Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This week my guest is the wonderful Modern/Presents author Trish Morey who I had the great pleasure to meet at the RWA conference in New York a year or two ago.

This sizzling cover of an anthology, on sale in Australia this month, featuring stories by not just Trish but Lucy Monroe and Melanie Milburne who were also in New York. A never to be forgotten visit.

Trish has been on her travels again, this time to the Mediterranean, and she's dropped by to share these beautiful photographs of her adventures in Greece.

The last time I was in Rhodes and Athens, I was on my honeymoon (and Trish our starting point was Doha!). It's been more than 36 years -- definitely time the dh and I made a sentimental journey...

Welcome, Trish!

Liz, happy 50th book and thank you for having me as your guest! It’s a delight to be able to share such a fabulous achievement with you. I hope you don’t mind if I share some recent holiday snaps with you!

As you know, I’ve just returned from a few weeks overseas exploring parts of
Europe and the Middle East with my husband and four daughters, an enormous adventure that took us from London to Euro Disney to Paris to Rome and the Amalfi Coast to Santorini then back to London and finally home through Doha. Phew! It amazes me that we made it safely home with all family members, six pieces of luggage, and even our marriage intact.

But for all the fabulous places we travelled and all the wondrous sights we saw, one place topped everyone’s favourite list. Looking at the photos, it’s not hard to understand why.

Santorini is a collection of small volcanic islands in the Aegean Sea just north of Crete and like most Greek islands, is made for the camera. My eldest said it’s not possible to take a bad photo on Santorini. She might be right. Santorini’s picturesque cliff-top villages cling to the rim like icing on a cake.

There’s plenty of the quintessential blue and white we associate with the Greek islands...

... with the odd burst of colour, as delightful as it is unexpected, with bougainvillea running riot, splashing pinks and purples over sun drenched walls.

Everywhere you turn, there’s yet another glorious view, a glimpse of perfection, a feast for the eyes and for the camera lens. Doorways frame million dollar views and beckon you to come inside and discover the bars and restaurants huddled in the terraces below. White walls frame a perfect domed roof and contrast against the blue of sea and sky...

... with always a surprise in store around every corner...

And if you *have* to do revisions to your last manuscript while you’re travelling in Europe, what better place?

I tell you, it was hard to concentrate on the manuscript! But there was a reward for all that hard work, because, at the end of the day, the views only got better. It was my first time in Santorini and I know it won’t be my last.

I have two books out at the moment in Australia, The Italian Boss’s Mistress of Revenge (HM&B Sexy) and the novella, Back in the Spaniard’s Bed, in Her Latin Lover anthology (both were September UK releases and still available at Mills and Boon and through and while neither of them have anything to do with Santorini, you can be sure that this magical island is going to feature in a Trish Morey story coming soon.

And to win a chance to win a copy of both Trish’s current releases, leave a comment with your favourite place in the world and why and Trish will draw a winner from the entries.

To catch up with more of Trish’s travel adventures, visit her blog

For ore about The Italian Boss's Mistress of Revenge (and to buy the book in either paper or eBook format) click on the icon below.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunday 2nd Nov, BBC4 at 8pm

What happens when a literary novelist tries to write popular romantic fiction? To mark 100 years of romance publishers Mills & Boon, author Stella Duffy takes on the challenge of writing for them. Romantic fiction is a global phenomenon, and Mills & Boon are among the biggest names in the business. The company welcomes submissions from new authors - but as Stella soon finds out, writing a Mills & Boon is harder than it looks. Help is at hand from the publishers themselves, a prolific Mills & Boon author and some avid romance fans, as Stella's quest to create the perfect Mills & Boon takes her from London to Italy. It's a revealing journey that's not only an insight into the art of romantic fiction, but also the joy and frustration of writing itself.

Consuming Passion – 100 Years Of Mills & Boon
Sunday 2 November, 9.00-10.30pm BBC FOUR

Funny, moving and very raunchy, Consuming Passion – 100 Years Of Mills & Boon, written by Emma Frost (Shameless), is a one-off drama that provides an insight into the world of romantic fiction, seen through the publishing phenomenon of Mills & Boon. They are two names synonymous with ripping bodices and one of the most recognisable and compelling genres in literature. So what is behind its phenomenal success?

