Coming up in February 2020
Struggling with a tricky assignment on a wild Scottish island,
Australian journalist Jasmine's almost literal lifeline is the sexy ferry deckhand.
But is he more than he seems?
Recently I spent an enjoyable afternoon in a large local garden which is not often open to the public. It's on undulating land, semi-rural on the edge of town, with numerous mature trees, both Australian natives and others including Californian redwoods. Swathes of grassy areas are bordered with various flowers and shrubs; there's a vegetable and herb plot, and a 'secret' walled garden. Several benches invite relaxing and enjoying the ambience. Paths meander throughout; following one towards the boundary, I came to a coppice which thinned out to reveal a shady seat with an expansive view down over farmland to distant hills.
Sitting on the seat was a woman writing on a tablet. Maybe she was writing a novel, or a description of the garden, or a letter... Silence except for a light breeze through the trees; a faint scent of eucalypts; the sheer peace of the landscape shimmering in the heat. Since this grandstand seat was taken, I continued my exploration of the garden while musing on how such a setting for me would be a haven for creativity to blossom.
While not a gardener by inclination, I do like my own small low-maintenance garden to look attractive with its flowering trees, roses and pot plants. I find inspiration in the colours, the textures, the shapes, the delicate rose fragrance, and, too, the tiny honeyeaters feasting on the nectar in the bottlebrush and grevillea blooms (Australian native shrubs).
In my contemporary romance novels, several main characters have interesting gardens, and I enjoy researching these in person, from books, magazines, travel brochures and the Internet; as I write, I picture them in my head. I have been lucky with some personal research, combining this with my love of travel. However, a visit to the Grenadine islands, not planned for research as I did not have a West Indian location in my story bank, resulted eventually in Where The Heart Is, and Cameron's island garden. In this story, his and Cristina's garden in country Victoria (Australia) couldn't be more different. His, 'a tangle of jungle geraniums, buttercup bush and oleanders...a confusion of trees tousled with dazzling climbing plants' contrasts with hers, 'a teeming beauty of flowers with their faces to the sun, their zigzags of colours cascading and blending...honeysuckle on the fence smells so sweet and the air is full of bees'. (I am so envious of her garden!)
In Dancing the Reel, the above-mentioned deckhand tends a garden warmed by the North Atlantic Drift which enables palm trees to grow. My visit to a Scottish island inspired the inclusion of such a garden into the story, though on my trip no sexy deckhand/gardener appeared so I had to invent him (and gave him more background that these occupations).
And now, I must pay attention to my garden, specifically to dig up weeds which seem to pop up overnight. After admiring the result of my effort, I will spend time outside working on the next chapter in my current work in progress.
Enjoy your reading.