Harriet laughed. “Go ahead. I’m all for cheesy romance. When it’s coming from the right person at least.”

“The right people being arrogant, entitled toffs, clearly.” With that, he drew her even closer and kissed her.

 Now apologies if you’re not particularly interested in my personal life, but hopefully you’ll be kind enough to allow me to be a little self-indulgent today, because on Friday night, this happened:



It was all so like something out of my novels that I can’t resist telling the story.

As anyone who’s read either Oxford Blood or this blog probably knows, three things I love are parties, black tie and posh boys (for the record I also like lots of less horrifically shallow things like learning Italian and discussing politics, but let’s skip over that for the moment).

Now when I was at Oxford, all three of these things were provided in abundance. As my author bio says, Oxford Blood is an exaggerated but broadly accurate portrayal of my time there, and that’s not just a cute line for my Amazon page. I’d say I had to slip into a cocktail dress at least once a fortnight on average (see below for a selection!)


Sadly, working life, even in a fairly prestigious graduate job, is rather an anticlimax in this respect. It’s suits during the day and pretty but casual clothes for nights out, which tend to revolve around restaurants, bars and clubs rather than formal dinners and balls.

So Friday night, I was super-excited about my work Christmas party, which promised a black tie dance on a boat on the Thames. Can’t say fairer than that really.

Ignoring the fact that my wardrobe is bursting with once loved sparkly dresses that never get any use any more, I treated myself to a new pink, corseted, billowing dress. I spent ages on m hair, make-up and tan. In my experience, the sort of evenings you look forward to and spend longest preparing for tend to be the biggest disappointments. But not this time. The party was great on its own merits – champagne reception, all my friends from work together in one place, lots of dancing.

And then, my boyfriend asked me to come out onto the upper deck of the boat to look at the lights of London. As the mid December temperature was in minus figures and I was wearing a short strapless dress, I wasn’t entirely convinced, but decided to have a little adventure.

It was sufficiently cold that we were the only people up there. Even the smokers were only huddled on the more sheltered staircase. Although it was freezing, it was also dry, clean and clear, and from the deck we could see so many lights and landmarks, old and new – Big Ben, the London Eye, the towers of the City. He was in full black tie, and if there’s anyone that can work that look, it’s him (just one of the many things I like about the lovely posh boy who’s probably inspired my writing more than anyone else).

The picture at the top has rather given away the punchline, but he pulled a silk handkerchief out of his pocket, knelt on the freezing deck and gave me possibly the sparkliest ring I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I write novels full of overblown romance, and I’d probably have rejected this scene as a little too overblown and unbelievable. I’m so happy.

Just in case my story sounds too cheesily perfect, I should add that I then went back downstairs to show everyone and have a dance. When I dance, I do it with wild enthusiasm. The ring, which is slightly too big, flew across the room and disappeared. Cue a 150 people scrambling around on the floor looking for it – thankfully successfully!