I was born in Wallingford but have spent most of my life living in a village outside Windsor. A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also loves to write romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…
I’ve two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) so the romance in my life is all in my head. Then again, my husband’s unstinting support of my career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.
Is it time to love Christmas again?
Faith Watkins loves Christmas, which is why she’s thrilled that her new hotel in the Lake District will be open in time for the festive season. And Faith has gone all out; huge Christmas tree, fairy lights, an entire family of decorative reindeer. Now all she needs are the guests …
But what she didn’t bank on was her first paying customer being someone like Adam Hunter. Rugged, powerfully built and with a deep sadness in his eyes, Adam is a man that Faith is immediately drawn to – but unfortunately he also has an intense hatred of all things Christmassy. As the countdown to the big day begins, Faith can’t seem to keep away from her mysterious guest, but still finds herself with more questions than answers: just what happened to Adam Hunter? And why does he hate Christmas?
Purchase from Amazon UK
Today I have the huge pleasure of chatting with Helen J Rolfe; Author of Women’s Contemporary Romantic Fiction including, Christmas at Little Knitting Box, plus exclusive Guest Post, Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway.
About the Author
Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction with an emphasis on relationships and love. She enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them. Helen enjoys creating strong female lead characters and although her stories often deal with serious issues, they always have a happy ending.
Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen’s books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.
Born and raised in the UK, Helen graduated from University with a business degree and began working in I.T. This job took her over to Australia and it was there that she studied writing and journalism and began writing for women’s health and fitness magazines. She also volunteered with the PR department of a children’s hospital where she wrote articles and media releases. Helen began writing fiction in 2011 and hasn’t missed the I.T. world one little bit, although the I.T. skills have come in handy of course, especially when it comes to creating and maintaining a website.
After fourteen years of living in Australia, Helen returned to the UK and now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and their children.
Favourite Christmas Memories by Helen J Rolfe
I think my first favourite memory would have to be when I was little and it snowed. It was years ago but I still believed in Santa and that year he gave me a bike. I insisted I went out on it – my parents must’ve enjoyed the experience! – and I didn’t let the weather stop me at all. That year we built an igloo with our nextdoor neighbour and a snowman too, and it was completely magical.
I also remember at school, that we had a homemade postbox into which you put Christmas cards. Then every day the cards would be left on your table in class for you to open. Cards aren’t sent as much nowadays and it’s a real shame.
My next favourite Christmas memory has to be my first Christmas in Australia. I had a friend staying with me and we were in a 15th floor apartment with no air conditioning and it was so hot! But we were determined to have the full roast dinner. We went out shopping the day before but on Christmas day found we had no potatoes, so went out in search for them. We never envisaged getting stuck in a traffic jam! In the UK roads tend to be quite deserted, so this was a first. Anyway, we had a good laugh about it, but every year when I roast the potatoes it reminds me of that time.
Over the years I’ve always loved Christmas but even more so once I had my own children and they believed in Santa too. Shopping in secret was always interesting, returning to the house and hiding everything away. The problem was, I’d then forget where I’d hidden it so it would take me forever to find everything. I remember it was always a case of late nights wrapping, my husband keeping watch in case either of the children came out of their rooms and caught me, and one year we were up until well after midnight assembling a cubby house in the back garden and a toy kitchen. It’s actually far easier now they’re older, but there’s something about kids at Christmas that makes it so special.
Every year I think my favourite memory is the Christmas dinner and cooking it. It takes forever, but it’s the only time we have all the trimmings, with the pigs in blankets, the mince pies afterwards, if we have any room, and all sitting around sipping champagne.
Roll on Christmas!
Frankie Hi Helen, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. Firstly, what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?
Helen Organised, curious, friendly, reliable, independent
Frankie If you could live in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?
Helen I think I’d love to go back to the 2000’s in Australia. It’s when I first went over there and I fell in love with the country. I was in my twenties too, with a good job and free weekends, so I’d like to do a lot more exploring!
Frankie Who was your childhood hero?
Helen Wonder Woman! I think growing up with two brothers meant I watched a lot of programs with male characters – batman, spiderman, superman. Wonder Woman was something else entirely and she was also beautiful.
Frankie What is your favourite time of the year?
Helen I would say I’m much more of a summer person than a lover of winter. When the sun shines it makes me feel so much more energetic and I love the long days and evenings too. It means we can get outside as a family which is one of my favourite things to do. I think I’m very much in love with the idea of winter rather than actual winter itself. I love photos of snow covered landscapes, log cabins, cosy fires and a small amount of that is wonderful, but not too long or I get fed up. Christmas is a fantastic time but once it’s over, I’m really, ready for the sun to come out again!
Frankie Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?
