Robert Armstrong is 38 and is a handsome actor who the paparazzi and most red blooded females want a piece of. Originally, he thought it would be easier to only date actresses but as his career progressed he didn’t like being in, and being referred to as, one half of a celebrity couple. It caused friction and lead to the break up of that relationship and made him realise he needed to be with someone who wasn’t famous in any way and who could look past the characters he’s played and just see him.
Jane Hollinger is divorced, dumped horribly by her philandering husband and not in any hurry to start dating again. She’s perfectly happy with her quiet life teaching family history evening classes.
Normally their paths would never have crossed, but when Robert lands the role of a genealogist, he starts to attend Jane’s classes to help with research into the part. When he begins to delve into his family tree, he uncovers a mystery and asks Jane for help. It’s the start of an on/off romance where Robert isn’t used to having to chase and almost beg a woman to go out with him. Robert isn’t vain, he’s just never had a woman actually run away from him before!
Like Jane, Robert has personal issues he hasn’t dealt with and he doesn’t like accepting advice from anyone. Attempting to deal with his feelings for Jane brings out the worst in him, which he hates, and it doesn’t help matters that it all takes place inside and on the covers of Britain’s many celebrity gossip magazines. Will Robert persuade Jane to learn to trust again and get used to the pressures of living with him in the public eye?
An hour and twenty minutes later, Jane was sitting in The Crown — a pub she had never been in before — nursing a pineapple juice. Five minutes passed. Then five more. She was on the verge of leaving when she saw Mitch weaving his way through the tables towards her.
“Sorry, Jane. The traffic was awful.” There was still no trace of the Cockney accent. “Let me get you a drink. Same again?”
“Pineapple juice, thank you.”
He returned with two pineapple juices. As he sat down, he went to rub his bloodshot eyes, then clearly thought better of it and grimaced.
“I’m sorry for deceiving you,” he began. “And I’m even more sorry for frightening you the way I did. I come to the classes straight off the set. Frighten myself sometimes when I look in the mirror.”
“You frighten the hell out of me…” Her voice tailed off as she realised she still didn’t know his real name.
“Robert. Robert Armstrong.”
Jane stared at his outstretched hand. No, it couldn’t be. He, or rather the character he played in her favourite TV series, had been the first man to make her blush since Tom had left. Both Mags and Carol teased her unmercifully over it.
She continued gawping at his hand. Like his face, there was something not quite right about it. Then the penny dropped. It was makeup. Her gaze travelled up his arm. Makeup there, too. Bloody hell, he was covered in the stuff! Every bare patch of skin was lathered in what looked like very pale foundation. Relieved that it was only makeup and not some kind of bizarre skin disease, she finally reached out and shook his hand.
“The other night…I was watching The Lady of the Woods.” For the ten millionth time.
“I see. Good. I hope you enjoyed it?”
“It is you, isn’t it – as Simon Moore?”
“Yes, it’s me.”
“Your makeup person deserves an Oscar.”
He laughed. “I’ll tell her that!”
“Because you look atrocious.”
“Thank you,” he replied.
She flushed. “Sorry. Bit rude. You’re a bit of a Daniel Day Lewis, then? You have to be the person you’re playing?”
“No, not really, but I wanted to keep the accent up. Mitch Burns was a real East End lad, and I’m not.”
“Go on then.”
He smiled and took a sip of pineapple juice. “How did you find out?”
“My sister looked up Mitch Burns on the Internet.”
Understanding dawned on his face.
“Why family history classes?” she asked.
“I start filming a feature-length TV drama next month. About a genealogist.”
Jane Hollinger is the wrong side of thirty, divorced and struggling to pay the mortgage her cheating ex left her with. As a qualified genealogist, teaching family history evening classes is a way for her to make ends meet. But she begins to wonder if it’s such a good idea when a late enroller for the class is a little… odd. “Badly-blond Bloke” both scares and intrigues Jane, and when she discovers he is her all-time favourite actor and huge crush, Robert Armstrong, she’s stunned. Even more stunning to Jane is the fact that Robert is interested in her romantically. He’s everything she ever dreamed of, and more, but can she overcome her fear of living in the public eye to be with the man she loves?
Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. She has had work published in three Irish magazines – historical articles on The Stone of Scone in ‘Ireland’s Own’, on The Irish Potato Famine in the ‘Leitrim Guardian’, and Lucy’s Lesson, a contemporary short story in ‘Woman’s Way’. Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she write, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).
Thank you for featuring me on your blog, Celia!