ShortBookandScribes #BlogTour #Extract from #NoFilter by Maxine Morrey @Scribbler_Maxi @BoldwoodBooks
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for No Filter by Maxine Morrey. I have an extract to share with you today. My thanks to Megan from Boldwood Books for the place on the tour.
In an Instagram world, can you find love just by being yourself…
Popular lifestyle blogger, Libby Cartwright, is being boggled by business when help shows up in the shape of gorgeous but shy, Charlie Richmond. Libby’s determined to keep it at ‘just good friends’ – she’s dated someone from ‘Corporate Land’ before and it didn’t end well. As she and Charlie begin spending more time together, Libby is starting to waver – until she discovers something which makes her question if she’s ready for love.
Still reeling, she suffers another blow as her blog is attacked in a national newspaper, for promoting unachievable perfection. Libby knows it’s not true – but the only way to prove that is to strip off the armour she’s been wearing for years.
Is she brave enough to show the world she’s far from perfect? And will Charlie be by her side if she does…
A gloriously funny, wise, heart-warming and romantic read for all fans of Lindsey Kelk and Mhairi Macfarlane, from the author of the bestselling Winter’s Fairytale.
We most definitely weren’t naturals. I heard the wave first. And then I saw it. Briefly. Very briefly. It was, in fact, just long enough for me to open my mouth, ostensibly to make some sort of noise signifying surprise, but in actuality it just ensured that I swallowed what felt like a third of the English Channel before the force of the water overtook me and unceremoniously washed me up onto the beach like some bit of old shipwreck detritus. Opening my mouth had definitely been a bad move.
‘Libby!’ Tilly’s panicked voice came to me through the gurgly water sounds now filling my ears.
Spitting out seawater and goodness knew what else, I quickly stood, the shock of the cold water propelling me to move. Pushing my hair back from my face, I made to step forward, inelegantly wobbling on the uneven pebbles. The next wave crashed into the back of my legs and, unbalanced, I took another tumble. Thinking that a gradual ascent to standing might be more successful, I pushed myself up onto my hands and knees. From the corner of my eye I saw a nearby windsurfer, out for an early morning sail, fall head first off his board. At least I wasn’t the only one taking an unexpected dip. Although admittedly, he was more suitably dressed for the water than I was. The pebbles of Brighton beach dug into my knees and I made ouchy noises as I got myself fully upright once more.
‘Are you all right?’ My assistant had now made her way to me and was staring. I could only imagine what I looked like but I did know it certainly wasn’t the look we’d had in mind for this photo shoot. ‘You have… umm…’ Tilly hesitantly pointed at my head.
I looked back, blankly. ‘What?’
‘In your hair.’
‘What? What’s in my hair?’ My voice kicked up an octave. I didn’t especially want to know what was in my hair. But neither did I want what was in my hair to remain there. I put my hand up warily and felt around. Nothing.
‘Can you get it?’
Tilly shook her head. ‘I can’t. I can’t touch it!’
‘What? You can’t touch what? Where is it?’ Visions of hideous things crawling about on my head now filled my mind. I bent over and shook my head but nothing obvious plopped out on the beach. I looked back at Tilly, hopeful.
She shook her head. Then took a picture.
‘What are you doing?’ I squeaked in horror.
Tilly turned the camera and showed me the screen.
Nope. Definitely not the look we’d been aiming for to showcase these pieces on my blog. Moments ago I’d been dressed in a full-length, organic cotton sundress, its laced bodice giving way to a floaty, bias skirt, all in the softest shade of lemon. My shiny, deep auburn hair had been swept artfully to the side, softly teased curls contrasting with the colour of the fabric. The image on the screen now showed that there was absolutely nothing artful about my current look. The dress was plastered to my body, its pale colour and fine fabric meaning that it had helpfully gone completely see-through the moment it got wet. My hair had returned to its natural poker-straight state and clung in strands to the front of the dress and my upper arms. I peered at the screen again for direction, then reached up. A piece of seaweed had wound itself around my hair and was now clinging to the side of my head, just above my ear. Tentatively exploring my hair with my fingers, I brushed against something slimy. Biting back a squeal, I tried again. Forcing my hand to close on the slippery tail, I yanked and felt it give. Flinging the offending piece of seaweed back towards the waves, I turned back to Tilly.
‘Has it all gone?’
She peered around my head, moving me by the shoulder to check the back, ‘Yes. All gone.’
‘Thanks for your help.’ I raised an eyebrow and grinned at her.
She looked at me, a sheepish look on her face. ‘Sorry. Seaweed gives me the willies. It’s all slimy and yucky.’
I shook my head at her, still smiling.
‘What are we going to do about the dress?’ Tilly asked.
I glanced down. She was right. There was no way I could walk about like this. Brighton might be known for its laissez-faire attitude but I personally drew the line at swanning about in an outfit that now left very little to the imagination. I leant across and took the bags and equipment off her.
‘New plan. I’ll go and find us a more inconspicuous spot and you nip across the road and grab us some coffees and something to eat. We can go over some stuff here until I dry out enough to not get arrested.
‘Sounds good.’ She turned to go. ‘And I’m sorry about the seaweed thing.’
‘Don’t worry about it,’ I said, handing her two reusable takeaway cups. ‘Now, off you go. I’ll be over here.’ I waved the bags in the general direction of where I was headed.
‘OK. Back in a bit.’
I sat down and pulled a pair of flip-flops from one of the bags. Slipping them on, I made my way across the pebbles to a spot that looked good and sat myself down. From one of the bags, I pulled an Oriental-style parasol and opened it, shading my pale skin from the strengthening sun. Whilst my brother had inherited my dad’s ‘one glance at the sun and I’m handsomely golden’ genes, I’d inherited my mother’s pale Irish colouring wholesale from the red hair to skin the colour of fresh cream. ‘Golden’ wasn’t a word I associated with my skin when it came to the sun. ‘Red and blotchy’ would be nearer the truth if I ever bothered trying to acquire anything resembling a suntan. Which I didn’t.
If I was honest, it didn’t really bother me. Despite all the usual carrot top, ginger nob and other wholly inaccurate connotations my redhead status had inspired at school, Mum had always kept me positive about it all. Of course, when all my friends had been wearing tiny shorts and crop tops, their golden tans making their hair look blonder, legs longer and teeth whiter, there had been moments I’d ached to be the same. But, as I got older, I realised that I couldn’t change what I’d been given so it would be better to embrace it rather than fight it. And in recent years, celebrity had been on our side. With Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran flying the flag for the men, plus the advent of the Mad Men phenomenon and actresses like Emma Stone and Julianne Moore, redheads were cool! I mean, we’d always known we were cool, but finally – finally – the world at large was also now getting the message.
Maxine Morrey is a bestselling romantic comedy author with eight books to her name including Winter’s Fairytale and the top ten hit The Christmas Project. She lives in West Sussex. Her first novel for Boldwood, #No Filter, will be published in November 2019.