Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Sometimes I get to party in the kinds of places which feature in my books.
Sunday was just such a day.
There were twelve of us singing carols around the piano.  A table groaning with food.  
And views from the upper terrace of the sun setting over the London skyline, which were completely breathtaking.
Like this.  
A sky on fire.  (If you look closely, you can see the faint outline of the Eye).

And here's the view from downstairs.  Me posing with a bauble to get a suitable seasonal shot. "Beside the lake, beneath the trees" - or should that be: Beside the tree, above the river?

Monday, 2 December 2013


So which city would get your vote for the above title?
Would it be Paris? * 
All the above (and plenty of others) are possibilities.  Beauty after all, lies in the eye of the beholder and if you've had the most amazing time of your life in New York - then you're always going to look adoringly on that place.

For me, it has to be Venice - mainly because it's a city which defies logic.  It's a masterpiece - a triumph of beauty over practicality.  It's a dream of a place.  Where traffic jams make you smile…

And restaurants serve exquisite food like this:

Here's the view from the hotel terrace…

And here I am in the sumptuous lobby of the gorgeous Gritti Palace Hotel where I was staying with two of my dearest friends….

In other news - my book has changed radically.  I've scrapped what I'd written (17,000 words - boo, hoo!) because it wasn't working.  But then this morning I sat down to write the new version and the story just took off.  
I think - hope - that we have lift-off!
How was your weekend?

*cue for Jessica Hart to plug Paris book!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


where they eat with stylish simplicity.
This was a starter of fresh, raw artichoke - dressed with good oil, lemon juice, a little seasoning - and topped with shavings of a hard and salty cheese.  That's all.

I even know the Italian word to describe it:  perfetto.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


they take their shoes seriously…

Here are some heels by Dolce & Gabbana - crammed into a case lined with decadent scarlet satin. 
I imagined what kind of man might buy them (vampire? fetishist?) and take them on a midnight visit to his mistress...

And in case you're wondering - I'm using all this as valid *research* for the Milanese hero I am currently creating.  He is going to be as spectacular as the city in which he dwells!

Monday, 28 October 2013


I've just come back from an amazing city….

which has a spectacular Gothic cathedral (the fourth largest in the world).  Here is a photo of it  soaring upwards towards the skies….

Known for its delicious risotto, it is the fashion capital of the world.  It's also the capital of Lombardy and will host the Universal Exposition in 2015.  Have you guessed yet?

I'll tell you more about my trip when I have better internet access - at the moment the signal is dipping and dying - probably because I am in the middle of a beautiful wood, beside a lake (and beneath a tree). 

Monday, 2 September 2013


Thought you'd like a glimpse into my home and the lavish kind of decor I love...

Ha, ha - not really.  I can honestly say that I've never had a yen for an orchid tree, but it did make me start thinking about a new heroine.  
You can find it in the foyer of the Savoy Hotel, London 

Monday, 26 August 2013


Some things are intrinsically creepy:
  • The red-coated figure in the film DON'T LOOK NOW.
  • The thought that an escaped snake might suddenly appear in the loo
  • The haunting and scary lyrics of this Pink Floyd song

And this.  A statue by the river at Hamm Court in Weybridge (which actually reminded me of the red-coated figure).  

Don't look now...

Thursday, 22 August 2013


Not quite a marmalade sky - more an apricot and Grendadine one.  This is the sun setting over the Lago Trasimeno and it's a summer cocktail of a sky.  It's also one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.
My hero and heroine just happen to be in this very location.  In fact, my Sultan hero was overlooking this very view earlier today!
Isn't writing wonderful?  It takes you wherever you want to go...

And here's a reminder of the original marmalade sky...

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


I love this song.  Sexy, tortured and struttingly outrageous.  That twanging gee-tar! That soaring voice!
It's been incredibly helpful while I've been STRUGGLING WITH MY SULTAN'S MOTIVATION.

So which song would you play if you were struggling with a Sultan?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


People always ask writers where they get their inspiration from and the flip answer is: "look around".  Seriously, there is always something to stir the imagination no matter where you are or what you're doing.  A puddle on a dirty railway station can reflect the beautiful sky above -and every single person you talk to will have an interesting story to tell, if you ask the right questions.

