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THE SECRET WEDDING DRESS

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 

 

A wedding dress…but no bride!

Paige Danforth isn't interested in setting herself up for an unhappy-ever-after—thanks to her father's betrayal, the closest she'll ever get to walking down the aisle is as a bridesmaid. But one bridal sale later, Paige is left clutching her own champagne chiffon wedding dress! Clearly she needs to end her self-imposed dating drought….

Enter ruggedly sexy neighbor Gabe Hamilton. He wants Paige in his bed and nothing more—no promises made, no promises broken. But will this big, bad adventurer stick around when he discovers not only skeletons—but the wedding dress—in her closet?

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

 

 

 

 

 

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DID YOU KNOW?

There's a sequel!

 

 

 

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

 

 

REVIEWS

 

 

 

"Fast paced, funny, warm and deliciously hot, this is the kind of can't-put-down story Ms. Blake is famous for writing. What's more, she has a magical way of making it feel like the heroine is a best friend who is telling her story over cocktails instead of within the pages of a book. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ONE!"

 

Trish Wylie, Goodreads

 

 

 

"If you enjoy fun, flirty, contemporary romances, you'll love The Secret Wedding Dress.  Paige is ballsy and quirky, Gabe is flawed and incredibly sexy.
Thoroughly enjoyed!"

 

Nicola Marsh

USA Today Bestselling author

 

 

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

 

 

 BEHIND THE SCENES

 

 

THE DRESS

 

 

 

 

SOME CRITTERS

 

 

 

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

 

 

 

BLOGGING

 

To follow the series of blog posts about the writing of this book, click here.

 

 

 

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

 

 

 

THE WORKING TITLE

 

"THE BLONDE BOMBSHELL"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT

  

Paige Danforth didn’t believe in happily ever afters.

So it was a testament to how awesome a friend she was that she stood freezing her tush off outside a dodgy-looking Collingwood warehouse in the grey half-light of a misty Melbourne winter’s morning with her best friend Mae who was there to buy a wedding dress.

Wedding Dress Fire Sale! Over 1000 new and used dresses, up to 90% off! read the massive hot pink banner flapping dejectedly against the cracked brown bricks of the old building.  Paige wondered if any of the other women in the line, which by that stage snaked all the way around the corner of the block, saw the irony of the hype masking the depressing reality.  By the manic gleams in their eyes they all bought into the fantasy, for sure.  Each and every one of them convinced they were the ones for whom the love songs and sonnets rang true.

“The door moved,” Mae whispered, grabbing Paige’s arm so tight she knew it would leave a mark.

Paige lifted her long hair out of the way so that she could loop her thick woollen scarf once more around her neck and stamped her boots against the pavement to get her sluggish blood moving. “You’re imagining things.”

“It jiggled.  Like someone was unlocking it from the inside.”  Mae’s voluble declaration spread up and down the line like a wildfire, and Paige was almost pushed over in the sudden surge of bodies.

“Relax!” Paige said, prying her friend’s ever-tightening claw from her arm while glaring at the rabid-looking woman pressing close behind her.  “The doors will open when they open.  You will find the dress of your dreams.  If you can’t find yourself a dress in a thousand then, then clearly you’re a failure as a woman.”

Mae stopped twitching to glare at Paige.  “I should rescind your Maid of Honour duties for that alone.”

“Would you?” Paige begged.

Mae laughed.  Though it was short-lived.  Soon she was jogging on the spot like a prize fighter seconds from entering the ring, her usually wild red hair pulled into a no-nonsense ponytail, her focus fixed, as it had been since the moment her boyfriend had proposed.

All of a sudden the flaky wooden doors flung open with a flourish, the mixed scents of camphor and lavender spilling into the air with a sickly sweet rush.

A tired-looking woman in ugh boots and a baggy t-shirt the same hot pink as the sign above yelled, “No haggling!  No refunds!  No returns!  No sizes bar what’s on the floor!”  The words echoed down the narrow lane, and the line of women mushroomed towards the doors like she’d announced Hugh Jackman would be giving free back rubs to the first hundred to run her down.

Paige barely kept her feet as she pressed forward into the breach, and then grabbed Mae by the shoulders as she screeched to a sudden halt.  Like Moses parting the Red Sea, waves of women poured around them.

“Holy moly,” Mae said.

“You’re not wrong,” Paige muttered, as even she was impressed with what she saw.

Sweetheart necklines by the dozen, beaded corsets as far as the eye could see, sleeves so heavily ruched they made the eyes water.  Designer dresses.  Off the rack dresses.  Second-hand dresses.  Factory second dresses.  All massively discounted.  Every last one of them to be sold that day.

