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!