Saturday, 19 March 2011


This week, my six comes from Fragile Dreams

“How? How did you know?”
“It wasn’t difficult.” Expression neutral, he laid his book face-down on the table. “You wear your emotions so flagrantly. You were too happy. I sensed someone was rocking your world and it wasn’t me.”

Fragile Dreams holds a special place in my heart. It is probably the one work in which I have injected so much of myself. Continuing my love affair with all things Greek, and following the success of Dreamweek, it seemed a logical step to create another tale set on the enchanting imaginary Greek island of Kuros.
Re-introducing some of Dream’s main characters, I have, once again, leaned on my experiences working within the travel industry to provide much of the backdrop. But the love story is all brand new. This is a tale that touches on many issues; psychological bullying, culture clash, controlling spouses – all mixed in with a young woman’s battle to recover her self-esteem after struggling with Breast Cancer {based on my personal experience. I am hoping to donate any future royalties to cancer research. I believe Fragile is a tale that goes beyond a simple romance and will touch something in all of us. Here is a short blurb and excerpt:

Introducing Elysiana Rouva and the young Michael. Drawn together by an inexplicable bond, they share so much more than mere physical attraction. Ellie is at the point where she is questioning her life. Recently overcoming a long, hard battle with breast cancer, she is vulnerable and depressed. Her husband Pavlos, although outwardly supportive, provides her with no real comfort. Their marriage is a farce. She no longer loves him and is not threatened by his numerous affairs or his obsession with his work. Her friends say all the right words but she cannot make them understand.
Enter Michael. Michael becomes Ellie’s salvation. The young man Pavlos sends to tend their garden turns Ellie’s world on its head. As for Michael, Ellie provides escape from a past clouded with bad memories. Can she rid his heart of so much betrayal?


Ellie awoke, refreshed and feeling alive. For the first time in months, she’d slept like a baby. But now, a new day dawned, Pavlos had gone and….who was she trying to kid? Tomorrow was here. He was coming.
I’m only excited, she told herself as she showered, because finally the rose garden will be sorted. No other reason. Nothing whatsoever to do with captivating grey eyes and a tender smile. Genuine. That was the word scurrying around in her head. She sensed his interest in her. It felt good.
Ignoring Maria’s disapproving stone expression as she washed up a wine glass, Ellie poured out a cup of coffee. Good, strong Columbian. None of the decaf rubbish Pavlos tried to make her drink.
“Maria,” leaning against the worktop, she sipped at the fragrant brew, “It was one friggin glass, not a bottle. But I am sure you will report back how you see fit. Either way, Kyria Rouva will be delighted I have transgressed yet again. Just make sure you tell her I opened one of dear, departed’s finest cava red.”
Maria didn’t respond but the crashing of wet dishes told Ellie she’d got in her first serve. Her mother-in-law thought she was so clever by hiring her cousin to ‘help’ around the home. It had taken Ellie all of one day to suss that the sour-faced women was there in capacity as a spy. A staunch tee-totaler, her mother-in-law didn’t approve of women drinking but then she didn’t approve of much, least of all loose-moral foreign girls running off with her beloved first born. Ten years had passed and Ellie was over it. She didn’t care what Pavlos’ mother thought of her. With the benefit of hindsight, she was only surprised he’d found the guts to stand up to the Gorgon matriarch and marry her at all. Glancing at the brass clock above the ornate china cabinet, Ellie drained her mug. Time to hit the pool.
The bikini was new. Still bandeau style, it kept the prosthesis in place and — more importantly — hid the scars but the bottoms were definitely sexy. Pavlos hadn’t seen it yet but then, she hadn’t bought it with the purpose of enticing him. Actually, she didn’t know why she’d bought it. When she’d laid it out on her bed, it had taunted her, clearly screaming what were you thinking? And to think she’d nearly given it to Lisa. Well now she needed it because….. Oh God, she was acting daft; plain teenage, immature daft.
“I’m a married woman,” she chanted as she rubbed Piz Buin into her skin. “Old enough to be his mother.” Ok, so that was stretching it a bit. She’d settle on big sister. Besides, he wasn’t even that good looking. For a start, his nose was too long and how the hell had she noticed that?
“I am insane.” She addressed the Red Arrow team of house-martins skimming the pool’s surface. Yesterday she acted like a gauche schoolgirl. Today she would be in control; professional and short to the point. He knew what to do so there would be no need to hang around. She would call Lisa and go into town.
So why, three hours on, did she lay on the sun-bed, morose, with all earlier sense of well-being evaporating up into a cloud of doom? Maybe she had that bi-polar thing. Ok, reality check. Disappointment raked at her soul. Tears sprung; hot, grit tears of rejection — which was silly because how could one reject someone one barely knew? Could Pavlos be right? She should call up Dr. Balis. It wasn’t possible to continue in this way. Her emotions were out of control, a cartwheel spinning too fast and furious.
“Good morning”
A dazzling shower exploded in her heart. And God said let there be light…
“I’m sorry for coming so late but I was on airport duty last night. There was a major delay. I didn’t get to bed until—”
“Late?” Aiming for casual, Ellie sat up. “Is it? I didn’t notice. I was reading….” Too late. No book in sight. She left it on the kitchen table.
He smiled his understanding, obviously too kind to point out this tiny discrepancy. The glasses were perched on his head which didn’t do a lot to bridge the troubled waters between her sanity and downright lunacy. Today, he’d dressed in shorts. On Pavlos, the gaudy Aussie-style floral print of blue and orange would have looked ridiculous but Michael made them look good. He wore no shirt and fine beads of sweat lined his broad shoulders along with a faint smattering of freckles. They also dusted his face. Funny, she hadn’t noticed yesterday but then his eyes did tend to hog the limelight.
“I hope you don’t mind but I drove the van right down to the steps…only until I unload the stuff.”
“No...It’s fine.” Ellie cleared her throat and reined in her emotions.
An awkward lull unfolded, pierced only by the persistent buzz of plump nectar-drunk bees.
“Mrs. Rouva, forgive me for being forward but are you ok? You look a little flushed.”
“I do?” As if with a will of their own, Ellie’s palms pressed against her cheeks. They burned to the touch. “Too much sun, I expect.”
“You should swim.” He spoke carefully.
More deep, {meaningful?}silence.
“Well….” This time it was he who averted his gaze. “I’ll get on.”
“Yes.” Fascinated, she watched a red hue creep up to his throat. He felt it too. This thread, so fine and yet strong, like spun silk, drawing them together. Before she could mentally expand on this theory, he turned on his heels and left as quietly as he’s arrived, his gait long, fluid. Ellie jumped into her favorite mind game; matching people to dogs. Michael was pure sight-hound, a Saluki, tall, elegant, cautious — sensitive. The glittering azure of the pool beckoned and she dived in before her remaining brain cells disintegrated.