I am still struggling with Murat the Magnificent, the very sexy and dominant Sultan of Qurhah and the man who has made a shadowy appearance in the first two books of my desert trilogy.  I've recently discovered that his story is going to be called SEDUCED BY THE SULTAN which is my title, and which I love.

And here's a photo taken of me at a book-signing in Atlanta last month, just to remind me that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that books you sometimes struggle with DO get published!

A WHISPER OF DISGRACE (featuring red-hot Sheikh Kulal and the feisty Rosa Corretti) is out in the US today.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


Next week I have a book out.  It's being published on August 20th in North America and it's called A WHISPER OF DISGRACE.
It features one extremely hot Sheikh, a feisty Sicilian beauty and the kind of bitter secret which tears families apart.  It's been receiving the kind of reviews which make me purr with pleasure and I happen to love it.

This is the NA cover:
And this is the UK cover:

You know what I'm going to ask, don't you?
Which one do you like best?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


So.  If ever I start moaning or grouching or worrying about fracking - I'm just going to look at this picture and take myself back there.  


Tuesday, 30 July 2013


but really, he's my super-sexy Sheikh Kulal.  
I hope you like him....

Friday, 26 July 2013


There are few things lovelier than walking through a field of ripening wheat.  So here, for a taste of English summer - drum-role - I give you a view of the Hampshire countryside.

While weaving my way through the bosky lanes, I spotted something I hadn't seen for years....a peacock butterfly.  Terrible to think I used to capture them and then put them in a jam-jar.  Which was probably why this one kept flitting away - informed by the spirit of some long-lost relative.  
Eventually, I managed to take a picture from a distance - which I didn't think was too bad for an iPhone.  Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, 25 July 2013


Either nobody guessed or nobody worked their way through William Blake's long poem to find the title of one of Agatha Christie's books (and one of my more haunting favourites) in yesterday's blog.  So I've given you a whacking great clue in today's title.

Today, I'm flagging up a book cover which arrived this morning.  The very sweet man who delivered it said, "Sign here, girly" which I know would have infuriated some of my more radical feminist friends - but I am shallow enough to have smiled (particularly as I hadn't even washed my hair!).

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


While out walking over beautiful St Catherine's Hill, I came across this thistle.  As thistles go, it's pretty big - but when photographed against the panoramic view - it becomes enormous.

Like many things, it's all a question of how you look at things; of perspective.
It reminded me of the poem by William Blake - which talks about the beauty of small things, and of looking closely...

It's a gorgeous (and very long!) poem and includes some lines near the end which Agatha Christie used to title one of her haunting murder stories.  Any idea which one I mean?

