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If You Kiss Me Like That (PAPERBACK)

If You Kiss Me Like That (PAPERBACK)

Newly divorced Ash is far more focused on her career than on dating. But when she meets Gloria — an older widow — at a family party, their connection soon sparks a romance…

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Book specifications

Pages : 312
ISBN : 9789887441557
Weight : 302g
Dimensions : 127 x 17 x 203mm

Full description

Sometimes love shows up where you least expect it.

Ashley ‘Ash’ Cooper is still reeling after her recent divorce, throwing all her energy into her job in The City. When she’s seated next to one of her mother’s friends at a family party, falling in love is the last thing on her mind.

After losing her husband many years ago, Gloria Young rebuilt herself as a single parent. Now that her daughters are both at university, she’s perfectly content with her quiet life in the village of Murraywood.

An unexpectedly enjoyable evening with a friend’s daughter pushes Gloria into exploring a new side of herself.

Will she overcome her fear of what people think and allow herself a new chance at happiness?

And can Ash let go of the past and open herself up to love again?

Best-selling lesbian romance author Harper Bliss brings you a sultry age-gap story about stepping out of your comfort zone and into the warm embrace of love.

Themes and tropes

  • Age gap
  • Toaster oven
  • Coming out later in life
  • Romance with your mother's friend
  • Forbidden love

Chapter One Look Inside

Chapter 1

Ash quickly paid the driver and hopped out of the taxi. She was only fifteen minutes late. Very acceptable by her own standards. But her own standards didn’t matter tonight. A swell of laughter came from behind the fogged-up windows of the party venue across the street. The place looked packed already. Of course it was. She couldn’t think of anyone else who would be there tonight who’d had to commute from London on a Friday night—most people at the party would be retired.

She took a deep breath and went inside. Mercifully, Adrian was standing close to the door and he was the first person to greet her.

“Hello stranger,” he said. “You made it.”

“Was there ever any doubt that I would?” Ash gave her brother a hug.

“Maybe you were hoping to get disowned.” Adrian held her at arm’s length and gave her a once-over. “You look like you work too hard.”

“I do work too hard,” Ash said. As well documented by my ex-wife.

“And for what?” Adrian grinned at her.

“I’d better go find Mum before she actually does disown me for being late on this very special birthday.”

“You can’t miss her. She’s the one with all the airs and graces.” Adrian winked at her.

Before Ash found her mother, she had to make her way through a throng of family members she hadn’t seen in a long time. Uncle Bernard hugged her like she was his own long-lost daughter. Auntie Mabel asked if she had a new girlfriend, emphasising the ‘girl’—as though she’d never been to Ash and Charlotte’s wedding. At least Auntie Joan told her she looked good; that was something.

“Darling.” Her mother opened her arms in a dramatic gesture as Ash approached. “There you are.”

“Happy birthday, Mum.” Ash hugged her mother, who held on to her as though she would never let her go again.

“I haven’t seen you in ages.”

“I was in town just last month.” Ash still stood squeezed in her mother’s embrace.

“It’s not enough.” Her mother finally let go of her. “Now that I’m officially retired, you’ll need to spend more time with me. What else am I going to do?”

“That’s why I got you this.” Ash reached into her jacket pocket and got out an envelope.

Her mother smiled widely, then tore it open. “Exchange this voucher for a night on the town with your only daughter,” she read aloud. “Oh, darling, I’m already looking forward to it.” She kissed Ash on the cheek. “This is just for me, right? Your father’s not invited?”

“Just the two of us, Mum.” Ash had racked her brain for a suitable retirement-slash-birthday present until she came to the conclusion that the best thing she could ever give her mother was her time. “No men allowed.”

“You won’t be taking me to one of those bars, will you?” Her mother grinned.

“We’ll see,” Ash teased. “Speaking of men, where’s Dad?”

“Probably by the bar.” Her mother only half succeeded in suppressing an eye-roll. At least she hadn’t said anything about Ash being late. She had probably been too busy luxuriating in all the attention.

“I’m going to find him. I’ll talk to you later.”

Ash waded through the sea of people, trying to find her father. She grabbed a glass of lukewarm Prosecco on the way. Her dad was probably ordering a pint. Prosecco would be too girly for him.

“Ashley.” Before Ash was able to find her father, Aunt Daisy, her father’s only sister and Ash’s godmother, grabbed her by the arm. “Come here.”

Ash dutifully hugged her godmother. It had been a long week and it would be capped by a very long night. Not that Ash didn’t appreciate spending time with her family, but all of them concentrated in a room like this was a bit much. The last time all these people had gathered, had been at her and Charlotte’s wedding. Even though it had been the middle of July, it had rained all day, and the whole event had to take place inside. A bad omen if ever there was one.

