Friday 14 December 2012


While visiting the vivacious author and film person Abby Green in Dublin recently - we went to the most amazing restaurant, though I can't actually remember what it was called.  All I do know is that it was achingly trendy and apparently frequented by film-stars (though there weren't any on the day we were there)  *assumes sad face, a la Sally Bercow on being sued for being a twit on Twitter*
And who needs film stars when the food was so damned good?  
Here is my massive duck egg starter:

And even though this would have been a perfectly adequate meal if I'd been eating lunch at home, I quickly followed it up with this equally massive chunk of hake sitting on slithers of courgette - which were meant to look like one of those pasta *substitutes* you find in weight loss articles (as if there could ever be any real substitute for pasta!)

And even though by now I was feeling almost completely stuffed - how could I possibly have resisted a pudding which looked like this?

Those protuberances which resemble pale yellow toadstools, were actually made of soft, chocolatey meringue which contrasted with the sharp tang of the cherry sorbet and the juicy slurp of the berries, and the whole combination tasted completely ambrosial.
  In fact, this pudding really deserves a name, if only I could think of one....

Friday 30 November 2012


Just back from an amazingly inspirational trip to Northern Ireland and the Republic.
And here I am, petting one of the stone lions outside the house of fabulous author, Lynne Graham.
She lives in a most beautiful and mysterious part of the world - where mists clear to reveal sacred hills and goats chew happily on the lushest grass you can imagine.

The lions made me think of Aslan and of the White Witch, who turned everything to stone.  The Narnian Chronicles are my favourite children's' stories of all time.
How about yours?

Sunday 18 November 2012


Another cutesy Christmas cover has arrived - this time from Sweden.

I love it.  Although as I recall, the couple were reaching the end of their relationship during the festive season (as so often happens!).  They certainly weren't gazing at each other in a dreamy-eyed way like that.  If you're interested in the English language version it's called SHAMEFUL SECRET, SHOTGUN WEDDING

And if anyone out there speaks Swedish, I'd love to know what "Lynbryllup" translates as.

Thursday 15 November 2012


The Swedish cover of ONE HUSBAND REQUIRED* is just so cosy that I had to share it.
A roaring log fire.  An old-fashioned Christmas tree (with non-matching baubles just like my own tree, which is always a monument to bad taste). Who could ask for anything more?

Today I saw the giant and  pretty fir which has been erected in Covent Garden and which went some way towards soothing my frazzled nerves.  I'd just endured the first half of Uncle Vanya and the acting was so bad it made Chekov's writing seem puerile and flat.  Just awful.  (But at least I didn't have to stay). 

*If you don't speak Swedish and would like an English copy of ONE HUSBAND REQUIRED, you can buy one here

Tuesday 13 November 2012


Still on the subject of hero inspiration - I've finally found a man who can make a beard look attractive.  No.  Forget that understatement of the century.  Who can make a beard look absolutely bloody amazing.  Emun Elliott is that man and the charismatic star of the BBC costume drama, The Paradise which I've been completely hooked by and which you can read about here.  

Sadly, the programme has just finished its run but catch it if you can.  It's a superb example of gripping sexual tension and intense romance - portrayed with little more than longing looks, punctuated by kisses which seem almost chaste but are packed full of emotion.

I've never written a hero with a beard before (other than the mystery beard which turned up on Titus Alexander on the UK cover of BACK IN THE HEADLINES)
But Mr Elliott has made me rethink my strategy.

Would you like to read about a man with dark, soulful eyes like his - even if he has the kind of jaw which has no real relationship with a razor?

Monday 12 November 2012


Over at iheartspresents I'm talking about my latest release - a sizzling story about a Duke and a once famous member of a girl-band, The Lollipops. 

BACK IN HEADLINES is out in the USA now.

I'm also talking about sexy men and inspirational men - and the man I had in mind when I wrote Titus Alexander was Damian Lewis.  Damian is currently very famous indeed thanks to his gripping and often harrowing performance in Homeland.

