Dear Darling – A Valentine Special

CHAPTER TWO

I chew on my nail as I browse through houses to rent online, hoping that ‘the one’ will jump out at me soon. Tensions are running pretty high right now and there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m actually glad to get Adam away for a few days, maybe he’ll be able to relax a bit. I feel him tossing and turning in bed every night, our deadline to get out of this house is 25 February. That’s approximately 2 weeks to find somewhere we’re happy to rent for at least 6 months because the conveyancing department at work have told us we’d have to be bloody lucky or buying a repossession to be in a new house within that timescale.

I put my head on my desk and groan. Being a grown up can kiss my arse.

“Ellie, that Lease, is it ready?” Adam bursts into my room in a whirlwind. A delicious smelling whirlwind but a whirlwind nonetheless.

“Yeah, here.” I hand him the draft Lease and smile back at his bemused face. “What?” I feel at my face and something drops from my forehead. Pringle crumbs. Nice.

“I need you to book me some accommodation for a meeting next week in Manchester. Our new branch has fucked up with a major client so all the Partners are heading up to try and sort something out.”

“Sure, when for?” I mentally plan a night with Hannah now Gina has to be a proper grown up to a little person.

“Just Thursday overnight. I’ll be back Friday in time for dinner with my parents.” He’s scanning through the Lease as he talks, glancing up at me occasionally.

“A free meal always sounds good to me. I really need to get the recipe from your mum for her carrot cake, too. That counts as one of your five a day, right?” I flash him my newly whitened teeth and he laughs.

“Yes, of course it does.” He gives me a wry smile. “Right, I’m off. I’ll probably be late home tonight so grab something without me. I can’t come home to a hangry Ellie, it’s terrifying.” Kissing the top of my head, he rushes out of my office as quickly as he came.

Work was manic before Christmas. I’m talking 12 hour days, ratty clients, staff shortages, but somehow, January and February have seemed worse! It’s like those that didn’t complete their transactions before Christmas are hell bent on making my life miserable by insisting it happens right now. Not next week, not next month, now. And it doesn’t matter that their tenants can’t move in until spring, they want shizz sorted right this second. Feckers.

Ripping open the lid on my carrot and hummus snack pot, I pull up Google and look at images of New York. Because when you have work coming out of every orifice what else is there to do other than kick back and toss it off?

I hope it snows when we’re there. Not enough to affect our flights but wouldn’t that be the ultimate? New York on Valentines Day wandering around hand in hand while the snow falls.

“Ellie?” I jump as Hannah appears at my door.

“Jesus Hannah, at least give a girl some warning before making her jump like that.” I put my heart to my chest and feel my heart thudding against it.

“Guilty conscience much.” She arches an eyebrow so I give her my middle finger in return. “What’s up?” I close down the New York tab on my computer and give her my full attention because let’s face it, I’m so easily distracted that she could be telling me she was about to give birth to a sea lion and I’d simply smile and nod.

“Have you told Adam about your interview yet?”

Good mood – splat.

“No,” I shift in my seat, not meeting her gaze.

“Ellie! The interview tomorrow, how have you not told him? How have you got out of working in the morning?”

I bite my lip and smile as I remember Adam’s face. “I told him I was going for a smear.”

“ELLIE!!” Despite her anger, Hannah laughs. “You can’t lie to him, you know that don’t you?”

“I know, I know. But it’s just so hard, you know. I’m breaking up our work relationship. I just thought maybe I could go for the interview-“

“In secret?” Hannah gave me her judgey face. She gets so judgey these days when she thinks I’ve had a foolish idea or I’ve ordered 3 starters, 2 mains, a side and 2 naans from the Indian down the road then go back for a dunk of her curry sauce.

“I’ll tell him tonight.” I roll my eyes and pull up an image of New York, wondering how I’ll tell him that I don’t want to be his PA anymore without hurting his feelings. Maybe I’ll cushion the blow with new underwear.

