Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She's leaving the life she's known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance -- the plantation that was her childhood home -- Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral's childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father's death.
Circumstance confirms Coral's worst suspicions, but when Rafe's life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman's affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral's inheritance? Or does Rafe's troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?
Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later -- following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development -- Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
An Interview with the Hannah Fielding By Holly Hewson for The Romance Studio
HH: Where did you get the idea for this incredible story?
HF: Burning Embers began not as a story, but as a vivid landscape in my mind. The seed of the idea was sown many years ago when, as a schoolgirl, I studied the works of Leconte de Lisle, a French Romantic poet of the 19th century. His poems are wonderfully descriptive and vivid â€“ about wild animal, magnificent dawns and sunsets, exotic setting and colourful vistas. We also had a Kenyan friend, Mr Chiumbo Wangai, who often called at our home in Alexandria. He was a great raconteur and told me extensively about his beautiful country, its traditions and its customs. Then, later on, I went on holiday to Kenya with my parents and Mr Wangai took us to visit many parts of it. I was enthralled I have had some of Leconte de Lisle’s magnificent poems translated from French into English. You can find them on my website at http://www.hannahfielding.net.
HH: What do you like about Coral and why will readers identify with her?
HF: Coral Sinclair is a beautiful, intelligent but emotionally naive twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. Courageous and adventurous, she's leaving the life she's known and travelling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance, Mpingo, the plantation that was her childhood home.
On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction and a tentative romance blossoms between them. The relationship is riddled with obstacles -- greed, betrayal, revenge, jealousy -- and during the course of the book Coral appears to the reader alternately strong and vulnerable, always passionate and often naive.
Coral could at first come across as a spoilt brat. But there is more to Coral than meets the eye. She has had a protected upbringing, but she has also had many blows. The abrupt change she had to suffer at the age of nine when she had to leave the open spaces of Africa for the confinement of boarding school in England; the divorce of her parents; the remarriage of her mother; the birth of siblings to this new marriage; and finally, her own broken engagement. All this has made her insecure, and that is why sometimes she reacts so childishly to her surroundings and to Rafe. Even though she is naive emotionally, and her fiery, passionate and rebellious nature pushes her sometimes to extreme behaviour, she is intelligent and very competent at her job as a photographer, which she takes very seriously.
Burning Embers is the story of Coral’s emotional journey from being a young and inexperienced girl despite her age, to blossoming into an understanding, generous, and compassionate woman who doesn’t hesitate to run to the side of her lover when his life is in danger.
What I like about Coral is that she is human. Her reactions are normal. Like all of us, and unlike chocolate-box heroines, she feels the pangs of jealousy, can be oversensitive, and at times will even lose her temper; but her heart is in the right place. Though the path of her love for Rafe is a difficult one, she travels it with courage and determination, trying to intelligently filter through all the obstacles that people and circumstances put in her way. I think that Coral will be real to readers, and I’m sure that they will be able to identify with one or many aspects of her complex character.
HH: What do you like about Rafe and why will readers love him?
HF: Rafe is the Alpha male par excellence: handsome, strong, commanding and a successful entrepreneur with that little tinge of arrogance that can be appealing but also irritating sometimes. Yet, that is only on the surface, because Rafe has a harrowing and dark secret that has blighted his life for years and that dictates his every move where Coral is concerned.
Through Burning Embers the reader will discover that Rafe’s character is multi-faceted. He is a passionate man, kind and compassionate with a strong sense of right and wrong. But like Coral, Rafe is human. A womanizer, he fights his love for Coral despite his irresistible attraction to her, which makes him vulnerable and makes his reactions often mystifying. The reader might find him arrogant at times, sensitive and giving at others, but always a man of integrity.
Rafe’s love for Coral runs so deep that it almost brings him to the door of death. What woman’s heart doesn’t melt vis à vis a vulnerable man, especially if with it he is also charismatic and selfless?
HH: How did you bring the setting so vividly to life in this story?
HF: I believe that the setting in a romance novel is essential for establishing a romantic mood and transporting the reader to the fantasy world I am creating, to capture not only their attention but also their emotions.
