Interview: Lucy Felthouse
An exciting opportunity could solve all Brianna’s problems. But will it ultimately create more?
Brianna Denton is a primary school teacher at the end of her tether. Budget cuts, changes in legislation and a pandemic have left her feeling like walking away from the only career she’s ever wanted. The trouble is, if she did quit, what would she do next? Living in London is expensive, and keeping on top of her rent and bills while retraining would be nigh-on impossible. An offer to move in with her best friend, Joel Harris, is appreciated, but feels way too much like charity for her liking.
But then Joel throws her a curveball. On a complete whim, he’s bought a fixer-upper cottage on a remote Scottish island. He wants to transform it into an uber-luxury holiday home and rent it out. To do that, however, he needs a skilled, reliable workforce and a project manager to keep things running smoothly. A visit to the island in question provides as many questions as answers, but one thing becomes clear – Brianna is the perfect woman for the job. She’s smart, organised, works well under duress, and if she can handle a classroom full of young children, surely a bunch of skilled tradesmen won’t be a problem. Working and living in such a stunning setting is a massive plus point, too.
Brianna takes a leap of faith, leaving her home and beloved career behind to help turn Joel’s dream into a reality. It’s a steep learning curve, but Brianna is definitely up for the challenge. But when working relationships develop into something more, will it bring the entire project crashing down around her ears, or is it simply the beginning of a whole new life?
Curve Appeal is a standalone contemporary reverse harem/why choose romance.
What inspired you to write “Curve Appeal” and Brianna’s exciting opportunity?
It had been a while since I’d written a story with a curvy character, so I wanted to create another one. I also adore writing beautiful settings and thought a cottage renovation would be the perfect way to get Brianna onto an island with a bunch of gorgeous guys and let the fun commence!
Can you tell us more about Brianna Denton’s character and her struggles as a primary school teacher? How does this shape her decision-making throughout the story?
Teaching isn’t an easy job, full stop. I feel it’s one of those jobs that you only do if you really love it. And Brianna loved it for a long time—but what was already a tough job was made even more difficult by tightening budgets, changes in legislation, and the pandemic. Brianna’s love was gradually drained away until she had to do something drastic. I think what she learnt from her experience helped her going forward—she knew she could handle challenges and multi-tasking, and a push from Joel helped, too.
What motivated Joel Harris to buy a fixer-upper cottage on a remote Scottish island and turn it into a luxury holiday home? How does this decision impact the plot?
Pure chance! Joel earns seriously good money in London, and he can be impulsive from time to time—he can afford to be! So when he saw the cottage for sale, he jumped at the chance. Then he had to make sure his spur-of-the-moment decision didn’t turn bad. His decision impacts the plot massively—without it, there wouldn’t be one! Brianna and the four men needed to be in the same place at the same time, and the cottage renovation makes that happen.
How does Brianna’s transition from being a primary school teacher to a project manager in a new setting contribute to the tension and challenges in the story?
The complete change in career, while on the one hand being just what Brianna needed, also shakes her confidence. As a teacher, she knew exactly what she was doing, and had been doing it for a very long time. Being a project manager is a total change for her. She does have the skills to do the job, which Joel knows perfectly well, but Brianna’s shaky confidence and work ethic both help and hinder at different times, making for interesting reading (I hope!).
“Curve Appeal” is described as a contemporary reverse harem/why choose romance. Could you explain what this genre entails and how it is incorporated into the story?
Contemporary is basically a way of saying the story is set in the here and now, and there are no paranormal elements. It’s about ordinary people in ordinary circumstances. Reverse harem and why choose are two phrases used to describe the same thing—a woman with several partners, all consenting. It’s not cheating, it’s basically an arrangement where all the partners are focused only on the female main character.
The setting of a remote Scottish island seems to play a significant role in the story. How does the location enhance the atmosphere and impact the characters’ experiences?
As well as being beautiful, some of the pivotal scenes could only really happen in this kind of setting. It also means there isn’t really anyway to run and hide for the characters. They have to stick around and deal with what’s in front of them. They have to work and live closely together, so getting along is incredibly important.
As an author, what challenges did you face while writing “Curve Appeal”? How did you overcome them, and what aspects of the story are you particularly proud of?
The main challenge was writing a setting that was so wildly different from my own day to day life. It meant lots of research into weather, wildlife, plant life, sunrises, sunsets, etc, etc… as well as researching things involved in renovating properties. It was a great excuse to watch lots of travel programmes based on Scottish islands, as well as lots of property renovation and DIY shows! I overcame the challenges by checking my research and then facing them head on—just keep writing! I’m proud of the whole book, to be honest. It took me quite a long time to write, and is one of the longest books I’ve written. However, the sense of relief on completing it was quickly replaced by terror of people not liking it. For me, that fear is there with every book. Fortunately, it seems people are enjoying it. Phew!