Wouldn’t it be amazing to be in a relationship with someone famous? It would be great, wouldn’t it, with parties and premiers, and seeing your picture splashed across the papers and gossip magazines?
But what would it be really like to be in a relationship with someone famous but you wish they weren’t because you are a private person who prefers to live a quiet life? Could you love that famous person enough to be able to put up with the invasion of your privacy? It’s a dilemma and that’s why I created Jane Hollinger so she can try and come to a decision.
Poor Jane. Her self esteem is at rock bottom because her husband had an affair with and then left her for a client. She lives alone with her books and huge DVD collection and doesn’t know if she ever wants to date again. It’s been so long since she’s been on a date that she’s not quite sure if she even remembers how to do it properly and the prospect of going out with someone from the dating website her sister and best friend subscribed her to terrifies her.
Jane wishes that Mags and Carol would just leave her alone. She does go out in the evenings to meet new people – but it’s to teach family history evening classes at the local Adult Education Centre. Little does Jane know that romance will strike when she least expects it. But will she be able to cope with being in a high-profile relationship with a man she’s only dreamed of and the British press?
Fifteen minutes later they were seated at a corner table in The Red Lion, raising glasses of champagne.
“Happy birthday!” Mags produced an envelope with a flourish.
Jane opened it, half expecting a voucher for a beauty salon or a health spa or something subtle like that. Instead, she saw a confirmation e-mail.
Dear Ms Hollinger
Thank you for becoming a member of LookingForLove.com.
Her heart plummeted. “A dating agency?” She just managed to keep the dismay out of her voice.
“An online dating agency,” Mags squealed. “There are thousands of men on there just waiting for you. I mean, look at this one here.” She fished a printout from her bag and thrust it at Jane.
It was the details of a man named Bryan, aged thirty-four, six feet tall, brown eyes. Jane’s eyes were drawn to the photograph. She had to admit he wasn’t bad looking in an I’ve-played-one-too-many-rugby-matches type of way. He had a wrinkly forehead and his nose needed a good bit of reconstructive surgery. “He’s probably used a photo of someone else and doesn’t look anything like this in real life,” Jane muttered.
“People who lie about themselves are thrown off the website.” Carol was solemn as she pulled out another sheet of paper. “This is what we’ve said about you.”
“What?” She grabbed the sheet of paper, almost tearing it.
There she was; Jane Hollinger, aged thirty-one, divorced, five feet eight inches tall, blue eyes, brown hair. Likes history, cinema, reading and socialising. Looking for a man aged thirty to forty for friendship and possibly more.
It could be worse, she supposed, putting it down and taking a sip of champagne. It didn’t make her sound like a complete charity case.
“And you’ve already had some interest,” Mags told her.
“Why didn’t you just auction me off on eBay?”
“Jane, there hasn’t been anyone since Tom,” Carol argued.
“I’ve been busy,” Jane was defensive. “I have to pay a full mortgage now.”
“Okay, fine, we’ll cancel the membership.” Carol began to fold the sheet of paper.
“No, Carol, wait.” She held up her hands apologetically. “It’s just that I thought I was going to be married to Tom forever.” She found a smile from somewhere. “And I’m now in my thirties and single, whether I like it or not. I didn’t mean to sound like such an ungrateful cow. I’m sorry.” Inwardly she cringed when both women smiled sympathetically.
“I know what we’ll do,” Mags announced. She sprang out of her chair, startling the woman at the neighbouring table. “We’ll buy a couple of bottles of wine and we’ll go and surf the net, try and find you the man of your dreams.”
“You’re on!” Jane picked up her glass and drained it.
Jane Hollinger is single, divorced, and the wrong side of thirty – as she puts it. Her friends are pressuring her to dive back into London’s dating pool, but she’s content with her quiet life teaching family history evening classes.
Robert Armstrong is every woman’s fantasy: handsome, charming, rich and famous. When he asks her to meet him, she convinces herself it’s because he needs her help with a mystery in his family tree. Soon she realises he’s interested in more than her genealogical expertise. Now the paparazzi want a piece of Jane too.
Can Jane handle living — and loving — in the spotlight?