Lovely shiny paperbacks of my debut novel The Honey Trap are out today, 3rd November! The books are priced £7.99 on Amazon.
I’m proud to announced that The Honey Trap will be going on a blog tour on 4th-11th November, to celebrate the release of the paperback edition on 3rd November. This is the line-up. Thanks so much to all those wonderful bloggers who’ve agreed to host!
One More Page – 4th November
Booky Ramblings – 5th
Linda’s Book Bag – 6th
Reviewed the Book – 7th
Laura Bambrey Books – 8th
Ali the Dragon Slayer – 9th
The Book Magnet – 10th
What Danielle Did Next – 11th
Proud to announce that publication day is finally here for my debut novel The Honey Trap! Described by reviewers as “a fun-filled sexy romp of a read”, “a solid, polished and bloody good debut novel” and “a thoroughly enjoyable tale with humour and warmth”, The Honey Trap sprang on to ebook readers at midnight last night. Get your copy now – only 99p!
The trap is set – but which one of them is the bait?
Journalist Angel Blackthorne is looking for her next big scoop. When her sleazy editor asks her to use her charms on super successful – and married – film director Sebastian Wilchester for a juicy exposé, Angel thinks what the hell? There’s a staff job on the horizon, and, let’s be honest, no one can make a cheater cheat if they don’t want to, right?
After the scandal breaks, Angel tries to put the story – and Seb – behind her, but fate seems to have other ideas. A near miss at a premiere after-party and a shared love of vintage film brings the honey closer to the trap.
But what happens when pretence leads to passion, and a ‘kiss and tell’ becomes something real?
To celebrate getting my first reviews this week, I made Seb and Angel’s front page, below with an extract from chapter four. The Honey Trap available to preorder now!
WARNING: some strong language.
Extract from chapter 4
Angel’s heart pumped in her throat as she scanned the front page.
Not one of Steve’s best headline efforts. He’d gone with ‘Unreal Titty’ – a pun on the name of Wilchester’s first film, Unreal City – emblazoned across a woman’s naked back. Hers. She winced deeply. A sub-head read ‘EXCLUSIVE: married director in steamy romp with mystery girl’.
You could see Seb’s face, contorted with passion, over her shoulder as she straddled him on the bed. She felt a zing through her body, remembering the thrill of sitting astride him and guiding him down into the crisp white sheets, panting and wet after their bath together –
‘Shit! Shit shit shit!’
‘Oh come on, it’s not as bad as all that –’ Emily began.
‘No, you don’t get it!’ Angel groaned. ‘That shot – how did he get that? I hung a towel over the mirror! It must have fallen – that perve!’
Emily’s eyes widened as she caught on.
‘Jesus, you don’t mean Steve watched it all!’
Angel bunched her fists into her eyes and moaned. As if anything was needed to make her humiliation more complete. Not only did she have one stonking bastard of a hangover. Not only was her bare backside splashed across the front page of a national newspaper for all to see. Not only had she, Angel Blackthorne, spent her Friday night having oral sex with a married stranger in a hotel room. But now it turned out her letchy old boss had watched the whole thing!
‘Oh God. I feel like I’m going to be sick.’
Emily patted her hair, putting on her best comforting tone. ‘Look, sweetie, it might seem like you want the earth to open right now, but give it a week and this’ll all be forgotten, I promise. Just tomorrow’s chip paper, right? And as for Steve, he’s sleazy, but he’s professionally sleazy. I’m sure it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before, if that makes you feel any better.’
‘How the hell is that supposed to make me feel better?’ Angel gave another long, muffled groan, hiding her face in her hands. ‘Just leave me, Em, leave me to die…’
‘Oh come on. I didn’t spend my hard-earned wine drowning your sorrows just so you could have a relapse next day. Look, I’ll get some coffee on. That at least might help deal with the hangover part of your symptoms.’
Fighting the surge of nausea, Angel pulled the paper towards her and began to read with kamikaze resignation:
Film-making wunderkind Sebastian Wilchester – husband of top actress and former child star Carole Beaumont, best known for her role as little Caroline in ’90s sitcom Something About Sally – was last night caught on the other side of the cameras, romping with an unidentified redhead, possibly a vice girl, in a swanky London hotel suite.
The pair spent the evening glugging champagne and indulging in a marathon sex session in the hotel bath, while Beaumont was at home alone in the Wilchesters’ Kensington mansion.
Angel felt her cheeks blazing with anger and mortification. If she’d been in any doubt Steve had stayed for the whole show, it was now utterly squashed.
