Posted in Writing


Many writers have a signature, that is they are well known for writing particular types of  book. It may be romance, chick lit, psychological thrillers, YA or crime. Then there are those who have a geographical signature – setting their stories in a particular country.  In the UK it could be anywhere from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands, Liverpool to London.

When I began writing I didn’t realise  I too would develop a signature.  It happened quite accidentally but when working out my plots it seemed my stories always worked well if the person causing all the trouble was female.  In fact, to date, I don’t think there has ever been a bad male character in any of my books.  The inspiration for this kind of woman probably stemmed from watching too many episodes of Dynasty in the 1980s.  Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington really cornered the market where bitchy, devious women were concerned and wore the role magnificently.

Alexis Carrington

My very first commercial novel When Tomorrow Comes saw the creation of Melissa Carpenter.   Mel as a young widow had abandoned her two children Ella and Nick and simply disappeared leaving them to be raised by her parents.  Returning years later as the wife of successful architect Liam Carpenter, she simply waltzes in as if nothing has happened.  She’s manipulative and cold blooded.  It’s all about her.  Glamorous and fashionable she spends a fortune on herself and cares very little for her husband other than his ability to bankroll her spending.  Within months she’s embarking on an affair with one of the wealthiest men in the area.  She also has plans for Ella, wanting to manipulate her daughter into marriage to her lover’s son – all in the name of her own social advancement.  Although Mel is thoroughly unpleasant things do catch up with her eventually and her life starts to unravel. She features in the first three books of the Little Court series and I gave her the sort of  ending she rightly deserved.

My second ‘bad girl’ was Marcie Maguire. She had featured in book three The Ghost of You and Me as a fledgling singer.  Unable to get the man she wanted, despite some devious manoeuvering, she headed back to her home in the States where she carved out a career which rivalled Streisand.  Now in Between Today and Yesterday she’s back and in the mood to cause trouble. By this time Ella is married to Matt Benedict, her long term boyfriend and the man Marcie has in her sights once more.  She almost wrecks their very solid marriage but once again, karma is waiting in the wings as her yacht leaves Puerto Banus.

And last but not least there was Therese D’Alessandro in the final Little Court Novel The Other Side of Morning. Ex-model turned dress designer, she was determined to manipulate her stepson Marco into a marriage of convenience even if that meant interfering in an absolutely awful way to break up his relationship with central female Charlotte.  She was the first of my ‘bad girls’ to escape karma.  I decided I ought to make her demise a little more realistic and less dramatic than the other two.

Moving on to my most recent books, Lily Stephenson was a great antagonist in my South Devon Duo.  In Summer Moved On she was a particularly spiteful creature, but in the sequel, Watercolours in the Rain, I decided to write the three main characters from first person POV and was able to get right under her skin. It was purely experimental but after sending a sample to my editor she suggested I continue.  I have to say I had a great time with Lily – someone with absolutely no moral compass. Despite her dreadful behaviour she too managed to avoid an unpleasant end.  Some readers thought it opened the door to another book which would feature her but for me the story had run its course.

My current WIP doesn’t really feature a main ‘love to hate’ female.  There is Evie Taylor, mother of one of the characters, who deliberately obstructs the course of justice and gets my hero Luke Carrack arrested for something he didn’t do. However, this book is more about love, family loyalties and secrets from the past.

So is this a new period of writing?  Have I ditched my signature and moved on? Well never say never. Currently I’ve almost finished the first draft of my WIP so any thoughts about future projects are on hold for the moment.



After a long-buried secret tears her family apart, Jess Hayden moves to the South Devon village of Lynbrook to live with her uncle.   Rufus owns the village pub, The Black Bull, and having visited before, Jess knows the villagers well…especially one of them.

Talún Hansen has a reputation, making him the kind of man no decent girl should get involved with.  Jess, however, has been under his spell from the moment they first met.  Although they always seem to bring out the worst in each other, there is no denying the attraction that simmers between them – an attraction Jess knows she needs to keep under control after repeated warnings from her uncle.

As she settles into village life she begins to learn more about this wild, dark-haired gypsy with the compelling eyes, and realises their lives hold many similarities.  Despite her uncle’s warnings, she begins to spend time with him.  For Jess, the coming summer holds passion; for Talún the hope that he has at last found someone who truly cares for him.

But as autumn approaches, a dark shadow from Jess’s past returns, bringing far-reaching and unwanted changes for both of them.

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JESS:  Six years ago Jess’s relationship with Talún Hansen was torn apart by one night of deception. He disappeared from Lynbrook village and she headed for university vowing never to let anyone break her heart again. Currently teaching in Oxford, Jess returns from holiday to an unexpected phone call and life changing news which eventually sees her returning home.

Talún: Six years on Talún Hawkeswood, as he is now known, is heir to his grandfather’s Norfolk farming empire. When he hears of trouble in the village due to Lynbrook Hall being put up for sale, going back is the last thing on his mind. But staying away is not an option either, not when someone he owes so much to is about to lose their home and their livelihood.

LILY: Splitting with her husband after her son Josh’s birth, Lily now works as part of an estate agency sales team.  She has always held onto her dream of finding a wealthy husband and a life of self-indulgence. When the sale of an important property brings her face to face with Talún, she realises despite the risks involved, the night they spent together six years ago could be the key to making those dreams come true.

As Jess, Talún and Lily return to Lynbrook and the truth about what happened that summer is gradually revealed, Talún finds himself in an impossible situation. Still in love with Jess he is tied into a trade off with Lily: his name and the lifestyle she craves in exchange for his son. And when a child is involved there is only one choice he can make…

Buy Links for Watercolours in the Rain: