Out today in paperback!!
Is it all too good to be true?
When Willow runs into her old university crush, Luke, she’s a new woman with a new look – not to mention a little bit more cash after a rather substantial inheritance. Could she be lucky enough to score a fortune and her dream man at the same time?
Then Willow meets Cal; a computer geek with a slightly odd sense of humour. They get on like a house on fire — although she soon realises that there is far more to her unassuming new friend than meets the eye …
But money doesn’t always bring happiness, and Willow finds herself struggling to know who to trust.
Are the new people in her life there because they care – or is there another reason?
Absolutely hysterically funny book! Willow is a wonderful central character with a really offbeat sense of humour - although not as offbeat as Cal's, which had me crying with laughter!
Luke is divine, god-like in Willow's eyes....but is it all real? Has her crush from uni really developed feelings for her?
The denouement at the end is classic - and very, very rewarding!
Please buy this - I promise you won't be disappointed :)
And here, just for my lucky readers is a nice chunk from the book to tempt you!!
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Extract: Can’t Buy Me Love by Jane Lovering
Can’t Buy Me Love by Jane Lovering is now available in paperback! If you enjoy this extract and want to read more of the book, you’ll find purchasing links at the end J
My house technically belongs to my parents, but they’d handed all the responsibility for its upkeep on to me when they decided to go off on the longest hippy trail in recorded history. None of the others had wanted it. My sister Breeand her husband lived in an old rectory in a village north of the city. Of my other siblings, Flint lived in Beijing, Ocean had a flat over his bookbinding business in Harrogate and Ash, well, of all of us Ash had most inherited our parents’ free spirit and tended towards no-fixed-abodeness. Although I gathered that an orderly queue had formed of people only too willing to provide him with a roof over his head and, most importantly, a mattress under his back. He writes for travel blogs, which means he gets to go to places all over the world and neglects to keep in contact from any of them.
I’d better get it off my chest now, before you meet him. Ash is not only my brother, but my twin. I hate, resent and adore him in roughly equal measures. He irritates me so much that it makes my head itch. He’s mouthy, stroppy, sulky and permanently late – absolutely nothing like me. Really. He thinks he’s ‘hip and happening’. I think that thirty-two is far too old to be using phrases like ‘hip and happening’.
And then there’s the name thing. Our parents, relentless children-of-nature that they are, had decided that they wanted four children to name after the four elements:earth, air, water and fire. Along in due course came Flint, Breeze, Ocean and Ash. I suppose it was no one’s fault, more of a cosmic joke, that their last-born fire-child turned out to be children. They were a bit stumped when it came to naming me.Bree, apparently, wanted me to be called Cinderella, but she was only two at the time. Then someone pointed out that Ash is also a tree and the rest, as they say, will be played by Cameron Diaz.
As I turned into my street, I could tell they were all already here. Flint was staying with me until he flew back to China, and his little black hired Smart car was parked neatly aligned with the front door. Ocean’s van was in front, Bree had borrowed her husband Paddy’s second car (a convertible BMW, which should tell you all you need to know about him) and Ash’s current vehicle of choice, a 750cc Yamaha motorbike, was corralled in my front garden, bridled with the weeds I hadn’t had time to clear from the walls since summer.
They were all seated around the dining table and they were, as usual, arguing.
‘I don’t know what you’ve got to complain about, Flint, he’s left me Booter and Snag, and what the hell am I supposed to do with a couple of smelly spaniels?’ My sisterBreepatted her barely visible bump. ‘This is due in four months!’ With her smooth hair tied up and her work suit on – she’d only been able to spare half an hour for the will reading – she looked like one of those stock model photographs in a ‘working whilst pregnant’ article.
‘Complain? Oh, now why should I want to complain about being left an allotment on the outskirts of York when I live on a different bloody continent!’ Flint shouted back. ‘What did he expect me to do, fly over twice a week to spray the cabbages?’
