Sonia believes that men equal heartache and disaster. Brad has sworn never to love a woman again. It’s a pity they’re so irresistibly attracted to one another.
After her traumatic teenage years, Sonia’s teaching job would be the best thing that has happened to her if it weren’t for Brad Wilson. Her arrogant, standoffish colleague never fails to rub her the wrong way. But when she’s faced with the choice between canceling the school trip to Sicily or accepting his ungraceful help, she swallows her pride and resigns herself to spending an entire week in close quarters with him. Little does she know just how close.
A tragedy from his past still haunts Brad, and he’s sworn never to let his heart be shredded by grief again. Loving another woman is not in the cards. That’s why his petite olive-skinned colleague is so very dangerous.
What could possibly go wrong when their mutual destination is one of the most romantic places in the world?
1. Which character would you like to be in this book?
I’m not brave enough to want to go through what my heroine is going through, and I don’t fancy spending my honeymoon with a bunch of kids on a school trip, so I wouldn’t like to be Katie either. I’d choose to be one of the kids: they’re having tons of fun while the adults work hard for them!
2. Do you always take a book/erader wherever you go?
Yes, I do. I have only just bought an e-reader so I’m still learning how to use it. I still prefer the feel of actual paper, but the convenience of carrying a huge number of books in such a small object, and being able to read without a light, is mind-blowing to me.
3. Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Ah, ah, that’s a very interesting question. I think I’d rather be the baddie and do all sorts of naughty things that I would never do in real life, but I’d demand a happy ending for me too!
4. Do you prefer to read/write standalones or series?
I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe when it comes to reading and writing. The idea of being tied to a series is scary. That said, I am planning to write a series right now.
5. Where can I find you when you are reading?
I love reading in bed. That’s why I dislike thick heavy books that tire yours arms (although, perhaps that’s also to do with being a commitment-phobe). When I was growing up in Sicily, the summer was so hot that all I could do was lie down and read. Since then, I’ve always considered the bed or a sofa the place for reading.
6. Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
When I’m not writing or reading I’m being a taxi driver for my three children, doing chores at home, walking in the countryside, meeting friends.
7. Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?
Only just! I remind myself of the piles of books under my bed, waiting to be read, and force myself not to go in. Also, I try to always buy from my local independent bookshop. But I do stop and check out the books in the window.
8. What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of having learnt English well enough to write. English is my second language and Italian is my first language. I had always loved English. Growing up, I used my pocket money to pay for private conversation lessons. My parents didn’t put obstacles in my way but couldn’t help me much either: they had never been outside Italy. In my twenties I went to Wales as a university exchange student. It was hard (I found that my English wasn’t enough to cope with day-to-day life) but exciting. I worked hard at improving my English and for many years I was stuck in between the two languages: my English wasn’t good enough to read for pleasure, while my Italian was getting rusty. Now I’m very happy.
9. What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Excitement and a smattering of terror. When your book is out there in the open, it’s not only yours anymore. The characters that you have spent so much time with and have loved are no longer your secret friends.
10. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Find what you want to write and do it without prejudices, whether you want to write about underwater vampires or the history of curling. Writing is a lonely and badly paid job, so if you don’t enjoy the process at least most of the time, it’s not worth doing. It’s important to keep the market in mind, but if your writing doesn’t come from the heart, it will show. At first I started writing for children, thinking that it would be easier (wrong!) and that my English wasn’t good enough for adults’ books. I tried for four years, but my heart wasn’t there. Eventually, in January 2019, I gave myself permission to write romance for adults. My writing life changed. What I hadn’t achieved in four years, I achieved in a few months.
I love giving advice and I have lots more to give (read, write and don’t give up), but you have surely heard it all from other writers. Best of luck! xxx
Thank you, Stefania Hartley
About the author
Stefania Hartley, also known as The Sicilian Mama, was born in Sicily and immediately started growing, but not very much. She left her sunny island after falling head over heels in love with an Englishman, and she’s lived all over the world with him and their three children.
Having finally learnt English, she enjoyed it so much that she started writing stories and nobody has been able to stop her since. She loves to write about hot and sunny places like her native Sicily, and she especially likes it when people fall in love.
Her short stories have been longlisted, commended and won prizes. Sun, Stars and Limoncello is her first novel.