October 15th sees the publication of my 5th romantic comedy, My Big Fat Christmas Wedding. And – if I do say so myself – it boasts two rather yummy book boyfriends. Exotic Greek fisherman Niko, with his muscles from hard physical work, not some clinical gym. And suave, debonair executive, half-Dutch Henrik. They provide a striking contrast to each other and make Pippa question whether she really can go through with the permanent move from glitzy London to sleepy Taxos village. The book is a standalone sequel to bestselling Game of Scones and it was a joy to work with all the three main characters again.
I know. Lucky aren’t I? It’s not a difficult job spending my days in the company of gorgeous men, and lately I’ve been thinking about the inspiration for all my book boyfriends…
He was definitely in my mind when I created Lord Edward from my debut novel Doubting Abbey (and its standalone sequel From Paris With Love). Edward is standoffish, abrupt and barely talks to pizza waitress, Gemma, when she first turns up at his stately home, disguised as his cousin Abbey. And yes, there is a pond in the grounds of Applebridge Hall and Edward does take a shirtless swim! It was huge fun writing how Gemma slowly creates cracks in his rigid, unfriendly veneer.
Ha! Okay, hands up, I’m a definite Twihard – loved the Twilight films, loved the books. To me Edward Cullen is the ultimate romantic hero – that is, on the surface strong but cloaked with a mysterious hint of vulnerability. The actor definitely inspired Luke from Mistletoe Mansion, with his rakish looks and bedroom hair. Plus character-wise, until cake-maker Kimmy discovers the real him, Luke is moody just like RobPatz in the film Remember Me, where he plays a sulky, wayward son.
Niko, from Game of Scones and My Big Fat Christmas Wedding, was a joy to create, with his caramel skin, mocha eyes and lopsided grin. Plus, of course the abdominal v muscle is a plus, along with his loyalty and huge sense of family duty. When Pippa first meets him in Game of Scones, he is rude and teasing and this was inspired, partly, by a Greek waiter I met years ago on a girls’ holiday in Kos. We bought drinks from this man every night, and he always shot us a flirtatious look or mocking playful comment. He had the curliest chocolate hair, and with his sexy accent used to drawl “Ya sou, ladeez” each evening, when we turned up.
Henrik, some of you may remember, this character was inspired by a Dutch flight attendant I met, last year, when flying back from Japan. At six foot four with slate grey eyes, he made quite an impression – and piqued my curiosity when he knelt down to chat for a while. He deflected a compliment and gave me a hint that, behind the confident facade, was a degree of that ever-attractive vulnerability. Thanks to a comment of mine on Twitter, KLM tracked him down and we have since become friends. He made Henrik into less of a villainous character and brought in much-needed shades of grey.
However there is one man whose qualities run through all of my book boyfriends – my husband, who is strong, loyal, with a firm moral compass and twinkle in his eye. He’s is at the core of all my heroes and never fails to inspire.
My Big Fat Christmas Wedding is out on 15th October (only £1.99 preorder) and if you read it, I hope you agree that Pippa, ultimately, makes the right life decision. As one early reviewer says, it is a “rollercoaster” of a journey and book boyfriends aside, Pippa discovers a lot about herself, along the way.