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Veronica Henry

The Birthday Party

Who wants to come out and play...?

The Birthday Party

Delilah has lived out her tempestuous marriage to hell-raiser Raf in the glare of the media spotlight. Now planning a milestone birthday, she has more on her mind than invitations.

Raf has been offered a part in a movie he can't refuse. But will he succumb to the temptations he's struggled to resist for the last ten years?

Delilah's three daughters are building careers of their own, only too aware that the press are waiting for them to slip up. For the Rafferty girls might look like angels, but they are only human.

It's the perfect recipe for a party like no other...

There was a joke, a plagiarised version of the one about the Sixties, that went: ‘If you can remember the Raffertys’ wedding, then you weren’t there.’

Delilah could remember, however. Every last magical moment of it. The sun had rained down liquid gold all day, before evaporating into a deep pink sunset that melted into velvet black. Then the stars had come out, more than anyone had ever seen, and there were some guests who swore they could see the bride and groom’s names spelt out amongst the constellations.

Delilah and Raf.

They had only known each other two months before they were married. There had been no question about it. She wasn’t even entirely sure he had officially asked for her hand. It had been a given. It was meant to be.

Raf Rafferty, the hell-raising heart-throb who could down seventeen pints of Guinness then deliver a Shakespeare soliloquy in a mellifluous, husky half-whisper that had his audience weeping. And Delilah MacBride, his co-star, the copper-haired inge´nue, the only woman who had ever stopped him in his tracks.

It still made her shiver, the memory of standing next to him at the altar, her tiny hand in his, as he slid the band of gold onto her finger; melting into his hypnotic blue eyes as he drew her towards him for the sealing kiss. She’d tasted the whiskey on him already that day, the peaty kick of Paddy’s. But that was part of the package. She’d known that all along.

They’d barely done any organising for the wedding. No official invitations, just word of mouth amongst their coterie of friends and a few phone calls to lure people across the Channel or Atlantic. No formal catering: the food was thrown together in a languidly haphazard fashion. No seating plan – not even any seats to speak of. Just a hot summer afternoon in the medieval monastery in Herefordshire they were renting while they finished the movie they were making. They’d had no idea who was going to turn up, nor did they much care. There were barrels of cider, a cellar full of wine, Delilah barefoot wrapped in twenty yards of diaphanous silk organza held together with giant safety pins aeons before Elizabeth Hurley was even a twinkle in Versace’s eye...

It was a million miles from the party she was planning today: her fiftieth birthday, just over two months away. A lavish extravaganza to recognise her half century, a fact which, with her typical and refreshing honesty, she had emblazoned across the invitations. It was something to celebrate, not hide. Delilah had never had a problem with age. Why bother worrying about something you had no control over? Life threw enough at you without inventing problems.

Mind you, some people would say it was all right for her not to worry, when she barely looked forty. Her skin was wrinklefree, still creamy, lightly dusted with freckles. Her eyes were unlined, her lips full, her cheeks still plump, her hair long and thick and lustrous – sure, she had it coloured, but not to hide grey, just to add streaks of amber and topaz to her natural chestnut. She knew she was lucky. By now she should be haggard and drawn, her complexion dull. She put it down to good genes and the generous application of Jo Wood organic products.

She was sitting at the kitchen table, her bare feet resting on Doug the Pug, surrounded by brochures and menus, price lists and guest lists and check lists. She had her MacBook in front of her, her iPhone at her side, the lid off her Shanghai Tang fountain pen as she scribbled furiously, writing out all the details that she needed to check – all the minutiae that were going to make this party perfect.

It had to be perfect. The party represented a turning-point in her life. Everything was... well, just as it should be. Her last cookery show was a ratings winner – again – and the accompanying glossy recipe book had shot to the top of the bestseller charts – again. The girls were all settled – each in jobs, flats of their own. And Raf.

Raf was about to make a comeback.

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Reviews for The Birthday Party

'A fast-paced gossipy read, set in glamorous locations, with sumptuous descriptions and lively dialogue'

Telegraph and Argus

'Deliciously frothy'

Peterborough Evening Telegraph

'An exciting tale 4 stars'

Star magazine

'Glam yet emotionally astute ... a sparky absorbing read which fizzes with life and and zip'

Mslexia

'Dramatic, addictive and rather steamy!'

Closer

'This is great fun and I raced through it ... nicely written, with an interestingly flamboyant family of well-observed characters at the centre of a pacy narrative ... it's entertaining and very readable'

Daily Mail

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