The Story

What's a girl to do?Evie Hornton, the London barrister known for her unzipped one liners & Manolo Blahniks has decided to follow her gorgeous but mysterious private detective boyfriend Rory, to LA in the third book of the Meet Me At The Bar series.

After a business class flight, Evie finds herself ensconced in the opulent celeb-packed Chateau Marmont – legendary hotel to the stars of screen and rock ‘n’ roll. She has to keep pinching herself that Rory the gorgeous man for whom she’s traded the Circle Line and criminal court  is actually real.

Putting her career on hold seemed like a really good idea at the time….but Evie is finding that coupledom is not nearly so simple as all those couples at dinner parties had make it look.

Things get further complicated when her ex boyfriend Giles turns up  to win her back and comes face to face with Rory’s own hitherto unmentioned ex.

But its hard to focus on real life issues when David Bowie is passing you the phone while you’re floating in a tyre ring in the Chateau Marmont pool surrounded by real life celebrities.

As the puzzle pieces of her life somehow manage to form a picture, Evie realises she has landed the lead role as the “other” woman in another woman’s relationship.

The sparkle of tinsel town soon makes “a nice little murder“ at the Old Bailey seem like a comforting drink of warm cocoa

Book 3 in the Meet Me At The Bar series. From the Author of Latest Accessory

First Chapter

‘TRAP A MAN’

Three words guaranteed to make a girl like me who has just got her single shit together squirm with repulsion. Thing was, back in seat 4A, en route to LAX ‘(business class at last!) was sitting a man going by the name of Mr Right (in his dreams) who had accused me of just that – his idea of humour.

I’d laughed myself sick obviously.

The thought was out there though. As much as I modernised the concept, and played with the inherent irony and post-modern playfulness of those three little words, the brutal realism was quite clear. Trapped or not, I had a boyfriend for whom I was thinking of tossing aside my career as a barrister, friends, family and membership to Soho House, and emigrating to the States to be with.

You didn’t need to be a French deconstructionist to see the problem. I was (choke on the words) one half of a couple.

So what kind of freak zodiac line-up led to this state of affairs – that, queen of the successfully singles of London, could without warning be transmogrified into the other half of an Irish-American guy who insisted on calling me doll? I kept telling myself that this was just a trial run. Just checking out that all the orgasms I’d been enjoying these last months weren’t faked.

But what was going to happen to my cherished Mary Tyler Moore single girl’s life? That’s what I wanted to know. Would I cope in my new role, transformed from a ‘meet you after work for drinks’ sort of girl into a ‘will you be home before six tonight, darling?’ person?

Would my wardrobe work?

Would my heels be too high?

My lipstick too bright?

My skirts too short?

Would my voice be too loud?

Would I need altering?

These were the questions plaguing me. Because this was reality, not a bad hangover or a case of, ‘Oh my God! Who is that in the bed beside me?’ No, I was in love – or at least in serious long-term lust.

I had just pinched myself black and blue in the plane’s toilet cubicle in case this was all a bad nightmare, a case of too much cheese before bedtime. But I was still there – dehydrating, my feet exploding from my Manolo Blahniks with retained fluid. Love or lust, the effects of altitude and flight cabin air pressure were turning my late-twenties’ complexion into crepe paper.

All this for the sake of a man? Basically there was no getting away from it. I was about to become one of those creatures who had for some time floated on the periphery of my life. ‘The Couples’, as we affectionately dubbed them.

I mean, before you call the PC-police on me, I’m not a couplist or anything mad like that. Honest! Some of my best friends are couples. I’ve even talked about the viability of Coupleland with my girlfriends at times but we’d all agreed that it probably couldn’t sustain life as we know it.

Stuff like:

Deciding you need to dye your hair at 3 a.m.

Drinking daiquiris on Sunday mornings.

Really believing in fashion as a form of spiritual awareness.

Telling your girlfriends absolutely EVERYTHING!

Declaring that size really does count.

Asking cute blokes for a light even though you don’t smoke just so you can flirt.

Calling the emergency services because you left your keys and your mobile phone locked in your flat.