Helen I think I’ll always have a soft spot for Evan in Handle Me with Care. He has such a battle on his hands but he’s a gorgeous man inside and out. He’s also from Melbourne, my favourite city in the world!
Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?
Helen Everywhere! People I meet, places I visit, things I read. When I’m out and about I’m forever putting notes into my phone and then sending them to myself in an email. I have lots of ideas stored away in an email file so when it’s time to plan a new book I have lots of information.
Frankie What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?
Helen 1. Read lots. I think we learn a lot by osmosis. We widen our vocabulary, learn about character and plot development and can see how other authors put together a story.
2. Start! Sit down and get writing, and give yourself permission to write rubbish. The first draft is always messy but you can always edit a messy draft. You can’t edit a blank page!
3. Surround yourself with other authors. Writing is a lonely occupation but by talking with other writers online or in person, it can really help. It’s good to know the struggles you have are often the same as others are experiencing, and it encourages you to keep going.
Frankie If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)
Helen Judy Blume because I love, love, love her books. I found them to be refreshingly honest.
Nicholas Sparks, because he is a brilliant storyteller, and I would love to ask him about his writing process and where his ideas come from.
Lianne Moriarty because this woman can weave a brilliant plot! I would love to know how she does it, how she plans and finally makes a start.
Frankie Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?
Helen Chocolate! Especially dark…
Thank you for chatting with me Helen, it was lovely having you visit.
New York Ever After Series
Christmas is coming and New York is in full swing for the snowy season. But at The Little Knitting Box in the West Village, things are about to change …
The Little Knitting Box has been in Cleo’s family for nearly four decades, and since she arrived fresh off the plane from the Cotswolds four years ago, Cleo has been doing a stellar job of running the store. But instead of an early Christmas card in the mail this year, she gets a letter that tips her world on its axis.
Dylan has had a tumultuous few years. His marriage broke down, his mother passed away and he’s been trying to pick up the pieces as a stay-at-home dad. All he wants this Christmas is to give his kids the home and stability they need. But when he meets Cleo at a party one night, he begins to see it’s not always so easy to move on and pick up the pieces, especially when his ex seems determined to win him back.
When the snow starts to fall in New York City, both Cleo and Dylan realise life is rarely so black and white and both of them have choices to make. Will Dylan follow his heart or his head? And will Cleo ever allow herself to be a part of another family when her own fell apart at the seams?
Full of snow, love and the true meaning of Christmas, this novel will have you hooked until the final page.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but is it the time to fall in love?
As the flames on the log fire flicker and the snowflakes swirl above the New York streets, maybe this Christmas could be the one that changes everything…
When Darcy returns to Manhattan, she’s put in charge of the Inglenook Inn, a cosy boutique hotel in the heart of Greenwich Village. The Inn needs a boost in bookings if it’s to survive the competition, so Darcy is convinced that hosting Christmas this year is the answer. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a face from the past, which can only spell trouble.
Myles left England behind and took a job in New York. It’s a step forwards in his career, and has the added bonus of being nowhere near his family. He’s also hoping to avoid Christmas, the worst time of the year. But when his company puts him up at the Inglenook Inn and he recognises Darcy, it isn’t long before they clash.
When disaster strikes, can Myles and Darcy put their differences aside to make Christmas at the Inglenook Inn a success?
Purchase from Amazon
The Revels Continue…
The Sergeant’s Christmas Bride
Sergeant Jacob Burrows just wants a place to bed down for the night. He never expects to be confronted by a lady with a gun. Elizabeth FitzWalter intends to drive the stranger off her land, until she realizes he meets her most pressing need.
Home for Christmas
When Charity Fletcher receives a mysterious bequest—a house by the sea—she hopes to rebuild her life. Lord Gilbert Narron leases a seaside house to hide from his memories of war. Charity’s refuge is Gil’s bolt-hole… but what both are seeking is a home for their hearts.
A Memorable Christmas Season
The last thing Lady Roekirk expects at her Christmas party is a dead traitor in her parlor… or the Crown’s Spymaster helping her hide the body. Thirty years earlier, she’d been forced to wed another and Lord Keyminster became a spy. After this long, does their love stand a chance?
A Perfectly Unforgettable Christmas
Every day, Lucien Rollinsby endures a memory of Christmas Eve. Not even his lovely new neighbor can make him forget that horrible night five years ago. Caroline McAlasdair remembers that Christmas Eve, too. But if Lucien recalls her presence there, it will destroy their only chance at happiness forever.
Oddly as it sounds this is my first anthology and it definitely, won’t be my last. I loved how each novella is linked in a small way, there is a theme running through the four stories that connect them together, and yet as you read each of the authors personalities and writing styles jump out at you, which keeps the anthology running and keeps you reading as you are desperate to see what the next author has in store for you.
