Monday 21 May 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from Dreaming of St Tropez by TA Williams

I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour today for Dreaming of St Tropez by T.A. Williams which came out on the 7th May. I have an extract from the book for you to enjoy. If you like the look of that, you can order the book by clicking here. Here's what it's all about:

After a disagreement with a billionaire, architect Jess Milton is ‘let go’ from her job. However fortune intervenes – an elderly client asks Jess to dog-sit overweight, but loveable dog Brutus in St. Tropez.
Fed up with the mega-rich, Jess is reluctant to visit the playground of billionaires, but an all-expenses-paid trip and the promise of sunshine seals the deal.
Little does Jess know how much time she’ll be spending with the family living in St. Tropez. The sullen, but very good-looking David and his millionaire father are both welcoming but guarded, haunted by their pasts…
Can Jess bring some sunshine back into their lives – and, just maybe, find love in the process?

Like the sound of that? Here's an extract to whet your appetite just a little further...

‘Make sure you keep an eye on Brutus. Last week he stole a whole joint of roast beef, complete with Yorkshire puddings, and ate the lot.’
Once she had left, Mrs Dupont returned to the matter in hand.
‘You’ve probably worked it out for yourself from my name, but many years ago I married a Frenchman.’
Jess nodded and smiled. ‘Dupont doesn’t sound terribly English.’
‘He was a lovely man. I married him when I was twenty-two and, after a few years in London, we moved over to France. He came from a very wealthy family and we were fortunate in being able to choose where we wanted to live.’ She waved her hands vaguely around the room. ‘That’s why I’ve got all this now.’
Jess remembered what Hope had been saying about not all rich people being bad and nodded to herself. Mrs Dupont was a sweet old lady – money or no money.
‘Anyway, that was sixty years ago. My son still lives in France now.’ Mrs Dupont looked and sounded nostalgic. ‘Alas, Marcel, my husband, died ten years ago, and I’ve been on my own since then. Anyway…’ Jess saw her straighten up again. ‘Anyway, I’m digressing…’
‘Shall I pour the tea while you tell me all about it?’
‘Thank you dear, that would be kind. The thing is, the news here isn’t very good. I don’t know if you heard, but Glenda’s husband died rather suddenly two months ago, I’m afraid. It was a heart attack.’
‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.’ Jess looked up from the cups. ‘So she’s left on her own?’
‘She’s got a daughter who lives in Canada but, yes, otherwise she’s very much on her own. Just like me really.’ She caught Jess’s eye. ‘Or, at least, we’ve got each other. She’s been with me for so long, she’s really become my best friend.’
Jess poured the tea and set a cup down in front of the old lady.
‘Would you like me to cut a couple of slices of cake?’
‘If you would, dear, but you’d better make that three slices.’
‘A slice for Mrs Forsythe?’
‘No, she can help herself later on. The third slice is for Brutus. He likes cake.’
Jess began to understand just why the Labrador was so podgy. Clearly, if he was feasting on slices of iced sponge cake, it was no wonder his figure was suffering. Mrs Dupont pointed at the dog, but not to remark upon his obesity.
‘Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about Brutus. You see, I’m thinking about going off and doing something I’ve always wanted to do, and I thought I’d take Glenda with me for company, and as a treat to her.’
Jess took her own cup and sipped the tea.
‘And that is?’
‘A round the world cruise. My husband and I used to do a lot of cruising, but, since his death, I haven’t been away much. I thought to myself that this was the moment to go for it.’
‘And how long’s a round the world trip going to take?’
‘I haven’t booked anything yet, but the travel agent tells me these things last about three months.’
‘That sounds amazing. I’m sure you’ll love it.’ Inside her head, Jess was wondering how many thousands of pounds a trip like this would cost. Mrs Dupont was certainly providing her friend with quite a ‘treat’.
‘I’m really looking forward to it, but there’s a problem.’ Mrs Dupont looked down indulgently at the Labrador whose eyes were still trained on the cake, a small pool of drool forming on the floor in front of him.
‘The problem is that I can’t take Brutus on the boat with me. I’ve had him since he was a puppy – that’s almost five years ago now – and he’s as much my best friend as Glenda. I know I’ll miss him terribly and I really can’t countenance the idea of him being locked in kennels for three months. It would be like sending him to prison.’