A red flash in the corner promised ‘MORE SAUCY PICS INSIDE! Continued on p26 and 27’.
She flicked in panic to the double-page spread and experienced a surge of relief when she saw that none of the photos showed her face or anything that could identify her. Steve may be a scumbag, but he had principles of sorts, and an absolute commitment to protecting his sources was foremost among them. Thank Christ she’d wimped out of getting that tattoo on her bum at uni, though.
Inset was a photo of Seb and his wife Carole on their wedding day, the bride glowing in a creamy silk and Seb beaming as he curled a protective arm around her. Angel felt a twinge of shame and guilt when she took in the couple’s bright, happy faces.
The article continued:
The Palme D’Or-winning screenwriter and director, pioneer of the East End Noir genre, has been dubbed the saviour of the British film industry and a modern-day Orson Welles since his breakthrough film, Unreal City, was released to critical acclaim when he was just 22.
Neither he nor his wife of six years, former childhood sweethearts, were available to comment when contacted by our reporter. However, their lawyer has issued a statement asking for the couple’s privacy to be respected at this difficult time.
Wilchester, 30, and Beaumont, 28, had just completed work on their forthcoming film, The Milkman Cometh – a rare foray into black comedy for the director and his wife/leading lady.
‘I didn’t realise who he was when he ordered a drink at the hotel bar,’ said our source, a hotel employee who witnessed the encounter between Wilchester and his flame-haired temptress. ‘But I saw him meet up with this girl and they couldn’t seem to keep their hands off each other. I don’t know but it looked like it had been arranged in advance, and I noticed he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. He bought her a drink and they were flirting for a bit, then he went upstairs to her suite. The maid said he left looking dishevelled the next morning.’
Et tu, Brad the barman?
Angel sank down against the arm of the sofa and moaned softly. What an almighty mess she’d managed to make of her life, her love life and her career, and all in the space of one weekend! God only knew what the next day at work would bring, but a massive bollocking piece of her mind was definitely on an unstoppable collision course with Steve’s face.
So proud and pleased to reveal the cover of my debut novel The Honey Trap, coming August 19th from Harper Impulse:
I love the font used on the title, it reminds me of a vintage film poster – which is appropriate as both my hero and heroine are big vintage film fans (particularly Billy Wilder). And the projector and cinema stub details are perfect.
The Honey Trap is available to pre-order now at the links below. Digital edition currently only 99p!
WARNING: some strong language.
Angel Blackthorne’s dream job wasn’t turning out quite how she’d pictured it.
She lurked behind a Corinthian column in the ornate gilt-and-ivory lobby of the Hotel D’Azur, tugging at the barely buttock-covering Little Black Dress her boss Steve had made her wear. Don’t forget, love, tits and teeth. And then… whatever it takes. She could smell the mint and nicotine breath lacing the gruff Yorkshire accent, gravelled with old fags, as he leaned towards her and spat out lesson one of Entrapment for Dummies.
Not for the first time that night, she wished she was wearing proper underwear. The thin, lacy strips of silken fabric covering her breasts and nether regions seemed far from up to the job of keeping everything in – which was the whole point, of course. How exactly was it she’d let Emily convince her to buy them?
The receptionist behind the white marble front desk, crisp and professional in her gas-blue two-piece and bobbed hair, was starting to eyeball Angel with suspicion. Probably wondering if I’m a ‘working girl’, she thought with a sour half-smile. She pulled again at the hemline of her almost-there cocktail dress and shook a mental fist at Steve, the source of all her woes.
Christ, Angel, grow a pair. Remember, you signed up for this. To the breach…
Steeling herself, she walked over to the heavy mahogany door leading to the hotel bar, gripped the brass rail and leaned her weight against it. It swung open noiselessly. Thank God for the unknown caretaker and his can of WD40!
Angel slipped through and ducked into one of the huge, high-backed armchairs immediately to her left. She noted with relief that not one of the handful of punters had looked up from their drinks.
The chair was vast enough for her to get lost in: a highly polished Chesterfield in quilted red leather that would really require a smoking jacket and fat cigar to be truly enjoyed. Not to mention a penis… The whole bar reeked of a very masculine, gentlemen’s club-style opulence, all carved walnut panelling, cut-glass chandeliers and plush red damask.
Glancing around the room, Angel sought her prey.