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Thursday, 17 March 2011


A muted hello from Corfu, today. I say muted because it's hard to be chirpy was so much suffering going on all around us. I am sure most of you, like I, has been left speechless by the devastation and hardship Japan is dealing with. This is not the first catastrophe to strike this year; it, I am sure, will not be the last. Whether you buy into the end of days 2012 scenario or not doesn't really matter but, personally, I believe these cataclysmic events are becoming more frequent. Why - I do not know. Of course, some will say, its the wrath of God, others, mankind's blatent lack of respect for the environment. All I know is, no matter how rich and powerful and technologically advanced we think we are, we are but tiny, insignificant souls in the this wonderful Universe. We have no power over Mother Nature. This planet is not our right; it is a gift.

"Mankind inhabits this Earth subject to geological consent," says Simon Winchester in Newsweek. And, as demonstrated by the earthquake and resulting tsunami that brought Japan to its knees, this consent "can be withdrawn at any time."

So true. Why do we believe we are Omnipotent? Will the events in Japan change us? I fear not. Man is inherently selfish. No good sitting in one's comfortable armchair, spouting off about the wisdom of nuclear energy or the rising price of fuel when we all do little to curb man's ferocious appetite for the 'good' life. It comes with a price.

How do we sane? Perhaps we don't.

How do I stay sane as a writer? I am realistic. I know the odds of my reaching No. 1 on the New York Times best seller list are slim; which isn't the same as me doubting my abilities. I have confidence in my writing. I love what I do. It's important to stay grounded. Forget ideas of stardown and huge advances. Concentrate on improving your craft. Maintain a sense of humour and a touch of cynism. Oh - and the occasional gin helps. I leave you with an excerpt from Written in Stone...


“Tell me about Gus.”
“Gus...” Extracting himself from her needy embrace, he stood. Arms folded, he crossed the room. He reached out with a finger, touching the cheek of the giant man-creature. “You don't want to know about Gus.”
He spoke quietly, but his pain reached out and touched her heart.
“No one wants to know about Gus.”
“I do.” She went to him and slid her hand into his, fingers entwining. “I want to know what happened to him. My father taught me never to bury my head in the sand. He says toomany of us are guilty of doing that.”
He turned to her, lips twisted in a raw smile. “Apt turn of phrase, my darling,
softhearted Cassie. You see, I found him...lying in a shallow grave.” Focusing on the portrait once more, he rubbed at his temples. “That beautiful head. It was gone. They’d decapitated him and left his body to the mercy of scavengers. And for what purpose? So some rich bastard can display it in a glass cabinet…as if his head were some inanimate piece of china or glass wear. A senseless, avaricious killing, and no one gives a damn.”
Cassie held her breath. His cheeks were wet. She’d never seen a man cry before.
Moisture coated his thick eyelashes, but he made no attempt to wipe it away.
“I should be immune, but it never gets any easier. I came away from that clearing in Rwanda feeling so...dejected. That day is something that will live with me for the rest of my life. It haunts me because—”
“Because you feel guilty. Because you are ashamed you couldn’t do more to stop it.” As if with a will of their own, her fingers rested on his arm He made no effort to draw back.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he brought his hands up to his face, pressing against his skull with open palms, as if trying to push back every ugly image that must have been clicking open
and shut in his mind.
“How do you do it?” His bruised breath escaped his lips. “How is it you seem to know me?”
“Because I understand what it is to stand by and feel so inadequate. To know there is a creature in need and yet not be able to do anything to help. My dad calls me his eternal bleeding heart, always making every wounded bird, every stray puppy my personal responsibility, but of course, I could never save them all. It made me feel so guilty.” He dragged his hands away from his face, a fragmented smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. “We could be soul mates, you and I.” The smile faded, regret, once more painted on his strong yet so sensitive face. “Alex doesn’t get it, you know, can’t understand why I allow Gus’s death to eat away at me. After all I have been witness to enough of man’s cruelty to humanity and his rape of the natural world to be hardened against it. I’ve seen babies dying in the arms of their emaciated, desperate mothers. I’ve observed the ravages of
civil war and the utter devastation that it brings to a country and its people, but every starving child, each hunted and tortured animal chips away at my soul until think I’ll go crazy with it.
"Somehow, finding Gus—that majestic beast, beaten, degraded—ripped away any last
vestige of hope I had for mankind’s salvation. And you’re right. I do feel guilty simply because I am a man. I bear the brunt of our collective responsibility in my heart. No, Alex doesn’t get me at all, but you…!/pages/Viviane-Brentanos-Author-of-Womens-contemporary-Romantic-fiction/78109311746

It's in our hands.