“Good. Now let’s start planning how to take Tiffany’s by storm!” Giggling, Hannah comes around my desk and perches on the window ledge. “Oh I hope it snows. Christen has been to New York before but I want to make this special for us, you know? He took such a massive leap of faith moving to London to be with me, this will be our first proper break together.”

“Ah Han, it’ll be amazing. Oh, before I forget, Adam’s away in Manchester next Thursday, do you fancy a night at mine? We could grab food, a few cocktails, stick a girly film on? Like old times, what do you say?”

“Oh yeah, just like old times,” Hannah laughs. “What time will Arianna’s clients be knocking on the door? Thank God you’re out of that place.”

Groaning I close my eyes. The image of a stumpy, sweaty older man propositioning me in my doorway will be forever etched on my brain.

“Right, it’s a date. Better get on with some work, haven’t you heard my boss is an absolute dick?” I laughed as Hannah rolled her eyes and left me to catch up on a dozen emails, as well as downloading the holiday countdown app on my phone. Obviously.

*

Interview day rolls around all too quickly.

I’d broken the news to Adam over a bottle of champagne and a box of his favourite truffles. He’s such a woman.

To be fair, he didn’t take the news badly at all. He was however slightly pissed off that I had lied about the whole smear test thing.

“You really felt that you had to lie to me?” He asked, muting the television so that I had nowhere to look other than at his beautiful face. I squirmed under his scrutiny with nowhere to run or hide.

“No, it’s not that, I just didn’t know how to tell you and thought that after the interview, it might be easier to somehow tell you. Because after the interview I’d know whether I was good enough to work anywhere else. I’m still not sure I got the job with you because I was good enough for it.”

“Ellie.”

“No, Adam. I love you but there’s not a week goes by that I don’t wonder whether I got the job because you thought I had a nice arse.”

“Well, you do have a nice arse, that is true,” a slow smile spread across his face. “But listen to me, Ellie Darling, you are bloody good at your job. You do the job of about 4 people, all while keeping me in line and you have never once complained.  You are kind, generous, and far too helpful for your own good and even when the shit hits the fan you front it out. If you feel like you want to spread your wings and see other employers,” he smiled as he took my hand, “then so be it.”

“You old romantic, you.” Leaning in for a kiss, I was once again floored by Adam Donley. As our lips touched, I pulled at his shirt collar and climbed onto his lap. “You never cease to amaze me. From surprise weekends away to coming home on a Friday night with my favourite ice cream when you know I’ve had an awful day.” I peppered kisses across his face as I undid his shirt and slipped it down his tanned arms.

“Ellie, not here.”

“Oh yes Adam, right here. If we’re going to lose the house anyway I want to rechristen every single room, starting right here, right now. I want you Adam, in every single way, and I can feel that you’re in agreement.” I laughed, wiggling my bum as he groaned and pulled me into a long deep kiss, sitting up and pinning me underneath him.

“God I love this dress,” he whispered as he slowly unzipped the front of my dress, his fingers delicately following the trail until it fell apart. “And I love you.”

My memories are quickly poofed through like a cloud of smoke as a 6ft glamazon smiles at me from above, legs to rival Taylor Swift as I stumble to my feet, my own Bambi like legs shaking with nerves.

“Ellie Darling? Hi my name’s Lydia, it’s so lovely to meet you. Won’t you follow me?”

Elite Event Management in the world according to Gina, is the dog’s bollocks at what they do. They have organised some of the most high profile celebrity events that London has ever seen and are about to branch out to New York. I only know this because the marketing firm Gina works for swear by Elite and if Gina gives a place the thumbs up you know it’s good. One of her contacts had recently told her that a vacancy had become available and wondered whether she would be interested. She told them she’d rather eat her own liver than work those kinds of hours anymore but she knew I’d thrive on this kind of challenge so here I am. About to go for an interview for a company that, according to the rumour mill, have arranged parties for Kim Kardashian and Kanye. I figure if they’re good enough for Kimye then why the hell not go for it.

