by Carla Caruso
GENRE: contemporary romance
Sometimes, to come clean, you've got to get your hands dirty ... The first in the Astonvale series.
Celeste Pretty, a self-confessed neat freak, has found the job she was born to do: a professional organiser, de-cluttering people's homes and workplaces. Her new business gets off to a cracking start when she lands her first client, health and fitness guru Natalia Samphire, in the well-heeled suburb of Astonvale. But things get messy at Natalia's mansion when Celeste finds a blackmail note and other mysterious items. And then there's Lenny Muscat, the sexy builder renovating the place, whose constant presence is muddling Celeste's usually organised brain.
When things get decidedly suspicious at the mansion, she and Lenny have to team up to investigate. But will Celeste emerge with her heart and professional reputation unscathed?
Power-walking anywhere in particular?’ a deep voice cut through the air. Through the banging and hammering.
Celeste looked up and into the coal-black eyes of an Adonis. An Adonis in a dirt-stained grey tee, cargo shorts and steel-capped boots. The coal-black eyes — which matched the healthy head of mid-length, wavy hair and faint stubble — were shielded by clear safety glasses. He was pushing a wheelbarrow of bricks, flaunting biceps like Rafael Nadal and sturdy, muscular legs like, well, Serena Williams — in an entirely good way. The mouthful of dust lodged in Celeste’s throat. She couldn’t decide whether she wanted to scrub the guy or jump him, even though clean-cut men were her usual type. Like Mitchell, her sometimes date from the lawn tennis club.
‘Oh … um … I’m looking for Natalia Samphire,’ Celeste stammered, twitching her fringe as was a habit. ‘I have an appointment.’ The rugged stranger adjusted the bright orange earmuffs at his neck, amusement for some reason dancing in his dark eyes. ‘Good luck. And you are?’
‘Oh … Celeste Pretty.’ She searched in her tote for a business card, her professional façade cloaking her once more. Never knew when a card might fall into the right hands. She proudly extended a glossy pink-and-white piece of cardboard towards the builder. Her business had begun to feel real. ‘I run a business called POPink, Professional Organising on Pink.’ The ‘ink’ was a play on ‘incorporated’ and the ‘pink’ because she lived on Pink Avenue. Kind of clever, even if she did say so herself.
She braced for the usual response, asking if she organised weddings or did cleaning. The concept of de-cluttering people’s homes and workplaces for a living stumped many. There definitely needed to be more education and awareness surrounding the industry.
The builder turned the business card over and over in his hand, his palm making the card look tiny. Then he looked up, his eyes gleaming. ‘An organiser, huh? So when you tell someone you’re rearranging your sock drawer, you really are.’ He squinted at the card again. ‘Although, shouldn’t it be P-double-O-P, not POP? As in, Professional Organising on Pink.’
‘P-double-O …?’ Immediately, her cheeks grew hot. She hadn’t even noticed what the full acronym actually spelled out. A term for … waste matter. Cripes. The business cards — and website — had already cost her an arm and a leg, courtesy of Flip’s uni designer friend, despite Celeste assuming that the work would be at student rates. She couldn’t afford to change everything now. Her voice came out as clipped as the mansion’s topiary plants. ‘The “of” is a connector word — a preposition — so, technically, it doesn’t count.’
The Adonis glanced at the card again before pocketing it. ‘Well, thanks for your number. Although … Pretty?’ He winked. ‘I think you underestimate yourself.’
Now her whole face was aflame. Good grief. She hadn’t given him her digits for any reason other than professional. Obviously he was used to women falling at his feet. And she’d heard all the jokes about her surname before when young — Not-So-Pretty never being a favourite. State schoolkids could be a mean lot. At least she’d gotten rid of the braces and learned how to hide the bad cowlick.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, grew up amid a boisterous extended Italian family - yet somehow managed to become a bookworm...
Carla always wanted to be a novelist, annoying the kindergarten teachers by dictating long, detailed stories to them. It just took her a while to realise her childhood dream - journalism seemed a more practical course. Her media career has included stints as a newspaper and magazine journalist, government PR and fashion stylist. These days, she works as a freelance journalist and copywriter. She began seriously writing fiction three years ago when she went freelance full-time.
The romance genre appeals as she is a sucker for rom-coms (especially if Channing Tatum is in the mix) and likes to think her Italian ancestry means she lives with passion. Hobbies include watching trashy TV shows, fashion (her mum named her after Carla Zampatti!), astrology and running.
Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Mess-Astonvale-novel-ebook/dp/B00KEZ7W0M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1440165206&sr=8-2&keywords=carla+caruso
Carla will be awarding an eCopy of A Pretty Mess to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour, and choice of 5 digital books from the Impulse line to a randomly drawn host.
a Rafflecopter giveaway