I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for the latest offering from author T. A. Williams, ‘Dreaming of St. Tropez’ which was released on 7th May.
The perfect summer escape on the French Riviera. Sun, sea and secrets…
After a disagreement with a billionaire, architect Jess Milton is ‘let go’ from her job. However fortune intervenes – an elderly client asks Jess to dog-sit overweight, but loveable dog Brutus in St. Tropez.
Fed up with the mega-rich, Jess is reluctant to visit the playground of billionaires, but an all-expenses-paid trip and the promise of sunshine seals the deal.
Little does Jess know how much time she’ll be spending with the family living in St. Tropez. The sullen, but very good-looking David and his millionaire father are both welcoming but guarded, haunted by their pasts…
Can Jess bring some sunshine back into their lives – and, just maybe, find love in the process?
A heart-warming, funny and emotional journey for fans of Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant and Jenny Oliver.
Read below for an extract from the new book:
‘Mr Drugoi says you are very beautiful, Miss Milton.’
Jess snorted silently, but kept the smile plastered on her face.
‘Please thank Mr Drugoi, but could you ask him if he has a preference as to where we situate the windows in the master bedroom suite? Would he like to look out towards the river or towards the houses of parliament?’
Dmitri relayed her question to his boss and a short conversation in Russian ensued. Finally, Dmitri reported the result of their deliberations.
‘Mr Drugoi would like to be able to lie in bed and look out over the river.’
Mr Drugoi made a further comment in Russian that elicited a snigger from Dmitri.
‘He says you’re welcome to come and try it for yourself when it’s finished. He says he can imagine you lying on his bed.’
The smile on Jess’s face was wearing thin by now, but she managed to maintain it as she ignored the comment and moved to the next item on her clip board.
‘View towards river. Fine. Now, does he still want the two ensuite bathrooms leading off this room?’
The interpreter didn’t need to refer this to his boss.
‘Yes. He always likes one bathroom for himself and a separate one for his companions.’
Jess couldn’t stop her eyes from flicking across the face of the expressionless blonde girl standing at Mr Drugoi’s elbow. She looked as if she was less than half the Russian’s age and she was stunningly beautiful. She had not been introduced so, presumably, she fell into the category of anonymous ‘companion’.
Jess gave an involuntary shudder before returning to business.
‘Two bathrooms.’ She added a brief note to her list and moved on to the details. ‘And he still wants to go with the idea of a glass bath with blue LED lighting?’ She did her best to keep the distaste out of her voice. Dmitri nodded, so she continued. ‘And gold bathroom furniture?’
‘Taps and so on.’
‘Definitely. Mr Drugoi always chooses gold. He likes gold.’ Dmitri grinned at her. ‘He has a lot of gold.’
‘Gold, it is.’ She ticked it off. ‘Now, shall we take a look outside on the terrace?’
The survey continued for the best part of an hour and the innuendo from Mr Drugoi didn’t decrease. By the time they reached the basement, Jess could feel his eyes all over her as he muttered comments sotto voce to Dmitri in Russian. Somehow she felt certain these were not remarks about the conversion of this magnificent Georgian townhouse from traditional Old English to twenty-first-century kitsch. She glanced at her watch and saw it was getting on for lunchtime. By the look of Mr Drugoi’s waistband, he was unlikely to want to miss out on a meal, and she wouldn’t be sorry to see him go. She tried to accelerate things, adopting her no-nonsense architect-in-charge voice.
‘You’ll see from the plans that we intend to transform this whole basement area into a swimming pool, sauna and gymnasium complex.’ Not, she felt sure, that Mr Drugoi would be making much use of the gym. ‘If we knock down these walls, we’ll have a few fairly complicated structural problems to overcome, but it’s feasible – although I’m afraid it won’t be cheap.’
Dmitri relayed the message and she saw Mr Drugoi shrug his shoulders dismissively. He said nothing, but Dmitri translated all the same.
‘Mr Drugoi has no money problems.’
Jess had already worked that out earlier that morning – the moment she had spotted the white Rolls Royce as it purred up to the front of the house to deliver Mr Drugoi and his retinue. No, clearly, money was not a problem for Mr Drugoi. Whether his money was a problem for other people was a different matter.
The oligarch said something to Dmitri and both men laughed. It was the sort of laugh you hear at the end of a dirty joke, and Jess had a feeling she might be the subject of the joke.
‘Mr Drugoi says he wants lights under the water so he can watch the people swimming.’ Dmitri was still smiling. ‘He says he can imagine you swimming. He says you would look very good swimming.’
Mr Drugoi added another adjective and this time even Dmitri looked a bit embarrassed.
‘He says you would look very good swimming… naked.’
Jess bit her lip so hard she almost drew blood. Finally, after a few deep breaths, she replied.
‘Please tell Mr Drugoi that I’m an architect and I’m here to discuss the restructuring of this property – nothing else.’ As she spoke, she subjected Drugoi to a withering stare, but his dead fish eyes just remained fixed on her body, not her face – totally unapologetic. She heard the interpreter speak to his boss, but very briefly, and she had little doubt that Dmitri had opted not to translate her remarks word for word.
The tour of the property continued, as did Jess’s discomfort in the presence of the billionaire. Finally, at just after twelve o’clock, she reached the end of her queries and brought the meeting to a close. By this time she was feeling soiled and slightly sickened, and her only desire was to get away from Drugoi as soon as possible. She shook hands with the expressionless girl, then Dmitri and, finally, Drugoi, and was just turning away when she heard a brief exchange between the oligarch and his interpreter.
‘Please, Miss Milton.’ She looked back over her shoulder and noted that this time Dmitri actually had the decency to blush as he passed on the invitation from his boss. ‘Mr Drugoi asks if you would like to come back to Claridge’s with him for a party.’
‘Yes, just you, him and Natasha.’
Jess was dumbfounded. Never in her professional or personal life had she had to face anything like this before. She was just beginning to formulate a suitably frosty, if restrained, response – Drugoi was one of the firm’s most important clients, after all – when he added a few more words in Russian that Dmitri hastily translated.
‘And Mr Drugoi says to tell you he is a very generous man.’
Jess’s breath whistled out of her lungs as her hard-won self-control finally deserted her. She walked back until she was standing right in front of the billionaire. Although not as tall as the blonde girl, she was still a couple of inches taller than him. She looked him square in the eye.
‘Mr Drugoi, you may think you’re able to buy anything or anybody you like, but it doesn’t work like that with me. I wouldn’t go to your hotel with you if I had a gun to my head.’ She took a deep breath. ‘You are a disgusting human being.’ For a moment she had the distinct impression that he had understood – interpreter or no interpreter – but, to be sure, she glanced across at Dmitri. ‘Translate that to him – word for word.’
Dmitri looked appalled, but then evidently followed her instructions. She listened to a rush of Russian from him to his employer and this time she saw Drugoi’s expression darken. But instead of shame or contrition, the puffy face registered surprise and then, quite clearly, anger. He hissed something to Dmitri and turned on his heel even before the translation had been rendered.
‘Mr Drugoi is very angry with you. He says he will speak to your boss.’ As Drugoi and the blonde girl headed out through the door to the stairs, Dmitri added under his breath. ‘I’m afraid you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.’
About the Author
T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.
Title: Dreaming of St Tropez
Author Name: T.A. Williams
Previous Books: Chasing Shadows, Dreaming of Venice and Dreaming of Florence
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Release Date: 7th May 2018
Links to Book:
Follow the author on Twitter: @TAWilliamsBooks