This month marks four years since I realised a long-held dream and became a published author!
What a journey I have been on since then, with the publication of a subsequent four books (the Venice-set Echoes of Love and the Andalucían-set Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy), and there are still plenty of books to come.
Today, though, I want to turn back the clock and revisit the book that began it all: my debut novel, Burning Embers.
Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She’s leaving the life she’s known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance–the plantation that was her childhood home – Mpingo.
On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral’s childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father’s death.
Circumstance confirms Coral’s worst suspicions, but when Rafe’s life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa.
Is Rafe just toying with a young woman’s affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral’s inheritance? Or does Rafe’s troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?
Set in 1970, this contemporary historical romance sends the seemingly doomed lovers down a destructive path wrought with greed, betrayal, revenge, passion, and love.
Here are excerpts from some of my favourite reviews:
Now, how about a glimpse of Mpingo, the heroine’s childhood home to which she is returning, as mistress, now her father has passed away?
Mpingo…Even the name warmed Coral’s heart like the morning African sun. In Swahili, it meant The Tree of Music, named after the much sought-after dark heartwood used to make wind instruments…
It looked romantically unreal, inviolate, as though set outside time and space… Mpingo! Was it a residence or an edifice, a challenge, an act of folly, or a dream?
Built on a grand scale, the façade of the new building was of stone — a warm, rich color that evoked the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean, visible from each of the hand-blown, panoramic French windows on the north elevation of the house that gave the rooms a tinted, luminous air. All the windows had brown shutters that could be tightly closed during the monsoon months. The magnificent curved double staircase, the wall paneling, the large ceiling beams, and the floors had all been intricately crafted on site in imported cedar. Outside the rooms on the upper landing, a galleried veranda encircled the house, from where the extensive out-buildings could be seen. Coral remembered peeping through its lacy balustrade as a child of three to watch the gardeners at work, and later, spending lazy afternoons sipping cold lemonade there with her mother while listening to the birdsong and its accompaniment of rustling palms and whispering sea.
And of course, I must revisit my very first romantic hero, Rafe de Montfort, whom Coral first meets as a stranger aboard the ship bound for Mombasa:
She gazed at the man standing before her in the shadows. She tried to make out his features, and then recognized him as the new passenger who had joined the ship that morning when it had docked at the port of Mogadishu.
He was tall, dark, and lean. In the moonlight, the eyes that viewed her with slow appraisal seemed black, but she guessed that in daylight they would have reflected other tones. His was not an outstandingly handsome face; it held something stronger, more powerful than conventional good looks: a blatant sensuality, a charismatic magnetism that drew her attention despite her desire to ignore him.
Would you like the opportunity to escape to beautiful Kenya? To take a balloon ride, even, with my characters over the Maasai Mara:
Gradually the mist had lifted, and the sun burst forth, a ball of fire radiating the sky with unnaturally incandescent hues… The scene was now set for the show to begin: the drama in which the broad, breath-taking landscapes of Africa were the stage and the animals the actors.
To celebrate my four-year publication anniversary this month I’m giving away a paperback copy of Burning Embers. Entry is open to all (I will post internationally) is via Rafflecopter. Good luck!
I’m offering readers a chance to escape to hot, sultry Spain with my full Andalucian Nights series: that’s three paperbacks.
Entry is via Rafflecopter, below, and is open to all (I will post internationally). Good luck, and don’t forget to follow the other links in this hop.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Welcome, and thank you for visiting my website as part of this hop. I’m giving away a lovely reading journal made by the British Library and inspired by the Olga Hirsch collection of decorative papers.
‘The main section of the book is organized alphabetically with flexible writing space to note details and observations of books read. Other sections include listings for favourite books, websites and shops, an events planner plus sections for recording book group details and free notes. Classic quotes on reading are scattered throughout.’
Entry is free via Rafflecopter (below) and is open to all (I will post worldwide).
Here are the other blogs participating in this hop. May the luck of the Irish be with you!
Welcome to my blog, and thank you for stopping by on this Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop.
It took me some time to decide on a giveaway for this hop, because there were so many books I enjoyed in 2016, but finally I settled on Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines. This is a beautiful coffee table book that really brings to life fantastic heroines, fusing art and literature.
Here’s the blurb:
Seeing the faces of literature’s most memorable female characters – from Anna Karenina’s icy grey gaze to Scarlett O’Hara’s sensual open-lipped pout – will stir up treasured memories for every reader who has been dazzled by a well-written woman. Celebrated artist Samantha Hahn brings these bookish beauties vividly to life in 50 watercolour portraits and hand-lettered quotations straight from the lips of the leading ladies. Each is, in her own way, stunning. And Hahn’s pairing of art and text captures all the individuality and voice of the characters as they were originally written. With a silkscreened cloth spine and debossed cover to recall the tactile appeal of vintage tomes and uncoated pages that feel like watercolour paper, this collection will become a new classic in every nostalgic book lover’s library.
Entry for this giveaway is via Rafflecopter, and is open to all (I will post internationally). Good luck!
Here are the other blogs participating in this blog hop:
Thank you for visiting my blog on the Bookhounds’ Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop.
I’m thrilled to be giving away this beautiful silk scarf by the British Museum:
A silk scarf printed with a design of Japanese Iris, a type of flower native to Japan.
For centuries, the flower has been a source of inspiration for Japanese writers, artists and craftsman. For example the British Museum holds a print by the Japanese artist Meisho Edo hyakkei called ‘Flowering Irises at Horikiri’, 1857 – a beautiful artwork showing stalks and leaves of irises.
Wherever you are in the world, feel free to enter my giveaway. I am so looking forward to sending this lovely scarf to the winner.
This is a blog hop, so ‘hop’ along now for your chance to win more fantastic prizes.