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage 
A Dove house filld with Doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thr' all its regions 
A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State 
A Horse misusd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood 
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear 
A Skylark wounded in the wing 
A Cherubim does cease to sing 
The Game Cock clipd & armd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright 
Every Wolfs & Lions howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul 
The wild deer, wandring here & there 
Keeps the Human Soul from Care 
The Lamb misusd breeds Public Strife
And yet forgives the Butchers knife 
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that wont Believe
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbelievers fright
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belovd by Men 
He who the Ox to wrath has movd
Shall never be by Woman lovd
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spiders enmity 
He who torments the Chafers Sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night 
The Catterpiller on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mothers grief 
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly 
For the Last Judgment draweth nigh 
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar 
The Beggars Dog & Widows Cat 
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat 
The Gnat that sings his Summers Song
Poison gets from Slanders tongue 
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envys Foot 
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artists Jealousy
The Princes Robes & Beggars Rags
Are Toadstools on the Misers Bags 
A Truth thats told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent 
It is right it should be so 
Man was made for Joy & Woe 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro the World we safely go 
Joy & Woe are woven fine 
A Clothing for the soul divine 
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine 
The Babe is more than swadling Bands
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made & Born were hands 
Every Farmer Understands
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity 
This is caught by Females bright
And returnd to its own delight 
The Bleat the Bark Bellow & Roar 
Are Waves that Beat on Heavens Shore 
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of Death 
The Beggars Rags fluttering in Air
Does to Rags the Heavens tear 
The Soldier armd with Sword & Gun 
Palsied strikes the Summers Sun
The poor Mans Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Africs Shore
One Mite wrung from the Labrers hands
Shall buy & sell the Misers Lands 
Or if protected from on high 
Does that whole Nation sell & buy 
He who mocks the Infants Faith
Shall be mockd in Age & Death 
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall neer get out 
He who respects the Infants faith
Triumphs over Hell & Death 
The Childs Toys & the Old Mans Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons 
The Questioner who sits so sly 
Shall never know how to Reply 
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out 
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesars Laurel Crown 
Nought can Deform the Human Race
Like to the Armours iron brace 
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow 
A Riddle or the Crickets Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply 
The Emmets Inch & Eagles Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile 
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will neer Believe do what you Please 
If the Sun & Moon should Doubt 
Theyd immediately Go out 
To be in a Passion you Good may Do 
But no Good if a Passion is in you 
The Whore & Gambler by the State
Licencd build that Nations Fate 
The Harlots cry from Street to Street 
Shall weave Old Englands winding Sheet 
The Winners Shout the Losers Curse 
Dance before dead Englands Hearse 
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born 
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight 
Some are Born to sweet delight 
Some are Born to Endless Night 
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night 
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light 
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


I'm still on a bit of a high after this year's RWA conference which was held in Atlanta.
This southern city provided some amazing memories: fried cheesecake, the biggest aquarium in the world, unbelievably friendly people and some magnificent storms.  

Oh, and the discovery that the legendary Margaret Mitchell also wrote about Sheiks - so I feel I'm in very exalted company!

Here's an article she did for The Atlanta Journal (which still exists today as
Don't you just love the illustrations?

Today I'm back at work, creating the story of Catrin and Murat.
Catrin is - or rather, was - an innocent from the beautiful region of northern Wales - before she fell in love with Murat The Magnificent.
And Murat?  
Sigh.  Where do I begin?
He's a Sultan.  Actually, he's first Sultan I've ever written.  He's ruthless, hard and utterly magnificent and no woman can resist him - Catrin included.  
Many women have brought pleasure into this autocratic royal's life, but no woman has ever managed to tame him...

Like the sound of him?

Monday, 22 July 2013


Just back from Atlanta - a totally rocking city of futuristic skyscrapers, whose streets are lined with beautiful flowering trees called Crepe Myrtles.  
Their latin name is Lagerstoemia (which sounds like a small, fictional country) and they bring the place alive with colours of rose, cream, peach and purple.  I loved them.

The city has the most amazing houses in the mid-town area.
Like this one:

Doesn't that look peaceful?  Who wouldn't like to be sitting out on the veranda, drinking sweet tea?

Friday, 19 July 2013


Today, in an attempt to actually leave the conference hotel and to see a little of Atlanta which didn't involve adding yet more carbohydrate to my plate, I took a little trip to the local aquarium.  
It is actually the largest  aquarium in the world, with 6.3 million gallons of water and a lot of freaked-out looking fish.

Here's a piranha, which wasn't a bit how I've always imagined this particular fish to be (writhing around in swirling red water, crazed with blood lust as those razor-sharp teeth tear off  flesh).  But no, at least - not here in Georgia.  The piranha are docile; they looked stoned.

And here are some unidentified fish in a photo you can just tell is destined one day to be used as a screen-saver over on Facebook.

Last of all, here's me - by a flowering tree, close to the Coca-Cola factory.  It was a very American day.

In other news, I attended a breakfast meeting with two high-powered academics and some other writers of Sheikh romance.  We were discussing the appeal of the desert warrior hero.  
I know why I like Sheikhs.  
Do you?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Kicking off my book signing shortly at the Marquis Marriott hotel at 5.30 today (Atlanta time!), when I'll have copies of A SCANDAL, A SECRET, A BABY in my hot little hands.