Lydia’s office was the complete opposite of what I expected. Whenever I think of someone with a reputation as good as Lydia’s, I imagine them to have an office to rival Miranda’s from The Devil Wears Prada. The office I’m faced with is muted greys and nudes, an elegant suede sofa in the corner with cream scatter cushions, a sleek Macbook sat atop a dark oak table and the most intimidating view I have ever seen. I’m talking Trump Towers view. Even Adam’s view couldn’t rival this.

“Please, take a seat. Would you like a drink?” Lydia sits opposite me, her back to the magnificent view.

“Oh no, I’m fine, thank you.” I try to swallow the nerves and pull back my shoulders. I can do this. I totally have this. All I have to do is be myself.

“Wonderful. I’ll just bring my assistant in, you’ll be working side by side so I’d like to have her around. She’s been with me almost a year and I don’t know how I managed without her now.” Lydia laughs as I smile, prepared to meet the woman who, by the sounds of it, will get the final say on whether she thinks I’m up to the task.

A secluded door opens to the left of Lydia and my face freezes on what can only be described as a manic smile.

Sophie.

Of all the mother fudging people to walk through the door it had to be her. Still blonde. Still a size 6. Undoubtedly, still a bitch.

“Ellie! Oh when I saw your name appear in my diary I hoped it would be you. How are you these days?”

I gulp, my whole body numb. Sod it, I may as well relax, it’s not like I’m going to get the job now.

“Fine, thank you. You?” I want to vomit.

“Oh I am wonderful.” A sinister smile cross her face and my defences are officially on red alert.

“You two know each other?” Lydia looks confused which makes me wonder how creative Sophie has been with her CV.

“We do indeed. I worked with Ellie briefly at a law firm some time ago. She’s remarkable at her job Lydia, slept her way to the top like a true professional.” Sophie sits back in her chair and crosses her tiny ankles that are swallowed by the chunky black boots she has on. Her fashion sense always did leave a lot to be desired.

“Oh….” Lydia turns her nose up at me. “Is this why you’re wanting to leave? Has it gone a bit sour?” I can tell she’s trying for sympathetic but her tone is enough to curdle milk.

“Not at all, and that’s not really what happened. Sophie stalked my former fiancé via Twitter, took him for herself for a slice of fame pie, tried to get me sacked which resulted in my promotion and then blamed me for her relationship turning sour. Roman is gay now, you see.” I pick up my handbag, not in the mood for a bun fight. “I’m truly sorry for wasting your time, Lydia. If I had known Sophie worked here I would never have applied for the job. Thank you for taking the time to see me. I’ll see myself out.”

I hear Sophie whispering something as I leave the room, my face burning. I want to burst into tears. I had such high hopes for this job, to spread my wings and try something a little different. I’ve worked in law for 13 years and I’m ready for a change.

As the cool February air hits me, I take a deep breath and call Adam.

“Hey gorgeous, how was it? I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon.” I want to burst into tears down the line, to slide down the wall of the building and sit on the cold pavement crying that Sophie has once again managed to stick the knife in unexpectedly. But I don’t.

“You free for lunch?” My voice is timid. I’m tired, hungry and just want to see the face of my best friend. Gina aside, obviously.

“Yeah, of course. Are you okay?” I smile to myself picturing exactly how he’ll look right about now. He will have sat forward in his chair, frowning, biting his lips as he tries to work out what’s happened and how he can fix it. He is always so good at fixing things.

I sigh, staring up at the clouds as the move lazily across the powder blue sky. “Gingers in half an hour?”

“Oh Ellie. I’ll see you soon. I’m clearing my diary for the day as we speak, don’t worry about whatever has happened. We’ll fix it.”

Adam Donley. My very own Superman.

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Dear Darling – A Valentine Special

Gooood evening everyone! There was a slight fudge up with posting so I’m so sorry that you’ve been without for the last 2 days. I guess this means you’ll be treat to a double whammy soon 😉

Enjoy xx

CHAPTER ONE

Christmas is well and truly over, the ‘January blues’ are still hanging around, and I have about a stones worth of salted caramel profiteroles sticking to my arse courtesy of Marks and Spencer.

