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Posted by Sarra on January 30, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Good morning, America!

We took it right to the wire but have managed to publish It Felt Like A Kiss in the States today too! Hurrah. Its available only on Amazon. This is not likely to change. The ebook is a very reasonable $2.99 and there is (or will be) a print on demand paperback, though I don’t have the pricing information for that yet. To buy, click here.

I am absolutely thrilled that I was able to have a transatlantic release day. I hope to have news of foreign editions soon, but if your local Amazon or bookshops don’t stock my books, then you can always order them from Book Despository, who do free international shipping.

Posted by Sarra on January 30, 2014 at 10:20 am

Hello! Hello!

Thrilled that after all the delays, It Felt Like a Kiss is finally published today in paperback and ebook.

And very soon, maybe later today, I will give you details of the US release of It Felt Like A Kiss (though it will only be available on Amazon, as ebook and print on demand paperback.)

Posted by Sarra on January 1, 2014 at 12:52 pm

2013 didn’t have a lot going for out personally, but at least I had books! 2014 is shaping up to be another stellar year with all sorts of good reading to come. Here are the ones that I’ve already added to my wishlisr.

Eat My Heart Out by Zoe PIlger

Debut novel from John Pilger’s daughter, Zoe. Ann-Marie is heartbroken and lovesick until she falls in with legendary feminist, Stephanie Haight, who is determined to rescue Ann-Marie and her entire generation. Whether it involves funsexytimes with bad men, naked cleaning jobs, burlesque parties and ceremonies to invoke ancient spirit goddesses, Ann-Marie is on a missio to find herself.
Out January 30th

Wake by Anna Hope

Spare Brides by Adele Parks

Two very different novels from two different writers about the women left behind after World War One. Anna Hope’s debut novel, Wake, tells the tale of three women all coping with their own grief as they wait the arrival of the body of The Unknown Soldier. This is a beautiful moving book that perfectly captures the mood and patina of the times.

I’m also very excited to read the wonderful Adele Park’s first period novel, Spare Brides. It starts in 1920 at the start of a new decade full of hope but for four women, tainted by the scars of the war, happiness is something to be snatched at, rather than savoured.

Wake is out 16th January, Spare Brides February 13th

How To Be A Heroine: Or, what I’ve learned from reading too much by Samantha Ellis

Part memoir, part how-to guide, this wonderful non-fic book has been dubbed shelf-help, rather than self-help. Faced with some thorny life dilemmas, Ellis finds solutions in the lessons learned by such literary heroines as Petrova Fossil and Scarlett O’Hara. Petrova for the win. Always.
Out January 2nd.

Goose by Dawn O’Porter

I loved Dawn’s debut novel, Paper Aeroplanes, and can’t wait to find out what happens next to Renee and Flo, now in their final year of school and making plans for the rest of their lives. Can their friendship survive once they’re out in the big, wide world?
Out May 1st

Her by Harriet Lane

Alys, Always, Lane’s debut novel was a clever, creepy story about a woman always on the outside of life who worms her way into the lives of a family after she witnesses the death of their mother. Her, about two unlikely women who strike up a friendship, though Nina remember Emma and what she did from years before, promises to be equally twisty and thrilling.
Out June 12th

The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt

I’m a sucker for a WW2 novel and The Dynamite Room, about an eleven year old girl taken hostage in her Suffolk home by a German soldier, sent on a mission to prepare for the invasion of England, pushes all my buttons. Every single one of them!
Out March 27th

Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

Another novel mostly set during World War Two, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase is about an unhappily married woman who falls in love with a Polish squadron leader when his plane crashes in the field behind her house. Their story is pieced together by the woman’s granddaughter who finds a letter in her grandmother’s belongings after her death and stumbles upon a secret that will have a huge impact on her life too.
Out February 27th

A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson

Lara is a friend and dear ex-colleague from my J17 days. She’s spent years working on her writing and going through the chore of finding an agent and so I’m bursting with pride and excitement that her debut novel is published this year. It promises to be an absolute heartbreaker about a boy who wants many things in life from shipping his older sister off to the North Pole to helping Sherlock Holmes fight zombies. But mostly, he wants his dad to love him.
Out March 1st

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is one of my favourite authors and although this is months and months away, I’m very excited that there’ll be a new novel from her this year. Another post-WW1 novel, this is about the lodgers of a large villa in Camberwell and a genteel family fallen on hard times.
Out September 14th

I also hear that some bint called Sarra Manning has two novels out this year. Anyone know anything about her? If you fancy taking a punt, then It Felt Like a Kiss is out January 30th and her new YA novel, The Worst Girlfriend in the World, is out on May 1st.