Come on by and say hello (and eat a Cadbury's chocolate while you're there!)

Monday, 27 May 2013


Here I am, larking/goofing/mucking around amid the bluebells of Buckinghamshire in a wood where I kept expecting to see a fawn and a lamp-post.  
Past their best here, the flowers are pale and ghostly and very beautiful I think.

Have had a gorgeous bank holiday weekend, with lots of sunshine and good food (chocolate, strawberry cheesecake ice-cream & vegetarian lasagne; though not all at the same time - obv).  The only dark cloud on the horizon has been my latest book which has been playing up, big time.  
Gabe Steel is proving a delicious but very stubborn hero.

If you could inspire me in any way, it just might earn you a dedication....

Monday, 20 May 2013


It's that time of year.  When woodlands are filled with hazy purple-blue and the air is soft and scented. 
The bluebells are out.
So for those of you who don't have these wild and fragrant flowers growing... here are a couple of photos I took on a recent walk.  
This first includes the creamy-white addition of wild garlic (great for adding to home-made pesto)

And in the second is a very HOBBIT-LIKE TREE!  (Which looks exactly like an elephant's trunk)

In other news - apart from battling with my latest hero, Gabe Steel - I'm haunted by the memory of part of a tantalising poem called Dimensions, by Laura Riding.  She was American and apparently, had a very complicated relationship with Robert Graves.  This excerpt was put on her gravestone but if anyone has the complete, amazing poem (Megan Crane, are you out there?) - then I'd love to read it.

Measure me by myself
And not by time or love or space
Or beauty. Give me this last grace:
That I may be on my low stone
A gage unto myself alone.
I would not have these old faiths fall
To prove that I was nothing at all.

Monday, 13 May 2013


JUST BACK from a week teaching romantic fiction in Italy where I was staying in a glorious place called Posara, which is  tucked away in the mountains of northern Tuscany.

There are donkeys....

And villages which have obviously been plucked straight from the files at Central Casting....

And delicious things to eat....

And even the odd (very odd) writer who is so busy googling something, that she's completely oblivious to the brooding and beautiful hills behind.

I'm running another course from 22-29th June this year and there are two places left.  So do contact the Watermill if you'd like one.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


to Ireland....

I've been doing that a lot recently.

And even though my lovely culchie heroine Bridie Browne never made it past 20,000 words (she's still marooned in a grotty hotel near Luton airport - the kind of place where you find public hairs stuck in the plug-hole) I haven't ruled out her having her own story, one day.

Here's a photo of me, bundled up against the cold in a gem of place called Powerscourt House.  The gardens are magnificent.  The distant hills dreamy.  
This is a land of poetry and song.
A place to fall in love with.

And now I'm just off to sing The Wild Colonial Boy!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Always a pleasure when Mr Postman (and no, I'm not being sexist because I've never seen a female postie here in Winchester) knocks on the door with a parcel full of books.  
Question:  Why isn't parcelful a *real* word, when saucerful is?  

Today's goodie included this rather dreamy cover.  It's a bit 1960's - all bleached and faded summer meadow, with a couple who look like they are sharing a secret (a saucerful of secrets?).  The heroine is holding what looks like a dahlia - a rather old-fashioned flower which my father used to grow.  I was about to comment that you hardly ever see them now, but the Royal Horiculture Society reliably informs me that they are invaluable in the summer border.   So there!

The great thing about this book (other than it's always great to be included in a book with superstar, Lynne Graham) is that my story is called THE UNLIKELY MISTRESS, which has always been one of my favourites.  Opening in the opulent and romantic city of Venice, it features the gauche Sabrina who makes the mistake of falling for a man who is way, way out of her league in just about every way there is.....

So do you like the cover?  
Or maybe you have something to say about dahlias?

Saturday, 6 April 2013


It's always interesting when you get the first copy of a book you've written.  It's real!  You can hold it in your sticky little hands and flick through the pristine pages.  You can sniff the gorgeous new-booky smell and read the first line all over again.  And that first line should leap out and grab you.  Hard.  It should capture your imagination and make you hungry to devour those pages....  

