Nov 7, 2015

Interview, Review & Giveaway: Warm Hearts in Winter by Helen Pollard


About the Author:
Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She firmly believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor - to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love ... and we all need a little love, right?

A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. Antiseptic cream is always close at hand. When Helen’s not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.

Interview:
Questions by Suze

1) Could you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?

I was born and brought up in Yorkshire and now live there with my husband, two teenagers and a psychotic cat. I like to read, but my eyes are often tired from being on a screen at the day job and again at home in the evenings, writing. I don't watch much TV nowadays – I'll watch the odd movie, but a series has to be really good to keep my attention. I try to go for a short walk once a day to blow away the cobwebs, and I enjoy treating myself to a decent coffee out and a chat with close friends.

2) Warm Hearts in Winter has a beautiful setting, how did you get the idea for the house and the surroundings?

When I was a child, we used to visit the village of Haworth in Yorkshire (home of the Bronte sisters) every year near Christmas. On the drive, I would wonder who lived in some of the old stone houses we passed that looked out across the beautifully bleak landscape of the moors. Ahem-number of years later, when I knew I wanted to write a winter romance, it wasn't hard to choose the place that I always associated with winter from my childhood visits.

3) What makes winter stories with a lot of snow so romantic?

It's a common enough romantic fantasy, to be cozied up with a handsome hunk while the wind howls outside;  long evenings by a log fire with nothing to do except get to know each other - isn't it? Or is that just me …

4) A lot of your story is about writing, why have you chosen an author and his assistant as your main characters? (Such a great idea by the way, I always love books that show their love for stories).

When I thought about the isolation of the setting, I had to think about who might live in an old house looking out over wild moors, and who would choose to be out there in the middle of winter. My imagination came up with Jack, a widowed novelist who lives in London but uses his house in Yorkshire as a retreat for solitude, writing and grieving. The previous year, his editor provided him with his own newly-retired secretary as a temporary personal assistant, and Jack was hoping to repeat the arrangement – but she is suddenly unavailable, so with a deadline looming, Jack has no choice but to accept someone else. Cue Abby's arrival … and she has her own reasons for accepting such an arrangement at short notice.
As it turned out, the more I got into the book, the more I enjoyed exploring Jacks methods and the way his mind worked with regard to his writing.

5) There's an element of mystery in your story as well, how was it to mix that with a romantic story in a beautiful setting?

I wanted to add an extra element of interest - there's only so far you can go with two people stuck together in a house, no matter how romantic! The isolation of the setting and the nature of Jack's writing – dark thrillers that drag innocent characters into murky events outside of their control – led me to want to add something a little sinister to the story. It wasn't intended as a complicated whodunit, but to add layers to the story. Jack is keen to ignore the threats that interrupt their winter idyll, but Abby is more anxious about what they mean and who is behind them.

6) What are your 3 favourite winter romances?

If we're talking books, I must admit that I don't have particular favourites that I read year after year. Last year I enjoyed The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts on the recommendation of an online American author friend, which was gently humorous and ideal for cat lovers! I also enjoyed both A Winter's Tale and Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley. There are so many wonderful-looking Christmas romances out there at the moment, though … I wish I had time to read them all!  
If I could pick romantic Christmas films, who could beat White Christmas and Love Actually?

7) Do you base your characters on people you know?

No, not at all. I suppose occasionally my characters may have the odd personality trait of someone I know, but that would be a subconscious thing. I like to start from scratch with my characters – I very much want them to be their own person.

8) Could you tell me what you like most about Jack and Abby? 

Jack can be grumpy, but he always knows when he's gone too far and will apologise. He's capable of loving deeply, and so is still struggling to get over the death of his wife three years on.
Abby is willing to give Jack space to breathe, even though she is attracted to him – she won't rush his grieving process.

9) What would your dream location to spend a cold winter look like?

I've been to Austria and Switzerland (a long time ago!) in the summer and enjoyed beautiful walks there, but I've never visited in the winter. Since I don't ski, I would have to settle for wrapping up warm and sitting out on the balcony of a lovely wooden chalet, sipping glühwein and looking out at the fabulous scenery. What a hardship!

10) What are your plans/dreams for the future?

I've just finished writing a more humorous, down-to-earth novel set in France – not specifically a romance but with a hint of it - and hope to find a home for that soon.
I'd love to have more time to write and to spend more time with my husband, as the children are heading for grown-up now! A little travelling would be nice . . .


Blurb:
Can two hearts thaw on the midwinter moors?
Forced by circumstance into the world of temping, when Abby Davis accepts an assignment in the wilds of Yorkshire as personal assistant to a widowed novelist, she assumes he is an ageing recluse.
Thirty-something Jack Blane is anything but. Still struggling to get his life and writing career back on track three years after his wife’s death, Jack isn’t ready for a breath of fresh air like Abby.
Snowed in at his winter retreat on the moors, as the weeks go by and their working relationship becomes friendship and maybe more, Abby must rethink her policy of never getting involved with someone at work … and Jack must decide whether he is willing to risk the pain of love a second time.
Buy links:
Warm Hearts in Winter is ON SALE at $0.99 / £0.99 until 30th November at:

Find Helen at:
Website & Blog:  http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com     

Book review:
by Anniek
Abby needs a new job so she can keep paying her rent. Her best friend is the manager at a temping agency and she has the perfect opportunity for her, a last minute assignment to be a personal assistant for the author Jack Blane. Abby doesn't have any time to think about it and trusting her best friend she says yes. So there she goes. She doesn't know a lot about Jack, but with the information she did get Abby is expecting an old(er) man. When she finally makes it up to the house through a snowstorm she is more than surprised to find out he is anything but old.

