Whoops … just packing to go away for the weekend when remembered that I haven’t updated this blog. My mind is on a sunny Wiltshire weekend, so have been scratching my head a little for inspiration, until I realised that I should probably be promoting Ordinary Girl in a Tiara, which is released next week. The trouble is that it feels as if it has been out for ages, not just because I have posted out all my spare copies, but because of a certain event on 29th April – everyone is so over royal weddings now!
Still, if you enjoyed Will and Kate’s wedding (notice how everyone has suddenly started calling her Catherine?) and wished you could have had a glimpse behind the scenes, I hope you’ll like Caro and Philippe’s story. There were lots of resonances with the real royal story, although Caro is a lot more ordinary than Kate/Catherine, and a lot less stylish. I was delighted to see Will and Kate drive away from the palace in an Aston Martin, as Philippe also drives an Aston Martin, which indeed has a small but starry role in the book, and now everyone will know exactly what it looks like!
I’ll be back after the weekend. May the sun shine wherever you are, and for those of you who fancy a little reading and aren’t sick to death of royal romances, here’s an extract in the meantime:
Philippe lay stretched out on one of the sofas and reached down to pull a sheaf of documents from the red box on the floor beside him. ‘You wouldn’t believe a country this small would generate quite so much paperwork, would you?’ he grumbled, flicking through them. ‘Report and accounts from the potato growers of Montluce … Waste management solutions for the city of Montvivennes … Forests have been felled to print these reports and who’s interested in them? Nobody!’
‘The potato farmers might be,’ Caro suggested.
‘Show me a farmer who wants to read a report!’ Philippe looked up at Caro, who was sitting at the table, laptop open in front of her. Her lips were pursed, the fierce brows drawn together. ‘What are you doing?’
‘Checking my account at right4u.com … Can you believe it? I’ve only had one message in a month, and that’s from Mr Sexy, so it doesn’t count.’
Philippe sat up ‘What are you checking dating sites for?’ he demanded, outraged. ‘You’re with me.’
‘Only temporarily,’ Caro pointed out, cucumber cool. ‘I wouldn’t want to miss out on someone perfect. The good guys get snapped up straight away.’
‘You couldn’t do any snapping up anyway,’ said Philippe crossly. ‘You may only be a temporary girlfriend, but you’ve still got a good month to go.’
To his annoyance, Caro clicked on a link, and he got up to see what interested her so much. ‘I wouldn’t arrange to meet him or anything,’ she said. ‘I could just make contact and see if we’ve got anything in common. A sort of cyber flirtation. You don’t want me to miss out on Mr Right, do you?’
Philippe was standing over her shoulder, glaring at the profiles on the screen. ‘Which one is Mr Right?’
‘I was wondering about this one.’ She pointed at a photograph of someone who had called himself Homebody. He was a serious-looking man who described himself as loyal, trustworthy and affectionate.
Her hair was tumbling down from its clip as usual. He wanted to tidy it up, clip it neatly so that it wasn’t so … distracting. Or did he want to pull the clip out completely to let the silky mass tumble to her shoulders? Did he want to push his fingers through it and tilt her face up to his?
Philippe scowled. That wouldn’t be allowed, or at least not according to Caro’s rules. He couldn’t believe he had agreed to them. She was supposed to be his girlfriend. He ought to be able to put his hands on his shoulders, or kiss the side of her throat. He ought to be able to cajole her away from that stupid site and over to the sofa so that he could kiss her properly.
But they were outside the bedroom and there was nobody else around, which meant that he wasn’t allowed to touch her at all. And he had given his word.
‘Affectionate?’ he jeered, taking out his bad temper on Homebody instead. ‘You might as well get yourself a dog!’
‘I think he sounds nice,’ said Caro defiantly. She scrolled through Homebody’s profile. ‘Look, he’s a teacher.’
‘Why’s that a good thing?’
‘He’ll be sensible, and reliable, and good with kids.’
‘Not if he’s anything like any of the teachers I ever had!’
