St Valentine’s day… The day of cheap chocolates and roses from the supermarket or petrol station. The day we are all supposed to be romantic and loving. When our partner or spouse simply must get us that little gift and the two of us will celebrate with a candle lit dinner for two…
I have always balked at the whole thing, thinking it’s just a commercial enterprise for shop owners out there. Hating the idea that you ‘must’ be romantic on a specific day. Always said ‘how corny’, ‘how cheap and tacky’ and ‘I’m not buying into that’. Feeling slightly superior saying all of that.
But… I have a confession. I’m a romantic. Love romantic movies, books, and music. Because of that I have been hurt when my romantic feelings were not reciprocated. When someone used romance for fun to play with me for a while but didn’t really mean it. There are men like that. Men who don’t know the hurt they inflict when they finally show their false, cold heart. That’s all in the distant past, however. The wounds have healed and it was probably part of those growing pains we all go through.
I had the good fortune to meet, in my distant youth, a very romantic man. Someone who truly cares for me and isn’t afraid to show it. Who always shows his appreciation and never fails to make me happy in some small way or other. Or in big ways. And, reader, I married him and we’re still married.
My grandmother always said that the most romantic thing in the world is an old couple, holding hands, supporting each other after many, many years of marriage. I agree with her. Loving someone for the best part of your adult life is truly magic. It makes me feel very lucky, even if he does forget to bring me flowers when he ‘should’.
I’m a romantic. That’s why I write romantic fiction. I always feel particularly romantic when I’m in the middle of a story. I listen to romantic music while I write to inspire me. Soppy love songs sung by Franks Sinatra or Michael Buble or any of those honey-voiced crooners. Then I’m in another world, the ‘zone’ of my story, forgetting all around me and nearly feeling those kisses, smiling at my character’s whispers of love. It’s a very nice way to experience romance. And I get to choose the hero and make him do whatever I wish.
My love stories aren’t without conflict, however. I also make fun of my characters, putting them into ridiculous, embarrassing situations. I make the protagonists fall in and out of love repeatedly. They have to fight for each other, argue and scream. There’s quite a battle sometimes. A lot of bitchy repartee. Fun one-liners that I love to make up.
One of my own favorites among my books is Villa Caramel. It’s a romantic comedy set in Saint Tropez, a very romantic setting. I wrote some of it while I was on holiday there, so I was involved the story in more ways than one.
The story: Eva Connolly is elegant, clever and determined to make a brilliant career in the European Commission in Brussels. When her brother offers her a month’s holiday in his luxury villa in St Tropez, she thinks it will be the perfect opportunity to network with all the Eurocrats who spend the summer there, especially the wealthy and influential Lord and lady Bakewell at nearby Villa Caramel. Eva’s husband Dan is also joining her and her beautiful Irish stepdaughters, Maria and Louise, are for once prepared to holiday with their detested stepmother. The interlocking love lives of the three women and the men who are pursuing them – sexy Frenchman Yves, handsome Italian Guido, ambitious Irishman Paul and posh Englishman Mark – lead the reader in a merry dance to a hilarious and unexpected ending. Set in the corridors of power of Brussels, the boutiques of Paris, the islands of the Caribbean and the beaches of St Tropez, this novel is brimming with glamour, intrigue and romance.