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Authors: Talli Roland

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Build a Man

BOOK: Build a Man
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Build a Man
Talli Roland
Notting Hill Press (2011)
Rating:
****
Tags:
Humor, romantic comedy, talli roland, Romance, Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, womens fiction

The perfect man is out there . . . he just needs a little work. Slave to the rich, rude and deluded, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she's a high-flying tabloid reporter. Unfortunately, every pitch she sends out disappears like her clients' liposuctioned fat, never to be seen again. Then she meets Jeremy Ritchie -- the hang-dog man determined to be Britain's Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between -- giving Serenity a story no editor could resist. With London's biggest tabloid on board and her very own column tracking Jeremy's progress from dud to dude, Serenity is determined to be a success, even going undercover to gain intimate access to Jeremy's life. But when Jeremy's surgery goes drastically wrong and Serenity is ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, she must decide how far she really will go for her dream job.

Build A
Man
Copyright 2011
by Talli Roland
Smashwords
Edition

Build A Man ©
Talli Roland 2011

E-edition
published worldwide 2011

© Talli
Roland

 

All rights
reserved in all media. No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical
(including but not limited to: the Internet, photocopying,
recording or by any information storage and retrieval system),
without prior permission in writing from the author and/or
publisher.

 

The moral right
of Talli Roland as the author of the work

has been
asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988.

 

Cover design by
India Drummond

 

All characters
and events featured in this book are entirely fictional and any
resemblance to any person, organisation, place or thing living or
dead, or event or place, is purely coincidental and completely
unintentional.

PRAISE FOR
BUILD A MAN

 

 

There was
nothing I didn’t like about
Build A Man
. It had characters I
really, really cared for, it had an inspired plot (Talli is a plot
genius!), it had warmth and humour and it wasn’t all sweetness and
light, either . . . I can’t recommend it enough.

Chick Lit News
and Reviews

 

Talli’s writing is fresh, lively and different. Her words
carry you along and her characters make you care what happens to
them. . . If you want a book that will make you laugh and make you
cry, then this one comes highly recommended.

Bookersatz

 

Build A Man
is
fast-paced, well-written chick lit that I can't
recommend highly enough.
Talli
Roland
has a sequel to this one coming out
titled
Construct A Couple
and I've already added it to my wish
list.

The Book Chick

 

All of Talli's books are funny, romantic and easy to read,
and you find yourself constantly turning the pages, becoming
involved in the story and wanting to find out more.
Build A Man
is
just the same . . . This is a hugely entertaining book,
light-hearted yet with hidden messages of self belief, hope and
about following dreams.

Kim the Bookworm

 

Talli Roland is
extremely witty as a writer . . . If you have read any of Talli's
other books then you already know that you're in for a treat. If
not then I recommend that you give
Build A Man
a go. I don't
think you will be disappointed!

Dot
Scribbles

 

CHAPTER
ONE

 

 

If I see
another set of boobs, I’m going to lose it.

Wrinkled or
saggy, those insanely pert fake ones, I don’t care – I’m sick of
the sight of them. In my six months as receptionist here, I’ve seen
more booty than Russell Brand . . . or maybe even that old Playboy
man with the mansion. And that’s just in the waiting room! What
is
it about cosmetic surgery clinics that makes women think
it’s okay to show off body parts normally buttoned under prim
little cardigans or swathed in silk scarves?

Even as I think
it, old Mrs Lipenstein is lifting her shirt and flashing another
patient I call Lizard Lady (she looks like she’s moulting), who
makes admiring noises then reaches out and–

Oh God. I
grimace and glance away before contact is made. As posh as this
seating area is – all leather chairs and low lighting designed to
make even shrivelled Lizard Lady look youthful – it should come
with an X-rating.

“Mrs
Lipenstein?” Peter strides into the room, and Mrs Lipenstein's face
tries its best to smile. Which, in its current Botoxed state, means
the corners lift a fraction of an inch.

“What do you
think, Doctor?” she asks as she swivels in his direction,
practically knocking him off his feet with her chest. “They’ve come
out nicely, haven’t they?”

Peter nods, his
face carefully neutral. Honestly, I don’t know how he does it when
he has women shoving their tits in his face day and night. And not
just tits – he’s worked on butts and he’s even performed
vaginoplasties, which are . . . well, you don’t really want to
know, believe me. I’ve always wondered what doctors are thinking
when they’re faced with people’s nether-regions. I know what I’d be
thinking:
gross
.

It should
bother me, having my boyfriend examine other women’s goods on a
regular basis, right? But somehow, it doesn’t. Peter’s so
respectable, so responsible. I can’t imagine him going behind my
back with someone, let alone a patient.

Mrs Lipenstein
trots down the hall behind Peter and the door to the consulting
room closes. With Lizard Lady’s perfectly sculpted nose jammed in a
magazine, I grab the opportunity to creep into the bathroom – loo,
whatever. Collapsing on the toilet seat, I jab a limp strand of
sandy hair back into my ponytail and slip off my high heels.

God, it’s
tiring, this receptionist gig. It’s not the actual work so much,
but having to be nice to snooty women who treat me like a piece of
fat squished out of their thigh is beyond draining. The job was
only supposed to be for a month or two, until I found my feet in
London and made it big as a reporter in the tabloid world with a
job at, I don’t know,
Metro
or something. I want to see my
byline on the thousands of discarded newspapers each day. I
live
for that moment.

