Today I have the author of Burning Embers here!
Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She's leaving the life she's known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance – the plantation that was her childhood home – Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral's childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father's death.
Circumstance confirms Coral's worst suspicions, but when Rafe's life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman's affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral's inheritance? Or does Rafe's troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?
Here's a guest post from Hannah!
Three reasons why I wrote my novel, Burning Embers
With my debut novel, Burning Embers, there was a sense that the book had to be written; that I had to sit down and put pen to paper to bring the book to life. Here are the three most compelling reasons that drove me to spend so many hours sitting in my garden and sitting in my writing room to create this romance novel.
The dream of writing
The rambling house I grew up in was built on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. My bedroom was light and airy and its three windows commanded the most breathtaking views of the ever-changing sea – up to the harbour in the distance – with glowing sunsets and romantic moonlit nights over a scintillating ocean. These spectacular tableaux made my imagination run wild and I would dream of princes that flew in from faraway lands on their magic carpets, of princesses dressed in gowns made of sunrays and of moonbeams, and of dragons lurking in those vast blue depths, rising from the waves that crashed against the rocks underneath my windows. These and many more stories I used to relate to my half-Italian, half-French governess. And so was born the dream of becoming a writer, and it is a dream that has stayed with me ever since - through school, through my days of travelling as a young woman, through meeting and marrying a wonderful man, through raising my children and through running a property renovation business. Once my children were grown up, and still the dream was haunting me, I knew I had to write the novel; I had to live the dream.
Burning Embers began not as a story, but as a vivid landscape in my mind.
The seed of the ideas was sown many years ago when, as a schoolgirl, I studied the works of Leconte de Lisle, a French Romantic poet of the 19th century. His poems are wonderfully descriptive and vivid – about wild animals, magnificent dawns and sunsets, exotic settings and colourful vistas. (See http://www.hannahfielding.net/?cat=7 for some translations of Leconte de Lisle poems.)
Then later on, I went on holiday to Kenya with my parents and I met our family friend Mr Chiumbo Wangai, who often used to visit us. He was a great raconteur and told me extensively about his beautiful country, its tribes, its traditions and its customs. I was enthralled. What a beautiful, wild, colourful, passionate country in which to set a love story!
The idea for Burning Embers came to me one night at my home in France. I couldn’t sleep, and I was sitting up in my bed gazing out at the Mediterranean, watching the silver full moon shimmering on the sea. Then an ocean liner, all lit up, glided past. It was such a romantic sight that I found myself wondering about the lives of the people on board that ship. Who were they? Where were they going? And into my head walked the heroine of Burning Embers, Coral, a beautiful, naïve young woman returning home to the land of her birth. I grabbed the notebook beside my bed and began to write, and the skeleton of the first chapter of the novel took place – Coral alone on the deck of a ship grieving for her father and a love that was destroyed, and an enigmatic man, the alluring Rafe, who offers her the classic comfort of strangers.
Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
She has been so sweet to provide an excerpt for me to share with y'all!
Check it out!
Though the afternoon sunshine was beginning to fade, the air was still hot and heavy. Coral was struck by the awesome silence that surrounded them. Not a bird in sight, no shuffle in the undergrowth, even the insects were elusive. They climbed a little way up the escarpment over the plateau and found a spot that dominated the view of the whole glade. Rafe spread out the blanket under an acacia tree. They ate some chicken sandwiches and eggs and polished off the bottle of cordial. They chatted casually, like old friends, about unimportant mundane things, as though they were both trying to ward off the real issue, to stifle the burning embers that were smoldering dangerously in both their minds and their bodies.
All the while, Coral had been aware of the need blossoming inside her, clouding all reason with desire. She could tell that he was fighting his own battle. Why was he holding back? Was he waiting for her to make the first move? Rafe was lying on his side, propped up on his elbow, his head leaning on his hand, watching her through his long black lashes. The rhythm of his breathing was slightly faster, and she could detect a little pulse beating in the middle of his temple, both a suggestion of the turmoil inside him. Rafe put out a hand to touch her but seemed to change his mind and drew it away. Coral stared back at him, her eyes dark with yearning, searching his face.
The shutters came down. “Don’t, Coral,” Rafe whispered, “don’t tease. There’s a limit to the amount of resistance a man has.”
A flash of long blue lightning split the sky, closely followed by a crash of thunder. Coral instinctively threw herself into Rafe’s arms, hiding her face against his broad chest. She had always had a strong phobia of thunderstorms. Now she knew why the place had seemed eerie, why there had been no bird song or insect tick-tocks, no scuffling and ruffling in the undergrowth. Even though the skies when they entered the valley had not foretold the electrical storm that was to come, just like with the animals, her instinct had told her that something was wrong. But she had been too distracted by the turbulence crackling between her and Rafe to pay attention to the changing sky.
Rafe, too, was shaken out of his daze and turned his head to see that the sun had dropped behind the mountain. Dense clouds had swept into the valley and were hanging overhead like a black mantle.
“Where did that come from? No storm was forecast for today?” he muttered, jumping up.
There was another tremendous peal of thunder, lightning lit up the whole glade, and again another crash. Then the heavy drops of rain came hammering down against the treetops, pouring down through the foliage.
A wind was starting up. Without hesitation, Rafe folded the blanket into a small bundle and tucked it under his arm. He slung the hamper over his shoulder, and lifting Coral into his arms, he climbed his way up to the next level of the escarpment where a ledge of rock was jutting out and found the entrance to a cave where they could shelter. Coral was shivering. She tucked her face into his shoulder, her fingers tightly gripping his shirt. She was completely inert, paralyzed by fear. They were both drenched.
There was no way they would be able to get back to Narok tonight. Coral knew from her childhood that storms were always long in this part of the country, and through her panic she prayed that he wouldn’t be piloting that little plane back in this howling gale. At least here they were protected from the storm. It was not yet completely dark. Rafe looked around, still holding her tightly against him. Coral couldn’t herself as she sobbed uncontrollably.
“Shush, it’s all right,” he whispered softly in her ear. “It’s only a storm. By tomorrow morning it’ll all be over.” He brushed her tears away as more fell. “I’m going to have to set you down for a moment, Coral. I need to light us a fire and get you out of those wet clothes.”