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Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Lost Child - Ann Troup


Mandy Miller disappeared from Hallow’s End when she was just 3 years old. She was never found.

Thirty years on, Elaine Ellis is carrying her mother’s ashes back to Hallow’s End to scatter them in the place that she once called home. Elaine has never been there, but it’s the only place Jean talked about while she was growing up – so it seems as good a place as any.

As Elaine settles into her holiday cottage in the peaceful Devonshire village, she gets to know the locals; family she never knew she had, eccentric and old-fashioned gentry, and new friends where she would least expect them. But she is intrigued by the tale of the missing girl that the village still carries at its heart, and which somehow continues to overshadow them all. Little does she know how much more involved in the mystery she will become…

For fans of Lesley Thomson, Diane Chamberlain and Rosamund Lupton


Author: Ann Troup
Title: The Lost Child
Publishers: Carina
Publication Date: 21st May 2015
Link: Amazon


My Review

First of all, as soon as I read the blurb about Ann, I thought she sounded great fun, especially the comments about killing houseplants and her attitude to housekeeping, she basically sounded like a girl after my own heart. Then the cover of the book was really eye catching with the haunting image of the lonesome child.


I had picked up a buzz from twitter about this book and felt intrigued about it so decided to give it a go. From the moment I picked it up to start reading it I was drawn straight in to the story of Elaine Ellis who wants to scatter her mother Jean's ashes in Hallow's end as it's the only place where her mother had mentioned a childhood memory.
When a young girl called Brodie tries to help her unload her luggage from the car to the property she has rented, she is horrified when her mother's ashes blow into her face and scatter around.
Elaine soon discovers that the residents of Hallow's end are still haunted by three year old Mandy Miller's disappearance, even though it was thirty years ago and she eventually becomes caught up in the mystery.
This book is brilliantly written and there are twists and turns from beginning to end, I particularly loved the way Elaine's mother, although dead, was cleverly intertwined throughout the story, still wreaking havoc wherever she appeared.
It's an interesting approach to think of the effects on so many people when a child is abducted and actually to wonder whether their life had been better or worse.
Although it appeared during the original investigation led by Jack Pearce that no one knew anything about the disappearance, it soon transpires that too many secrets were kept and lies told. There are many traumatic experiences in the book and examples of mental illness, such as Shirley, Mandy's mum, who never got over the loss of her daughter. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who loves a mystery and a bit of intrigue, I would say it is on a par with the brilliant Lynda La Plante and I can't wait for Ann's next book.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Ann, Carina and Netgalley for the chance to review this brilliant book.
Click here to read our amazing author interview with Ann.


Sincerely
Book Angel

About the Author


Ann lives in Devon in a small house just a pebble’s throw from the beach. She shares her home with her husband and a small white dog, both occasionally allow her to be inattentive to them so that she can write. Her many skills include an unparalleled ability to consume coffee and the gift of being able to kill houseplants by merely admiring them. In addition to that she is a great proponent of the Miss Havisham method of housekeeping, which includes regarding cobwebs and dust as nature’s ornaments. Her debut novel The Lost Child will be published by Carina UK on 19/5/2015.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Blog Tour, Coming up Roses - Rachael Lucas

Country air, cowslips and a charismatic rogue . . .

Would-be gardener Daisy can't believe her luck when her parents announce they're off on a midlife-crisis gap year, leaving her in charge of their gorgeous garden. After a turbulent few months, a spell of quiet in the countryside is just what she needs.

A shoulder to cry on wouldn't go amiss either - so when Daisy comes across Elaine and Jo, she breathes a sigh of relief. But her new friends are dealing with dramas of their own . . .

As Daisy wrestles the garden into something resembling order, her feelings for handsome Irishman George, begin to take root. But Daisy's heart's desire - her parent's garden - is under threat, and she is forced to confront nosey neighbours and fight greedy developers. Village life is turning out to be far from peaceful.

