Burning Embers is a contemporary historical romance novel set in 1970s Kenya. It tells the story of the developing love and passion between Coral, a naive, young English girl returning to the place of her birth, and Rafe, the handsome but tortured womanizer to whom Coral is inextricably drawn.
It’s a story of long, hot African days and sultry nights; of slumbering beasts and awakening desires; of intrigue and darkness; of journeys beginning and ending; of growing up and letting go; of falling in love, and following your heart.
A passionate romance novel requires the kind of hero that makes your knees tremble, and in Burning Embers I endeavoured to create just that with the character of Rafe de Montfort. Here’s how I first describe him in the book, when he is a stranger to the heroine, Coral:
He was tall, dark, and lean. In the moonlight, the eyes that viewed her with slow appraisal seemed black, but she guessed that in daylight they would have reflected other tones. His was not an outstandingly handsome face; it held something stronger, more powerful than conventional good looks: a blatant sensuality, a charismatic magnetism that drew her attention despite her desire to ignore him.
I believe that first and foremost, the hero must be attractive. He does not have to be a beautiful man; indeed, sometimes the most appealing leads aren’t. But he must exude magnetism, be eminently male with an edge of machismo, and physique matters. More important than looks, though, is character – which shines through appearance to make for a truly knee-melting hero. He must have charisma; he must be the kind of man who, when he enters a room, has such a commanding presence that you can’t help but look his way. He must have principles, confidence, and strength of character. He must have wit – an easy smile. He must be kind, and compassionate. But above all else, he must be passion incarnate! That is Rafe de Monfort.
In the book, Rafe is a successful entrepreneur who runs a nightclub and a plantation. He is also a man with a notorious reputation for womanising, and it is well-earned. He keeps a mistress, the sultry dancer Morgana, and yet still pursues Coral. And in addition to this ‘bad boy’ behaviour, rumours abound that Rafe is ruthless and not afraid to get his hands dirty. Coral’s old nanny, Aluna, is convinced he was complicit in the death of her father. Is he only interested in Coral now in order to get his hands on the family plantation?
I loved writing Rafe – he reminds me of Heathcliff: a tortured soul. He is an alpha male, and seemingly so strong and tough, but beneath the surface he is vulnerable and struggling so much with his emotions. I think it is just this combination of strength and vulnerability that is irresistible and goes straight to my heart. Would you agree?
Hannah Fielding bio:
Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
To date, she has published two novels. Burning Embers is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. The Echoes of Love is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany.
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Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She’s leaving the life she’s known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance – the plantation that was her childhood home – Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral’s childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father’s death.
Circumstance confirms Coral’s worst suspicions, but when Rafe’s life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman’s affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral’s inheritance? Or does Rafe’s troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?
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***Images and wording for this post were provided by the author.***