Sports writer Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan gets an opportunity to write a new column under the pen name Side Swipe, and is soon drawn into a war of words and wit with a rival paper’s gossip columnist, The Squire, getting readers and editors talking. When Charlotte meets Derry Cullinane, their attraction is instant. But as their relationship develops, they discover there’s more at stake than protecting their alter egos
This book takes place in beautiful Ireland and it involves the romance of Charlotte, a sports writer, and Derry, a fashion writer, and they write for competitive newspapers. I loved the way the author used a female as a sports writer and a male as a fashion writer. It was intriguing to watch Charlotte, who knew more about sports then Derry, and Derry, who knew more about fashion then Charlotte, try to relate to one another. It was a nice twist to the book. There are other characters in the book as well that impact Derry and Charlotte’s relationship. Charlotte’s old high school mate, Fiona and husband, Jack.
Charlotte and Derry both have some baggage they are carrying around in some very heavy bags, which holds Charlotte back a lot throughout the book. (Girl, could use a bit of therapy) For once, I saw the male character being an actual good person and Charlotte was just too hard on him. Needless to say, I was Team #Derry.
What team will you be on????
‘Why are you so nervous Charlotte? It’s just a date!’
‘Oh come on Helen. The last guy I dated was Mr Uptight Conor, and before that I dated sports jocks. Derry is different. He’s Premier League status!’
‘And you’re Scumthorpe United? Take a look at yourself, woman!’
‘I’m not sure what he expects, but I’m not his type, Helen. I’m floundering.’
Helen caught Charlotte’s hands and forced her to meet her gaze.
‘Don’t you dare run yourself down Charlotte Regan. You’re intelligent and totally gorgeous! But you need to do one thing.’
‘Allow yourself to be a woman! How do I put this without you taking it the wrong way? Don’t talk sport all night. You are incredibly bossy when you start. Let Derry take charge a bit. Allow him to be a man!’
‘Sorry, I just time travelled to the 1950s for a moment. What were you saying?’
‘Charlotte! You like this guy. So give him a chance. Don’t send him to sleep with triathalon stats. If he wants that, he’ll go drinking with his mates.’
‘If his mates are anything like him, they probably wouldn’t know a sports stat from the price of heifers in Mullingar,’ Charlotte sighed. ‘Okay, I’ll bluff about fashion or something…’
* * *
‘So, did you get lucky?’ a deep voice drawled. Charlotte spun to find Mr Panama Hat grinning down at her. Bloody hell, she thought, smiling back despite herself. Any other man she knew would look utterly ridiculous in what seemed to be a tailor made, striped linen jacket and trousers, combined with that damned hat. But he carried it off with a self-confidence that bordered on swagger.
‘Yes actually, I did,’ she admitted, still smiling. ‘What about you?’
He grimaced. ‘I lost. My own fault. I took a flier on somebody else’s tip.’
Charlotte grinned sympathetically. ‘Oh?’
Mr Panama Hat shook his head, scowling briefly.
‘I read some bloody sports columnist from Ireland Today. Had a few winners earlier this week. As I said, it’s my own fault. I never normally bother with racing tips. Whoever it is, he obviously doesn’t know a horse from a three-legged stool.’
Charlotte swallowed hard.
‘So how much did you lose?’ she managed, trying to sound casual.
‘A thousand.’ He caught Charlotte’s horrified expression and laughed. ‘Hey, don’t look so worried! I’m a big boy.’
Charlotte stared at him in amazement. Who did that? Maybe he was a rich eccentric, the kind of guy who hung around the race courses, betting big. Not caring whether or not he won – or lost everything on the day.
That said, she was damned if she’d come clean!
‘So, do you normally gamble this recklessly Mr…?’ Charlotte trailed away meaningfully, biro poised over her notebook. He stuck out his hand, a warm smile forming.
‘Sorry, I should have introduced myself. I’m…’
‘Derry! Where have you been? They’re just about to start the judging. Com on darling, I have to go line up. I want you to be able to see!’
A tall blonde, wearing a rose pink knee-length dress with tiny matching jacket, pink stiletto slingback shoes and a dizzy spiral of cream and pink headwear, teetered over and clung to Derry’s arm. She looked, Charlotte thought, vaguely familiar. The blonde smiled tightly at Charlotte and then noticed her press badge.
‘Oooh you’re from the papers! Maybe I could talk to you when the judging’s over. Do you have a photographer with you?’ She didn’t wait for Charlotte to answer, but rushed on. ‘You’ll have to excuse us right now, ok?’
‘Of course, don’t let me delay me,’ Charlotte said, stepping back.
‘Wait,’ Derry began, shooting her a sudden intrigued look. ‘You’re not with Ireland Today, are you?’
Shit. Charlotte managed a surprised laugh.
‘U, yes,’ she squeaked. ‘I’m er, writing a piece on Ladies’ Day.’
‘Oh right.’ He frowned. ‘What about their Side Swipe columnist? Do you know him?’
Lie Charlotte. And do it well.
‘No. It’s being written anonymously. I think the writer works from home…’ She smiled brightly at him. Behind Derry, the blonde shot Charlotte a steely glare. Charlotte glanced one last time at Derry.
‘You should go. And I have to work. Nice to meet you.’ She turned and walked away.
* * *
About the Author~Sharon Black
Sharon Black trained as a journalist and worked for The Evening Herald and The Irish Examiner. She has had short stories published and she won the 2010 Dromineer Literary Festival short story competition.When she’s not writing she reads, walks and sees friends. She loves Italian coffee, theatre and stand up comedy. She lives in a Dublin coastal village with her husband and their three children.
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