Author: Rachael Lucas
Title: Coming up Roses
Publishers: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 21st May 2015
Link: Amazon



My Review



Welcome to the village of Steeple St John, the quintessential English haven of beautiful gardens. When Daisy Price has nowhere else to go after a disastrous relationship, she heads to Orchard Villa, her parents home. They have gone travelling and asked her to house sit for them. Whilst she is there she decides to put her newly acquired gardening skills to good use and attempts to rectify the once beautiful garden to it's former glory. She manages to achieve this with the help of Thomas who was the original gardener of the house many years before.
Daisy plans to stay hidden away from everybody but is soon drawn into village life and makes new friends, including the perfect wife and lifestyle blogger, Elaine and Jo who is a counsellor. The three friends manage to help each other through some tricky times. When the beautiful garden of Orchard Villa comes under threat by a property developer, Daisy finds herself taking centre stage in a campaign to stop it.

Although the last thing she is looking for is love, could it have found her?

A lovely book to relax with at the end of a summer's day sipping a large glass of wine, surrounded by the subtle scent of beautiful flowers. The characters were lovable with real stories around them and the descriptions of the countryside made me feel like I was there. I think it's a sign of a good book when you care about the characters and I can honestly say I would love to know what happens next for Daisy and her friends. I look forward very much to reading more of Rachael's books.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan and to Rachael for allowing me to review.

Sincerely 
Book Angel

About the Author

Rachael Lucas
Rachael Lucas is an author, coach and freelance writer.

Her debut novel SEALED WITH A KISS was downloaded over 130,000 times on Kindle and was a bestseller.

She lives and works in a Victorian house by the seaside in the North West of England with her partner (also a writer) and their six children.

Find out more about Rachael at her website rachaellucas.com, have a look at the planning boards for her books on Pinterest.com/rachaellucas1 and you can tweet her @karamina

Blog Tour: Author Interview 'The Lost Child' - Ann Troup



Mandy Miller disappeared from Hallow’s End when she was just 3 years old. She was never found.

Thirty years on, Elaine Ellis is carrying her mother’s ashes back to Hallow’s End to scatter them in the place that she once called home. Elaine has never been there, but it’s the only place Jean talked about while she was growing up – so it seems as good a place as any.

As Elaine settles into her holiday cottage in the peaceful Devonshire village, she gets to know the locals; family she never knew she had, eccentric and old-fashioned gentry, and new friends where she would least expect them. But she is intrigued by the tale of the missing girl that the village still carries at its heart, and which somehow continues to overshadow them all. Little does she know how much more involved in the mystery she will become…

For fans of Lesley Thomson, Diane Chamberlain and Rosamund Lupton


Author: Ann Troup
Title: The Lost Child
Publishers: Carina
Publication Date: 21st May 2015
Link: Amazon

Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog.
Hello, and thanks so much for having me here today.


What was the inspiration behind this novel?
The idea for The Lost Child has been rattling around in my mind for some time. For a long time I was a psychiatric nurse and I often worked with people who had been affected by loss, even some who’d had to deal with the tragedy of having lost a child or family member in traumatic and mysterious circumstances. Though my book is not based on any one person’s experience, the plot is based around how such a thing can have a devastating effect on individuals and whole communities. In my experience we often have to fight for our happy endings in life. I wanted to write a novel that shows what happens when secrets and lies are allowed to run riot, and how tenacity and determination can win the day. So, the inspiration behind the book comes from my past experience and my imagination. I suppose all stories start with the question ‘what if…?’


Did you always want to be a writer?
I think I always fantasised about being a writer, but for a long time didn’t believe that it would ever come to anything. I have always written and always enjoyed the process, and I had ‘publish a novel’ on my bucket list. I have always been someone with a can do attitude, even if I’m really bad at things I will always have a go and see what happens. Writing hasn’t turned out too badly, but baking…well, no matter how many times I say ‘I can do that’, I am the world’s worst baker. My homemade bread could be used as a weapon of mass destruction and even my dog refuses my cakes. I think it’s why I stick to crime and mystery, I’m far better equipped for dark, twisty and disastrous than I am for anything else! But I do like a neat ending and will always tie up the loose ends in my books.


