Hi Melanie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Cinderella’s Invitation to Greece (Weddings Worth Billions Book 1)!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Lucas Rothwell, a brooding billionaire, who is currently blind after surgery is keen to hide away from the spotlight. But when the housekeeper’s granddaughter Ruby Pennington turns up and begs him to allow her to host a celebrity wedding at his remote Yorkshire castle, he has to come up with a compromise and fast. She can host the wedding but she must first come with him to his private island in Greece.
Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:
I loved writing the end of Chapter One as up until the last line, Ruby has no idea that Lucas is blind.
Lucas placed his broad-spanned hand over hers and lifted it off his arm as if it was speck of lint. ‘Do you really think that tactic is going to work?’
His tone was liberally laced with scorn and another wave of heat flowed to her cheeks.
Ruby glowered up at him, but all she could see was her own furious reflection in his aviator glasses. ‘Firstly, I’m not leaving until you agree to hear me out. And secondly, I can’t leave my gran struggling all by herself with a burned wrist. Why haven’t you engaged another housekeeper? This place is clearly too much for her now.’
‘She insists she doesn’t want to retire.’
‘But can’t you see how neglected this place is at the moment? There are cobwebs everywhere.’
His mouth went into a thin tight line. ‘No, I can’t see.’
Something about his bleak-sounding tone made Ruby frown. ‘But there’s heaps of them. Look at that one at the top of the window, and on the light there. You’d have to blind not to see them.’
The line of his mouth became embittered. ‘But that’s exactly my point—I am blind.’
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
It’s actually quite tricky writing about someone with a disability and I had to make sure the whole way through the book, when I was in Lucas’s point of view, that I wasn’t allowing him to see things. He could only make out shapes and shadows, but no definition. I actually walked around my house with a blindfold on just so I could concentrate on powering up my other senses. That wasn’t exactly fun because I kept bumping into things. But it gave me a bit of insight in what it is like to be legally blind.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Because Lucas and Ruby already know each other, I had to work on Lucas finally seeing Ruby for the first time, but not with his eyes but his other senses. And Ruby, who always had a bit of a crush on him begins to move from infatuation to love.
Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?
When Lucas organises to take Ruby to his private Greek island, she doesn’t realise they will be travelling by helicopter. She is phobic about helicopter flights but his gentle support helps her get through it.
Readers should read this book….
Want a feel good fantasy about Cinderella unlocking the heart of her Prince Charming and living happily ever after.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?
I am currently doing some slight revisions of Book Three of this trilogy- Forbidden Until Their Snowbound Night, which will be out in January 2022. Book Two- Nine Months After That Night is in out in October 2022.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Giveaways…A signed copy of Cinderella’s Invitation to Greece.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: My hero Lucas is physically blind but he is also emotionally blind until he finally allows himself to fall in love. What issue or situation have you faced where you have been a little blind to the truth about yourself or someone else?
Excerpt from Cinderella’s Invitation to Greece (Weddings Worth Billions Book 1):
Before Ruby could put her key in the lock, the door opened a crack.
‘Ruby, lass, what you are you doing here?’ Her grandmother’s shocked expression wasn’t exactly the welcome Ruby was expecting. It had been months since she’d been to Rothwell Park. And, although her gran wasn’t the overly effusive sort, surely she could summon up a teensy bit of enthusiasm?
‘I told you weeks ago I’d be here for the Bank Holiday weekend.’
Her grandmother cast a furtive glance over her shoulder and then, keeping the front door only just ajar, whispered, ‘Now’s not a good time. The master’s here and he doesn’t want visitors.’
Ruby mentally rolled her eyes at her grandmother’s old-fashioned habit of referring to Lucas Rothwell as ‘the master’. Clearly her gran had been watching too many period dramas. And as for Lucas being in residence—that was the whole reason for Ruby’s visit. Her gran had mentioned a few weeks ago about his planning to be in Yorkshire this weekend, after spending months flitting between Greece and Italy for work. Ruby wouldn’t have travelled all this way from London if he wasn’t going to be home.
‘Why? Has he got one of his supermodel girlfriends here?’
It wouldn’t be the first time Ruby had come across Lucas entertaining one of his glamorous partners. She had spent her childhood and adolescence pretending not to notice his brooding good looks and the way his lovers gazed up at him adoringly. She had pretended not to be jealous that he never looked at her the way he looked at those beautiful women. But then, as the homeless ten-year-old waif who had come to live with her housekeeper grandmother after the imprisonment of her mother, Ruby had been practically invisible to him.
Her grandmother pursed her lips, but still kept the door half closed. ‘He’s alone, but—’
‘Great—because he’s the one I really need to see.’ Ruby smiled and, pushing the door open a little further, bent down to give her gran a smacking kiss on the cheek. ‘Not that it isn’t always lovely to see you,’ she added.
