Posted in Between the Pages, Kees2Create, Meet an Author

A Most Romantic Place

Today, I welcome travel blogger, Jen Peyton. Jen is a keen reader with a big TBR list who loves to travel. Today she takes us to the most romantic destination in the world … France.  Welcome, Jen!

About Me

I’m Jen and I run the Eating, Reading and Traveling Blog;

My passions are enjoying food, books and travel…and then writing about them! I am relatively new to the Romance genre; my other favourites include historical fiction, crime, thriller and mystery. However I recently started reading the occasional romance novel, and now I’m hooked! I really love being a part of the Book Blogging Community, which I only discovered last year, as it has such an amazing community feel with some of the most passionate and wonderful people I’ve ever met. I’ve made several friends through my Bookstagram account (for those unaccustomed, that’s Book-Instagram!), and have discovered countless new authors through these platforms. Bloggers are some of the most supportive people ever, and I love talking with like-minded people about characters that I love and even that I hate, and which books I think everyone should read.

The Most Romantic Place I’ve Ever Visited…

When I visited parts of rural France, including the French countryside a few years ago, I fell head over heels in love with the luscious countryside, the views, (the wine), the people, the markets and the little typical French cottages that seemed to be everywhere.

I couldn’t help but be brought back into one of my favourite books of all time, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I find stories set in World War Two have some of the most romantic storylines you could imagine. The relationships between the characters are intensified because of the looming threat that everything could be lost at any moment. This book follows the story of two youngsters, a blind French girl and a German boy, as they try to survive in war-torn Europe. Throughout the book they slowly make their way through increasingly dangerous scenarios unintentionally towards each other. When they eventually meet towards the end of the book it is one of the most emotionally bitter-sweet moments I’ve ever read.

Despite the horrors present in the region during this time, I found this book to inject a certain romance into the characters’ stories and the setting, much of which takes place in rural France. The entire time I was exploring France, I could not help but make close comparisons to the book, and the story of the two main characters as they made their way through the war unintentionally towards each other. The journeys the two characters made, and the horrific challenges they overcame really hit me when I was walking through some of the locations from the book, 70 years since the end of the war. Many of the sites had recovered, but reminders of the pain and suffering of war were everywhere.

This isn’t any typical romance novel. But the romance is there to be found if the reader is willing to look for it. Romance can be found in the lyrical way the author describes the feelings of the characters, the inexplicable draw that slowly brings the two characters closer and closer together from locations across Europe, and even the overall message that love and light can always be found in a situation, one just has to look for it.

Visiting the French countryside was so special to me. You couldn’t visit there and not soak up the beautifully romantic atmosphere. I don’t know whether it’s the obligatory wine and cheese picnic that you absolutely have to do, whether it’s the bike ride you embark on through the wineries, or if it’s the quaint little French villages with market stalls selling fresh vegetables that are just like something out of an old movie. Perhaps it’s all these things together that are the key to the romance that inevitably washes over you from the moment you arrive. I have never seen or experienced anything like it in my life.

The region felt like it was frozen in time, and that I very well could have been there back in the days of war, far enough removed to avoid any of the major destruction, but close enough to maintain the old fashioned, simple, technology free feel of war-torn France. Reminders of the horrors of the past are easily found, in the forms of memorials, cemeteries and war-damaged buildings. These mementos placed against the backdrop of such a beautiful place reminded me of the parallels in the book that were drawn between love and romance and war and hate. It was such a powerful feeling to experience while exploring this amazing place, but it further cemented what I’d suspected all along. Love and romance will win every time.

The connection I felt with France, in particular, the French countryside had such a profound effect on me that I’m already planning my next visit as soon as possible. I hope to return this time with my partner, so that we can experience the romance of walking through a quaint French village market together, while enjoying the parallels we see between the towns and some of our favourite books.

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Posted in Meet an Author

Meet Imogene Nix in A Bar in Paris

Congratulations to Imogene Nix on the release of A BAR IN PARIS. To celebrate, Imogene is going to take us behind the bar for a peek at the characters behind the story. ABIP

Tell me a little bit about yourself :

I was born in Queensland and went on my first overseas jaunt at the age of 4 weeks, when my parents moved back to England, before we made the trek back to Australia when I was 4 years old. I came to travelling at a very young age! Since then I’ve lived in a range of locations including Thargomindah in South West Queensland, Julia Creek, Atherton, Hervey Bay, and even in Tasmania. These days, home is in the North Burnett Region. That’s one of the things that got me into book selling, which is how I finally made the jump to writing. I wanted a “job” that didn’t matter where I lived. I certainly managed that!

My journey into writing took many years, though the final steps were extraordinarily quick. I blame the Australian Romance Readers Association for the final jump, as I was at the Bondi Conference in 2011, where I listened to Lexie Couper and friends talk about their transition. For me, that was it. I came home enthused and within 3 months, Starline was written.