‘No, but this is different, this is a baby.’ Breepatted her stomach again as though Flint might have missed the point. ‘Dogs are all germy. Especially those two.’
Ash wandered in from the kitchen at the same time as I entered from the hallway and we exchanged our trademark glare before sitting down. Ash had a bottle of wine and was drinking from it without benefit of a glass. He only did it because he knew how much it annoyed me. ‘Suppose you’re happy with what Ganda left you.’ He pointed the neck of the bottle at me. ‘At least yours is portable.’
‘Well, I’m hoping some of the luck he said it brought him will rub off on me.’ I took the coffee which Flint passed me and smiled at Ocean who was, as ever, sitting listening to the tirade.
‘How can it be lucky, for god’s sake?’ Ash waved the bottle now. ‘Tell me in which context it is lucky to carry your nose in a matchbox.’
‘You’re only angry because he left you twelve pairs of rubber boots. You could always open your own fetish-wear shop.’
There was a sound of a throat clearing from across the table and we stopped bickering to await Ocean’s pronouncement. He rarely spoke, our brother. It was a family rumour that he hadn’t uttered a single word until he was four and had then said ‘balloon angioplasty’ and frightened our mother half to death.
‘I think’ – and Ocean looked around at us all, with his mismatched eyes, one blue and one brown – ‘that we’re just disappointed that Ganda didn’t leave us any money. That’s why we’re bickering.’ Then, as though embarrassed that he’d spoken, he looked down at the table and let his long hair fall over his reddening face. He was a man who’d been born to the largely solitary career of bookbinding and found social interaction, of any kind, acutely painful. No wonder Ash tended to refer to him as ‘the oldest virgin in York’. But he was clever, Ocean, and astute. Disappointment was the real reason for this whole gathering of the clan, or rather, disillusionment. None of us needed the money, as such, we’d just always thought … to be honest, I don’t know what we’d thought. Although we were now all clearly beginning to think that our beloved grandfather had been bonkers.
‘Ganda never had any money to leave, though,’ I said. ‘I should know.’
They all turned to look at me. Even Ocean.
‘Yeah,’ Ash muttered. ‘We’ve kinda wondered about that. You were his favourite, you’ve got to admit, Will, and all he leaves you is a mouldy old body part?’
‘Maybe’ – heads swivelled again as Ocean spoke – ‘he gave us what he did for a reason.’
‘I reckon he gave Flint that allotment so that he’d have something to come back to.’ I looked over at our eldest brother, fussily tidying up the fallen leaves of my spider plant on the window ledge. ‘You’re always saying you’ll come back to Yorkshire one day, aren’t you? Perhaps he was making a point. This is where your roots are. It’s the kind of terrible pun Ganda used to love.’
There was a moment of silence. Then I blew my nose and Bree rubbed her eyes with her sleeve like a child would.
‘But Booter and Snag?’ she said. ‘You have to admit, Wills, they are horrible, even for dogs.’
I sensed the movement as three pairs of eyeballs turned towards me. I loved my sister, absolutely (although I’d never quite forgiven her for the Barbie incident when I was six), despite her somewhat pragmatic nature, but her cleanliness and tidiness fetish drove all of us to want to run round her immaculate house wearing muddy Wellingtons.
‘Perhaps,’ I said carefully, ‘it was because you’re the only one of us with the time and space for two spaniels.’ Plus looking after something other than yourself and the obnoxiously self-satisfied Paddy will be good practice, I prevented myself from adding. A well-placed kick under the table made sure that Ash didn’t make the point either. Secretly I knew Ganda had thought Bree was far too obsessive about her house and he would have delighted in the chaos the dogs would bring. He was probably up there now, chuckling down on our discomfiture.
Ash poked me with the wine bottle. ‘Okay, yeah, I can go with all that, and let’s face it, who else would he have left his books to but Ocean – but twelve pairs of waders? What did he expect me to do, take my friends fly-fishing?’
Since all Ash’s friends thought that fresh air was a dangerous perversion, this was unlikely to be the case. I shrugged.
