. He knew London like the back of his hand and very rarely went on the underground. There was always so much more to see when on foot. I followed him, his hulking frame almost filling the alley wall to wall. The walls were covered in graffiti and chewing gum, but some of the pictures sprayed on the bricks were very skilful. As we came to an old boarded-up window, he stopped and as I drew near he pulled me to his side, with his hand at my waist, sending delicious shivers down my spine.

‘There’s a place called Bubblegum Alley in California, and a Chewing Gum Wall in Seattle, where millions of pieces of gum have been stuck on the walls. It’s so bright and colourful that what started as something gross has now been declared an official tourist attraction. People travel from miles around to see it and to add their own gum to it. Some have even created little works of art amongst the thousands of globules.’

He stood back a bit and pointed to the wall. There in a heart made from pink chewing gum were the words ‘Annie, marry me,’ also made from chewing gum.

‘Love can be found in the most unlikely of places, you just have to look for it.’

He stared down at me and for a moment I wasn’t sure if he was talking about him, or about me and him.

‘It doesn’t need to be about romance, just little heartfelt gestures.’

I smiled. ‘I wonder if she said yes.’

Harry pointed to the green letters written in globules of chewing gum underneath the heart. In big proud letters, the word ‘Yes’, stood out.

‘I like it.’ I grabbed my phone from my pocket and took a few shots. I had to put this on the website.

‘I knew you would.’

‘You see, I don’t need big gestures, so whatever you have planned for our next proposal, it doesn’t need to be a big yacht or a trip to the moon.’

He walked away, heading towards the sunlight that was piercing our gloom.

‘I’ll cancel the space rocket then.’

‘Harry, I’m serious. Don’t waste your money on me.’

He ignored me as we stepped out into the sunlight. He was incredibly generous with his money and he had a lot of it. He didn’t get a very good salary from me but he didn’t really need it. Years before, whilst travelling around America, he’d had the foresight to invest in a tiny little up-and-coming online social media site called Connected. He’d given a thousand dollars at the time, money he had won at a casino, and years later, when Connected had been the biggest social media site in America and probably the world, he had sold his shares for a huge sum.  He’d never told me how much he got from that little endeavour. But it was enough that he could afford the huge house on the other side of the green from me, bought when the property prices had plummeted. And he always seemed to have enough money for little gifts and meals out.

‘Spending money on you is never a waste. And we’re running late now so we’re going to have to run.’

He grabbed my hand and started jogging through the streets, winding his way expertly through the other people.

‘We could catch the tube,’ I whined, as I tried to keep up with his long-legged pace.

‘Running’s much more fun,’ Harry said, without breaking his stride.

*

The Glade at Sketch was like nothing I’d ever seen before. With its white bricked front, Sketch looked like a simple townhouse – and we’d actually walked past the place before we’d realised it was there. But down the darkened staircase and to the left, a tranquil wooded glade had been transported from some fairy tale forest to this seemingly unassuming restaurant in central London. Trees covered every wall and surface, the leaves of which were painted in every shade of green and gold imaginable. A huge chandelier dominated the ceiling, casting delicate lights over every surface from its tangle of branches. Tiny gold fireflies danced around the walls and floor. Mirrored panels near the roof moved slowly, catching the light from the huge sun roof above us and sending its rays across the room as if the sun was moving through the trees. Wicker chairs, tables and sofas with huge green embroidered cushions were placed casually throughout the room as if they were garden furniture and we were all just simply sitting out in the garden somewhere, enjoying the sun.

‘Harry Forbes, we have a reservation for afternoon tea.’ Harry said to the beautiful waitress who looked like a woodland nymph with the plaits and twists in her hair, and her floaty dress.

The waitress showed us to our table and we quickly placed an order for tea. Breakfast tea for me, something that sounded like a rare tropical disease for Harry.

‘Harry, this place is beautiful.’ I couldn’t stop looking around, until my eyes met with his and I realised he’d been watching me. ‘Thank you for today.’

‘My pleasure. I just wanted you to have some fun. You’ve been so down lately.’ He paused, awkwardly, while he rearranged the cups on the table. ‘The food here is amazing.’

I reached across and squeezed his hand. ‘Thank you.’

The afternoon tea arrived just as Harry was poised to say something else. I reluctantly let him go so there was room for our cake stand on the table.

Harry was right, the food looked and tasted amazing. The sandwiches were all topped with extras like quail eggs and caviar, bringing a simple egg mayonnaise sandwich alive with an assault of different flavours.

There was an array of cakes, all tiny, mouth-watering bites of pure pleasure, some kind of trifle and of course delicious fresh fruit scones.

‘So tell me,’ Harry said around a mouthful of something chocolaty, ‘Tiny Tim, did you and he…?’

