The Secrets of Villa Rosso
Linn B Halton
Genre: Cosy mystery/romance
Release Date:21 July 2017
Publisher: Harper Impulse
The Secrets of Villa Rosso:
Escape to Italy for a summer romance to remember
When Ellie Maddison is sent on a business trip to Southern Italy, she’s reminded why she loves her job – set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, the beautiful Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But what Ellie isn’t prepared for is the instant connection she feels to the estate’s director Max Johnson, or the secrets they share that are as intertwined as the rambling vines that cover Villa Rosso.
It’s not long before Ellie finds herself entangled in the history of the place, trying to understand the undeniable effect Max is having on her. As their relationship grows, what will Ellie discover about this idyllic villa and those who have walked through its doors?
What started as a simple work trip will change Ellie’s life forever.
It isn’t just the sunshine and the electric blue sky, but the musical calls of the countryside that reach out to me. A chorus of low-level sounds play like a soft melody in the background. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and I feel like I’m watching a re-run of a favourite film. I could stand here for a long time simply taking in the detail and with each sweep of my eyes noticing something new.
Spinning around I look back at the villa, taking in the rustic beauty of the stonework and the pale orange-red hue of the sun-bleached roof tiles. This is, quite simply, unreal. It’s a little piece of heaven and, so far removed from my daily life that it’s hard to believe this is on the same planet. The sheer scale of the landscape literally steals your breath away. I’m a mere speck, small and insignificant in the grand scheme nature is presenting to me. But rather bizarrely, it doesn’t feel alien in anyway at all. The vastness isn’t overwhelming, but strangely comforting.
I walk back to a cluster of wooden tables surrounding a small fountain and take a seat. As I dive into my bag to extract some sunglasses, I hear a polite cough and look up at the face staring down at me.
‘Mrs Maddison? I’m Max, Max Johnson. Welcome to Villa Rosso.’
I stand, automatically plastering a pleasant smile on my surprised face as recognition kicks in. I know this man, I mean, I’ve met him before. At least I think I have, but there’s nothing similar reflected back at me, only a warm smile. The sort of smile that radiates out from mysteriously deep, hazel eyes. We shake hands. He’s younger than I expected, probably in his early forties and tall. Six foot something that’s for sure, because I feel he’s towering over me.
‘I’m sorry to disturb you. I just wanted you to know that I’m here at your disposal whenever you are ready to begin. Would you like me to fetch you a coffee so you can sit for a while and enjoy the view?’
Although I knew he was British, his tan and elegant demeanour lend an air of cosmopolitan sophistication. I would not have been at all surprised if he had been Italian. He’s hovering politely and I still haven’t answered him…
The Secrets of Villa Rosso – how does a story begin?
Every time I begin a new novel I have, if I’m lucky, a paragraph hastily jotted down when I’m out walking, or in bed at night. Usually, though, it’s one single line – the idea that I know will spark an entire story.
So how do I grow that single thought into a plotline? Quite simply I let the words unfold. Usually I have one character who will have inspired that initial idea and as I expand that one-liner I begin to get a feel for who they are. Because I don’t know them, and neither does my reader, I need the character to show me who they are through their thoughts, words and emotions.
Of course, it’s never long before another person pops onto the scene and another, then another … and that’s how it begins to grow. Suddenly they are all clamouring to give me lines to take the story forward and it becomes necessary to rein them in, becoming selective. And yes, side characters do sometimes become such good friends that I want to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ of their personal stories. But there comes a point, usually around fifty thousand words when I start to panic. I rarely know that far ahead how a story is going to end, although just occasionally I have written the end chapter before I’m very many words into the story. But I know there’s still a lot of story to be told and it’s necessary to focus, rather than amble towards the ending.
And that was the case with The Secrets of Villa Rosso. The challenge all along was never how it was going to end, it was how this story would unfold and what would be the twists and turns? That had only happened to me once before and I had to trust that the characters would steer me in the right direction.
Many writers do a lot of detailed planning, even to chapter level and they have the bare bones of the story from the start. Maybe the characters that jump into my head are just an unruly bunch who don’t like rules, or maybe it’s the bizarre way my brain works. However, I prefer to think of it as being a reader who happens to type and the characters are the real authors of the story.
I love it when I get to write from the male perspective, too, as it’s exciting being inside a male character’s head. Oh, the power to see both perspectives and it’s heady stuff. It makes my days full of surprises and a day at work is never, ever boring!
The downside for me is always when I type ‘The End’ – and, of course, editors always take that out. But for me it signifies saying goodbye to the friends who have been with me through a very personal journey and I miss them afterwards.
Writing full-time is my job, but to me writing is also my guilty pleasure. Bar of chocolate, or sit down and write another chapter? Sorry chocolate, as tempting as you are you come second!
ABOUT LINN B HALTON
Bristol-born Linn B Halton lives in the Forest of Dean, in the UK.
“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of strong coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, writing … and house renovation! Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache…”
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Under the Stars and A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love also became best-sellers in 2016 & 2017. Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.
Linn writes chick lit, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic romance for Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Press.
Goodreads Author Page: http://ow.ly/mk3H30atV5h
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