Friday, January 13, 2017

Mystery, romance and contrasts

I recently held a competition on my blog for suggestions for a title for my new romantic suspense, and I was really touched by the response.  A Year of Light and Shadows is the perfect title. The concept of light and shadows reflects the whole theme of contrasts that runs through the book. There’s the contrast between the danger that stalks the heroine, and the love she finds as the story progresses. There’s the contrast between her despair at the secrets she uncovers, and her hope for a future with her bodyguard hero. And then there is the contrast between the different settings.

A Year of Light and Shadows is a three-part story. The first part, Palace of Deception, is set in the heat of the Mediterranean, in a glorious Palace by the sea. Here’s a taster:

Léon’s attention turned to the crowds as we emerged onto the avenue. A great roar went up, and in the bright Mediterranean sun everything took on a vibrancy and intensity such as I’d never before experienced. The bright green of the poplars stirring gently overhead, the vivid sky where seagulls whirled and cried, the gold and blue of the Montverrier colours, hanging from every lamp-post… The carriage rattled down the avenue before rounding the corner into the square between the Mediterranean and the Cathedral. What a magnificent sight lay before us! The sea was a glittering expanse of brilliant blue and silver in the sunlight, and the stones of the great Cathedral a blinding white... I thought fleetingly how impossible it was to fear anything in surroundings of such magnificent beauty.”

This bright, hot, setting is a complete contrast to the second part of the story. The Scottish Diamond is set in Edinburgh, Scotland - one of my favourite cities in the world. I remember the first time I ever visited, stepping out of the train station and onto bustling Princes Street. A man in a kilt was playing the bagpipes in front of one of the dark stone Victorian buildings, and at the top of the street, perched on a volcanic crag and dominating the skyline, was Edinburgh Castle. It was a magnificent and unforgettable sight.

One thing that struck me about Edinburgh (and still does whenever I visit) was its bloody and dramatic history. What sights the Castle must have seen!

In The Scottish Diamond my heroine, Lizzie, describes visiting the Castle:

For hundreds of years its dark battlements have dominated the Edinburgh skyline, a symbol of royal power. This is no fairy tale castle, but one of military might. Whenever I pass through the imposing stonework of Portcullis Gate, I think of all the footsteps that have trodden this path before me down the ages – of the bloody battles, the royal ceremonies, of King James VI’s birth here, the deaths of queens, of Oliver Cromwell’s army, and of the doomed Jacobite uprising. The walls enclosing the castle bear witness to great turning-points in history. It’s a place to inspire awe.

The heat of the Mediterranean coast and the dark streets of Edinburgh provide two contrasting settings to my story of mystery, romance, and intrigue.

Here is the blurb:

A Year of Light and Shadows contains three romantic mysteries in one volume.

Palace of Deception

From the heat of the Mediterranean....

When the Princess of Montverrier goes missing, Lizzie Smith takes on the acting job of her life. Alone and surrounded by intrigue in the Royal Palace, she relies on her quiet bodyguard, Léon. But who is he really protecting? Lizzie...or the Princess?

The Scottish Diamond

To the heart of Scotland...

Home in Scotland, Lizzie begins rehearsals for Macbeth, and finds danger stalking her through the streets of Edinburgh. She turns to her former bodyguard, Léon, for help - and discovers a secret he'd do anything not to reveal...

A Question by Torchlight

A story of mystery and romance...

The approach of Hogmanay in Edinburgh means a new year and new resolutions. Lizzie and Léon have put their year of danger behind them. But something is still troubling Léon, and Lizzie fears the worst...
BUY LINKS: A Year of Light and Shadows is available on Amazon in print and ebook format:
Universal buy link for all major ebook retailers: Books2Read .
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Author Biography
Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she's secretly in love with. Her novels have been shortlisted for several awards, including the Exeter Novel Prize, the Global Ebook Awards, the I Heart Indie Awards, and the UK's Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme Award. 

Helena is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.

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