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Hal's fiancee said Yes.. to cheers from 40 costumed riders and 14 blue-rinsed ladies wearing comfy shoes.

RECORD columnist Shari Low's latest book, The Moment of Truth, is out now.

The rom-com is about love, marriage and proposals.

The story revolves around Laney Cochrane, who runs The Proposal Planners with her pals Millie and Tash.

Together, they help clients pop the question perfectly.

Laney has never doubted she will live happily ever after with her husband Cameron. Then Cara Deacon walks into their office and enlists their help to set up a romantic proposal in Manhattan.

Laney's excitement rises, until she realises that the man Cara intends to marry is called Cameron Cochrane.

A bizarre coincidence? Identity theft? A cruel joke? Or worse? Here's an extract "IF WE ever meet that bloke who was our careers officer at school, remind me to kill him," Tash said. At least that's what Laney thought she said. It was difficult to hear over the noise of the wind and 40 horses and their riders restlessly waiting for the command to charge.

Laney's stallion stepped to the side and she gently pulled on the reins to steady him.

They were the central figures in a long line of warriors waiting just under the precipice of a Stirling hill, all of them dressed like extras from Braveheart. The attention to detail had been meticulous, no expense spared.

The Hollywood take on the rustic Highland dress of the late 13th century. The wild hair. The battle equipment of a poor man's army. The heavy, excruciating itch of an ancient Scottish plaid that was right now chafing Tash's inner thighs. She swore under her breath, an expletive aimed at no one in particular.

When the client had first contacted them from his office on the 45th floor of a New York corporate bank, this was the last scenario she'd expected. Tash's thoughts had immediately jumped to the warm, fire-lit halls of a grand Perthshire estate. Or perhaps the glorious surroundings of a historic bedroom at Edinburgh Castle. Or even, dear God make it happen, a luxury yacht floating on the glistening waters of Loch Lomond.

But no. Turns out Hal Bradeston's fiancee had a Scottish great-greatgranny, a genetic connection that had elevated Braveheart to her favourite movie of all time. According to Hal, his beloved Diandra adored the windswept romance and epic drama of it all. No mention of the incidents involving blood, gore and accents so dodgy they sounded like Shrek impersonating Sean Connery. While on crack.

A line of horses' heads bobbed up as Millie rode into view, her flame red tresses floating in the air behind her, an ethereal vision of utter gorgeousness. Riding alongside was Hal, all 20 stone of him, on a horse that would deserve an extra few carrots when this was done.

Tash was the first to react. "Holy Papa Smurf, he's wearing the blue face paint."

Laney sighed and leant closer, so that the other 38 riders in the line-up wouldn't hear. "Ten grand, Tash. We're earning ten grand for this. That's ten thousand reasons to slap a smile on your cynical face and help make this perfect."

Tash's response was cut short by Millie and Hal thudding to a halt in front of them, thrilled expressions on their faces - his painted, hers not. Millie looked like a kid on Christmas morning. This was a woman who loved her job; adored every heartthumping, romantic, windswept moment of it. She could barely contain her excitement.

on Christmas morning. This was a woman who loved her job; adored every heartthumping, romantic, windswept moment of it. She could barely contain her excitement.

"OK, she's ready. She's sitting at the table at the edge of the visitors' cent re cafe, facing this way. This is going to be incredible."

"OK, she's ready. She's sitting at the table at the edge of the visitors' cent re cafe, facing this way. This is going to be incredible."

" "Are you ready, Hal?" Laney asked, her voice calm and warm.

" "Are you ready, Hal?" Laney asked, her voice calm and warm.

"Sure am. Let's do it." He had all the gung-ho confidence and attitude of one of those motivational speakers that make people walk across hot coals withou t a fire extinguisher on standby.

"Sure am. Let's do it." He had all the gung-ho confidence and attitude of one of those motivational speakers that make people walk across hot coals withou t a fire extinguisher on standby.

Like a true warrior going into batt le, he punched the air with his fist, yelled "Freedom," and thundered off.

Like a true warrior going into batt le, he punched the air with his fist, yelled "Freedom," and thundered off.

"Damn, he's moving. Go! Go! GO!" Laney yelled to the others, who brok e the perfect line by reacting with varying "Damn, he's moving. Go! Go! GO!" Laney yelled to the others, who brok e the perfect line by reacting with varying degrees of speed. The riders from the Stirling South Stables were more used to degrees of speed. The riders from the Stirling South Stables were more used to a civilised, leisurely hack than a gallop across a cold field in pursuit of a 13th century legend on horseback.

By the time they'd gone a hundred metres over the brow of the hill and were heading down in the direction of the visitors' centre, they'd managed to form a cohesive group again.

Millie spotted Diandra in the distance, looking around her as she waited for Hal to return from the toilet.

Getting him into costume, wig and face paint had been done in five minutes, and altogether he'd been gone for nearly fifteen. The cover story of a lavatory visit caused by a dodgy haggis wasn't going to hold up for much longer.

It was a little old lady sitting at a table, defending herself against the stiff breeze with a cuppa and a ginger slice, who spotted them and pointed first. Her tea drinking chums soon followed.

Eventually, Diandra turned in the direction of the invading force.

Millie just hoped the cameraman recording Diandra's reaction from a few tables away was getting this in close up.

Fifty metres. Thirty. Ten. Hal, in true William Wallace/Mel Gibson style, held up his fist again and the riders slowed to a stop behind him. He dismounted from the relieved horse, and strutted towards his girlfriend, who was standing, mouth open, eyes wide with shock, trembling so much her tartan beanie hat was visibly shaking.

Sir Hal Wallace was in front of her now, and he went down on one knee, to gasps of "Aaaaaw" from the bus party of elderly tourists from Carlisle.

"Diandra," he said, voice thick with the Scottish brogue he'd been practising for weeks as he worked up to the big line from the movie. "Ah love you. Always have. Ah want to marry you."

Tash gave Millie a nudge. "At least his Scottish accent's better than Mel Gibson's," she hissed. "And he's yet to call her Sugart*ts.

Always a bonus."

Millie wasn't listening. Two tears dropped down her cheeks as she watched Diandra's shock and confusion turn to joy and delight.

"Diandra Kapalskowi, will ye be ma bride?" Millie was so caught in the moment she didn't realise she was nodding. Say yes, she willed.

Say yes. And say it before Hal notices that his knee has sunk so far into the mud that if he was boycotting underwear like a true Scotsman, he'd be about to feel the wrath of nature on the nethers.

"Yes," Diandra whispered, to a rousing cheer from 40 costumed riders and 14 blue-rinsed ladies in comfortable shoes.

As Sir Hal Wallace took his bride in his chubby arms and quite literally swept her off her feet, the reactions from the Proposal Planners differed wildly.

Laney pictured the cheque clearing on the balance sheet. Millie cried some more and sent up a prayer of thanks that it had all gone to plan. And Tash muttered something about Smurfs being banned from mating.

Their job was done. ?The Moment of Truth is available in paperback and ebook at www.amazon.co.uk

Millie looked like a kid on Christmas morning. This was a woman who loved her job; adored every heart-thumping, romantic, windswept moment of it Millie looked like a kid on Christmas morning. This was a woman who loved her job; adored every heart-thumping, romantic, windswept moment of it

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AUTHOR Our Shari, above, and new book

BRAVEHEART Hal charged up in Mel Gibson gear for his proposal
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 2, 2015
Words:1422
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