I have always been a writer who pays keen attention to background and ambiance; to describing carefully sights and sounds and smells and tastes and textures. The reader must be able to see, feel, taste, hear, smell everything my heroes and heroines are experiencing, and I call upon all the senses to render an authentic atmosphere. Since childhood I’ve loved writers who really paint a scene in your mind, and I knew when I started writing romance that I wanted to transport my readers to the time and place in which I situate the story. Place holds such power to colour a story, and I believe any story must be firmly rooted in the ‘where’.
For Burning Embers, I chose newly independent Kenya, Africa, as the setting. I knew this would be the perfect colourful backdrop to a vivid and sultry love story with an undercurrent of danger and superstition. I chose to situate the action in 1970, because this was a pivotal time in Kenyan history, with new crashing up against old and a good deal of insecurity, and this offsets the development of the main character, Coral, from naive girl to mature woman.
When I decided to write Burning Embers, I had already a lot of information in my so-called diaries -- notebooks that I have accumulated with anecdotes and thoughts about people and places which have taken (or not) my fancy. I read a lot about Kenya, watched films and documentaries about the place and tried to soak up as much as possible about this beautiful country and its people. Finally, when I put pen to paper, Burning Embers came to life.
HH: What do your think readers will enjoy most about this romance?
HF: Burning Embers is a book to get lost in. Readers will be taken on a captivating journey to 1970s Kenya without leaving their armchair; the descriptions of the scenery and the characters are so vivid they will feel as if they are there and part of the plot. Pure escapism! Pure romance!
HH: What else do you have in store for your lucky readers? What else can lucky readers look forward to from you?
HF: I have written a number of books and I have been travelling extensively, searching for new pastures in which to set my future novels.
I have just finished writing a touching, deeply romantic novel that takes place in Venice and in Tuscany, Italy in 1979/1980. It opens with the Venice Carnival that has returned after a cessation of almost two centuries.
I have written a passionate, fiery trilogy set in Andalucia, Spain, spanning three generations of a Spanish/English family, from 1950 to the present day.
Greece is also on the map for a new Hannah Fielding romantic novel. I am now in the process of researching and planning a very dramatic and steamy love story that takes place on one of the many Greek Islands. I chose Greece because I know that captivating country and its people well -- I have good Greek friends. I bought my wedding dress in Athens and my husband and I honeymooned on Rhodes Island. Greek mythology was part of the literature course I read at university and Greece is not far from Alexandria, where I grew up.
I still have numerous books in me and I intend to write a historical romance trilogy, which will be set in Egypt and will take my readers from the 1940s to the present day.
I so enjoy researching these books (what better excuse to visit Venice), and they are in the pipeline for publication in due course. I very much enjoy the publishing process and hearing from readers of my books. But for me, being a writer is not about publishing. It is simply about writing -- writing from the heart the books that I most want to read.
HH: What hobbies or interests do you have outside of your writing?
HF: I read: I love reading romantic novels -- the thicker the book, the better.
I walk: I am a loner to some extent, and a dreamer, so the beach calls to me. I live part of the year in the south of France, and I love taking long walks on the beach on a sunny spring day. I gaze at the sparkling Mediterranean sea, with its ever-changing shades of blue under the smiling azure sky, and conjure up romantic stories. In England I walk in the beautiful Kentish countryside, when weather permits; I’m not one for rain and blustery winds!
I cook: I love cooking, using the various produce of our vegetable garden. Jams, chutneys, stuffed vine leaves (dolmadis), stuffed savoury and sweet filo pastry cushions that I serve as nibbles when I entertain, stewed fruit for winter crumbles. The list could go on for ever.
I entertain: I find nothing more satisfying that having friends over; and as I often travel, it’s great to catch up with all the news.
I travel: To research my books. I find it exciting and exhilarating. Discovering new places, new people, new traditions and new cuisines, of course.
I collect antiques: Chinese porcelain, Japanese sculptures and French and Italian glass, so you will often find me rummaging in flea markets and dark second-hand shops in the hope of discovering a treasure.
HH: What’s your favourite quote ever?
HF: There are so many of them, but I think the great American writer Toni Morrison’s quote ‘If there’s a book you want to read and it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it’ illustrates best my frame of mind at the moment.
HH: What’s your favourite social media and how to use it to let readers know about your books?
HF: My website and blog at www.hannahfielding.net is where you will find information about me and about my work. Readers will discover some of my favourite quotes, poems, writers, music and much more, and they’ll be the first to know about the regular giveaways I run. I blog every week and I review books. I am also happy to run guest posts and interviews. Just get in touch with me by email: