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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 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. He didn't keep his word - thankfully!
He had (and still has) more charm than any man has a right to have, and the evening was pure magic. 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. I 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 friends were aghast, muttering darkly about 'holiday romances'. But now, more than twenty years later, we are still married, still happy and in love.
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, colourful 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 cat and dog make sure they leave us no time to spare. My husband paints and I write. We return to Venice every year, sometimes more often, 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. And nor have we.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Books I love: Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Spy by John le Carré