Hanging knickers out to dry in the bathroom.

Shaving legs/armpits in the bath.

*Joining health clubs on a whim.

Paying extortionate health club joining fees with money you have no intention of earning.

Never attending said health club and later forgetting you even joined.

Joining another health club on a whim. (see*)

Deciding you simply adore the new minimalism.

Throwing out everything you ever owned (including all health club memberships).

Swiftly growing sick of minimalism and taking on a new overdraft to buy a normal off-the-floor bed and other essentials.

All this and more would have to stop!

Once you start living with men they don’t find any of the above cute, sexy, admirable or proof of a healthy menstrual cycle. With men comes change. Not for them but for us.

Face it, we find somewhere less satisfactory to dry our knickers while they go right on taking off their socks with their toes and leaving the seat up on the toilet.

For all their good points, boys don’t play by the rules. Take Eve for example: she tried the apple, politely asked Adam if he wanted a bite and bingo, he ran off to Yahweh to tittle-tat. It’s not a good look boys. Not good at all.

Whatever fine points boys might have, one thing is for sure, they don’t get ‘it’. They don’t understand GR. Girlfriend Rules. They don’t understand why you have to tell your girlfriends absolutely everything and your boyfriends only edited, heavily censored bits.

It all started when one of them wandered down a mountain side one day with a stone tablet of rules for the boys carved into it and they declared the game theirs from then on in. Nice try guys.

Sorry boys!

Your innings are up. Have been for years actually, we just didn’t want to have to upset you. We know what your pride thing is like. Remember the time we brought up the size matters issue in the seventies? Ouch!

There has been full and frank disclosure of our gender positions these last few decades. It’s nothing to do with penis envy or womb envy or anything anatomical like that. It’s a simple case of game, set and match.

Lad culture, Men Behaving Badly and the anti feminist backlash were all a nice try at holding on to the power but we’ve all got a pay packet now and it’s not going to wash. We put it to the vote and the girls have it. It’s time to put the seat down, guys, and to start taking your socks off with your hands. The boys-only club culture is over.

Putting it simply we are now living in the age of The Girls Are Going Out Tonight And They Don’t Know When They’ll Be Home. PS. Don’t wait up.

I’m not anti-men. Hell no! I love them. They can be really handy with an espresso machine in the morning and sweet as buttons when they’re sleeping, only less so when they start oozing out of the side of their mouths.

Men are one of my favourite sources of affordable fun on Thursday nights, although normally the first sign of the post-coitus condom is enough to make me run back to the quasi-comfort of my own futon (the remains of the latest minimalism-gone-mad binge).

Love them as I do, men are like champagne, a little goes a long way. ‘Men are best treated as a celebratory beverage’, according to my gran. Don’t think you can live on a diet of men alone. Coupledom rots your liver and makes drying your knickers in the bathroom next to impossible.

When we are drawing up lists for parties, my friends of both sexes and I always ask each other: ‘Should we invite The Couples this time?’ Very magnanimous of us, we think, considering how boring couples usually are at parties, doing things like:

Getting stroppy when you accidentally snog their partner when it’s late and dark and everyone’s snogging everyone.

Going to pieces when they find their ‘partner’ holding opinions outside the jurisdiction of their relationship,

Or worse, when they find their ‘partner’ talking to people they’d both agreed were no-go areas.

Couples see no flaw in having a domestic in your bathroom when everyone else is queuing up to use it because we over laced the fruit punch, as one does after a difficult week in court.

Invariably couples are the type to accept all Saturday night invitations, proof of how sad they are, wanting to hang out with a bunch of reprobate singles when they should be beyond that and far too busy flicking through the IKEA catalogue and mapping out ovulation projectories.

Not that I have crossed Coupleland off my list of places I might eventually want to visit. It’s just that like Canada, it was way down on that list. I have even checked out the brochures with a bloke going by the name of Giles, but that’s ancient history: we never shared a toothbrush and I never gave up going out with my girlfriends, or gave him full disclosure of my shoe collection or anything really intimate like that, so he doesn’t really count. Besides, he’s dating my therapist now – but that’s another story.