Running my hand down the list of chart DVDs at the supermarket, I wonder which new miracle workout DVD to buy, if any. Will it be the reality tv star who sacrificed her weekly kebabs and pints of beer for the tiny bikini body she’s now sporting, the presenter who I just can’t seem to trust because she smiles too much for someone who isn’t high, or a bootcamp master that could potentially kill me off with the warmup alone. Decisions, decisions.

“You could try the old fashioned route. You know, join a gym?” Gina raises a perfectly groomed eyebrow at me as she bounces Mathilda on her hip, wiping the drool from her chin.

“You know what I’m like, I’d pay the joining fee, turn up to my first session with the personal trainer, see the other women barely out of their teens bouncing about on the treadmill with their boobs still where they belong and flee like the coward I am. No, I think at home sessions are the best way forward.”

“But half of these DVDs are made by celebrities that purposely gained the weight just so they could lose it for a profit. Surely Adam would help you work it off?” She winks as I shake my head and cover Mathilda’s tiny ears.

“Firstly, Adam refuses to condone any extreme measures where my weight is concerned because he thinks I look perfect and likes the extra boobage. Secondly, 3 times a day 7 days a week wouldn’t help with the amount I’ve eaten over Christmas. I also blame you and your cravings. And Dale. Why is it that I was the one who always had to go on the cream cake shop for you, not to be crude but it wasn’t me that fertilised you and turned you into a walking garbage disposal.”

“Dale got the 2am trips for salad cream and red onion for my sandwiches. Anyway fat arse, don’t blame me for your lack of self-control. I gave birth well before Christmas and your festive cream cake obsession kicked in. You do realise that just because something is a limited edition it doesn’t mean you’ve got to eat enough of it to make up for the 11 months it’s not on sale, don’t you?” Kissing Mathilda’s head, Gina nudges me away from the DVDs and guides me towards the salad aisle. “Just stock up on salad and green tea so if all else fails, you’ll pee your weight off.”

“Nice. Thanks.” Adjusting my bra that’s steadily impaling me, I load my basket up with salad and tea bags and head to the checkout. Hannah insists that my new waistline is contentment and that I could just not buy the treats in the weekly shop. We’re no longer friends.

I joke, of course, but I mean there’s really no need to take such extreme measures is there? She may as well have sworn at me.

What I didn’t admit was that she was probably right. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time now that I’m with Adam. We cook together too every weekend which means that the days of a bottle of wine and Pot Noodle for my Saturday evening meal are long gone. My parents are thrilled with my new ‘healthier’ physique but I need exercise and until I start to tone up my jiggly bits, I refuse to shop for anything new. Apart from bras. This one really is digging in.

“How is Adam anyway? You guys found a house yet?” Mathilda gurgles and chews on her chubby little hand as Gina straps her into her baby seat and fights with the pram.

“He’s fine, stressing about finding somewhere as nice as where we are now.” The day the owner of his rented house decided he didn’t want to sell to us was a dark day indeed. I clung onto the bathtub like a child with their favourite blanket as he argued it out with the grumpy old git of a landlord. My apartment was long gone since Arianna moved back to the UK and decided that London was where her soul felt most at ease. I called bullshit on that and my guess is she ran out of money and wanted to get back some of her old clients from her call girl days, so all in all we haven’t had the best of luck where property is concerned.

“Well, you know my old apartment is empty at the moment, you can always stay there if you get stuck.”

“Thanks, G. Right, I’d better get back to work, sleeping with the boss won’t save me from the dead eye from the others if I’m late back.”

“Okay, give Hannah my love. And on a serious note babe, you look gorgeous, you don’t need to lose any weight.”

“Yeah, yeah.” I bat her away and blow kisses at Mathilda. “You just don’t want me raiding your wardrobe since the whole coffee down the cashmere incident.”

