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Let me say straight off that this book was deliciously different, and yet, comfortably similar, to many other romances. And it was the differences that made this story fresh, and kept me reading past my bedtime…until I finished the book! Usually I don’t do that, but I was enjoying it so much that I absolutely had to.
What did I love? I loved that it was set in Lyon. I loved the silk factory, and that Jean-Luc was a racing driver turned businessman. And I loved that he and Sophie had a history. Stories where the couple have already parted once always seem a bit more intense to me. There’s always a harder uphill climb to the finale, old skeletons to put to rest on top of whatever the current tribulations happen to be. And Sophie and Jean-Luc have more than a few of both.
This is a great read. A good story, a believable and charming romance, and utterly delightful. Check out the blurb and the excerpt below!
The Silk Romance Blurb!
Jean-Luc Olivier is a courageous racing driver, a hero to millions, with the world before him. Sophie Challoner is a penniless student, whose face is unknown beyond her own rundown estate in London. The night they spend together in Paris seems to Sophie like a fairytale—a Cinderella story without the happy ending. She knows she has no part in Jean-Luc’s future. She made her dying mother a promise to take care of her father and brother in London. One night of happiness is all Sophie allows herself. She runs away from Jean-Luc and returns to England to keep her promise.
Safely back home with her father and brother, and immersed in her college work, Sophie tries her best to forget their encounter, but she reckons without Jean-Luc. He is determined to find out why she left him, and intrigued to discover the real Sophie. He engineers a student placement Sophie can’t refuse, and so, unwillingly, she finds herself back in France, working for Jean-Luc in the silk mill he now owns.
Thrown together for a few short weeks in Lyon, the romantic city of silk, their mutual love begins to grow. But it seems the fates are conspiring against Sophie’s happiness. Jean-Luc has secrets of his own. Then, when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choice—stay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.
Jean-Luc smiled. “I tell you what,” he said, his head tilted to one side as he eyed her pleasantly. “You answer one more question of mine, and then I’ll answer any questions of yours you want. No holds barred.”
Maybe if Sophie hadn’t drunk the wine, she wouldn’t have been so relaxed. Maybe her wits would have been sharper. As it was, her answer came totally unguarded.
“Okay, I agree.” She sank back into her chair, brows lifted. “What’s your question?”
Jean-Luc leaned forward slowly, the smile gone from his face. With a shock, Sophie saw all trace of amiability leave him. His eyes were hard as sapphires.
“I’ve asked you this question once,” he said, the words travelling low and swift over the table between them. “And you didn’t answer. Four years ago you left me alone in a hotel room. Why?”
Sophie gasped. “That’s not a fair question.”
The vehemence in her voice caused the waiter to jump and the coffee cups to rattle in his hands. He cast a quick, startled glance in Sophie’s direction before pushing the coffee hurriedly into place. Sophie sat up straight in her chair.
“And, actually, I prefer not to talk about the past,” she said. The tone of her voice held a glacial iciness. Her brother Jack would have known straight away it was pointless continuing the conversation. Jean-Luc, as she was fast coming to realise, was not so easy to manipulate.
“I think my question is perfectly fair.” He spoke mildly, but there was no escaping the steel in his voice. “And more than that, I think you owe me an explanation.”
“I don’t owe you anything.” Sophie picked up her cognac and took a gulp that left her spluttering. Her undignified choking failed to move him. He waited until she had finished and then continued implacably, his eyes never wavering from hers.
“I don’t agree. That night you seduced me. You pretended to be experienced, a groupie even, and all the time you were a virgin.”
“Keep your voice down,” Sophie hissed, looking round anxiously at the nearby diners. Her face flamed scarlet, the bright blush a dead giveaway. “And anyway, I did not seduce you.”
“I’m right, aren’t I? You were a virgin.” His eyes narrowed to dazzling slits. “Do you think it’s a nice feeling, to be made use of?”
“I wasn’t making use of you,” Sophie protested.
And then it finally hit her. With a shock of belated realisation, she finally understood how Jean-Luc must have construed the events of that night. She stared horror-struck into his piercing gaze. Then her cheeks began a slow burn of mortification. He must have thought she’d had a one night stand to lose her virginity with a celebrity. When she remembered that she’d told him afterwards she was engaged, too, she hung her head. What must he have thought of her?
“That’s not how it was,” she whispered. She twisted her napkin in her lap. She hadn’t thought he would find their night together important. His previous girlfriends were so glamorous, she thought she’d be one on the list, soon to be forgotten.
She lifted her eyes to his. “It wasn’t how it seemed. I didn’t think…”
The coldness in his expression brought her to a halt.
“You didn’t think,” he echoed, with an icy quiet. “You didn’t think that I might actually have a heart. That I might care.”
Sophie looked down at the creased napkin, a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. There was nothing she could say. It was true. She hadn’t thought he’d care. In fact, she’d assumed him incapable of feeling. She’d thought he was as heartless as the hangers-on who surrounded him. When she dared to raise her eyes again, she found Jean-Luc hadn’t moved an inch. His eyes had never left her, their hardness unyielding.
She pushed her untouched coffee away.
“I’d like to go home now,” she said quietly. Her request sounded childish, even to her own ears, but she could no longer endure his justified anger. He continued to look at her for several long seconds. Then he shrugged.
“Very well. I will call for my car. But understand this: I’m not asking you for an apology. I’m asking you for an explanation. And you still haven’t answered my question—so we will continue this discussion on the way home.”
“Oh no, I…” Sophie half rose out of her seat, but her protest came too late. Jean-Luc had pushed back his chair and was already striding to the lobby, mobile phone in hand, to make his call. The waiters hurried to the table and began silently clearing away. Sophie looked so miserable that, for once, they forgot all attempts at discretion and were staring at her with open sympathy. Her bent head was still fixed on the napkin in her lap. How to tell Jean-Luc that she had run away because otherwise she would have felt bound to him, caught up in his iron will with no chance of escape? She had made a sacred promise to her mother to look after her father and brother. She had to leave him; there was no other choice. There was no way she could ever combine her world with his. The looks the waiters threw her were full of compassion, but it was no use. Sophie had guessed how it would be if she came to Lyon to work for him. For the first couple of weeks he had left her alone, lulled her into a false sense of security with his distance. But now he had removed the mask of indifferent charm to reveal the iron purpose she should have known all along lay underneath. This time there would be no getting away. Sophie put her head in her hands and wished the ground would open wide.
Helena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now and that’s just as well, because nowadays she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, right next door to windswept Brontë country. She has an affectionate, if half-crazed, rescue dog and together they tramp the moors every day—one of them wishing she were Emily Brontë, the other vainly chasing pheasants. When she’s not out on the moors you’ll find Helena either creating romantic heroes and heroines of her own or else with her nose firmly buried in a book, enjoying someone else’s stories. Her patient husband and her brilliant children support her in her daydreams and are the loves of her life.
Buy the book!
- MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=664&category_id=8&keyword=helena+fairfax&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1
- Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/The-Silk-Romance-ebook/dp/B00CYHVI1W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1370293366&sr=8-2&keywords=helena+fairfax
- Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Silk-Romance-ebook/dp/B00CYHVI1W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370293413&sr=8-1&keywords=helena+fairfax
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