I am so happy to be on the blog tour for Laura Kemp’s new novel Whatever Happened To Vicky Hope’s Back Up Man? I’ve even got a book extract to share with you today – how exciting!
A tender, funny and haunting coming-of-age novel which asks if the past can ever be part of your future.
Twenty-one and insecure, Vicky Hope comes up with a plan on the eve of travelling the world with her high flying friend, Kat Lloyd: if she isn’t married by the time she’s thirty, she’ll marry her geeky best mate Mikey Murphy.
Fast-forward eight-and-a-bit years, Vicky, now Vee wakes up on her thirtieth birthday in Brighton, expecting a proposal of marriage from her arty boyfriend Jez. Instead he tells her their relationship is over and she has no choice but to return to her parents’ home.
Devastated and alone in her childhood bedroom, she decides she has nothing to lose and tracks down her two old mates. With shock, she discovers Mikey, now Murphy, is a successful app designer driven by his tragic upbringing. Kat, or Kate, never made it – but she hides a devastating secret, which threatens the happiness of all three.
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About Laura Kemp
Laura lives in Penarth, Cardiff with her supportive husband, gorgeous son, playful dog and ancient cat. Writing is compulsive to Laura. With 15 years journalistic experience and several successful books to her name, writing is her escape and her love.
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Read The Extract
‘Vicky?’ Mikey shifted his head to work out what was going on inside hers.
‘What?’ she said, prickling from his rejection.
‘Are you in a strop?’ he said. Vicky could hear his eyebrows shifting like tectonic plates.
‘No,’ she said, bristling, looking away from him.
‘Oh dear God,’ he said, amused. ‘You are in a strop. You. Are. A. Nutter.’
‘Well. For feck’s sake…’ she huffed.
‘What?’ he said, his voice arcing.
‘I thought we were best friends. We’d do anything for each other.’
‘Are you Meatloaf?’ he said, flicking his fingers against her arm, singing ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’.
‘Go on then, have a laugh, take the piss. I’m off tomorrow, you better make the most of it.’
She felt his chest rise then as he took a breath. He held it as though he was weighing it up. Finally, he blew out of his cheeks and squeezed her tight.
‘All right,’ he surrendered, ‘all right. Have it your way, you ludicrous person, you. If we’re both single when we’re thirty, I’ll be your back-up man. Okay?’
At first, she was annoyed because he’d practically yawned it. But then, that was his way: he was guarded with his emotions because it was always a risk to him, to show he cared. Hadn’t he always been like this? Reserved and self-sufficient because no one had really looked after him. This was the closest she was going to get to an agreement. Bite his hand off, she told herself.
‘Really?’ she said, staying very still to make sure she’d hear his confirmation.
‘Really. I swear on Jarvis Cocker’s life.’ Again he delivered it in a fatigued voice.
Vicky had a little wiggle to celebrate, not even caring about the wobble it set off down her body.
‘You’re mad, you know that don’t you?’ he said.
Vicky giggled: he was bound to be rolling his eyes at her. ‘But don’t you feel better knowing that whatever happens now, we’ve got a plan B? I know I do. I feel all secure now.’
‘Good, good. You looney.’
‘See, this is why I love you, Michael Patrick Murphy. You know what it means to me.’
‘I do, Victoria Anwen Hope, I do,’ he said wearily, but she could tell he’d spoken with a grin. Her snow globe of worries began to settle: having Mikey in reserve steadied her.
‘You’ve just got to pray I meet someone now!’ she laughed.
‘Our Father, who art in heaven…’ he began.
‘Cheeky git,’ she said, letting him pull her in, which moved her towards his neck. She smiled as she anticipated breathing in the boyish salty smell she’d known forever. But in its place, and to her surprise, there was a musky manly scent.
Just then, Vicky had a moment. A shivery split-second thing which seized her and made her reach out and place her hand on his chest. Beneath his ripped Pulp T-shirt, she felt his heart thumping as fast as her own. She had actual butterflies.
A question appeared in her head… but it was one which she dismissed before it had even fully formed.
Because Vicky had her plan B. If it all went wrong, then this time in nine years if neither her nor Mikey were in a relationship, he would be there for her.
Right now though, I’m twenty-one and the world is waiting, she told herself as she tried to imagine a place where the sky hadn’t been fake-tanned by the lights from the M4.