Interweaving the stories of three very different women, Consuming Passion sheds light on the impact and influence the books have had on women's lives over the last century.

Tonight's first story, within the 90-minute drama, features Mary, wife of Charles Boon – the wheeler-dealer who co-founded the publishing imprint with his upright business partner and trusted friend Gerald Mills. Their decision to take a chance on the low-brow, high-romance genre proved to be so original and successful that it went on to alter the course of publishing history. Although Charles was brilliant at identifying the need for "romance" through literature in his publishing empire, he was less adept at identifying it at home. This story is inspired by the lives of the actual people behind the scenes.

Janet Bottomley is the heroine of tonight's second tale – an ordinary spinster devoted to her ailing mother at her own expense. Janet's life takes a U-turn when she meets a devastatingly handsome consultant, Dr Grant, who must operate on her mother. The meeting triggers Janet's fantastical yearning for romance and a comedy of errors ensues, changing her world for ever. This story is inspired by the real experience of many women in the Seventies, discovering their voices during a time of social and sexual revolution.

Finally, Kirstie's story brings the experience of Mills & Boon up to date. A university lecturer in literature and feminist studies, Kirstie is in a stagnating relationship with her partner, Nick. Thwarted, bored and frustrated, she is lecturing to students on romantic literature and its place within the literary canon when a sexy young stranger, Jack, enters her life.

Jodie Whittaker plays Mary, Daniel Mays plays Charles Boon, Patrick Kennedy plays Gerald Mills, Olivia Colman plays Janet, Patrick Baladi plays Dr Grant, Emilia Fox plays Kirstie, Nick Sidi plays Nick and OT Fagbenle plays Jack.

And the Romantic Novelists' Association take on the EGGHEADS on the Beeb on 4th November.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I have a real problem with the packaging of my November book, Wedded in a Whirlwind. The cover is light, air, movement -- a joyful moment. (And the fact that the hero is dressed in white tie and tails like a competitor in Strictly Come Dancing rather than the morning coat more usually worn at a formal wedding leaves me frankly bemused.)

I was concerned that readers would look at that cover and then, when they read the book think, "What?"

Well so far Catherine Witner at Romantic Times has given it 4.5 stars and the accolade "...exceptional emotional honesty."

And now Merrimon Books has described it as as a "Double delight!" with "...a unique inner and outer landscape."

"WEDDED IN A WHIRLWIND captures the reader's attention immediately with a combination of emotion and dramatic fast-paced action that will keep readers up late at night wanting to discover how these two can possibly escape. Forced to work together in darkness and close physical proximity, Miranda and Nick..."

Read on...

And if you want to discuss the book with people who've already read it, click here

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Thanks for all the cyber hugs -- nothing broken, but a very blue thumb, a mottled thumbnail and a perfect excuse not to peel potatoes. There's always a silver lining!

Ally has emailed me to let me know that she found it super hard to pick a winner, but Veronica is the lucky lady. If you'll send me your snail mail, Veronica, I'll pass it along to Ally.

Thanks everyone for taking part. I'm now retreating to my cave until Trish Morey makes a visit at the end of the month.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I trapped my thumb in the car door and doing everything HURTS!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


First, a huge thank you to Jessica Hart for her blog last week. And to those of you who emailed her in droves in the hope of winning a copy of LAST MINUTE PROPOSAL.

Generously, Jessica is sending a copy of the book and a tote bag to everyone who took part so well done all of you!

Next, I'm directing you to Romance Junkies Halloween competition -- loads of prizes to be won. Dive in and have some fun with recipes, spookie stuff and everything you'd expect of the season.

Now it's time to welcome as my guest this week the fabulous Ally Blake who has not just one, but two books to give away.

Ally, who is not just a wonderful writer, but a web sign designer par excellence as well and a busy mother, is having a stellar year and I know you're going to enjoy the excerpts she's posted.

Jump in and then respond to Ally's question with a comment on the blog. Enquiring minds want to know...