He has steely eyes and the coppery-coloured hair which I find incredibly attractive....

Do you?

Saturday 3 November 2012


Regular readers of this shockingly irregular blog will be aware of my huge passion for Italy.
I love Italy and have done ever since my twenty-first birthday when my parents asked if I wanted a ring or a watch and I replied, "No, all I want in the whole wide world is to see Michelangelo's David!".

So off I went to a magical place called Firenze where I hunted out the David, ate rather a lot of cheese omelette (omelette alla formagio was one of the few things I could ask for with a passably good accent) and bought myself a gorgeous handbag, in the dark green colour of one of those paintbrush-tip-shaped conifers you see all over the country.

I've just been reading that provincial capitals in Italy are about to be merged for reasons of cost-cutting, including the Tuscan cities of Pisa and Livorno.  They are only fifteen miles apart but they have been separated for centuries by a relationship of "cordial loathing" (don't you just love that expression?).   Which goes some way to explaining the Livorno saying "Better a death in the house than a Pisan at the door."  Am trying to imagine this being said about two places in England (say, Bath and Bristol) and somehow it just doesn't seem to work with the same degree of reasonable passion.

I'm off to Umbria very soon and Venice - and in 2013 I shall be taking my Tuscan writing course at the glorious Watermill .  I think there are a few places left.

In the meantime, here's a picture of the very best soup additive in the world.  Chuck a handful into a pot of vegetables and stock and you have yourself a feast.

So which country makes your heart beat a little faster?

Monday 29 October 2012


Watched the most amazing programme yesterday called NATURE'S MIRACLE BABIES.  Yes, it's a cheesy title - but it's a remarkable short film about endangered species, which are being bred in captivity.  There are Barbary Lions and beautiful leopards - cute and fluffy little things with a fierce snarl and razor sharp teeth.  There's a very moving live birth of a gorilla at London Zoo.  
The film highlights the care and dedication shown by people who look after animals and it made me fish out this photo of a monkey which I took back in March, when I was staying with friends in Singapore.

Any ideas what to call this monkey?
A glossy hardback novel for the best suggestion.

Wednesday 10 October 2012


I'm very excited about my latest hero - a sexy English Duke named Titus Alexander and the woman who is driving him crazy.  

Roxy Carmichael is a woman who has fallen on hard-times.  A one-time singer with a dodgy background, she's the last person this blood-blooded billionaire wants in his life.  But Roxy needs help and to his fury - Titus feels duty-bound to provide it.  He takes her to Valeo Hall - his stately home on the beautiful Norfolk coast - and that's when the fireworks really start....

This is the UK cover, which came as a bit of a shock because I don't remember giving Titus so much designer stubble that it seems to have grown into a small beard!  But the man featured here manages to convey a brooding and potent sexuality - and that is very Titus.

You can read an excerpt here 

I loved writing this story and I love the chemistry which sizzles between the unlikely couple.  It's a long time since I've had an English "toff" hero, and I hope you enjoy Titus as much as Roxy eventually does....

Tuesday 18 September 2012


Sometimes you see a film or a play which lingers in the mind because it's so bloody brilliant - and one such film was SHADOW DANCER which I liked so much that I saw it twice in one week!  One of the reasons it was so good was down to the superb acting of the entire cast - exemplified by actor David Wilmot, who deserves an Oscar for his brooding and menacing performance.  Watch the trailer here and you'll see exactly what I mean.  (He's the one threatening the heroine).

Imagine my surprise when fellow author Abby Green arrived in London with a signed photo of said actor, which she'd brought all the way from Dublin's fair city.  What a gal!
And thanks to our lovely senior editor Joanne Grant who took this picture of me posing with it at our annual author party where much merriment and inspiration was to be had by all.

Has anything inspired you recently?