Happy reading and a Happy New Year!

Live on,

Sarra x

Posted by Sarra on December 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Happy Holidays, lovely readers

I am writing this in between keeping my food levels topped up so they never dip below ‘extremely full.’

If you’re sick of telly, bored of board games and have book tokens or one of those new fangled e-readers, you might be wondering what to read next. So, I thought I’d do a round up of some of my favourite reads of 2013. Luckily, I can type one-handed and hold a mince pie with the other hand.

You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane
If you’re the last person left in Britain who hasn’t read this equally funny and heartbreaking novel about what happens when you meet up with The One Man You Never Got Enough Of, this is the time to remedy that situation.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
I think Life After Life is the most extraordinary book I’ve read and probably in my Top 10 all-time favourite reads. It’s the stop/start/rewind story of Ursula Todd and the many, many lives she lived and the many deaths she suffered. She lives her life again and again but only sometimes does she get it right.

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Pride And Prejudice from the servants’ point of view – this isn’t Jane Austen lite but a 180 degree spin on the book we know so well. LOngbourn shows what life was like below stairs and the tragedy, drudgery and unexpected love experienced by the Bennets’ maid Sarah as the events of Pride And Prejudice play out.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Anyone who has even a passing interest in YA fiction or wants to read a heart-tugging love story should read Eleanor & Park. Rainbow Rowell can write about the simple act of a boy and a girl holding hands and slay you. (She also released the wonderful Fangirl this year too.

Red Ink by Julie Mayhew
Full disclosure, Julie is a good friend of mine, but she’s still written a bloody good coming of age novel.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

I also loved Code Name Verity and I did have plans to write my own novel about a girl flying for the Air Transport Auxiliary during WW2, but, quite frankly, Elizabeth Wein beat me to it and I could never write anything as amazing as Rose Under Fire.

All Change (Cazalet Chronicles) by Elizabeth Jane Howard

The fifth Cazalet Chronicle novel catches up with the Cazalets in the 1950′s after the turbulent effects of WW2 and a changing world of class and tradition. If you’ve never read The Cazalets, the first book in the series, The Light Years, is only 95p on Kindle. I feel like a pusher, because you will binge read all five of them in quick succession.

Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell
Virago have just reissed four Angela Thirkell novels, all with beautiful covers, and they are reading crack to me. Set in the 1930′s; it’s all bossy girls, timid girls, country house parties, posh types, arty types, faithful family retainers. What’s not to like?

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
I don’t normally read thrillers, but rather than being a crime novel, this an agreeably creepy read that captures all the pain and rage of a woman who feels so sidelined that she’s almost invisible. I way over-identified.

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe

I read a lot of non-fiction this year, mostly obscure out-of-print books about the Home Front but I loved this book of letters home written by a teen nanny looking after two children from a literary family in 80′s Camden Town. Alan Bennett pops over most nights for supper, pretentious nanny, Pippa, from across the road thinks King Charles spaniels have the freedom of the city, and will playwright, Jonathan Miller ever get back the saw that Nina borrowed? Such a funny, lovely gem of a book.

This is just a small selection of the books I loved this year. I’ll be compiling a list of the books that I can’t wait to read in 2014. There are quite a lot of them, so check back in a couple of days.

Now, I have an urgent appointment with a turkey sandwich…

Live on,

Sarra x

Posted by Sarra on December 12, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Greetings

So, I’m going to give you the bad news first. The release date of It Felt Like A Kiss has changed yet again.

The good news? It’s been brought forward two weeks so it’s now coming out on January 30th, a whole two weeks early! Hurrah! It’s available for pre-order as an old fashioned paperback here and as one of those new-fangled e-books here.

I also hope to have news very soon about the US release, so yays all round.

Live on,

Sarra x

Posted by Sarra on November 14, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Greetings one and all

Like so many people, I’ve been terribly moved by the plight of the people in the Philippines who have been devastated by the damage caused by Typhoon Halyan. Over 2500 people have been killed. Over 650,000 people have lost their homes. Many places in the Philippines are without food and water, especially on the more remote islands, and they desperately need foreign aid.

Just as she did after the terrible earthquake in Japan a couple of years ago, YA author and all round good egg, Keris Stainton, has organised an auction to benefit the victims of the typhoon. Lots of bookish types from JoJo Moyes to Meg Rosoff and James Dawson are auctioning signed books, limited edition goodies and first editions. You can also bid to win a critique or help with a submission from authors, agents and publishers. Even a chance to meet some of your favourite authors.

