Two years ago, I got to experience the long-held dream of traveling to Europe with my family. My husband isn’t as keen on travel as I am, but he needed to go to Germany on a business trip at about the same time I wanted to go visit my editor in London and attend the AMBA (Association of Mills and Boon Authors) luncheon. So we (read: I) had a brainstorm – why not take the whole family, including our two young children, to Europe for a month?
We rented a 3-bedroom mews house in the Kensington neighborhood of London for two weeks. Here’s our house:
And here’s Campden House Close, where a private little walkway (a car could just barely cram in) led to the small circle of houses.
I loved Kensington, and spent a lot of time walking back and forth to Kensington High Street Station, as Emma does. I bought Cornish pasties there, as Emma does in the book. There was a big white townhouse for sale just around the corner from our rental house, and even two years ago, it was listed for an eye-popping 10 million pounds (!). I can’t imagine how much it would sell for now! That is the house that inspired the mansion where Emma works as housekeeper to her sexy Italian hotel tycoon boss, Cesare.
On Kensington High Street, we took the Number 9 bus to Trafalgar Square many times, just as Emma does at the beginning of the story, when she’s on her way to her boss’s hotel to tell Cesare that she’s pregnant with his baby!
In between seeing the sights of London with my family, I visited my editor at “Romance HQ” in Richmond, sharing the train ride with my friend (and awesome Presents writer) Lynn Raye Harris. Later, my husband and I met up with Lynn and her husband for dinner at the Sherlock Holmes Pub – a touristy but very fun place where Cesare takes Emma at her request, when after years of just being her boss, he’s actually trying to show her the city in order to romance her!!
Here’s the outside of the Sherlock Holmes Pub. I recommend the fish and chips.
I imagined Cesare’s flagship Falconeri Hotel in London located near the Charing Cross Hotel at Trafalgar Square, where the AMBA luncheon was held with a ton of other Harlequin authors and editors, and a glamorous champagne toast. I was panicking the night before this event, since I had nothing to wear. This is what happens when you put on 10 lbs., dang it. I thought I’d find a dress easily in London, with all those shops, but had come home discouraged after an exhausting, fruitless afternoon spent at Oxford Street. So I took the bus to Sloane Square, where I found my old reliable Kate Spade, where the salesgirls fed my daughter mini cupcakes while I frantically tried on dresses. Cupcakes help everything, don’t they?
Here’s the neon sign “Live Colorfully” from inside Kate Spade on Symons Street.
But the ambiance of the Falconeri Hotel was influenced heavily by the high tea that Jane Porter hosted for us at the Ritz Hotel. (Thanks, Jane!) And believe me, you haven’t had a proper high tea until you’ve had one at the Ritz in London. Little sandwiches, cakes, cookies, champagne and… oh yeah, tea.
Here’s a picture of me at Jane’s tea, with (from left) me, Kate Walker and Lynn Raye Harris.
But much of the story of The Consequences of That Night happens in Paris, after Emma flees Cesare to take a job there.
After the pleasant sprawl of our Kensington house, our nice, but very small, 2-bedroom flat in the 7th arrondissement of Paris felt a little…tight. The gorgeous wooden floors squeaked beneath my kids’ scampering feet (and my heavier ones) and I was worried about bothering neighbors with our noise. It did have a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower, provided you stuck your head out the window and looked to the right. The neighborhood was very elegant… a little too elegant for the likes of us, maybe. Like living on the Upper East Side in New York, except more so. I think if I’d dressed fancier I might have fit in better. But sadly I’d already mailed all my business clothes home, so it was t-shirts and jeans, plus that extra 10 pounds I was telling you about.
Anyway, here’s a picture of our street in Paris, very close to the park where Emma takes her baby on a walk – and is shocked to run into Cesare.
The neighborhood is full of embassies and elegant homes, and of course really nice places to eat, though I discovered to my dismay that it turns out that even though I’ve dreamed of Paris all my life, I don’t like the food very much. What?! What kind of tasteless, classless person doesn’t like French food?! Me, as it turns out. I enjoyed the baguettes and croissants and wine, but really missed the food in London, especially the breakfasts.
As the person who studied French in school, I did all the talking for our family while we were there. The Parisians were all very nice to me, putting up with my rusty French skills. Here is the restaurant where my daughter lost a toy and I’m proud to say, that I managed to go back and communicate to the manager what had happened – and soon return to the flat in triumph with her tiny “Squinkie” in hand.
Paris was lovely, and so was London. It was a wonderful trip, and I loved writing The Consequences of that Night inspired by favorite places I’d always dreamed of seeing, and with my favorite people. Here’s me in front of Notre Dame on a blustery November morning.
What are some favorite places you dream about? Where have you been? Where would you go?
With warmest wishes,
An indecent indiscretion!
Emma Hayes has gone from making hotel magnate Cesare Falconeri’s bed to running his household, including handing out expensive parting gifts to his numerous conquests! But each time, it’s chipped away at her heart. Until one night, inhibitions lowered, she reaches for what she’s always wanted….
With one disastrous marriage behind him Cesare vows never to go there again. But when his indiscretion with Emma has consequences, Cesare must break his own vow—and say I do for the sake of his heir. Now he’ll expect his new bride to share his bed, instead of making it!