Glaring at me, Gina gets into the car and gives me the finger. Such a smashing role model.

 

*

 

“So I’ve been thinking,” Adam starts as he spoons out the salad onto my plate. We move in perfect synchronicity as I grab the steak from the griddle pan, doing my best to avoid the hiss and spits as I plate up.

“Go on,” I pour the wine and wait.

“These last couple of months have been incredibly stressful for us both, between work and having to move out of this place, and I think we deserve a break. We didn’t even celebrate our anniversary properly in November it was so hectic.”

My mind flashes back to our anniversary night and I feel myself blush. We may not have made it out but we certainly celebrated most of the night.

“Sure,” I cough. “Where were you thinking?” I silently pray it’s not somewhere that I’d need to get bikini ready for in a matter of weeks.

“How about a long weekend in New York? How would you feel about that?” He sits back in his chair and watches me as my fork hovers in limbo.

“Seriously?! That would be amazing! New York is right at the top of my bucket list! When?”

I watch relief flood his face, his dark eyes dancing as he bites his lip and takes my hand. I swallow hard and try to smile. I might be having a bad day because my work trousers are so tight that the top button has been undone all day, but nobody has ever made me feel as special and sexy and important as Adam does every single day.

“I’m so glad you said that because it’s already booked.” He laughs and his eyes crinkle in that way I love. “We fly out on Friday. Happy Valentines!”

Leaping from my seat, I throw myself into his lap and kiss his face like a dog who hasn’t seen his owner all day – which is pretty much how I feel at work anyway not being able to kiss him as and when I want.

“Have I told you lately how much I love you?” I ask.

“Hmmm, now that you mention it, not for a while. You can always show me tonight though.” His hand travels up my back and under my silk shirt and I smile against his mouth.

“Deal, Mr Donley. When did all this happen?!”

“Well Gina and Hannah have both said that they’re worried about you and so am I. We thought a break would do you the world of good and I know how much you love America. The only thing is….” He trails off and sucks air through his teeth, “they’re coming with us. Well, Gina and Dale, Hannah and Christen. We don’t have to see them but we all thought that a night out together letting our hair down might be nice. No work worries, no stresses at home.”

“It sounds perfect. I’m a very lucky lady to have so many people in my life that love me,” I laugh. “Although I’m not sure why you’re worried?” I spear a potato and chew slowly.

“Ellie, Gina rang me today to tell me about the exercise DVDs. You’re a beautiful, sexy, vivacious woman that lights up whatever room she walks into. You do not need to lose weight, okay?” His voice is firm, commanding, and I may have just peed my pants a little. “You want to get fit, fine. But you need to get the losing weight mission out of your head because you’re perfect, just the way you are. Also, you’re a bloody nightmare when you’re hangry.”

“You’re an idiot,” I laugh. “But I love you.”

Catch up on Chapter two soon………

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Why I’m proud to be self published

When I first started on my self-publishing adventure, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. What I did know though, was that I loved to write and that the chances of me being able to go the traditional route were quite slim. At this point, I had no idea that the likes of Carina existed where you can approach them yourself and don’t have to wait about 3 months just to get some kind of response.

My first step was trying to get a Facebook author profile and page set up, and then hope that I stood a chance of finding other people that not only wrote, but that were friendly and of a similar mindset. Or at the very least, not bots haha

Then I joined Twitter. Lordy me, the hours I spent trying to fathom out exactly how to use it and not feel like a prize idiot just talking to myself with 0 followers. And don’t get me started on the 140 character thing! Soul destroying. But I carried on and persevered because I was determine to publish my book. I already had a friend who had self-published a book, but she had started out on FanFiction writing her versions of Fifty Shades and such and had a pretty large group of fans that crossed over to her Facebook. People loved her work. Then there was little old me who just adored Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk; all I wanted to do was write something to make people laugh, something that I would love to read. I didn’t have a clue that people were being so negative about chick lit let alone ‘indie’ authors.