She ignored that, and read on. ‘He likes eating out and staying in – just like me.’
‘Everybody likes eating out sometimes and staying in sometimes,’ said Philippe, determined to dismiss Homebody. ‘That doesn’t tell you anything.’
‘You don’t,’ said Caro. ‘When do you ever have a cosy night in?’
‘We’ve stayed in a couple of evenings.’ Philippe had been surprised how much he’d enjoyed both of them, in fact. He’d never done the whole lying-on-a-sofa-watching-a-DVD thing before. With a glass of wine and Caro commenting all the way through it, he had been able to see the appeal, definitely.
‘Only because you’re here in Montluce. You wouldn’t do that normally, wouldn’t you?’
Philippe couldn’t remember what normal was any more. There was only this life, with Caro. Coming home from some tedious meeting and finding her humming in the kitchen. Enduring his great aunt’s lectures, knowing that she would be able to make him laugh afterwards. Watching her engage with everyone she met, watching her smile, taking every opportunity to touch her.
Lying in bed with her, talking, laughing, making love.
Waking up with her in the morning.
That was normal now.
Sometimes he would sit on the stool at the counter and watch her moving around the kitchen, while he told her about his meetings, and she listened to what he said, unlike the First Minister or the Dowager Blanche. She’d listen and ask questions and challenge him, and Philippe had a horrible feeling he was going to miss all that when she went.
Because she would go. She was always looking talking about her plans for the delicatessen she wanted to open when she got back to Ellerby. Philippe wanted to tell her to stop it, but how could he? It wasn’t as if he wanted her to stay forever. There was no question of that. He was only here until his father was home, and then he would go back to South America. He could fly when he wanted, party when he wanted. He could date sophisticated women who wouldn’t know where the kitchen was. There would be risk and challenge and uncomplicated relationships. That would be much more fun than red boxes and watching Caro cook.
‘This Homebody guy sounds catastrophically dull,’ he decided. ‘ You’d be bored witless at the end of one of those cosy nights in.’
‘You don’t know that,’ said Caro, obviously perversely determined to see Homebody as the perfect man for her. ‘Look, he says he’s got a good sense of humour.’
Philippe was unimpressed. ‘Everyone’s going to say that,’ he said. ‘He’s hardly going to admit that he’s dullness personified, is he?’
‘We’ve got lots in common,’ Caro insisted. ‘He ticks all my boxes: steady, decent, ordinary. A guy like that isn’t looking for a glamourpuss or a sex kitten. He wants someone steady and decent and ordinary - like me.’
‘I don’t know why you persist in thinking of yourself as ordinary,’ said Philippe, throwing himself back down onto the sofa.
He felt edgy and restless at the idea of Caro with another man. What if Homebody was the one for her? He would be the one coming home to find Caro pottering around in the kitchen. He would be able to reach for her in bed and have all that warmth and passion to himself.
Was everything he was showing Caro really going to benefit a man who could describe himself as Homebody?
‘Ordinary girls don’t dress out of a jumble sale catalogue for a start,’ he said, forgetting that he’d come to appreciate her quirky style. No matter how eccentric the clothes, Caro wore them with flair. Not that he was going to tell her that. It would be no fun if he couldn’t give her a hard time about her wardrobe, would it? ‘They don’t spend their whole time in the kitchen or hobnobbing with the staff.’
As far as Philippe could tell, Caro was on first name terms with every footman, maid in the palace. She knew everyone in the kitchen, and had met all the gardeners on her walks with Apollo. She was always telling him about Yvette’s worry about her elderly mother, or the fact that Michel rode a motorbike on his days off, that Gaston grew wonderful tomatoes or that Marie-Madeleine had a crush on the head butler, which no one, including Philippe, could understand.
‘Ordinary girls don’t have servants to hobnob with,’ Caro pointed out dryly. ‘I’m just being myself.’
From the book: Ordinary Girl in a Tiara
By: Jessica Hart
Imprint and series Harlequin® Romance™
Copyright © 2011
By: Jessica Hart
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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