Meet Jane Hollinger from Only You

andrea-riseborough_zps04353247Jane Hollinger is thirty one and recovering from a devastating divorce. After being dumped by her husband and business partner then discovering he had been having a year-long affair with a client, Jane doesn’t think she will ever recover from the betrayal. She isn’t in any hurry to begin dating again because, as she puts it, she’s the wrong side of thirty. She spends her time teaching family history evening classes and one of her students is a man named Mitch. His strange appearance makes her very nervous but at the same time she is intrigued by him.

After a few classes and encounters with Mitch, Jane discovers that the man who has been sitting at the back of her class is a man she thought she would only see in her dreams. When she discovers his name is Robert Armstrong, one of Britain’s biggest acting stars, she is stunned. Robert asks Jane to help her with an up and coming television role and also to help him with a mystery in his family tree.

Jane and Robert become friends but realise the chemistry between them is too strong to ignore. Jane begins to discover what dating a celebrity is like and Robert gets a taste of the normal life. Then, the British press get wind of their relationship, and Jane must decide whether she can put up with press intrusion and the paparazzi to be with Robert. Find out what she decides in Only You!

Jane Hollinger is divorced and the wrong side of thirty – as she puts it. Her friends are pressuring her to dive back into London’s dating pool, but she’s content with her quiet life teaching family history evening classes.

Robert Armstrong is every woman’s fantasy: handsome, charming, rich and famous. When he asks her to meet him, she convinces herself it’s because he needs her help with a mystery in his family tree. Soon she realises he’s interested in more than her genealogical expertise. Now the paparazzi want a piece of Jane too.

 Can Jane handle living — and loving — in the spotlight?

Excerpt:

“Why do you run away?” he asked quietly. “Do I still frighten you or something?” 

“No.” He just had a habit of turning her into a gibbering wreck.

 “Then why?” 

She felt herself redden. “Because, if you want to date me, I don’t know how,” she admitted. “I haven’t dated anyone since university and that wasn’t even proper dating. Tom took me out to dinner once. We were students; we couldn’t afford to go to restaurants, so it was usually fish and chips or a burger. I don’t know how to date properly, Robert. I’ve never been out with a man your age and it’s mortifying to have to admit it. That’s why I take the easy way out and run. And, apart from that, your ex-girlfriend was everything I’m not.” 

“Which is precisely why she is now my ex.” 

“Why did you split up?” 

“It’s a cliché, but we ended up wanting different things. I’m not into all that ‘let’s see how often we can get in the papers’ stuff. I didn’t like going to clubs or restaurants where there would be photographers outside. She did. I’m an actor, not a celebrity. I hate the whole celebrity thing.” 

“But you’re very famous now,” Jane protested. “And you’ll be even more famous when Mitch Burns is aired. I mean, on the web…” She pulled a face. 

“What on the web?” he asked. 

“You don’t surf the net much?” 

“Not at home, no. Sometimes at Vince’s, he’s a mate of mine. I haven’t even turned my laptop on at the apartment yet. Why?” 

“Um. Well, there are websites dedicated to you. Loads. Some of them are a bit…”

More blood gushed into her cheeks and he rolled his eyes. “Look, I’m just an ordinary bloke.” 

There was nothing ordinary about him. “There are millions of women out there who compete against each other to see who can come up with the best sexual fantasy involving you. That doesn’t really strike me as normal.” 

“Looks like I’ve got some work to do, then.” 

“What?”

 “I’ll boot up my laptop and dedicate a few websites to you.” 

“What?” she squeaked. “No you bloody won’t! If my parents saw…” 

“You’re beautiful when you’re angry.” 

“And that’s just corny.” 

He shrugged. “That was meant to be a compliment. All right, you look like crap, if that’s what you really want to hear.” 

She snorted and laughed. “Thank you.” 

He inclined his head. “Look, Jane. Just tell me whether I’m wasting my time.” 

“No,” she sighed. “But I think you’re mad.” 

He came slowly towards her and took her hands. “No, I’m not.” 

“Are.” 

