"After dating the hottest man on the planet, Dillon O’Hara, Libby Lomax has come back down to earth with a bump. Now she’s throwing herself into a new relationship and is determined to be a better friend to best pal, Ollie, as he launches his new restaurant.
Despite good intentions, Libby is hugely distracted when a newly reformed Dillon arrives back on the scene, more irresistible than ever. And when another unwelcome guest turns up on her battered sofa in the form of Marilyn Monroe, Libby would willingly bite her own arm off for a return to normality.
But while she hasn’t been watching, someone else has filled the Libby-shaped hole in Ollie’s life and she realises she could be about to lose something that means everything to her. Libby doubts that Marilyn is the right person to offer her advice, but perhaps she should listen up, before it’s too late…"
Having loved the first book in the series, A Night in with Audrey Hepburn, I was SO looking forward to this one and was super excited to be offered a review copy. It certainly didn't disappoint - Libby's life is just as chaotic was it was when we left her at the end of the previous book, if not more so, and I was only a few chapters in before it had me roaring with laughter. Bogdan the handyman/hairdresser makes a reappearance, alongside many other characters from the first book and it was lovely to catch up with them all again.
Although this is a follow on, it can easily be read as a standalone, but why would you want to do that? Both books in the series are highly enjoyable, and I would recommend that to get the FULL enjoyment of them both, you should read Audrey first. Libby is still a wonderful character, and I loved her justas much this time around as I did before.
I know what I wanted to happen at the end of the novel - and it didn't - so I am just crossing my fingers that the third in the series, A Night in with Grace Kelly, is just as brilliant as this one!
Read on for an extract from the beginning of the book:
It was a big moment, last night, when my grandmother knocked on the door of my hotel room and handed me this box containing about seventeen layers of tissue and, beneath them all, her wedding veil.
A massive moment, actually.
She’s not the most warm and fuzzy of grandmothers – nobody on Dad’s side is warm and fuzzy; in fact, come to think of it, nobody on Mum’s side is all that warm and fuzzy either – but I’ve always worshipped her a little bit. For her to hand down her wedding veil to me . . . not to any of Dad’s brothers’ daughters, but me . . . well, it makes me feel special. Which is nice, for a change.
And all right, it would have made me feel even more special if she hadn’t added, as she watched me open the box, ‘I’d give you my wedding dress, too, Libby, darling, but I’m afraid you don’t have quite the tiny waist I did when I wore it.’
But still. A big moment. A symbol of my super-glamorous grandmother’s esteem.
And then there’s the fact that it’s absolutely stunning.
Seriously, there’s no way you could find anything like this in any bridal shop across the land: hand-stitched, palest ivory lace, with a gauzy elbow-length piece to cover your face at the front and an almost ten-foot drop at the back. (Grandmother only got married in a small village church in her native Shropshire, but she was modelling her entire wedding ‘look’ on her movie idol, Grace Kelly, hence the dramatically long veil, carried up the aisle by her – eight – bridesmaids.) It makes me look stunning, and not just because the gauzy lace covering my face is the equivalent of smearing a camera lens with Vaseline to blur out imperfections. Something about the way the veil hangs, the way my hair is half pulled back to accommodate it, the flattering ivory shade, perhaps . . . whatever the reason, I feel a bit ravishing, to be honest with you.
And now, looking soft-focus himself from behind all this lace, here comes Olly, striding towards me. He reaches out with both hands, folds back the veil so that he can see my face, and smiles down at me. His eyes look exceptionally soft, and he doesn’t speak for a moment.
‘What on earth,’ he says, when he finally speaks, ‘are you wearing this for?’
‘It’s Grandmother’s. She came round with it last night.’ I pull the veil back down, keen to retreat behind the Vaseline blur again, just for one blissful moment. ‘Does it suit me?’
‘Wonderfully. But – and don’t bite my head off here, Libby – don’t you think maybe you ought to stick to just a simple hat, or something? It isn’t your wedding, after all.’
