Today I’m pleased to share with you an extract from Fiona Gibson’s latest novel, The Woman Who Met Her Match, which was published by Avon on 20 April 2017.
Avon has kindly given me permission to share this extract with you.
And then . . .
Antoine returned from le camping: a vision of messy blond hair, a smattering of stubble (manly!) and caramel limbs in battered old khaki shorts and a sun-bleached Depeche Mode T-shirt. Long, sweeping lashes grazed his chocolatey eyes. He smelt of grass and coconut. ‘Hi,’ he said with a smile, dumping a rucksack on the living room rug and kissing my cheeks (ooh!).
I’d been focusing hard on Duran Duran’s ‘A View to a Kill’ but from that moment on, a fortnight into my trip, lyric services ground to a halt. Now, there were far more interesting things to keep me occupied. I’d never known a boy to show much interest in me before, but Antoine seemed to want to know everything about me. Or rather, he wanted to discuss the novels he’d read in English which, to my mind, marked him out as a genius (I had difficulty enough interpreting texts in my own language). His obvious eye-pleasing qualities aside, it was a relief to be able to communicate in my own language instead of forever worrying about using a wrong word.
Appalled by how much time I’d spent holed up in the gloomy apartment, Antoine appointed himself as my tour guide, and we soon became inseparable. Valérie seemed faintly relieved that I had been taken off her hands, and by now I could pick up enough from her conversations with her friends to know they were having a giggle about her brother and me. I didn’t care. Those timely make-up lessons had boosted my fragile confidence, and the village, which had so far failed to make much of an impression on me, suddenly blossomed into the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. Antoine and I sat on the riverbank, chatting whilst dipping our bare toes into the cool water. We lay in a field, looking up at the turquoise sky whilst feasting on bread and cheese. I could hardly believe that such ordinary things could be so delicious.
The sun beamed down on us as Antoine took my hand on a walk through the forest. We were on our way to visit his friend Jacques, whose family kept goats and made cheese from their milk. As we picnicked in their untended garden, Antoine kissed me properly for the first time. It was like an electric current shooting through me. For days, we had just been friends hanging out, and now we were lying in each other’s arms, snogging fervently in the long grass while his friend – thank you, Jacques! – wandered off to help his father with the goats. No one had kissed me that way, ever. It felt as if my hormones, which had been lying dormant like a pan of cold soup, had been turned up to a rapid boil.
When Antoine took me deeper in the woods, I was a little nervous; he was eighteen, he’d have kissed hundreds of girls not to mention having done it – of course he had, you could just tell. But I felt safe with him. We kept stopping to kiss some more, and he whispered that he couldn’t believe I didn’t have a boyfriend back home. I could have floated then, like dandelion fluff. I still couldn’t believe that a boy like Antoine wanted to be with me in this way, when I suspected all of Valérie’s friends fancied him.
We reached a lake, deserted and glittering with a wooded island in the middle, and stripped off to our underwear and swam. Me, Lorrie Foster from Yorkshire with a body the colour of rice pudding, swimming in my bra and knickers with a boy! ‘You’re so beautiful,’ Antoine said afterwards, gallantly offering his T-shirt for me to dry myself. He praised my skin (‘like cream’), my eyes (‘dark, mysterious’) and even my mouth (‘so pretty, like a flower’). If he even noticed my chubby thighs or wobbly bottom, he didn’t seem to view them as faults – and soon, neither did I. It was as if I was seeing myself differently, like the way you adjust the settings on a TV. Finally, I was seeing myself in full brightness.
My cheeks glowed and my badly highlighted hair seemed to acquire a new sheen that had never been apparent under drab Yorkshire skies. Every cell in my body seemed to shimmer from all the kissing we were doing. Because, of course, following that afternoon at the lake, we spent every possible moment in each other’s arms, swiftly graduating onto the kind of ‘petting’ the sign at the swimming baths warned you not to do. Oh, we petted all right, but there was no pressure to ‘go all the way’ (as it was quaintly known back home), even when we were alone in the apartment, because the unspoken message seemed to say: this is perfect.
About the book:
After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.
That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her after thirty years.
But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart . . . can she?
A wonderfully funny novel, perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Joanna Bolouri and Milly Johnson.”
About the author:
Fiona was born in a youth hostel in Yorkshire. She started working on teen magazine Jackie at age 17, then went on to join Just Seventeen and More! where she invented the infamous ‘Position of the Fortnight.’ Fiona now lives in Scotland with her husband Jimmy, their three children and a wayward rescue collie cross called Jack. For more info, visit http://www.fionagibson.com. You can follow Fiona on Twitter fionagibson.