"Delicious in so many ways, you'll find this one hard to put down."
-Laura Dave, Author of The Divorce Party and London is the Best City in America
Alice Love keeps her life (and job, and family) running in perfect order, so when her bank card is declined, she thinks it's just a mistake. Sadly, someone has emptied her bank account, spending her savings on glamorous trips, sexy lingerie, and a to-die-for wardrobe-and leaving Alice with lots of debt. As a dashing fraud investigator helps her unravel the intriguing paper trail, Alice discovers that the thief is closer to home than she ever imagined. What's more, it seems like her alter ego's reckless, extravagant lifestyle is the one Alice should have been leading all along. As the little white lies begin to stack up, how far will Alice go to find the truth?
And whose life, exactly, is she fighting for?
"refreshing, fun, and sexy...a perfect beach read."
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Twenty-five-year-old Abby McDonald grew up in Sussex, England, and studied politics and philosophy at Oxford University. She began writing in college, completing her first novel before graduating to work as a music journalist. Her novel The Popularity Rules comes out in Fall 2011, and she has also written the young adult books Sophomore Swap and Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots. Visit www.abbymcdonald.comExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
It began with a vibrator. A smooth, stainless steel, jewel-encrusted vibrator that-according to the ribbon-trimmed user manual-cost over seven hundred pounds. Even Alice, who valued her orgasms as much as the next woman, had to wonder what delirious pleasures it could possibly deliver to justify that kind of expense.
"Yes, is that customer service?" She blinked awake, almost surprised by the sound of a real, human voice. With the soothing hold music and afternoon sunlight spilling through the attic windows, Alice had been lulled into a daze, tracing the embossed script on the heavy cream box, back and forth, back and forth. She sat up.
"There's been some kind of mistake," she explained. "One of your...products was delivered today, but I didn't order-No, I don't...Je ne parle pas...anglais? Parlez-vous anglais?" The bored-sounding French voice on the other end of the line gave way to another surge of Schubert. Alice let out a long sigh of defeat.
It had arrived that morning: the inconspicuous brown box addressed to her in neat lettering from a company in Paris. Already late, Alice had stuffed it into her bag with a handful of other post; now the box's luxurious contents sat in the middle of her antique desk, utterly out of place surrounded by ordered stacks of contracts and her mug of chamomile tea.
It was a mystery.
"What's that?" A familiar head appeared around her open door, blond hair falling in a floppy fringe over warm blue eyes.
Alice jumped. Sweeping the box into a drawer, she quickly leaped up. "Rupert!" Her voice was strangled with embarrassment.
"Oh, nothing, just...a mix-up. What are you doing here?"
"I've got some things to sign-thought I'd come down in person. Besides," Rupert added, moving closer to kiss her on both cheeks, "I think I'm due another lunch."
They shared a rueful smile. Vivienne's lunches were notorious. Whenever one of her clients had been going through a dry spell-and might otherwise start questioning the wisdom of their illustrious agent-Alice's boss would whisk them out for a three-hour session of compliments, champagne, and star-studded visions of international acting success. Alice had seen them wander back to the old, Soho office a hundred times, dazed and delirious with future promise, their faith completely restored.
"No, L'Escargot," he replied, gloomy, naming an even more expensive restaurant. Alice tried not to wince. Things must really be slow.
"Well, good luck," she offered. Few clients bothered to acknowledge her, let alone brave the perilous winding staircase to say hello, but Rupert had always been the nice one. Too nice. His promising string of period drama parts had slowed to a trickle, and personally, Alice thought his gallant enthusiasm was the problem. The ones who made it as leading men came equipped with brash arrogance, not boyish good looks and a sweet devotion to their wives.
"If you want, your tax declaration is around somewhere," she suggested, not wanting him to have ventured up there for nothing. She began to click through her files on the screen. "Are you all right waiting?" She glanced up. "Do you want tea, or something?"
