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My latest blog posts

Favourite poem: A Sunset by Leconte de Lisle

There is something about a sunset that stirs the soul. It’s majestic, inspiring – the colours and textures; like some almighty being in the heavens is using the sky as a canvas. I defy anyone to notice a beautiful sunset and not be moved; to miss the romance of the

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Career and love compatibility

When developing the idea for a novel, one of the areas I must consider carefully is the job of the hero and the heroine. Sounds superficial and unimportant, perhaps… after all, we are not our jobs; we are much more besides. But the job of a character is important for

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Book review: Valkyrie’s Vengeance by Suzie Grant

From the blurb: One woman’s journey to the truth… Stranded on foreign soil, a Viking maiden is rescued and raised by the enemy. After witnessing the brutal slaughter of the Saxon woman who saved her life, Tyra Svensdottir declares war on her own people by kidnapping the dark Viking to

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Answers to the Pride and Prejudice quiz

From first draft to publication spanned how many years? 1796 to 1813, so 17 years. Which novel did Jane Austen write before Pride and Prejudice? Sense and Sensibility. What is Darcy’s first name? Fitzwilliam. In which county is Darcy’s estate, Pemberley? Derbyshire. What was the original title of the book?

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A Pride and Prejudice quiz

I recently ran a poll to discover people’s ‘Most romantics’, and in the book category, Pride and Prejudice was the hands-down winner, with 57% of the vote (the runner up, The Notebook, received 24%). It is of course one of the most loved books in English literature of all time,

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Romance novels and the damsel in distress

The phenomenal success of Fifty Shades of Grey has brought romance (of the erotic variety) into the public eye. The book series has sparked all sorts of discussions over feminism/anti-feminism in terms EL James’s plot and characterisation. It got me to thinking about romance stories, and about the balance of

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A beach for daydreaming

Ste Maxime beach, a lovely sandy beach that is within walking distance of my home. I often spend the afternoon here watching the boats come in and out of the harbour.

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Why do we write?

The great American writer Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Writing, indeed, is hard work. The countless hours you put into dreaming and researching and planning and writing and revising and writing and revising (not to mention

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The dreams and imaginings of four little girls

I owe my passion for romance writing to various sources of inspiration, from my parents teaching me about the arts to my education in French literature and the many places I have seen and experienced on my travels. But an important inspiration for me was a childhood lost in my

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Musing Mondays: Taking Notes

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading. Each week she poses a question related to books. This week’s question is: Do you take notes while you read? For me, it really depends on what I’m reading. If it’s a novel, I may get

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The romance of dance

I love dance. I love ballet and flamenco and folk dancing. As a young girl I dreamed of being a ballerina; now I am content to watch and be swept away by the beauty of a dance. For me, dance in all its forms is wonderfully romantic, because it is

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The most romantic gift

I recently ran a question survey via SurveyMonkey and Goodreads to discover people’s ‘most romantics’. For the question ‘What is the most romantic gift?’, the results were as follows: Book: 38% Jewellery: 28% Flowers: 25% Lingerie: 9% Given that I ran one part of the survey on Goodreads, I expect

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Ransom My Heart by Meg Cabot

Blurb: When beautiful, spirited Finnula Crais kidnaps the dashing knight Hugh Fitzstephen, she has no idea that she’s ensnared the new Earl of Stephensgate on his way home from the Crusades. Nor does she realise that Hugh is quite happy to be kidnapped by an enchanting tomboy, and will do

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The most romantic artist

I recently ran a question survey via SurveyMonkey and Goodreads to discover people’s ‘most romantics’. For the question ‘Who is the most romantic artist?’, the results were as follows: Monet: 64% Renoir: 14% Da Vinci: 12% Van Gogh: 10% The founder of Impressionist painting, Claude Monet, has topped the poll. It’s

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Recipe: Apple Preserve

The county of Kent, where my English home is situated, is famous for many things. The White Cliffs of Dover. The Royal Navy heritage at Chatham. Canterbury Cathedral and Chaucer. Jools Holland, a Rochester resident. Hops and oast houses. But it is perhaps best known for its orchards. Pears and

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Favourite writer Théophile Gautier and his study of hands

Théophile Gautier was a great traveller, visiting places as diverse as Spain, Italy, Russia, Egypt and Algeria, and his writing based on the various places he visited are works of art. He has a knack of transporting you to the place and making you live the experience he is living. His descriptions are

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Why Can’t I Be You by Allie Larkin

I was delighted to receive an advance copy of this contemporary women’s novel for review (if you prefer the word ‘chicklit’, it fits into this genre). The blurb intrigued me: When Jenny Shaw hears someone shout “Jessie!” across a hotel lobby, she impulsively answers. All her life, Jenny has toed

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The most romantic food

I recently ran a question survey via SurveyMonkey and Goodreads to discover people’s ‘most romantics’. For the question ‘What is the most romantic food?’, the results were as follows: Chocolate: 50% Strawberries: 36% Ice cream: 7% Oysters: 7% Interestingly, while oysters are proven to stimulate desire, the jury is out

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A passion for art

Honoré de Balzac was a coffee addict – drinking up to fifty cups per day to fuel his prolific writing. Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud and Verlaine were partial to absinthe. Dostoevsky had a gambling habit and reportedly rushed the end of Crime and Punishment because he desperately needed his advance. William

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The Devil’s Thief by Samantha Kane

A fun, sizzling, rollicking good read. London, 1817. Julianna Harte is the daughter of a reformed high-class thief and the founder of a home for abandoned children in London who is desperate to raise funds to stop her home closing – so desperate, in fact, that she resorts to robbery.