Although my start was shaky, I soon discovered a wonderful thing called a blog tour! It sounded perfect! But then I realised the only tour hosts I had come across charged much more than I could afford; so I organised my own. At this point, the wonderful Tracie Banister had taken me under her wing and invited me to join a group on Facebook that was full of chick lit writers, and she also gave me tips on how to arrange my own tour. But then I had no idea how to approach these unicorn like creatures known as book bloggers. I genuinely wanted to cry.

Self-publishing can be a lonely journey when you don’t have an agent or editor to ask for help. I’m certain I offended a few bloggers too (unknowingly might I add!) when I approached them. I made sure to check out their blogs and review policies, but you know when you’re so eager to be a part of an amazing blog that you adore, that you probably don’t quite get it right. I also know for a fact that I sent one email to the wrong blog with the wrong names on. I wanted to die of embarrassment. I was new and naive and just wanted people to give me a chance. The funny thing I began to notice though, was that a lot of bloggers only accept work from published authors or their agents. I didn’t really understand why at the time, but now I’ve just released my fourth book, I’m a LOT wiser than I was back then.

My first tour went amazingly well. Most of the bloggers that gave me a chance in those early days have remained by my side becoming firm friends and have continued to be my cheerleaders. They have supported me, they have tweeted about me, they have recommended me, but still, some people won’t touch a self-published author with a ten-foot bargepole.

I do appreciate that there are some self-absorbed authors out there that think that because they’ve written a book, everyone should want to read it; ‘not into horror? So what, it’s a book, you should read it.’ *rolls eyes*. I also appreciate that there are some that don’t bother to edit their work. But I can’t help but wonder how many brilliant authors aren’t getting a chance because they’re labelled as self-published, like it’s something that should be avoided like the plague. Being self published takes a lot of hard work, long hours, dozens of edits, doors closing, expense, and still people assume that because you haven’t got a contract with a big publishing house, you must be worthless. I too spend months and months working on my novels and work just as hard as traditionally published authors. The number of edits I give my work is ridiculous (although in the early days, I probably didn’t realise that 2 or 3 edits was nowhere near enough), the number of people that help me is amazing, and the hours I spend worrying over whether I’m still good enough is bonkers, but I’m passionate. I’m lucky to have proved myself to a degree and to have people who can’t wait to read what I write, but it takes hard work. I like my covers to look perfect, I like to make a good impression, and hopefully one day, it won’t matter that I’m ‘just another self-published author’.

I hope this post doesn’t sound like a rant, it’s not meant to be. I wanted to write this to show how proud I am of where I’ve come from. I am a self-published author. I have spent a lot of money to make sure my work looks professional. I have spent hours perfecting my novels and promoting my ass off. I also have a lot of blogger friends now who are always there to offer a helping hand or to listen to me rant when I need to.

I am responsible for hitting that publish button and setting my own deadlines. I’m in control of how much I charge for my book, when it goes on sale and how my cover looks.

I am a self published author and I am proud!

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Dear Darling – Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal

Today is the day that I’ve been SO looking forward to since I put Dear Darling out there for the world to add on Goodreads……COVER REVEAL DAY!!

Many people will vouch for me when I say I’ve been like a child at Christmas with this cover, patience is not one of my strongest virtues but I got there. Eventually. Anyway, without further ado, here is the cover for my new release which will be out on 31 July!

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What it’s all about:

‘I’m 30 years old and sat celebrating with a greasy pizza and a bottle of cheap plonk.’

On her 30th birthday, Ellie Darling decides that it’s time to start a diary. Mainly as a reminder for when she’s old and living with cats that she once had a life that wasn’t all bad. Even if it was one where at 30 years of age, she still refused to spend that extra £3 on the good wine instead of chocolate.

But when the only proposal she gets from her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day is that of a threesome, she decides that enough is enough! With a new, improved job as Personal Assistant to one of the most feared Partners at her law firm – one that she doesn’t seem to be able to stop dreaming about – Ellie decides that this will be her year. And if she has to run errands for her boss’ neurotic Russian girlfriend or drag her best friend to a sponsored cycle with her now gay first love, then so be it.

