I live in a mountain kingdom in Derbyshire, England, where my family and pets are kind enough to ignore the domestic chaos – happily, we’re in walking distance of a supermarket. For me, writing romance is cool because I get to wear pretty shoes instead of wellies. I love hearts, flowers, happy endings, all things vintage, most things french. When I’m not on facebook, and can’t find an excuse for shopping, I’ll be walking, or gardening. On days when I want to be really scared, I ride a tandem.
Meet Jackson: Cycling’s bad boy superstar. Injured and out of a certain race this summer, without his training, he’s looking for another distraction…
Bryony’s facing a triple whammy – her last single friend just named the day, her mother’s offering to have her eggs frozen, and the guy she’s loved from afar, forever, has just got hitched. So she’s more than happy to accept the offer of a totally out of character but seriously steamy one night of no-strings fun. Especially when the guy in question is so attractive he even looks good in Lycra!
Jackson’s on the lookout for a new career but if the opportunity to work on TV means a fortnight with the most uptight woman in the world, he’d rather not bother. He never goes in for seconds – and who in their right mind would head off in a campervan, with a woman who irons her knickers?
Add in a tandem (yes a tandem) and fast forward to double trouble for a summer neither of them will ever forget!
A. Part of the story takes place when Bryony and Jackson head off to the south coast of England in a VW camper van, to research locations for TV show. Jackson and Bryony are both strong characters, used to getting their own way, and I thought this would be the ideal way to throw them together, and put them under pressure – a kind of “light the blue touch paper and stand well back” scenario. I wanted the book to have a hot summer feel, and letting them end up in Devon and Cornwall in a camper van was perfect for this. I loved including the flavour of the picturesque villages and coast of this area, and I wanted the reader to be able to smell the sea, and imagine the feel of the wind in their hair.
Q. If you had a choice where would you choose to live, and why?
A. I’d like a house with a lot of glass, a view of the sea and a tiny garden please. Right now I live in a cottage built in 1755 which has tiny windows. It’s very picturesque, but I do long for splashes of light. It couldn’t be further from the coast, and has a garden which resembles a jungle, and although I love it, a complete change would be good.
Q. What comes first when you write a story?
A. I start with one grain of an idea, which could be about any of those things, or could maybe even just be one scene which sticks in my head, like a very short film clip. Then I gradually build onto it, trying to cover all the areas. I’m definitely a plotter, and like to have the plot and the characters and the conflicts all clear before I begin. The titles of my books have all been changed before publication, so I’m becoming less title fixated, although a great working title always helps too.
Q. Can you name five characteristics we’re likely to find in your heroes, and same for heroines?
A. My heroes are sexy, drop dead gorgeous, successful, they have great depth and integrity, but they’re invariably a hot mess just below the surface.
My heroines are sexy, strong, smart, always able to stand up to the hero and usually able to wipe the floor with him, but with hidden vulnerability.
Q. What’s your idea of a perfect day?
A. Right now I’d love a long day, lazing on a hot beach, with a good book. I’d have my OPH (own personal hero) along too, as long as he would agree to suspend his beach-boredom for the day, and promise not to moan. There would definitely be sea food included too. The day would start with strong coffee and croissants, and we’d move on to chilled prosecco... Anyone else want to come too?
Q. Can you tell us anything about your next book?
A. It’s got a big vintage theme....
Q. If you weren’t a writer, what would be your next choice of career?
A. I’d like something creative....it would be cool to be a lingerie designer.
‘Hey, without the pink shorts, I almost didn’t recognise you.’ A smile played on Jackson’s lips as she approached.
Bryony knew it wasn’t true. Jackson had clocked her as soon as she strode into the empty hotel bar, three hours later, eleven miles up the coast. Watched every step of her high-heeled progress across the long room, almost as if he’d been expecting her.
‘Pleased I’ve found you. Cressy remembered she’d booked you in here and your car was the final giveaway. I’ve brought your jacket.’ She held it out to him, as if to justify her arrival, suddenly strangely reluctant to let it go. ‘I’m the only one staying on tonight, the rest of the crew have gone back to London. I’m off to Northumberland in the morning, so I got the delivery job.’
And why the heck was she making the frantic excuses? Cressy and her ‘go-geddim’ cries obviously had her running scared. Running guilty more like, given she’d not exactly been mortified when he’d driven off leaving her wearing his top, and not minding at all that she had to leave the elegant streets of Scarborough and wind all the way to this isolated hotel, that stood proud and lonely on the wind-raked cliff top. Just because he was the hunk of the century. For one more glimpse of his decorative awesome-ness. Nothing to do with the way he’d sent white-hot shivers through her whole body when he’d grabbed her. And totally excused by the fact that she never dated, so she really couldn’t be interested. Could she? She shot him her best pro smile, just to prove this was work and nothing more.
‘Ms Organisation. Always last to finish. Why does that not surprise me?’ Jackson climbed off his bar stool, and pulled out another for her. ‘Might as well have a drink now you’re here? Bit of a trek, but worth it for the seclusion, and best of all, no press – apart from you, that is.’
The lazy smile he slid her unleashed a single butterfly in her chest. Then another. Designer-threadbare jeans never looked so good on a guy. Impossible not to lock onto the bulge of his groin as he pushed up onto the bar stool again. Then the whole damn flock were loose. Five hundred butterflies. Choking her, with their frantic fluttering.
‘The views here are awesome too.’ Hauling her attention upwards, with that dark grin of his and his gravel voice. ‘Once you look out to sea that is.’
Loving the way his cheeks creased when he smiled, the crinkles at the corners of his eyes, that tan that was way deeper than any British summer gave. Just for a minute she soaked up the whole charisma of this super-athletic guy who was entirely at one with being head and shoulders above his nearest rivals. The whole superhuman quality was disturbingly familiar, reminding her an awful lot of her older and supremely successful brother, Brando. And, yes, Jackson had picked her up there. Again. But this time she wasn’t playing.
‘I’m sure the views are spectacular.’ Determined to keep this professional, not risking an acknowledgement of where her eyes had landed, or that he’d caught her out. Again. ‘So what can I get you to drink Jackson?’
His eyebrows raised in surprise at the ease of her offer. ‘Thanks, but it’s my shout. The bottled beer is good and cold, if you like that.’
‘Beer it is then.’