Of course, I haven't yet got a copy of A WHISPER OF DISGRACE.  I've simply seen the front cover of the UK edition - and seeing a picture of the characters you've created is weird.  These people have existed in your imagination for so long that you have a very definite idea of what they look like.  Sometimes that idea is matched by the art department and sometimes not.  Long, dark hair means different things to different people.  And a single image of a pair of eyes gives us only a hint of what's going on behind them.

This is Rosa and she's running away.  Running from the truth and a life which has become a lie.  Running straight into the arms of a man who is pure, emotional danger.

 I haven't got a copy of this manuscript to hand, but I remember the first line.  You should always be able to remember your first line.  That sharp, steely hook which grabs you....

The bottle was cold, but not nearly as cold as the ice around her heart.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


ANDY BURROWS is a brilliant musician.  Not just because his dad used to be my GP, or because he he has been known to play at Winchester's finest pub - or even because he was the drumming genius in the band Razorlight.

He is just an exquisite song-writer. 

You (or your children) might have heard his music in this year's eagerly awaited follow up to The Snowmen.  It was was broadcast on Christmas Eve when you were probably simultaneously hanging up your stockings, having a nervous breakdown - and shoving another mince pie in your mouth.

I love the Snowmen graphics so much that I can't resist reproducing another one.  (And the icy elements seem kind of appropriate for this crazy English spring we're having!).

But if cartoons aren't your bag and you're partial to dreamy tunes with luscious strings and a compelling voice which dips and soars - then try this bittersweet love-song: 
Like it?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


I used to be completely crazy about the band Tyrannosaurus Rex (later T-Rex) featuring the tangled-haired Marc Bolan who was as famous for his mischievous grin and glitter daubed clothes as he was for his poetry-set-to-music.  

One of the best experiences of my life was managing to get in at the back of Croydon's Fairfield Hall, where they were performing.  I chucked my (glittery) scarf  over the fence, persuaded a security guard to open up the gate and then my friend and I legged it to the stage door, where we convinced the band's manager we were mates of Marc's!  I'm sure he didn't believe a word of it but he let us sit on the side of the stage for the entire performance. 

The evening passed like a blissful dream.  Sigh.  I've always thought Marc Bolan's musical ability and guitar playing was hugely under appreciated, and this is my very favourite track of all time.
Listen to the twang of the guitar;  I defy your heart not to melt....

Sunday, 17 March 2013


Can't resist including this clip from the excellent film of Tom Bradby's novel, SHADOW DANCER.  It's one of those films which inspire, simply because it is so well-acted and so tense and atmospheric.

It stars (and is stolen by) the charismatic actor, David Wilmot, whose brooding face you can see below....

Monday, 11 March 2013


I love looking at pictures of food almost as I love eating it.  So here is a little taste of food-porn - namely the giant Tandoori prawns I had for lunch yesterday.   I was eating at the Shapla Indian Restaurant in Alresford, which The Independent voted one of the top 50 curry houses in all of England.  And so it is.  The food is interesting, delicious and different.  


Alresford is a cute little market town near Winchester, full of posh shops and people wearing wellies and pale-mauve crocuses flowering along the grassy banks.  There is a crystal river on which sit luscious houses.

It's the kind of place where you could imagine Agatha Christie having tea, the kind of place which might be hiding lots of secret murders....

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Today is Mother's Day in the UK - where all over the land countless breakfasts will have been prepared by inexperienced little fingers, while Mum lies in bed, preparing her face in an expression of delighted surprise as she tries to ignore the crashing sounds coming from the kitchen and wondering what kind of mess will be waiting for her downstairs.  

Bit of a bummer that the day during which all mums are traditionally spoilt falls on the same day as the Six Nations rugby tournament*, when England will later be playing Italy and men will be watching from their position on the edge of the sofa, cold beer in hand as they yell their support.

My own two sweet little angels bought me the perfect presents:

Pink flowers in a hat-box from my daughter (just what every romantic novelist needs).