I am offering two prizes. The first is a signed copy of Adorkable, plus a limited edition I ♥ Dorks mug (from my Brazilian publishers) and an Adorkable Manifesto postcard.

The second item is a signed advance proof of my next adult novel It Felt Like A Kiss, which isn’t out until February 13th, so you’ll be getting it for Christmas!

But like I said, there are so many items to bid on. Close to 200, with more to go up on the site, so please take a look and get bidding. You’ll win something special and donate to a very worthy cause.

Sarra x

Posted by Sarra on September 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hello lovers!

A while ago Dawn O’Porter asked if I’d like to contribute you to a book she was compiling about boobs with all the proceeds going to breast cancer charities. I said yes, one thousand per cent yes like an X-Factor judge, because like everyone else I know breast cancer isn’t something that happens to other people. It happened to my grandmother. It happened to one of my close friends. I had an agonising week last year waiting for the results of a biopsy on a suspect lump and sitting in a crowded clinic with women who needed or might have needed treatment for breast cancer reminded me yet again why it’s so important to support charities that are doing everything they can to find a cure and support people who are battling the disease.

So, I’m proud as anything to have a short story, Some Girls Are Bigger Than Other, in The Booby Trap and Other Bits and Boobs, which goes on sale today. I’m in some awesome company too. Caitlin Moran, Sarah Millican, Marian Keyes and a whole roster of writers and famous people off of the telly have contributed. It’s out today and not only do you get some top notch writing, but you also donate money to charities that are doing a wonderful job. I think that’s called a win.

Live on

Sarra x

Posted by Sarra on August 31, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Hello!

Yes! At last! This is the cover for It Felt Like a Kiss It’s out on February 13th and it’s available for pre-order now.

It’s proper coming out, finally. It will also be available as an ebook, will let you know the details when I have them. Hopefully I might have some news about foreign editions, but nothing as yet, though it will be be released as an audiobook too. And I will be posting some sneak previews here, a bit nearer the time.

I have a cover. Yay!

Hope you guys like the outside and that in a few months, you’ll love the inside too.

Live on Sarra x

Posted by Sarra on July 30, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Tis summer. Exams are over. Or you’re heading off on your holidays. Or just sitting in the garden enjoying that rare beast that is the British summer and slurping down a cool drink (I’m obsessed with elderflower cordial at the moment,) you’ll want something to read. Even more than you usually want something to read.

So, cause I’m helpful, I’ve compiled a list of books I’ve enjoyed recently and books that I’m hoping to fall in love with.

YA/COMING OF AGE

Eleanor & Park By Rainbow Rowell

You will fall in love with Eleanor and Park like they are real people. In my head, I kind of think they are. This is one of those books that you read, then think about every day for at least a year, then roughly every week for the rest of your life.

Red Ink by Julie Mayhew

Full disclosure, I’m happy to say that I’ve shared pizza and a cocktail with Julie on a few occasions but before I knew her like that, I knew that she was writing this book. Red Ink is definitely more coming of age than YA. 15 year old Melon’s mother is killed and she has to learn to fend for herself and to discover what is true and what’s not. It’s equally heartbreaking and hopeful and heart-in-your-mouth funny.

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter

I’m always a bit sceptical and curled of tongue when celebrities turn their hand to novel writing. Like, yeah, I guess it is easy when you have a ghostwriter to do it for you. But then along comes Paper Aeroplanes, one hundred per cent written by Dawn herself, and I don’t care that it is written by a celebrity, because it gets all the messy complicated stuff that happens with best friends. It understands what it feels like not to fit in. And there’s one bit that made me clutch my heart and swallow extra hard.

Penelope by Rebecca Harrington

I’m a sucker for a US college novel, apart from when it’s one of those identikit New Adult books that say nothing to me about my life. Happily, Penelope is not about some doe-eyed, klutzy virgin with some family angst and a dark secret who ends up playing hide the sausage with some beefcake-y yet sensitive type called Zach or Kai or some such… Hang on, where was I? Actually, Penelope is about a klutzy virgin but this is more Perks Of Being A Wallflower territory than New Adult. Penelope, newly arrived at Harvard, is shy and ineffectual and struggles with all the things that should make college fun and then she falls in love with Gustav, a Gatsby-esque Argentinian student. Rebecca Harrington is skilled at investing her characters with quirks and traits that make them easily recognisable and I way over-identified with Penelope and her total lack of social skills.

