This Sunday is Mother’s Day in Australia and it is also the release date for my first full length novel.
Walk of Shame was the first novel I had ever finished and it took a long time for me to edit it and then actually get it published. Last week I published a free short story, The Five Year Plan, as a lead in to this book.
This is a really emotional release for me. I wrote a lot of this book while my daughter-in-law was terminally ill in hospital. I hadn’t finished it before she passed away, but I was determined to follow it through. My daughter-in-law was a woman who didn’t let anything stand in the way of her achieving her dreams and this book is dedicated to her.
So this weekend is the realisation of a dream I have had for a really long time. There have been a lot of obstacles along the way, some of them of my own doing, but this weekend means that I have finally overcome every obstacle. It’s not the end of the journey, it’s really only the first step, but this first step is a dream come true.
Here is the back cover blurb:
A cheating fiancé, a business trip to Melbourne, a one night stand, an unexpected meeting and a lost Jimmy Choo…
After sensible, practical, bakery owner, Claire Butterworth, finds her fiancé of five years in bed with another woman, she kicks him to the curb with a face slap, some cathartic personal property destruction and a few choice words, then heads to Melbourne for some well deserved retail therapy and decadent food indulgences. She never expected to wake up in a strange (but luxurious) hotel room with a total blank of what had happened the night before, nor did she expect to spend the following night in the company of the charming, delicious and swoon worthy Ben Donovan. Her short stint in Australia’s food and wine capital has seen her meet not one, but two exciting men who see her as more than the plain and boring Claire she has always thought herself to be.
When Claire returns to her ‘real life’ on the Sunshine Coast, she finds herself torn between two men, one a mysterious stranger that she can not for the life of her remember, but has none the less started a strange but fun text relationship with, the other a dreamy, sweet and ridiculously rich Brisbane lawyer who seems to adore her. If that wasn’t bad enough, she is also on a mission to save her floundering business and finds herself the object of affection for an obsessed stalker. Maybe being a ‘plain Jane’ wasn’t so bad after all.
Keep reading for a sneak peak…
Her first thought as she began to surface was that she must have died and gone to hell. Her head felt like the slightest movement would cause it to shatter into a million pieces, her mouth tasted like she had licked a New York sidewalk and where the hell were her clothes?
She cracked an eye and the dazzling light of predawn speared her brain causing her to momentarily lose the sight in the unfortunate eye. When the pain and blindness passed she checked out her surroundings. A hotel suite; a classy hotel suite. A hotel suite that was not her own. She didn’t know why she was in a hotel that wasn’t her own or how she got there or even which city she might be in. The previous night was a complete blank.
She closed her eye and snuggled into the extremely comfortable bed under an equally comfortable quilt, she felt like she was drifting on a cloud. The warmth and snuggliness of the bed smoothed out her anxieties. It was perfectly normal to wake up in a strange, though very beautiful, hotel suite, there was nothing to worry about, it would all become clear as soon as her brain began to function normally again. Until that time, she would just lie quietly and enjoy the cloud-like qualities of the bed. Maybe this was all just a dream, except for the head shattering migraine and sidewalk mouth. She felt like she was forgetting something important but her pain addled brain (paired with the soft, silky sheets that were obviously keeping her hostage) refused to function and she decided to just go back to sleep and hope that when she next woke her world would be back to normal.
Somewhere near her a door closed quietly, although to her tortured brain it felt like the door slammed hard enough to wake the dead, and then a shower started. Realisation began to dawn on her; there was someone else here. She started to panic. It started in her belly, the uncomfortable sensation of butterflies trying desperately to escape through her navel like some sort of science fiction movie and travelled to her head and made her finally realise that maybe it wasn’t all ok. She didn’t know where she was and now there was the added complication of an unknown person. And she was practically naked, no, she was naked, she realised with a jolt.
