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About the Author
Wendy HoldenWendy Holden was a journalist for The Sunday Times,Tatler and The Mail on Sunday before becoming a full-time author. She has now published nine novels, all being top-10 bestsellers in the UK, and is married with two young children. Her novels include Farm Fatale, Bad Heir Day, Simply Divine, Gossip Hound, The Wives of Bath,The School for Husbands, Azur Like it, and Filthy Rich.
Sam Sherman, head of the Wild Modelling Agency, strode through Covent Garden. She was on her way to a lunch appointment with Jack Oeuf, an arrogant but indisputably rising French photographer. S...
Sam Sherman, head of the Wild Modelling Agency, strode through Covent Garden. She was on her way to a lunch appointment with Jack Oeuf, an arrogant but indisputably rising French photographer. She walked quickly. Oeuf was famously no fan of waiting. No photographer was. Unless people were waiting for them, which was, of course, a different matter.
Sam did not particularly look like a fashion person. As she saw it, that crazy, spiky, shiny, short stuff was best left to those younger and more in fashion’s shop window than she was. The models. The designers. The stylists. The muses.
Sam’s style was muted: middle of, rather than ahead of, the curve. She was curvy too, as well as small, which was why her own modeling career had literally been cut short. In addition, her face, with its round eyes, full cheeks, and rather prominent teeth, had a suggestion of the hamster about it, although there was nothing of the small, amenable pet about her business acumen. This was formidable and frequently ruthless. Combined with this was Sam’s sure eye for a new face and her confidence and accuracy in predicting trends. As a result, Wild was one of the biggest and most successful model agencies in London.
Sam, who had been a teenager in the seventies, generally stuck to a classic rock ’n’ roll look of white shirt teamed with black waistcoat and jeans. Today her jeans were tucked into high wedge-heeled boots of sand-coloured suede, rendered vaguely Native American with the addition of coloured beads. Her beige woollen wrap with its fringed edge billowed about her as she walked, and the bracelets that filled the bottom half of each of her forearms rattled.
Sam walked everywhere. This was not because she was fond of exercise—she wasn’t. And there was certainly nothing pleasureable about picking one’s way along the uptilted pavements of Endell Street and wincing at the deafening noise of the various drilling gangs engaged in the refurbishments this part of London constantly underwent. Sam walked because it made good business sense. It was more difficult to spot talent from the back of a taxi and more difficult to get out and run after it if one did.
And spot it she must. Modeling was a competitive business. The Wild agency might be one of London’s biggest and most successful, but new agencies were always snapping at her heels, competing for the best girls and boys. Wild needed a constant stream of new talent. As Sam walked, her round, hamsterish, hazel eyes, ringed firmly with kohl, swivelled from side to side between centre-parted curtains of heavily highlighted shoulder-length beige hair. As ever, she was on the lookout.
Sam crossed Long Acre and walked purposefully down Bow Street, past where the vast bulk of the Royal Opera House blazed white against the blue sky. In the narrow shadows of Floral Street, a skinny girl with a graceful carriage caught her attention, one of the ballerinas, Sam assumed. Well, she had a good figure, but oh, dear God, that nose…no, no, no.
She entered the road where the Tube station was. But there was nothing promising among the crowds either outside it or drifting aimlessly across the cobbled marketplace among the face-painters, cartoonists, bracelet-weavers, jugglers, buskers, human statues, and all the other theatrically inclined losers who daily congregated here. No, the beautiful people really weren’t out this morning. Sam found herself positively wincing at the unsightliness and dinginess of those she walked among. Everyone looked the same: acne, terrible hair, short, thick legs in stonewashed jeans, white trainers, and nasty black windbreakers. Tourists, without a doubt, many gathered in an awestruck, giggling, and mobile-phone-snapping ring round a street entertainer. Sam paused to watch the Afro-Caribbean man limboing under a stick placed on top of two wine bottles. His physique was good, but his features were all over the place.
Which, of course, in some cases could work or could be fixed. Some things could be fixed: teeth, hair colour, skin problems. Weight, especially, could be fixed; not that one was allowed to say that these days, with all the fuss over Size Zero. But behind the scenes, a model’s life went on as before. The drugs, the self-denial, the workouts, the worry. Nothing had changed. That could not be fixed.
The early summer sunshine continued to beat cheerfully down, but Sam, behind her sunglasses, hardly noticed the way it polished the cobbles, warmed the butterscotch stone of the eighteenth-century market buildings, and made the great white pillars of the Royal Opera House gleam. That was not the sort of beauty she either noticed or cared about. One could hardly give it a business card, ask it to come in for test shots, and subsequently launch it as the face of the moment. One could not make money from it.