GROWN-UP BOOKS

Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade by Patrick Dennis

Auntie Mame was the reissued novel all the cool kids raved about last year, but I don’t always get to books right away. When I did get round to it, I LOVED and even GUFFAWED at this tale of a newly orphanned Patrick going to love with his eccentric, bohemian, camp as a row of pink tents Auntie Mame. Every chapter is a comic gem and I have the sequel on its way.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I think I’ve mentioned Life After Life before, but it’s so good, it deserves another mention. Ursula is born on a snowy night in 1910 and promptly dies. Then the book starts again and this time she lives. And repeat. And repeat. Atkinson takes us on a magical journey through the many lives and deaths of Ursula, through Spanish Flu and murderous husbands and the Blitz. It’s an extraordinary novel and one that you want to reread as soon as you’ve read the last page.

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Not out until mid-August, you NEED to pre-order this novel which is Pride And Prejudice from the Bennet family’s maid’s point of view, except that doesn’t do this story justice. It’s not just P&P Redux but giving a voice to the silent servants of Longbourn who toiled away so the Bennets could wake up the blazing log fire each morning, or slogged through the mud to Meriton so the Bennet sisters could have new rosettes for their dancing slippers. It’s also very much the story of Sarah, the housemaid, her life and loves and dreams that are always restricted by the rigid rules of life below stairs.

Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

A debut novel about loneliness and identity theft and people’s right to die all told in a compelling and creepy voice. If you search on Facebook, this novel was launched with a clever app that freaked me the hell out!

TO BE READ

So many books, so few hours in the day to get to them all.

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Published by Virago (one of my favourite publishers who I dream of being signed to,) starting in 1947 and read by every single one of my friends who have all told me I will love it. Apparently, The Engagements begins with a female copywriter coming up with the famous ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ tagline for a De Beers ad and how those three words resonate for other women.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Just out in paperback, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, is a darkly funny book set in Seattle about a whirlwind of a woman who suddenly disappears much to the consternation of her husband and teenage daughter.

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

1920′s Manhattan, which to me means flappers, gangsters, bathtub gin, speakeasies and all those good things. Rose, a police stenographer, becomes obsessed with her new colleague, the glamorous and mysterious Odalie. And then Rose is accused of murder…

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

This is the book that has all the Twitter literati frothing at the mouth. I hear that it’s so good, that I might want to give up writing completely!

‘A writer needs 4 things to achieve greatness; desire, disappointment & the sea.’
‘That’s only 3.’
‘You have to do disappointment twice.’

NON FIC

The Churchills: A Family at the Heart of History by Mary S Lovell

I love a good saga-ish biography, preferably featuring posh types with scandalous lives so this biography of the Churchill family (there were a lot more to them than just old Winston) doesn’t disappoint. Written by Mary S Lovell who wrote the amazing The Mitford Girls so you know you’re in good hands.

Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman

I love Hadley Freeman’s pieces for The Guardian and this book does exactly what it promises in all kinds of funny ways as Hadley writes about feminism, sex, being single and everything else in between.

Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

Hemmo, as she’s known on Twitter, is one of the most inspiring women I know. She’s run five marathons and encouraged me to run with some cunning reverse psychology (“Well, maybe you’re just not a runner, Sarra”) which ended up with my own personal best – a ten mile yomp in the pouring rain. I gave up running after I tore a calf muscle in a step aerobics class, but having spent the last year eating all my feelings, this book is making me want to buy a new pair of trainers and embark on a couch to 5k. Hemmo shares her running journey and imbues even the most reluctant runner with a can-do attitude. She is also a world authority on sports bras for ladies with big bosoms.

Hope you find a few things in here that you might want to read. This is SUCH a good year for good books.

Live on

Sarra x

Posted by Sarra on June 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Hey!

To celebrate finally hitting the big 5000 followers on Twitter and to thank you for suffering through my many updates on Miss Betsy I’m posting a deleted scene from Unsticky.

It was written very early on and was inspired by a dinner at Bette’s in Chelsea, New York when it was the scene place to go. As I waited for the loo, I saw the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. Or ever will see. She was with a short, paunchy, obnoxious dude in a bad suit who wasn’t fit to kiss the hem of her frock. Unsticky was still in my head but that dinner and that trip to New York where I went to places frequented by investment bankers and their very stunning, very young girlfriends, really coalesced the whole trophy girlfriend/sex and money thing for me.