“How are you?” Aunt Daisy’s tone was full of compassion—or was it pity?

“I’m fine. And you?” Aunt Daisy was well into her seventies now and getting her to list all her physical ailments would distract her from her goddaughter’s failed marriage for a while.

Ash emptied her glass of Prosecco while listening to her godmother, who, instead of discussing her health, raved about her grandchildren. Ash wasn’t sure which was worse.

She caught a glimpse of her father, his elbow propped onto the bar. Ash managed to free herself from the conversation, with the promise that they would continue it later, and finally went to greet her father. That burly man who couldn’t stop tears streaming down his cheeks on his daughter’s wedding day. Ash didn’t know if his cheeks had remained dry on the day the divorce had been finalised. She guessed not, but she would never ask.

“I could murder one of those.” Ash pointed at her dad’s pint.

“Hi, darling,” her father said, as though he had just seen her a few hours ago. “Coming right up.” He gestured to the barman first, before curling an arm around Ash’s shoulders. “How are you?” He gave her shoulder a squeeze.

“Fine.” Fine, fine, fine. The number of times Ash had uttered that word since she and Charlotte had separated. As though it had to be repeated often enough to reassure everyone around her that she was, indeed, fine.

While she waited for her pint, it was as though everyone’s gaze was aimed at her, as they wondered where Ash’s wife was, and why Ash was there alone. What had gone so horribly wrong between the couple they had witnessed getting married only a few years ago?

“Here you go.” Her dad offered her the beer. Ash gulped it eagerly. She had wolfed down a pack of crisps on the train so she wouldn’t have to drink on an empty stomach. Because drink, she would. Facing her entire family for the first time since she and Charlotte had divorced would not happen without an alcoholic beverage firmly clasped in her hand throughout the evening. “How’s work?”

“The same,” Ash said. It was as though arriving at this party had catapulted her into a parallel universe. Even though Murraywood wasn’t too many miles from London, to Ash it always felt a bit like travelling to a different time and a vastly different place.

Her dad grunted, just the way she had expected him to do. Ash and her father didn’t have many in-depth conversations. Sustained silences didn’t make them uncomfortable. They excelled at this very thing in each other’s company. When she needed a break from it all, there was no place Ash would rather be than in the pub, next to her dad, with a cold pint in her hand. He didn’t require any explanations from her. He didn’t need her to express her innermost feelings to him. Just being there was always enough.

Of course, tonight, they weren’t in The Horse and Groom, the pub her father had frequented all his adult life. They were at her mother’s sixty-fifth birthday party at The Pavilion, Murraywood’s prime venue-for-hire. There wasn’t a lot of peace to be found, what with the endless parade of family members and friends of her parents milling about. The only younger people there were Ash and Adrian and his wife, whom he had miraculously managed to hold on to for almost fifteen years. Another case of her younger brother outperforming her in the feats of life. He and Lizzie had also managed to procreate, as straight people tend to do, and had produced two adorable grandchildren for their parents to dote on.

When she and Charlotte had got married, Ash had believed that, finally, she had done something right by the standards this world still seemed to operate on. Until the divorce, of course.

“Ashley Cooper.” Ash heard her full name being boomed behind her. “As I live and breathe.” A cold hand squeezed her neck. Christ. Some people were just too loose with their touch. “Look at you.”

“Gloria Young.” An instant smile formed on Ash’s lips. She had always liked Gloria.

“Is this really your daughter, Alan?” Gloria bumped her elbow into Ash’s father’s arm. “Did she really make it down to little old Murraywood tonight? If Mary is to be believed, your daughter hardly ever does.”

Ash could have hugged her dad for the very impressive way in which he rolled his eyes. He had lived with her mother’s flair for exaggeration his entire marriage.

“Don’t believe a word that comes out of my wife’s mouth,” he mumbled.

“How long has it been, Gloria?” Ash tried to remember, but she came up empty. “You look good.”

“Must have been years,” Gloria said, ignoring the compliment. Instead, she briefly touched her hand to Ash’s arm. She must have heard about the divorce.

A piece of cutlery tapped insistently on a glass.

“Time for your mother’s speech,” Ash’s dad said.

Her mother kept it brief, however—surely she would give another, much longer, speech later—and invited everyone to find their assigned seats.

“Let’s talk later,” Gloria said. 

Ash watched her go off in search of the table she’d been placed at.

“Time for something heartier than a pint, darling.” Her father put his empty glass on the counter, looking quite sad that he had to leave his spot at the bar.

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