‘Get away with you, child.’
Her gran brushed Ruby away as if she was an annoying insect but there was no malice in it. After a rough upbringing herself, her gran had trouble showing and receiving affection, and even while Ruby had longed for more kisses and cuddles growing up, she didn’t feel any less loved. Her gran had taken her in and raised her, and for that she would be for ever grateful. Rothwell Park had been the first stable home she had experienced. The castle and its grounds had provided her with security and shelter, which had been the complete opposite of the chaos of moving from one flea-infested bedsit to another while her mother tried to outrun her debts.
Ruby stepped past to enter the castle and her grandmother closed the door behind her with a soft click, her expression still troubled. ‘I shouldn’t have mentioned he’d be home this weekend.’
Her gran’s stage whisper echoed eerily through the large entrance hall and made the fine hairs on the back of Ruby’s neck stand up at the roots.
‘He expressly told me to keep out all visitors.’
‘I’m hardly a visitor.’
Her gran wrung her hands in an agitated manner, her eyes flicking towards the grand staircase as if she was expecting to see Lucas come striding down to fire her on the spot for disobeying his orders.
‘You can’t stay. He won’t allow it.’
Ruby scrunched up her face in scorn. ‘Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Gran. Of course he’ll allow it. This was my home for years. Besides, I have important business to discuss with him. Where is he?’
Her gran’s throat moved up and down over a convulsive swallow. ‘The library. I was about to take his cup of tea up to him. But—’
‘I’ll do it for you.’
Why Lucas couldn’t fetch his own cup of tea was not worth arguing about with her gran. Beatrice Pennington was an old-school housekeeper. The upstairs and downstairs divide had never been breached in the whole time Ruby had lived with her grandmother.
Lucas’s parents, Claudia and Lionel, had occasionally invited her and her gran to join them for Christmas and other gatherings, but Beatrice had been adamant about keeping the distinction of employer and employee in place. Ruby had quietly and covertly rebelled by finding a hideout position, from which to observe the grand and often raucous dinner parties Claudia and Lionel had hosted. The Rothwells had lived in a completely different world from the one she had been born into. She’d been endlessly fascinated by their glamorous, exciting whirl of wealth and flamboyance and over-the-top decadence.
Ruby couldn’t help noticing her gran wincing as she prepared the tea tray. ‘Have you hurt your arm?’ she asked. ‘Here, let me look at you.’
Ruby took the kettle out of her grandmother’s hand and set it back on the bench. She turned her gran’s wrist over and saw the angry red welt of a recent burn. The skin was raw and weeping, the edges a purply-red that hinted at a possible infection. ‘Gran, that needs dressing. It looks like it’s getting—’
Her grandmother pulled her wrist out of Ruby’s hold. ‘Stop fussing, lass. I’ve had worse in my time.’
‘Maybe, but you’re older now, and wound infections can turn nasty in a blink. You really should see a doctor. You might need a skin graft or something. I can take you after I’ve spoken to—’
‘I don’t need a doctor,’ her gran said with a determined edge to her voice. ‘Now, take that tea up to the master before it gets stone-cold.’
Ruby shook her head in frustration, and then glanced at the tea tray. ‘Oh, yum, parkin. I haven’t had that in months.’ She reached for a second cup and plate, and placed them on the tray next to the others.
Her gran looked aghast. ‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m going to have afternoon tea with Lucas.’
‘You’ll have me fired, that’s what.’ Her gran’s tone was gruff, but her expression was set in deep trench lines of worry.
Ruby scooped up the tray. ‘You know, you really should think about retiring. This place is too big for you now, and you’re not getting any younger.’
‘I’ll retire when I’m good and ready and not a moment before.’
Ruby knew better than to argue with her gran in one of her mulish moods. But that was another conversation she would have to have with Lucas Rothwell—about her gran’s retirement.
‘I’ll help you with dinner after I’ve spoken to Lucas.’
The library was on the ground floor, several hundred metres from the kitchen, which only reinforced Ruby’s concerns about her gran’s increasing age and frailty. The harsh Yorkshire winters would be hard on her gran with her aching joints. How long did Lucas Rothwell expect her grandmother to wait on him hand and foot? Even though he spent less time at Rothwell Park than he had previously, it was ridiculous to expect a woman nudging eighty to remain in domestic service without help.
It was clear the castle was not being cleaned the way it used to be. Dust bunnies were in their dozens along the corridors, and cobwebs hung like lacework from the wall lights, as well as from the chandeliers. It gave the castle a ghostly atmosphere that was a little creepy to say the least. Surely Lucas could afford a team of people to run his damn castle. There were three gardeners, for God’s sake. He had made a fortune as a landscape architect, working on massive projects all over Europe. Why not have three housekeepers?