“Not,” he whispered, then kissed her. “You’re not going to run, are you?” 

“It’s my house.” 

“Ah. Good point. Can I have your mobile number?” 

“Why?”

“Don’t you want me to text you sometime?” He gave her a wink. 

“Sexy ones?” She cringed as soon as the words were out of her mouth. 

“They might be,” he replied mischievously. “So don’t show anyone.” 

They exchanged phones and numbers. 

“There.”

“Thank you.” He put it back in his jacket pocket and returned hers. “I’ll ring you the odd time, too. Now can I have a peep at these websites about me?” 

Her heart lurched. “No!” 

“Why not?” 

Because the women—and quite a few men—in the guest books, message boards, and forums would queue up to rip your clothes off and handcuff you to the bed so they could smear cream all over you and lick it all off. “Because you’d find some of them a bit embarrassing.” 

“That bad, eh?” 

“Coffee?” 

“Thanks, I think I will.” 

“Won’t be long.”

She went out to the kitchen, switched the kettle on again then leaned heavily on the worktop. Right, let’s get this absolutely straight. Jane Hollinger is in a relationship with Robert Armstrong. She inhaled and exhaled deeply before she reached for the jar of coffee.

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Only You’s (Other) Dramas

IMG_0468Only You’s Jane Hollinger loves watching drama, especially television period drama. She loves them so much that she has a huge DVD collection to help her escape from the routine of every day life. She has almost every period drama the BBC has ever produced and is also a huge Johnny Depp fan!

Despite all the period dramas, Jane certainly isn’t a prude. She first notices actor, Robert Armstrong, in The Lady of the Woods – a sexy modern remake of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. It doesn’t hold back on sex or nudity and, according to her sister Mags, Jane practically wears out her DVD by going through most of the series frame by frame!

Jane’s favourite novel is an historical called The Hunger set in Ireland at the time of the Great Famine of the 1840s. She knows the period of history inside out – having studied it at university – and she is of Irish descent through her mother, whose family emigrated from Connemara in the west of Ireland during the Famine.

Jane has always imagined Robert as The Hunger’s main character, a landlord called Edward Rowley, and can’t quite believe it when he lands the leading role in an epic TV adaptation. She helps him with all the background research for the role but can’t help but worry as she sits down to watch the preview DVD Robert sends her. What if the adaptation is awful? What if Robert as Edward Rowley isn’t how she pictured him to be? What if she can never read her favourite novel again? You’ll have to read Only You to find out what her reaction is!

EXCERPT:

“I had some good news today from Marie,” Robert said.

“Oh?”

When I finish The Will, my next part is in The Hunger.”

Jane almost dropped her knife and fork.

“The William Simpson novel about the Irish Potato Famine?”

He nodded. “You know it?”

It’s my favourite novel. Will you be playing the landlord? Edward Rowley?”

“Yes, why? What’s the matter? You don’t think I’m right for the part?”

“No! I mean, yes.” She put her cutlery down before she did drop them. “Oh God. Ever since I read it for the first time, you were the only man I could see as Edward Rowley…” She tailed off and blushed furiously. She hadn’t meant to say that much.

“Thanks very much,” he replied dryly. “He’s not exactly a happy chappie, is he?”

“No. Sorry.”

“Do you think about me a lot, Ms Hollinger?” he asked. Jane met his eyes. They sparkled with mischief. “Because when I read the script, and no matter which actress plays the part, you are the only woman I will see as Edward Rowley’s wife.”

“But she doesn’t love him,” Jane whispered.

“No. But he loves her. Very much.”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever worn a corset?”

Jane caught her breath and began to cough.

“No?” he continued. “Might have to remedy that sometime!”

“I look forward to it, Mr Armstrong,” she retaliated and he laughed. “Is it film or TV?”

“TV. A six-parter. The BBC and RTÉ, the Irish state broadcaster, are really going to town on it. It’ll be one of the most expensive dramas they’ve ever done.”