I was really excited about reading this one, not just with it being my first anthology and it being Christmasssy but I have read and heard of the authors before, so I knew that I would be in for a treat, and it was the running theme going through each novella that caught my attention.
Soldiers and spies finding their happily ever after has always been my Achilles heel when it comes to Historical Romance, I love reading about a tormented soldier who had been through harsh and brutal experiences and finding their happy ending. How the love of a good, strong woman can bring them that peace they so crave and, this is what happens in these four novellas each couple has had their own trials and tribulations and we see each one struggle to move on with his and her lives to finally find their happy ever after.
This anthology feature’s four Christmas themed novellas by four great romance authors, these stories are seasonally poignant and crisp, each has a high emotional story with characters that you will love from page one.
In this anthology we have a story that could be reminiscent of the Nativity story except with a rough and loyal soldier and a heavily pregnant young woman who isn’t averse to waving a shot-gun at people. A young lonely woman craving a little independence who inherits a house but also has an unexpected and at first un wanted guest, while her guest just want’s peace and quiet to ease his wild thoughts of the war. A story that just like a case out of Poirot, a traitor is found murdered at a Lady’s Christmas Ball only for the secret agent who is helping her to be her long-lost love, this handsome spy/agent never got over his first love and he is more than willing to help her, but is she hiding something from him? And finally, the last story sees a wounded war veteran who is depressed by what he has experienced, that he is just wanting to die only for him to meet with the very woman who is the cause of his nightmares, the beautiful widow did something many years ago that if anyone found out then her life would be over and yet the man who could destroy her life is the very man she is drawn to.
I highly recommend Christmas Revels, they are fun and romantic and so full of Christmas cheer that you can imagine yourself there with them.
This was an Arc copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review.
Christmas Revels is out now and can be purchased at Amazon.
“Five berries equal the five separate kisses I challenge you to steal.”
Notorious rake Henry “Hal” Stuart, Earl of Redbridge, is certain he’ll win his Christmas bet— until he learns he’ll be stealing Lady Elizabeth Wilding’s kisses. A woman who refuses to be charmed! Once jilted, Lizzie must guard her heart, because the ton is unaware of her scandalous secret— her son!
Despite their increasing attraction, she can’t risk the persistent Hal bringing down her defenses. But when her former fiancé returns, Lizzie realizes that perhaps Hal’s the one man she can trust— with her heart and her son…
This is my first Christmas book of the year and it is a doozy, and it can’t be kept just for Christmas “His Mistletoe Wager” should be read now and then again and again and then at Christmas and then again…
Be mine for ever, Lizzie. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m a little bit in love with you. Good grief!
Was he? How had that happened?
He needed to stop speaking. Clamp his wayward jaws shut.
“I can’t marry you.”
“It would be totally wrong…”
Five years earlier Elizabeth (Lizzie) Wilding is waiting in the church for the love of her life, only to be horrible jilted by only to be told by a note hastely scribbled. She is broken this man was suppose to be her happy ever after, she had given him everything even her innocence only for him to jilt her. Leaving her facing scandal and censor, not only that but leaving her pregnant.
Now she is five years older she has sworn off men for the rest of her life, she has built a wall around her heart and no man will ever broach it again, the only man she wants in her life is her son; George. She has decided that now her son is getting older she is to leave her aristocratic life and move to Yorkshire in peace where her and her cute as button son, George can live without all the cloak and dagger, creeping around as what happens now. She has planned to live her life as a widow, which is entirely proper and also she knows that as a widow her son will be accepted. But unfortunately for lizzie her father has yet again decided that she needs to get herself back on the marriage market and it would be in her best interest to find a gent and get married.
To not only complicate things and make matters worse for her, she has caught the attention of the rakish and womanizing Henry Stuart, the new Earl of Redbridge, for whatever reason he has suddenly decided that she is exactly what he needs to get through this Christmas. He makes her a bargain that she cannot possibly pass up, but in dealing with the devil himself will she be able to fulfil her dream of living independently? Or will she succumb to his charms?
The initial meeting between her and Hal is really very funny, he forces himself in to her little bubble and she is just so irritated by him. She literally think of him as a pesky wasp that first needs swatting with a good old fashioned barbed, tongue lashing. When that doesn’t work she decided that the only way to make the wasp go away is to ignore it, which is highly amusing.
“I am in no mood to engage in polite conversation or anything else this evening.” She flicked her eyes back towards the dance floor and turned her body away from his, allowing the uncomfortable seconds to tick by.
Men were like wasps. If you ignored them, they eventually went away.
