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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Blog Tour - Exclusive Extract from The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde and Competition

I am a huge fan of the author Katie Fforde. Each year Katie publishes her latest novel which quickly climbs the Sunday Times bestseller lists. This year her latest release is The Perfect Match, who's heroine, Bella Castle, is an estate agent.

I have been lucky enough to be asked to be one stop on Katie Fforde's blog tour for The Perfect Match and my exclusive material is an introduction to Dominic, the hero of the book. Dominic Thane previously broke Bella's heart which lead to Bella leaving her home town and move to the countryside.

A couple of evenings later, Bella walked across Jane
Langley’s expansive lawn, sent there by the notice on
the gate: ‘In the garden’. She felt a bit like the Boden
poster girl, but she thought the print dress was probably
appropriate for drinks with her friend – whom she must
remember to call Jane – and her nephew. Pretty but
respectable was the look she was going for. She had
picked a bunch of flowers from Alice’s garden and put
them in a jam jar so Jane wouldn’t have to find a vase.
Even though Jane had a garden full of flowers Bella felt
she couldn’t arrive empty-handed and she knew Jane
would appreciate them.

She could see them sitting where the rose grew up
into the tree behind, on the chairs where she and Jane
had often sat, drinking tea and eating cake. But as she
got nearer, she realised Jane’s nephew looked familiar.
Two steps on and she recognised exactly who he was
and wished, with all her heart, that she could stop,
turn and run back across the lawn to her car. There,
sitting in a lovely sunny garden she knew well, was
the reason she had left her hometown and her first

‘Darling! How pretty you look!’ said Jane Langley as
Bella approached.

Dominic Thane stood up.

Two steps later Bella was face-to-face with her past.

‘Dominic says you two know each other,’ said Jane
Langley. ‘What a coincidence!’

‘Yes,’ said Bella, trying to smile. ‘Hello, Dominic.’ Just
for a moment, their eyes locked. He glared at her with
such dislike it made her catch her breath. She’d worked
hard to get away from him, physically and emotionally,
and seeing him again, entirely unexpectedly, was a
shock, especially given his reaction to her. She sat down
without waiting to be asked. It was either that or fall
over. She put the flowers down without even handing
them over.

Dominic passed her a glass of champagne from the
tray on the table. Jane was looking at her a bit oddly,
she realised. Bella took the glass. ‘Are we celebrating?’

‘Dominic brought it. Isn’t it kind?’ Jane frowned. ‘Are
you all right, dear?’

‘I’m fine!’ said Bella, sounding to her own ears a bit
strangled, hoping no one had noticed she had yet to
make eye contact with Dominic since sitting down.

‘Shall we have a toast?’ he said. ‘To the reuniting of
family members and old friends.’

He raised his glass to his great-aunt and then looked
across at Bella, but she didn’t look back. If they’d been
friends once, the look he had given her told her they
were anything but friends now. But why? How on earth
had that happened? She hadn’t said goodbye to him
when she’d left, but surely he wouldn’t care about that?
And certainly not three years on!

Bella’s first sip of champagne at least made it possible
for her to talk normally. ‘So, er – Jane, when did you last
see Dominic? You might have told me, but I’ve forgotten.’
It wasn’t the best opening topic of conversation, but it
was the best she could do.

‘He was a page boy at a family wedding when I last
saw him,’ said Jane. ‘He looked enchanting. It was before
he took after all the men in his family and his hair went
white the moment he reached thirty. Then it was as dark
as his eyes.’

‘I prefer to call it silver, not white, Aunt Jane,’ said
Dominic and suddenly laughed.

A jolt went through Bella and she took another
desperate sip. Her body was letting her down. It had just
been a schoolgirl crush – nothing had happened between
them! Not unless you counted a kiss under the mistletoe
that might have – but probably hadn’t – contained a hint
of something more. Her brain told her it was just because
the moment Dominic laughed, his rather severe features
were transformed into something very attractive. His
silver hair highlighted his dark eyes, framed with brows
and lashes that were equally dark. It was only her body
responding. Her brain was in charge; it would be OK.

No one spoke and Bella sipped her drink, trying to
think of something to say, wishing someone else would.

‘The garden’s looking lovely, Jane,’ she said at last,
sounding like an actress who was ad-libbing rather

‘Thank you. Since the weather has obliged I’ve been
able to get quite a lot done,’ said Jane. ‘Oh, and thank
you for sending that lovely young man. He’s set up a
brilliant system so I can water my tomatoes without
doing more than turn on a tap.’

