“Passionfruit & Poetry” by Téa Cooper

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallThanks for hosting me today Susana.

Everyone always asks where did you get the inspiration for your story. Sometimes that can be very hard to answer – a dream, an idea, an overheard conversation, a million snippets from you-can’t-remember-where

Passionfruit & Poetry is one of those stories where the answer is really easy but it has a bit of backstory so I thought I’d share!

I live just outside a tiny little village called Wollombi. I like to say it is a time-warp village. Nothing much has changed since the early nineteenth century and it is unashamedly the inspiration for my historical romances. However living in such a delightful place does have its disadvantages and one of them is shopping. You can get a great cappuccino, have a fantastic Italian meal, buy a newspaper and a bottle of milk but the ordinary everyday necessities of life are a bit harder to come by and require a 30km (twenty miles about) drive to the nearest supermarket. It’s not my favourite occupation so I have to be bribed.

Cessnock, the local ‘town’ has a great cake shop and my bribe, after I’ve hit the supermarket, is a ‘treat’ and a coffee. They make the most excellent cakes and pies and other naughtinesses. That is inspiration point number one.

Inspiration point number two is my passion for old black and white movies and I freely admit there is nothing even remotely original about my choice. Casablanca rates right up there, probably in first, second and even third place. I think I can probably quote the entire script.

If you add Rick’s line “of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world she walks into mine,” to the cake shop in Cessnock you can actually come up with the plot behind Passionfruit & Poetry.

So, with apologies to Murray Bennett and Joan Allison, who wrote the original play Everyone Comes to Rick’s on which the film is based, the blurb for Passionfruit & Poetry ought to read… “Of all the milk bars, in all the country towns, in all of Australia he walked into hers.”

And there you have it!

Inspiration strikes at the strangest time and in the strangest places.

About Passionfruit & Poetry

PassionfruitandPoetry_TeaCooper_200x300When Xander Fitzgerald, darling photographer of the Sydney fashion scene, takes a shot of Jeanie Baker his ISO settings hit red alert and no one’s life is ever the same again.

Jeanie believes she is content–a small town girl happy running the Café Cinématique with her grandmother but with Xander’s arrival her life takes an unexpected turn and she finds herself unwillingly thrown into the limelight.

For a girl with few ambitions Jeanie’s new life is at once both terrifying and strangely liberating and in Xander’s company she blossoms into a woman she hardly recognizes. But the sophisticated life of Sydney is full of smoke and mirrors and when her past comes back to haunt her all she wants is to head home, back to passionfruit pie and her grandmother’s warm hug.

Xander discovers he can’t have his cake and eat it too. He has to make some serious decisions but is he prepared to give away everything he has worked for to win the woman he first glimpsed through the lens of his camera?

Amazon

Excerpt

Copyright 2013, Téa Cooper

All rights reserved, Crimson Romance.

With a steadying breath, Jeanie walked up, hand outstretched and a tight smile plastered on her face. “Good morning, Mr. Fitzgerald.”

He turned and a gasp of surprise froze in her throat. Colored contacts. It had to be—his eyes were exactly the same navy as his shirt. Definitely contacts. Somehow her hand ended up in his—she glanced down at it and something jumped inside her, then she jerked her hand back as he started to speak.

“Good morning, you must be Jeanie. Your grandmother was just telling me about the lovely little business she’s been running here for longer than I can believe.”

Forcing her lips back into a smile Jeanie studied the navy-eyed smooth talker, trying to ignore the coy titters emanating from the direction of her grandmother. On closer inspection he wasn’t as young as she’d thought, which was probably why Gran was making such a fool of herself. Once a man turned thirty, he was fair game in Gran’s book—any younger and she deemed it cradle snatching.

Fine lines radiated out from the corners of his eyes and the non-designer stubble on his chin gave him an almost negligent air, as though he’d been in a bit of a hurry to leave the house, and the creased linen shirt only added to it.

She cleared her throat and beat down the flush on her cheeks. “We don’t get many complaints. Gran’s the talented one. I just make the coffee and clear the tables.”

His vivid gaze roamed backward and forward across her face and a shot of something as potent as the brandy Gran put in her Christmas cakes raced through her. Her toes tingled. She lifted her hand to her face and brushed her hair away from her forehead. Perhaps they’d need the fans on with all these extra people around. It was very warm in the café.

“Have we met before?” he asked.

Susana Says: So much more than a Cinderella story…5/5 stars

Jeanie and her grandmother Norma are barely managing to eke out a living from the café they run in a rural Australian village. It’s not much, but they have each other, and Jeanie feels safe and secure, out of the limelight.

SusanaSays3Until a famous photographer comes to town for a photography shoot…and suddenly Jeanie’s spirited away to the bright lights of Sydney, where she discovers depths she never knew she possessed. The new Jeanie emerges from her cocoon as a beautiful, desirable butterfly, and slowly but surely the fears of the past disappear with the ugly trappings of her former prison.

Inspired by Marilyn Monroe and Ms. Cooper’s passion for old movies, this is the story of a lovely young woman whose size-fourteen curves and unpleasant childhood memories have given her a feeling of unworthiness and a compulsion to huddle in the background so as not to call attention to herself. Xander is the photographer who manages to free her from her prison, but could he be playing some cruel game with her? Will Jeanie have the courage to face her fears and risk everything to win the love of her life?

Any book that has me laughing or crying all the way through it is bound to be a winner. With Passionfruit & Poetry it was tears, although they became happy tears as the book came to an end. This story will resonate with any reader who knows what it’s like to go through school chubbier than the other kids her age.

I loved the characters of Jeanie and her eccentric grandmother, and Xander, from what I knew of him, was a very special man as well. I only wish I knew more about Xander’s life and what made him such a perceptive, honorable, and worthy hero. Most of all, however, I wonder if there are any more around where he came from. (Seems to me there are too many guys around like Billy Westward, unfortunately.)

Passionfruit & Poetry is Ms. Cooper’s fourth romance novel, with a fifth, a historical, due in July. Based on this one and Tree Change, which I read earlier, I would not hesitate to designate her a great new talent on the romance horizon.

About the Author

Téa writes contemporary and historical romance featuring strong-minded women and irresistible Australian men.  She has written three contemporary Australia romances—Tree Change, The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry. Her love for old movies and all things ‘retro’ inspired Passionfruit & Poetry–and, in all honesty, the most disgustingly delicious passionfruit and lemon tarts made by her local patisserie.

To keep up with all of Téa’s news visit her website www.teacooperauthor.com where you will find links to her blog and social media pages.

Previous posts by Téa on Susana’s Morning Room:

Tree Change, a contemporary Australian romance

The Protea Boysa contemporary Australian romance

Lily’s Leapa historical romance set in Australia

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4 thoughts on ““Passionfruit & Poetry” by Téa Cooper

  1. Oh! Wow! thanks Susana for such a lovely review. I am so pleased you enjoyed Jeanie’s story! I loved writing it and I am thrilled to share it with you!
    And thanks for hosting me too!!

  2. What a great review! Téa, you’ll have to let me know which cake shop was the inspiration for the book!

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