Who has the secrets? Who has the cents?
Billionaire Charmaine Donnet’s search for Mr Right has gone public in the most humiliating way. Her dating coach, and trusted friend Joss, has decided to turn introvert Charmaine’s quest into a hit reality TV show. Charmaine finds herself interviewing potential Mr Rights live on air, and being wooed on the Indian Ocean while on board the beautiful yacht, The Sunflower.
But it’s not all plain sailing. There’s Captain Robert Hart, the one man who truly hates Charmaine and whom, she suspects, would do anything to hurt her again. There’s Joss who’s behaving more like an enemy; and there’s the six potential Mr Rights entered in the Princes Challenge—some of whom will do anything to win. Events take a dark turn when one of the potential Mr Rights goes missing at sea. Charmaine is not sure she will survive this desperate Hart’s cruise.
Settle Down Now is mostly well-written, has a relatively strong female lead, and keeps you guessing with a bit of danger and intrigue. If you like chick lit and are intrigued by the idea of chick lit incorporating a bit of, “Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the candlestick,” then perhaps this book is for you.RaeleighReads.wordpress.com
This was a quite different read from my usual ones. I would not classify it under one category because it is a mix of romance and mystery. It’s a multi genre book and I enjoyed it to my surprise.Floryie, Goodreads
Tara Metrovich probably paid her staff in gold. She had a voice to match her face: small pekinese features barely framed by the once more trendy page-boy haircut.
I adjusted the microphone attached to my crisp, white collar, jutting out from my newly tailored peach-skin suit, as I continued wilting under those harsh studio lights.
A sound assistant scurried out of nowhere to smile professionally, fiddle my microphone back into the most uncomfortable position, and instruct, “Don’t touch the mic, Ms Donnet. It upsets the sound levels, and we’re live in ninety seconds.”
With another professional smile, she disappeared into the cavernous dark of the studio behind the main lights. Tara Metrovich stopped complaining to a PA and turned to me.
“Breathe, darling. And remember to suck that tummy in!” she giggled as someone yelled ‘thirty seconds!’ “Now just remember to be yourself,” she added.
I smiled back feeling sick. I surely couldn’t remember to be anyone else. I wished I was having my morning pot of Earl Grey with the newspaper, out on my balcony enjoying the sunrise, instead of sitting in this overheated studio about to be humiliated by the second most popular talk-show hostess in South Africa.
“In three, two, one!” called the thirty-seconds voice.
The two giant cameras winked nasty red eyes at us, then continued staring balefully at the set. Off went Tara.
“Good morning, Surf City! It’s a gorgeous, beautiful start to our day with a special Exclusive treat for you worth billions! Yes, that’s right. We finally have that interview we’ve been promising you with our very own reclusive Durban-grown billionaire, Charmaine Donnet!”
And Tara hadn’t even taken a breath whilst sucking in her tummy, too. I wondered if Tara Metrovich, née Niemand, wasn’t some automated TV mannequin. Then she turned those brilliant eyes on me and I knew she wasn’t. Shark was more like it.
“Thank you, Charmaine, for joining us this morning. Such a pleasure!”
I murmured something I hoped was appropriate but which sounded incomprehensible to me.
“So tell us, Charmaine, how does one become a billionaire or billionairess these days? Besides marrying one, like me!” Giggle, giggle, snake-stare.
“Well, Tara, I guess you just have to wish on a box of chocolates and work hard.”
“’Wish on a box of chocolates’, that’s a new one, Charmaine.” She leaned forward, her mic shifting and probably giving her sound engineers a group heart-attack. “Whatever do you mean? Is it some New Age thing or a new business method?”
I laughed, higher and more panicked than usual. “Er, no. What I mean is…” I stifled the need to shift in my ever-heating seat. “Years ago, I had the good fortune of having the opportunity to support the owner of Angel Chocolates.”
“Oh, yes! They are just divine! My favourites.”
“And you invested in them?”
“Ja. In fact, I guess you could call me one of the first investors.”
“How much did you invest, Charmaine? A hundred thousand?”
“Er…Actually, it was…oh, maybe fifty. Ja, I think it was about fifty.”
“Fifty thousand Rands! Not bad, Charmaine!”
“No, it was about fifty Pounds, Sterling.”
For once Tara Metrovich appeared speechless.
I continued. “It was way back in Two Thousand or so. Angela had only just come up with the idea and needed someone to believe in her more than anything else—”
“So you were friends with Angela Green before you became business partners?”
“Ja, something like that. We were house-mates back then—working holidaymakers in Edinburgh.”
“So you helped come up with the Angels’ fabled recipe!” Tara now looked more than ever like a shark: sensing a story, sensing some blood, and a possible scandal. Angela’s secret recipe was the reason for her success. No-one had ever managed to re-create it.
“Oh, no! Angela always worked on it at the dead of night, leaving chocolate trails in the kitchen for us to find the next morning. Used to drive us nuts!”
“So she uses nuts?”
“Probably. I’m not sure.” I smiled back, wondering how to change the topic. “So, anyway, Angela, another friend, and I mocked up a pretty box of chocolates for her first presentation to some venture capitalists, back in the day. And three years later I got ten percent of Angels Chocolates’ stocks for my trouble.”