So, enjoy!

Sarra x

Vaughn didn’t get reservations at Butter for Saturday night. But Grace took it in her stride because Vaughn had managed to get a table at The Waverly Inn instead. Not just any table, but Graydon Carter’s own booth at the back of a tiny, amber-coloured room the size of her old bedsit. Apparently Graydon was in LA or Timbuktu. Grace didn’t much care because he wasn’t in New York and her arse was currently perched on his personal banquette as she tried to discreetly gawp at the other diners in the conveniently placed mirror so that Graydon always knew what was going on.

“You’re bouncing, Grace,” Vaughn said mildly, but a faint smile lifted up the corners of his mouth because she’d told him five minutes earlier that this was even better than getting promoted or the time he’d bought her a new Marc Jacobs bag unprompted. “Stop it.”

“I can’t help it. This is the high point of my whole existence.”

Grace wasn’t surprised when Vaughn rolled his eyes. She glanced across the room again, hoping to spot a stray Scarlett or Gwyneth. She’d even have settled for a Sienna. At a back table were a group of thirty something guys cultivating a scruffy, laidback hipster chic and the three girls who were with them may have been the three most beautiful girls Grace had ever seen in real life. But there was something wrong with the picture – one of the men was bald, one had a huge beergut and the other one had a face that even his mother must have found hard to love. And despite the heavy make-up and designer dresses, not one of the girls looked as if she was out of her teens.

“Don’t stare, Grace,” Vaughn drawled, raising his glass towards Baldie, or was it Fattie. Both of them waved back.

“How come you know them?” Grace asked, then groaned theatrically. “Don’t tell me. You charged them obscene amounts of money for some bizarre light installation.”

“Actually it was two Gavin Turks and a Banksy,” he said lightly.

“Are they, like, hedge fund managers or something?”

“They either are or they aren’t. There’s no like about and they aren’t. The three of them created a puerile college humour website and social networking platform that they sold to Google for a small fortune. I think it was about forty million dollars.”

Grace sucked in a breath. “Fucking hell!”

“My thoughts exactly,” Vaughn had been very twitchy tonight; he’d had a day of meetings that hadn’t gone well, but now he was undoing his top two buttons, which was A Good Sign.

“And who are the girls?”

Vaughn shrugged. “Standard issue MAWs. Model, actress…”

“Whatever,” Grace finished for him. “I guess forty million dollars makes even early male pattern baldness and a flabby gut look attractive.”

“If girls like them want to be with men like that, then what of it? Really, Grace, I’m not sure why this conversation is making you frown quite so ferociously.”

Neither did Grace, but her unfailing good cheer couldn’t last for ever. She sank back on her banquette and nibbled at the edge of her thumbnail. Did no one ever simply date anymore? Or was it that now she was fully inducted into the club, she was better at spotting other members? “But they’re not girlfriends, are they? They’re mistresses.”

Vaughn gave her a long, slow look. Like she’d surprised him and he was surprised that she’d surprised him. “No,” he said finally. “They’re girlfriends. Whatever reasons they may or may not have for being with men twice their age and weight, they’d all beg to differ.”

Grace rested her elbows on the table because that was all right if you’d already had you entrée and you weren’t sure if you were going to have pudding. “So if you’d just asked me out and I’d said yes and we’d started dating, and with you being older than me and, like, loaded, would I be your girlfriend or your mistress?”

Vaughn rolled his eyes again. “You’re in a very odd mood this evening. I’m not sure I like it.” He reached across the table and stroked a finger along the back of her hand and that shivery feeling she always got rippled up her spine. “It’s better this way though, Grace, don’t you think? Less confusion, less room for misunderstandings, hmmm?”

“I suppose,” Grace sighed, because her undefined thing with Vaughn was still confusing and prone to misunderstanding from the Noahs and the Lilys and all the other people who made up the outside world. Still, the Lily’s and Noah’s weren’t sitting at Graydon Carter’s personal booth, so Grace definitely had the better end of the deal. It was a struggle, but she found her happy place again. “Technically, if we were on London time, it would be Treat Sunday now so do you want to share an Apple Crisp for pudding?”

“If it’s Treat Sunday then I don’t see why we have to share.” Vaughn huffed and he was faking the outrage, but Grace didn’t know if he was trying to distract her from asking any more difficult questions or if he was really indignant about having to go halves on dessert.

Either way, she couldn’t resist punching him on the shoulder as she stood up. “Either we share or I’m skipping having waffles for brunch tomorrow,” she hissed, because sometimes her ability to withhold sugar was about the only power play she had. “I’m going to have a fag.”

