A book extra for The Spaniard’s Passion , The Sheikh’s Wife , The Sheikh’s Virgin

I confess. I’m an Anglophile. Growing up my father read Charles Dickens aloud to us. As a teenager I fell in love with Shakespeare’s plays and like most romance readers, I devoured everything by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.

No matter how many times you visit London, Big Ben and Parliament never fail to impress (Above left). Jane girding for battle at Warwick Castle (Above right). “You have to know I used to write historical romance — dark medievals set during the Battle of Agincourt featuring the Lancaster kings. My hero, however, was Irish!”

I first visited England with my family as a gawky thirteen year old (see the photo of us in London on my Bio page) and have returned numerous times as an adult. What is it about England — and that great city, London — that captures the imagination so thoroughly?

Warwick Castle, not too far outside London, as seen from the ramparts

For many Americans, England remains the mother country and we thrive on the history and the strong relationship between the two. While we wanted to abolish the monarchy, we’re still fascinated by kings and queens and royal lineage.

And not to be simplistic, but there’s nothing like a good old medieval fortress to win one over. I’m a sucker for tall, dark handsome men, as well as hulking handsome castles. Even my little boys who have yet to visit England love the idea of the place. Knights? Soldiers? Robin Hood? Yes, please! Jousts, fights, suits of armor? Give me more!

Never mind that castles are cold drafty places. Who cares if most knights in the Middle Ages were barely five feet tall (or perhaps it was that heavy armor which smashed men into the ground?). England is exciting. England is rainy and green and home to literature, chivalry, and Harlequin Mills & Boon.

London firefighters taking a collection for their NY brethren shortly after 9-11.

It’s impossible to give one a grand tour of England in just a few pictures and paragraphs, so I’ll leave the facts to the guidebooks (see my list of favorite resource books at the bottom of this page) and show in photos you how I enjoyed my visit to lovely, lovely London, England in late 2001. One particular photo that I took, of a few London firefighters standing on a corner, meant quite a lot to this American traveling at that time.

left: On Sunday I went on a river Thames cruise, boarding at the Tower of London and disembarking not far from Parliament. Because it was Sunday we had to walk forever before we found a pub open for lunch. right: I love tradition, and part of the fun of London is watching the changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace.
England: Home of Harlequin Mills & Boon

As much as I love London, visiting the city wasn’t all play. I spent a day with my editors from HM&B — Tessa Shapcott and Lucy Mukerjee I got a grand tour of the HM&B office, met more of the great staff I work with long distance, had a relaxing lunch overlooking the Thames before sitting down in the conference room to discuss my upcoming books.

left: Inspired to write after touring Windsor Castle. left: Pub lunch in Stratford-upon-Avon. We had fish and chips and a great ale!
Those Amazing Harlequin Authors
Jane in London
Jane & Harlequin Romance author Sophie Weston enjoying dessert after seeing the smash hit musical, Mama Mia.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Authors aren’t just great writers, they’re also great people. Sophie Weston hunted down terrific resource guides for us, including books on accessibility and mailed an enormous parcel to me before our trip.

Both Sophie and Mary Lyons treated us to theater-again researching seating for wheelchairs, including asking all those tough questions like where is the nearest accessible bathroom, and are there any steps between the entrance and our seats?

2001 Rita winner, Liz Fielding, and her daughter Ami, met us at our hotel for drinks in the Polo Lounge before we all headed out for a bistro dinner.

I’d been to London before, but enjoying it with new friends made it a treasured experience.

Some of my favorite resources:
  • Frommer’s England & Scotland
  • A Great Weekend in London, Hachette Travel Guide
  • Frommer’s London by Night
  • A Literary Guide to London, by Ed Glinert, Penguin Books
  • Access in London: A Guide for People Who Have Problems Getting Around, Quiller Press, London
  • Charming Small Hotel Guides: Britian, Hunter Publishing