My brand-new lesbian romance, Hotshot, is out in April. This new one is set in the world of women’s football, an irresistible romance about the beautiful game. If you love female soccer, you’ll adore this blistering summer blockbuster oozing with goals, passion and scorching first kisses.
If you can’t wait until next month and fancy reading the first chapter before then, you’ll find it below. I hope you enjoy the sneak-peek!
A brisk wind ruffled Sloane Patterson’s short, blonde hair as she stepped out of the Boeing 777 and onto the wobbly metal staircase. She glanced at the melancholy sky, punctuated with dark clouds. Crucially, it wasn’t raining. Everyone had told her that was all it did in England, especially here in the north. The first tick in her New Life column. Even if this was the UK’s idea of summer.
She climbed aboard the VIP bus (essentially just a bus with VIP printed on a card stuck to the window), then tried to pin down the emotions zipping around her body. Excitement. Trepidation. What-the-fuck-have-I-done-ness.
But she was here now. No turning back. Hot nerves lit up her system. She clutched a pole as the bus swung into motion. Falling over within minutes of arriving wouldn’t be a good look. Especially not on her troublesome ankle.
What had her LA therapist, Jackson, told her? “If you think of it as a troublesome ankle, it will become that. Think of it as a strong ankle. Repeat the mantra every morning. Make it your strongest ankle possible. Your best asset.”
Sloane glanced down. You’re my very best ankle. Then she rolled her eyes.
Jackson wouldn’t be pleased.
“Are you sure you want to do this? Do they even know about women’s soccer over there?” her mom had asked, as if she was a world soccer expert. Or even an expert on Sloane. She was neither.
When Sloane replied that the UK was the home of soccer, her mom had tempered her argument.
“Men’s soccer came from there. They’re a bit backwards when it comes to women’s soccer, aren’t they?”
Sloane had assured her the Women’s Super League was established, and going nowhere.
Her mom wasn’t convinced. “I’m just saying, it’s a big commitment. You can’t just hop in a car and come home if you’re feeling blue.”
Sloane knew that. But when was the last time she’d gotten in the car to go visit her family? She’d been blue plenty over the past year, but her parents were never her first port of call. They were her parents, not her friends. Often, not even very friendly parents.
Plus, Sloane was sure about this. She needed to get away. A fresh perspective. A new culture to acclimatise into. A new club to give her something to strive for. A place different enough, but somewhere where they spoke the same language. She’d had offers from Spain and Germany, but England had won out.
The past two seasons in LA, she’d been in cruise control. Coming to Salchester Rovers was something completely new and challenging. That it would take her mind off the mess that was her love life was an added bonus. She’d spent the first hour of the flight wondering what Jess was doing. If she was thinking about her. Until she’d had a sharp word with herself and put on Wonder Woman. Two hours of Gal Gadot was enough to distract even the hardest of hearts. Then she’d drunk three glasses of champagne and fallen asleep. Sloane wasn’t a big drinker. Her mind told her that now, still trying to start up like an old, dusty computer.
The bus lurched to a stop outside the main building, and Sloane walked through the door and down a shiny white corridor. She was completely alone. There had been others in first class on her flight, but they’d been shepherded elsewhere.
A new country. Where she knew nobody. It was just her and her thoughts.
She took a deep breath.
She could do this. She’d scored the winner for the US in the World Cup final. But that had been easy, just muscle memory and repetition. Conversely, she’d never uprooted her life before. Hell, she’d hardly ever flown on her own before. She was normally surrounded by teammates and staff, safe in the cocoon of her club. Off the field, Sloane had gotten used to not thinking for herself. Things were about to change. Ever since she’d told her agent yes, she’d thought about nothing else.
The click-clack of heels on the shiny floor interrupted her thoughts. She was more used to hearing the click-clack of studs on the concrete that surrounded soccer fields. A woman in jeans and a mint-green sweatshirt walked towards her. She beamed a welcome.
Sloane straightened up. She glanced down to check she hadn’t spilt anything down her sweatshirt, and ran a hand through her hair.
“Sloane, it’s great to meet you.”
She knew her name. The woman extended her hand and Sloane took it. Her excitement crackled up Sloane’s arm.
“My name’s Sara and I work for the Lancashire Airport VIP service.” She had a voice that could knock the froth off coffee three tables away.
Sloane rocked on her heels and resisted the urge to rub her ears.
Sara paused, glanced at the floor, then back up. “Honestly, it’s a thrill to meet you, and I’m super excited you signed for Rovers. It’s just what the team needs this season, especially as we’re fighting for the league, cups, and a Champions League spot.” Sara shook her head, slipping her professional face back on. “But I don’t mean to overwhelm you with expectations. I know you just had a long flight, and you’re probably tired.”
Sloane smiled. She met fans like Sara wherever she went, but she was always grateful for them. “A little thirsty for sure,” she said. “But it’s always lovely to meet someone who follows the game. I’m going to do my best to help the club on all fronts.”
“Great, great,” Sara replied, nodding like one of those Chinese lucky cats. “Let’s get you through security. I’ve got someone sorting your bags, and then a club delegation is waiting in the car park. Plus, of course, there are a few fans waiting en route.”
Warmth flooded Sloane. Fans had turned up. It happened wherever they went in the States, but she had no idea if it would happen here. Her mood brightened instantly.
“Sounds perfect, thanks Sara.”
Sara beamed at Sloane saying her name.
Sloane knew all the tricks. Impressing women was the same whether you were charming a potential date, schmoozing a journalist or pleasing a fan. Turn your attention fully onto them, remember their name and repeat it back. It was a sure-fire way to make that woman feel like the centre of your world. It had always worked great for Sloane. Right up until it didn’t. But she wasn’t going to think about her.
Sloane produced her blue American passport and handed it to the man at border control. She was almost due a new one. Her photo was from nearly nine years ago, when anyone aged 28 was ancient. Yet here she was, 28 and not on death’s door just yet. If you’d told 19-year-old Sloane what was going to happen in her life and career over the next decade, she’d have been pretty pleased.
“Welcome to the UK, Ms Patterson,” the customs officer said, with a smile that emphasised the dimple in his cheek. “I hope you settle into your new job.” He paused and leaned forward. “But not too well, because in my house, we’re fans of Salchester United.” He gave her a wink.
Sloane let out a hoot of laughter, and her shoulders loosened. She hadn’t realised how tense they were until that moment. She peered at the man’s name badge. Simon.
“Thanks Simon, I needed that laugh. But I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Our Rovers are going to give you a soccer lesson this season, and I plan to be right at the centre of the action.” She returned Simon’s wink, and could still hear him laughing as Sara pushed open a set of double doors into the shiny VIP arrivals lounge.
Sloane blinked as camera flashes popped and the volume exploded. She grinned. If her mom could see her now.
Maybe coming to the UK was the right move, after all.
Hotshot will be available to buy on my web shop on April 7th. It’s due out on Kindle and KU on April 17th.