Doesn’t seem
like much to aspire to, being face down on the floor of the Tube,
right? But half a year, thousands of résumés, and several zillion
article pitches later, and I’m still working at Transforma Harley
Street Clinic, which isn’t even on the famous Harley Street, for
God’s sake – it’s on a little mews just off it.

“Hello.” A loud
knock at the bathroom door interrupts my thoughts. “Hello!”

Rap, rap,
rap.

“Hello!
Girl!”

Rap! Rap!

It’s Lizard
Lady; I can tell by her Russian accent. Peering in the mirror, I
wipe away an errant trace of make-up underneath my lashes. In the
dim light, my grey eyes are black and my round face looks like a
luminous moon. Sighing, I slip on my high heels – Peter insists I
dress up – then yank open the door.

“Yes?” Jesus, I
can’t even go to the bathroom in peace around here.

“I need
vat-er
,” Lizard Lady says, feigning a pathetic cough.

“Sorry?” I
understand her perfectly but I want to make her suffer. Silly
idiot, she actually passed the water cooler on her way to the
bathroom.

Lizard Lady
puts a hand to her throat. “I need VA-TER!” she shouts, her hot
lizardy breath hitting my face.

Peter walks by
with Mrs Lipenstein in tow. “I think Mrs Markova would like some
water, Serenity.” He shoots me a look that says he’s less than
impressed by my attitude. We’ve been having a lot of those
‘attitude’ talks lately at home.

“Oh, wa-der!” I
say, jacking up my American accent a notch. Smiling sweetly, I trot
to the cooler and pour some liquid in a plastic cup, dribbling a
bit down the side so Lizard Lady will get her claws wet.

“Here you go.”
I pass her the water, fascinated by the speckled, crinkly skin on
her hands. Maybe she
is
moulting.

Lizard Lady
mutters something in Russian that sounds like a sneeze. I scurry
behind the reception desk and climb up on the rickety stool. I’d
love Peter to buy me a padded one, but I had to beg him just to let
me sit down, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon. He has
this nineteen-fifties notion that a receptionist should always be
standing at the ready for an emergency, like administering a shot
of Botox to a saggy eyelid or something.

Mrs Lipenstein
goes out, still buttoning up her shirt – I’m surprised she’s not
going to flash her driver – and Peter ushers Lizard Lady into his
room.

Alone at last.
I click onto my Word document and re-read my latest tabloid
pitch.

 

First there
were pop-up shops. Then pop-up restaurants. Now, there’s pop-up
Botox, the latest trend in cosmetic surgery. Forget running to the
doctor’s office. Why not get topped up on the street corner?

 

Pretty good,
right? And true. On Portobello Road last Saturday, I saw a stall
with two doctors injecting a line of women with Botox.
Street-market surgery: a great story for a tabloid.

“All finished
here.” Peter’s fake jovial-doctor voice drifts down the corridor,
and I close the Word window. He’s a bit paranoid about me writing
anything to do with cosmetic surgery. Apparently having a
girlfriend who wants to be a tabloid journalist is bad enough (I
keep telling him, though,
Metro
has standards). But when
that wannabe journalist works at a clinic where confidentiality is
uber-important, well . . . It’s ridiculous, I think. All the famous
people go to the real Harley Street clinics. We just get the
leftover Euro trash and D-list celebs only tabloid-junkies like me
recognise.

I glance at the
bill Peter’s handed me, momentarily stunned by all the zeros. And
when I think what that is in dollars!

“That will be
two thousand pounds, please,” I say, scanning Lizard Lady’s face.
That’s my new game: ‘Guess the Procedure’, because these women
usually don’t look much different than when they first came in.
Sometimes I wonder how Peter can–

“Girl!” Lizard
Lady shoves a fistful of bills at me.

“Thank you,” I
say calmly, reaching out my arm as far as it will go to grab the
money from her hand, which she’s barely bothered to extend an inch.
I’m tempted to knock her arm so the bills go flying and I’ll get to
watch her scrabble around on the floor, but Peter’s right there so
I manage to restrain myself. Barely.

We both watch
Lizard Lady leave, then Peter hoists himself onto the reception
desk. “Who’s next?”

I glance at the
schedule, my eyebrows flying up when I see it’s a man. I can count
on my fingers the number of times a man has walked through that
door – so much for equal Botox opportunity.

“A new patient.
Jeremy Ritchie.”

“Don’t forget
to have him complete the consultation form,” Peter says, sliding
off the desk. I bite back a reply that I
always
remember,
even though technically, that’s not true. But honestly, after being
knocked off my feet in the rush to see Mrs George’s new knee lift,
it’s a wonder I even recalled my name that day, let alone silly
paperwork.

I settle back
onto my stool, just about to check out
Gawker
when the
clinic door opens again.

“Hello, welcome
to Transforma Harley Street Clinic.” I try to ‘put a smile in my
voice’ like Peter insists, but with my half-assed effort it sounds
more like I need to burp.

But the guy
doesn’t seem to notice the burp in my voice. He lumbers into the
clinic and bashes his leg on the door, nearly knocking over a
phallic-looking bamboo shoot. His face sags, his eyes are red, and
sadness hangs off him – along with about twenty extra pounds.

Immediately, I
start playing ‘Guess the Procedure’. A little liposuction? A little
– I lower my eyes to his crotch –
extra endowment
? Looks
pretty sizeable already, but men never think they’re big enough, do
they? And they say women have body issues.

“Hello. I’m
here for a consultation,” he mumbles.

“For?” I’m not
supposed to ask patients, but I’m super curious.

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