Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pick A Winning Combination - Christina Hollis

For a truly satisfying read, a story should appeal to the reader on more than one level. It was the promise of ‘international affairs, seduction and passion guaranteed’ that got me hooked on the Harlequin Mills and Boon Modern Romance/Presents line. Coupled with a happy ending, it would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that was it - the famous formula for success. What more could anyone want? The answer is, quite a lot! We romantics know what we like - and that’s Character with a capital ‘C’. It’s not enough for a man to look like a cross between Johnny Depp and Rufus Sewell. Simple minded stud muffins need not apply! Our man has to have a brain, and a penchant for hard work - those billions might be his to play with, but he’s earned them on a rough, rocky road to maturity. We need to know there is more to our man than come-to-bed-eyes and designer fashion.

The same goes for our favourite heroines. In Modern Romance and Presents, the fainting couch is just somewhere she can lodge her laptop. Mind you, the very best heroines have always been independent,and known their own minds Pit a woman with determination against the right sort of hero and a story really comes alive. Take Gone With the Wind. Years ago, there was an anniversary showing of the film at our local cinema. My sister was mad keen to see it, but there was a strict ‘no unaccompanied under-sixteens’ rule in force at the time. The only three things I knew about the story at the time repelled me - spoilt heroine, Clark Gable (sorry, but I just don’t like moustaches!) and war. However, Sis offered me bribes of the chocolate-and-chores variety until I couldn’t possible refuse.

Thank goodness she made the effort. I was so affected by the sight of Scarlett O’Hara vowing to fight back from poverty and hunger, I went straight out afterwards and bought a copy of the book. Scarlett’s inner strength and determination persuaded me to put aside my usual short reads for a while in favour of Margaret Mitchell’s great doorstop. I wasn’t disappointed. Southern Belle she might have been, but no one was going to kick dirt in Scarlett’s face. Whatever you may think of her, you can’t be lukewarm about Ms O’Hara-Hamilton -Kennedy-Butler!

Who is your ideal hero (real or fictional), and who would you pair him with?

As a student Christina Hollis did once make an outfit from a pair of curtains, but has never admitted to wearing a corset (at least not in public!). At the moment she is majoring in the art of the afternoon nap...but only when there are no deadlines on the horizon.
Christina writes Modern Romance/Presents for Harlequin Mills and Boon. You can contact her on, visit her website: or catch up on Twitter, where she tweets regularly as christinabooks.


Peter Brown, Author said...

Great story about your first time seeing GWTW. Read RHETT BUTLER'S side of the story:

Pat Cochran said...

My ideal hero would be my Honey
and he would be paired with me,
of course. After all, we've been
married almost 49 years and have
known each other for 51 years.
You never want to chance losing
a good thing!

Pat Cochran

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Well, I adore the alpha no matter where he comes from, but I also love the need for the heroine to grow personally if she's not strong and then to be able to walk away if their relationship becomes hurtful' in the end forgive, understand and have that happy ending!

Christina Hollis said...

Wow, Peter, that's a real achievement - it must have taken hours of research, and really 'living the dream'. Thanks for the link!

Christina Hollis said...

I'm with you, Pat - my other half has been my ideal hero from the night we met. It's lovely to hear about your long-lasting romance. Experiences like yours give everyone hope for the future - thanks!

Christina Hollis said...

One of the reasons I write romance, Marilyn, is the enjoyment I get from tying up loose ends and working towards that elusive happy ever after. In real life, walking away from a relationship is the hardest thing. It takes a really strong person to fact up to the fact that something isn't working.

Lucy Monroe said...

Okay, first thought...what a GORGEOUS cover! Second thought, fabulous post. :) totally amazing. :) My favorite hero and heroine pairing? The alpha male with the strong heroine. She can need to grow, so can he - but I love for her to have the Steel Magnolia strength women are so known for. :)

Christina Hollis said...

Wow Lucy, the phrase 'Steel Magnolia' is a new one on me, but it's perfect fit for my ideal heroine. As a distillation of determination and fragility, it's spot on!

Christina Hollis said...

Oops - I forgot to say: thanks for your lovely comments on the cover, Lucy. Isn't Gianni gorgeous? He looks exactly as I imagined him.
By the way, the manuscript I've just finished, 'The Italian's Blushing Gardener' has been scheduled for release in the autumn. That's a good excuse to spend some time out in my own garden today!

Virginia said...

Great post! Rhett Butler has always been my favorite hero! I love the story Gone With the Wind and have read it several times. I also watched the movie a while back!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Virginia -there's nothing like a really good, long saga once in a while, is there? I'm addicted to short romances, but when I go on holiday I love to take a really big read!

Annie West said...

Hi Christina,

Isn't GWTW the most amazing story?

I began brooding on your question about my favourite hero and who to team him with. It bothered me because I had no answer, except of course my dh who is the inspiration behing a lot of my heroes, though he firmly refuses to believe it. Then I realised that maybe there's a reason why I can't answer the question. I keep coming up with new heroes that fascinate me and heroines who are pitted against them. That's part of why I love writing romance - because there's always another story to tell and another and each new one grabs me all over again. Don't you find that too?

Lucy Monroe said... of my alltime favorite movies is Steel Magnolias. It'll make you cry, but celebrate a woman's strength too. :)

Christina Hollis said...

You're right, Annie - love and attraction are as old as humanity itself, which means there must be as many ways of telling stories as there are readers to enjoy them!

Christina Hollis said...

I've just G*ogled Steel Magnolias, Lucy, and it's going straight to the top of my 'to be watched' list - though with my 'to be read' pile teetering dangerously, I think the DVD may have to wait until the Easter holidays!

Lucy Monroe said...

LOL I so hear you, Christina! :)