And a boxed- set of Mrs Brown's Boys from my son.  If you're seeking the biggest belly-laugh in the world - then this is what you need to watch.

Happy Mother's Day.

*Ireland were robbed yesterday!

Friday, 8 March 2013


UK readers will know all about the famous brand of toilet paper (Andrex!) which ran (and continues to run) a series of highly successful commercials.  These feature a puppy wreaking havoc in a neat suburban home - his little teeth clamped into some never ending loo-roll - while his perfect ad-land family look on with benign indulgence.  
Here, in the first ever Andrex commercial from 1972, a super-cute little labrador demonstrates a canine version of Mummy Wrap.

Andrex decided to market a soft-toy version of the little dog.  The usual rules applied.  Collect vouchers and send off modest sum and a cuddly puppy could be yours.  This I did and duly presented it to my young son, who was absolutely thrilled with his new toy (what do you mean, *cheapskate*?!).  

Rather touchingly, he called his new toy Puppy.

Puppy became a valued member of the Kendrick toy family.  He was always present for bed-time stories.  He would often try to finish food which fussy eaters had spurned (they soon changed their mind when they saw that greedy little dog about to attack their plates!).  Puppy could often be relied upon to settle arguments or (sometimes) to hold views which coincided uncannily with those of my son's mother.

And then, one day my son was sick all over Puppy.  Puppy stank!  I put Puppy in a plastic bag outside the door, intending to give him a lovely bath - when the dustmen took him by mistake!

My son was heartbroken.  I told him that "Puppy has gone on holiday" and meanwhile I wrote a frantic letter to the makers of Andrex, explaining my dilemma.  The soft toy had long since gone out of production, but they managed to dig one up from somewhere (oh, dear - that makes him sound like Zombie Puppy, but I can assure you he wasn't).

My son was delighted when Puppy returned from his holiday, looking very rested (and therefore much younger!) and normal service was resumed.  Over the years Puppy (naturally, sniff, sniff) became less important in the life of my son.  He was shifted from his kennel (oh, alright - he didn't really have a kennel) and bundled behind books and football trophies.  Eventually, he made his home on top of a dusty wardrobe but I have to say that he never complained.


Last week, my grown-up son was clearing out his room prior to moving to Milan and he and I took bags and bags of rubbish down to the council dump.  As he handed me one of the lighter bags, I saw a dearly-loved and familiar face sticking out from among the paraphernalia of broken sports equipment and odd socks.  You've guessed, haven't you?  
It was Puppy.
I think my son was taken aback by the level of shock and vitriol which was directed at him - and at that point I thought I heard Puppy giving a plaintive little whine from his horrible home in the black plastic bag.
You're wondering what happened next, aren't you (though in your hearts, I think you know)?

Reader, fear not.
Puppy has come home!

Thursday, 7 March 2013


Three lovely things have happened to me today (so far!).

First up, I discovered that A SCANDAL, A SECRET, A BABY is at #116 on this week's USA TODAY Bestseller List

Squee!  Woo-woo!  (And other similar noises of wild excitement).  I can't tell you what a thrill it was to discover that this Tuscan romance is currently one of America's most popular books.  Mainly because it means that readers are enjoying Dante and Justina's emotionally explosive love-story as much as I enjoyed writing it.  It handles some big themes and fairly contentious issues - and I'd love to know your views on how the characters handled these.

The second lovely thing to happen was pressing the *send* button on my latest manuscript (provisionally titled PROMISED TO THE SULTAN).  Delivering a book to my editor always makes me feel elated - through a little bit empty, too.  Suleiman and Sara have been occupying so much of my time and thoughts recently that it seems strange to have to let them go.  It's just fortunate that there's someone waiting to take their place, since one of the characters in their story is itching to have a story of his own.  So, you hunky and completely irresistible Mr Gabe Steele - COME ON DOWN!

