Meet the Exquisite Quill Authors

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Highlighting The World Romance Writers

Today's blog highlights the bestselling anthology, Letterbox Love Stories, Vol 1. (on sale now for 99¢!) As one of the authors involved this project, I was fortunate to collaborate with nine talented wordsmiths from around the globe. Today, Authors Helena Fairfax, Cara Marsi, and Lindsay Townsend share the spark that inspired their stories.

Come Date Me in Paris ~ Helena Fairfax 

The spark that inspired my story.

What if you received a letter that changed your life forever?
Right from the start I loved the premise behind our Letterbox Love Stories anthology. In each of our stories, the heroine receives a life-changing letter – and the variety of stories that has unfolded from this simple idea has been wonderful to see!

My own story is a contemporary romance called Come Date Me in Paris. Here in the UK we have a very popular reality TV show called Come Dine with Me. In the show, a group of four strangers take turns to invite each other into their houses. They each have to cook a three course meal for the whole group, and the contestants all score each other out of ten for the meal. The one with the highest score wins.

When the show first started it was all about watching the cooking, but as the show progressed we were watching in fascination to see how a group of strangers would get on around a dinner table. I wondered what would happen if there was a similar show all about blind dates. What if the first time you met someone and cooked for them you were being filmed for one of the most popular shows on TV?

And so my idea for Come Date Me in Paris was born. My heroine, Alice, receives a letter telling her she’s won a place on the show. The only trouble is, she can’t cook – and in France, the home of cuisine, that’s unheard of! In desperation, Alice asks her chef neighbour, Edmond, for lessons, and offers to walk his poodle for him in exchange. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, until…well, you’ll have to read the story to find out!

Author bio~

Each of the stories in the Letterbox Love Stories anthology is set in Europe. I live in Yorkshire, in the north of England, but I’ve lived and worked several years across the channel. When I was nineteen I worked as an au pair in Lyon, France (by coincidence the home town of one of our other authors, Marie Laval – we are now firm friends!) Lyon used to be the centre of the silk-weaving industry, and my first novel, The Silk Romance, is set in this city. I later worked for a year in Austria, teaching English, and then in Bavaria, where I worked in a hotel, and later near Munich, Germany, where I worked for the car company Audi. Each of the locations I’ve worked in would make a wonderful setting for a novel. I chose Paris because I’d recently visited this wonderful city and fell in love with it all over again. After all, it is the city of romance!

If you’d like to get in touch, or find out more about my books, writing, and photos of my settings or the Yorkshire moors where I live, please follow my newsletter by subscribing here:

All new subscribers to m newsletter will receive a FREE copy of Palace of Deception – a romantic suspense novella set in the Mediterranean. You can also find out more on my blog, or on Facebook, or Twitter


Curating Love ~ Cara Marsi
My sensuous romance is set in Ravello, a small, medieval town on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. I’ve visited Italy twice, and the Amalfi Coast is one of my favorite places in the world. The scenery is breathtaking. Those hairpin turns along the coast that I write about in Curating Love are scary and exciting. On our most recent trip to Italy, my husband and I spent a day in Ravello. I loved the winding streets and medieval buildings and knew I had to set a story there. I bought two hand-painted tiles from Ravello that I keep in my kitchen. Every time I look at them, I’m taken back to that lovely town. The tiles served as a reminder that I had to write my story.

Italy is a country that is filled with romance. You feel it all around you. Curating Love is the third story I’ve set in Italy. It’s a perfect place to let your imagination go wild with thoughts of amore.

I actually came up with my characters, Chloe Decker and Matteo DiMarco, several years ago. I started to write their story and called it Picture Perfect (not too original, right?) That story was set in Philadelphia where Chloe owned an art gallery. Matteo was a former lover she’d met while studying in Italy. I never finished the story for various reasons, but I’ve always loved the characters and I felt they were asking me to please not forget them.

When I was invited to contribute to an anthology of international stories, I had my chance to finally give Chloe and Matteo their story. Curating Love isn’t the end though. It’s just the beginning. Curating Love tells how they meet and fall in love. But their road to love is as twisting as the roads in Amalfi, and Chloe and Matteo find many bumps on their way to happy-ever-after. The rest of their story will come later in the full-length novel I’m hoping to publish next year.


Author bio~

I’m an award-winning and eclectic author, published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. I love a good love story, and believe that everyone deserves a second chance at love. Sexy, sweet, thrilling, or magical, my stories are first and foremost about the love. Treat yourself today, with a taste of romance.

When not traveling or dreaming of traveling, my husband and I live on the East Coast of the United States in a house ruled by two spoiled cats who compete for attention.

I’m a total cat person. On my Twitter profile I call myself a cat-whisperer. I’ve put cats in several of my stories. Many romance authors are cat people. My cats keep me company by lying on my desk while I’m working. Sometimes they try to rewrite my stories.

I’m also a foodie who enjoys trying out new recipes. I’ve written several “foodie” romances. I hope you’ll visit my website and sign up for my newsletter. I include a recipe in every newsletter.

My links:


Plain Harry ~ Lindsay Townsend
The wounded warrior is a powerful archetype and one I find fascinating to explore in romance. I love writing strong heroes but heroes without flaw, without fears are blank. Wounds of any kind, physical or of the spirit, give me a starting point to develop a character.

Harry is one such character. As a result of childhood small-pox, he has many scars. Isolated and mocked for his appearance, he believes he is ugly, both inside and out. Esther, my heroine, sees him as more than his scars and recognizes him as the knight and hero he truly is.

Esther, too, is damaged. A widow, she has emerged from a terrible marriage where she was beaten and broken down. Lacking in confidence, she needs to discover her self-belief. These two wounded characters gave me the starting point and inspiration for my story.

The setting also gave me endless ideas. I love the British woodland and countryside, the seasons and weather and different skies. I love the flowers and scents and feel of grass and bark, the sounds of birds and calls of forest animals. In my “Plain Harry” I tried to bring out my delight in the land.

Author Bio~

I’m a member of the British Woodland Trust and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. I walk in my local woodland every day, spotting the birds and beasts, chatting to my fellow walkers. I love British classical music for its fey elements and enjoy reading old fairy tales. My hubby and I are busy gathering strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries in our garden at the moment, with redcurrants and blue berries to follow. Sometimes he or I pick through “Curye on Inglysch” a compilation of 14th century cookbooks, to try and adapt things as a change from an everyday diet. It’s great fun!

Amazon Author Page


Rose Anderson said...

I loved reading the spark behind those delightful stories. Now I have to reread them all with new eyes!

Helena Fairfax said...

Thanks for hosting us, Rose. Great to find out more about you both, Cara and Lindsay. I loved the heroes in both your stories. Like Rose, I'll be re-reading them now with fresh eyes!

Marie Laval said...

How lovely to find out a little more about Helena, Cara and Lindsay and to discover the inspiration behind their story. Helena, I had no idea you had done all these different jobs in Germany; Cara, how fascinating that you have a special bound with cats...; and Lindsay, your life sounds idyllic! I am so happy, and so lucky, to be part of the World Romance Writers.

Denysé Bridger said...

Wonderful stories!! Congrats everyone. It's always lovely to learn more about the stories and their talented creators.

Gemma Juliana said...

What lovely insights into the thoughts behind the stories, Helena, Cara and Lindsay. It always fascinates me to know why a particular place is chosen, and what led two people to the intersection point where their meeting changes everything. And it's fun to know more about your interests -- almost as good as sitting down for a cup of tea together.

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks for hosting us, Rose. I loved reading about the sparks in Helena's and Lindsay's stories. I loved both their stories. I'm proud to be in this terrific set with such talented authors.