Some of you may already be familiar with Liz Fielding's books, but if not, I'm excited to introduce you. Liz's February release is perfect for our month of love and chocolate. Welcome, Liz!
LIZ FIELDING ON WRITING “THE VALENTINE BRIDE”
Hi! I’m absolutely thrilled to be invited by Cher to make a guest appearance on her blog during February and talk about writing THE VALENTINE BRIDE.
This is the final book in a series set around the family who founded and run the fabulous BELLA LUCIA restaurants. As in all series, each book stands on its own. They have been set in the US, Europe and Australia and now the moment has come for both Max and Louise, who have a rather stormy history, to confront the past, look to the future – the future of Bella Lucia and their future together.
It won’t be easy. Louise has just discovered that she was adopted and that everything she believed about herself was a lie. But angry as she is, she knows how much she owes her family and she’ll use her PR skills to help launch the Bella Lucia restaurants into a new era before she walks away to build a new life with her newly discovered half-sister in Australia. A relationship with her birth mother.
That means working with Max and the last time they worked together, he sacked her very publicly, in front of a restaurant full of diners. Right after she threw a fully loaded vase at his head.
Their relationship has always been, well, let’s listen in on them for a moment...
“Dammit, Louise, you haven’t changed one bit –”
“Dammit, Max, neither have you!” She was on her feet, in his face. “You’re still the same arrogant, over-bearing, despotic, pig-headed idiot you always were!”
She’ll work with him. But it’s going to cost him. And she’s going to name her own price!
* * *
It was a very challenging experience to take on characters and a back story that were part of an ongoing series. It took me a while to get to know Max and Louise and I have to admit that my first reaction to their back story was that Max needed to get himself PDA and Louise needed to grow up and get over it.
But a writer knows that people don’t always act rationally – we’d be very short of inspiration if they did! – and I began to dig for the “what’s driving them” answers. Search for the reason why Max would put the restaurant ahead of everything, everyone. To have real respect Louise for what she’d achieved entirely on her own – once Max had thrown her out of the family business. Feel her pain when she finally admits that loving Max had ruined her chance of a fulfilling relationship with any other man.
They both grew so much as people in the pages of their book; as I learned about them, they discovered, finally admitted to the buried truths about themselves and each other.
* * *
This was my first “continuity” and writing with seven other authors was huge fun. From the beginning we bounced ideas of each other, talked through scenes – especially the Christmas party where all the characters were together. Louise’s bad-girl Christmas outfit was born out of an hilarious exchange with Linda Goodnight who wrote Married Under the Mistletoe – Daniel and Stephanie story.
And Ally Blake (Wanted; Outback Wife -- the story of Louise’s half sister, Jodie and Heath) and I became really close as we exchanged scenes; she sent me hers with Louise, I send her mine, with Heath’s half brother, Cal – making sure that we got the voices right.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. There was my big scene where Louise was talking up an upcoming royal wedding, only for my editor to inform me that the wedding had happened in a previous book. I’d checked with Raye Morgan (The Rebel Prince), and she’d left it with the Prince showing his future bride to his people. It was Teresa Southwick (Crazy About the Boss) who had them appear at that Christmas party already married, sending me back to the drawing board. This was a steep learning curve!
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.
Romantic Times said --
Liz Fielding brings The Brides of Bella Lucia to an extremely satisfying close with THE VALENTINE BRIDE (4½ stars). Strong-minded Louise and attractively arrogant Max are well matched, and their sparring is especially memorable.
She shivered, despite the heating, but still he didn’t touch her, even though her body was doing everything but scream at him to go for it, even though she could feel that his hand, still supporting her elbow, was not quite steady…
He was giving her total control. Her call...
The word shimmered from an epicentre at the core of her womanhood, spreading out through her arteries, potent, intoxicating, driving out everything but the need to consummate a desire held in stasis since she’d been woman enough to understand the yearning it fired.
‘Show me,’ she said, her voice scarcely strong enough to reach him and lifting her hand, she touched a fingertip to her cheek. ‘Kiss me here.’
His eyes seemed to take on a new intensity and for a moment she was afraid that she’d unleashed a passion that he wouldn’t be able to hold in check but when, after a pause that seemed to last a lifetime, his lips touched her cheek she felt no more than a whisper of warmth. Enough to send a flash of heat through her and for a moment she swayed towards him, dangerously close to flinging herself on him. If he’d made one move…
But he didn’t. He was leaving her to set the pace, take it where she dare.
If she had the courage.
Responding to his unspoken challenge, she moved her hand, touched her chin.
‘Here,’ she said, on a breath.
His eyes, darker than pitch, warned her that she was playing a dangerous game. Did he think she didn’t know that?
This was their time. Now. It would be brief, glorious but brief, like a New Year’s Eve rocket and afterwards, when it had burnt out, she would be free of him.
They would both be free…
‘Here,’ she said, raising the stakes, touching her lower lip, anticipating the same exhilarating, no-holds-barred kiss with which he’d stopped her walking away. That this time would carry them both over the threshold of restraint and beyond thought.
But he did no more than touch her lower lip, tasting it with his tongue. It was all she could to remain on her feet, her only compensation was knowing how hard this must be for him. To hold back, wait. It would have been difficult to say which of them was trembling more, but he was forcing her to make all the moves, insisting that she be the one to tip it over the edge from a teasing game into a dark and passionate reality.