Still reeling from the break-up with the love of his life, insurance firm cold-caller Ray English has become a bit of a screw up. Cynical and withdrawn, Ray is aimlessly drifting through life in London with his long suffering best friend, Danny. However, once he is asked to reform his college band for a friend's wedding, Ray is soon forced to face up to his old life, and the hometown he had tried so hard to turn his back on.
Anya Belmont is a woman with a secret and a history that continues to shape her life. A coffee shop owner in Salisbury, Anya is successful, yet bored; married, yet lonely. She is also slowly being driven to distraction by her highly temperamental friend, the child-hating children's author Eva Cunningham.
Through fate, coincidence of just bad timing, Ray and Anya's lives begin to chage when Ray cold-calls Anya and the two strike up a seemingly innocuous conversation. Against their better judgement, their conversation is soon the start of a relationship played out over the phone.
But can there every be anything real in a phone call?
Cold Calling by Russell Mardell was published in March 2016 through Matador Books.
Ray works in insurance. He cold-calls existing customers, just to make sure that they are happy with their policy, he's really not selling anything. Anya doesn't believe him, everyone knows that cold-callers want something from you, regardless of what they say.
Ray is a sad case. He's never recovered from the break up of his relationship - five years ago, yes, five whole years ago. He relates his feelings to his therapist. His best friend Danny knows the whole story, back to front, inside out. Ray doesn't like going out, or talking to people. Ray is a bit of a mess.
Anya is successful, She has a business, and friends and a huge secret. When Ray calls her, it's a really really bad time, but despite that, they click, and from there, an unusual and intriguing relationship begins.
Cold Calling is the story of their developing relationship and Russell Mardell's writing is sharp and witty. He has a keen observational eye, and his insight is shrewd and cleverly done. I didn't fall in love with either Ray or Anya, but I really did love their conversations, and whilst this is not the traditional romance story, it is romantic, but in a refreshing way. There's no overload of hearts and flowers in this tale, it's full of spark and sarky comments and characters who don't hold back in saying what they think.
Combine the blossoming relationship between the two lead characters with the past baggage that both of them are weighed down with and the result is a really funny, really clever and really entertaining read
A warm and wise, heart-felt romantic comedy.
Russell Mardell is a playwright, scriptwriter and filmaker based in the South West of England.
He is the author of four novels and a collection of short stories.
Find out more about Russell Mardell, and his work at www.russellmardell.co.uk
Follow him on Twitter @russellmardell