What other jobs have you had?
Well, as I mentioned, I was a psychiatric nurse for quite a few years. I have also worked with young offenders and women who have been victims of domestic violence – which is where the dark and twisty side of me comes from I think. In more recent years I have owned an Art Gallery and a cafĂ© (you’ll be relieved to hear that I didn’t do the baking, but I can whip up a mean bacon sandwich). Now I get to write full time, which is a real luxury and one that I appreciate every day.


How did it feel when your first novel was published?
As it was only recently I think it’s still sinking in. At first it was a combination of massive excitement and abject terror – it’s out there, but what will people think? Fortunately, so far, I’ve had some lovely, considerate and well thought out reviews, which is wonderful. It’s a lovely feeling to know that people have enjoyed something that you have created, but also a worry as I know not everyone will like it. I’d be a rare person if I could please everyone.


Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
I don’t think I ever have, though sometimes I look back at what I have written in a day and wonder how my brain could have spilled out such dire verbiage. Thank goodness for self-editing and editors! I suppose I just keep writing and worry about it later, if the words are on the page they can be changed, it’s only if they don’t exist at all that writers block might become a problem. Fortunately for me I am never short of something to say, maybe not quite so fortunate for everyone else though ;)


What motivates you to keep writing?
Mostly the hundreds of stories and characters that pop up in my head, unless I write them down the ideas and people wont leave me alone so I am compelled to tell their stories and give them voice. It’s quite hard to make lots of money from writing, despite the few massive success stories we hear about, so for me the motivation is the sheer pleasure I get from indulging my imagination.


What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Read widely in your preferred genre, learn from those who do it well but make sure to find your own voice.
If you are going to pitch to agents, do your homework, read their submission guidelines and follow them. Most rejections happen because people don’t follow the rules.
Write to please yourself and write the book you want to read. If it doesn’t please you, it’s unlikely to please anyone else.


Who is your favourite author and why?
This is never an easy question; there are so many authors who have written wonderful books. My instant, buy everything she has ever written author is Kate Atkinson. She writes beautifully, intelligently and can do things with the English language that I can only dream of, I am never disappointed by her books and they often stay with me for a long time. A book that haunts me afterwards is a good book. I’m also quite fond of a good Lee Child, a bit of Jack Reacher and his particular brand of rough justice can shake my darkest moods.


If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Crikey, that’s a hard one. I’m quite old fashioned in my music tastes so I think it would have to be Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel. It’s very short but the lyrics sum up the themes in The Lost Child perfectly.


Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
First it’s very hard to choose a favourite character, so if you don’t mind me being cheeky I’m going to choose two. I would cast Jason Isaacs as Dan because he’s a bit tasty and I think he would be able to get the moodiness spot on. She’s probably a bit old to do it now, but I’d have Noomi Rapace as Brodie, I think she’d be able to handle both the attitude and the innocence of Brodie’s character, but I wonder if she’d manage the Devon accent? – I’ve lived here for thirteen years and I still can’t master it

Thank you so much Ann for joining us on our blog today and good luck with the book.

Enter here for your chance to win a £5 Amazon voucher courtesy of Ann Troup


Sincerely
Book Angels



About the Author


Ann lives in Devon in a small house just a pebble’s throw from the beach. She shares her home with her husband and a small white dog, both occasionally allow her to be inattentive to them so that she can write. Her many skills include an unparalleled ability to consume coffee and the gift of being able to kill houseplants by merely admiring them. In addition to that she is a great proponent of the Miss Havisham method of housekeeping, which includes regarding cobwebs and dust as nature’s ornaments. Her debut novel The Lost Child will be published by Carina UK on 19/5/2015.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Truly, Madly Greekly - Mandy Baggot

Sun, sea and a sexy stranger - a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated
Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…
Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.
With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.
But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Author: Mandy Baggot
Title: Truly Madly Greekly
Publishers: Bookouture
Publication Date: 22nd May 2015
Link: Amazon