Wednesday 5 September 2012


If you live, or are within travelling distance of central London, then why not sashay on down to Victoria Library on Friday, 21st September where I'll be running a writing workshop.  The course runs between 5.30 - 6.45 and you can find details here

I'll be covering everything you need to know about writing romance - but the "rules" are the same for writing any kind of fiction.  We'll be discovering what makes your characters leap off the page and what makes the reader care what happens to them.  We'll learn about the importance of narrative and what keeps dialogue fresh and real.

Oh, and we'll be having a laugh - that, I promise.

And while you're in the vicinity - you could do no better than having a stroll around the glorious St. James's Park which is the oldest park in London and is surrounded by three palaces.


I'm also running a course in Mayfair - posh! - on 25th September and I'll  let you have details of that within the next couple of days.

Wednesday 22 August 2012


Today I'm over at talking about my latest USA release, entitled: A TAINTED BEAUTY.

It's the story of a man with unrealistic expectations and a woman who longs to match them.....

In the blog, I talk about the magic of Naples and you can hear the most wonderful and evocative Neapolitan music.....

Friday 17 August 2012


This is the beautiful lake at the Swanwick Summer Writing School, which happens to be the longest-running writing school IN THE WORLD!  It's been running for sixty-four years (which is why all you Twitter followers can find it under the hashtag #Swanwick64).  It's in glorious Derbyshire - a county I know well from childhood holidays, when I used to go and stay with my cousin in a place called Dronfield.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I agreed to be an evening speaker and to give two workshops  - and I certainly got a surprise when I walked into a packed hall of around 250 people.  Swanwick writers are very passionate about their craft!  Likewise, my workshops were also filled with interesting and interested participants.  We brain-stormed a romantic novel in two hours flat (and gave each other plenty of new ideas).

I ate delicious food, slept like a log and met some wonderful people.  If you're looking for a creative, encouraging and great-value environment in which to practice and learn - then you might think about giving Swanwick a try.

Meanwhile, here's the church from the nearby village (it was locked, of course) - which has rather a strange but rather beautiful spire.....

Have you seen anything beautiful but unusual recently?

Thursday 9 August 2012


is believed to be the oldest established writers' conference in the world....and I'm going to be there next week on August 14th, giving a talk entitled SEXY SHEIKHS AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM.
I'll also be giving two workshops the following day.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 25 July 2012


Zak Constantinides is one of those men who gets women to fall in love with him without even  having to try. That is, until he meets Emma Geary - who is everything he most despises in the opposite sex.  Even worse - she has her scheming and predatory hooks into his beloved baby brother. 

Emma must be stopped in a way which also comes easily to Zak - by manipulation and control!  But for the first time in his life, the powerful billionaire discovers someone who won't just lie back and let him walk all over her.

PLAYING THE GREEK'S GAME is out in North America now - and you can find out what happens when Emma fights back.....

Tuesday 10 July 2012


Funny, isn't it - the way life sometimes throws you a curve-ball?
Picture the scene:  a friend was attending a posh, black-tie dinner and he asked me to go along.  I'd get to stay in a luxury hotel.  I'd have unlimited use of the spa the next morning.  There was to be a lunch the following day and we would be chauffeured  to and from this event in a Mercedes!  Oh, and there were to be various celebs at this feast, including a man called David Gandy.
"That's with a 'y'," my friend said.
"Are you sure?" I questioned.  "It's usually spelt with an 'i' - and it's probably a member of the Indian political dynasty."
'Whatever.  Do you want to come?'
'Tempting, but I'm tired.  I'm writing a book - so I'll say no.'

Reader, I honestly didn't twig!

The man was indeed David Gandy - the man much loved by fellow romantic novelists and readers alike.  The man who makes them salivate daily over provocative photos and who inspires many a steamy scene.

So I looked online and found this picture.

I must say, he has a BIZARRE taste in clothing!  Dunno about you - but that hat doesn't really do it for me....