She heard the slight creaking protest of wood and realised he had eased his big body into the chair alongside . She gave him her best unwelcoming frown and curtest tone.
“I do not recall inviting you to sit.” This insect clearly needed swatting…..
Lizzie has been through the mill, the way her ex-fiancé treated her was awful and the scoundrel should be well and truly ashamed of himself, but instead he waltz’s back into society as though butter wouldn’t melt. He is nothing but an arrogant two faced, and too far up his own arse lout, who can also bring a lot of trouble down on her family. Not just her, but her father. Let me that say that her father did what any father would do in the circumstances, that his daughter was in, but now trouble is being brought down on his head for his actions.
I really like Lizzie, people from society may think of her as an ice queen and a boring old spinster who wouldn’t know fun if it danced naked in front of her, but that’s just a visage. That’s how she wants everyone to think her to be, that way she is protecting her damaged heart and her young son. She is a really good mother to him she tries her very utmost best for him, and her plan to move to the country to live as a widow is proof of far she will go to make sure her son gets the very best life. And to be perfectly honest, I can’t fault her for her plan to live in a secluded cottage in Yorkshire. The girl is on the money.
I like her father as well, the way he protects his daughter from the society vultures, he makes sure that after the jilting no scandal will tarnish Lizzie’s name. He even goes against the grain of the time by letting Lizzie keep her illegitimate son which was very rare as most unwed aristocratic women had their children taken away to hide the scandal. I applaud him for that and I highly applaud him for what he did, maybe not the best course of action but applaudable anyway.
Hal has got to the point in his life where he is bored of the rakish behaviour, he want’s something more to fill his days. Not just a quick tryst with a willing widow, he finds that since gaining the title he has found an whole new love of books and politics and how things are run.
He has spent his life going against the grain and flaunting his rakish ways for all and sundry to see but now that he has taken his rightful place in parliament he finds that he enjoys the debates. He is growing into the Earl we know deep down he is and, we as readers can see what he’s missing in his life and why he isn’t as bothered with bed hopping as he used to be. But as ever with our heroes it does take them a while to get to the conclusion that; Yes, he needs a woman! A good, strong woman who can put him in his place.
But I am jumping the gun ahead a little here, his brother-in-law the fabulous Aaron Wincanton sees how down in the dumps Hal is, so he sets him a wager. Hal has to steal five kisses from a woman – of Aaron’s choosing – in five different places before the end of the Christmas season. And another term to the wager; appropriately named “His Mistletoe Wager” is that Hal’s sister and Aarons’ wife; Connie does not find out about it!
Hal is appalled by the prospect of trying to woo five kisses out of “Sullen Lizzie” the most guarded, ice queen he has ever known. But the minute he speaks to her, he knows that there something about this woman. he sees how when he tries to speak with her she closes down she erects that brick wall and refuses anyone entry into her thoughts, he starts to see her as so much more than what she appears to be and the unveiling of this wonderful young woman to him is beautiful.
There is so many layer’s to this man, he is charming roguish and seeing as he is a big kid himself he is great with children, his two adorable nieces – who are just like the mother Connie and Georgie. He is the typical cheeky and fun uncle that everyone wants in the family.
“Where have you been!” Instantly, she clamped her silly jaws shut.
“Be still my beating heart. You sound astoundingly pleased to see me.” His words grated.
I do love a Christmas story and this is such a sweet, festive tale that can be read at any time. For me Lizzie’s personal struggle and trials that she has to face and what she has gone through is the centre stone of the book, and that’s what Heath is particularly very good at. She brings the character’s alive and as always Heath transports you to another time and place with her charming and enigmatic writing, which is as ever spot on.
For me Aaron does steal the book, but that’s probably because I have a soft spot for him. I love what Heath’s done with him and his family it’s so good catching up with Connie and Aaron and seeing how well their doing and how they are still the super cute couple they were in the end of their book.
Over all Ms Heath has done it again, she had created a fun Christmassy and intriguing love story and one that I highly recommend.
This was a ARC Copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
His Mistletoe Wager is released on 1st October and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.
To all my wonderful readers, this is just to say a big thank you for sticking with me as I counted down to Christmas in my own, unique way. I want to wish my dear friends and followers a very Happy Christmas, I hope your day to be filled with so much joy. Chicks Rogues and Scandals is going to be taking a break until the New Year, so i’m leaving you with something very special. This is Silent Night by the brilliantly talented Michael Buble, accompanied by the Trinity Boys Choir.
It’s nearly here, just one more sleep! But before we do take to our beds and pretend to sleep while the big guy in the red coat squeezes himself down the chimney, we have to open our penultimate Advent door. So here it is, another classic for you to enjoy.