I hope you will all be staying up until past midnight to welcome in the new year. In our house my husband Dave leaves by the front door well before the first stroke of midnight carrying a silver coin, bread, salt, coal, evergreen, and a wee dram, which represent financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, long-life, and good cheer. When I was growing up in Scotland it was considered bad form to go to bed before midnight and I still adhere to that. Nowadays, church bells are usually drowned out by fireworks, and the chimes of Big Ben on the television. However, I still view Hogmanay as a time for reflection and contemplation when we raise a glass to absent friends, and then stride forward into the new year with hope and optimism. I’m not a great one for new year resolutions, I’m usually happy to settle for love, good health and the promise of a new novel to promote.
Which brings me neatly to our guest – Helena Fairfax
Helena writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Her novels have been shortlisted for several awards, including the Exeter Novel Prize, the Global Ebook Awards, the I Heart Indie Awards, and the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme Award. Helena as born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors and walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings. Small wonder she writes romance!
Like many writers, Helen was inspired by that great author of romantic suspense, Mary Stewart.
Helen writes: “I’ve read and re-read her classic romantic suspense novels ever since first picking up Nine Coaches Waitingas a teenager. It never crossed my mind to have a try at writing in this genre until one day an idea for a story came into my head, and I began wondering ‘what if…?’ I kept thinking about this story on and off, and it wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d written it down.
The story was a classic doppelgänger suspense, with a princess vanished in mysterious circumstances and a heroine who looks enough like her to play her part. Added to that was a handsome and mysterious bodyguard, a housekeeper as creepy as Mrs Danvers, and a dramatic twist that surprised the heroine – and almost ruined everything for her. This is how my novella Palace of Deception came about. I released the story as an ebook and it was published last year by Linford Romance. I thought Palace of Deception would be the end of my foray into romantic suspense but Lizzie and Léon – my Scottish heroine and Mediterranean hero – refused to bow out so easily.
- Palace at Monaco – image courtesy of Pixaba
Palace of Deception is set in Montverrier – a fictional Mediterranean principality which I based on Monaco. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen to Léon after he travelled with Lizzie to her home in Edinburgh. How would a hot-blooded Mediterranean bodyguard fit in in this dark northern city in a chilly, misty autumn? Would their relationship survive the move? And then what if danger followed them?
Staying with the Romantic Suspense theme, Helena wrote The ScottishDiamond follows the fortunes of Lizzie and Léon in Scotland. Edinburgh has been at the centre of some thrilling and dramatic events in history, from the siege of Edinburgh Castle in the fourteenth century, to the brutal murder of Mary Queen of Scots’ private secretary in her rooms at Holyrood Palace, to the capture and imprisonment of Highland rebels in the Jacobite revolution. This beautiful and unique city lends itself perfectly to mystery and romance…and Lizzie and Léon find danger is stalking them in the streets.
Helena has now released both novellas together – Palace of Deception and The Scottish Diamond – in one boxed set, along with a final short story which is set at Hogmanay in Edinburgh. The last story provides the perfect mysterious, dramatic and romantic end to Lizzie and Léon’s year. The boxed set is called A Year of Light and Shadows. Three romantic and gripping stories of danger, suspense and mystery in one anthology.
“Anyone with a romantic heart should enjoy this one. I found it a terrific surprise.” Amazon Five Star Revie
Here is the blurb:
A Year of Light and Shadows covers a year of mystery, suspense and romance in the life of Scottish actress Lizzie Smith and her bodyguard, Léon. When Lizzie is offered the chance to play the role of the Princess of Montverrier, she little realizes her decision to accept will thrust her into a world of intrigue and danger. Alone in the Palace, Lizzie relies on her quiet bodyguard, Léon, to guide her. But who is Léon really protecting? Lizzie…or the Royal Princess? Back home in Scotland Lizzie begins rehearsals for Macbeth – and finds danger stalking her through the streets of Edinburgh. Lizzie turns to her former bodyguard, Léon, for help…and discovers a secret he’d do anything not to reveal.
a message from Helena – Happy Hogmanay! A Year of Light and Shadows ends on New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, with mystery, romance and fireworks. The perfect read!
view over Edinburgh towards the castle
A long wynd in Edinburgh leading down to Princes Street Gardens. Very atmospheric
If you’d like to get in touch with Helena, or find out more about her books, writing, and photos of my settings or the Yorkshire moors where she lives, follow her newsletter. New subscribers will receive a FREE copy of Palace of Deception – the first book in the collection A Year of Light and Shadows
You can also visit Helena on her website at www.helenafairfax.com, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax/, or Twitter https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax
Have a happy, healthy and successful 2018 from all members of New Romantics Press. Or, they say in some parts of Scotland, Lang Mae Yer Lum Reek. Remember to follow our blog and keep up to date with news and updates of our new novels.
**featured image courtesy of Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash