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A woman in a man's world, 200 years ago...

My first week as a financial analyst at an investment bank, I sat in a large room with twenty young men and one woman. Amid all the information bombarding us (including the admonition to us two females not to wear pantsuits-and this was in the 90's!) I started thinking: What must it have been like two hundred years ago for women whose skills placed them in predominantly male environments? I had already spent two years in the military and here I was again-surrounded by confident, aggressive, ambitious men. That evening I sat in my little flat in Fulham, London, and began writing about a young woman thrust into the male world of espionage in Regency times-a world being shaped by men like my hero, Michael, the Earl of Crayle, who is driven by the dark cost of that privilege and the deep scars of war. Sari Trevor, my unconventional heroine, has no such traditions to either ground her or limit her. She has to invent herself in a world intolerant of female initiative, so when she enters the earl's world she is both deeply insecure and fiercely determined to succeed. The inevitable clash between them is also at the core of their attraction-it lays bare each other's scars and needs and allows them (eventually) to find salvation together. The first draft of this story lay dormant for many years alongside others in my writing drawer until my mother, a wonderful poet and editor, drew my attention to Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write 2014 competition. With her inspired help we dusted it off and submitted it and Lord Crayle's Secret World was published in March 2016.

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