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Recipe: Kentish pudding pie

A keen cook, I love to explore regional recipes – from places I visit and from the area in which I live: the south of France and Kent. Today I am going to share with you a recipe for Kentish pudding pie, which is a little like a baked cheesecake

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Favourite writer: Honoré de Balzac

Although I spoke English at home with my parents, I was given a French education. I had a French/Italian governess, I went to a French convent school and I graduated from university with a BA in French Language and Literature.  I think that the way I write has been much

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My latest blog posts

The untold story of unfinished books

Before the digital revolution, book buying was a business requiring thought and commitment. When you bought a book, you were serious about reading that book, because it had cost you a fair amount of money. In addition, it was a physical object that existed in your home as evidence of

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Start with a bang…

… and you won’t end with a whimper. Common writing advice, based on the final stanza of TS Eliot’s poem ‘The Hollow Men’: This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper. Interviewers often ask me what part of the writing process I find the

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Getting ‘in the mood’ for writing

A long-time subscriber to Mslexia magazine, ‘for women who write’, I always find its surveys really interesting reading. Not only do they help me find common ground with other writers, but they also offer up new ideas and ways of thinking. This month, the survey in questions is ‘How do

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A novel idea for readers: Buy after you read

With 30 published books translated into 80 languages and a total of 175 million copies sold across 170 countries, Paulo Coelho without a doubt knows writing and publishing extremely well. So when Coelho has a new idea, the publishing world listens. And his latest idea could be ground-breaking. Here is the

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‘Legendary’ Indiscretion

  Whenever I write a new book, I immerse myself in the history and culture of the country in which the story is set. Legends are among my favourite aspects to research, because they say so much about the people and their philosophies and beliefs, both now and in the

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The Future Library

Recently on this blog I wrote about books as a legacy, reflecting on the story of a writer who realised after his mother’s death how important her books were for him and the generations of his family to come (‘Passing on books’). With this concept in mind, have you heard

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What he saw: Moving into the hero’s point of view

  Would you buy a romance novel written in the perspective of the male protagonist, so the entire story is told through his eyes? Traditionally, the answer is ‘no’ ­­– romance is rooted in the female gaze. Here’s the thinking behind that: 1. Most romance readers are female. 2. The

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One Thousand and One Nights

  The culture of Spain has many influences and nuances (see, for example, my blog post on the Moors of Spain), and in my new novel, Indiscretion, I wanted to go beyond the traditional archetypes of the flamenco dancer and the toreador. So, for example, to attend a masked ball

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Grounding my romance novels in real places

  Recently, I was interested to read an article in the Guardian on the subject of settings for books by the very popular novelist David Nichols (author of One Day, which just about broke my heart!). In ‘Google v old-fashioned legwork – how to research a novel’, David writes candidly

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Keeping Kylee by Jan Romes

From the blurb: Millionaire Quinn Randel is a world-class philanthropist and a world-class ass. He has a perfect life and doesn’t want to muck it up with marriage and kids. And then he meets luscious Kylee Steele; barmaid, single mother and college student. Kylee makes him nervous with just a

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Passing on books

  In my novel Indiscretion, it is the power of heredity that pushes the heroine, Alexandra, to return to the place of her birth: Spain. She has lost her mother, and is estranged from her father and now, in her twenties, she has been feeling unsettled. She reads this poem

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Adult colouring books

This morning, I logged onto Amazon UK and had a look at the books bestsellers list. What did I find at the top? Not a novel, not a biography, not a non-fiction tome, but one of these: Of the top twenty bestselling books on Amazon this morning, five were adult

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Welcome to Triana, Seville

The closest city to the hacienda, El Pavon, where my characters live in Indiscretion is Seville, Spain. It is a city I know well, and love, and so I very much enjoyed describing my heroine, Alexandra’s, exploration of the place. As in my previous novels, where my heroines got to

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The well-thumbed dictionary

  On a mild summer’s day, once I have completed the writing tasks I set myself, I am usually to be found sitting in my garden near sweet-scented flowers, reading a book. Romance novels are, of course, firm favourites, and I spend much time reading background materials on the country

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My latest blog posts

Reading to combat loneliness

Over the past couple of years in the UK, loneliness has become a topic for discussion. The Duke of Cambridge’s campaigning on mental health is bringing such social issues into the open. We’re worrying about elderly people who are too isolated and alone. But we’re also worrying about other groups

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From Chaos… light, and love

At the heart of every romance novel is a love story: two people meeting and falling in love. But of course, the unfolding of that love is never simple; ‘The course of true love never did run smooth,’ as Lysander put it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The heroines and heroes

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Books make a home – and a bright future

‘A room without books is like a body without a soul.’ So said the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero. If a room without books lacks soul, imagine an entire home without books. To me, that’s a bleak vision. Empty. Lonely. How many books do you own? Books on shelves, in bookcases

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Dressing my hero and heroine in Ancient Greek costumes

One of my earliest memories is of a party at my home in Alexandria, Egypt. My younger sister and I hid on the upstairs landing and peeked through the balustrades at the guests as they arrived – in such exquisite, astonishing costumes! The kaleidoscope of colours, the incarnations of fantastical

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Romance shines through in The Great American Read

Over the past six months, American readers have been voting for their favourite novels as part of The Great American Read. An advisory panel of literary industry professionals chose a shortlist of 100 books following a poll of 7,200 Americans who were invited to nominate their favourite novel. The 100-book

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