While preparing To Unlock Her Heart for publication, two ideas for new books started to percolate. One was a third Regency Romance featuring Helena, Giles’ youngest sister, the second, a contemporary romance.
As you may have gathered, I love everything about Rome – both ancient and modern – and had been playing around with the notion of setting a story in the modern city but one that would also relate to antiquity. What better way than in the guise of an organised tour, based in Rome that would include all the ancient sites, churches, cathedrals and other monuments within the city and its surrounds, as well as Pompeii.
Except for the National Archeological Museum of Naples, I have been privileged and fortunate enough to have visited all the places mentioned within this novel and it was wonderful to be able to incorporate them into a romance.
On her penultimate day at University, Kassandra Winters inadvertently overheard herself described as “…too shy, too plain, a bit ungainly if you must know and rather on the plump side, not at all what’s needed for such things… far more suited to a job in an archive office…”
Worse still she was subsequently knocked flying by the exceedingly tall and drop-dead gorgeous man to whom this description had been delivered. Adding insult to injury she ran into the same man the next afternoon and, justifiably upset by what she had heard, refused to indulge his somewhat perplexing determination to engage her in the oddest conversation and gave him short shrift.
Fast-forward two years and contrary to expectations, Kassie is not hidden away in an archive office. She is in Rome; employed by one of that city’s famous International Schools, as well as a tourist agency.
One day, while escorting a group of visitors around the ancient Roman port of Ostia, she bumps into the same man — the man whose seemingly random remarks still puzzle her — and he introduces himself as Gabriel St Germain. This unexpected encounter leads to a job offer, the role of assistant tour guide for a three-week tour of ancient sites in and around Rome. Unable to resist such an opportunity, and against her better judgement, Kassie agrees.
Kassie has intrigued Gabriel St Germain since he ran into her, literally, outside her professor’s office. Despite her rushing off the following day, giving him no chance to apologise for what she had heard, Kassie left a lasting impression and her face haunts his dreams.
Never expecting to see her again, Gabriel is astounded when she appears right in front of him — as though destined to do so — in the middle of a ruin and, resolved not to lose her a second time, he concocts a plan to win her heart.
Gabriel’s old-fashioned courtship touches something deep inside Kassie and, although struggling to believe that someone as handsome as Gabriel could possibly be interested in her, she soon realises she has fallen irrevocably in love with him. It seems he returns her feelings and for a brief moment, Kassie allows herself to trust that they have a chance at a happily ever after.
However, just as she shares everything of herself with Gabriel, her world comes crashing down and the callous words uttered that fateful day return to torment her. Can Gabriel save their romance or will it fall in ruins, like the relics of antiquity that brought them together.