In anticipation of my upcoming release, Just the Way You Are, I’m going to take you on my characters’ journeys through different settings in the book.
Our first stop is London….
My heroine, Eisley Barrett, arrives in Heathrow International Airport and is swept off her homicidal heels by the suspicious, reformed rogue, Wes Harrison. Her quaint Appalachian world has her daydreaming about England and her wounded heart keeps her from seeing God’s possibilities for her life.
Before traveling to the beautiful midlands of Derbyshire, Eisley is taken on a whirlwind tour of London by Wes’ parents, Daniel and Eleanor Harrison. So…what does she see?
Walk with me
Wes drives her across Westminster Bridge where Eisley gets her first glimpse at the iconic Big Ben.
(Historical Note: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell in the tower. The actual structure is named the Elizabeth Tower and caps off the north end of the Palace of Westminster where the houses of Parliament meet. For Queen Elizabeth II. The tower – and palace- are not really that old as far as age is measured in Europe. It was completed in the early-mid 1800s after the original structure was destroyed by fire.)
Eisley takes a tour of the West End of London and caps off her experience (before a Christmas gala) by taking a trip on the London Eye. (she’s not so great with heights). Here’s a little snippet of video from our half-hour ‘flight’ on the London Eye, where you get an amazing view of the city.
(Right before taking our flight on the London Eye)
(Historical Note: This giant Ferris wheel is banked on the river Thames and was erected in 1999. It’s “predecessor” was the The Great Wheel and was built in 1895. It’s the largest ferris wheel in Europe and gives you an ‘expensive’ view. As a visitor’s note – you can get the same view for much cheaper on the newly built Shard’s observation deck.)
(Aboard the London Eye – view)
Eisley’s final night in London, she attends a charity Christmas gala in a 400 year old building, sprinkled with white Christmas lights. Oh yes, romance is in the air like Christmas magic, but you’ll have to read the story for more details.
However, because I don’t want to torture you too much (or because I DO) here’s another sneak peek into that very magical night in Just the Way You Are.
Eisley wasn’t in Pleasant Gap anymore. If the accents and expensive food didn’t convince her, then the white Christmas lights sprinkled about a magical fourteenth century manor house clued her in. She stopped in the doorway and closed her eyes to steady her nerves. Lord, don’t let me embarrass Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, or fall flat on my face, or have another stupid migraine…
She sighed and stepped across the threshold.
Voices murmured in a quiet hum with the music from a string quartet, crystal and silver tinkled like Christmas bells, and the soft breeze from the dance floor whispered against her warm cheeks, carrying the scents of cinnamon and berries. Magical. A smooth parade of couples glided across the dance floor, moving to the music like a misty dream. A rivulet of envy spliced her middle. She’d practically lamed poor Mr. H during his brief dance instructions before the gala, proving one thing: Two lessons doth not a dancer make.
The couple in the middle of the room caught her attention. Wes danced with a goddess to match his Adonis persona. Long, smooth legs. Thin freckle-free arms. A Scarlet O’Hara look-alike wearing a red…towel? From the flow of it, it couldn’t really be a towel. Maybe an oversized red scarf.
Vivian Barry in the flesh – enough visible, wrinkle-free flesh to model for Victoria’s Secret. If possible, Vivian was more stunning in person than the magazine photos. Oh, to have curves and a waistline like that! Eisley sucked in her stomach and stood up a little straighter. No use. She groaned. Chocolate ice cream was such a traitor.
Daniel Harrison nudged Eisley out of her stupor and whispered, “Would you care to dance, Luv?”
She pressed into his shoulder with her own, curbing a touch of homesickness with his camaraderie. “No thanks, you sweet man. I’ll just stand here and do my dad’s kind of dancing.” Eisley pointed to her black heels. “Tap my toe, nod my head to the beat, and smile as if I know something no one else knows. Believe me, it’s less catastrophic this way.”
Daniel chuckled. “I’ve a mind to like this family of yours.”
Eisley pushed a mock shudder through her body. “And you think I make a lasting impression? Just wait until you meet my dad and brothers.” She whistled low. “You’ll never be the same.”
Her attention drifted back to the couple on the dance floor. Wes’s hand rested on the small of Vivian’s back, the awareness of it sending sparks skidding up Eisley’s spine. Stupid hormones. Vivian’s palm touched Wes shoulder, their poise a perfect match. They looked beautiful.
“Like the cover of a storybook.”
“Pardon?” Daniel asked, leaning closer.
Eisley nodded toward Wes and Vivian. “The two of them look perfect together, like a fairy tale.”
Eleanor made some noise resembling a growl and murmured something that sounded suspiciously like “wicked witch.”
Eisley bit the inside of her lips to keep from asking, but curiosity unlocked her jawbone. She reached for a glass of water, feigning indifference. “They’ve been together a long time, haven’t they?”
Eleanor closed her eyes, wearily. “I’ll not deny they’ve had a past, but I certainly hope he’s outgrown her shallow ploys. If he doesn’t have wits enough to steer clear of her, he deserves a sound slap.”
The thought of Wes Harrison receiving a sound slap tickled a grin and teased her attention back to the dance floor as the music drew to a close. Just then, Wes’s gaze caught hers. His smile started from one crooked corner and spread all the way across to a dimple on the other side.
Oh, what a smile. The kind to send embittered women out of their self-imposed spinsterhood. The kind to shatter the singleness of the resolute celibate. The kind that made her knees a little too shaky to ever consider dancing.