Abby Green on Secret Babies and In Christofides' Keeping

by Abby Green, author of In Christofides” Keeping (Harlequin Presents, March 2011)

The hero in this book came to me fully formed in another book – Bride in a Gilded Cage. (Very considerate of him!) In that book I had a scene after Rafael and Isobel get married when Rico Christofides, a well known Greek Tycoon appears. He is Rafael’s half-brother and so is also half-Argentinean.

He makes a provocative comment about how he’s not going to be so easily tied down in matrimony. There is a beautiful predatory woman hovering on the scene, desperate to get his attention. How could I ignore him after that introduction?!

I hadn’t set out to create a brother for Rafael, Rico just sort of…appeared. And he made sense. I was able to use him to give Isobel another perspective on Rafael. Also we find out some information about Rafael and Rico’s cruel treatment at the hands of their father, so Rico already had an interesting backstory.

I found myself wondering about Rico and I loved thinking up his story, and also creating the woman who could be his equal.

When he meets Gypsy and they share one passionate night together, she touches something within him that he’s never shared with another woman, but then she disappears and he doesn’t even know her name. When she turns up again a couple of years later, he can’t believe it. He’d almost come to believe that he’d dreamt her up. But she does exist and she’s harbouring a secret: his baby daughter, Lola.

This was my first secret baby story. I’d shied away from doing one before now because I wanted to make sure that I’d have a really good reason for the heroine to keep her baby a secret, and hopefully when you read the story you’ll agree!

Do you have a favourite secret baby themed book? Do you like it as a theme or do you think it’s overused/outdated?

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Comments ( 11 )
  1. Annie West
    March 4, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Abby, I had a ball reading Gypsy and Rico’s story! Congratulations on your first secret baby story. I know what you mean about holding off till you have a sound reason for the secret to be kept. It took me a long time to write my first secret bub too for the same reason. I’d love to write another – the tension in them and the high stakes emotion is just so appealing. Maybe one day when I come up with another good idea!

  2. Marilyn
    March 4, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Secret baby? Never would I have thought I would like that sort of romance……I like them because like all Presents, they have a happy ending.

    Rico Christofides…….hot, amazing

  3. Heidi Rice
    March 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Ah Abby, I loved this story, especially Rico’s really intelligent response to the surprise discovery he has a daughter (who was uber cute btw!)… Have to admit I’ve never attempted a secret baby story myself, cos it is so hard to make them believable.

    My favourite is probably Nora Roberts’s Honest Illusions… And yours of course!

  4. Kate Walker
    March 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I love it when charactres appear like that. You weren’t even thinking of them but you know you have to write their story because they tell you you have to! Like you I’ve always felt that in a ‘secret baby’ story, the most important thing is the reason why the heroine doesn’t tell the hero about his child. That has to be really strong and believeable to make the story fly.

    I have Christofides on my TBR – it got to the top but then was delayed by reading RITA entries- now that’s done, I can read whatever I like so I’m really looking forward to cracking it open

  5. Marilyn
    March 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I forgot to add in my post, your “secret baby” in Secrets of the Oasis was brillant and I adored your heroine Jamilah.

  6. Sharon Kendrick
    March 5, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Gpysy has to be the most delicious name for a heroine!

    As for secret babies – well, they can make the conflict so much deeper and with much wider repercussions – because there’s so much at stake. And children inspire the most primitive of emotions….

    Yes, there has to be a sound reason why the heroine has not told the hero about the baby – and these reasons change all the time. Twenty (even ten) years ago – it would have been very easy for someone to just disappear and be untraceable. Now, with the internet and Facebook and cell phones etc – it is pretty difficult for that to happen. So that sort of answers the question about whether secret babies are an out-of-date thing. Never!

    And lets not forget that powerful men (which the Presents man is) often have a retinue who are eager to protect them from the outside world. Getting through on the phone to a powerful man if he doesn’t want to speak to you is no easy feat….. A classic heroine can often be crushed by the weight of opposition against her.

    You are a fantastic writer, Abby – full of real emotion – it sounds like a winner of a book.

  7. India Grey
    March 5, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Sharon, you’re right – this book’s an absolute cracker!

    I agree that a really sound reason for keeping the baby’s existence a secret is key to the reader feeling sympathy for the heroine, but I’m also going to be slightly controversial here and say that I reckon in real life it’s almost the other way round. If you were in that situation and had had a single night of passion with a total stranger you’d think very carefully about telling them something that would tie your lives together forever, and force you to share the thing that’s most precious to you in the world. It’s an issue I’m pondering a lot at the moment as another secret baby story is working itself out in my mind…

    One of the other challenges secret baby stories throw at you is that you then have to work out how to fit the child in without it taking over and getting in the way of the romantic aspirations of its poor parents! You did that so brilliantly in this book, and Lola was an absolute joy to read. xxx

  8. Abby Green
    March 5, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I have to admit that Lola was based on my extremely precocious and lovable god-daughter so it was no hardship to dream her up! India – think you’re right, in real life it’s not so cut and dried…
    x Abby – thanks for commenting Marilyn, Annie, Kate, Sharon and Heidi!

  9. Laura Russell
    March 7, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Congrats on Pure Passion Award for Bride in a Gilded Cage! Looking forward to reading Rico’ story.
    Laura R

  10. Sarah Morgan
    March 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Abby, I loved, loved Rico and Gypsy! (And Lola!)

    You’re right that a secret baby story is always a tricky one to pull off, but you did it so brilliantly. Thanks for another great book.

  11. Abby Green
    March 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Am just back from London and the Pure Passion awards – I wasn’t successful myself but the gorgeous Penny Jordan picked up a well deserved special achievement award and looked amazing. Huge congrats to all the winners and Louise Allen who won the Love Story of the Year…! xx Abby