Jack is back at the house he once shared with his wife. He needs this secluded area to write his new book. Distraction is the last thing he needs. The previous year he worked with a personal assistant as well, a kind elderly lady who took good care of him. The house is pretty much in the middle of nowhere so it was also nice not to be alone all the time.

When he opens the door and sees Abby wet and soaked from the snow he can't believe his eyes. She is not what he expected to get at all. After a little bit of a rough start they find a routine together. The storm is making sure all options of other accommodation for Abby are out of the question. Abby is worried about a letter she found in the mail and the phone calls they keep getting. She fears that there is someone out there, close by, who wishes harm to Jack. Slowly their feelings are growing. Will Abby be able to let down her walls? Will Jack be able to love again? 

Warm Hearts in Winter is one of the sweetest stories I have read in a long time. I loved the scenery and can understand why an author will go to this house to write his book. It is a house where I would be more than happy to ride out a storm together with my loved ones. Abby and Jack both have their issues which they have to work through and come to terms with. Helen Pollard put a lot of effort in making these characters come to life. I felt like I was reading about real people. You will instantly love them both. My heart was aching for Jack because of his pain and sadness. Abby is a sweet loving person who has been judged wrongly.

I read this book in one sitting! I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know if they would find each other in the end and who that nasty person was that was threatening Jack. This book grabbed me and kept me captivated until the very last line. 

Giveaway

Three very lucky winners will receive a PDF copy (which you can also put on your kindle) of Warm Hearts in Winter together with very special mail: a gemstone bracelet, heart gemstone keychain and handwritten postcard from Helen Pollard. Good luck!


I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

77 comments:

  1. The cold winter would be warmer reading this intriguing book.

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    1. Thanks, Mai - it would be a cosy read on a winter evening :)

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  2. Love to read this novel on a cold night!

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    1. Thanks, Susan - yes, a cold night would do the trick :)

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  3. I would like to find out how things work out between Jack and Abby :)

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  4. Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Suze, and for the lovely review, Anniek. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!

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  5. Love the beautiful heart and the book looks very interesting

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    1. Thanks, Nathan. I bought the heart keyrings in aid of a charity, but I can't remember which now!

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  6. Because it seams to be my perfect xmas companion!! :)

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    1. Hi Catarina - yes, all that snow would go with Christmas :)

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  7. I love all books and this looks like a great read :)

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  8. This story sounds fantastic and I love how you have used your memories to help. I really enjoy reading author interviews

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    1. Thanks, Tanya. It is lovely to write about somewhere you know. Glad you enjoyed the interview. They were great questions!

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  9. it sounds interesting

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  10. The romance and the beautiful winter setting make this book sound very inviting.

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  11. Because I generally love reading and Warm Hearts in Winter sounds indeed interesting - I think I would really enjoy it!

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    1. Thanks, Gabbie - it's good to know it sounds appealing.

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  12. It sounds like the perfect story to get lost in this winter x

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  13. Thanks, Jennifer - it is a good book to escape the winter weather with!

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  14. Warm Hearts in Winter sounds like a lovely contemporary winter romance - I'm not familiar with the author but I'd love to give the book a try. Rafflecopter entries are in my real name NIKKI HAYES :o)

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  15. Perfect for snuggling up next to the fireplace and a mug of hot cocoa! Love seasonal books!

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    1. A fire and a mug of cocoa would go well with this, Sab :)

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  16. Bailey Dexter I love a winter romantic to curl up with in my chair with a cup of tea!

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  17. Would love to read as it's good to have a little romance at Christmas.

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  18. With winter coming, I need something to warm me up on those cold Michigan nights.

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  19. The book sounds charming and a great Christmas read!

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  20. As an avid reader any story that warms the heart and makes me feel good is perfect for a winter read.

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  21. WARM HEARTS IN WINTER looks like my kind of read. A very helpful review thank you.

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  22. I will enjoy the book and I love natural stone.

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    1. Hi, Jewel. I love stuff made out of natural materials too!

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  23. I'd like to read the book because it's a "winter read." Would be nice to have a good book to cozy up with on long winter days :)

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    1. Hi Jan. It would be a good one to cozy up with :)

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  24. this looks like it has a really good storyline and well thought out characters xx

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  25. love the review, thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the review . . . I was so pleased with it!

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  26. I love the keychain ♥ -@MaroBenipayo via twitter

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  27. I love winter and festive reads so it is great to get a recommendation of what to read next.

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    1. Thanks, Clare. I was so glad that Anniek enjoyed the book so much :)

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  28. This book would be the perfect read for a cold winter night :) Great review, it made me really curious about the story!

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  29. I would love to read this den71crosscomps@gmail.com

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  30. Romance is my favorite genre, and this book seems like a story that I would enjoy.

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    1. That's good to hear, Kathy. I loved writing it.

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  31. Love anything that warms the heart :)

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  32. I really like sweet romances and SNOW!! We had a lovely overnight snow, last night.

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    1. The perfect book for you, then, Mandy ;) No snow here in Yorkshire yet . . .

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  33. The review makes me want to read this book.

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  34. I enjoyed the book review, and would love to read this story because it sounds like the kind of story that I could read over and over again.

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  35. I am at first interested in the title because winter is coming. Then I read the review. It sounds perfect read for that cold time of the year.

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    1. Thank you! It's certainly good for curling up with on a cold winter's day.

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  36. It sounds like a great read.

    Megan @ reading away the days

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  37. I'd like to read this because I love reading stories based on the season!

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    1. Thanks, Stephanie, it's certainly seasonal, judging by the weather here!

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  38. I would like to read this book because it sounds like the sweetest romance. :)

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    1. Thanks, Natalie, glad you like the sound of it :)

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  39. Yes - it sounds a really good book

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