I must also admit that I have even observed The Couples at our parties, clustered together in cosy tête-a.-tête! holding forth on the latest videos they’ve hired and how tasty the food was at the Conran restaurant where they went to celebrate their anniversary, and how they’re giving up smoking together, and I concede that I have sometimes wondered what it would be like having an other half.

I offered my ‘couples are dull’ theory to my therapist Maddy, to see what sense she could make of it, but she was even more in the dark than me. She told me it was an ‘image thing’ which kind of suggests that I could get over it by changing designer labels or getting a new hairstyle instead of paying her ninety quid an hour.

Then again my therapist isn’t the person I go to for advice so much as someone to yap away to about myself for an hour. I mean, I can’t afford to pause for breath or she’ll invariably start making prescient, incisive remarks like, ‘Perhaps you are running from your fear of commitment, Evelyn.’

Like wow! Slap me round the face with a diaphragm Mads. Like I never thought of that! ‘Puhlease ! You needed a degree and a licence to practise psychology to come up with that?’ I replied. ‘I’ve had better advice from desk calendars. I mean, even the wandering insane are afraid of commitment Maddy.’

Should I commit myself or run? I asked my girlfriends when Giles proposed to me a while back. ‘Run you fool, run like a mugger up Bond Street,’ they urged. ‘Blow your rape whistle, kick off your heels and don’t stop until you are back in the convent.’

‘Commitment is scary Mads,’ I told her, and cancelled my next appointment so she could ponder the concept for a bit. You have to keep your analysts in check or they walk all over you.

Self-empowerment aside for a minute though, just occasionally, on miserable Monday nights when I’ve eaten too much Haagen Dazs and realised what a slug I have become, I sometimes try to visualise what it would be like to live in Coupleland.

Sharing bills (now that’s a thought), browsing through holiday brochures together, taking a romantic weekend break in Paris. We’d travel Eurostar and toast our love with Perrier, having given up alcohol for the sake of our health. Couples do stuff like that. They are altogether more health-conscious and careful than us singletons.

Wandering along the banks of the Seine, I envision us swearing off birth control and talking excitedly of natural birthing methods. In the evening, we’d enjoy memory-making moments sipping alcohol-free cocktails in the Hotel George V, whilst chatting animatedly about prospective prep schools for our offspring. It’s at this point, you see, that the fantasy ceases to appeal. Even sleeping in a cardboard box on the Strand has got to be better than commitment.

It is the actual word commitment that scares the G-string off me, according to my hairdresser. While at Bar school we used to say: ‘Tried as a couple, sentenced as a couple and committed to Coupledom for the term of your natural life.’ Boyfriends come and go, but up to now I’ve never met a man up to the job of facing my knickers hanging in the bathroom long term.

OK, so what started me off on this rant was Rory – Mr Right as he calls himself – being possessed of an overdeveloped irony gland. It’s a long story, but one minute I was successfully single, living in my mortgaged-to-the-hilt loft in trendy Clerkenwell, reeling from my latest attack of minimalism, contemplating my hugely brilliant career prospects in one of London’s most successful chambers – and the next minute I’m in love with an American private eye.

Big deal you might say – so you fell in love, why does that require a trial period? At this point I have to direct your attention to Mr Right’s serious physical credibility – call it the body I had dreamed about all my life and occasionally even searched for down at the gym (on the several occasions I had a pre-membership tour). At the risk of sounding shallow, Rory’s was not a body to be walked away from lightly.

Apart from his looks, his charm and questionable blue-collar upbringing, Rory also had that important exotic aspect to his personality guaranteed to make me question my single girl vows.

ISOH – Irish sense of humour.

Now, I am pretty much putty at the first glimpse of Irish humour. When it comes laced with an American drawl, let’s just say that I am the proverbial gum on the shoe of the bloke in question.

As a private detective to the rich and fabulous, Rory lives in the States and ipso facto I had agreed to spend a month in LA in the lap of luxury with him. A girl’s got to do… etc.

I let it pass that he was very cagey about his latest assignment, muttering things about catching husbands in flagrante and counter-surveillance tactics. Like I said, it was only a trial period – just to make sure that I wasn’t faking my orgasms.