“Move!” Mae cried out as she came to and made a beeline for something that had caught her now frantic eye.

Paige quickly tucked herself in a corner in the shadow of the door.  She waved her mobile phone in the air.  “I’ll be over here if you need me!”

Mae’s hand flapped briskly above the crowd of heads and then she was gone.

What followed was a lesson in anthropology.  One woman near Paige who wore an immaculately tailored suit squealed like a pre-teen at a Justin Beiber concert when she found the dress of her dreams.  Another, in a twin-set, glasses, and tidy chignon, had a full on a temper tantrum, complete with stamping feet, when she discovered one didn’t come in her size.

All for the sake of an overpriced dress they’d only wear once.  At a ceremony that forced people to make impossible promises to love, honour, cherish forever.  In her experience it was more like bicker, loathe, and cling on for dear life until there’s nothing left but lost years and regret.  Better to love, honour and cherish yourself, Paige believed.  For the chance to dress like a princess one time in your life the relentless search for love couldn’t possibly be worth it.

The scents of hairspray and perfume and lady-sweat mixed with the camphor and lavender and Paige soon had to breathe through her mouth.  Her fingers curled tighter around her mobile, willing Mae to ring.

Mae.   Her BFF.  Her partner in crime.  They’d had one another’s backs for so long, since their parents had gone through simultaneous messy divorces leaving them both certain in the knowledge that happy ever after with some guy was an evil myth perpetuated by florists and bakers and reception hall owners.  Mae, who’d forgotten it all the moment she’d found Clint.

Paige swallowed.  She deeply hoped Mae would be perfectly happy forever and ever.  She really did.  But a hot spot of fear for her flared in her stomach every time she let herself think about it.  So she decided to think about something else.

As brand manager for a luxury home-wares retailer, she was always on the lookout for locations in which to shoot catalogues, and while the Collingwood warehouse was near decrepit, at a pinch the crumbling brickwork could be considered romantic.

Not that she wanted to shoot there anytime soon.  The next catalogue had to be shot on location in Brazil.  Period.  Such a big expense for a single catalogue was as yet unheard of at Ménage a Moi, which was a boutique business, but Paige knew in her bones it would be worth it.  Her proposal was so dazzling her boss had to say yes.  And it was just the shake up her life needed --

Paige shook her head.  Brazil was the shake up the brand needed.  She was fine.  Hunky dory.  Or she would be when she got the hell out of the building.

Breathing deep through her mouth, she closed one eye and imagined the massive windows draped in swathes of peacock-blue chiffon, the muted brickwork a total juxtaposition against the next season’s dazzling, Rio-inspired, jewel-toned decor.  Weak sunlight struck the glass which was in dire need of an industrial clean, made all the more obvious when compared with one incongruous clean spot that let through a single clean ray.

Dust mites danced in the sunbeam and Paige’s eye naturally followed it all the way to a rack of wedding dresses, most of which boasted ridiculously excessive layers of skirt that would struggle to fit even the widest chapel aisle.

She made to glance away when something caught her eye.  A glimpse of chiffon in dark champagne.  The iridescent sheen of pearls.  Impossibly intricate lacework.  A train so diaphanous it was lost as someone walked by the rack, blocking out the ray of light.

Paige blinked.  And again.  But the dress was gone.  And her heart skipped a beat.

She’d heard the expression a million times, only had never experienced it until that moment.  Didn’t realise it came complete with a tightening of her throat, a sudden lightness in her head, and the complete cessation of thought.

The someone moved, the ray of light returned, and there it was.   And then she was standing.  Walking.   At the rack, her hands went to the fabric as though possessed by some otherworldly force.  The garment came to her from between the tight squeeze of dresses as easily as Arthur had released Excalibur from its stone prison.

As her eyes skimmed over the softly twisted straps, the deep V, a torso of lace draped in strings of ocean pearls that cinched into the most exquisite silhouette before disappearing into a skirt of made chiffon that moved as if it breathed, Paige’s heart galloped like a brumby with a horse thief hot on its heels.

 “Wow,” a voice said from behind her.  “That’s so cute.  Are you just looking or do you have dibs?”

CuteThat was the best word the woman could come up with for the sliver of perfection draped over Paige’s shaking hands.

Paige didn’t even turn around.  She just shook her head as the words she’d never thought she’d hear herself say escaped her lips:

“This wedding dress is mine.” 

 

Like it?  Buy it!

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

 

 

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