The Green Hills of Home
by Emma Bennet
A sweet romance published in June 2013
'Gwen Jones, a young Welsh writer, is desperate to save the family farmhouse from being sold from under her critically ill mother and herself. When she lands a lucrative three-book deal with an eminent publisher, she thinks her problems are all over. However, Gwen's need to be near her sick mother means she’s unable to travel to London to work with her devilishly desirable editor, John Thatcher, and he must come and stay with her in Wales. Handsome and eminently capable, cosmopolitan John is used to getting his own way and has plans for the future which certainly don’t include being distracted by pretty Welsh girls; nevertheless when he journeys into the country to work with Gwen it’s not long before he finds himself falling in love with her, as well as the house she’s so anxious to save. But is John capable of loving anyone as much as his job? And when he has to decide between his goals and Gwen, which will he choose?'
Oh, go on then - you can have a little taster...
Gwen did a little jump of joy as she exited the doors of Black Horse Publishing's imposing Georgian building. She could have squealed with happiness but had to be content with hugging herself tightly and grinning slightly manically. She just couldn't believe that she, Gwen Jones, had secured herself a three book deal with one of the best-known publishing houses in the country, and that they'd been so sympathetic about the situation with her mother. She almost didn't trust her own fantastic luck. But then, of course, it wasn't all luck; Gwen had worked incredibly hard to get to this point.
For once in her life Gwen cursed the fact that she didn’t own a mobile as she searched for coins to use in a pay phone. She simply had to spread the good news. She really wanted to speak to her mother but she was usually asleep at this time and Gwen wouldn’t want to wake her. As she couldn't call her best friend Sarah, who’d be out picking her children up from nursery, the next obvious choice was her cousin, Sian, in whose flat she was staying whilst in London.
Gwen ended up having to empty her bag out onto the pavement before she could find some change and the crumpled slip of paper on which she’d scribbled Sian’s mobile number as she left the flat that morning.
Gwen's long brown hair shone as she bent down to search through her belongings. Her dark eyes danced with happiness. The fitted shirt, A-line skirt bought that morning especially for the meeting, and knee-high boots gave a good idea as to the toned body underneath. The shirt showed just a hint of cleavage as she leant forwards.Gwen didn't notice how many appreciative glances her slim figure received as she crouched down; and while she could never be described as classically beautiful, Gwen was certainly extremely pretty with a wholesome, homely charm. To the office workers leaving after a long day stuck behind their desks she was like a breath of fresh mountain air amongst the city smog.
When Sian didn't answer her phone Gwen felt her feeling of elation come down a notch, but quickly ordered herself to stop being so silly; she’d be seeing Sian at the flat in only half an hour and she would call her mother to tell her the news before supper.
As Gwen resumed her journey back to the apartment she became worried about losing her way and found herself frequently checking her whereabouts in the A to Z Sian had lent her. The London streets were certainly very different from Gwen's rural home in Wales.
Gwen felt a little nervous walking around the busy city with so many people pushing past, all of them in such a hurry, and she thought back to leaving her home the day before. She’d sighed deeply when locking the door of the farmhouse that had been her family's home for many generations, and allowed herself one quick glance at the beautiful hills surrounding the house, hills which were as familiar and as dear as childhood friends. Gwen was anxious travelling to London alone; she'd never been to the city before and didn't like leaving her mother with no one to visit her, but when she'd explained that a well-known publishers were interested in her manuscript, her mother had insisted that Gwen go: "I would never forgive myself if you let such a wonderful opportunity slip through your fingers", she'd added.
As she began to recognise landmarks and was confident she was going in the right direction, Gwen was able to relax a little and took her time strolling back to the flat, revelling in her own joy and replaying the meeting over and over in her head. She smiled to herself, remembering the first books she 'wrote' and presented to her mother and father when she was just six or seven. The only blot in her happiness was that her father hadn't lived long enough to see her published. Her mother would be thrilled though and, more important than any prestige that might come from being an author, was the help the money would be in dealing with her and her mother's very pressing financial problems.
These money worries were the reason Gwen had been working practically non-stop for the last three months to get her manuscript ready to send out to publishers. It’d been the only thing she could think to do to raise enough money to buy her precious family home. Gwen had been as devastated as her mother when they discovered their landlord's plan to sell the farmhouse, and all Gwen's efforts had been put into finding a way to save it.
Gwen became so carried away in her thoughts that she almost walked straight into a very harassed looking woman pushing a pram at quite a dangerous pace. She came to and stepped out of the woman’s way only to crash into something else - the solid bulk of a perfectly proportioned man. Gwen dropped her bag in the collision, and stooping down to retrieve it, she heard the stranger sigh in exasperation as he did the same.
Gwen looked up and locked eyes with the man. She was so taken aback by the intensity of his gaze that it took her a moment to gather her wits enough to murmur "So sorry".
"It’s fine", replied the man as he passed her the purse that had fallen out of her bag.
Gwen took the brief opportunity to examine him further: he was tall, certainly over six foot, with a strong physical presence projecting an aura of masculinity. He was dressed in a suit, but his jacket was open and Gwen could tell through his shirt that the body underneath was used to exercise. She took in his dark hair and was drawn back down to his deep chocolate brown eyes, the sort that Gwen could easily lose herself in given half a chance.
His inviting eyes seemed to be evaluating her with similar awareness. Returning to the moment with a start, Gwen felt a little embarrassed by her brazen scrutiny of the stranger, but warmed by his reciprocal appraisal....