FACE TO FACE
Hodder & Stoughton. Hardback and paperback.
"Fun to snuggle up with on stormy nights" - GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
"Wildly funny leading lady" - DAILY MAIL
"Deliciously romantic and funny" - THE BOOKSELLER
"Funny and clever debut" - NOTTINGHAM EVENING POST
"Fun reading for urban sassenach lassies" - MS LONDON
"Clever and funny first novel, told by someone who obviously knows their subject very well" - WIGAN EVENING POST
Peri Lomax - shallow and terminally self centred - has plenty of nightmares but it seems that her worst one is about to begin. Her modelling career is on the skids and something drastic is needed otherwise she'll end up fronting an exhibition stand at Earl's Court.
Then, miraculously, a dream job comes her way. A job that will propel Peri from the backwater of anonymity to the cover of Hi! magazine, to a slot as presenter at the International Film Awards. But there's a catch. A big catch. Forget lounging on sun-drenched beaches and think icy Highland location with sackcloth and live props thrown in.
And she has to put up with a boorish great Scotsman called Douglas. Suddenly Peri is wondering whether the carrot of immense fame dangling in front of her is worth the suffering she's got to go through to get it. There are some things a girl can't be expected to tolerate - like facing the fact that life without champagne can be worth living and that people other than herself can actually matter...
Peri looked down at her hessian skirt and ugly black boots. 'Eco warrior,' she muttered bitterly. She could always dream herself out of an unpleasant situation - it was a skill that she had learned in childhood - and now as she huddled in the ruined cottage with the howling wind outside, she could see herself taking tea at the Savoy, warm and cosy, with bags of shopping at her feet. As the image began to fade, she sighed and idly picked up a stone, her thoughts seeking out another image to give her comfort. The Film Awards night! Giant banks of paparazzi, voices calling: 'Peri, Peri. Over here.' She would be wearing layers of silver chiffon and diamonds.
Suddenly, she snapped to attention. It was a dog! A vicious dog. Coming straight at her. With her heart pounding she jumped to her feet, raising the stone above her head, ready to strike the animal.
'What do you think yer doing?' It was a man's voice, a loud Scottish voice, but she didn't dare take her eyes off the dog to see who it was.
'Bruce,' the man called gently. 'Come here, boy.'
As the dog trotted away, she felt safe enough to look up. The man was frowning in through the gap in the far wall, his lower face swaddled with scarves, a black woollen hat low on his forehead.
'He was going to attack me,' she stammered.
'Och, for goodness sakes, woman, don't talk sae daft.' He looked her up and down, sounding suddenly weary, 'Where are the others?
'Um ... outside.'
He nodded gravely. 'Now listen tae me. You can stay tonight but tomorrow I want you off my land. I'm sick of having to clear up your filth and-'
'I beg your pardon?'
'Do you people realise how much damage you do to the wildlife, eh?'
Peri was angry, ready to do battle, but thoroughly confused and not quite sure what the battle was to be about.
'Animals cut their mouths on beer cans,' the man continued. 'Did you know that?'
This was too much. He was obviously the village idiot. 'Yes, yes,' she said patiently, as if placating a child. 'Now why don't you run along like a good little boy.'
That silenced him. Ha! He stared at her with round, astonished eyes. Suddenly he began squeezing through the gap in the wall, his big boots sliding on rubble, bricks bursting from their mortar.
Jesus! Peri thought in alarm. What's he doing? As he straightened up before her, he seemed to get bigger and bigger. The guy was enormous!
'Right!' he snarled, staring down at her with cold blue eyes. 'I am now going to throw you and your friends off my land.'
As he took a step towards he, she hastily stepped back. 'Don't you dare touch me! I've got friends out there - loads of them - with knives.'
'I'm sure you have. And I'll deal with them after I've dealt with you.' He dropped to one knee, grabbed her around her legs and hoisted her up and over his shoulder.
'Help!' she screamed, hanging upside-down and hammering her fists against his back. 'Help!'
The man was carrying her to the door. Now Helmut and Otto would see him and come to her rescue - but no! They'd
taken the camera down the other side of the mountain. They wouldn't see him. Desperately, she wriggled and kicked. 'Put me down! You can't do this to me.'
'Yes, I can.'
'My friends are killers - they're going to get you for this.'
She heard Otto's voice, coming nearer, 'Peri? Peri?'
She pushed her hands against the man's back, levering herself up to shout. 'I'm in here! Quick. Help me!'
Otto tripped as he came through the door, his pink mittened hands grabbing the wall to stop himself falling. 'Oh!' he exclaimed mildly, cocking his head to one side to look at Peri. 'What is happening?'
'What the fuck do you think is happening,' Peri screamed.
The Scotsman paused. 'Do you know this woman?' he asked. He sounded incredulous.
Otto coughed. 'Douglas ... um ... I think you should put her down.'
Promptly she was put on her feet. 'Douglas?' she hissed, spinning round to glare at Otto while pointing a stiff finger at her assailant. 'You know this man?'
'Yes, of course,' Otto replied. 'Douglas is our host. He has been kind enough to let us stay in his home and use his land.'
Peri could only stare at Otto in disbelief.
'Wait a minute,' the man began slowly. 'You're not the ... the ...?'
She turned slowly and fixed him with hard eyes.
Frowning in bewilderment, he looked her over, seeing the sackcloth and shawl. 'But surely you're not the ... model?'
If she had been a man, she would have punched him in the face.
Outline, Excerpt and first Chapters below