As part of the celebrations to mark Mills & Boon's centenary, I was lucky enough to be asked to take part in two projects. First is the Brides of Penhally Bay series which is running one book a month throughout 2008 in Medical Romance and includes titles by some favourite authors. My books are numbers 8 and 12 in the series and I'll blog more about them here nearer their release dates in July and November.
I was also invited to contribute a Medical to a new anthology. Called Mills & Boon Presents ... the anthology features titles by Annie West [Modern] and Annie Burrows [Historical], as well as my novel, An Italian Affair. And it is out now!
I had a wonderful time researching elements for An Italian Affair. Part of the story is set in my fictional world of Strathlochan, in the rugged beauty of rural Scotland, but most takes place on Elba, off the coast of Tuscany. The island has a fascinating and varied history, and it was
easy to become sidetracked as I involved myself in learning about the culture and environment of this special place. Elba itself is central to the plot and features in the affections of both my hero and heroine who each have their own unique connections to the island – and reasons for being there at that particular moment in time. And it is here, quite unexpectedly, that they meet.
Gina McNaught, a staff nurse from Scotland, has gone to Elba for emotional family reasons. For her, Elba is a fairytale place that has been part of her dreams for as long as she can remember. On this, her first visit, the last thing she expects is to meet the gorgeous, enigmatic Italian man who awakens her passion and could change her life. When she discovers the truth about him, will he break her heart?
Dr Sebastiano Adriani also has long-held family connections to Elba. At a turning point in his life, he has gone to the island after a traumatic event, seeking solitude and sanctuary in which to come
to terms and to make decisions about his future. Untrusting and suspicious, Seb is not sure what to make of Gina when he finds her trespassing, but she very quickly bewitches him and steals his heart. As desire burns between them, Seb finds that the longer he waits to tell Gina the truth, the harder it becomes.
Can Elba work its magic and bring these two special people together forever?
You'll have to read An Italian Affair to find out!
As I said, Elba is important to both my characters and their families for different reasons. We often find that places come to have a hold on us or for which we come to feel a deep affection and connection. It can be memories from childhood, a particular holiday location, the place you met that special person in your life – somewhere far away, or somewhere much more local where you go to be alone and think, or somewhere that makes you feel close to nature. There are several places I can think of which have particular resonance in my life ... childhood holidays in Scotland, visits to the wonderful West of Ireland, a particular woodland fragrant with bluebells and the silence broken only by the sound of birdsong and the rustling of the breeze in the trees. What places are special to you?
The Mills & Boon Presents ... anthology is out now and can be found under Special Releases at www.millsandboon.co.uk until the end of May or via www.amazon.co.uk I hope you will enjoy all three stories.
Annie West and Annie Burrows are running a joint contest on behalf of all three of us throughout April.
PS – I wanted to recommend a book called IN STITCHES by Dr Nick Edwards. It is funny and moving and thought-provoking. Anyone in the UK who is concerned about patient care and keeping the NHS available for all can go to the website www.keepournhspublic.co.uk and sign up to the campaign. Many thanks.