“Wow!” stated Tara with dollar signs in her eyes. “You must have been really good friends!”
“Oh, you know how it is when you have others in the same boat as you.”
Her earwig squawked.
“Fascinating. And some luck, eh? But, tell us Charmaine, you didn’t make billions just from chocolate, did you?”
“That’s right, Tara.” I had by this time gotten the hang of the interview. “I kept investing in start-ups, and had the good fortune of making mostly paying choices.”
“Amazing. Just…inspiring, Charmaine.”
Beads of perspiration were congregating at the base of my neck, racing each other down my spine. I was gratified to see I wasn’t the only one sweating.
Tara’s face was quickly acquiring a wet sheen with her perfectly done hair starting to look damp and frizzy. She turned directly to the cameras.
“We’ll be back with more exclusives from Charmaine after the break and traffic report. Stay tuned!”
The cameras closed their sinister eyes as Tara’s crew stormed her: water bearer, make-up, sound, and what looked like a masseuse.
The nice sound assistant brought me a bottle of water. “You’re doing great, Ms Donnet. You’re very photogenic, and the sound team loves your voice. Just remember to keep your chin up when speaking so the sound’s not muffled.”
I smiled back, grateful for the swig of cool water and the kind words.
“Thirty seconds!” went the call, signalling the dispersion of the swarm around Tara.
She gingerly flicked a single stray strand of hair from near her eye with a fierce look boding ill for her hair-stylist, then turned to face the cameras, schooling her features as the studio manager called, “In three, two, one!” On came the camera tally-lights and Tara Metrovich, talk-show hostess.
“We’re back, Surf City, with Charmaine Donnet, Durban’s very own billionaire. And! Most eligible bachelorette! This morning she’ll be telling us all about the ins and outs of her singleton life, and her new search for her very own elusive Prince Charming! Isn’t that right, Charmaine?”
Her sharkish look was once again on me as I stared in mortification at the evil red eyes of the cameras. That’s what you get for selling your soul at 7a.m in the morning.
“But, Charmaine, I thought it went wonderfully! You were so adorable. Just the antidote to Plastic Tara.”
“You’re not helping, Joss!”
We were in her practice rooms in Umhlanga—Josslin Murray, Life and Dating Coach Extraordinaire. She was an excellent life coach, but I was beginning to suspect her dating coach advice would do me more harm than good.
“The interview made you seem very human and vulnerable, not the way most people have seen you.”
I stared at her open-mouthed.
“Pity you didn’t stick to your work-out programme. We’ll have to find you a personal trainer, I think.”
She popped a biscuit into her mouth, her ultra-thin body once again prepared to overlook the influx of sugar and butter it was about to experience.
Joss was considering the still of me in the studio. Whomever said ‘The camera never lies’ was a liar! The studio cameras had added a good three kilos to my less than svelte self and shortened my height by half a metre or so. The lighting and make-up gave me a jaundiced complexion instead of my usual olive, while the appalling glossy peach lipstick had the effect of badly done Botox. And my hair. Oh goodness, my hair! Steel-wool had never looked so expensive! On the plus side no-one would ever recognise me out on the street. I began to relax.
Joss was looking reflective. “You know, you absolutely must have that make-over now. And we’ll keep on with the plan to celebritise you even more. You can’t fail to meet a suitable guy then.” She smiled, not unlike Tara Metrovich.
It was then I began to suspect what a cruel sense of humour the universe has.
“Can you believe she said I’m hostile to all men? And we both know that’s not true!” I fumed, indicating right onto the beach road at the never synchronised robots. “’Cos I do love you, and dad, and my brothers, and Merv, and Phil, and the little cousins…”
Max shot over to his favourite window by the back-seat, glancing at me in the rear-view mirror as if to say, “Yeah, but I’m a dog, more or less.” And he was; a husky Siberian in wolf-skin—all russet and tan, save for his expressive particoloured eyes. He looked me in the eye and lifted his chin to the road ahead, “You’re driving too slow. Get us to the beach already. My feet are itching.”
That’s what I loved about Max—so direct and endearingly selfish as only a husky could be. He was my mum’s spoilt mutt, but I was just as culpable at letting him think he was human. Still, I wasn’t going to let his wolfish good looks con me into breaking the speed limit. I drove at my usual cautious speed.
“And she wants to ‘celebritise’ me! Is that even a word? I think she means to turn me into some kind of celebrity or something.”
Max, dexterous as ever, used his slim paw to wind the window partly down and stick out as much of his snout as he could, impatient for his first whiff of salty air and the promise of a limitless sandpit.
“I ought to fire her as a dating coach. What do you think?”
Max pulled his snout back in, seemed to seriously consider my dilemma for a couple of seconds, then whined softly as if to say, “Of course you should!” before once again sticking his nose out the window like some salt-air junkie.
“Ja, I know…But she’s helped me so much!”
Miserably, I wondered how one went about firing their dating coach: ‘Look Joss, this isn’t working for me. It’s me, not you. I really think there’s someone more deserving of your attention…’
In the back-seat, Max whined along to Don’t Talk To Me About Love. He loved Claire Grogan—even as a puppy.
Sighing, I put off thinking about my dilemma and considered the view of flowering cane-fields. The story of my life: sweetness all around me, yet a serious lack of romance.
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