It’s always a pleasure to welcome another member of Book Connectors to Being Anne, and today I’m delighted to introduce you to Ellie Darkins. Her latest novel, Holiday with the Mystery Italian, is published by Mills and Boon Cherish on 1st December.
Since the accident that paralyzed him, Italian tycoon Mauro Evans vowed to embrace life. So when he stars in a dating show for charity, picking prickly journalist Amber Harris as the winner to take on holiday is a challenge he can’t resist! In Amber’s experience, relationships equal pain, so she’s determined to ignore her attraction to charismatic Mauro. But his bravery and strength threaten to tear down her defenses, giving her a new Christmas dream—ringing in the New Year with wedding bells!
When Ellie suggested writing a guest post about her love affair with Sicily, I thought it was simply perfect. Not many people know this, but I have particularly fond memories of Sicily – it’s where I met a man I almost married, Scottish not Sicilian, but that’s a whole different story! Over to you Ellie…
I owe my love affair with Sicily in part to my little sister. When my husband and I were looking for a honeymoon destination, little sis was working with a travel agency specialising in the island, and she recommended the beautiful seaside town of Cefalù. We did as we were told, booked a tiny apartment in the heart of the old town (actually, we accidentally booked the same apartment she’d stayed in the last time she’d been there) and left the UK with a list of restaurant recommendations we were instructed not to deviate from.
Within half an hour of arriving in Cefalù we were as loved-up with the town as we were with each other. Cobbled medieval streets housed boutique shops and galleries, the smell of Sicilian cooking spilled out of every ristorante and taverna, and as we arrived at the start early in the season, we seemed to always find a table with a view over the sea.
Sicilian food is incredible – and unique. Classic Italian flavours mix with Arabic and North African influences, so you are just as likely to find cous cous on a menu are you are pasta. The local specialities include Arancini, creamy, rich balls of risotto rice, hiding melting mozzarella or tangy tomato in the centre. And caponata, a sweet and sour aubergine salad, which seems to carry a different flavour with every bite.
The beach in Cefalù is long and sandy, and in May was both deserted and warm enough to be blissfully relaxing. Huge pieces of driftwood had washed up among the fishing boats, and it would be too easy to spend every day beneath a parasol, warmed by the sun above and the sand below.
But, as we discovered, there is much more to Sicily than its beaches and food – namely, one enormous volcano. A four hour coach ride through the heart of the island brings you closer to the the grand old lady of the island. And as you climb the slopes, switchback after switchback, it’s impossible to escape the impact of Mother Nature on the country. Great streams of black rock cut into the vegetation, reminders of when molten lava flowed freely down the slopes, uncaring of what, or who, was standing in its way.
The landscape up there is positively lunar in its bleakness: all black rock, white ice (still on the ground in early summer), and when we arrived, crystal clear blue skies. The peak of the mountain was swathed in clouds, which raced down towards us as we climbed, until on the cable car down, we couldn’t see more than a foot in any direction.
With so much to stimulate every sense, incredible sights, sounds, smells and tastes – my goodness the food! – the question wasn’t how I fell in love, but how was I ever supposed to resist?
Ah Ellie, thank you… and how can I possibly disagree?!
Ellie Darkins writes heart-warming stories about falling in love, finding your soul mate and fighting hard to make real relationships work. The HEA is guaranteed, but nothing else along the way is. Expect to see surprise babies, breath-taking settings and alpha heroes by the bucketload. Plus steamy kisses, heaps of sensual tension, and fireworks just audible from behind a closed bedroom door.