Our children are spreading their wings. Last week, our son was sizing up universities. What happened there? Only two minutes ago, he was starting primary school! On Tuesday, I took him to look over the University of Gloucestershire’s computing division. He’s got his heart set on going there, but our first two attempts to visit the place were jinxed. We were snowed in on the original date of the University Open Day. A revised date was set for us to visit…and we were snowed in on that day, too! We finally made it, at the third attempt. We had a good look round the campus and halls of residence, and we were impressed. Our son was pretty convinced it was the right place before we went. Now he’s sure it’s the course for him.
We’ve got every hope he’ll have as good a time as his sister did at university. She loved life at Reading, where she studied archaeology. Her choice of course was a surprise—from a toddler she’d been mad keen on animals, and there had been talk of her becoming a vet. And yet, the signs were there. Time Team was our favourite TV programme as a family, and she’s always been as keen as we are to roam around museums and historic sites. She now works for Oxford Archaeology, and loves it.
She has always felt archaeology to be a bit of a cinderella discipline. They also serve, who only stand and sift spoil heaps! A while ago I thought it was about time DD and the other “trowel jockeys” got their very own heroine. The Count’s Prize is the story of Josie’s romance. She’s a dedicated academic who gets the chance of a lifetime. You can find how for only 99 pence.
Josie wants to develop a course based on the beautiful di Sirena estate, but its notorious owner Count Dario is a volatile character. He can’t resist the challenge of a woman so wrapped up in her work that she spends her days in shapeless working clothes, turning pink in the sun and getting covered in dust. Unlike the other women in his life, Josie is no pushover. She knows what she wants, so when her best friend finally tempts her into attending a glamorous party thrown by Dario she transforms herself. She revives feelings that have remained buried deep within Dario, after a tragedy hardened his heart.
Here’s an extract:
With one hand, Dario lifted a glass of champagne from a nearby tray then stuck the other hand into his trouser pocket and sauntered casually to the edge of her group.
He spoke, and she smiled.
Dario took that as his cue to advance and stand beside her. Instead of lifting her fingers to his lips as he had done the first time they’d met, his hand went straight to her waist as he kissed her lightly on the cheek. She didn’t flinch from either gesture, he noticed with a delicious kick of pleasure.
‘How are you enjoying the party?’
‘I didn’t think you’d recognise me,’ she said apprehensively.
‘I would know you anywhere,’ he said, and it was true. She was so lovely, he couldn’t bear to leave her alone for a moment. No one knew more than he did how every single second in the company of a beautiful woman should be cherished. One wrong word, one thoughtless gesture and happiness could be snatched away for ever. Nothing could have persuaded him to risk going through the pain he’d endured in losing Arietta – but he wasn’t prepared to see Josie fall prey to one of his guests. The idea of a treasure like her in the clutches of another man was unthinkable…
…she was looking at the woman he had abandoned when he’d blazed a trail around the room to her.
‘Oh, that’s just Tamara,’ Dario said casually, stepping back.
On the other side of the room, the blonde raised one hand and blew him a kiss.
‘Hmm. It doesn’t look as though she’s saying “Oh, that’s just Dario,” to those other people,’ Josie said stiffly.
Dario felt a surge of purely male satisfaction. She was jealous – tonight she was as good as his.
(Copyright Harlequin Mills and Boon Ltd, 2012).
That’s what Dario thinks – but Josie has very definite ideas about the way she wants to be treated. Loyalty is top of her list. Commitment equals pain for Dario – so when Josie walks away he has to face the past he’s sworn to forget, or face losing her forever…
The Count’s Prize was an absorbing book to write. I could let myself go on the warm, exotic locations I love so much. We’ve been experiencing some dreadful weather here in England over the past couple of months, so distraction is a good thing. The sun’s shining today, so I hope this is the start of better times ahead.
Where’s your favourite destination when you want to get away from it all? It can be real or fictional, and there’s a signed copy of The Count’s Prize for a comment picked at random.