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Guest blogger: Christine Wells

12 August 2018

Beta testing

Hello everyone and thank you very much for having me on the blog today.

When I wrote historical romance as Christina Brooke, more often than not I chose alpha heroes to match with my heroines. There was the solid, dependable Lord Beckenham in The Greatest Lover Ever, the cold, Machiavellian Marquis of Steyne in The Wickedest Lord Alive, the hulking brute with a heart of gold, Griffin deVere, in Mad About the Earl. The list goes on.

We all know how popular alpha heroes are in romance, but there is a lot to be said for a hero who can be flexible, who isn’t ashamed to show emotion and who can step back and let the heroine take control.

In my latest historical spy story, The Juliet Code, Juliet Barnard is a capable woman. As a wireless operator who parachutes into enemy-occupied France during World War II, she is trained in spycraft and survival, firearms and hand-to-hand combat. She knows how to take care of herself.

When I began writing this novel, I intended to match Juliet with Mac, the strapping Scottish SAS officer who asks for her help hunting down the Nazi war criminal who held Juliet prisoner during the war.

Then Felix Mortimer, the codebreaker from London headquarters, came along. He was so utterly charming, clever and funny, I fell for him … and Juliet did, too. In a gender role reversal, Felix must stay in London waiting for Juliet’s messages while she risks capture, torture and execution every second she remains in Nazi-occupied France.

When Juliet goes missing, not only is Felix beside himself with worry, he feels tremendous guilt for not charging to her rescue, even though there is nothing he—or anyone else—can do:

Ordinarily Felix was calm and collected, taking tense situations in his stride. He was obliged to use considerable intellectual power to decipher incomprehensible messages while under immense pressure, not just in terms of time but because of the loss of life that might result from him getting it wrong. But now, when it really, really mattered, he couldn’t think of any way to help Juliet.

If he were not some useless boffin, if he were a damned war hero like Tommy, he would know exactly what to do. He eyed his friend. ‘You could do it. You could go in and save her.’

Tommy’s eyebrows shot up. ‘What? Drop into a German prison and say, ’Scuse me, but I believe you have something belonging to a friend of mine? Besides, we have no idea where she is. Many more lives at stake than hers if you go off the rails, old chap,’ Tommy added, sounding more reasonable and less like himself by the minute. ‘Think of that whole band of Poles you saved. They’d have been strung up by their eyelids if it weren’t for you.’

But Felix didn’t find saving the lives of virtual strangers any compensation for losing Juliet.

While Felix is struggling with his guilt, Juliet must overcome her own secret shame. She has never doubted Felix’s feelings, but she needs to reclaim her sense of self before she can truly love again. Like all my romance novels, this love story has a happy ending:

Juliet sipped her champagne. ‘I take it your family still don’t know what you did in the war.’

‘George knows,’ said Felix. ‘But my parents still think I worked at the Marylebone branch of the Ministry of Labour and National Service. They were so proud of me holding down a steady, respectable job, I didn’t like to disillusion them.’

She chuckled. ‘But surely now that your play is a hit they must be pleased.’

Felix shook his head and regarded his parents, who sat farther down the table, with great fondness. ‘They are mortified. They see it as your duty to improve me.’

‘Improve you?’ She leaned in to kiss him, much to the delight of the guests, who were unaccustomed to public displays of emotion from either of them. ‘An impossible task, for you are perfect in every way.’

You can find Christine here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

The Juliet Code

1947. The war is over, but Juliet Barnard is hiding a secret. While her family believed she was helping the war effort from the safety of England, in truth Juliet was a trained wireless operator, dropped behind enemy lines in Paris to spy on the Germans. But the mission went critically wrong when Juliet was caught and imprisoned in a mansion in Paris’s Avenue Foch. Now she can’t—or won’t—relive the horrors that occurred there, and the people she betrayed …

The last thing Juliet wants is to return to France, but when ex-SAS officer Mac begs Juliet to help him find his sister, another British agent who is still missing, she can’t refuse. And in retracing her past, Juliet begins to realise that in wartime, the greatest enemy isn’t always the one that you’re expecting to fight.

Buy The Juliet Code from: Amazon | iTunes | Kobo

2 Comments
  1. 12 August 2018 5:17 pm

    Hi Christine

    Firstly can I say how much I loved this book it really is a must read and Juliet and Felix perfect but I loved Mac as well 🙂

    Have Fun

    Helen

    • 12 August 2018 7:22 pm

      Thanks so much, Helen! I’m very glad you enjoyed Juliet and Felix. I want Mac to get his own story some day. Not sure when!
      Christine x

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