September, October and November sees the release of three books of mine in a row in North America. Phew! I feel exhausted just thinking about it! Especially when they are coming out in two very different lines.

finished it’s worldwide jaunt last month as a Harlequin Presents. Next, (out now in the UK as well!) is a Harlequin Romance, HIRED: THE BOSS’S BRIDE.

And last but not least is my bad boy book, A Night with the Society Playboy, a Modern Heat, out in the UK right now and next a Harlequin Presents.

Are your eyes crossed? Think how crossed mine are writing one kind of book, then another, and back again! Heck even my fingers are feeling a little twisted.

Writing for two different lines could well lead some down the path to having a split personality. Especially someone like me who actually prefers writing two books at the same time.

Head-hopping from one character’s point of view to another is hard enough, how about hopping from one line, one tone, one voice to a very different one? Okay, the very thought is giving me a headache.

So how is it that with all the finger twisting, and head hopping, and voice morphing I find writing for two lines soooo much fun? Here’s why…

I’ve given you two excerpts, both examples of how my heroines Veronica and Ava view their respective heroes, Mitch and Caleb for the first time.

Here's Veronica...

Veronica glanced back over her shoulder. Whatever predicament she had landed herself in, the answer came down to Mitch Hanover; the man who had her future firmly in his long-fingered hands.

Kristin had called him a slave driving stuffed shirt on more than one occasion. Veronica had thus pictured a balding, overfed, pompous, pasty, married guy on daily blood pressure medication. Compared with her last boss, personable, clean-cut, and ultimately indiscreet Geoffrey, that combination of traits had sounded like her salvation.

Salvation, as it turned out, had been offered to her in the form of a man whose dark grey suit, dark tie and crisp pinstriped shirt were pressed to the point of agony. But it was the stuff stuffed inside the shirt that made the bigger impact.

Mitch Hanover was beautiful. Like Ken from Ken and Barbie fame beautiful. The kind of beautiful a young girl with dreams of princes and fairy wings and all that jazz would go weak at the knees for.

A shade over thirty, a bit more over six feet tall, with matinee idol looks, an assemblage of dark preppy hair, sharp jaw, and persuasively curved mouth. Stuck in a room with a young Cary Grant and Paul Newman he would have held his own.

But the things that had hit her first, last and every moment in between were his eyes. He had the kind of deep grey eyes that gave her the feeling it wouldn’t take all that much to make them sparkle.

Unfortunately she hadn’t managed it. Yet. But since he hadn’t turned her on her heels and sent her packing she had time. All for the sake of getting the job, of course. That was why she’d come home. Not to ogle, or allow herself to be consistently ogled by, a colleague. Supremely ogle worthy though he might well be.

Downstairs Kristin began whispering to her boss animatedly, arms flailing, going pink in the face, no doubt talking her up, while Mitch remained cool, aloof, unflappable. It didn’t ease Veronica’s mind any.

In fact watching him standing there surrounded by all that gilded finery, his fine mouth pressed into a straight line, his eyes unreadable, his whole mien making him seem like he took life far too seriously, he made her feel distinctly nervous. Little butterflies came to life in her stomach and she slid a hand beneath her t-shirt and tried her best to silently talk them down.

As though he knew he was being watched Mitch chose that exact moment to glance up at her, his intense grey eyes sending the tummy butterflies into hysterics.

Car payments, car payments, car payments, she repeated inside her head.

She slid her hand from her tummy and casually waved it at a random picture on the wall, some great hulking green monstrosity that looked like it had been painted by a blindfolded monkey. She poked out her bottom lip and nodded, feigning great appreciation.

Mitch’s gaze trailed away, lingered for a moment on the painting, then shifted back to her. From that distance she could have sworn his eyebrows raised a very little, and that his already enticing mouth turned upwards into the lightest of wry smiles, as though he wasn’t of the mind to take the thing home and stick it on his wall either.

But then he blinked and once again became a wall of poised professionalism. Shame, she thought.

And here's Ava...

A pair of hazel eyes snagged Ava’s. Caleb again.