That last thought pushed her into action. Her eyes sprang open, were blinded by that same dazzling light for a moment and then, praying that her head would stay attached to her shoulders she sprang lithely out of the bed. And by lithely, she actually fell out of the bed, and not gracefully, landing with a muffled thump onto very plush carpet. She took a moment to untangle herself from the (what were these 1000 thread count egyptian cotton?) sheets and then surveyed the room. It was like something out of Vogue Living. The room was a subtle blend of creams and soft golds. The panelled walls were a delicate eggshell, large cream damask drapes with gold edging covered the floor to ceiling windows and the lovely plush carpet that cushioned her fall was a dark gold. The bed that had been so unwilling to let her go was all in the same eggshell that coloured the walls with a few throw pillows that picked up the gold accents. This was definitely not the hotel she had booked into. Her mint chiffon tea length dress (that she had saved for months to buy) was flung haphazardly over the back of a (very nice) cream damask wing chair and one of her silver Jimmy Choos was near the door that lead out to the living area of the suite, the other was no where to be found. She looked toward where she thought the shower was and tried to guess how much time she might have before whoever was in there would be out here and her panic levels rose. She tamped it back down, she didn’t have time to panic and she did not want to see whoever was in there come out here. Ok, she knew where her dress and one shoe was. She could see her purse sticking out from under the chair, now she just needed her underwear and her other shoe. Her very expensive bra was hanging from the door knob and her matching panties were drooping sadly over the lampshade. What the hell had happened last night?
She heard the shower shut off and decided that the best course of action was to make a dash for it. She collected her underwear and shoved them in her purse that she retrieved from under that very nice wing chair, shimmied into her, now wrinkled, dress, grabbed the shoe she could find and after a quick scan to see if she could find the other shoe, made a bee line for the door. The bedroom led out to a very well appointed living area and she was so very tempted to stop and stare (she didn’t get to see this sort of luxury very often) but made herself head directly to the door of the suite (without even a backward glance to see what type of kitchen a place like this might have). She softly closed it behind her and found herself in the hotel hallway, her bare toes sinking wonderfully into the high pile carpet. Following the sign for the elevators she walked briskly over the carpet and around the corner, trying desperately to remain calm and keep her pace dignified. She knew there would undoubtably be security cameras and she didn’t want to give security any reason to be startled (nothing to see here). She pushed the call button for the elevator, tapping her foot impatiently and praying that she wouldn’t run into someone she knew.
It seemed like an eternity before the doors opened and she was greeted by another woman who seemed to be in a similar predicament to herself. She blushed mightily before realising that the bed rumpled woman staring back at her was her own reflection and then she blushed some more. Thankfully the doors closed and she started her descent. That must have been the penthouse suite, she thought as she counted down the floors. Using the entirely mirrored lift (why do they insist on covering every wall in the lift with a mirror?) she tried to coax her dark, unruly hair into some sort of order and repair her makeup. She usually kept her hair on a tight leash, but had been playing around with curls and fancy updos for her night out. Her high, messy bun had looked nice last night when she had left for dinner, now it looked like she had been attacked by a bear. Dragging her fingers through the knots she pulled it into a high ponytail that fell down in messy waves to just below her shoulders. Her makeup had also suffered from the aforementioned bear attack. So much for waterproof mascara, she had a bad case of raccoon eyes. She licked her finger and rubbed viciously at the offending dark circles until she looked a little better. Now she just looked like she had gone a little overboard on the smokey eye, rather than someone who had been punched in the face.
The elevator dinged, signalling that she had reached the lobby and she took a deep breath. She braced herself as the doors opened, but she needn’t have bothered. The lobby was empty aside from the cleaner and night manager. It was still early (thank you body clock) so she made a dash for it, hoping that the two hotel employees were used to seeing the walk of shame and would kindly avert their eyes.
Out on the street she took a moment to get her bearings. She was in Melbourne, a business trip she remembered. She took a deep breath of the crisp early morning air and shivered with the chill of it. It wasn’t quite fully light yet and a hush seemed to blanket the city. Street cleaners and taxis passed her by as she stood and took in the sight of predawn Melbourne. It was a little sad to see the black top and grey sidewalks devoid of the hustle she normally associated with a capital city. A cool autumn breeze raised goosebumps on her bare arms and brought her back to the problem at hand. She didn’t really know where her own hotel was from here and, being she was barefoot, didn’t think it was a good idea to try and find it by herself. She hailed the first cab she saw and gratefully sank into the seat, closing her eyes. As the taxi drove through the eerily quiet streets, she forced her brain to think back over last night, but she just couldn’t remember. What the hell had she done?