Anyway, no sooner had the plane ascended than Mr Right dropped his ‘trap a man’ bombshell. ‘Why is it that once you girls trap your man, you all start demanding the window seat?’

He had asked this question with wide-eyed incomprehension, fluttering those pornographically long eyelashes at me. He had then added insult to injury by ruffling my hair the way he knows my hairdresser hates. You see, Rory has me down as a kind of Giget figure, despite the fact that I am a barrister of some five years called, and, at least I like to think, sassy in that Jean Harlow kind of way.

Normally a girl renowned for being quick off the mark with the genital wit-kick, I was slow to respond to Rory’s sexist slight on this occasion because he had referred to me and my sex as girls, which was like a huge leap for an Irish-American die-hard sexist like him. Previously we’d all been ‘dolls’. More of his overdeveloped irony gland later.

Obviously I didn’t want to discourage him if he was about to get sensitive on me or anything, so I decided against my usual strategy of employing my lightning-fast wit to castrate him. Instead I just smiled and said: ‘Why, Spencer Tracy, you must be thinking of someone else. Trapped? By little old moi? I don’t think so.’ At this point I raised my left eyebrow the way I know raises his libido and smiled my most come-in-your-pants-boyfriend smile.

His response was to kiss me rotten which is how I came to be in the toilet cubicle, reapplying my lippy and thinking about ‘couple stuff’. Asking myself complex questions which there was no handy twelve-step programme to deal with. Questions like:

Would I have to expose my debt figures?

Would I have to pretend to love a baseball team and wear ball-hats and colours injurious to my looks?

Was I now about to enter the twilight zone of shared tastes, favourite songs, favourite restaurants and favourite designers?

Would I start getting teary-eyed whenever I heard our song?

Shit, would I have to start scanning the Cole Porter Song Book for a song to call OURS? Make a note.

And would my brown bob have to go in order to make way for matching hairstyles a la Pitt and Paltrow? Scratch that. That was never going to happen!

Horror of horrors – would I have to start accessing all those gyms I’d joined and learn how to spell cellulite?

Oh the Vivien Leigh pathos of it all!

I rifled through all the dispensers and cupboards for a Valium drip or something poisonous that I could swallow and never wake up from. Nothing. These airlines run a suicide-proof operation. It’s a wonder they don’t take your laces off you before boarding.

Deep breaths, I told myself. In out, in out, in out, just like the natural birthing method. ‘Saints in heaven preserve me!’ I cried, raising my eyes heavenward for divine intervention. I tried to kneel but there wasn’t the room. And this was business class? Hello? How do all those poor people in coach manage to have sex in their cubicles?

I settled for babbling out decades of the rosary but someone started banging on the door. No doubt they were imagining I was notching up points in the mile-high club. I banged back and turned on the taps, splashing my face with water which a sign by the tap warned against drinking. Suspicious about its safety as facial splash, I turned it off. You can never be too sure where your pores are concerned.

I calmed down a bit and told God not to bother with interceding, basically because he would probably really approve of a nice lapsed Catholic boy like Rory. Particularly given the sorry bunch of Proddy Dogs I’d served up since I’d been living in England.

‘Puh-lease!’ my mother would cry down the long distance phone line from Sydney as if I’d just declared that I’d had an abortion. ‘I send you to predominantly Catholic Europe and you start fraternising with the enemy!’

Yeah right! I mean, no one has bothered to tell my mum that the Huguenots’ rebellion was successfully squashed. She still thinks that she’s been charged to take over where Catherine de Medici left off. Another cross I have to bear.

Back in my seat, I resisted Rory’s attempts to canoodle. ‘All right, have the window,’ he relented. ‘I’m not bothered about the window any more,’ I told him sulkily, by now finding the whole seating arrangement issue a bit shallow after the incredibly lofty stuff I’d been dealing with in the law.

He stretched out exposing his six-pack stomach which he knows always makes my womb miaow.