Oh God, Tiny Tim was going to come back and haunt me forever.

I picked up some kind of pink meringue that literally dissolved as soon as it touched my tongue. I licked my lips as I played for time.

‘Did we what?’ I smirked as Harry shifted uncomfortably, waving his hands around in what I presumed was some kind of representation of the act. The man had no problem discussing his sordid sex life but he was still awkward when discussing mine. I wanted to play him at his own game.

‘He liked to dress up,’ I said as I popped some kind of fruit tart in my mouth. The fruit was crystalized and was like an explosion on my tongue.

Harry’s eyes widened. ‘Like air hostess, police woman, cheerleader, that kind of thing?’

I shook my head. ‘Lots of different things really. One of my favourites was dressing up as a unicorn and he was a lion. He liked to take me from behind and he would roar when he came.’

Harry stared at me, his face unblinking. I picked up a tiny coffee éclair and caught the eye of a tiny little old lady sitting at the next table, her fruit tart poised halfway to her mouth. I blushed, realising she had heard every word.

Still, there was no going back now.

‘He liked to dress up as one of the flower pot men, Bill normally, I’m not sure why. I was always the flower, Weed. Then Bill would come at me with his big hose.’

The old lady leaned over to me. ‘Dear, do you have the name of the shop where you bought these costumes?’

‘I don’t I’m afraid, Tim always brought them with him. I will miss his big hose.’

Harry was still staring at me. ‘I didn’t realise you were into all that weird stuff.’

I licked the icing off the top of the éclair and popped it in my mouth, trying desperately to suppress my laughter but it was to no avail. I snorted so hard that a bubble of snot burst from my nose and I quickly had to wipe it away on my beautiful cotton serviette.

‘You’re joking?’ Harry looked almost relieved.

‘Of course I am.’

‘So you guys… didn’t…’

‘It’s none of your business. Just because you like to talk about all your sexploits, doesn’t mean the rest of us do.’

‘That’s a ‘no’ if ever I heard one.’ He smiled smugly. I wasn’t going to let him get away with that.

‘It’s a ‘yes’ actually, but it was just regular sex.’ I wanted to expand on that, regular sex sounded so boring. ‘Well as regular as three hour sex marathons can be. He had the stamina of a horse. We’d do it all over the flat. On the dining table, up against a wall, in the shower, in the kitchen, on top of the washing machine, backwards, forwards, sideways, doggy style.’

The old lady choked on her fruit scone.

‘Sideways?’ asked Harry.

‘Yes. You should try it, it’s great fun. Can you pass the sugar?’

I stared down at my tea. Sideways, how exactly would that work?

‘Tell me about your plans for the summer. You said you were thinking about going to New Zealand.’

Harry recovered himself well. ‘The land of the hobbits. I would love to. Maybe hire a camper van and drive from North to South. There’s so many things I want to do, but it’s more fun doing them with someone else.’

‘Sexy Samantha not keen?’

‘She’s definitely not the camper van sort. She’s more of the ‘five star hotel with daily spa treatments’ kind of girl. We should go.’

‘I would love that, I want to see the world, every tiny little pocket of it, but no girlfriend of yours is going to be happy about you taking another woman off on holiday. Sleeping together in the back of the camper van.’ I blushed as Harry’s eyebrows shot up. ‘I meant actually sleeping – not having sex.’

The old lady leaned in closer again, ready to catch the next instalment in my sex life.

‘I should hope not,’ Harry said, his tongue licking seductively up the side of his éclair. ‘I don’t have a lion costume.’

*

I sat back and watched the gold fireflies chase each other up the walls. I was so uncomfortably full, but everything was so hard to resist, that I’d had to eat it all.

We’d had a lovely time, chatting all afternoon, but one of the main topics of conversation from the other guests was the toilets and how funny they were. I had to check them out myself.

I excused myself from the table and, following the directions of the woodland nymph waitress, I walked through another restaurant to a very white room on the other side.

The stairs leading up to the toilets were a brilliant opulent white – looking like they led to somewhere much grander than just some toilets. I walked upstairs to a brightly lit room, the ceiling decorated with beautiful rainbow tiles, but as I reached the top I stopped in my tracks. Several pods sat in a white chamber at the top of the stairs, looking like white cocoons from an alien spaceship. They were about seven foot tall and tapered off like eggs at the top.

I looked around for the toilets but there was nothing else up here. On the other side of the room were several more pods. These pods were clearly the toilets and were obviously the reason for such amusement from the other guests.

I opened the door on one of them, expecting to hear some kind of space age whoosh and was slightly disappointed when I didn’t.