My Review

Having just finished reading this I find I am going around the house with Greek music playing in my head and a feeling of still being on holiday. The characters are believable and likable, each with their own complicated lives and in Ellen and Yan's cases they are both hiding dark secrets which they feel the other wouldn't like if they ever found out about them. The relationship between Ellen and Lacey was so typical of an older and younger sister where they can fall out with each other one minute and then love and protect each other fiercely the next.
Yan is an adonis of a man who Ellen is really wary of as she knows what these holiday reps are like but once they get past the mutual frostiness towards each other he proves to be a sensitive and loving soul as well as a gorgeous, muscly sex God!! Their relationship brings out deep feelings of tenderness as well as lust. Ellen knows she has to go back to England to face the music for her dark secret which is hidden in a locked drawer in her office but all she really wants to do is help Yan to overcome his weaknesses and live his dream. 
This book is perfect for lying on the beach, ordering a cocktail and maybe indulging in a little water exercise as you never know who is watching you in Corfu. 

Thankyou to Mandy and Bookouture for allowing me to review.

Sincerely
Book Angel

About the Author

Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads. She is represented by Kate Nash of The Kate Nash Literary Agency.

In 2012 she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK's Festival of Romance and has since scooped Top Ten Reads/Book of the Year places from a number of UK book bloggers.

Traditionally published by US publisher Sapphire Star, Harper Collins' digital first romance imprint, Harper Impulse, and most recently, digital fiction specialists, Bookouture, a great story is never far from her fingertips!

A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, Mandy is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women's networking groups.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, World's Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1's Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen

Saturday, 9 May 2015

We Are All Made of Stars - Rowan Coleman


















"Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved... Wherever you look, I will be there."


Author: Rowan Coleman
Title: We are all made of Stars
Publishers: Ebury Press (Fiction)
Publication Date: Hardback 21st May, Paperback
Link: Amazon
Stella is a nurse who works at Marie Francis hospice, she was happily married until her husband came back from Afghanistan with life changing injuries and now they are living pretty separate lives and are both unhappy. Stella throws herself into her job and is often asked by the patients to write personal letters on their behalf, many of which contain their dying wishes and things they always wanted to say to loved ones.
Hope is a young girl with cystic fibrosis who has been a patient at the hospice and we follow her story too, her friendship with Ben and how her life is impacted by the death of another young patient.


My Review

This is such a unique and fascinating concept about death and life and love. I've never read a book quite like it. It's a comforting thought that someone could write a letter to your loved ones before it's too late. The letters that Stella wrote on behalf of the patients were intertwined throughout the story, some of which were tender and caring, others just a chance to finally get something off their chest. Stella never revealed the often heart breaking contents to anyone else, but one letter makes her feel that she might have to get involved to avoid more regrets so she struggles with her conscience over whether to reveal the big secret of one of her patients. Stella has her own problems with her marriage since her husband was injured in Afghanistan.
Hope and Ben have been friends since they were younger and he has always been there for her throughout her illness but when he drunkenly kisses her everything changes and it looks like their friendship will never be the same, especially when she stares death in the face.
Hugh had lost his dad and still thinks about him alot. He tries to keep himself to himself and lives with his cat Jake who has a secret life of his own. The one thing that all the characters have in common is that they are faced with death in one way or another and all deal with it in their own way.
This book is very sad throughout and is on a similar level to 'The Fault in our Stars' there was one moment which made me have a whole body tingle right down to my toes and that involved Jake the cat which provided a lovely touch. Although very much a tearjerker, there was a sense of hope and a reminder that some people are so afraid of death that they often forget, or are too scared to live. Beautifully depicted characters so cleverly interwoven together.


Thanks to Rowan Coleman and Ebury Publishing UK for allowing me to review.