‘Well, I’ve got to be going. Paddy will be home at half past six and I have no idea what I’m doing for dinner.’ Bree aimed a quick kiss at my cheek. ‘Wills, why don’t you come down next week for Sunday lunch? Paddy’s got some kind of work do on the Saturday, but he’ll be back by Sunday morning.’
Oh goody, I thought, torn between my dislike of Sundays, when I always felt like the only single woman in York, and my hatred of Paddy. ‘Sounds nice, thanks.’
‘And I’d better…’ Ocean stood up, too. ‘Bye.’ In contrast to Bree’s fussy farewell my brother simply melted into the darkness. Flint had taken all the used cups through to the kitchen, which left me with Ash.
‘One less Sunday on your own,’ he remarked, handing me the bottle he’d been drinking from and picking up his helmet. Ash always had the knack of sensing my feelings. ‘You really must be down, Will, if you’d rather spend it with Mrs Housewife and the Champion Prick.’
‘They’re not so bad,’ I said. ‘And it does get a bit lonely round here when everyone I know is coupled-up. Not you and Ocean, obviously, but Katie’s got Dan and the boys, and Jazz’s always at band rehearsals or flapping around in the shallow end of the local dating pool.’
‘I could introduce you to some of my friends.’ Ash crammed his bleach blond crop into his helmet and raised the visor.
‘No, thanks.’ I walked with him to the front garden where he wheeled the huge bike backwards out of the gateway, manoeuvring it carefully onto the road and throwing his leg casually over the saddle. ‘I’m not quite ready to be a fag hag just yet.’
‘They’re not all gay.’
‘Name one who’s not.’
He snapped down his visor, ignited the engine and muttered something over the roar. I flicked him the finger and slapped his red-leathered shoulder and he rode off, waving a hand.
‘Willow,’ Flint called from the doorway. ‘Your phone is ringing.’
I took my phone from him, presuming that Katie had successfully fought her twins into bed. ‘Hello.’ Then, noticing that Ash had decelerated to take the corner, I let out a wolf-whistle of the magnitude only truly mastered by someone with older brothers. It clearly penetrated his padded concentration, because he raised two fingers and cornered tightly, knee almost to the pavement.
The phone was silent in my ear for a second. After a moment a male voice said carefully, ‘Is that Willow?’
Oh shit. ‘Um. Yes, hello, Luke. Um. I was just…’
‘Not interrupting anything, am I? I mean, is this a good time to call?’
I rushed back inside the house andupstairs. ‘No. Yes, I mean. It’s fine.’ He had the loveliest voice, too, did I mention that? Softly spoken and with a gentle hint of an accent. (His father was Welsh and he’d grown up on Anglesey. Oh, I knew all there was to know about Luke Fry. I could have had him as a Mastermind subject.)
‘I thought you were talking to someone.’
‘Only my brother.’ Oh, be still my heaving stomach. ‘Actually, could you hold on for one second?’ I flung the receiver down on my bed and rushed to the bathroom, teeth clenched, but in the event only managed a couple of retches over the sink before the feeling was gone – but this was still unusual, telephone conversations never usually affected me. ‘Hello, sorry about that.’
‘Look, Willow, I was wondering, if you’re not busy or anything, we might have that get-together I was talking about? Maybe tomorrow? If it’s not too short notice for you? I thought, perhaps, towards evening?’
Diffident. That in itself was cute. He obviously wasn’t one of these drop everything when I call types, just nicely deferential, but I’d played this game before and knew the moves. Never agree immediately, it makes you sound desperate. Pretend your life is so crammed with wonderful experiences that he’ll have to join a queue for your attention. When I say ‘played the game’, really I’d just read a lot, none of the guys I’d found myself dating had been ‘game players’, except one, who’d had a thing for chess.
‘Well, I am a bit busy.’
But he spoke again, almost over the top of me. ‘Only I heard you telling that guy in the bar that you weren’t doing anything, so I thought… sorry? Did you say something?’
