Rumours is my 12th novel, and like Chances, it is based in Hertfordshire where I live. The story is set around the impending sale of Longbridge Hall, a small stately home – and the effect this has on the villagers whose lives have long been intertwined with it. The heroine, Stella, is the agent given the task of selling Longbridge. But that means she has to deal with elderly Lady Fortescue who is eccentric, feisty and more than a little terrifying.
Stella is a single mum and broke, she’s very guarded about her past and she needs every penny of the commission she might earn. I have to admit being more than a little in love with the hero, Xander and his attractive stroppiness. He’s the village’s eligible bachelor but he just shrugs of the gossip that often circulates about him.
However, Xander can’t ignore the rumours about Longbridge Hall. He grew up on the estate and is appalled that it’s to go on the market. His secrets and memories are bound within the great house and its beautiful grounds – and they most certainly are not for sale. He’ll do anything to stand in Stella’s way – anything but fall in love of course.
Researching this book was eye-opening and fun – I was able to snoop around some incredible country mansions and of course I kept my ear to the ground and my eyes peeled to glean the gossip and shenanigans of village life! I feel Lady Lydia will win legions of fans amongst my readers in much the same way as Django. As you know, I love ‘that generation’ – and such characters become key in both aiding and abetting the hero and heroine, but also in imparting life lessons.
As with all my books, setting and a sense-of-place is fundamental, Longbridge Hall and the Hertfordshire landscape are so much more than a backdrop in this novel. For me, they’re leading characters too.