“I can’t wait to see it. I did nineteenth-century Irish history at university. Mum’s ancestors were from Ireland. They came to England to escape the Famine. I realised that I knew little or nothing about Ireland so I chose that module. I shouldn’t say that I loved it because it was such a terrible tragedy, but—” She stopped. She was rambling, but it was Robert gazing at her with a gorgeous smile on his face which really stopped her in her tracks.

“You’ll give me a hand with all the background, then?” he asked. “My maternal grandmother was Irish. I know a little bit of Irish history, but what I do know probably only scratches the surface. My great-grandfather’s brother fought in the Irish Civil War, but I know little or nothing about the Famine.”

“Won’t there be researchers or something?”

“Yes, but it’ll be much more interesting coming from you. I mean, if it weren’t for you, what would I know about genealogy?”

“You could have gone out and bought a book,” she teased.

“No, I needed to see why people get so addicted to it and, thanks to you, I have.”

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The Inspiration Behind Only You

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Wouldn’t it be amazing to be in a relationship with someone famous? It would be great, wouldn’t it, with parties and premiers, and seeing your picture splashed across the papers and gossip magazines?

But what would it be really like to be in a relationship with someone famous but you wish they weren’t because you are a private person who prefers to live a quiet life? Could you love that famous person enough to be able to put up with the invasion of your privacy? It’s a dilemma and that’s why I created Jane Hollinger so she can try and come to a decision.

Poor Jane. Her self esteem is at rock bottom because her husband had an affair with and then left her for a client. She lives alone with her books and huge DVD collection and doesn’t know if she ever wants to date again. It’s been so long since she’s been on a date that she’s not quite sure if she even remembers how to do it properly and the prospect of going out with someone from the dating website her sister and best friend subscribed her to terrifies her.

Jane wishes that Mags and Carol would just leave her alone. She does go out in the evenings to meet new people – but it’s to teach family history evening classes at the local Adult Education Centre. Little does Jane know that romance will strike when she least expects it. But will she be able to cope with being in a high-profile relationship with a man she’s only dreamed of and the British press?

Excerpt:

Fifteen minutes later they were seated at a corner table in The Red Lion, raising glasses of champagne.

“Happy birthday!” Mags produced an envelope with a flourish.

Jane opened it, half expecting a voucher for a beauty salon or a health spa or something subtle like that. Instead, she saw a confirmation e-mail.

Dear Ms Hollinger

Thank you for becoming a member of LookingForLove.com.

Her heart plummeted. “A dating agency?” She just managed to keep the dismay out of her voice.

“An online dating agency,” Mags squealed. “There are thousands of men on there just waiting for you. I mean, look at this one here.” She fished a printout from her bag and thrust it at Jane.

It was the details of a man named Bryan, aged thirty-four, six feet tall, brown eyes. Jane’s eyes were drawn to the photograph. She had to admit he wasn’t bad looking in an I’ve-played-one-too-many-rugby-matches type of way. He had a wrinkly forehead and his nose needed a good bit of reconstructive surgery. “He’s probably used a photo of someone else and doesn’t look anything like this in real life,” Jane muttered.

“People who lie about themselves are thrown off the website.” Carol was solemn as she pulled out another sheet of paper. “This is what we’ve said about you.”

“What?” She grabbed the sheet of paper, almost tearing it.

There she was; Jane Hollinger, aged thirty-one, divorced, five feet eight inches tall, blue eyes, brown hair. Likes history, cinema, reading and socialising. Looking for a man aged thirty to forty for friendship and possibly more.

It could be worse, she supposed, putting it down and taking a sip of champagne. It didn’t make her sound like a complete charity case.

“And you’ve already had some interest,” Mags told her.

“Why didn’t you just auction me off on eBay?”

“Jane, there hasn’t been anyone since Tom,” Carol argued.

“I’ve been busy,” Jane was defensive. “I have to pay a full mortgage now.”

“Okay, fine, we’ll cancel the membership.” Carol began to fold the sheet of paper.

“No, Carol, wait.” She held up her hands apologetically. “It’s just that I thought I was going to be married to Tom forever.” She found a smile from somewhere. “And I’m now in my thirties and single, whether I like it or not. I didn’t mean to sound like such an ungrateful cow. I’m sorry.” Inwardly she cringed when both women smiled sympathetically.