‘Me? No, just clearing my throat.’
We agreed to meet at the bar by the City Screen at seven, and he rang off, leaving me breathless and dizzy with the speed of it all. Luke Fry. Oh…my…God.
Later that evening when Katie rang me, having hog-wrestled the twins to bed and sent Dan out with his mates for a Friday night restorative, I was knee-deep in my wardrobe looking for a suitable date dress.
‘I don’t want to look too tarty,’ I explained with the telephone clamped under my chin, both hands busy rattling through the rails. ‘But then I don’t want to look as though I’ve got librarians in my ancestry either.’
‘What about your red dress?’
‘Too much cleavage.’
‘The purple one?’
‘Not enough.’ I sighed heavily and sluiced an armful of clothing onto the bed. ‘Honestly, Katie, my going-out clothes make me look like a cut-price hooker and my work clothes make me look like a geography teacher. Why has no one ever pointed this out to me before?’
Katie coughed. ‘Um, Will, you don’t think you might be reading a bit too much into all this, do you? I mean, perhaps he really does want to chat about the old days.’
‘Listen, I would dress up to hear Luke Fry read the frigging weather forecast. I don’t care why he wants me there, the fact is he wants to talk to me, and I owe it to my past self to at least feel not like a complete minger while he’s doing it. Now. What about the white dress?’
‘Bit bridal. You don’t want to scare the bejesus out of the poor guy. And don’t you think it’s all a bit sudden? When he, ahem, I mean, you have to admit, Wills, he wasn’t exactly receptive to your charms while we were at uni, was he?’
‘Well, no, but I have changed quite a bit, Katie.’ You should have seen me back then. I was a dead ringer for an Afghan Hound after a tumble-dry. And so shy, some days I could hardly bear to talk to myself.
‘He recognised you though.’
Yes, he had. After Katie hung up to go and have a long, uninterrupted piss, as she put it, I rooted through some of my memorabilia until I found the photograph. It had been taken by my then-boyfriend, a gangly streak of spots called Tom who I’d gone out with because he roadied for Fresh Fingers now and again. He’d been nice enough, quite pretty, too, but the spots had ensured that any attractive tendencies were submerged beneath layers of concealer. So my stomach contents had remained safely content and not avant-garde wall decoration.
The photograph showed Fresh Fingers, posing outside York Minster. The three other lads were sitting on the steps, but Luke had draped himself over the stonework of the south entrance, arm around a carved saint, and was glowering at the camera from under hair which must have made up half his bodyweight. On the far far left stood the figure of a girl, almost out of shot. She was wearing a gypsy skirt, a loose tartan top, hiking boots and an overlarge black duster coat. An unruly frizzle of blondish hair obscured her face but, yes, you’ve guessed it. Looking like an explosion in a charity shop, with split ends in need of extensive welding treatment, and so hopelessly, helplessly, heartbreakingly in love with Luke that a negative aura seemed to surround me, even in a photograph. I was like a black hole with bad hair.
I sighed and shoved the photo away. I was no longer that gauche, slightly podgy, badly assembled girl. No, I was a completely different gauche, badly assembled girl and the podge had transformed into curves, the bad hair into a reasonably sleek shoulder-length style. I waltzed in front of the mirror, embracing a scarlet hook-and-eye-bodiceddress which made me look like a surgical incision, but was, at least, neither tarty nor sternly practical. It was therefore my choice of dress for Luke.
Katie had to be pessimistic. She stood as the voice of reason to Jazz and my enthusiastic overreactions. But there was no escaping that not only had Luke recognised me, he’d rung almost straight away. In my book, that meant interest of a more than catching-up kind.
I yelled a ‘goodnight’ to Flint and went to bed, hanging the dress up on my wardrobe door so that I would see it if I woke during the night, and remember that this Saturday night was going to be different.
If you’d like to find out more about Jane, follow her on Twitter @janelovering or visit her website: www.janelovering.com
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