When she got back Vaughn was deep in conversation with the couple on the next table; a woman with a loud Long Island honk, which had previously made Vaughn flinch every time she opened her mouth, and her husband who did something with diamonds. Grace wasn’t sure what exactly, but she smiled politely, as she sat down.

Vaughn was swapping cards with Mr Bling then turned back to Grace. “Play your cards right and I might just hook you up with that tiara,” he said, which Grace thought was tasteless considering the conversation they’d just had. “I ordered pudding,” he added as Grace wriggled to get purchase on the leather seat in her slippy satin skirt.

Of course, Vaughn ate most of the Apple Crisp, Grace had to fight for every spoonful of vanilla gelato. Unusually, Vaughn didn’t want to linger over coffee and brandy either but asked for the bill and signed it, without even checking the final amount.

“Let’s get out of here,” Vaughn said, already helping Grace out of her chair.

“I just need to freshen up,” she said, as they came face to face with one of the couples from the back table, the man already hailing Vaughn like a long lost brother and not someone who’d stung him for marked-up graffiti art.

“This is Marisa,” Baldie said proudly, presenting his companion with a flourish.

Marisa was so stunning that all Grace could do was stare as Vaughn introduced her to Baldie with absolutely no flourish. Marisa had shiny, flicky straight hair, skin so flawless it looked airbrushed and was wearing a plunging Viktor & Rolf dress that showed a good two thirds of her breasts, which owed their awesome aerodynamics either to her barely pubescent years or a really good surgeon.

“I’ll get your coat,” Vaughn murmured, leaving Grace with Marisa, who must have needed to pee too though Grace couldn’t believe she possessed something as prosaic as a full bladder. Marisa hadn’t acknowledged Grace’s presence in any way and now she propped herself against the wall, as they waited in the narrow alcove, like her beauty weighed so heavily that she couldn’t stand up straight. It was hard not to look at her in the same way that it was hard not to look at a beautiful pair of shoes or a Narciso Rodriguez dress.

And OK, her upper lip was the tiniest bit too short but that was just clutching at ugly straws and staring at that perfect arch where her sooty eyelashes swept down or the elegant curve of her cheekbones made Grace feel like a blowsy, thrown together girl that didn’t deserve the good fortune that was currently getting her coat.

Even Marisa dropping the hauteur long enough to ask Grace if she thought that they should bang on the bathroom door and ask the current occupant what the hell they were doing, couldn’t pierce the pity bubble that Grace found herself in. Especially as Marisa decided that they should bond, which meant showing Grace pictures of the adorable spaniel puppy that “me and Archie just got from the pound.”

Vaughn had been right. Marisa expected guys to fall in love with her. Rich guys. Even if she was selling her beauty to the highest bidder, she got flourishes and puppies out of it and Grace? Well, she had a credit card, the best table at The Waverly Inn and an expiration date stamped on her forehead that was only visible to Vaughn. Because Grace wasn’t beautiful or smart or whole enough to be anyone’s long haul girl.

And when she got back to the car to find Vaughn waiting impatiently for her, he said, “For God’s sake, Grace, stop pouting. You look like you’ve had filler injected into your bottom lip.” Grace knew for a fact that Archie would never, ever say anything like that to Marisa.

It turned out that Vaughn had wanted to get back to the apartment for a midnight conference call to Beijing. He took it in the study, which left Grace free to make her own fun. Grace wasn’t sure when making her own fun, which mostly involved mentally planning her Sunday shopping expedition to Soho, became snooping.

She’d never snooped before. Not even when she’d been left on her own for days in the Hampstead house – she’d been brought up to respect other people’s privacy. But then she’d also been brought up to save herself for the man she married, never drink to excess and strive to be all that she could be; all things that she’d failed to deliver on, so having a quick rummage in Vaughn’s drawers wasn’t so terrible.

Apart from a half-eaten bar of Green & Blacks, which she bet Gustav knew nothing about, her search proved futile. There wasn’t anything incriminating in the bureau either, no porn stash under the mattress and absolutely no photos of the ex-wife or the women he’d had arrangements with before Grace. She could hear Vaughn’s tread coming down the hall and quickly arranged herself decoratively on the bed, her heart pounding, her cheeks stained with red. Vaughn didn’t notice that anything was wrong but maybe that was because Grace was on her knees, unbuckling his belt, before he had a chance to ask why she had such a guilty expression on her face.