“I know what we’ll do,” Mags announced. She sprang out of her chair, startling the woman at the neighbouring table. “We’ll buy a couple of bottles of wine and we’ll go and surf the net, try and find you the man of your dreams.”

“You’re on!” Jane picked up her glass and drained it.

Blurb:

Jane Hollinger is single, divorced, and the wrong side of thirty – as she puts it. Her friends are pressuring her to dive back into London’s dating pool, but she’s content with her quiet life teaching family history evening classes. 

Robert Armstrong is every woman’s fantasy: handsome, charming, rich and famous. When he asks her to meet him, she convinces herself it’s because he needs her help with a mystery in his family tree. Soon she realises he’s interested in more than her genealogical expertise. Now the paparazzi want a piece of Jane too. 

Can Jane handle living — and loving — in the spotlight?

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Living in the Public Eye

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I must admit that I only read celebrity gossip magazines in the doctor or dentist’s waiting room, oh, and in the Chinese takeaway! I only actually buy one when there is a royal wedding. I don’t even do what Only You’s Jane Hollinger resorts to doing, and start to use the local newsagent as a research library!

Would I like to be featured in one? No, absolutely not, and neither does Jane. It is awful for someone as private as Jane to see her photograph in one of these magazines and it must be equally terrible for her to see someone she knows and cares about being harassed and provoked by paparazzi photographers.

Actor, Robert Armstrong was in a high-profile relationship but now he craves privacy. Most of the publicity was orchestrated by his actress girlfriend but he didn’t like it and it was one of the reasons why he ended their relationship. But it doesn’t alter the fact that he is a famous actor who is in the public eye and, therefore, the paparazzi see him as fair game.

It’s something Jane can’t quite understand, even when it is explained to her in simple terms by her fashion journalist sister, Mags. In Only You, Jane has to ask herself whether she can give up some, if not all, of her privacy to be with Robert. Is it something she is prepared to do? You’ll have to read Only You to find out!

Excerpt:

This evening she was spending time with Mags for a change. She’d been neglecting her sister a bit lately. The magazine on the top of the pile was Total Gossip. Total Crap, more like. She picked it up and flicked through it before stopping at one article. Gillian Jacobs on exes. God, how many did the woman have besides Robert?

Read the Gillian Jacobs interview in Total Gossip!” Mags ordered from the kitchen as Jane sat down on the sofa and placed the pile of magazines on the coffee table. “Her split from Robert wasn’t quite as amicable as was made out at the time. A lot of jealousy on both sides by the sound of it.” She came into the living room with the bottle of wine and two glasses, closing the door with her foot. “I suppose he didn’t mention anything?”

Why do they do this?” Jane asked instead of answering. “These awful interviews?”

“It keeps up people’s interest in them.” Mags passed her a glass of wine, kicked off her shoes, and curled up at the other end of the sofa.

“Well, not my interest.” Jane tossed the magazine onto the floor, picked up the next one and read, “I can’t play the perfect gentleman all the time.” It was Robert on why he chose to play East End drugs baron Mitch Burns.

Oh, not Mitch Burns. She discarded it and reached for another. It was the ‘At Home with Gillian Jacobs and her new beau John Davis’ feature in Total Gossip. Except it looked like a posh hotel.

Next was a copy of Spilling the Beanz. A post-it note was sticking out and she went straight to the page. ‘Robert Armstrong and Mystery Brunette leave Vincent’s.’

There was a double-page spread with a huge photograph and ‘a Sally Read exclusive’ printed alongside it. Her heart did a somersault. Oh God, she was now ‘Mystery Brunette’. How corny was that?

