Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard
Also by this author: The Little Shop in Cornwall
Series: la cour des roses #2
Published by Bookouture on 26th August 2016
Genres: Chicklit, Fiction, Love & Romance
Blue skies, new love, and a glass of Bordeaux . . . what could possibly go wrong?
When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves to La Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager.
Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams.
Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria.
Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams?
Fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Nick Alexander will want to join Emmy for a glass of wine as the sun sets on the terrace at La Cour des Roses.
I knew there would be many unusual things in my new remit as manager of Rupert’s guesthouse, but I hadn’t guessed seeing the guests naked would be one of them.
It was early morning, just a couple of days into my new life at La Cour des Roses. I’d made myself an espresso – first things first – and taken it outside. With my feet bare so I could feel the grass between my toes and the refreshing dew against my skin, I pottered down the lawn, past beds of ornamental grasses and begonias and daisies, weeping willows, stepping stones leading off to secret arbours and seating spots, until I reached the chicken run, surrounded by shrubs and trees.
Draining my coffee, I donned flip-flops – bare feet were all very well, but nature lost its appeal when you found yourself toe-deep in chicken poop – and let the half-dozen fussing birds out of their safe house, giving them breakfast and water.
Backing out, I said a polite ‘Good morning’ to Gladys, one of our guests, who had wandered down after me.
‘Morning, Emmy. I thought I’d come out for a little peace and quiet before breakfast.’
I nodded my understanding. Gladys was an elderly lady holidaying with her daughter – an overbearing, middle-aged woman with a brusque manner. She didn’t take after her mother, a gentle soul whose company I enjoyed very much.
‘Clare’s planning our day,’ she explained wearily. ‘I’m sure it will be lovely.’ She fingered the draping leaves of a weeping pear as we wended our way back up the garden, the skin across the back of her hands paper-thin. ‘I love this colour, don’t you? Almost silvery.’
‘Yes. Beautiful. Gladys, why don’t you tell Clare that you’re tired and you’d like to spend the day here? You could relax and enjoy the garden.’
Gladys gave a short laugh then put on an unconvincing smile. ‘Don’t worry. I like sightseeing, and I can’t complain with Clare doing all the hard work.’
Hearing a clatter of shutters, it was a natural reaction for both of us to glance up at the house. How could I have known we should’ve looked anywhere but there? If only I’d had a great big cappuccino instead of a tiny espresso and lingered over it at the bottom of the garden. If only I’d taken my time admiring the silvery weeping pear leaves. If only I’d linked arms with Gladys to steady her as we walked.
Because there stood Geoffrey Turner in all his glory.
He’d pulled aside the voile curtains to open the shutters and unfortunately the bedroom windows were tall and low slung on the upper storey of the house . . . As was Geoffrey Turner. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d been young, fit and tanned – but mid-fifties, white and pot-bellied was not a sight I wanted to see on an empty stomach.
My mouth dropped open in shock. As did his. The voile curtains were hurriedly tugged shut – although since the whole point of voile is that it’s practically see-through, that didn’t help much. And by then, it was a tad too late.
I heard a gasp from Gladys. Unsurprisingly, she hadn’t been watching her feet. She tripped over the edge of a flowerbed, stumbled and fell. I caught one of her arms, but she landed with the other awkwardly underneath her.
Crouching, I waited for her to catch her breath. ‘Gladys, are you all right?’
She tried a wobbly smile. ‘I’ll be fine, Emmy. I just need to get myself back up.’ But as she used both hands to push, she yelped in pain.
I didn’t want to risk hurting her by tugging her around. ‘I’ll go and get Clare.’
Gladys managed a wan smile. ‘Didn’t think a naked man could have such a dramatic effect at my age!’