There was a service lift to the upper storeys of the castle, but that was no help with the long corridors and galleries in each commodious wing. The library was in a wing all of its own, overlooking the rolling moors in the distance, divided here and there by dry stone walls and hedgerows. The door was closed, so Ruby placed the tray on a nearby hall table and then gave the door a light knock with her bent knuckles. The tap-tap-tap sound echoed hauntingly along the wide corridor.
The deep burr of Lucas Rothwell’s voice sent a light shiver along the flesh of Ruby’s arms and set those bats’ wings in her belly flapping again. He could be intimidating at times, but she was no longer a timid child. She was a proud and successful businesswoman, and she had an important business proposition to discuss. She would not be bashful around him now. She would be brusque and businesslike.
Game face on, Ruby turned the door handle and then picked up the tray and nudged the door further open in order to enter the library. But something stopped her going any further. The room—dark at the best of times, with all that ancient woodwork and the shelves stacked with valuable old books—was cast in long ghostly shadows.
Lucas was sitting with his back to her in one of the two wing chairs set in front of a quartet of tall narrow windows, situated between sections of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The sky outside had clouded over even more since her arrival—it was now a gunmetal-grey—and specks of rain hit the windows, pecking at the glass like tiny invisible beaks.
‘Who is it?’ Lucas’s voice sharpened and he rose from the chair and turned to face where Ruby was standing in the doorway.
He was dressed in a black rollneck jumper and black trousers that made him seem even taller than his impressive six foot three. And he was wearing sunglasses, the aviator sort, which were as effective as a Keep Out sign. He cocked his head, his nostrils flaring slightly, like a wolf trying to pick up a new scent. Her scent.
The thought sent another shiver coursing over her flesh and a warm blush over her cheeks. If only she didn’t blush so easily around him. What was it about Lucas Rothwell that made her feel like a gauche teenager instead of a fully grown adult?
The Embarrassing Incident—Ruby always capitalised it in her head—when she was sixteen was partly to blame. More than partly, if she was honest. Whenever she was in his presence—which was rare these days, thank God—she couldn’t help but think of the clumsy, tipsy pass she’d made at him at one of the Rothwell parties she had sneaked into. And the stern dressing-down he’d given her that had rung in her ears for hours afterwards.
Eleven years had passed since that cringeworthy night, but it was as fresh in her mind as if it had happened yesterday. But she would not let it get in the way of achieving her goal. Harper and Aerin were relying on her to secure Rothwell Park as a wedding venue for Delphine Rainbird, a famous American actor, who was marrying her bodyguard, Miguel Morales. The exposure for their wedding business would be fantastic, let alone the amount of money Delphine was willing to pay to have her fairy tale wedding in a castle on the windswept moors of Yorkshire.
‘If you’d turn a light on or take those sunglasses off, you’d see it’s me.’ Ruby carried the tray over to the table next to the wing chair he had just vacated. ‘Why are you wearing them inside on a day like today? There’s not exactly blinding sunshine coming through the windows.’
There was a beat or two of silence before he answered in a hollow tone. ‘Headache.’
‘Oh, sorry. I’ll try not to rattle the cups too loudly.’ She proceeded to pour the tea into the two cups, and the glug-glug-glug sound in the silence was as loud as a waterfall.
‘What are you doing?’ His voice contained a note or two of irritation and his eyebrows were drawn together, his mouth pulled into a tight line. He remained standing in a stiff and guarded posture that was more than a little off-putting. But Ruby was not going to waste the opportunity to spend some time alone with him to present her proposal.
‘I’m having afternoon tea with you. Anyway, you can’t possibly eat all that parkin on your own.’
‘Take it away. All of it. And close the door on your way out.’ He turned his back on her and stood staring out of the rain-spattered windows, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his trousers.
Ruby let out a long sigh. ‘Look, I know headaches can make the most even-tempered person a little irritable, but I’ve come a long way and I’d like to talk to you about something. Something important.’
‘Now’s not a good time.’
‘When would be a good time?’
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Renowned billionaire Lucas Rothwell has a secret he will keep from the world’s media. And he’s shut everything and everyone out to do so. Until gentle wedding caterer Ruby Pennington arrives on his mansion doorstep seeking his help-and discovers the truth.
In exchange Lucas requests payment in kind: a week on his private Greek island, where Ruby will assist in shielding him from the spotlight. But can this determined Cinderella convince Lucas she’s the one person he should let in when seven days become seven dangerously decadent nights?
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