Monday 9 July 2012


I've been very lazy about keeping this blog and my only excuse is that I've been writing and....writing.  Lots of writing.  I've been creating enigmatic Sheikhs and ruthless Greeks, charismatic Tuscans and unforgiving Neapolitans.  And then I've had to come up with the women who have the tough job of melting the hearts of these powerful men.
But work aside, I've been dodging the rain which has beset England for the last however many months (it seems like forever) - and making the most of the entertainment on offer.

I've seen some amazing theatre (Posh;  Love, Love, Love: A Long Days Journey Into Night) and some equally great films (The Five Year Engagement; My Sister's Sister - both starring the very talented Emily Blunt).  I've listened to some great music (Ravel's Bolero, which I'd never heard "live"before plus the magnificent opera Tosca, which was performed  in the Great Conservatory at Syon Park)

This month, I have a book out in the USA called PLAYING THE GREEK'S GAME.  
It's about a ve-ry sexy Greek and a woman with a past who is determined to play him at his own game.   Here's a peep at the cover picture of Zak and Emma in New York.

I'd love to know what has everyone else been doing this "summer" - but you may all have decided to desert this neglected page and I can see that in future I must try harder!

Oh, and if you're wondering about the "pewter eyes" in the title of this blog - they are the smouldering eyes of Zak.  The ones which seem to look into Emma's soul....

Tuesday 12 June 2012


is at #95 on the USA Today Bestseller list!            

Am chuffed.

(And England didn't even get beaten at football yesterday at the Euro 2012 championships!)

Friday 18 May 2012


Last night I went to the RNA "summer" (light rain, icy wind, no change there) party in central London and as usual, I completely forgot to take any photos.  So you'll just have to take my word for it that there was bubbly and merriment and the awarding of prizes.  That sparkly pink balloons were glittering on the sidelines and teeny-weeny portions of fish n' chips were served and eaten in a couple of careless mouthfuls.  And that as well as an enthusiastic gathering of lovely Mills & Boon editors - I saw Heidi Rice, Abby Green and Fiona Harper.

Abby was staying in the most luscious hotel - The Haymarket - which Vanity Fair describes as "a whole new definition of glamour".  With its clashing yellow walls, funky furniture and lavish use of velvet - I'd second that.

And I'm still over on iheartspresents, talking about my latest book THE SHEIKH'S HEIR.
Do come by and make a comment....

Or maybe tell me about the most lavish hotel which you've ever stayed in.

Tuesday 15 May 2012


Just back from Tuscany, where I was teaching romantic fiction at the incomparably beautiful Watermill, in Posara.  Strange to think that last week that was me, sitting on a sun-drenched wall.  While today I am wearing about four hundred layers of clothing, because outside there is a distinctly unseasonable hail-storm.  All hail! 

Italy was as gorgeous as ever - and for the first time, I visited the Cinque Terre - a place which would make any superlative sound like an understatement.  Had a year's worth of Italian lessons done me any good?  Well, a little - or should I say, un po'.  Not just a case of "must try harder" but "am going to try harder", which is why I'm taking my Italian teacher's advice to repeat the year!  

It's been so long since I blogged and now I return to the blog-sphere to discover that they've changed the format!  I loathe technological change - I still worry that my computer will blow up if I inadvertently press the wrong two keys.  Google keeps asking me for my phone number - what a cheek!  I don't hand out my phone number to any old person.

Anyway, in other news:
THE SHEIKH'S HEIR is out in the US next week.
The hero is Hassan Al Abbas and he is....well, he's the kind of man who is very naughty.  In a bad way.  Or maybe in a good way.  You know what I mean.

Wednesday 18 April 2012


I've just been tagged by one of my favourite authors, the lovely India Grey (currently writing a BIG BOOK which I'm very excited about!), who has asked me to reproduce this cutesy photograph of a delicious marmalade-coloured gerbera, set against an impossibly blue sky.

And then to tell you about all the things I like best. It's something called the Sunshine Award.... (What do you mean, "why?" It doesn't matter why!).
I love foreign films (particularly dark, French ones) - the sense of being transported to another country and then the credits roll and you realise you're still in Soho. I like variety in most things but especially the weather (rain? hail? bring it on!). I like the feel of silk against my skin or the rousing sound of a live orchestra - especially if there's a choir involved. The nostalgic scent of woodsmoke always gets me (as does the sensual overload you get when you bury your nose in lilac, or lily-of-the-valley). I like the buzz of going somewhere new - and the kicking-off-your-shoes cosiness of arriving home again. I like anything to do with Narnia. Or live theatre. I like intelligence and newspapers and National Anthems. I love cake - both making it and eating it. Ditto, curry. And I love everyone in my life who makes me smile. You know who you are.

Now I'm going to tag the fabulous Heidi Rice and ask her to tell me a few of her favourite things.
But first, I'm wondering what yours might be.....

Thursday 12 April 2012


A little bit like Maraban (the country I created for my very first Sheikh book: SURRENDER TO THE SHEIKH) - Vietnam is a land of complete contrasts.

Here we have the chaos of the traffic system (you are told that when you wish to cross the road - to turn your head towards the traffic and walk slowly but steadily across the line of moving vehicles, which will then slow and swerve to avoid you! Oddly enough, it seems to work.)

And here we have the unconscious synchronicity of two workers sweeping the leaves in perfect harmony. It really was poetry in motion - and hard to believe that we were only yards away from the noisy roads.

And lastly, one of those amazing temples - full of colour and gleaming gold, where offerings are left and incense burns and the pervading sense of spirituality is hard to escape....gorgeous.

But it's back to "normal" for me after the Easter break. I've removed the last of the chocolate from the house and launched myself into my latest book, which features a Sicilian called Santino Cavallaro who is not behaving as I thought he would behave. He looks different to how I imagined, as well. His eyes are sapphire (blue and green eye-colour are often found on this fascinating island) and he's much swarthier than my usual heroes.

To get myself in a Sicilian frame of mind, I'm reading THE LEOPARD, by Tomasi di Lampedusa. It's brilliant.
What are you reading, and why?

Friday 30 March 2012


I've just returned from a trip to the Far East and this moment was captured in Hanoi, at the Temple of Literature. I love this photo - mainly because I didn't know it was being taken - but it reminds me of the sense of awe I felt as I looked around.

It was a very beautiful and serene place. The Vietnamese really value education. They also wish people to show respect in their sacred pagodas, which is why I had to wrap a shawl around me as a makeshift ankle-length skirt.
With me is our guide, Jena (I've probably spelt that wrong) who regaled us with stories of how buffalo still pull carts in his village and how much he enjoys cobra blood, when drunk with alcohol. Mmm!
Afterwards, we went to see the embalmed body of Ho Chi Min, which was quite an experience. When I'm not so jet-lagged, I'll tell you about it.

Have you ever been to Vietnam, or is there a similarly unforgettable place that you've visited?

Friday 9 March 2012


I'm loving this Autralian cover of my book THE SHEIKH'S UNDOING, which arrived yesterday morning along with Japanese, Italian and French translations. It's always a treat when foreign editions tumble through the letter box. It makes me realise how truly global romance is....because everyone loves a love story.

I've been frantically busy on my latest manuscript which features a woman called Roxy Carmichael, who used to be famous - but not any more. One time girl-band member Roxy has fallen on hard times. She's bruised and disillusioned - though her talent and her ambition haven't withered one bit.
Rosy is a survivor who's used to standing on her own two feet and the last person she wants to accept help from is the sexy and powerful Duke of Torchester.
But as we all know, you can't always get what you want....