Inside was the weirdest toilet I had ever seen. There was no seat at all. I walked in and closed the door behind me. It was obviously some foreign kind of toilet where you stand. A long ceramic oval hung from the wall jutting out at the bottom to catch the waste. I stared at it – how on earth was I supposed to pee in that? Backwards seemed the only safe option. With a bit of negotiating I pointed my bum in the right direction and leaned forward into a sort of half squat. I quickly finished and after redressing I left the pod, dying to tell Harry about the very weird toilets. He was standing right outside and looked shocked to see me coming out of one of the pods.

‘What?’ I said

‘These are the boys’ toilets.’

I laughed. ‘No they’re not, the waitress pointed me up these stairs.’

‘Yes, the girls’ pods are over there.’ He pointed to the other side of the stairs where several pods were bathed in pink lights in comparison to the pods where I was that were bathed in blue.

Harry peered over my shoulder and burst out laughing. ‘Did the urinals not give you a clue?’

I looked back and gasped in horror. I had just peed in a urinal. Now he had pointed it out to me it was obvious. It wasn’t some weird foreign type toilet at all, just a bog standard urinal. I felt my cheeks glow crimson.

‘I’m intrigued. How exactly did you manage to pee in there?’

I quickly hurried to the sinks and washed my hands. ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

I heard Harry go into one of the pods, his laughter so loud I could hear him from the outside.

 

To see the rest of the story pre –order your copy of One Hundred Proposals now.
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Napisane w kategorii 2014 Releases

 

One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin / Chapter 1

23 cze

Thanks to the lovely Holly you have a great opportunity to read the first chapter of her upcoming bestselles One Hundred Propsals! Isn’t it great?

And tomorrow come back for chapter 2…

9781472097927_Cover

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 clichéd, 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.

 

To see chapter 2 check back here tomorrow or pre –order your copy of One Hundred Proposals now.
http://amzn.to/1ouP9w0

 

 

 
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Weekly Wrap Up #4

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wrap-up

As you can see I was very spoiled with books this week. Very. Like in, VERY. So if next week any books arrive I promise I’m not going to whinge. I’ll concentrate on reading as many as I can, although I know it’s not going to be easy this week.

So. One of the highly anticipated books finally arrived yesterday (yuppi yay!), the second – didn’t, so I went and ordered it for me, and it’s already on my special bookshelf for books to be read asap! I was also auto – approved by Penguin (thanks guys!) on NetGalley, I guess they were tired with me and my requests and just went for the easier option with approving me :) (no, I think it lies on their new review policy, but whatever it was, I’m very, very thankful), so I went a little wild and three books come only from Penguin.

 

BOOKS I HAVE RECEIVED/BOUGHT THIS WEEK

PAPERBACKS:

Erika Johansen „The Queen of the Tearling”

Alexandra Brown „Christmas at Carrington’s”

Martina Reilly „Things I Want You to Know”

Muriel Bolger „The Pink Pepper Tree”

Judy Chicurel „If I Knew You Were Going to be this Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let you Go”

Anna Bell „Don’t Tell the Boss”

Milly Johnson „The Teashop on the Corner”

 

KINDLE:

Rebecca Raisin „The Bookshop on the Corner”

Jenny Oliver „The Vintage Summer Wedding”

Poppy Dolan „The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp”

Sophie Pembroke „An A to Z of Love”

Victoria Fox „Power Games”

Kerry Barrett „I Put a spell on You”

Sara Donovan „Love by Numbers”

Pippa Croft „The First Time we Met”

Sinead Moriarty „The Secrets Sisters Keep”

Liane Moriarty „Little Lies”

 

 BOOKS THAT I READ THIS WEEK

„Second Time Lucky” – reviewed (http://onmybookshelf.blog.pl/2014/06/17/blog-tour-sophie-king-collection/)

„Love is a Secret” – reviewed (http://onmybookshelf.blog.pl/2014/06/17/blog-tour-sophie-king-collection/)

„I am the Secret Wag” – to be reviewed

„Love Like the Movies” – to be reviewed

„When You Are Mine” – reviewed (http://onmybookshelf.blog.pl/2014/06/22/blog-tour-when-you-are-mine-by-kennedy-ryan-review-giveaway/)

I have also reviewed:

„Undertaking Love” (http://onmybookshelf.blog.pl/2014/06/20/undertaking-love-by-kat-french-book-review/)

„The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me” (http://onmybookshelf.blog.pl/2014/06/19/the-unfinished-symphony-of-you-and-me-by-lucy-robinson-book-review/)

„Two Weddings and a Baby” (http://onmybookshelf.blog.pl/2014/06/18/two-weddings-and-a-baby-by-scarlett-bailey-book-review/)

So, as you see it was a busy week, but I like busy weeks:) More such weeks to come I hope!

 
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