With: Helena Fairfax
In former days, being reserved meant being the “strong, silent type,” able to deal with hardship with stoicism and a stiff upper lip. There’s been lots written about why the British are famous for their reserve. In the second world war, for example, the British government put out a poster urging people to “Keep Calm and Carry On.” At times of stress, there’s a positive to not being overwhelmed by emotion, and British heroes epitomise the stoic approach.
That’s why, when it comes to romance, I love nothing better than a reserved hero who, in a moment of high drama, finally expresses his feelings of deepest love for the heroine. Who could forget Mr Darcy’s impassioned words to Lizzie, “You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love... I love... I love you. And I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”
His words have so much more impact because at the start of the novel he’s seen as cold and reserved. When we finally get to discover there’s actually a deep well of emotion buried beneath the proud exterior, it’s a revelation.
I fall in love with the reserved hero at the drop of a bowler hat. When it came to writing this type of character, though, I realised just how difficult it is to portray a reserved man in a sympathetic way. There’s a danger that strong, dignified silence can be interpreted as cold and unfeeling. Mr Darcy hardly comes off well at the start of Pride and Prejudice. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s a bit of an arse.
In my case, Paul Farrell, the hero of my novel A Way from Heart to Heart, has a very particular reason for having to repress his emotions over a long period of time. Paul is forced to keep silent, and the heroine, Kate Hemingway, totally mistakes his character at the start of the story and dismisses him as a stuffed shirt: “So full of reserve, you could stuff him and put him in the British Museum.”
It’s hardly surprising Kate misjudges Paul, but underneath the quiet exterior is a very different person to the one she imagines. The day comes when Kate finally discovers what lies beneath Paul’s reserve, and when she does, everything changes in an instant and it’s…well, I won’t spoil the story!
How about you? Do you like the “strong, silent” type of hero? Who’s your favourite British hero of books, film or TV? If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!
A Way from Heart to Heart
Released by Accent Press on 18th November.
After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Her free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls in London, helping them mend their broken lives - which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.
Reserved, upper-class journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t. But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity on a trip to the Yorkshire moors, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything, and leaves Kate torn.
Can she risk her son’s happiness as well as her own?
Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Happy endings are her favourite, and when one of her novels won a reader competition for "The Most Romantic Love Scene Ever" it made her day.
Helena was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, near the home of the Brontës. After many years working in factories and dark, satanic mills, Helena has turned to writing full-time. She walks the Yorkshire moors every day with her rescue dog, finding this romantic landscape the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.