Saturday, November 23, 2013

Location, Location, Location

Congratulations to Karen J., the winner of Dani's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

Harlequin Presents are known for their exotic settings and when I sat down to write More Than A Convenient Marriage, the weather was much as it is now. Winter was closing in with depressing inevitability. Therefore, it shouldn’t have surprised me that my editor at the time, Megan, would say in her revision letter:

“You bring to life the Greek setting and 5* villas, hotels and apartments beautifully – absolute escapist reading.”

Me? Escape to somewhere warm?

It is warm in Greece when Gideon arrives—and he hates it. He has bad memories of Greece and is only there because he suspects his wife is having an affair. She’s not! Neither is Gideon, but Adara has the same suspicion about him. She has come to Greece in search of her brother.

The book opens outside a mansion, Rosedale. It has a story of its own—a full length novel actually, called No Longer Forbidden? (In the US, you get both titles as a 2in1.) When I wrote that book, I wanted a heavy English Manor feel to the house as a backdrop for those characters, Nic and Rowan, to sort out their mutual past.

Adara doesn’t get in because Nic isn’t home. She hasn’t seen him since they were children and Gideon doesn’t even know she has an older brother. They go back to her hotel where this information comes out. Adara’s family owns a string of high-end hotels so she takes in everything about this boutique accommodation. I wanted it to be inspiring to her on a professional level, but also a romantic contrast to their talk of divorce.

Gideon doesn’t want to break up. He has a secret of his own, but learning the huge one that Adara has kept all these years about her brother makes him realize they need to talk more. That’s something that’s hard for both of them. Sex has always been easy and he’d like to get back to that, thanks. So when a message comes from Nic that they can stay in Rosedale, alone, Gideon jumps at it.

Here things are able to rekindle. They’re both workaholics, neither is used to downtime, but there are orange groves and a pool and a private beach. I personally can feel myself lying face down on the sand every time I read that scene. Yes, I was there in spirit.

Gideon comes up and warns her against burning, then adjusts the umbrella. Adara says she wishes they could stay on vacation forever. Don’t we all wish that?

I won’t give away all my plot points, but they do eventually work their way back to the chill of New York. Here they have a penthouse that is ultra modern—a symbol of their cutting edge previous lifestyle that doesn’t quite work for them any longer. It was designed with separate bedrooms on opposite ends of the flat, for example. I won’t spoil my own ending, but the way the space is renovated toward the end suits Gideon to a tee.

Before we get there, however, they have one more place to visit: Adara’s mother’s house in Chatham. I wanted something upstate with apple orchards and chicken pens in the yard, even though her mother would have no such thing mucking up her lawn. Her home is a gorgeous white farmhouse with a wrap around porch, a dream home for a family—the complete opposite of Adara’s upbringing. Because, I surmised, when you have a broken home, but you have money, you whitewash the image into an appearance of what you wish you had.

If you’re counting, by the way, there is a scene in one of Adara’s hotels. I imagine this is what Megan was referring to when she counted five. I don’t keep track as I write. I’m a bit of a pantser (fly by the seat of my pants) when I write. I wind up with characters in a new setting and have to sit back and decide what will be the best foil for whatever they are going through emotionally.

But I indulge my own tastes and desires, especially when it’s cold. Tonight, as the light fades and it’s still only six, I feel a Caribbean setting come on.

Do you enjoy ‘visiting’ a hot setting in a book when the weather turns gray? One of my favorite winter movies is Shag. I love a trip to Myrtle Beach in January!


It started with a signature…

Rich, powerful and with a beautiful wife to boot, it seems like Greek shipping magnate Gideon Vozaras has it all. But little does the world know his perfect life is all a façade…

After years of disguising her pain behind a flawless smile, untouchable heiress Adara Vozaras has reached breaking point. Her marriage, once held together by an undeniable passion, has become nothing more than a convenience.

But Gideon can't afford the public scrutiny that a divorce would bring and if there's one thing his harsh past has taught him, it's how to fight dirty to keep what's his...


Gideon Vozaras used all his discipline to keep his foot light on the accelerator as he followed the rented car, forcing himself to maintain an unhurried pace along the narrow island road while he gripped the wheel in white-knuckled fists.  When the other car parked outside the palatial gate of an estate, he pulled his own rental onto the shoulder a discreet distance back then stayed in his vehicle to see if the other driver noticed.  As he cut the engine, the AC stopped.  Heat enveloped him.

Welcome to Hell. 

He hated Greece at the best of times and today was predicted to be one of the hottest on record.  The air shimmered under the relentless sun and it wasn’t even ten o’clock yet.  But the weather was barely worth noticing.