Jess nodded sympathetically, but, inside, she was digesting the fact that Brutus was not yet five. With his excessive weight and his geriatric waddle, she had assumed he was twice that age.
‘I was wondering if you might be interested in a little proposal I have for you?’ There was a twinkle in Mrs Dupont’s eye. ‘Have you ever been to France?’
‘France? Just on a school exchange trip for a couple of weeks, years ago.’
‘Well, you see, my husband inherited the family home in France when his father died. He and I lived there for a good few years and it’s a lovely place. My son lives there now. As you were talking about maybe taking a holiday, I was wondering if you might like to do me a big favour by taking Brutus over to France while I’m having my cruise. My son says he can look after the dog, but, to be honest, he’s a bit absent-minded these days and I’m worried he might forget to feed him. I was wondering, in view of your present circumstances, whether you might like to look after him yourself and stay on for a nice long, restful holiday while you’re at it. After all, Brutus knows you and likes you.’
The dog, his eyes still trained on the cake, had now slumped down until he was lying on the floor, one heavy paw resting on Jess’s foot.
Jess nodded. ‘And I like him.’ She reached down to stroke his head. ‘That sounds like a wonderful offer.’ Her mind was racing. The idea of a three month holiday was really, really tempting, but the pragmatic part of her was telling her maybe she should concentrate on finding a new job. ‘So how would you suggest Brutus and I get there?’
‘Do you drive?’
Jess nodded again. ‘Yes… though I don’t do a lot of driving. Living in London, a car’s more trouble than it’s worth, but I’m sure with a bit of practice, I’d be all right.’
‘That’s excellent. The car’s almost new. I only bought it last year for Brutus’s sake. My old car was getting too small for him. Of course, I no longer drive, but Glenda’s husband used to drive it as and when it was necessary – since his death, it hasn’t been used. But the thing is, Brutus knows the car, and he knows you, so he would feel comfortable. So do you think you might be prepared to do that?’
‘I’ll certainly drive him over there and maybe stay a few weeks, if you’re sure I wouldn’t be any bother to your son.’
Mrs Dupont beamed. ‘Of course not. That’s wonderful, Jess. Thank you so much. You can stay in the guest house. It’s quite independent, tucked away in a corner of the grounds. We used to use it for guests, but he rarely has anybody visiting nowadays, and it’s been empty for ages. You and Brutus could stay there for as long as you like – hopefully all the time Glenda and I are away, if you like it and you have time – obviously free of charge. It’s a lovely place for a holiday. How would that sound?’
That sounded amazing to Jess. And, just in case she might have any doubts, the universe chose that exact moment to deliver a downpour of biblical proportions, reducing the view across the garden to a grey mist.
‘I should really be looking for a new job, but I suppose as that’s all online nowadays, I could do it from pretty much anywhere.’ Jess turned to Mrs Dupont with a smile. ‘And the idea of getting away from this weather is really appealing – specially on a day like today.’ She made a decision. ‘That sounds absolutely marvellous. I’ll be delighted to do it. Can I say I’ll definitely stay a month and, if all goes well, I’ll try to stay for the full duration? If not, I’ll happily pop back to bring Brutus home to you when you return from your cruise.’
‘That’s absolutely excellent. And, of course, do feel free to bring a friend, or friends, with you. Is there somebody you’d like to take with you to France?’
Jess had been thinking about this. ‘Yes, thank you, there is. My friend Hope deserves a holiday. She’s also between jobs so she could probably take a good long break as well. She and I are working for a dog-walking company at the moment, so she’s got lots of experience with dogs, which could be useful.’
‘That’s wonderful. Now, the cruise that interests me sails from Southampton right at the end of May. That’s in, what, just about four weeks’ time? Is that maybe a bit
short notice for you? Could you manage to get away so soon?’
Jess nodded. ‘Yes, I’m sure that would be all right. So, tell me, Mrs Dupont, whereabouts is your son living?’
‘You may have heard of it. It’s a nice little place on the Côte d’Azur between Toulon and Cannes. It’s called St-Tropez.’

Thanks so much to T.A. Williams for sharing that with us today! Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour!

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

Twitter: @TAWilliamsBooks

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