Wednesday, 18 June 2014

BLOG TOUR: A Groom With a View by Sophie Ranald

We're very happy to be taking part in the blog tour for A Groom With a View - the new novel by Sophie Ranald - with a fab extract from the book to share with you! Released on June 20th, Sophie's second novel is all about Nick and Pippa, who find themselves engaged and with the looming task of planning a wedding...

     “I love weddings. Love them! In fact I’m thinking of doing some wedding planning for friends in my spare time and maybe making a career out of it later on, when we have children. So I’d be thrilled to have you as my guinea pig,” Katharine said, with what I suppose was meant to come out as a sisterly giggle, but sounded more like a demented cackle to me.
     “Katharine, that’s absolutely lovely of you,” I said feebly. “But really, we want to keep things very low-key. It’s sweet of you to…”
     “Don’t mention it. I would like nothing better than to help. Being part of another person’s special day is a pleasure, it’s a privilege! Now, the first thing you need is my master USB stick.”
     She powered up her laptop and inserted a removable storage device. “This baby holds all the secrets to your perfect day,” she said. “For a year I took it everywhere with me. Everywhere! If I saw a shop window display that captured my imagination, I’d take a photo and save it on here in the ‘Inspiration’ folder. All my quotes are here, under ‘Finance’. And of course everything feeds into the master spreadsheet, which has pages for the week-by-week and day-by-day countdown, with automatic reminders set to be sent to Iain’s, his brother’s, my maid of honour’s and of course my own phone.”
     “That’s very, er, impressive,” I said.
     “Impressive? Pippa, it’s essential. Absolutely essential, if you don’t want your big day to disintegrate into chaos. Now, let’s have a look at my contacts file – that’s the first thing you’ll need because a lot of these people will have been booked up for several months already. You may find yourself having to resort to my B- or even C-list suppliers, but of course even they were thoroughly vetted and you never know, for a February wedding, so long as it’s not actually the fourteenth, some of the A-list might even be free.”
I tried hard not to tune her out. This was important stuff, presumably, if Nick and I were to be saved from wedding disaster.
     “It’s all alphabetised,” she said. “Accessories, bouquets, cakes, dance instructors, evening entertainment, fireworks, groom’s outfits, horse-drawn carriages…”
     “Wow,” I said, interrupting because she looked all set to continue through the remainder of the alphabet.
     “And where did you find your dress, in the end? It’s beautiful.”
     “That’s the fun part.” she clasped her hands. “The dresses! I had to password-protect this folder so Iain couldn’t hack into it and access my secrets.” She scrolled through image after image of almost identical beaded frocks. “Of course, with so little time you may have to go for off-the-peg, but we can give Marissa Beaumont a call and see if there’s any way at all she could squeeze you in. She was my second-choice designer, if Sarah Burton hadn’t been available.”
     I looked at Katharine’s dress. It was gorgeous, the bodice stiff and heavy with sparkly embellishment, the skirt floating in a layers of ethereal chiffon petals. I’m not exactly the world’s most skilled seamstress (in fact the last time I tried to sew on a button I was trying to watch Breaking Bad at the same time, and ended up sewing it and the shirt to the arm of the sofa) and I had no idea how long it takes to make a dress. There were an awful lot of beads on Katharine’s, but they wouldn’t have to be sewn on one at a time, surely? And four months? I took a sip of champagne.
     “Katharine,” I said. My voice came out a bit croaky, so I cleared my throat and tried again. “Katharine, how long did all this actually take you?”
     She gave her light, tinkling laugh again. It sounded a bit like other day at work, when Guido dropped a stack of roasting tins on to the kitchen floor.
     “Iain proposed to me on the first of September, two years ago. Of course I’d already made some plans before then,” her voice dropped to a whisper, “Don’t pretend you haven’t, it’s just between us girls! But after that, it took us a few months to find our venue, exploring different places most weekends. Then things got really quiet for a while, and I only spent maybe a day a week researching things and writing my wedding blog – there’s a link to it here – before the dress fittings and the other final preparations started to kick in a year or so ago. But you don’t have anything like as long as I did, so it will all be much more intense.”
Much more intense? Jesus! What had I let myself in for?
     “One thing I will advise.” Katharine wagged a manicured finger at me. “Don’t let it take over your relationship! Remember, your hubby-to-be is the most important person in your life. Even more important than your dress designer! I made a rule not to mention the wedding to Iain one day a week – Thursday was my day, because I have a regular breakfast meeting and Iain plays squash in the evenings and we don’t actually see each other anyway, so it wasn’t as hard as I expected. We also made Tuesdays our date nights. I’d cook us a special low-cal dinner and we’d have a glass of bubbly and then it was time for nookie. You know what men are like – that’s the best way to keep them sweet. If there was anything particularly expensive I wanted for the wedding, I’d be sure to raise the subject on… Tuesday,” she finished triumphantly.
     “Right,” I said. “Date nights. What a lovely idea.”
     “And while we’re on the subject,” said Katharine (and I thought, no, please, please get off the subject),        “You might want to think of a sex diet before the big day.”
     I let out an involuntary shriek of laughter. “A what diet?”
     “Sex diet. No nookie for six weeks before the wedding. Iain grumbled about it at the time, but it was so worth it. It made our wedding night much more magical in that way. Almost like the first time.”
     As far as I could tell, the only possible consequences of that for us would be Nick wanking himself into an early grave, or things on the wedding night coming to a disappointingly premature conclusion. But I said,      “Thanks for sharing that with me, Katharine. That’s really interesting and special. I’ll keep it in mind. Now what about shoes?” I might be a bit of a dead loss when it comes to flowers and stuff, but there’s nothing I like better than a good long chat about shoes.
     Just as Katharine was about to open the folder entitled ‘Shoe inspiration’ (I could see that it contained more than two hundred files and I was leaning forward eagerly for a look), Iain stuck his head round the door.
     “Come on, ladies,” he said. “Tear yourselves away from the wedding master plan! We’re about ready to see the photos and the video.”
     Katharine ejected the USB stick and pressed it into my hand, actually squeezing my fingers shut around it.
     “Guard. This. With. Your. Life,” she said.

A Groom With a View by Sophie Ranald
Nick and Pippa have been an item since forever, but they’ve always said marriage isn’t for them. That’s until, in a moment of mad romance, they find themselves engaged.

Pippa knows she’s no bridezilla – and she’s definitely not expecting Nick to get swept off his feet by plans for floral centrepieces, vintage cake-stands and colour coordinated everything. Then Nick’s mum gets involved, secrets from Pippa’s past threaten to surface, and planning their perfect day begins to tear Nick and Pippa apart.

This eagerly anticipated second novel from Sophie Ranald is a funny and poignant romantic romp. If you love Tracy Bloom, Mhairi MacFarlane and Sophie Kinsella, then say “I do” to A Groom with a View.

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