Book Blurb of “Tall, Dark and Kilted”
Fliss Bagshawe longs for a passport out of Pimlico where she works as a holistic therapist. After attending a party in Notting Hill she loses her job and with it the dream of being her own boss. She’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, but there’s a catch. The centre lies five hundred miles north in Wester Ross, Scotland.
Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by Men in Kilts is shattered when she has an upclose and personal encounter with the Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart. He’s determined to pull the plug on the business, bring his eccentric family to heel and eject undesirables from his estate – starting with Fliss. Facing the dole queue once more Fliss resolves to make sexy, infuriating Ruairi revise his unflattering opinion of her, turn the therapy centre around and sort out his dysfunctional family.
Can Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen and find the happiness she deserves? Read Tall, Dark and Kilted and find out !
The music hit Fliss as she rounded the corner of Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill. The sugared almond pink and yellow houses were almost vibrating in the late May evening as I Predict a Riot blasted out from an open window half way down the street. Her stomach flipped over with a mixture of excitement and nerves as she acknowledged the Kaiser Chiefs were bang on message.
It was going to be that kind of night. That kind of party.
She gazed wide-eyed at the grand houses and the expensive cars parked in front of them. It wasn’t every day she was invited to this exclusive postcode. In fact, she was more likely to be found passively inhaling her friends’ cigarette smoke over shared laughter, gossip and Mojitos outside her favourite pub in Pimlico than hanging with the Notting Hill set.
But, tonight was different. If she read Isla Urquhart’s invitation correctly, she was about to be made an offer she couldn’t refuse. One which would whisk her away from her poorly paid job at Pimlico Pamperers therapy centre and propel her towards . . . well, if not stardom exactly, then something more promising than the long hours and low wages which were currently her lot.
She drew near the Urquharts’ house where Isla was holding court at the top of the stone steps. Ranged below her on the pavement were two Police Community Support Officers and a group of angry neighbours. The butterflies, which had been performing loop the loops in her stomach all the way up from the station, slipped on black opaque tights and hard shoes and broke into Riverdance.
‘We won’t ask you again Miss, turn that music down.’
Isla insolently flicked cigarette ash in the PCSO’s direction, but in spite of her defiant stance she looked openly relieved to see Fliss coming along the street. ‘You tell them Fliss. They won’t listen to me.’
‘Tell them what exactly?’ Sensing a Mexican standoff developing, Fliss readied herself to push through the cordon of police and neighbours, bundle Isla indoors and get down to the serious matter of discussing the proposal Isla had mentioned a couple of days earlier.
‘About Mumma – Being – In – India.’ Isla enunciated slowly, putting an exaggerated stress on each word.
Quickly realising what was required of her, Fliss said smoothly, ‘She’s at an ashram in India, officer – Jaipur to be precise – having her chakras freed. Won’t be home for weeks. Would you like the number?’ With all the aplomb of an Oscar winning actress she slipped easily into role, scrolling through her mobile phone and then pausing. ‘But, with the time difference and various treatments I really can’t see her coming to the phone.’
Clearly, she’d said the right thing because she was summoned to stand on the top step. And for a moment she felt chosen, special and it didn’t seem to matter that she was a poorly paid holistic therapist and Isla a Notting Hill trustafarian with money to burn. They were friends, in this together and that’s all that mattered.
‘She’s probably posted a notice on Facebook. The Crescent will be swamped with rioters and the gardens trashed by hoodies,’ one neighbour persisted, clearly underwhelmed by the PCSO’s performance.
At that moment, the Ministry of Sound medley blaring through the open window ended and a blissful silence descended on Elgin Crescent. Everyone drew breath, the policemen and neighbours made as if to walk away – then the music resumed and Johnny Rotten informed everyone he was an anarchist.
This, apparently, was a groove too far for Isla’s neighbour.
‘That’s it; I’m calling your brother . . .’
For a moment, Isla’s poise wavered and the colour drained from her cheeks. Fliss wondered what kind of man had the power to dent the thick armour of her self-belief where a visit from the police had no effect. But she wasn’t allowed time for further reflection because Isla was back with a vengeance.
‘Ruairi’s too busy to bother himself with the likes of you. Anyway, chillax – we’re moving into the communal gardens.’ She waved a queenly hand at them.
‘Those gardens are for residents!’ a second neighbour spluttered.
‘And the Urquharts have lived here longer than any of you,’ she said, looking down her aristocratic nose at them. The police officers exchanged a let’s-get-this-over-with look and moved in.
‘Right. That’s enough! You,’ the elder officer addressed Fliss, ‘take her indoors. Close the window and turn down the music. Or this party will be over quicker than you can say: injunction.’
Seizing the Get Out of Jail Free card, Fliss dragged Isla over the threshold and slammed the front door behind her. She stood with her back pressed against its reassuring solidity as Isla, predictably without a word of thanks, sauntered off towards the back of the house where – judging by the noise, the party was in full swing.
At that moment, Fliss remembered her best friend and fellow therapist at Pimlico Pamperers had nicknamed Isla and her sister Cat: The Spawn of Satan, and resolved to proceed with caution. Longing for a quiet place to marshal her thoughts and make some sense of why she’d been invited here tonight, Fliss made her way towards the cloakroom.
As she did so, the motto on a t-shirt she’d seen at Camden Locks Market flashed into mind: If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. Maybe that was the point of her being here – to determine if she was poodle or Rottweiler; worthy of inclusion in Isla’s posse, or not. She knew Isla collected friends irrespective of class or upbringing, provided they were amusing – or, as she suspected was more likely in her case – could be of use to her.
Although just what service she could render the honourable Miss Isla Urquhart wasn’t immediately obvious.
She tried to shake off the feeling of disquiet, of being out of her comfort zone that accompanied her along the shadowy hallway. How could she fit into Cat and Isla’s world? They had a trust fund to smooth their path and make life pleasant, whereas all she had to look forward to for the next forty years was work, work, and more work.
The very thought made her head ache.
But just for tonight, she was going to allow herself to imagine what might happen if Fate – maybe in the unlikely form of Isla Urquhart – intervened and sent some good karma her way. She pulled a face and took a reality check – there was little hope of that happening. Hard work would get her out of her rented flat in Pimlico; not Fate, karma or a knight in shining Armani. And, for the record, knights in armour – designer or otherwise – had been thin on the ground of late.
She headed towards a door screened by a thick curtain embroidered with appliquéd elephants and tiny, tarnished silver mirrors. She tried the door, but it was locked. One of Isla’s friends was probably in there snorting illegal substances, she thought annoyed, while she was standing cross-legged, desperate to use the loo. She gave the door a kick and rapped on it with her knuckles in an attempt to hurry up the occupant.
‘Give us a minute, will ya?’ came back a voice that was more Chelmsford than Chelsea.
This was followed by a thump, the sound of breaking glass and hyena-like laughter. The key turned, the curtain was pulled back and peering round the door with a broken mirror in her hand and looking guilty as hell, was her best friend Becky Casterton.
**Click HERE to buy “Tall, Dark and Kilted”!
**Additional comments by Lizzie: After an inspiring talk by a well published author I decided to form my own publishing group The New Romantics 4 with three other writers and we self published our books autumn 2012. It’s been hard work but we’ve never looked back. Read more about us and our route to publication on our blog (above).
Here’s a picture of Lizzy’s husband wearing a kilt and holding her book!