Heroes and settings inspired by foreign travel

I’ve searched for peace everywhere, but haven’t found it anywhere except in a corner with a book said Thomas à Kempis.

And the setting could be anywhere.  I’ve travelled to amazing places, gathered marvellous background material as well as stumbled across rugged, rich, powerful, sometimes emotionally fragile guys, in order to tempt my (generally British) heroine to move from the UK and strike out for pastures new.  I’m her travelling companion every inch of the way and re-living my time spent there triggers fond memories even without photos which I’m a dunderhead at taking.

A visit to Serbia, a beautiful country with a dark past, inspired my first erotic romance LOVING THAT FEELING.  Here’s wealthy Serbian, Zoran, a hot blooded, hard man who has clawed his way out of his country’s turbulence and a disastrous love affair. He clashes with Deborah, a London interior designer who’s campaigning to save a vintage cinema, then dangles a deal in Belgrade that’ll enhance her profile and which she’s shrewd enough to grab. It’ll whisk her away from her humdrum existence and, as she’s ready for a fling, jump-start her love life that has been in the doldrums. So I bundle her off and relish showing her the same charms of rural and urban Serbian life that I experienced. She ends up loving everything about the country and a heart-warming review from a reader was that she was rushing off to Serbia on vacation!

Where did I send my heroine next? It was  autumn and I decided: one is fun. Invariably, doors unexpectedly open and adventures materialise when one’s a solo traveller. And so it proved to be at sun-drenched Lake Garda where I set my second erotic romance, ALCHEMY.  Here church mouse Tamsin, who divides her time between the UK and Italy, helps out her Bohemian parents in their rundown B&B that offers creative writing and painting courses.  This English rose has long lusted after ritzy Luca, half Italian-half Somali, once a penniless refugee orphan, who became the adopted heir of Italian nobility. There’s a startling development … Yet, like all of us on holiday, she’s beguiled by the sensuousness and scenery, the ease and luxury of Luca’s grand villa, the relaxed Italian way of life, the delicious food and wine. And then I drop her and Luca into the heat and dust of Mogadishu, an ancient, mysterious but battle scarred city.  So, two very different places are important markers in their relationship.

A spell-binding part of Portugal, the hill region of the Algarve, with its pretty hamlets, nature treks, age-old traditions and handicrafts, tasty local gastronomy and unique   wild- flower -scented honey is where I pitch Char and Jude who feature in TANGO.  Here, in the simple quinta (farmhouse), a new understanding burgeons between them. In this book, however, I decided Jude ought to be English.  And in spite of what they say about icy Englishmen, he’s knows just how to light Char’s fire.

The arresting Mediterranean island of Malta, overrun by untamed Barbary corsairs who abducted its women folk centuries ago, is the background to the charged romance between Seth and Felicity in SPARKS.

Who can one resist the glamour, atmosphere and exoticism of India, once the brightest jewel in the Crown? Not Kay who, in the engrossing saga WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS, is haunted by a family mystery and risks her prospects in London to pursue a quest for roots there. Fate hurtles her in an unexpected direction when the Maharajah of Walipur, an enigmatic politician, dazzles and challenges her.

When I posted a feature article on my blog chronicling my recent fairytale holiday in Oman, a friend who’s a grandma, emailed me to say that after reading the piece, that night she dreamt she was twenty and a bride again preparing for her wedding to a handsome Arab wearing a snow-white dishdasha.

Let your imagination be your magic carpet shielded, like that of King Solomon’s, from the blazing rays of the sun by a canopy of white storks.  Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon another site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, be that place near hand or distant many a day’s journey and difficult to reach.


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