My July 2011 release for Harlequin Presents Extra, The Count's Challenge, is the story of ambitious chef Gwen. She'll do almost anything to make her new restaurant in the south of France a success. Etienne is an aristocrat with the money and power to make all her dreams come true, but his huge generosity comes with a price tag to match...
'I have a lot of things on my mind, Gwen. I need distraction - something to take my mind off it all and restore my faith in human nature. Last night I found the perfect solution, in you. We would make a good team. I'm sure of it. With my support you would be released from all your obligations. There would be no need for you to slave away in a kitchen. You would be free to enjoy life as it should be lived, with no worries.'
She gazed at him, so clearly puzzled that he laughed. When he did that it made her smile, although she still shook her head in bewilderment.'What do you mean, Etienne?'
'Exactly what I say. I'm so delighted to have found you, cherie, it would be my pleasure to provide for you, financially. I don't want you waiting on other people. I want to keep you all to myself, and support you in the way you deserve.'He was seducing her all over again, simply by using his deliciously accented voice and the promise in those beautiful dark eyes...
Copyright Harlequin Mills and Boon Limited, 2011
As Etienne's mistress, Gwen need never worry about anything ever again but she values her independence too highly to accept. Instead, she lets him become a sleeping partner in her business. The arrangement works well until she discovers their one night of passion has resulted in an unexpected pregnancy. Then she has to cope with Etienne trying to dictate her personal future as well as her business plans. Neither Gwen nor Etienne is used to compromising in their professional lives, so neither sees why their private life should be any different.You can read a review of The Count's Challenge here: http://bit.ly/j8sAhL. It's available online from eHarlequin.com at http://bit.ly/lIOG1a and Amazon.com
I had great fun writing Gwen and Etienne's story, which incidentally has been released in the UK under the title The French Aristocrat's Baby. I once harboured dreams of becoming a chef like Gwen. What made me decide against it was the long hours worked in the hospitality business. They wouldn't have left me enough time or energy for writing. As a writer I can cook when I like, as long as I hit my deadlines.
Do you love your job, like Gwen? Or are you still searching for that elusive position that combines interesting work with enough time off to enjoy yourself?
Christina Hollis writes Modern Romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon, which appear as Harlequin Presents Extra in the US. You can catch up with Christina at her website, http://www.christinahollis.com/, on http://www.christinahollis.blogspot.com/ and Twitter, where she's @christinabooks.