I usually write in my office, filled with books and all my lovely treasures; statues of vampires, fairies and even The Dark Queen (think Marvel Comics there!) Although at school holidays I tend to migrate to the dining table so I’m not totally anti-social!

What inspired you to write A BAR IN PARIS?

That’s really hard! It started out as a lark, could I write in first person? Well, yes I have done it… but apart from that… I don’t know… it was just there, in my head!

What would your ideal ‘naughty weekend’ be?

No Kids!!! 🙂 No phones (the biggest bug bear is trying to sleep in and getting a phone call at six thirty in the morning!) Breakfast in bed (a total luxury) and not having to vacate the hotel room by 9am (my husband’s favourite thing)

What made you choose Paris for the setting?

Paris is the ultimate location for a sexy weekend. (One day…) It just made sense to me that an Aussie living in London would head to Paris for a wild weekend.

‘How can she possibly resist his magnetism and that sexy dimple?’ What is it about dimples that has men and women alike weak at the knees?

It hints at the devilry that makes women weak! I think they are so legendary because men with dimples are taught, at a young age, that they are irresistible to those of the fairer sex… and they know how to use it.

What helped you put ‘heart’ into your story?

I think good writers find it is part of the unexplainable factor of writing. To me, it comes while I type, it’s not something I do consciously. It’s really hard to describe, because for me, it’s just kind of there.

Tell us a little about the research you had to do to write A BAR IN PARIS.

Well we all know of the legendary beauties of Paris, but trying to find the right location was key to the story being believable. I wanted the right hotel, one that wasn’t a “big name” corporate entity. It had to be boutique enough that it offered a different and personalized touch. (Yes it is a real hotel, I’m just not going to tell you which one!)

The location had to be perfect! Close enough to the Seine to let me tell my tale the way I wanted to. I walked the length of the Seine (virtually) looking for the right place to be!

I’m a demon for research, so every fact has to be checked and correct before I start writing (at least as much as I can, without physically stalking the location, that is!)

‘Will a lie of omission bring everything into jeopardy?’ True love always comes at a cost. Would you like to share an excerpt here on a challenge Davina and Johnathan face in their journey?

I said a silent ‘thank you’ when there was no one at the desk and I dashed away the tears that fell. Of course that was short lived, as one of the clerks answered the imperious ding of the small brass bell.

“I want to check out.” I gave my room number, and the woman tapped on the computer then looked at me with a smile.

“Oh, your bill is already taken care of.”

“What? No. I haven’t paid my bill yet.” I leaned in, but the woman patted my hand.

“Seriously, it’s all done. See?”

She swung the screen around so I could see. It had a bright red Paid In Full on the bottom of the screen, and I ground my teeth. Doesn’t he realize that makes it worse? But of course not.

He had no idea that I now felt like I’d been paid for services. Turmoil and anguish warred, but I concentrated on breathing deeply. On staying calm. I could let go when I finally entered my flat in London.

Seething , I nodded and headed for the door. “Miss Chandler? Do you want a car?”

I stopped. In my anger, I hadn’t even considered how I’d get to the airport. I wasn’t going to take his bloody car. But she could order me a taxi.

“Get me a taxi please.”

Her smile melted away and on her face there was wariness. But she didn’t argue, instead lifting the handle of the phone and ordering transportation for me. When she hung up, she smiled carefully. “It should be waiting outside now. I have been instructed to let them know that we will pay your fare.”

God, that just rubbed salt into the wound as I stalked through the lobby and out the door.

How did you meet the hero in your life?

Well that is the easiest question of all! My husband 🙂 I actually met him through a youth organization when I was in my twenties. I needed help with my university entrance. It started off with talking on the phone for an hour at a time. Then when I met him in person… phwoar! 😀

Tell us a little about Davina and Johnathan and how you breathed life into their characters.

Oh wow! Umm, A Bar In Paris evolved over several days. It was one of those tales that simply unfolds as you write. Breathing life into these characters was easy, because from the instant I “met them” I had a connection.

Neither realize that they are looking for love, neither are as polished or certain as they purport to be. They are so much!


Ever considered a naughty weekend? A “Hook-Up” with no strings?

Turning 30? All alone? A commitment-free weekend in Paris should help…shouldn’t it?

What does a single woman do when she’s turning thirty? She takes a weekend trip to Paris looking for commitment-free sex. Or that’s what Davina Chandler does, anyway.

Enter Johnathon, a tall, charming Englishman. How can she possibly resist his magnetism and that sexy dimple?

What starts out as a lark quickly becomes so much more, but can one weekend turn into a lifetime? And will a lie of omission bring everything into jeopardy?