Have you ever craved a touch of luxury in your life? A rare treat away from the everyday world of juggling responsibilities? I think most of us have.
Personally I think a little indulgence once in a while is a wonderful thing - a memorable chance to relax and experience something completely different. I suspect it could become addictive except real life always manages to intervene. After all, real indulgence costs. I suppose it's partly the novelty that makes indulgence such fun.
I was recently in London (a huge treat in itself given the fact that I live in Australia). As well as catching up with my editor and some wonderful, wonderful British Presents authors, I also managed to fit in an extra special treat: high tea at Claridges, one of London's most prestigious hotels. I'd read about the place in books for years and wondered if it would be up to expectations. Browsing the website it looked terrific but in reality it was even better.
The red brick facade is pleasant but doesn't really give an inkling of what's inside, though the very smart and friendly doorman was a bit of a giveaway. Afternoon tea was served in a lovely, bright, elegant room. Service was impeccable and the staff were fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble. I didn't get to pour my own tea - not once in several hours, and though they were at hand and very attentive, they didn't intrude and were delightfully friendly. The food was superb, the setting fantastic and the result - sheer pleasure.
Whiling away an afternoon indulging in a quintessentially English pastime - afternoon tea, was a perfect way to spend my first afternoon in London. As well as tea there were sandwiches (of course) - Scottish salmon, cucumber, ham, etc, etc. There were perfect scones, both fruit and plain with house-made jam and clotted cream (my fave!). Then there was the tray of...I don't dare call them anything as ordinary as cakes. Yes, there was cake with rich chocolately layers. But there were tarts with fresh fruit, macaroons stacked with raspberries dusted with sugar and the most amazing tropical fruit dessert. The sad thing was that despite multiple offers, we were just too full to have seconds!
As well as being a terrific treat, the experience was perfect fodder for the author in me. Just thinking about the people who take such service in their stride as a matter of course set me thinking about new stories. As for the setting - I suspect something like it is going to appear in a future book.
In the meantime my current book THE SAVAKIS MERGER, is out now in North America as a Presents Extra release. It features a couple who've lived with luxury, though neither is exactly what they seem. I wondered when I wrote my heroine, Callie, if readers might find it hard to identify with a woman who had a wardrobe stacked full of designer gowns. I needn't have worried. So far reader feedback has been terrific. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that those gowns come with memories she'd rather avoid, and a future she's trying to build which is as far away from A list glamour as she can get. As for Damon, he might look like he was born and bred to a tuxedo but nothing could be further from the truth. It was fun writing a story where the outward trappings of wealth hid so many secrets. Here's a taste:
From untouchable socialite...
Only hours ago she was a wickedly tempting, sexy stranger. Now Damon Savakis knows who she really is - Callie Manolis, society ice-queen and duplicitous niece of his arch enemy.
...to his unwilling mistress!
Yet when Callie's avaricious uncle loses the Manolis money, she becomes the bargaining chip in the Savakis merger. Damon is unprepared for her bravery, poise and purity in a world full of greed. Once she's paid her dues in his bed he'll make her his willing bride for free.
To find out more about the story, read an excerpt or some reviews of it, head over to my website.
In the meantime, since I've been talking about luxury indulgences, I'm wondering what your perfect luxury indulgence would be. Something big or something small? Is there a special treat you've always wanted to try?