She soon spied her man seated at the bar, watching some sort of sporting event on a wall-mounted plasma screen; the one modern touch in the place. She’d only seen one photo, but yes, she was certain that was him: notoriously private Sebastian Wilchester, film-making wunderkind.
The editor of The Daily Investigator had waited a long time to corner Wilchester in a public place so he could spring a honey trap. Tonight was the night – and Angel was the bait.
‘I really don’t know what you’re worrying about,’ Emily had said earlier that day while they shopped through their lunch break. Trust her flatmate, Miss Hump-’em-and-dump-’em, to completely miss the point. For Em, sexual hang-ups were something that only happened to other people.
Emily held up a pair of sheer red knickers and eyed them critically. ‘Honestly, Ange, only you could fret yourself to death over an all-expenses-paid night out with a sexy man in a swanky hotel. Lighten up and enjoy yourself. I mean, this is your first big assignment in six months. Isn’t this what you wanted?’
‘I’m not sure what I wanted, except to write,’ Angel admitted. ‘Bedding married strangers certainly wasn’t top of my list, world-famous directors or otherwise. I thought they’d have me on WI flower show write-ups and tea-making for the foreseeable, if I’m honest. I’m only an intern, Em, even if I am a good five years older than the other foetuses on the programme. Honey trapping just doesn’t seem… right, somehow.’
‘Well, if he goes along with it then the sleaze has got it coming. It’s a public service,’ Emily said, brandishing the red knickers like a victory flag from the peak of Mount Moral High Ground. ‘You’ll be doing his missus a favour, Ange, trust me. No one can make a cheater cheat if he doesn’t want to. And if he doesn’t take the bait, then his oh-so-perfect wife’s a lucky mare and we can all hate her in peace. Anyway, it’s not like you’ve got to sleep with him, is it? I thought you were just supposed to get him down to his birthday suit and go.’
‘And yet here I am in a lingerie shop, buying pants that look like a Dairylea triangle attached to a bit of string…’
‘That’s just to give you confidence. You can’t honey trap in granny’s bloomers, sweetie.’
Angel let out a little snort of a giggle. She loved her lunch breaks with Emily, bringing back memories of their days at university. This one was certainly taking the edge off the ordeal ahead. Well, almost.
With her friend’s persuasion she settled on a lace-patterned black satin thong and matching push-up bra, consisting of not more than about five square centimetres of material and carrying the hefty price tag of £32.95. ‘I think we’re both in the wrong business,’ Angel muttered to Emily, watching the shop assistant fold her tiny purchases inside layers of silvery paper before placing them carefully in a glossy black bag bearing the store logo in embossed gold. ‘If we’d gone in for textiles at uni we could be multi-millionaire knicker tycoons by now.’ Her friend snorted appreciatively.
Back at the office, Angel stashed her purchases discreetly under her desk and wiggled the mouse to wake up her Mac. The brushed aluminium screen flashed twenty-three new emails, all face-achingly dull corporate press releases passed on to her to filter by ‘real’ journalists who had better things to do. Rock and roll…
‘Good lunch break?’ Savannah, her fellow intern, beamed at Angel from her desk in the semi-enclosed corner of the office they both occupied. She was tucking into a princely meal of what looked like two pieces of lettuce and a cube of feta. Angel thought about the eight-inch meatball sub she’d just eaten.
‘Nothing special, Sav. Just a bit of shopping and a sandwich, that’s all.’
Blonde, flawless, clever, twenty-one-year-old, cloyingly sweet Savannah: film studies graduate, hotly tipped to be a future high flyer. Now here was a girl who could spring a decent honey trap. Why would Steve give Angel this assignment when he had the perfect candidate right under his nose?
‘What do you know about Sebastian Wilchester, Savannah?’ Angel asked. ‘Have you seen many of his films?’
‘God, yes, I’ve seen them all! He’s incredible.’ Savannah’s reply was breathy and gushing with reverence. ‘A genius, I think. I chose my dissertation topic after I saw his first film, Unreal City. “Sin and redemption in the British Gangster genre.” Wish I could meet him.’
Don’t I wish you could too…
‘Oi, sugar tits!’ came a rasping voice from behind her. Angel spun in her chair to see Steve at the door of his glass-fronted office, jerking a thumb over one shoulder to indicate her presence was required. ‘In here for a briefing.’
‘Ever the charmer,’ she mumbled to herself, following him in and taking a seat at his curved IKEA desk. He sat down on the other side and swung his chair around to face her.
