Paula’s secondary character re-invented herself as the main character in the next novel.
While I was writing the first chapter of Irish Inheritance, the heroine, Jenna, makes a brief reference to Charley on the second page. Maybe Charley would lend her the money for a quick trip to Dublin. When I wrote that line, even I didn’t know whether Charley was male or female! By the time I got to the second chapter I’d decided that Charley was female – short for Charlotte, but only my grandmother calls me that – as she explains later. During the story, Charley developed her own personality, often giving Jenna advice in a straightforward matter-of-fact manner. She also met assistant hotel manager Steve, and at the end, she and Steve joined Jenna and Guy in Ireland, ready to establish a Living History group at Mist Na Mara house.
As far as I was concerned, that was the end of it, as I had no plans to write a sequel or series. By the time Irish Inheritance was published, I’d already started another novel, set in England’s Lake District. Then I had an email from Rebecca, my publisher, saying, ‘You have an opportunity here for a spin-off story about Charley.’
My first reaction was, ‘Okay, I’ll think about that once I’ve sorted out the story I’m writing at present.’ In fact, I’d been having problems with that story, having got to Chapter 12 or 13 twice, deciding it wasn’t working, and going back to start it again.
The day after Rebecca’s email, I suddenly thought, ‘What if I move this story to Ireland?’
I thought about it for a few more days. Changing the location to Clifden in Connemara involved far more than renaming places or giving the heroine a different name. It meant changing the original heroine’s backstory, and her personality too. The heroine in the original story had been less assertive than Charley, so I needed to change her whole approach. I soon found that this was easier than I had anticipated, as Charley was already a ‘real person’ to me. In that sense, I didn’t have to wait to get to know her as I wrote her story.
I also found that the new story that developed didn't give me the same problems as the original story had done! Maybe Charley knew all along that this was her story, and not that other heroine's!
Charley Hunter returns unwillingly to Ireland to complete the filming of a TV drama series. She still hasn't come to terms with the tragic loss of her husband there two years previously, and the last thing she expects is an instant attraction to an Irish veterinary surgeon.
Luke Sullivan's life is full as he tries to balance caring for his two young children with his busy rural veterinary practice. After the break-up of his marriage, he vowed to leave women well alone, but finds himself drawn to Charley.
While Charley struggles with the re-awakening of her emotions, Luke faces a series of unexplained crises at his clinic, as well as an impending custody battle with his ex-wife.
How can an English actress and an Irish vet reconcile their different worlds? And will their relationship survive when Luke believes Charley has endangered his children's lives – and then betrayed him?