OK, so maybe Coupleland wasn’t going to be the absolute end of me, I conceded, too dehydrated to be bothered. Besides, it wasn’t as if we were getting married or anything. I still had my single-girl parachute attached. I could jump at the first sign of an IKEA catalogue, right?

A trial period. That’s what I had promised my girlfriends who had looked none too pleased on hearing that they were about to lose the best shopaholic friend they had ever had to LA – the natural habitat of shopaholics.

‘You’re mad!’ they warned me.

‘You don’t know the first thing about this guy!’

‘What about your career, your loft apartment. your friends?’

‘What about Sam and Charles’ party on Friday night?’

‘What about the summer sales?’

‘You’ll be back in a heartbeat,’ they promised me.

‘Yeah, like the first day you realise they don’t accept your Harvey Nichols’ store card at the Beverly Hills shopping mall.’

I’ll admit this last threat did leave me a bit uneasy but on balance I decided that I was prepared to take the rough with the smooth. I was prepared for sacrifices. Course I was. So what, I’d be in a Harvey Nicks free zone with no friends to have fun with, no job prospects, no family to run to in an emergency and limited funds of my own.

I would in short be partially dependent on a man who, bar this one exception, referred to me as doll! A man I could never tell my parents about without risking them turning up on my doorstep with a straitjacket and prepared speeches about the dangers of mixed-income marriages.

What the hell was I doing? I was at the mercy of Rory, a man I hardly even knew and had no hope of ever understanding. I looked at him with a critical eye. As the first inedible tray of space food arrived and I watched him tucking into it with gusto, I admit I was beginning to feel nervous about the journey I was embarking on. ‘It’s a trial period,’ I repeated in my brain like a mantra.

Trial period! Trial period! Trial period!

Blurb

“A fast-paced, laugh-out-loud, mis-matched romance, with lashings of fashion, celebrity & insight into the world of LA’s un-reality. You’ll be placed right in the heart of the action with a front row suite at Chateau Marmont and a poolside lounger for all the celebrity antics.” Time Out 2001

“In this supernova of superficiality it’s hard for a girl to keep her six-inch Louboutins on the ground. A fast-paced, laugh-out-loud mis-matched romance – the Hollywood finale to the Meet Me At The Bar series by Tyne O’Connell.” The Independent UK

‘Crucial Reading’Cosmopolitan UK

“Lightening fast comic twists” Elle UK

“Bridget Jones on speed” The Guardian UK

“Brings to mind Kathy Lette and Jilly Cooper” Mail on Sunday UK

“Lightening-fast comic twists.” Elle

“Ab Fab meets Sex In The City!” The Telegraph UK

“A Clever chick-lit look at the highlife Brit style” USA TODAY

“Makes This Life look tame by comparison.” Independent on Sunday

“A spirited page turner that is high on humour.” Company

“Full of high octane court room drama, lashings of comedy and crackling with un-zipped one liners.” BookChitChats

“Readers will no doubt enjoy this glimpse into sophisticated London nightlife.” American Library Association

“O’Connell’s debut is a delightful, lighthearted romp around Hollywood and the world of reality television.” — Booklist on The Sex Was Great But. . .

“A right Royal read.” The Mayfair Time

“….Verdict: Funny exposé of It-girlschool life.” – Elle Girl UK

“Evelyn delivers some superbly sassy one-liners in this hilarious romp. Definitely a book for the modern girl.” CHAT

“A right royal read!” – Cosmo Girl UK

“Bridget Jones for the early teen set.” – Washington Post USA

“Budding Anglophiles ….will soak up the flood of upper-class British culture in this book” – WASHINGTON COUNTY COOPERATIVE LIBRARY SERVICES

“Outrageously funny and a serious contender for the teen chick-lit throne.” – Claudia Mody, THE BOOKSELLER

“It is sure to have fans of the previous novels rolling on the floor laughing their royal crowns off.” SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, USA

“A tale of celebrity, catastrophe & ‘The Rules’ – Manhattan Style.”- Publishing News

“Wickedly Funny” – Publishing News

“Frothy and fast-paced” Publishers Weekly

Buy

What's a girl to do?amazon uk logoamazon-logo