The gates of the estate were open.  The other car could have driven straight through and up to the house, but stayed parked outside.  He watched the female driver emerge and take a moment to consider the unguarded entrance.  Her shoulders gave a lift and drop as though she screwed up her courage before she took action and walked in. 

As she disappeared between imposing brick posts, Gideon left his own car and followed at a measured pace, gut knotting with every step.  Outraged stung his veins. 

He wanted to believe that wasn’t his wife, but there was no mistaking Adara Vozaras.  Not for him.  Maybe her tourist clothes of flip-flops, jeans chopped above the knees, a sleeveless top, and a pair of pigtails didn’t fit her usual professional élan, but he knew that backside.  The tug it caused in his blood was indisputable.  No other woman made an immediate sexual fire crackle awake in him like this.  His relentless hunger for Adara had always been his cross to bear and today it was particularly unwelcome. 

Spending the week with her mother.  This ain’t Chatham, sweetheart.

He paused as he came alongside her car, glancing inside to see a map of the island on the passenger seat.  A logo in its corner matched the hotel he’d been told she was booked into.  And now she was advising her lover where to meet her?  Walking bold as you please up his million-dollar drive to his billion-dollar house?  The only clue to the estate’s ownership, the shields welded to the gate, were turned back against the brick wall that fenced the estate from the road.

Gideon’s entire body twitched with an urge to slip his reins of control.  He was not a poor man.  He’d got past envying other men their wealth once he’d acquired a level of his own. 

Nevertheless, a niggle of his dock-rat inferiority complex wormed to life as he took in what he could see of the shoreline property that rolled into a vineyard and orange grove.  The towering stone house, three stories with turrets on each corner, belonged on an English estate, not a Greek island.  It was twenty bedrooms minimum.  If this was the owner’s weekend retreat, he was an obscenely rich man. 

Not that Adara needed a rich man.  She had grown up wanting for nothing.  She had a fortune in her own right plus half of Gideon’s so what was the attraction here?


The insidious whisper formed a knot of betrayal behind his breastbone.  Was this why she hadn’t shared that stacked body of hers with him for weeks?  His hands curled into fists as he tried to swallow back his gall.

Dreading what he might see as he looked to the front door, he shifted for a full view.  Adara had paused halfway to the house to speak with a gardener.  A truck overflowing with landscaping tools was parked midway up the drive and workers were crawling like bees over the blooming gardens.

The sun seared the back of Gideon’s neck, strong enough to burn through his shirt to his shoulders, making sweat pool between his shoulder blades and tickle annoyingly down his spine. 
They had arrived early this morning, Adara off the ferry, Gideon following in a power boat he was ‘test-piloting.’  She’d been driving a car she’d rented in Athens.  His rental had been negotiated at the marina, but the island was small.  It hadn’t surprised him when she’d driven right past the nose of his car as he had turned onto the main road. 

No, the surprise had been the call thirty-six hours previously when their travel agent had dialed his mobile by mistake.  Ever the survivor, Gideon had thought quickly.  He’d mentioned that he’d like to surprise his wife by joining her and within seconds, Gideon had had all the details of Adara’s clandestine trip.

Well, not all.  He didn’t know whom she was here to see or how she’d met her mystery man.   Why was she doing this when he gave her everything she asked for?

He watched Adara’s slender neck bow in disappointment.  Ha.  The bastard wasn’t home.  Grimly satisfied, Gideon folded his arms and waited for his wife.

Tell me about your coping strategies for escaping winter’s gloom and I’ll draw for a signed copy of More Than A Convenient Marriage from those who comment.


Dani Collins spent twenty-five years dreaming of writing full time and finally made her first sale to Harlequin Mills & Boon in May of 2012. She’s still dreaming of making Romance Author her day job, but for now she writes around work, family, and enough exercise to keep her out of traction. For more information about Dani, you can visit her website at, listen to her interview with Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books, or watch her interview on GFTV.


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Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Nov. 24th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


  1. I do like visiting places that are warm and inviting when I am reading in the winter. Reading with a cup of tea is definitely a great way to spend a cold winter day.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  2. I cope with the cold, gloomy winter days by snuggling in my recliner with my blankie (yes, I am a woman of a certain age that has a blankie) I make sure to have a large mug of dark chocolate hot cocoa and trail mix next to me while I venture off to fabulous places.
    Julie O
    jo1963jo at gmail dot com

  3. Reading and a hot drink are a must, I agree. I love hot chocolate with marshmallows, but I also love my herbal teas so I usually save the cocoa as a treat.

  4. I snuggle up with my Kindle, a hot cup of coffee and a blanket or my hubby! ;)


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