Sincerely
Book Angel


About the Author


Rowan Coleman lives with her husband, and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family which includes a very lively set of toddler twins whose main hobby is going in the opposite directions. When she gets the chance, Rowan enjoys sleeping, sitting and loves watching films; she is also attempting to learn how to bake.
Rowan would like to live every day as if she were starring in a musical, although her daughter no longer allows her to sing in public. Despite being dyslexic, Rowan loves writing, and The Memory Book, her eleventh novel, was chosen as a Richard and Judy bookclub selection in 2014. Others include The Accidental Mother, Lessons in Laughing Out Loud and the award-winning Dearest Rose, a novel which lead Rowan to become an active supporter of domestic abuse charity Refuge, donating 100% of royalties from the ebook publication of her novella, Woman Walks Into a Bar, to the charity.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Harper Impulse Fortnight - Not a FairyTale by Romy Sommer - Guest Post


"He was okay with being objectified. He didn’t mind that most women only wanted him for his body. Their low expectations were easy to satisfy. But he wasn’t sure Nina would be satisfied."

- Not a Fairy Tale, Romy Sommer


As part of Harper Impulse Fortnight, we would like to welcome Romy Sommer to our blog today to tell us all about her new book 'Not a Fairy Tale.'

Here's what Romy had to say about the book:


"Body image is a major theme of Not a Fairy Tale, and not only for my actress heroine, as you might expect. For both my hero and heroine, their bodies are professional tools.
For Dominic, this means being in peak physical condition so he can do the stunts he loves. He’s an active person who loves challenges, and being faced with his own body’s weakness and mortality is a major wake-up call.
For most of his life, Dom has been quite happy to be objectified by women and has most definitely used it to his advantage. And if he were honest with himself, he’d probably realise that he uses that objectification to keep people at a distance. So of course as he starts to face the fact that his body has its limitations, he also starts to want more emotionally. He wants a woman who will see him as more than just a stud. But is Nina that woman?
For Nina, her body image issues are a lot different. Her love/hate relationship with her own body is something most women can identify with. As surrounded as we are with images of beautiful bodies, our self esteem takes a knock as we realise that even with rigorous exercise and diabolic diets, we will never match those glamorous images. How much worse then, to BE one of those glamorous images and still not measure up?
As a high profile actress, Nina is under pressure to always look her best, to never be seen as less than perfect. She has to deal with far greater scrutiny than most of us have to deal with, and the very public judgments made by the people she works with, the media, and even people she passes in the street.
Knowing that even she can’t measure up to the photo-shopped images of herself that grace the magazine covers, she not only feels like a fraud, but lives in fear that anyone who gets too close will be disappointed in her.
It will take a very special person to make her feel comfortable in her own skin and not to care about what the rest of the world thinks. Lucky for her, making a woman feel special just happens to be Dominic’s greatest skill.
If there is one thing I hope readers take away from this book, it’s that no-one is perfect. Even the most gorgeous of Hollywood superstars is still a person, with their own problems and hang-ups, and sometimes even more complicated esteem or body image issues than the rest of us deal with.
So next time you flip through the pages of a fashion magazine and want to puke over the image you see of some flawless 18-year old model, knowing you can never look like that, just remember that she doesn’t really look like that either!"

Blurb:


And the award goes to…

Not Nina Alexander that’s for sure.

With her best gracious loser face firmly in place, Hollywood’s hottest starlet is hoping to end her evening of disappointment with a graceful exit stage left. Only an unexpected proposal and an awkward wardrobe malfunction mean that this is certainly going to be a night to remember… for all the wrong reasons! So what girl would resist the gorgeous Dominic Kelly coming to her rescue?! Especially when he’s whisking her out of the paparazzi’s prying eyes on the back of his motorbike – and wearing a tux to rival James Bond!
Nina soon realizes that the only way to recover from such a scandal is to toughen up and snag the role of the decade in the year’s hottest YA screen adaptation. Who better to train her than her very own professional stuntman? Getting up close and personal with Dom will take Nina well out of her comfort zone – both professionally and in her closely scrutinized private life. But this A-list couple know only too well that’s it not all happy ever afters in Hollywood…
Not a Fairy Tale is published by Harper Impulse, a division of Harper Collins, and is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon Smart URL

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

eBooks by Sainsburys

All Romance eBooks


My Review

An exciting, glamorous, sexy read. This follows the story of a beautiful famous Hollywood actress, Nina Alexander, who, fed up of being typecast as the ditsy star of romcom movies, wants to be taken more seriously as an action girl. Her career means everything to her and she is determined to audition for the perfect role in an upcoming action movie, so hires hunky stuntman Dom to train her to peak fitness  Having worked with Dom on previous movies she knows he is talented but also a serial womaniser who will bed anyone, well anyone it seems except her, despite her flirting with him in the past! Neither of them are interested in a relationship but by spending time with each other they discover what makes the other tick and although they are both in lust with each other, neither can envisage giving up their non-committal lifestyles in the long term. 
The electricity between these two characters is almost palpable especially in the lead up to their 'no strings' relationship which I read slowly, relishing the anticipation of what was to come. However, I must admit my reading pace increased significantly as their 'non relationship' intensified with some hot and steamy scenes.  
The book is set in LA and combines the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with ordinary down to earth family life. Secrets are exposed and hurtful situations arise that will keep you on your toes right up until the end. I really enjoyed the book and look forward to reading Romy Sommer's back catalogue.

For more information about Romy and to read an excerpt from the book please see below. Thank you to Romy and to Harper Impulse for providing me with the opportunity to review.

Sincerely 
Book Angel

About the Author:



I’ve always written stories for myself, but didn’t even think of being an author until I realised that being over thirty and living in a fantasy world was a little odd. Writing those same stories for other people makes it a lot more acceptable!

By day I dress in cargo pants and boots for my not-so-glamorous job of making movies but at night I come home to my two little Princesses, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I live, and I get to write Happy Ever Afters. Since I believe every girl is a princess, and every princess deserves a happy ending, what could be more perfect?

You can follow Romy on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads or on her website/blog.


Excerpt:


Nina had to get out of here.
The only exit she knew was the same one she’d entered through, the entrance onto Sunset Boulevard where she’d have to run the gauntlet of half the world’s media.
Yet more cameras.
She couldn’t trust herself to hold it together for the length of that walk. She couldn’t trust herself to hold it together long enough to make it across the room.
“We have to get her out of here.”
Thank heavens. A voice of reason. Relief swamped her as she faced her agent and her publicist.
It was short-lived.
“Hold up your dress. You’re baring your butt to the world.” Dane grimaced as he gathered up a handful of ripped silk and thrust it at her. “Couldn’t you have worn a sexy thong at least?”
The unshed tears burned all the way to her throat. How long had her supportive granny pants been on display to the entire room? And was Martin Scorsese looking straight at her?
“Maybe the press outside won’t have got wind of this yet?” Dane said hopefully.
The look Chrissie sent him answered that one quickly enough.
“I’ll get her out of here. I know a back exit.”
All three of them turned to look at Dominic. The relief in the faces of her agent and publicist would have been insulting if she hadn’t felt the same.
Dominic grinned. “We’re going to walk out of here as if we don’t have a care in the world. You can manage that much, can’t you sweetheart?”
Nina nodded. The tears had stopped their insistent push against her eyelids. She already felt calmer. If she wasn’t still so aware of the sea of eyes all around, she would have leaned into him.
“Do it,” he said, holding her gaze, daring her. His eyes sparkled. They were an unusual color. Mesmerizing. Like dark emeralds flecked with gold. He placed his arm around her shoulder and pulled her against him.
How had he known what she was thinking? She breathed in the scent of the wild sea, simultaneously frightening and exhilarating, and gave in. She leaned into him.
“That’s it. You’re an actress, so act. Now just follow my lead.”
His cheeky grin was back in place. She managed a weak one of her own. “You’re enjoying this,” she meant it to sound accusing, but the words came out more curious.
“Of course I am. You just rescued me from dying of boredom.” He leaned close to whisper in her ear. “Besides, the look on your publicist’s face was all the reward I needed.”
Of course. The note she’d caught in Chrissie’s tone had been intended to warn him that he didn’t stand a chance with Nina. Instead, she was leaving the party with him. She stifled a hysterical giggle.
Dominic took her free hand and led her through the crowd, not towards the kitchens or a service entrance, as she’d hoped, but straight toward their host. She prayed he knew what he was doing.
It wasn’t easy walking with one hand clasped behind her back, holding her gaping dress together, but she kept her chin up and she smiled. Not the furious, bright smile of before. She aimed more for a Mona Lisa effect now. It was about as much as she could manage.
Their host turned at their approach, smiling. “Leaving so soon, Dom?”
Dom grinned and shrugged. “You know how it is – I have a thing for damsels in distress. Thanks for another great dinner, and we’ll talk about that canoeing trip soon.”
Had Dominic been invited to the dinner and viewing party earlier in the night? Those tickets were gold. She did a rapid recalculation of this ‘lowly’ stunt man.
“I look forward to it.” Their host glanced down to where Nina clutched her torn gown together, then summoned over a minion with an all-access security pass around his neck. “Ms. Alexander has had a wardrobe malfunction. Please take them out the private exit.” Then he turned to Nina. “Thank you.”
She tried to sound as cool and amused as he did. “My pleasure. But what for?”
The older man’s grin reached ear to ear. “For providing me with the headline story for our webpage tomorrow.”
She wished she hadn’t asked.
The tuxedoed minion led them through the dining area, where the most privileged guests had sat for dinner, to an exit she hadn’t known existed.
“Shall I call the valet to bring your car around, Mr. Kelly?” the minion asked Dom.
“No need. I’m parked right outside.”
The minion frowned. Nina only just managed to stop her own frown from wrinkling her forehead. When she’d arrived there’d been a mile-long traffic jam and police everywhere. No one could have parked within walking distance of this place.
They passed two security checkpoints before they reached the exit to the back end of the Sunset Plaza parking lot. Nina dropped Dom’s hand and breathed in the cool night air. There were no fancy black Escalades parked out here, just vans and other working vehicles.
“What now?” she asked. “Are you going to sneak me out in a delivery van, or do you have a magical flying carpet stashed out here?”
Dom grinned. “As good as. How precious is that dress of yours?”
She glanced down to assess the damage and groaned. “I think it’s past saving.”
“Good.” He kneeled down and with a quick rip tore the remaining skirt off her dress.
“What are you doing?” she asked, trying to stop him. But she was too late. What had once been a slinky, scarlet, floor-length evening gown was now the length of a cocktail dress. A very short cocktail dress, with an uneven hemline that barely covered her granny pants.
Her PA was going to have to be very inventive to explain these new modifications to the designer.
He handed the torn expanse of fabric to her, then removed his jacket. “Cover yourself with this.” He helped her into the jacket, then placed his hand on her lower back to guide her between the cars.
To a motorbike.
No, not just any motorbike. A KTM offroad bike, with fiery orange paintwork and gleaming chrome. Not exactly subtle, but it was close and wouldn’t get stuck in the traffic jam out front. Nina nearly wept with relief.
A quick escape was worth the loss of one couture ball gown.
“Where do you want to go?” he asked, handing her the helmet hooked over the handle- bars.
The helmet was going to wreck the beautiful curls her stylist had labored over all day. But no one would see her now. They were as good as home free.
She pulled the helmet on, her fingers fumbling with the chin-strap. Dom stepped close to help her and she caught her breath.
A light bulb popped.
She looked around.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse…they did. Not a bulb, but a camera flash.
The pap who’d spotted them gave a shout and began to run toward them, camera held high.
Dom lifted her onto the back of his bike as if she weighed nothing, then straddled the seat between her legs and revved the bike to life. The roar nearly drowned out his voice. “Where are we going?”
“Anywhere,” she shouted back. Anywhere but home. The condo was barely a few blocks from here and the press would be all over it in two minutes as soon as this story broke.
She laughed. “I’m starving. I’d kill for a burger right now.”
Dom grinned back at her. “Hold on tight. I know just the place, but it’s gonna be a long drive…”