As for the third lovely thing to complete the hat-trick - well, it has something to do with the first on this list, namely Tuscany.  Lots of you know that I take a writing course there every May.  Some of you have already been published!  Those of you who have attended (and returned, again and again!) will know that it's one of the most beautiful places on earth and you can hone your writing skills to a backdrop of mountains, surrounded by roses and listening to the soothing sound of the nearby river.  Last year we visited the Cinque Terre for the first time - a place about which no superlative could ever do justice.  And here it is.  (The photo was taken on my cell-phone - imagine!)

The May course has sold out and because there was a waiting list, Bill and Lois asked if I would run another one.  You can imagine the arm-twisting which followed - particularly when they suggested the glorious month of June.  There are four places left - so if you're interested, please contact the Watermill and come and join me.

Oh, and if you come back tomorrow, I'll tell you the STORY OF PUPPY.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


I always wanted to be a stylist.  In an earlier career as a photographer (whatever happened to Whiterose Studio of Wembley, Middlesex, with its attached advertising agency DeHavilland-Fane upstairs?) I liked nothing better than to help set up a studio shot.  I'd be given money to go out and buy whichever props we needed to transform the rather utilitarian studio into something which set the imagination on fire.  It required the occasional bit of ingenuity and to be honest, it was much more fun dossing my way round the shops, than standing in the dark-room processing yet another dreary film to the sound of Radio 1.

So when I was asked to provide a blog post for my latest book - it suddenly occurred to me that I was letting my latent styling talents go to waste.  Which is why after breakfast this morning, I set about remedying my shockingly long absence from the world of styling.

The story has a heroine who was once a major celebrity and her fiancĂ© is an uber-rich and amazingly gorgeous Italian - and it's about their relationship, which has hit the skids.  So I needed the resulting photo to convey both glamour and extreme wealth. Hmm.  Bit tricky in my untidy Winchester kitchen, but I am nothing if not intrepid.

As a backdrop, I decided to use the scarlet silk lining of a coat I bought two decades ago.  At the time, the coat cost £750 (hugely expensive), which was reduced to £250 in the sales and which the kindly shop owner allowed me to purchase by instalment, at the rate of £50 a month.  It is a gorgeous coat but it has seen better days.  I have worn it on trains and planes, in weather for which it was not designed and it is now looking more than a little bedraggled.  Still.....

What next?  Well, I know it's cheesy, but a bottle of champers and two glasses is still a good visual prompt for a glamour shot.  No problem there.  Next, I introduced a shoe - a shoe which I have never actually worn on account of it being a) Too high and b) Too high.  There was a short break while I painstakingly scraped off the label which said FINAL REDUCTION - £21.99!  Unfortunately the cheap shoe made the photo look extremely....well, cheap - and so it was scrapped.

Instead, I carelessly draped a costly Falke stocking over the bottle.  Tacky doesn't begin to cover it - until I had a brilliant idea.  What if I put my the stocking on my foot and wiggled my toes against the champagne bottle?  The only problem was positioning my foot so that the bunion was carefully hidden.  Oh, and not falling flat on my face while I took the photo.

And here's the result.  

Terrible, isn't it?

You can see which photo I eventually used if you visit iheartspresents

And if you're interested in the book I'm talking about - it's called A SCANDAL, A SECRET, A BABY and it's out in the UK and US right now.

I know I'm biased, but it's a sizzler.....

Friday, 25 January 2013


When I was a little girl, my mother used to recite her favourite poem to me.  Lots of you know it but maybe some of you don't.  It's about the Lake Isle of Innisfree and it's dreamy and haunting, written by that master of language W. B. Yeats (who was SERIOUSLY HUNKY!).

I was in the west of Ireland recently, travelling through the green and grey countryside with the inestimable and talented Megan Crane .  We hit Shannon running and met a bossy taxi-driver who was "feckin' this" and 'feckin' that".  Actually, that's not quite true.  He used the word in its most profane sense and then dished out some handy advice about where to visit next.  So we marvelled at Galway.  Ate lunch in Sligo and then....drove down to a silent and deserted Innisfree.   

It was just as I had pictured it in my head for so many years.
  Lonesome and beautiful. 
 And unforgettable (just like the poem).

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
      And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,         5
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
      And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;  10
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
    I hear it in the deep heart's core.