Today I have a special guest! Jackie Keswick is here to celebrate her latest release! Thanks for visiting, Jackie!
Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Charley. I’m very glad to be here, and I’ve brought my brand new action adventure romance, Undercover Star along with me. The story features a pop star, a detective, and a hunt for an art thief… and it’s set in London and Scotland.
I love setting stories in places where I’ve lived and which I’ve visited. The positive vibes and happy memories I have from those times tend to add colour to the story as I write, whether I remember a holiday cottage where we’ve stayed, a pub that served us a fantastic lunch, or a piece of countryside.
While the plot for Undercover Star came out of the blue, I’ve made use of a few of my favourite locations as settings for Josh and Matisse’s story. When Matisse tells Josh that he’s sat in his car on the seafront in Helensburgh eating pizza while the wind blew like a fury and whipped up the waves in the harbour, then he describes a memory from my very first Scotland trip. On the way from the pizza shop to the car we almost lost the pizza box to the gale, and while we enjoyed a tasty, well-deserved lunch break in our driving holiday, the rain lashed the windscreen and the waves rolled up into impressive white peaks.
Helensburgh is real, of course. Kilbride House, the location for the very exclusive charity gala that requires star credentials to enter, is not. Or rather, it’s not called Kilbride House, and isn’t a gala location.
I came across the inspiration for Kilbride House one very frosty morning when I was walking through London after an early appointment, and spotted an unexpected gap in a street of tall, well-kept Victorian apartment buildings. On closer inspection I found that the gap held a long, ornate fence with an imposing gate, with an ornate garden, and curving drive behind. Right at the end of the drive sat a large, wood-framed house that looked as if it belonged into a different era.
Which, of course, it did. Like Kilbride House, its construction suggested that it had seen the Great Fire of London and lived to tell about it. I would have loved to see inside, but along with the fence, the house also boasted very visible security. So I resigned myself to gazing through the bars of the gate and imagined the interior in the story.
Of course, no locations were harmed in writing Undercover Star. They’re far too valuable to a writer. Sometimes, it’s difficult to pick a location to use for a story. At other times, it’s easy. And every now and then, I read a book and decide I have to visit one of the places mentioned.
Which makes me wonder… have you ever picked a day out, or a holiday, based on a location in a story? I’d love to know. 😉
Undercover Star – Helensburgh
By two o’clock they were in Scotland, and the rain arrived shortly after. Josh groaned at the sudden splatter of big droplets across the windscreen. Matisse’s chuckle was soft by comparison, almost swallowed by the sound of the rain. “Welcoming me home, eh? Thank you most kindly.”
“Don’t tell me you’re liking this.”
“Nope. I lo-o-o-ove it,” Matisse singsonged. “Don’t look at me. I love rain. Watching it, smelling it, being out in it. Most of all, I love listening to it. And why not? This is Scotland. We have rain perfected.”
“Just because I like to get wet?”
After the hours spent in close proximity with Matisse, breathing his scent, hearing him talk, and watching those expressive hands on the steering wheel, Josh choked on his reply. Visions of Matisse pinned to smooth tiles crowded his mind. Of moisture-slick hair, and rivulets of warm water running down his finely muscled back and dividing just above the swell of his arse. He shifted to make room in his suddenly extra-tight jeans, and Matisse burst out laughing as if he’d read his mind. Josh’s window wound down with a quiet whirr and drips of cold rain hit his left cheek and neck.
“Mind out of the gutter, Ingram.”
“You started it.”
“I started nothing. That was a totally innocent comment.”
“I’m sure it was.”
Matisse guided the car around Glasgow, over Erskine Bridge, and onto the A82 without looking at a map. The rain grew steadily heavier and the wind picked up as Matisse turned onto the Cardross Road towards Helensburgh. The last week in London had been warm and sunny, as befitted early May. Here, under a blanket of cloud, Josh felt almost winter-cold.
“Where in Helensburgh do we need to be?”
Josh rattled off the address. “It’s off the main road through the town. He dumped the car in the car park by the swimming pool.”
“On the seafront?”
“That’s the one.”
“I remember sitting in this car park in a fierce gale, eating pizza while the rain hammered down,” Matisse told him. The smile in his voice was impossible to miss. “The waves were a sight, but we contemplated taking a boat out.” He shrugged. “Reason prevailed, I’m sure you’re glad to hear.”
“Sounds like you enjoyed growing up here.”
“I did. At times, I miss it like crazy.” He passed the swimming pool and, two hundred yards farther, found a parking space by the side of the road, almost opposite the cul-de-sac Josh wanted to watch. “This good?”
“Pretty damned perfect. If he leaves his house we’re likely to spot him.”
“Does he have a reason to leave?”
“He may have a job.”
“Thieves have jobs?”
“Some of the high-end ones do. It’s excellent cover. One of the first guys Paul and I took down taught physics in secondary school. And I remember hearing about another thief—he took jewels from hotel safes, mostly—who was a long-distance lorry driver. Do you know how tricky it is to connect cases all over Europe, to even realise they all have the same MO?”
“What did the kids say when you arrested the teacher?”
“Trust you….” Josh shook his head. “And I have no idea. We arrested him on a job, not while he was in school.”
“That’s a shame.”
“Why am I getting the impression you’re finding this cool?”
Buy the Book!
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It sounds like the stupidest idea in the history of stupid ideas. Detective Inspector Josh Ingram wants to find a deadly medieval locket and through it, a murderer. So why does his boss decide to team him up with Matisse Vervein, a pop idol many consider just a pretty face… and expect the two of them to hunt down an art thief?
Marissa Godwin, Matisse’s no-nonsense manager, isn’t stupid. Neither is her brother-in-law, Detective Superintendent Tim Montgomery. Each is looking out for a lonely man on the verge of quitting what he does best, and both believe that their charges would make a great team.
The attraction sizzling between Josh and Matisse is hard to miss, but there’s plenty of resentment, too. Focussed on pushing Josh and Matisse towards each other, Marissa and Tim haven’t imagined the kind of trouble a music star and a detective can find when they ditch their prejudices and accept that the attraction between them is mutual. Or how far each is prepared to go to prove it to the other.
A standalone, feel-good romance set in England and Scotland, featuring a reluctant pop star who’s not out, a detective trying his hand at being a bodyguard, plenty of adventure, and a happy ending.
About the Author:
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.
For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops, or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:
- Genre: Contemporary M/M Action Adventure Romance
- Length: 41,000
- Publisher: Self-published
- Release Date: 22nd November 2017