"Oh, I'm fine." Rupert moved aside a stack of books and took a seat on the battered leather couch. "The girl at reception is getting me a coffee. She's, uh, very eager to help."
"I'm sure she is," Alice murmured. Fresh from drama school, the new assistant, Saskia, was especially accommodating to clients.
The attractive, male ones, that was. "Ah, got it! Let me just print you a-" The words died on her lips as the computer let out a strangled bleep. Suddenly, her screen began to blur into a sequence of binary code and hieroglyphics.
"No, no...!" Alice cried, but it was no use: her mouse was frozen, her keyboard, dead.
"What's wrong?" Rupert hurried to look over her shoulder as Alice stared at the angry-looking symbols. "Oh. That doesn't look good."
"No, it doesn't." She swallowed, not wanting to think about all the client data in peril. "I wonder if it's just me, or"-an angry cry echoed up from downstairs-"not."
She found everyone crammed into the reception area, arguing loudly. Vivienne refused to let The Grayson Wells Agency inhabit anything as ordinary as an office block; instead, Alice worked in a narrow, three-story townhouse on a cobbled Soho backstreet. The agents operated out of low-ceilinged nooks, visitors were greeted by a checker-floored cloakroom, and Vivienne herself held court from the second-floor drawing room, complete with damask wallpaper and a Georgian-style chaise lounge. After years spent wilting under fluorescent lights in a gray cubicle at a corporate firm in the city, Alice adored her attic hideaway. She could play Radio 3 in uninterrupted calm, grow pansies in the window box, and never be bothered by the daily dramas of everyone else.
Ducking to avoid the low-slung ceiling, Alice edged into the room. Vivienne was fluttering her hands as if she were having a fainting fit, the agents were milling about in panic, and Saskia was proclaiming her innocence in between dramatic gasps of dismay.
Yes, it was business as usual at Grayson Wells.
"What's happening?" Alice asked. "Are everyone's computers-?"
"Fucked." Tyrell answered shortly, folding his arms across a spotless white shirt. A new agent from the States, he sauntered around in designer tailoring and box-fresh Converse sneakers, wooing prospective clients with talk about taking their careers to the next level, touching bases, and leveraging their brand potential. "I'm waiting on an email-"
"My client needs his contracts and-"
"My BlackBerry's down and I can't function-"
Alice maneuvered to the front of the room. "I know this is a stupid question," she said. "But has anyone called the technician yet?"
There was silence.
"And I'm guessing everyone's turned their computers off at the mains?" she added. "So this thing can't do any more damage." There was a lurch of motion as Anthony, their aging literary agent, dove toward the power socket, knocking his glasses askew in his rush to yank the plug out. "There!" He held it triumphantly aloft, the flickering lamp reflecting on his bald spot.
"Well done." Alice patted his dandruff-speckled shoulder.
"Now, what actually happened?"
All eyes seemed to slide toward Saskia, standing beside the reception computer in a ruffle-necked blouse and pencil skirt. "I didn't know it would do that!" she protested immediately, blue eyes wide with innocence under flame-red ringlets. "I was just downloading a file. For research!"
"Downloading?" Vivienne finally spoke up. Her face was pale as always beneath a severe dyed-black bob; petite figure swathed in a voluminous black pashmina and trailing ropes of pearls.
"A film." Saskia's voice faltered, as if she realized the gravity of the situation for the first time. "No Hope...And Then Death. It's Russian."
Of course it was.
Alice was about to escape them all and wait for the cavalry of the IT call-out man when she was gripped by a terrible fear. "You did back up the database though, didn't you, Saskia? Every night, like we talked about?"
Alice closed her eyes for a second. "When was the last time?" she looked at the girl, pleading. "Last week? Tell me you backed up before the weekend, at least."
Saskia bit her lip. "There were just so many new things to learn! I was meaning to ask someone..."
Alice gulped, as the full extent of the damage finally became clear. Months of records, lost!
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Descrizione libro Arrow, 2010. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Brand new copy. Codice libro della libreria 035541