Bella smiled. She’d thought the lovely young man was
to be a secret, but obviously her old friend felt it was
all right to mention him in front of Dominic. ‘I’m glad
it all worked out OK.’

‘And he’s quite happy to come and do some of the
heavier things for me if I want him to. I have got Keith,
who does the lawns, but he’s not really a gardener. I
can’t trust him. But Aiden knows his stuff.’

‘Oh good,’ Bella said, deciding to leave the conversation
instigation to the other two. If she went on she’d end
up asking Jane what she thought of the latest goings on
in the Archers.

‘Would you like some more champagne?’

Bella looked up. Dominic’s expression was as cold as
his laughter had been warm a moment ago.

‘Yes please,’ she said quickly. She was not going to
get through this without some sort of support, and
alcohol would have to be it.

Much to her relief Dominic and Jane began talking
about family members and Bella was left to her own

Was it just coincidence that had brought Dominic into
her relatively new and comfortable life? He couldn’t
have been following her, surely!

Or did he want to tell her off because she’d stopped
Jane selling her house? If so, why wait until now? She
had done that less than a year after she’d moved here.
No, she was being paranoid, she decided. He didn’t
dislike her and he wasn’t following her.

‘So, are you here for long?’ she asked when there was
a break in the conversation.

‘I’m joining a practice in the area. As a solicitor,’ he

Bella’s heart lurched. She hadn’t forgotten he was a
solicitor – they’d both worked for the same large estate
agent, but here? Nevil’s estate agency wasn’t big enough
to have a separate legal department; they used local
solicitors, and that would mean she and Dominic could
easily run into each other.

Still, if Nevil brought up his name she’d say something
damning about him, and that would be the end of it. It
would be far too embarrassing to have to work with
him again.

‘Oh?’ she said. ‘That’s interesting.’

‘It should be. I’m very excited, about it.’

He didn’t sound terribly excited, but he always had
been cool and unemotional.

‘He was going to rent while he looked for somewhere
to buy, but it seems silly to do that when my house is
so big,’ Jane explained. ‘You live with your godmother
and it works well, doesn’t it?’

This was a nasty shock. She would have to time her
visits to Jane more carefully. As Jane was looking at her
appealingly, she quickly nodded. ‘It works brilliantly, but
I’m very well house-trained.’

‘But you could find him a nice house, couldn’t you?’
Jane went on.

‘I might be able to, but don’t forget’ – she laughed
lightly, sounding slightly shrill – ‘other estate agents are

‘I’m very well aware of that,’ said Dominic and he
frowned. His very dark brows, in stark contrast to his
silver-grey hair, looked like clouds gathering before a

What Bella longed to know was whether he’d be
bringing his wife with him.

‘What sort of house would you want?’ asked Jane. ‘A
family home? Period features?’

Bella couldn’t help smiling as she realised her long
chats with Jane had rubbed off on her language.

‘I’d like something to do up and, yes, period details
would be good. I don’t want a new-build.’

‘How many bedrooms?’ asked Bella, glad to be on
firm ground again.

‘It would really depend on the property.’

‘More than two?’ She couldn’t help herself asking.


She still didn’t know about his wife. Not that it would
make any difference, not now.

‘Well,’ said Jane, who was beginning to relax, ‘you
can’t expect Bella to find you a house if you don’t tell
her how many bedrooms you want.’

‘I’m not particular. And I’m not in a hurry. If it’s
OK with you, Aunt Jane, I’m happy to keep staying
with you.’

Bella didn’t like this plan much. ‘I think you should
rent. If you’re a cash buyer, you can go into a rental
property, learn about the area, which parts you like best,
and then you’ll be in a good position to proceed if the
right property comes up.’

Dominic raised one of his thundercloud eyebrows.
‘That’s me told!’

‘No,’ said Bella firmly, ‘that’s you advised. Of course
no one is obliged to take advice if they don’t want to.’
She got up. ‘Now, I’d better go. You’ve probably got a
table booked.’ She bent down and kissed her friend’s
cheek. ‘Thank you so much, Jane. It was charming, even
if there wasn’t cake.’

She straightened up. ‘Goodbye, Dominic. It was – interesting
meeting you again.’

Then she walked across the lawn, her back stiff and
her chin up, wishing her heels didn’t keep sinking into

the grass.

I have also been asked to give away two copies of this fantastic read to two of my blog followers. To enter please enter the rafflecopter giveaway below. Books will be sent out direct from the publisher. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway Thank you to the publishers, Century, for the competition prizes and for allowing me to post this exclusive extract.

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