Behind the Film Star's Smile

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Cherish

Apr 2014

ISBN 9780263912753

 

Harlequin Romance

Sept 2013

ISBN: 9780373742844

Behind the Film Star's Smile

Former police officer Jess Greenacre was hoping to bury her past - and becoming a runner on a London film set was the change she needed. But she hadn't planned on running into actor Luke McKenzie on her very first day… and she certainly hadn't expected the earth-shattering kiss that left them both wanting more!

Also released as:

  • UK hardback (Apr 2014, ISBN 9780263242089)
  • UK large print hardback (Aug 2014, ISBN 9780263240900)
  • Also released in Australian paperback (Apr 2014, ISBN: tbc).

 


Behind the Book

My working title for this one was 'Me and You and a Dog Named Baloo' - and when my editor saw the outline she said, 'Marley and Me crossed with Notting Hill.'

I guess it started when I saw a dog dancing on a UK talent show - I thought how much I'd enjoy a dog trainer heroine. (Ed's comment here: do NOT let the dog take over. . .) (What, me? Whistles innocently.) (All right, so the dog DID take over. A bit.)

I didn't do a lot of hands-on research here, mainly because my spaniel is quite elderly and gave me 'you must be joking' looks when I tried to get him to dance with me. But I had a lot of fun planning it in my head, especially with the proposal scene.

Oh - and you will need tissues. Especially when Jess tells Luke about her past. I made myself cry at this point!

It's dedicated to my lovely friend Daisy Cummins, who let me grill her about how it all works behind the scenes on a film set, though any mistakes are mine.

Read a bit

OMG. Luke McKenzie.

When Jess had taken the assignment from the temp agency to work as a production assistant for a film company, she'd expected it to be a low-budget affair with actors she'd never heard of. Not Luke McKenzie, who'd been named as the most beautiful man in the world for three years running. Luke McKenzie, the favourite actor of both her sister and her best friend, and whose films they dragged her to see at the cinema, even though Jess would rather watch a decent sci-fi movie than sit through a rom-com for the umpteenth time.

Luke McKenzie, who right now didn't look very happy.

Neither did the chocolate Labrador who was sitting beside him, radiating guilt.

Well, this was none of her business. She was meant to be sorting out some paperwork, not gawking at an A-list movie star or listening in to her boss's conversation.

'Jess, can you come here a second, please?' Ayesha Milan, the production manager, called.

'Sure,' Jess said, expecting to be sent on an errand.

'Can you look after Mr McKenzie's dog today?'

Jess froze.

Look after a dog.

That was precisely why she'd left the career she loved and had become a temp. So she'd never have to look after another dog again.

'I...'

'She doesn't bite,' Luke said, rolling his eyes. 'Just steals things and chews them. She seems to have a particular taste for Louboutins.'

Expensive designer shoes. Well, that would explain why he didn't look too happy – the owner of said shoes had probably had a mammoth hissy fit on him when she'd discovered the damage, and replacing them would be far from cheap.

'Jess, are you scared of dogs?' Ayesha asked.

'No-o,' Jess said hesitantly. She wasn't scared of dogs. She was scared of bonding with them. Of having her heart shredded again. It had taken her more than a year to get to where she was now. The thought of having to look after a dog was bringing everything right back to her.

'Then can you take charge of...?' Ayesha looked at Luke to prompt him for the dog's name.

'Baloo.'

'Baloo,' Ayesha finished, looking straight at Jess.

Oh, help.

As a production assistant, Jess was basically meant to do anything she was asked to do. Saying no would be tantamount to cancelling her contract. Even though she'd worked for the temp agency for nearly a year now, it would still make her look unreliable if she walked out of this job less than an hour after she'd started it, leaving the client in a mess. Which meant they'd be less likely to give her any more assignments, and she couldn't afford to lose her job.

But saying yes meant putting herself back in a vulnerable position. Something she really didn't want to do.

'I've got to get back to the set. I don't have time for this. Here,' Luke said, and handed her the dog's lead.

Before Jess could process what was happening, he'd stomped off.

Leaving her with the dog.

'I – look, don't I have other stuff to do for you?' she asked Ayesha, inwardly panicking. Please let her not have to do this. Please.

Ayesha spread her hands. 'The big thing is to keep the stars happy. We have to tiptoe round them.' She sighed. 'I expected Mimi to be the difficult one, not him.'

'Why did he bring the dog on set? Especially if he knows that she chews things?'

Ayesha shrugged. 'I have no idea.'

'He could've brought a crate with him. Where the dog would've felt safe instead of worried by all the people round her, and –' Jess stopped, aware that Ayesha was looking curious.

'You sound as if you know about dogs.'

A degree in animal behaviour and working as a police dog trainer for most of her career had taught Jess a lot. 'A bit,' Jess mumbled.

'Then you'll be the perfect person to look after Baloo,' Ayesha said brightly.

No, she wasn't. She was the last person to look after the dog. Why hadn't she lied and said that she was scared of dogs, or allergic to them? And she was furious at the way the actor had behaved. This was as bad as the socialites who carried a little dog around with them as an accessory. 'If you haven't got time to look after a dog properly, you shouldn't have one,' Jess said. 'I don't care if he's the star of the film. This isn't how you treat dogs.' She frowned. 'My sister and my best friend think he's wonderful. I didn't think he'd be like – well, like that, in real life.' Grouchy. Demanding. Whatever the male equivalent of a diva was.

'He never used to be,' Ayesha said. 'I worked on a film with him a couple of years ago, and he was a total sweetheart – he remembered everyone's name, thanked anyone who ran an errand for him, and I think every female member of the crew and cast fell in love with him. Including me, and I'm used to actors being charming. With him, it wasn't acting. He meant it.' She shrugged. 'But he's had a pretty hard time, the last year. I think it's changed him.'

Jess remembered seeing the stories about the break-up of Luke McKenzie's marriage in the press. A divorce must be hard enough to deal with, but having the press zooming in on every detail must make it so much worse. And even Carly and Shannon – her sister and her best friend – had admitted that Luke's last film hadn't been quite as good as the previous ones. Not surprising, really: when your life imploded, it was pretty hard to concentrate on your job and do your best. Which was why Jess had walked away, and why she was focusing on doing something completely different from her old life. 'Even so, you don't just dump your dog on the nearest stranger.'

The dog licked her hand, as if glad that someone was batting her corner, and Jess felt something crack in the region of her heart.

No.

She couldn't do this. She couldn't make herself that vulnerable and open again.

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