Saturday, May 01, 2010

Weekend Wildcard: One Tough Cookie

Harlequin Presents Author Christina Hollis looks at the qualities that make a strong heroine.

My grandmother was one tough woman. These days she would have been given the title ‘Chef’, but as she reached the peak of her (then unliberated) profession just after the First World War, she had to settle for being called ‘Cook’ instead. In those days, parenthood never affected a man’s career. In contrast, Gran had to give up the job she loved the minute she married. Living ‘off the strength’ in England while Grandad was working in India, she raised four children and kept a big house and garden going, all on her own. This was in the days before childcare payments and the National Health Service. Over the years, her little family survived a nearby farmer going Postal, a burning plane grazing the house and crashing just beyond the poultry run, a savage stray dog trying to hold them all hostage, and many other dramas. She took it all in her stride, saying that after working in a busy kitchen, you can cope with anything. It was certainly true in her case!

I love cooking, and at one stage considered going to catering college. In the end, I decided writing about food was much easier than working with it. My latest Modern Romance for Mills and Boon, The French Aristocrat’s Baby, has a heroine who’s ready for anything - apart from a life-changing experience in the arms of a gorgeous man.

Gwen Williams is living her dream of running a restaurant in the South of France. It is tough, and gets harder still when her business partner cuts and runs. Enter Count Etienne Moreau, who walks straight out of Gwen’s fantasies with a fabulous offer. Both Etienne and Gwen are determined to shake off the past and take charge of their own futures. He is irresistible - Gwen certainly can’t keep her hands off him - but she is used to living by her own rules. Etienne wants to make her his mistress, but she refuses to be bought...

‘You can have absolutely anything you like, except my signature on a marriage certificate.’ He chuckled. ‘Apart from that one small detail, my generosity knows no limit. Try me. Name your price.’

Reaching for a napkin, Gwen wiped her hands and dropped it onto the table in a symbolic gesture.

‘It’s nothing you could buy, no matter how much money you’ve got, monsieur. I want my independence, and the chance to make my own way in the world. I don’t want to go through life being carried by anyone else.’
Copyright Harlequin Mills and Boon Limited, 2010

Gwen is mistress of her own mind - right up until the moment when she discovers something that throws her organized world into total chaos. Etienne is her only chance of happiness, but if neither of them is willing to compromise, how can they move forward?

I loved working on this book. Etienne and Gwen were so sure of themselves, I enjoyed bringing them together to make a perfect match. They both had good qualities, but there came a point when each had to reassess their attitudes to life. Too much spirit and independence can easily tip over into selfishness.

What qualities do you look for in a heroine?

You can learn more about Christina Hollis at her website. Christina's latest The French Aristocrat's Baby is out now and you can read the first chapter by clicking above!

1 comment:

  1. I think the best quality for a heroine to have is selflessness. My mother is extremely selfless - she put her dream career on the back burner to raise us children, and will often go out of her way to help someone in need - and if that doesn't make her a heroine, then well, what does?