Sometimes writing a novel requires a lot of detailed research. Other times it doesn’t, because ‘real-life experience’ is all the research the author needs to sit down in front of that screen and let those fingers fly!
A Cottage in the Country is such a story. Yes, there are two very handsome men at the centre of it – albeit one is broody, uncommunicative and dangerously attractive, while the other is handsome, upbeat and happy to party. But Maddie Brooks is about to turn 50, recently divorced and her love-rat of a husband slept with her best, childhood friend. Running away to a dilapidated cottage in the country seemed like a good idea at the time … but life is never that simple, is it?
This is one of those occasions when the real-life inspiration for this story, or rather the SETTING for this story, is a true one. My husband and I moved home on the 19 December 2014, when large areas of Gloucestershire were cut off by the floods. The rain didn’t stop coming from the day we moved in and all of the drama and trauma Maddie experiences is based on what actually happened to us. In fact, dare I say it, the reality was rather worse but it would have taken two novels to have included all of the mishaps, adventure and almost unbelievable sequence of events.
But this is also a story that celebrates the human spirit; that natural instinct to pick oneself up off the floor and start all over. When it comes to affairs of the heart, it hurts and that cuts deep. When your friends no longer know how to act when they are around you, because they’ve only ever known you as one half of a couple, it’s painful. But starting again isn’t easy, either. Maddie runs away from city life, thinking that a fresh start will erase the pain. What she’s faced with is a series of dilemmas and decisions that will either make, or break, her.
Ex-soldier, and loner, Lewis Hart is the only contractor available and while everyone speaks highly of him, he’s surly, rude and not easy to be around. But he’s a good worker and the truth is she needs his skills to get work on the cottage moving forward. When the flood waters rise and they find themselves stranded, alone together as Christmas beckons, she discovers the truth behind why he’s available at short notice. Is Lewis Hart really ‘the man who can’ and should she take up her boss’s offer and leave him to it?
And as for the real-life cottage renovation?
The garden has been tamed and the renovation work continues, with several big projects still to be tackled. Luckily, I have my own ‘man who can’!