Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Tag: Chick Lit

Opening Lines: Helen Pollard’s The Little French Guesthouse

It’s that time again! I must confess I look forward to my Thursday ‘Opening Lines’ blog spot more and more each week. 

Today, I’m delighted to be joined by Helen Pollard, who has the first 500 words (exactly) from The Little French Guesthouse to share. with us

Over to you Helen…

The Little French Guesthouse tells the story of Emmy, whose relationship with her boyfriend is getting stale. She decides on a quiet holiday in France so they can reconnect … but it doesn’t turn out as she had planned. Emmy handles it all with humour and rediscovered inner strength, and what starts out as a holiday becomes a journey of self-discovery, with mishaps, hope, friendship and down-to-earth humour all playing a part along the way.

I’d had the opening scene for The Little French Guesthouse in my mind for years, but I wasn’t writing at the time. Then, one summer, we were on holiday in a gîte in France, and I suddenly thought, ‘This is it! This is where that scene takes place!’ Once I could picture the setting in my mind, I just had to get that opening scene down on paper, so I started writing again . . . and the creative floodgates reopened. In my imagination, I developed the setting into a guesthouse with gîtes and gardens, and the imaginary local town in the book, Pierre-la-Fontaine, is loosely based on a real town that we visited several times and loved.

The fact that the publisher wanted the book to become a series was a wonderful opportunity for me to follow Emmy’s ups and downs further. It also allowed me to explore some of the secondary characters in more detail, and it meant that Emmy and thereby the reader could discover even more lovely places in the Loire region of France!

Opening Lines: The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

I wish I could tell you it happened like it does in the movies. You know the kind of thing. The heroine standing proud, oozing restrained fury. The audience’s satisfaction as she delivers a reverberating slap across her lover’s face. Her dramatic but dignified exit from the screen.

Believe me, there was nothing dignified about it. All I did was stand there shaking, rage and adrenalin coursing through my body like rabid greyhounds, my mouth flapping open and shut as I tried to find the words. Any words. Even a simple sound of outrage would have sufficed, but all I managed was a pathetic squeak.

‘Emmy, it’s not what it looks like,’ Nathan spluttered, but of course it couldn’t be anything other than what it looked like. My view as I stumbled through the door had been graphically explicit. Even he must have known how lame he sounded. Grappling for dignity and his belt, he tried again. ‘We were… I mean, I didn’t expect you to…’

I launched into a wronged-woman tirade as though someone had handed me a bad soap script.

‘No, I bet you didn’t expect me to…’ An alarm bell clanged dimly at the back of my brain, but I ignored it. ‘How could you? You cheating bastard! I can’t believe you…’ The clanging grew louder and more insistent, moving to the front of my consciousness. ‘Shit!’ With a guilty jolt, I remembered why I’d come all the way up here in the first place. ‘Gloria, you need to call an ambulance. I think Rupert’s having a heart attack.’

‘What?’ Adjusting her dress, Gloria greeted this sudden change of subject with bewilderment.

‘Rupert. Your husband, remember? Heart attack. Ambulance.’ I gave her bangled arm a nudge to see if her brain was still functioning or whether sex with my boyfriend was more spectacular than I gave him credit for.

‘Ohmygod. Ohmygod.’ The message finally got through to her lust-addled brain cells. ‘Where is he?’

‘Kitchen.’ I headed for the stairs, my mind thankfully back on the emergency at hand and pushing visions of Nathan and Gloria romping on the roof terrace to the rear of my consciousness. For now, remarkably, there were more important things to worry about.

‘What do you mean, a heart attack?’ Gloria shouted after me. ‘Why the hell didn’t you call an ambulance?’

‘I tried, but then I realised I didn’t know the number, and besides, my French isn’t good enough,’ I called over my shoulder. ‘I thought it would be quicker to get you to do it. I had no idea you’d be so busy.’

‘Ohmygod, Emmy. He could be dead by now!’

She was right – he could be dead by now – but when we reached the kitchen, to my immense relief, Rupert was still conscious and sitting propped against the wall the way I’d left him. I’d done my best, but I hadn’t expected to lose precious moments with the melodrama upstairs. I couldn’t imagine how I would have felt if…



Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?

When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery.

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory.

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?

Buy links:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:


Author bio:

As a child, Helen had a vivid imagination fuelled by her love of reading, so she started to create her own stories in a notebook.

She still prefers fictional worlds to real life, believes characterisation is the key to a successful book, and enjoys infusing her writing with humour and heart.

Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors.

Find Helen at:

 Website & blog:




Many thanks Helen- great stuff.

Don’t forget to come back next week for more opening lines!

Happy reading, 

Jenny xx

Interview with Colette Kebell: Retail Therapy

It’s interview time! Today I’m delighted to welcome Colette Kebell for a cuppa and a chat.

coffee and cake

What inspired you to write your book?