A few lanky, blank-looking British girls were swishing their hair and dawdling self-consciously along in tight, low-waisted jeans and skimpy tops. But none of them looked like the next Lily Cole. God. The lunch. Jack Oeuf. Sam glanced at her special-edition Cartier Tank watch and saw that she needed to get a move on if she was going to reach the restaurant on time.
“Ow!” Sam’s progress was now halted in the rudest and most uncomfortable of manners. A great physical blow to the front of her lower pelvis stopped her agonisingly in her tracks. Reeling with the suddenness, eyes watering with the pain, she realised she had walked straight into a bollard. She gripped the metal post tightly with her silver-tipped fingers and breathed in hard.
“Are you, um, alright?”
Sam, red-faced and agonised, glanced crossly at the person who had materialised beside her. He was very tall, his face hidden beneath tangled, dark blond hair.
“I’m fine, thanks,” she managed tersely. She had no desire to discuss the damage to her intimate regions with some unknown, callow youth.
The untidy blond head nodded. He now pushed his hair back to expose his face and, instead of the zitty and misshapen bunch of teenage features she had been expecting, Sam found herself looking at one of the handsomest boys she had ever seen.
He was about eighteen, Sam reckoned, and with all that delicious boyhood-ripening-to-manhood quality: smoulderingly sexy with those narrow eyes, those huge lips, that big Adam’s apple. And yet still innocent with that smooth skin, that touch of fresh pink on his cheekbones, that endearingly puzzled expression…
“Look, are you sure you’re okay?” the boy asked, unnerved by the way she was staring at him.
Sam nodded. She was more than okay. She was revelling in this boy, feasting on his looks. There was a golden glow about him, of classical gods, of mediaeval angels, of youthful Monaco male royals with big pink lips and blond hair blowing in the Mediterranean breeze. And more than that, of Armani campaigns, Ralph Lauren, Chanel—oh they’d love him. Who wouldn’t? And that voice; it had that just-broken quality of being deep and squeaky at the same time. Better still, it was posh, which the French and Italian designers especially loved. They’d got into that whole English public schoolboy thing in the eighties, and they’d never got out of it since.
Her eyes scoured his body: amazingly tall, broad-shouldered but slender. Long legs and arms; nice hands. Pale; a quick blast in the spray-tan would do him no harm at all. But otherwise he could well be the discovery of the century. Compared to what he could mean to the agency, earn for the agency, banging into a bollard was a small price to pay.
“I’m a scout,” she smiled at him.
“The perfect scandalous guilty pleasure.” - In the Hammock
“An entertaining look at how life can chew us up and spit us out and yet, at the ...
“The perfect scandalous guilty pleasure.” - In the Hammock
“An entertaining look at how life can chew us up and spit us out and yet, at the same time, we learn so much more of ourselves in the process.” - Coffee Time Romance
“Holden's novels are great fun, and this one is no exception.” - Apprentice Writer
“It is satisfying to finally read a book where the good people are rewarded and the ugly people are given their just deserts. ” - Alison’s Bookmarks
“Fascinating... this novel has a story to tell for every reader.” - Best Romance Stories
“It was fun to root for the good guys and wish terrible things on the bad and to see how the author tied all their stories together.” - Steph the Bookworm
“Light, frothy, and frenetic, this book was a fun read.” - Bellas Novella
“A funny, entertaining novel that will keep you turning the pages... you are in for a great escape.” - BookLoons.com
“Pure frothy fun! If you enjoy Sophie Kinsella or Helen Fielding, you will love this author.” - Book Hounds
“You'll be sitting there rooting for the underdogs and racing to the end.” - The Cajun Book Lady
“A fun sparkling jet set read!” - Red Headed Book Child
“My goodness, does that Wendy Holden make me laugh or what! I gobbled up Beautiful People. ” - Thoughts From and Evil Overlord
“Holden's wit is rapier sharp and her keen sense of observation of the comedic is spot on. ” - Pudgy Penguin Perusals
“Simply Divine... Beautiful People is the next Lipstick Jungle! ” - I Heart Book Gossip
““There are ringside moments that nail the wispy nature of celebrity and the futility of chasing it.”” - Publishers Weekly
“Holden's satirical humor and adept writing shine through. Glitzy fun with appeal for readers of Emma McLaughlin, Plum Sykes, or Lauren Weisberger.” - Library Journal
“With clever dialogue and a great spectrum of personalities, Holden's big book of celebrity obsession and the price of beauty is fast-paced, realistic, and hugely entertaining.” - Booklist
Length: 8 in
Width: 5.25 in
Weight: 16.24 oz
Page Count: 432 pages