Let me know your thoughts!

You can also add Dear Darling on Goodreads here.

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Travel and Writing

As I prepare for my new release, I’ve been thinking a lot about what really inspires me as an author and have realised, shockingly late in the day, that as well as real life and the people around me, I’m heavily influenced by travel. The places I’ve been or the places I’d love to see help me focus my mind and gather my thoughts. The research side of things also helps take my mind off of the pressures of deadlines and gives my brain a welcome nudge too.

Take for example San Francisco. My debut novel, The Story of Us is set in the magical city by the bay, a place I have been lucky enough to visit twice already and will be returning to next year. I can’t get enough of SF and all someone has to do is mention those fatal words, ‘have you been?’ and my mouth just won’t stop. I could talk for hours about the haunting feel of Alcatraz as you pull up to the dock, the shivers you get down your spine as you walk towards the imposing prison, the fact hell will freeze over before you’ll get me there on a night tour! Or the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park where you really feel like you’re in Japan, surrounded by many sculptures, bridges, ponds and plants it’s easy to lose yourself while sipping a speciality tea or pink lemonade in my case. Haight Ashbury where you’re thrown back into the 60s or Pier 39 where the sea lions sit basking as tourists look on in awe (though they are quite noisy and whiffy, I won’t lie). So when it came to settings for Lexi to escape to in The Story of Us, there really was nowhere else that I would have wanted to escape to myself when writing.

My second novel follows Lexi around London and Yorkshire, which for me was again, like travelling. I live in Yorkshire but love London, so to be able to include Oxford Street and the wonders of London in my book was brilliant.

Learn To Love Again has a slightly different tone to it but still, inspiration for my setting came from a spur of the moment visit to see my Uncle up in Saltburn-by-the-Sea. It’s a wonderful coastal town that became the location of Barton-by-the-Sea, the small village that Lillie grew up in and the setting for my latest novella.

Dear Darling, while set in London, also visits Miami. Miami has been on my bucket list for years and I would love to go. Researching the hotels, the beaches, the attractions, was so thrilling and exciting that I almost felt like I was planning my own holiday. Nothing would have pleased me more than to jet off and do some thorough research but alas, Google had to come to my rescue instead.

It’s a funny old thing, inspiration. It comes when you’re least expecting it and shoots a bolt of excitement through your veins when you start piecing things together, raring to write and explore the wonderful world that has entered your brain.

There are still many places that I will be bringing to you soon, Tuscany is high on my list of locations because after spending a part of my honeymoon in Florence and exploring Tuscany, I cannot wait to share it with you!

Writing this post has been quite an eye opener for me really. I’ve always known that food has played a big part of my inspiration (mainly because I just love to eat) but now when I’m asked in an interview what inspires me, I feel like I can give a better response. Travel. Travel is what inspires me. Travel is what makes me want to mould and shape new characters and tell you all their tales; it’s what excites me when I visit a new place, and travel is what makes me want to write away furiously before the moment passes ha

I want to share with you a few of my favourite photographs of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. Some are of places that I have written about, some you will read about very soon, but until then, enjoy…….

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Siena, Tuscany

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Siena, Tuscany

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Looking out towards San Gimignano, Tuscany

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The infamous Pier 39 seal lions – San Francisco

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Lombard Street – San Francisco

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The infamous Bush Man – San Francisco

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IHOP, the place where dreams come true…..well, if you dream about pancakes that is.

The famous Cliff Lifts leading to the sea – Saltburn-by-the-Sea

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Saltburn-by-the-Sea Pier

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Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

WALLBANGER

Official description:

‘Caroline Reynolds has a fantastic new apartment in San Francisco, a KitchenAid mixer, and no O (and we’re not talking Oprah here, folks). She has a flourishing design career, an office overlooking the bay, a killer zucchini bread recipe, and no O. She has Clive (the best cat ever), great friends, a great rack, and no O.