Blurb:

Jane Hollinger is the wrong side of thirty, divorced and struggling to pay the mortgage her cheating ex left her with. As a qualified genealogist, teaching family history evening classes is a way for her to make ends meet. But she begins to wonder if it’s such a good idea when a late enroller for the class is a little… odd. “Badly-blond Bloke” both scares and intrigues Jane, and when she discovers he is her all-time favourite actor and huge crush, Robert Armstrong, she’s stunned. Even more stunning to Jane is the fact that Robert is interested in her romantically. He’s everything she ever dreamed of, and more, but can she overcome her fear of living in the public eye to be with the man she loves?

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Writing Genealogy Fiction

Family History Evening Classes

Genealogy is the fastest growing hobby in the United Kingdom and North America. So I find it surprising that there aren’t more novels with a family history theme to appeal to this vast and ever-expanding market. Is it because people have a preconceived idea in their heads that all genealogists are nerds and geeks and only want to interact with dead people? I hope not because in the many libraries and archives I have undertaken research in, I have seen genealogists, both amateur and professional, of all ages and from all walks of life. So the clichéd image of the nerdy genealogist is something I want to try and do away with.

I have always enjoyed reading thrillers and mysteries, but I didn’t want to write a predictable police procedural. A novel featuring a genealogist, or someone who teaches family history evening classes in Jane Hollinger’s case, is a great way of offering a new perspective on romantic fiction as it combines mystery with history. It also gave me the chance to write about what I know.

Just as in police detective work, researching family histories involves interviews, collecting evidence, following clues, piecing together puzzles and finding missing links. To keep this vital part of the story accurate, I drew on my experience researching my own varied family history. Only You will appeal to romantics, genealogists and mystery fans, combining the obsessions of this compelling hobby with a dark, outwardly impenetrable mystery in a unique way.

The Romance Review

Jane Hollinger is divorced and the wrong side of thirty – as she puts it. Her friends are pressuring her to dive back into London’s dating pool, but she’s content with her quiet life teaching family history evening classes.

Robert Armstrong is every woman’s fantasy: handsome, charming, rich and famous. When he asks her to meet him, she convinces herself it’s because he needs her help with a mystery in his family tree. Soon she realises he’s interested in more than her genealogical expertise. Now the paparazzi want a piece of Jane too.

Can Jane handle living — and loving — in the spotlight?

Excerpt:

The phone rang and she jumped. The number displayed was unfamiliar and she closed her eyes, hoping that it wasn’t yet another double-glazing salesperson.

“Hello?”

“Jane Hollinger?” a male voice asked.

“Yes.”

“This is Robert Armstrong. I hope you don’t mind, I found the number for your old genealogy research service in an old Yellow Pages.”

Mind? Her heart began to thump. “Er, no, not at all.”

“It’s just that I actually did start on my family tree and I’ve come across something a bit weird.”

“Weird?”

“Yeah, I found the birth, marriage, and death indexes on the net and it looks as though I had a twin brother I knew nothing about.”

“Are you sure?” She managed to sound calm.

“Positive. There was another name on the list above mine, a Michael David Armstrong. My full name is Robert David Armstrong, so I thought it was a bit weird and I ordered the birth certificate.”

“You’ve known nothing about a twin at all?”

“Nothing. No one’s ever said that I was a twin. It says nothing about me being a twin on my birth certificate.”

“Did you check the death indexes? Maybe he died soon after he was born?”

“No, I haven’t had time yet. What do you think? Strange, eh?”

“It is strange,” she admitted. “I think you should have a chat with your parents.”

There was a long silence and she began to squirm. She took the phone into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

“My parents and I don’t see eye-to-eye, actually. They didn’t want me to become an actor. We haven’t spoken in years.”

Blimey, how did he manage to keep that out of the press? “Oh, I see. Well, what about grandparents? Aunts, uncles?”

“I was close to my maternal grandparents, but they’re both dead now.” She heard a wry laugh. “I’m not making this very easy for you, am I?”

He could say that again. “Well, the first thing you should do is to try and see whether Michael David Armstrong is still alive.”

“Yes. But if he is, he could be anywhere.”

“I know. I’m more used to tracing dead people!” she laughed.

“You think I should make contact and speak to my parents?”

“That’s not for me to say.”

“You get on with your parents?” he asked.

“Yes, very well. Do you have any other brothers or sisters?”