Guests’ heads bobbed between them cutting off her view, but every few seconds that hot hazel gaze sliced through the air, unreadable at that distance, yet aimed directly at her.

She hadn’t needed his earlier warning to take heed where he was concerned. It had taken no more than a second in his company to see that just as she’d changed over the years, the boy she’d known, in all his varied incarnations, was no more.

There was apathy in his overly relaxed stance, arrogance in the angle of his chin, and the glimmer of barely restrained sensuality radiating from those disarming hazel eyes.

And despite the distance, despite the string quartet playing the perfectly respectable Claire de Lune, and despite the two hundred odd elegant party guests chatting up a storm between them, under his watch she began to feel warm and restless all at once.

She ought to have looked away. To have let her eyes slide past his as though she hadn’t even noticed.

But after the month she’d had, having a man who looked like Caleb Gilchrist looking at like she was some kind of exotic dish he’d once tasted and now was deciding if he wanted to go back for seconds was like an elixir. Like a balm to the great gaping wound in her own self-worth she was trying her best to conquer.

She cocked her head in question. A leisurely smile lit his eyes. The heat of it leapt across the marquee and burned her cheeks.

She hadn’t heard from him in ten years. Yet she’d often wondered if he thought of that night fondly or with regret, or if he thought of it at all. Right then her question was answered; her old friend was not reminiscing about pulling her plaits.

Her heart responded, thumping hard and steady against her ribs, making her feel soft and breathless and interesting, not the great big loser with bad judgement in her past and big trouble in her future who’d jumped on the plane in Boston because spending time with her unhinged family had felt like the lesser of two evils compared with the situation awaiting her back at Harvard.

He made her feel like her blood was so much lemonade. Always had. And it was the exact kind of feeling she needed right now.

She licked her suddenly dry lips and Caleb’s smile grew until she could see a pair of pointy incisors. It was the slow easy sure smile of a predator who knew exactly what his prey was thinking. Ava was almost glad somebody did as right then she had no idea.

The hand holding the champagne glass shook ever so slightly. Enough so she sought out a table and placed the half-empty flute out of reach.

Okay so did you pick up the difference? To my mind my Harlequin Romances are sweeter, brighter, sunnier. They remind me of wrapping myself in a dressing gown and wrapping my hands about a hot chocolate on a cool winter’s morning. Or like the scent of summer shooting off Sorrento beach at the beginning of summer. Of possibility, and hope, and vulnerability and beating a path to happiness for happiness’ sake. They are all about warmth.

And my Modern Heat’s which are now coming out in North America as Harlequin Presents are a little darker, moodier, and definitely sexier. To me they are about that moment when you lock eyes with the hottest guy you’ve ever seen across the dance floor of a hot, noisy club. About walking through the city and seeing only a sea of great-looking, super-successful men in suits coming the other way. About fantasy and secret thrills and daring your imagination to go one step further than you ever would in real life. They are all about heat!

So how do I feel about having to split my personality and my writing voice in two? I feel darned lucky!

I have signed copies of both books to giveaway. So for the chance to win ‘em, tell me which kind of romance novels you most love reading - warm ones or hot ones - and why.

THE MAGNATE'S INDECENT PROPOSAL out now! Sexy Sensation Aus/NZ ~ Harlequin Presents, North America Sept 08

HIRED: THE BOSS'S BRIDE, Harlequin Romance, North America & UK Oct 08

And if you want to learn more about Ally and how she writes, you'll find her here, under the SPOTLIGHT.

Monday, October 06, 2008


And not just for our characters. But for us. And here are a few memories from my daughter's wedding, which took place on the pretty island of Guernsey just off the coast of France.

After just about the worst summer I can ever remember, the day dawned warm, fair and fine. with a cloudless blue sky.

Amy, her dad and I began the day with leisurely breakfast. Family began to arrive soon after -- including a ninety-three year old aunt who'd flown in for the occasion -- and there was time to look at old photographs my cousin had brought with him.

Then it was off to the hairdresser. Mine was a big guy with a lot of hair and tattoos -- very different from Rachel back home in Llandeilo -- and three times as expensive!

