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.
You can find Helena here on her blog: www.helenafairfax.com, on her Facebook page, or on Twitter @helenafairfax
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.
“Sophie,” he began again huskily. “Sophie, this is not what I want.”
“Isn’t it?” In that moment, a hollowness rushed to fill her, so that she could barely bring herself to speak. She turned her own face away in bewilderment. Outside the window, the black waters of the river Rhône could be seen as they crossed the bridge, orange lights bobbing and rippling on its surface. She let her curtain of hair swing forward to hide the misery in her expression and pressed her forehead unseeing to the glass. She felt Jean-Luc move to take her hand, his fingers gentle now, the strength in them subdued.
“This mustn’t end the way it did before,” he said gently. “We need to know each other better. I don’t want you to run away again.”
Sophie said nothing. For a few moments, there was a deep, ominous silence. The timeless silence that falls before the surge of a tidal wave, before the swell reaches its peak to come crashing down blindly on the rocks.
Then an unstoppable anger surged through her. She whirled her head round. “You think we need to get to know each other better?”
Jean-Luc reached one hand up to touch her face, taken aback by what he saw there, but she jerked back.
“What does that mean? I don’t know you at all,” she cried. “All I know is, everything you set your heart on, you get. First of all, you railroad me into coming to work for you. Then when I get here, you talk me into going out with you, and you ask me all about myself, and you say nothing about you. And you insist on bringing up that night when I’m trying to forget all about it. And then I want you to kiss me, and you tell me you’re not going to kiss me, like what I have to say doesn’t mean anything!”
The rush of jumbled words left Sophie panting for breath, her face up close to Jean-Luc’s in anger. He began to speak, but she broke in before the words could leave his mouth.
“I’m glad I left you in that hotel room, because you deserved it.” She jabbed one finger at his chest in violent confirmation. “And I’m sorry I apologised before because, actually, I’m not sorry.”
Her final sentence spilled out incoherently, but she was beyond caring. For a few moments, the only sound in the astonished silence was her rapid breathing as she forced for mastery of herself. She sank back again into her own corner, still not beaten.
“You’re completely single-minded,” she added bitterly. “And if it’s any consolation, I’ve never known anyone like you.”
Her anger was stoked still further by Jean-Luc’s reaction. In the half-light of the car, the street lamps lit up his face one after another in a regular pattern.
“Are you smiling?” she asked incredulously.
“I’m sorry I made you angry,” he said gently. “When I want something, I don’t always see what’s in my way.”
“No, I’ve noticed. You’re like a dog with a bone!”
“A dog with a bone?” he repeated, and now the smile on his face was unmistakeable. “Is that a dog with no flies on him?”
“Oh, you’re impossible.” Sophie snatched her hand out of his grasp and turned her face towards the window.
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