Adding insult to O-less, since her move, she has an oversexed neighbor with the loudest late-night wallbanging she’s ever heard. Each moan, spank, and–was that a meow?–punctuates the fact that not only is she losing sleep, she still has, yep, you guessed it, no O.

Enter Simon Parker. (No, really, Simon, please enter.) When the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. Their late-night hallway encounter has, well, mixed results. Ahem. With walls this thin, the tension’s gonna be thick…’

Review

I love, love, love this book! Alice Clayton’s style of writing is sharp, on point and exceptionally witty.

I must admit, I’m a huge fan of authors such as Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella etc, but I found myself actually laughing out loud at Wallbanger to the point where I genuinely worried about my bladder control. Alice Clayton is now one of my absolute favourites!

At the beginning of the book we are introduced to Caroline, an interior designer who has just moved in to her new San Francisco apartment and when armed with her trusty Kitchen Aid, can bake a mean zucchini loaf!

Simon, her noisy, wallbanging neighbour, is a photographer with a harem of women in tow and a bad habit of knocking paintings off of Caroline’s adjoining wall.

Everything comes to a head one night when Caroline is rudely interrupted fantasising about the delectable Mr Clooney and the equally thrilling Jason Bourne. Banging on his door in nothing but a pink nightie, they finally come face to face, with Caroline not quite prepared for how sexy her wallbanger is!

This is the second time I’ve read Wallbanger and I still can’t get enough. Each character adds their own special something to the book, one of my personal favourites being Clive, her cat. He reminds me of my own cat who, quite frankly, also got away with murder.

I’ve tried to make this review spoiler free, hence why it’s fairly short, but anybody who enjoys some quality women’s fiction, a swoon worthy male lead and a literal laugh-out-loud story will LOVE this.

5 STARS

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It’s been a while….

Hey lovelies!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, well, 12 months if we’re being precise but that’s mainly because I’ve been lost in a sea of novel writing and wedding planning. The good news is though, I’M MARRIED! Yes, the wedding planning and all of the stress that came with it is now over and I couldn’t be happier.  I realise that sounds very negative but planning our wedding really was one of the most stressful times of my life, beaten only by being ill and needing hospital admission. I am thrilled to be Mrs Robinson though *insert joke here, I know you want to*

I wanted to do this post to get you up to speed on what’s been happening, aside from my wedding.

Back in November 2014, I released Home for The Holidays, the second book in the Lexi series. If you were a fan of The Story of Us, pick up your copy of Home for The Holidays here.

Then, in March of this year, I released Learn To Love Again which is completely different to Lexi and Co. Aside from being a novella, it’s quite an emotional read but one that’s also full of hope and looking to the future. The blog tour went really well but most recommended that you keeps tissues handy haha so I must be doing something right? If you fancy a read of that, for just 99p/99c then grab your copy here.

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I’ve also been working very hard at getting my next novel out to you, which I’m pleased to announce will definitely happen on 31 July 2015! How exciting! It’s called Dear Darling, and you can add it to your Goodreads here.

What it’s all about:

‘I’m 30 years old and sat celebrating with a greasy pizza and a bottle of cheap plonk.’

On her 30th birthday, Ellie Darling decides that it’s time to start a diary. Mainly as a reminder for when she’s old and living with cats that she once had a life that wasn’t all bad. Even if it was one where at 30 years of age, she still refused to spend that extra £3 on the good wine instead of chocolate.

But when the only proposal she gets from her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day is that of a threesome, she decides that enough is enough! With a new, improved job as Personal Assistant to one of the most feared Partners at her law firm – one that she doesn’t seem to be able to stop dreaming about – Ellie decides that this will be her year. And if she has to run errands for her boss’ neurotic Russian girlfriend or drag her best friend to a sponsored cycle with her now gay first love, then so be it.

I have a ton of book reviews to share with you too, once I get them all down haha but because I’ve wanted to clean up my blog a bit, give it a revamp and generally sort myself out, I’ve updated some of my ancient reviews and will be resharing. signature