We seem to have missed lunch -- excellent breakfast at the Cobo Bay Hotel! -- and instead went off to have makeup done.

I got dressed then went to help Amy into her dress. It was the first time I'd seen it in all it's glory (we live two hundred miles apart) and it was just beautiful. Champagne lace with a fish tail train, little lace shrug and a gold sash. There was quite a battle with the endless buttons -- there was a moment when I thought they had me beaten! -- but we got the better of them. Then there was the debate whether or not Amy should wear the fingerless satin and lace gloves. Absolutely! They were the perfect finishing touch.

Amy's "borrowed" were the pearl earrings (the pearls came from the Sheikh of Bahrain's pearl beds) that her father had made for me when she was born. The final touch was the little pearl and diamante tiara. And then I took her down to her father.

Oh, proud man!

Unlike most brides, Amy arrived early at St James's Hall -- the Registrar was amused. "You're eager," she said. Of course she was. It was her show. She'd arranged the whole thing herself and everything ran like clockwork.

The photographer took some pictures, then I went inside, leaving her with her father. There was time to give the groom a big hug, kiss all the new family that has now joined ours before settling down. Then Pachebel's Canon faded and "All You Need is Love" burst out as the bride arrived on her father's arm. The groom, his best man and most of the guys around were all members of a rock band called Subliminal Girls, (as well as having the very necessary day jobs) so, as my ninety plus year old aunt remarked, it was all a little bit "rock and roll".

The civil ceremony was short, as these things are, but intensely moving. Afterwards, Alice, one of Amy's friends, gave a reading called "Love is Giving" which began:

Love is giving, not taking,
Mending, not breaking,
Trusting, believing,
Never deceiving ...

Then the groom's sister, Harriet, sang The Rose a cappella.

She's only sixteen but has the most beautiful voice and the last line nearly got me, but the mascara stayed intact. It was the most joyful occasion and despite being a "blubberer" of the first water, I was just too happy to even think about tears.

The ceremony was followed by loads of photographs outside St James's Hall before the bride, groom and all the younger element set off for the reception in a 40 seater bus, getting waves from children on their way home from school, as they drove across the island.

Dad gave a lovely, emotional speech that made us all laugh and -- Amy cry. He wrote every word of it himself, by the way. The cake was cut, and then there was that special first dance, but in minutes all the guys -- and the bride -- were lined up playing air guitar and the party began.

Finally, here's a photograph of the sunset over Cobo Bay just to show you where we were.

Liz Fielding's latest Harlequin Romance, WEDDED IN A WHIRLWIND is available this month in print and ebook form.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Shame we don't share the same birth date! But what we do share this year is the publication of our fiftieth book and it's a huge pleasure to welcome Jessica to the blog this week to tell us about this very special anniversary.

First though, since she was too shy to mention it herself, I'll tell you that it's not the only book bearing her name on the shelves this month. There is also, Christmas Dreams, a three-in-one with stories by Betty Neels, Rebecca Winters and Jessica, that would make a lovely stocking filler for any romantic you know. Or maybe you'd like to pop it in your own stocking!

The major event this month, however, is the very special Last-Minute Proposal, Jessica's fiftieth Mills & Boon/Harlequin Romance.

Jessica has a deeply adventurous spirit. Her books over the years have been set in the Outback and the Far East, places that she's lived and worked. And check out her blog for fabulous pictures of her coastal walk in Cornwall this month.

But I do know that Jessica has a particular love of the Highlands, so it's no surprise to see her heroine following in her footsteps -- and abseiling down the side of a cliff -- with her gorgeous hero. Fabulous stuff, Jessica! Over to you...

When I was first published, in 1991, writing was a pretty solitary business and it was some time before I came into contact with any other authors. When I did, it didn’t take me long to realise that Liz Fielding was the act to follow, and follow I have. Liz won a RITA, and a little later I won one too. Liz won the RNA’s Romance Prize, the next year I did. Liz hit 50 books earlier this year, and guess whose 50th book is also out this October ..? Really, it ought to be deeply annoying, but Liz combines her deserved popularity with such charm of manner and does so much to support other authors, and to promote the Romance line and romance generally, that I can’t think of anyone in whose footsteps I’d rather tread! So thank you, Liz, for setting such a fine example, and many congratulations on 50 fabulous books. See you at 100??