‘Right, my little honey trap, plans for tonight.’ Steve Clifton, editor of The Daily Investigator, didn’t do small talk. Now, as ever, it was straight to business. ‘Here’s a pic of Wilchester. Memorise it, but don’t take it with you. That could blow the whole gig.’
Angel squinted at the photo he’d handed her. It showed a tall, lean young man, good looking but apparently shy and nervous as he faced photographers on a red carpet.
She raised a quizzical eyebrow at Steve. ‘This is him? I thought he was in his thirties.’
‘That’s at the premiere of Unreal City eight years ago, couple of years before he married Beaumont. Man’s a bugger to get on camera, hates the press. Anyway, it should be good enough for you to identify him.’
‘If you say so, boss…’
‘We’ve booked you a suite at the Hotel D’Azur. I’ve emailed you the address and your reservation number. Classy place so tart yourself up a bit, Blackthorne.’ Steve took in her stone-washed jeans and yellow v-neck top combo with a sneer. ‘You can finish early and take your stuff over there to get changed. Don’t forget to chuck a few pairs of your undies around the room, make it look lived in. We don’t want him getting suspicious.’
‘Nothing sexier than a total slob, eh, Steve?’
He ignored her. ‘He’s flying back from filming in New Zealand today. Based on what we know about his habits he should be in the hotel bar some time between 7 and 8pm. Now, I don’t care how you do it or what you tell him, but whatever it takes you have to get him back to your suite.’
Angel wondered if she should be taking notes. Seduction techniques for absolute beginners.
A thought occurred to her. ‘Why’s he staying in a hotel anyway? He lives in Kensington, doesn’t he? Why not just go home to his wife?’
Steve shrugged. ‘Don’t ask me, love. All we know is, he always spends the night at a hotel when he flies back from filming. Trouble in paradise, maybe.’
The editor rifled around the pile of papers on his desk, pulled one out and thrust it towards her.
‘Here. Plan of the suite. When you get him back there, the most important thing to remember is there’s a hidden video camera behind this two-way mirror in the bedroom’s cupboard door. I’ll be watching the camera feed from the computer in my home office. No mikes so I won’t be eavesdropping.’
She cast a suspicious eye over the room plan in her hand. ‘And this is all legal, is it?’
‘Don’t be daft, it’s breaking every privacy law in the book. No need for you to worry though, it’s my sexy little carcass on the line, not yours.’ He broke into a wide, leering grin. ‘Now, before you leave that room, I want a couple of compromising shots and a solid full frontal to the camera I can montage on a front page. From him, not you, although if you fancy joining the peep show I won’t complain. When I’ve got what I need, I’ll send a text. It’ll just say ‘Done’. Then you’re free to make up an excuse and leave – or not, eh?’ He winked at her unpleasantly.
‘Do you really think I’d have sex while you’re perving at me through a hidden camera?’ Angel wrinkled her nose in disgust. ‘Bloody hell, it’s staggering the respect I get in here.’
‘Don’t know, don’t care. You do what you like, love. It’s no skin off my todger: just so long as you get me my story. Whatever it takes, remember.’ He reached under his desk, pulled out a parcel wrapped up in brown paper and handed it to her. ‘And while we’re on the subject, you’ll be wearing this. It’s your size, I checked with Leo.’
Angel tore open the parcel and pulled out something flimsy, black and slinky. One eyebrow jumped up as she unfolded the dress and held it against her.
‘This is a top, right?’
‘It’s a dress. Make sure you fill it. Remember, Princess, tits and teeth. And give him plenty of leg while you’re at it: I’m told he’s a leg man.’
Angel was seething now. She knew Steve was callous, misogynistic, morally bankrupt and generally a scumbag of the first order, but even by his standards this was skimming a new low.
‘Christ, Steve! Dressing me, seriously? What are you now, my editor or my pimp?’ She glowered across the cluttered desk at the smirking, overweight Yorkshireman, quivering with anger while she faced off against him. ‘And there’s one thing you don’t seem to have considered here, by the way: he might not fancy me! I’m no Carole Beaumont. She’s been voted sexiest woman in the world – twice. Why don’t you ask Savannah? She’d be perfect. She’s gorgeous, she’s bright, she’s ambitious, and she was just telling me what a big fan of Wilchester’s work she is. She wrote her dissertation on him.’
