I walked around the rhododendron woods in the parkland of Bowood House yesterday. When the rhododendrons and bluebells are in flower the woods are an amazingly beautiful place. As you know, if you read this blog, the settings of scenes in my regency and even now my J.S. Lark thrillers are inspired by real places. I don’t think I have shared this one before, but at the heart of these woods is the Shelburne family mausoleum. When you look at the front, you will see that it is built in the style of a roman temple, and when you walk around to the back you will see that there is a steep slope to a crypt beneath this, where most of the family are put to rest. This slope meant that a horse drawn hearse could be steered to bring a coffin down.
This mausoleum was the inspiration for the funeral scenes in The Reckless Love of an Heir.
10 years ago I travelled over to the USA alone, on my first trip to America, to attend a promotional event for the release or Illicit Love, as it was called then. I attended the Romantic Times Conference in Kansas City. The magazine review team had read the story and scored it 4.5 stars, which was quite an accolade at the time, anything above 4 stars was rare.
It was a point in my life that was exciting and scary at the same time. I was in a room signing books among authors I’d read and admired for years! I travelled in a lift with Mary Balogh 🙂 I was sitting next to E.L. James in a conference panel session. I also still clearly remember how much my hand shook when I signed the first book for someone. I was terrified I’d spell their name wrong. It was a moment of childhood – life-long – dreams being fulfilled.
In the years since, there have been many more moments. My first visit to the Harper Collins offices and seeing my book displayed in the entrance hall. Signing next to Stephanie Laurens in New York City. Being invited to the Harper Collins parties to celebrate with their other authors, like Philippa Gregory, who I spoke to. Listening to actresses performing my work in audio additions. Changing genre to write thrillers and securing another contract with Harper Collins, in their Killer Reads Imprint at the time. Seeing book after book, from regency romances and new adult stories, to my thrillers rise up into charts time and again.
On the day of the release of Illicit Love I crazily didn’t live in the moment, but ended up being in my hotel room for most of the day thanking people online for posting about the story. So to celebrate the 10 year point, instead, I went out for a meal with the local authors from Romantic Novelists Association who have become some of my closest friends over the years, and there are so many more authors who I’ve met here in the UK, out in America and online who I am lucky enough to consider my friends. These friendships really are the best thing about my publishing journey of the last 10 years.
However, I am now taking the time to say thank you to all the bloggers who took part in my celebration online too, because books are nothing without readers. Thank you for some fantastic reviews – here are some of the highlights of the 10 year tour…
‘This was such an engaging novel that I was thinking about it when I was not reading it, and it was so beautifully written that I could picture the scenes with such vibrancy. The Illicit Love of a Courtesan is a stunning tale of love, loss, family and forgiveness.’ Jo ~ Book Mad Blog
‘A romance with a series of clever twists. Fans of historical romance should add this fabulous novel to their reading lists.’ Cathie ~ Ruins and Reading Blog
‘As the pages flew by and I inched closer to the end, I knew I was going to miss Ellen and Edward, I was so wrapped up in their romance. I think I might have to read the other books in the series, if only to get my does of steamy romance mixed with drama.’ Sharon ~ Beyond the Books Blog
‘The undeniable sexual attraction between Ellen and Edward absolutely sizzles on the page and whilst the story is unashamedly romantic, with some sensual encounters, there are also elements of danger and that is what makes this regency romance such an intriguing and passionate read.’ Jo ~ Jaffa Reads Too Blog
Happy Book Birthday to this fantastic read! I absolutely adored it, and was hooked from the first page.” Jennifer ~ Historical Fiction With Spirit Blog
‘I found myself submerged in this bittersweet tale of two characters who find each other, and find the strength and courage to fight the wrongdoings… This author was a real delight to discover and I cannot wait to read more from her!’ Tiziana ~ Tiki’s Book Reviews Blog