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The most romantic love story I have ever known is my own. It started when I was taking a short holiday in Venice, Italy. I can remember sitting at a little cafe in St.Mark's Square, listening to the orchestra, watching the sun wink off my wine glass, and wondering what this magical city would bring me. Three hours later I met a tall, dark, handsome Venetian, who asked me to have dinner with him that night.
"Definitely not!!" I said. "I've dated Italians before, "and you're all hands."
He looked shocked at my suspicions. "Just friendly!" he promised.
But he didn't keep his word - Thank goodness!
He had (and still has) more charm than any man has a right to have, and the evening was pure magic. We ate at a little canalside cafe, and took a motor bus up the Grand Canal, where the beautiful old buildings were bathed in floodlight. And, of course, we took a ride in a gondola.
He was in his thirties, and an old hand at dodging wedding bells. But that same evening he began to drop hints about the kind of woman he wanted to marry. Gradually I realized that he was serious. In the end it took him a whole twenty four hours to propose formally. I said yes. It was complete madness, but I was in love.
My family and friend were aghast, muttering darkly about 'holiday romances'. But now, more than twenty years later, we are still married, still happy and in love.
We have lived mostly in England. My husband is an artist. I was a journalist for some years, working on a major women's magazine. While writing features I found myself in some fascinating situations. I've camped out with lions in Africa, flown with the flying ambulances of the romote Scottish islands, and tried the gaming tables in Monte Carlo. When I finally gave up journalism to write romances, all these experiences crept into my work.
I also interviewed some of the world's most interesting and attractive men, Warren Beatty, Richard Chamberlain, Roger Moore, Charlton Heston. Even when I took a fill in job in a London store, I found myself serving Michael Caine.
We did return to Italy for a couple of years, and rented a villa just outside Venice. It was then that I really got to know the Italian people, and the rest of the country.
It is no accident that so many of my books are set in Italy. I've used Venice as a background, but also Rome, Florence, Milan, Tuscany and Sicily. I love writing Italian heroes. The legend of the romantic Italian male has a lot of truth in it. The men from this hot, colorful country have a full hearted, emotional reaction to life that makes them wonderful to be with - and to write about.
We now live in the English midlands. We have no children, but our two dogs make sure they leave us no time to spare.
My husband paints and I write. We return to Italy every year, and at least every three years we go to Venice to walk the streets we remember. Venice is as timeless as love itself, and the little canals and bridges haven't altered since that first night. Nor has the Grand Canal, or the gondolas. And nor have we.
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