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Please welcome Phillipa Ashley, author of the new novel Dating Mr. December!

by Phillipa Ashley

Luxury Reading asked me to tell you about my inspiration for Dating Mr. December. Talking about their book and characters is every writer’s luxury!

It’s even more fun for me because I’m making my debut in the US with a book that will always have a special place in my heart.

Dating Mr. December was my first novel (titled Decent Exposure here in the UK) and there was no question of where I was going to set my book – or who it was going to be about.

I know lots of US tourists visit the Lake District when they come to England. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful place crammed with mountains, waterfalls and stone cottages, complete with wood smoke curling from the chimneys. Oh, and we get lots of rain – hey, how else would you get all those lakes?

After spending many trips there, my husband and I decided to buy a holiday home. Eventually, after a two-year search we found an apartment in a 1920’s “gentleman’s residence.” It overlooks Lake Windermere and is within walking distance of Wordsworth’s cottage in Grasmere and the local mountain rescue base.

I’ve always had a ‘thing’ about mountain rescue teams. In the UK, they are all volunteers who don’t get a penny from the state. They give up their time and risk their lives just to help people like me who love to hike and climb in this beautiful place.

So when our local rescuing squad had an opening night to show off their new head quarters, guess who was first in the queue? I left full of awe at the dedication of the team and by the efforts they’d made to raise funds for their base, all for the benefit of others.

I also left with an idea for a novel which started like most books with a What If.

  • What if that team hadn’t got a new base and desperately needed the money?
  • What if someone helped them?
  • What if their ‘rescuer’ was an expert in PR, an outsider and city girl with shocking ideas?
  • And what if one member of the team didn’t want to be helped at all?

That’s how the hero and heroine were born.

The heroine, Emma Tremayne arrives in the small Lakeland community of Bannerdale from a glamorous PR job in London. She’s had to abandon all her hopes and dreams and start again – and helping the team is one way of finding a new role in the community. She may feel like a fish out of water but she’s ready to fight her corner with spark and passion.

She comes up against Will Tennant, a rugged bad boy who’s passionately committed to his community. Will’s not in need of rescuing by anyone. The last thing he wants is a smart, sophisticated woman who drives him crazy and worse, threatens to expose the hurt that lies beneath his tough-guy exterior.

Soon, both Emma and Will have to decide whether they’re ready to face the ultimate risk: each other.

The mountain rescue team helped with my research (the technical parts anyway, not the sexy bits!). I also had to face up to my fear of heights by abseiling (rappelling) off a cliff as research for one scene and raised £150 for the team.

Dating Mr. December took me a year to write and I had no idea if anyone would want to read it. But luckily for me, an agent in London loved it and sold it to a UK publisher. Last year, it was made into a US TV movie for Lifetime, called “The 12 Men of Christmas.”

Now, I’m thrilled that Sourcebooks have brought Emma and Will’s story to American readers. But none of it would have happened if I hadn’t fallen in love with a place and its people – and had a whole heap of fairy dust sprinkled my way.

To go along with the title of this blog, I asked Phillipa what luxury meant to her.

The ultimate in luxury for me is spending time with my husband and daughter (who lives away from home, studying for a PhD.) If we were all together, body boarding on a wild Cornish beach or striding over a Lakeland fell, I wouldn’t ask for anything else.

Apart from a large latte and a slice of cake afterwards that is!

About the author

Phillipa Ashley studied English Language and Literature at Oxford before becoming a freelance copywriter and journalist. Dating Mr. December (called Decent Exposure in the UK) was the basis of last year’s Lifetime TV Movie “The 12 Men of Christmas.” A frequent guest on BBC national, local and independent radio on all matters romantic, she lives with her husband and daughter in Staffordshire, UK. For more information, please visit http://phillipa-ashley.com, follower her on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

Giveaway:
I have 2 copies of Dating Mr. December to give away, courtesy of Sourcebooks!

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This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on November 20th.

Giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.