The mind boggles at the idea of having written 100 books, I must say. 100 heroes, 100 heroines … how would I possibly be able to distinguish between them? On the other hand, I would never have been able to imagine writing 50 when I started out, and yet I can remember every hero and heroine so far. Every character feels different when I’m writing, but inevitably some stay in the mind more than others. Luckily, Tilly and Campbell in Last-Minute Proposal are one of those couples. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know how much I struggle with some books, but Last-Minute Proposal was fun to write, perhaps because I identified so much with Tilly, with her love of food, her insecurity about her figure and, of course, her fear of abseiling! The book opens with her reluctantly partnered with Campbell in a reality TV competition.

His task is to get Tilly down a cliff, across a river and to the top of a mountain in the Scottish Highlands … but later he has to face a challenge of his own where he has to rely on Tilly’s expertise, and that’s just as difficult for him as the outdoor stuff is for her.

The very first scene was easy to write: I based it completely on the time I had to abseil down a rock face in Dentdale, a beautiful part of the Yorkshire Dales – and if you think Tilly makes a fuss, you should have seen how I carried on! This picture was taken when I was halfway down, and I was quite unable to see what was so damned funny … I had no idea at the time that exactly 20 years later I would use that scene in my 50th book, but it just goes to show that no experience is ever wasted!

In the extract below, Tilly has survived the abseiling, but now has to get up a mountainside. If you’d like to read what happens afterwards, I have a signed copy of Last-Minute Proposal to give away, together with a fabulous pink tote bag to give away.

Email me at jessica @ (no gaps) to tell me what Tilly is drinking in her fantasy below, and I’ll do a lucky dip for a winner next week.

‘Let’s get going,’ he said.

Tilly groaned but hauled herself obediently to her feet. ‘How much further is it?’

‘We could do another three hours at least.’

‘I’m not sure my feet will last that long,’ she said, wincing as she wriggled her toes in her boot.

‘Mind over matter,’ said Campbell briskly. He threw his pack onto his back and adjusted the straps with deft movements. ‘The trick is to keep thinking about something else.’

‘Like what?’

‘Like what you’d really like to find at the top of the next hill.’

‘That’s easy,’ said Tilly, securing her own pack into place and trudging after him. ‘Can you please make sure there’s a fabulous bathroom, with a deep, scented bath piled high with bubbles? I’d like candles and a glass of champagne waiting for me on the edge of the bath … oh, and a little plate of nibbles too. Smoked salmon, probably,’ she added reflectively. ‘Or nuts? No, smoked salmon,’ she decided. ‘Little roulades stuffed with prawn mousse and soft cheese.’

‘I’ll see what I can do,’ said Campbell in a dry voice.

He was taken aback by how vividly he could picture Tilly sinking into the water with a sigh of pleasure. Her skin would be pink and pearly and wet, her hair clinging in damp tendrils around her face, her breasts rising out of the bubbles as she tipped back her head and dropped smoked salmon into that lush mouth …

Campbell had to give himself a mental shake, and he picked up his stride. He felt almost embarrassed, as if someone had caught him peeking round the bathroom door.
Tilly was still fantasising. ‘While you’re at it, can you arrange for a wonderful meal to be cooking so that the smell comes wafting up the stairs? No niminy piminy nouvelle cuisine, though, not after the day I’ve had. I want something hot and tasty. It doesn’t have to be fancy.’

‘A roast?’ Campbell suggested, drawn back into the scene she was creating in spite of himself.

‘Yes, a roast would be very acceptable, especially if you can lay on all the trimmings too. Or a really good casserole with creamy mashed potatoes.’ Tilly was beginning to salivate now. She could practically taste that first mouthful. ‘Or – I know! – steak and kidney pudding … mmnn, yum, yum … Even a-’

Glancing at Campbell just then and catching his fascinated gaze, she broke off. ‘What, you don’t have fantasies?’

‘Not about food.’