Other than that, I went to the Romantic Novelists' Association's fantastic awards ceremony, in the Gladstone Library in London. (I have a very soft spot for Gladstone).
I also saw SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER at the National Theatre, which was first performed in 1773. It was a brilliant performance - but the most startling thing of all was the freshness of the dialogue, which could have been written yesterday.
Because that's the thing about human nature....times change, but people don't.

Saturday 11 February 2012


Out today in what looked and felt like a winter wonderland.
It had been a good week (I made the USA Today Bestseller list with MONARCH OF THE SANDS), but this was the real frosting on the cake.
The snow in the city had mostly melted but high up on Farley Mount it was like being in a different world. I saw three deer (not ships!) gamboling across a woodland path ahead of me, which gave the walk a magical touch.
The snow was intact and crunchy underfoot (very good research because my current hero and heroine are just about to experience a whirling snowstorm!).
But most of all, it was beautiful.

Where have you been recently that's beautiful?

Monday 6 February 2012


Here's a photo of me taken just before Christmas at Conckera in County Fermanagh, Ireland, where my mother grew up and which is just a couple of miles away from the sweet little town of Clones.

Conckera has a lake and lots of bogland. There are trees which turn to gold when the sun shines on them (look behind me) and some of the greenest grass you'll ever set eyes on. I think it's one of the most beautiful places on earth, but of course - I'm biased! My cousin Peter still lives there with his family and he and his two brothers made my visit so memorable.

I hadn't visited since I was four years old but I'd heard so much about it that I'd built up a vivid picture in my mind. It didn't disappoint. How could it?. Some places are just perfect because of their associations and this is one of them.
Do you have a place like that, one which is very close to your heart?

Monday 30 January 2012


This is the view I'll be waking up to for the next few days....
The magnificence which is Trevone Bay in north Cornwall.

I shall be taking a book (HIS ILLEGAL SELF by Peter Carey) and some proofs to correct - as well as my latest wip (the one about the bad-girl singer and the arrogant Duke).
I shall also be taking a hot-water bottle.
Snow is forecast.

Wednesday 25 January 2012


Yes, it's MINX!
And today I'm blogging over at the splendidly named Minxes Of Romance....

So please do stop by and make yourself known.
(The word *Minx* would be great for a limerick, don't you think?)

Tuesday 24 January 2012


iheartspresents where I am talking about the enduring sexiness of

So I do hope you'll drop by and visit. I'll be talking about my latest release which is called MONARCH OF THE SANDS.

Do you like this iconic cover of E. M. Hull's classic Sheikh novel?

Monday 23 January 2012

SALLY GAP - and a conundrum!

Last month, I visited one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Yes, I'm talking about Ireland!
I went to the County of Armagh ("sure, there's one fair county in Ireland, with memories so glorious and grand....") and I also went to Dublin to stay with the talented and occasionally hilarious Abby Green, whose books you will know and love.
Abby has worked (and sometimes still does) in the film industry and she took me to Sally Gap, just outside Dublin. It gives stunning views over the Wicklow mountains, which is why it is so beloved of film-makers.
Here I am, on a day so windy that I honestly thought I might fly away.

But I am left with one question.
Who was *Sally*?

Tuesday 17 January 2012


It's been an age since I updated this blog but now I have returned to it with renewed vigour to remind you of things I should have reminded you about before!

First up is to say that if you want to come to glorious Tuscany, to learn how to write romantic fiction - then you should book now.

During a dreamy, one-week course - you'll stay in a picturesque watermill, surrounded by trees which are loaded with creamy and fragrant Acacia blossoms, just like this....

And you'll soak up the kind of inspiration you get from living among mountains which look like this:

Of course, we must not forget going to local restaurants for droolingly good food, where course participants can occasionally be persuaded into doing something as daft as posing winsomely with a sprig of flowers!

Twice recently, I have been asked if men are welcome on these courses and the short answer is...yes!
All writers (as long as they are passionate about their craft) are very welcome.
So what's stopping you?