‘Yeah, yeah. She’s a fan, I’m a fan, my missus is a fan: the world and his bloody dog’s a fan. Of course they are, the man’s brilliant.’ Steve turned away from her, spinning his chair around to face the large window that looked out across the grey London cityscape. A recent fall of rain had mingled with the grease and oil of the metropolis, giving the streets a pearlescent sheen. ‘You know why I need it to be you, Blackthorne? Because you’re not a fan. Wake up, love. Sebastian Wilchester lives in a world where everyone’s blonde, everyone’s beautiful, everyone’s a fawning sycophant or yes-man just dying to hump his leg. I picked you because you’ve got a nice arse and a good pair, and because you’re not a part of his world. Trust me, I know people: that’s why I shift papers. And my hunch tells me you’re our best shot.’
It was true, Angel had never seen a Wilchester film. She knew she must be one of the only remaining people in the world who hadn’t. He’d been notching up awards and critical acclaim ever since Unreal City, but he only made gangster movies. She hated gangster movies. Snuggling up with something vintage and classic was much more to her taste.
Still she resisted. ‘Flattered as I am you put such faith in my sex appeal, boss, aren’t there professionals who do this sort of thing? Private investigators? Escort girls?’
He shook his head. ‘It needs to be a journalist, one I can trust. I need a report to go with the pics, and I need someone with a keen eye for detail who knows what’s worth reporting.’
Even through the red mist of her anger, she felt a twinge of pride. So he did rate her journalism skills – and whatever else he was, he knew his stuff there.
‘Why are you so desperate to set Wilchester up? Just out of curiosity. Is this a personal vendetta or what?’
Steve grinned, showing stained, yellowing teeth through his grizzled beard. ‘I’ve been a newspaper man a long time, pet, and I know what the public wants,’ he said with a touch of triumph, rubbing the overspilling belly under his striped shirt. ‘I started in newspapers as an office boy, fifteen and straight out of a secondary modern in Bradford. Twelve years later I was deputy editor of this rag – youngest ever. I’ve been thirty years in the editor’s chair now. I doubt anyone knows what sells a paper better than me.’
Angel wondered where he was going with this extended pat on the back. He was clearly building up to a big finish.
‘You know what people love even more than a rags-to-riches success story, Blackthorne?’
‘I’ve got a feeling you’re about to tell me.’
‘A riches-to-rags plummet. A failure, and a spectacular, crashing failure at that. They adore seeing someone built up only to be torn down.’
Angel curled her lip, appalled. ‘Lovely picture you paint of human nature, boss.’
‘Not just my opinion, love, the stark truth. And you know it. That’s why we have the highest circulation of any national daily. I sell to the darkness in people – their schadenfreude. And this scoop is going to sell me a lot of papers.’
‘God, you’re a piece of work, aren’t you?’
‘I’ve had my eye on Sebastian Wilchester and Carole Beaumont for a long time,’ he went on, ignoring her. ‘The so-called saviour of the British film industry and his beautiful A-lister wife, childhood sweethearts, six years married with never a whiff of scandal? I mean, come on. No one’s life is that perfect. And I’d bet my right bollock there isn’t a man alive who can keep his trousers on when sex is offered up on a plate by any half-attractive bird.’
Seeing her shocked expression, Steve manoeuvred his bulky frame to where she was sat and put a plump, sweaty arm around her shoulders, leaning in close in a manner he probably thought was reassuring.
‘Relax, love, just be a professional about it. Look, we all had to start somewhere in this business and it wasn’t pretty for any of us, believe me. Enjoy yourself tonight. Have a few drinks, let your hair down. You’re not doing anything wrong. If he doesn’t want to betray his wife, he won’t. And if he does then he deserves all he gets, and Beaumont’s better off for knowing the truth while there’s still time for her to chuck him out on his arse and move on.’
Angel remembered Emily’s words in the lingerie shop: no one can make a cheater cheat if he doesn’t want to…
‘Do a good job on this and I’ll see if I can get you some decent assignments in the next couple of weeks, a few byline pieces for your portfolio.’ Steve massaged her shoulder, sensing she was weakening. ‘And next time a staff job comes up, you can be sure your name will be top of the shortlist. For someone with next to no experience, that’s not something to be sniffed at.’
She heaved a resigned sigh. ‘Okay, Clifton, you pervy old bastard. This once, I’ll do it. But this is the last time. Next time you can do your own dirty work.’
‘Not got the legs for it, love. The tits, maybe,’ he said with a grin. ‘Just remember, Blackthorne: relax, have fun and give it all you’ve got. You’ve all the makings of a great reporter. I know you won’t let me down.’
But the editor’s words couldn’t quite calm the sickening feeling in her stomach as she left his office.