“No, I don’t, that’s why this is so weird. I had no idea I had a twin brother.”

“Search forward in the General Register Office death indexes when you’ve time.”

“Yes, I will. Look, thanks, Jane.”

“No problem.”

“Mitch Burns is well and truly dead now, by the way,” he continued.

“I won’t say I’m sorry to hear that!”

“I thought not. Look, can I buy you a drink sometime as a thank you?”

“There’s no need,” she heard herself tell him and pulled an agonised face. “You bought me the lovely roses.”

“I heard Diana tell Dave they were probably stolen.” He laughed. “Mitch Burns was a bastard and probably would have stolen them. From a cemetery, I’d say!”

“Why play someone like that?” Her curiosity got the better of her.

“To see if I could. And to make sure that I’m not typecast. I’d hate to be offered the same type of roles all the time.”

“So the sex-mad genealogist is next?”

“Yes. In a couple of weeks. Which might give me enough time to try and solve the mystery of the missing twin.”

“Look, about that drink…” she began.

“I’ve got you curious now, haven’t I?” He chuckled. “I can gather all my stuff together and meet you in The Crown sometime?”

“Yes.” It came out as a squeak. She quickly covered the mouthpiece and cleared her throat. “When would suit you?”

“Tomorrow? I can’t do Tuesday because I have an interview with a journalist.”

“Tomorrow’s fine. Eight o’clock?”

“Eight o’clock it is. I’ll see you then.”

She ended the call and put the handset down on the table. She had almost talked herself out of a drink with Robert Armstrong. “You stupid, stupid cow.”

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My Only You Dream Film or TV Cast

There are bits of me in Only You’s Jane Hollinger but, sadly, not enough to cast myself as her and as my acting ability only stretches to a very unconvincing angel in a nativity play, the apple tree in the Garden of Eden, and a peasant dying of the Black Death – which made the audience laugh – I’d better pick a better actress! andrea-riseborough_zps04353247 Andrea Riseborough has played roles as diverse as Wallis Simpson and Margaret Thatcher and I think she’d be great as Jane. RichardArmitage_zps7453208e If I could find a mad scientist who could create a hybrid of Richard ArmitageDavid Tennant and Michael Fassbender in their laboratory then we’d have Robert! But if that proves to be unethical, then Richard Armitage would be my first choice. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, ideal for Robert! I’m not sure what he’d look like with badly dyed blonde hair and weird contact lenses, though! sheridan-smith_zps7df02521 Jane’s fashion journalist sister, Mags, is nuts so apologies to Sheridan Smith, from Cilla, Jonathan Creek and Love Soup, but I think she’d be great as her! Sally-Hawkins_zpsa1039000 Jane and Mags’ best friend, Carol, is Sally Hawkins who is in Paddington and won a Golden Globe for Happy Go Lucky in 2009. RichardCoyle_zpsab224d4c Robert’s best friend, Vince, is Richard Coyle who was in the comedy Coupling way back when, and the sadly short-lived supernatural drama, Strange. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a job as an extra, or the tea lady!

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Jane Hollinger is the wrong side of thirty, divorced and struggling to pay the mortgage her cheating ex left her with. As a qualified genealogist, teaching family history evening classes is a way for her to make ends meet. But she begins to wonder if it’s such a good idea when a late enroller for the class is a little… odd. “Badly-blond Bloke” both scares and intrigues Jane, and when she discovers he is her all-time favourite actor and huge crush, Robert Armstrong, she’s stunned. Even more stunning to Jane is the fact that Robert is interested in her romantically. He’s everything she ever dreamed of, and more, but can she overcome her fear of living in the public eye to be with the man she loves?

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A Five Star Review of Only You on The Romance Reviews

A Five Star Review of Only You by The Romance Reviews.

“ONLY YOU by Lorna Peel is a fabulous romance about trust in relationships under a microscope. In this case, under the ever-hungry, watchful eyes of the paparazzi. The novel encourages a “don’t believe everything that you read” philosophy, which is especially important in this age of the Internet. I give it five stars.”

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