‘I know that,’ I sigh. I steal one final glance at myself, a vision of Grace Kelly-esque (well, Grace Kelly-ish) bridal loveliness, in the full-length mirror in the corner of my hotel room. ‘And obviously I’m not going to wear this to Dad and Phoebe’s wedding. Though, to be fair, I don’t know if Phoebe could actually object – I mean, Grandmother did offer it to her for the day, and she turned it down . . .’
This doesn’t at all take the shine off Grandmother offering me the veil afterwards, by the way. I mean, all right, she was in a bit of a grump about her soon-to-be new daughter-in-law refusing to wear the veil because it would swamp her rather fabulous figure, but that wasn’t why she came to my room late last night and handed it over to me instead. She’d only have let Phoebe borrow it – her Something Borrowed for the day – whereas I’ve actually been bequeathed it . . . if that’s the right word to use when Grandmother is still very much alive.
‘Still,’ says Olly, with a grin, ‘I’m not sure if Phoebe would be all that thrilled at a guest turning up in a ten-foot lace veil on her wedding day. Especially not her new stepdaughter.’
‘Sorry, sorry.’ He holds up both hands. ‘I know we’re not calling her your stepmum. My bad.’
Because it’s not as if I don’t have enough problems with the one actual mum I’ve already got. Not to mention the fact that Dad has never really been enough of a dad for me to call the woman he’s marrying my ‘stepmother’. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve got no objection to Phoebe whatsoever, who seemed a pleasant enough woman during the ten-minute chat we had when Olly and I arrived at the hotel last night. But I think we’ll all be much more comfortable, once today is over, if we just go back to being polite strangers, exchanging Christmas cards and the occasional text. Which, where Dad is concerned anyway, would be a massive improvement on the last twenty-odd years.
‘Anyway, we should probably be heading down to the orangery now, don’t you think?’ Olly asks as – a little bit reluctantly – I start detaching the veil from my hair and folding it back into its slim cardboard box. ‘I know your dad said it’s all very informal, but I doubt if that extends to us arriving after the bride and groom.’
‘Well, it’d be a bit ironic of Dad to suddenly start deploring lateness right now,’ I say, ‘given that he only remembered my eighteenth birthday two weeks after the event . . . but, you’re right. We should get going.’
I head back over to the mirror and look at our joint reflection. Now that I’ve taken the veil off, all I’m wearing is a cap-sleeved silk dress and matching suede heels that, both in charcoal grey, feel more wedding-appropriate
than my usual head-to-toe black. Olly is looking dapper, and astonishingly different from his normal self, in a dark blue suit, crisp white shirt and striped tie. It’s been ages since I’ve seen him in an outfit that wasn’t either chef’s whites or, ever since he started doing up his own restaurant a couple of months ago, a paint-spattered T-shirt and baggy jeans, so it’s a bit of a surprise to look at him now and remember how well he scrubs up.
‘Do we look all right?’ I ask, meeting his eyes in the mirror.
Olly studies us both for a moment.
‘I think we look pretty bloody good,’ he says, meeting my eyes in the mirror, too. ‘You in particular. I really like that dress.’
‘Thanks, Ol. Oh, and I apologize in advance,’ I say, linking my arm through his and starting to head for the door, grabbing my hat and bag and pashmina as we go, ‘if any of my relatives mistakenly think we’re a couple. I haven’t told them we are – I mean, I never see any of them from one decade to the next, obviously – but you know how people jump to conclusions . . .’
‘There’s no need to apologize.’
‘. . . and some of them might even remember you from when you came with me to my granddad’s funeral eleven years ago, so they’ll probably ask all kinds of questions about why we’re not married yet . . .’
‘Well, it would be a perfectly legitimate question. If we really had been together all those years, I mean.’
‘. . . but you should be able to fob them off easily enough without even having to tell them we’re just best friends. Shove a drink in most of their faces and they’ll forget they were even talking to you, anyway.’
‘Don’t worry, Lib. Fobbing off intrusive lines of questioning from well-meaning relatives is pretty much a speciality of mine.’
And Olly holds open the door, impeccably mannered as always, for me to walk out ahead of him.
A Night in with Marilyn Monroe is out now and you can get it here:
**MY thanks to the publisher for my review copy**