Honestly being made redundant coupled with a hunger to get back to something that I enjoyed both at school and since, though prior to being made redundant, life just seemed to get in the way what with work, home life, dogs, hubby and just plain thinking I had lost any talent I thought I had due to the drudgery of a 9-5 job.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I have loosely modelled a number of my characters not only on myself and my husband but other friends and family.  Other than my husband, of course, none have mentioned to me that they saw themselves in my characters.  I guess I’m pretty good at hiding where my inspiration for each came from. Having said that I’m not sure whether that is a good or bad thing though.  It might sometimes be seen as complimentary to the person or persons involved, though not in every case.  There are a number of characters that I’m sure if those real life people had read my books, despite not recognizing themselves, would still enjoy as I have made even the villains humorous, I just couldn’t resist that one.  Afterall, Chicklit/RomCom are by their very nature meant to be funny, at the very least some of the time.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

As far as research goes, I basically read a lot, wrote in a round about way about my own life experiences and used the internet as much as I could to fill in any gaps.  I hasten to add that they are far from biographical, but during my 50 years I have led a life during which I was fortunate enough to experience quite a variety of jobs, relationships, locations, foreign travel.  I guess, due to my parents having moved a lot and growing up being moved from place to place, I became rather resilient.  I am quite shy though so although friendships take a while to develop, usually I keep those friends for many years. 

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

The point of view I’ve used in all the novels is the first person.  Although this limits the descriptions to what the protagonist sees by way of experiences, I feel it is the one that also engages most with the readers, makes them live a life from the protagonist’s point of view.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I rarely plot a storyline.  I tend to go with the flow and see where the story takes me as it unfolds.  I did have some input from my husband during the writing process, discussing possible routes to take etc but at the end of the day, if the story doesn’t flow then, to me at least, it seems forced.  I don’t even have an idea of a title when I start off with a new book.  Having said that, one of my current WIPs, the whole story has materialized from my having the title to be begin with, so there is no hard and fast rule. 

What is your writing regime?

Due to having a very supportive husband and the kind of life we have had to lead the past few years, due to attempting to sell our home (which took 2 ½ years) my writing regime is almost non-existent.  I don’t mean to say that I don’t write as obviously if that were the case I wouldn’t have already self-published two books.  Having said that I write when I am in the mood, do marketing when I can, and am still learning the whole self-publishing process so there is plenty to keep me occupied.  My husband has had some involvement too as without him Blue and Green Should Never Be Seen! (Or so Mother Says) would never have been translated into Italian.  That far from simple task fell to my husband and by all accounts he thoroughly enjoyed doing so.  It took quite a while though as he does have a full-time job as well which keeps him pretty busy.

What excites you the most about your book?

I find it incredibly hard to put my finger on any one thing as there are so many elements to the writing process.  The laughter in our household during the writing process came first, as my husband read and discussed each of my books, just to give me another perspective.  Then there is the thrill of receiving each of them back from the copy editor, first sight of the covers, each and every review I read… there are just so many to choose from…

Colette Kebell covers

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

This one I found to quite a simple question.  The first person that jumped into my head, obviously for their talent, but also basically as a piece of eye candy, would be Hugh Jackman.  I just don’t consider that I could ever get bored of being around him.  Secondly, I would have to think of my survival so although Bear Grylls might come to mind I think I would prefer Robinson Crusoe.  Lastly, but by no means least I would have to say Joanna Lumley as we would certainly have a laugh when things got tough and she is such a trooper.  I could have said Michael McIntyre, but, do I honestly want to be surrounded by men?  With no female company I might just return to my tomboy status of my youth having fought somewhat to find my feminine side.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I guess, other than mentioning my books, which I’m sure you will do, I would like to mention that though the going is a little slow on them currently, I have three WIPs.  One is the follow on from Blue and Green Should Never Be Seen!, one is a further Chicklit which this time is set in New York and so I hope I can do it justice never having been there and the third is somewhat of a secret at this point as, just the title on it’s own, might give other authors ideas…

The books links are:

Blue and Green



The Retail Therapist



Senza Tacchi non mi Concentro!


As far as e-readers are concerned, I’ve covered all the bases as my books are available from all the usual haunts.  All but the Italian book are also available in paperback, on request from bookshops and libraries worldwide.

Colette Kebell


After being a Legal Secretary for about 10 years, Colette was on the hunt to find something else that she would find just as interesting. She found that in writing and she hopes you like what you read. She loves fashion with a passion (pardon the pun) and therefore it is not surprising that her debut novel was going to follow that theme.

Her debut novel was “Blue and Green Should Never Be Seen!” which was followed by “The Retail Therapist”, both of these being romantic comedies/Chick Lit, a genre she adores.

When she’s not in writing mode she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, a task that usually produces good results; as her husband would say, as opposed to “his” experiments which often end in a culinary disaster.  She lives in Coastal Kent, UK with two adorable dogs. Oh yes, and hubby too.

You could also look at her website and see what news is on there at  or follow her on either twitter   or Facebook


Many thanks for a great interview Colette,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

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