Cold Inside? Bonus One
Ever met a person who’s all shiny good-looks on the outside, but cold inside?
That’s how Darren from ‘Love Express’ first seemed to me.
He’s like the bright village you spy in the distance as the train climbs a snowy mountain. It’s glorious and rich but surrounded by such thick snow, you’ll never reach the heart of it.
But the thing is, Darren has a heart, and it’s warm all right. But you’ll only reach it if he wants you to reach it.
And because of that, he intrigues me and I find myself liking him.
He also doesn’t mince his words. If he can’t stand the sight of you, he’ll let you know. No problem.
And if you ask, “Does my bum look big in this?”
You’ll get, “Yeah, but the bigger the better.”
What’s not to like, right?
If he tried, he could be liquid charm in a suit and bowtie. But he won’t try. He just expects everything to snap into place with minimal inconvenience. Charm not needed. I can’t blame him though. His father brought him up that way. But unfortunately for Darren, it’s not an attitude that leads to a successful marriage.
When he had Moira, he’d expected her to quietly fall into her slot in his life and stay there. But Moira isn’t the ‘slotting’ type. Maybe she’d been that when their marriage was young and new, and his wealth intimidating. But she married for love, and when she didn’t find that, it was inevitable she’d leave to take control of her own life.
And that left Darren out in the cold unforgiving snow.
Whenever I think of ‘Love Express’ one image that always comes to mind (along with the train) is a glowing Christmas town in a snowy valley.
But it reminds me of more than just Christmas. The entire story pieced itself around a strong 1920s vibe even though it takes place in modern times. Once I stepped aboard the train, I might as well have time-travelled back to the Roaring Twenties. The sights I saw, including the golden mountain towns and the illuminated canals of Venice, all held the romance and magic of that era.
Well, Darren, for me, is a 1920s gentleman through and through. He’s opinionated, and doesn’t budge, and doesn’t bend backwards for anyone. But he tames that attitude with an elegant veneer of culture.
Darren’s attitude alone intrigued me, but what made me excited to write his story was how for the right woman this uncompromising man was ready to move the world.
Love Never Changes Bonus Two
Most things change.
Fashions change. Attitudes change. But somehow falling in love has always stayed the same.
Falling in love in the 1920s must have been every bit as intense as it is today. The way one heart melds with another seems to be untouched by time as is love itself. It’s the same today as it was a hundred years ago.
And that’s why Moira and Darren’s love story fell into place so well for me. There was so much of the 1920s vibe to it—from the train itself, and the setting, and also people’s personalities. But everything blended seamlessly with the modern-day action because the entire story was a journey towards finding love.
Actually, I should say ‘Love Express’ is a journey towards finding love again, since it’s a second-chance romance.
What I like best about second-chance romances is how they prove true love never dies but merely remains buried away in the heart. But it has to be true love—fiery, deep, and heart-wrenching. Just any old lukewarm love won’t do. The journey is guaranteed to be rocky and only true love can keep you on that path until the very end.
It was interesting to watch this play out in Moira and Darren’s story. Their relationship began in attraction then blossomed into love. The only trouble was neither of them recognised it as true love until it was too late.
As well as love, the other flavour flowing through ‘Love Express’ is that of the Roaring Twenties. The entire train is art deco, and the images in my mind as I wrote the story were solidly from that period.
The bar scene is one I saw so clearly. The setting was vibrant and the atmosphere fun with Darren at his wickedest, trying to seduce Moira.
The bar and dance carriages really brought in the 1920s theme for me. Think rich wood and sultry music with couples dancing cheek to cheek, and sequinned dresses glittering jewel colours in the hushed lighting. There’s laughter and whispers in the smoky air, and the tingle of sweet berry alcohol on your tongue.
Yup, this part of the 1920s fascinates me.
There are certain moments and places in history I wouldn’t mind visiting, and a sexy bar in the 1920s is one of them.
‘Love Express’ could have been set on any luxury train. There are many the world over. But it was the original Orient Express with its art deco flavour that fitted the story. And this ‘old style’ fitted Moira’s and Darren’s personalities in the modern world too. She’s gentle and feminine but determined. And he’s hiding a heart behind a headstrong masculine attitude. It was a tale of opposites, and I had a great time writing it.
A New Start Bonus Three
Ever wondered what would happen if Cinderella married the prince but then lost everything and became Cinderella again?
I wondered that too. And that’s how I met Moira in ‘Love Express’.
The first image I had of Moira wasn’t the scene with the rat. When I first met her, she was at her mother’s bedside in the hospital.
I lived with Moira through her past before I even got to know Darren. And it was Moira and her determination to survive after losing her mother that made me want to write ‘Love Express’.
Moira’s original story didn’t start as a train journey. But I’d been hoping to set a romance on a train for a while, and when I met Moira everything fell in place.
I’d seen the poverty-stricken life she lived before marrying her prince. I’d seen her lose her mother then watched her lose all her remaining dreams so close to her birthday. This was Christmas, the time she should have been her happiest. Instead, she was alone with only a rat for company.
I wanted a new start for her, something to give her hope and make her smile again. And so ‘Love Express’ left the station with Moira onboard and the tempting call of new love setting its course.
For me, ‘Love Express’ as a train journey through the towering European mountains was symbolic of Moira’s own rocky inner journey. It was never an easy trip for her to make. She had nothing left in life and she barely knew the enigmatic man waiting for her in Venice. She just had to trust everything would turn out okay.
I would say Moira’s biggest fault was her insecurity borne of a lifetime of poverty and made worse by her ex-husband’s immense wealth and status. But she did one thing that showed me her true courage. She chose to walk out on her cheating husband and return to penniless poverty rather than close her eyes and live on in the lap of luxury in a loveless marriage.
For Moira, love was worth more than wealth, and she was ready to take a risk to find that love.
‘Love Express’ has many elements of the 1920s set in the modern world. One strong theme of the Roaring Twenties was how fashion and lifestyle changes gave women more freedom to express themselves. I saw that same bravery and reach for freedom in Moira, and it made me want to write about her journey all the way to its thrilling end.
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