‘What do you fantasise about then?’ she demanded grouchily, embarrassed at having revealed quite how greedy she was. Why couldn’t she be the kind of girl who hankered after a green salad or a mug of nice herbal tea?

Campbell lifted an eyebrow in response, and she tutted. ‘Not that kind of fantasy,’ she scolded as if he had spoken, although actually she wouldn’t have minded knowing that at all. ‘A fantasy you can share with a nice girl like me!’

‘I’m not sure any of my fantasies are suitable for nice girls.’

There was just the faintest thread of amusement in his voice and Tilly was sure that he was mocking her.

‘All right, imagine being really relaxed,’ she challenged him.


‘Just do it,’ she insisted. ‘Close your eyes – or on second thoughts, you’d better not, you might trip – and picture yourself happy.’

Campbell sighed and prepared to indulge her. At least it might stop her whingeing about her feet for a while longer. He thought for a moment.


‘Have you got an image of yourself relaxed and happy?’


‘Where are you?’

Tilly hoped that he wasn’t going to say that he was in bed. That would make it very hard to concentrate. She waited for him to say standing on top of a mountain, or skiing down a black run.

‘I’m sitting in a comfortable chair in front of the fire.’

It was so unexpected that she actually gaped at him. Sitting? Wasn’t that a bit tame for a man like Campbell?

‘What are you doing?’


The defensive note in his voice made Tilly grin. ‘You make it sound like you’re confessing a dirty secret! What are you reading? Nothing illegal or immoral, I hope?’

‘Roman military history.’

Campbell practically bit out the words, and this time Tilly really did laugh.

He scowled at her. ‘What’s so funny?’

‘I’m sorry. It was just so unexpected,’ she tried to explain.

‘What, marines aren’t allowed to read?’

‘It’s not that. It’s just that you seem such a macho action man that it’s hard to imagine you poring over ancient history, that’s all.’

‘I don’t want to spend all day doing it. You asked me to imagine myself relaxed,’ said Campbell almost crossly. ‘That was just a picture that came into my mind. Obviously I should have said some kind of extreme sport instead!’

‘That wouldn’t have been as interesting, though,’ said Tilly, meaning it, but Campbell clearly thought that she was joking.

‘I’ve had the mick taken out of me for years,’ he said in a resigned voice. ‘Anyone would think I had some bizarre fetish. It’s only military history, for God’s sake.’

‘But why the Romans?’

He shrugged. ‘I like their logical approach. Their sense of order. They were great engineers. Great strategists.’

‘And successful,’ Tilly reminded him, sure that was the key to their appeal for him. ‘The Romans were winners too.’ She caught his look. ‘Hey, I did history at school. Roman history may not be my bedtime reading, but I’m not completely ignorant!’

She studied him under her lashes as she toiled on beside him. She hoped he wasn’t regretting telling her. She rather liked the idea of him sitting quietly and reading by the fire, and was touched by the fact that he seemed faintly embarrassed by it, as if he had confessed some weakness.

‘So … have you got a fantasy meal cooking in the background while you read your book?’

‘I’m afraid I’m not someone who spends a lot of time thinking about food,’ he said. ‘I eat what’s put in front of me. I’ll have some of your roast.’

Tilly wished he hadn’t said that. It was enough to conjure up an instant cosy domestic scene. There she was, upstairs in the bath, and there was Campbell by the fire. Any minute now he would look at his watch, put his book down and go and check on the roast, then he would come upstairs and sit on the edge of the bath.

‘I’ve turned the potatoes,’ he would say, topping up her glass. If you were going to have a fantasy, Tilly believed, you might as well make it a really good one. ‘Will you be much longer?’
And Tilly would sip her champagne and ask him to wash her back while he was there. She could almost feel his warm, firm hands soaping her, and obviously he wouldn’t stop at her back …

‘That must be some bath.’

Campbell’s voice jerked Tilly out of her daydream. ‘What?’ Disorientated, she looked around her to find that she had somehow made it to the top of the hill without even realising it.

‘You haven’t said a word for the last mile. I’m impressed by the power of your fantasising!’

If only he knew.

For more click here...