There is something about a powerful love story that is impossible to beat. From Lizzie and Darcy to Bella and Edward, romances in literature endure because they give us everything a good book should: excitement, passion, intrigue, thrills, heroines and heroes galore, all bound up in a promise of escapism that can take us miles from ordinary life. Love stories transport us on an intoxicating, unforgettable journey.
When my publishers Harlequin UK asked me to write a novel for Mills & Boon, I was elated and daunted in equal measure. To be part of such an incredible institution was a privilege but it was also a pressure. Sexy bonkbusters are what I’m used to – my first three books Hollywood Sinners, Temptation Island and Wicked Ambition are all glitzy, overblown, larger-than-life romps through the secret lives of the mega-rich, and now my task was to pare this right back and focus on the subtly changing relationship between two people. Critics are quick to dismiss romance as an easy format, but I can vouch it is harder than it looks! Both leads have to be drawn in absolute detail, as real to the author as they are to each other, in order for their connection to work. I found myself writing out pages and pages of stuff about my hero so that I could get to know him inside and out – his favourite song, what he ate for breakfast, the fact he wore odd socks, his best and worst childhood memories: specifics the reader might never be told but that were essential for cementing him in my mind. Only when he and my heroine were properly established could they begin to fall for each other. This they did of their own accord, which is the magic of writing a love story. Get the characters right and they will act independently.
Writing a Mills & Boon didn’t mean, of course, that I couldn’t get naughty. In fact M&B have a wealth of different series, varying from the chaste and locked bedroom door, right through to the bedroom-door-wide-open-and-come-on-in-and-watch… M&B were doing the rude thing way before Fifty Shades. So it was important – and expected – that I should keep my trademark sex and scandal, only with a slight shift of emphasis from the raunchy to the romantic. You’ll still find plenty of rudeness along the way. The words ‘Little Pony’ will never be innocent again…
Glittering Fortunes is set in the English West Country and follows the fates of two estranged aristocrat brothers: Charlie, the dark, quiet hero; and Cato, the reckless, hedonistic King of Hollywood. When Cato returns to the Cornish town of Lustell Cove, war breaks out over the brothers’ inheritance – the beautiful, Downton Abbey-style Usherwood Estate. Local girl Olivia gets caught in the fray, and while she can’t bear the brooding Charlie, she also can’t seem to stay away from him. A mysterious summons arrives and a long-buried family secret threatens to explode the rivalry. Who will win out – and will Charlie and Olivia find their happy ending?
I loved writing the men, especially Cato, who was so much fun. He gets up to loads of mischief, and while he’s the villain of the piece he’s kind of funny as well. Charlie, despite what he’s been through, is in many ways my ideal man: capable, strong, artistic, beardy – and good with dogs! Then there was Usherwood, the house where it all unfolds. It was the perfect stage for drama. Each time I sat down to write about the house I lost myself in it: the cellar, the tower, the endless corridors and the big smoky hall… It was a world in itself.
Like any new relationship, my first foray into Mills & Boon has been exhilarating, unexpected and a whole heap of fun. I hope you’ll join me in Lustell Cove, and fall in love all over again.
Glittering Fortunes is out September 6, published by Mills & Boon.
By day Victoria Fox lives in London. By night she relaxes in her fantasy LA mansion, sipping Krug in a Jacuzzi and watching a bare-chested man clean out her pool. Victoria was born in 1983, went to boarding school in her teens and studied English at university. A long-time admirer of Jackie Collins, she often wondered what life would be like as a bonkbuster author. After working in publishing for a few years, she decided to quit and find out – and hasn’t looked back since…
Her first novel Hollywood Sinners was described by Closer magazine as ‘a heady mix of corruption, glamour, lust and power’, Temptation Island went on to be tagged The Sun’s ‘best bonkbuster of 2012’, while her latest, Wicked Ambition, cemented her place as Cosmopolitan’s ‘favourite new-generation bonkbuster author’. Even Jackie Collins, Queen of La Bonk, agrees that ‘Victoria Fox is always a fun read!’