The first M&B that made me sit up and think, ‘Hey, this is really good,’ rather than sniggering was Devil Within by Catherine George. I loved the setting – a mining camp in Brazil – perhaps because it felt very familiar to me. I’ve never been to South America, but I spent quite a lot of my childhood in places like that, in Africa, Papua New Guinea and Oman, and I could picture the house and the garden and the club exactly. I vividly remember reading it in Raffles Hotel in Singapore, in 1984, but I’ve no idea now where I bought it. I’ve still got it on my shelves: the cover has lasted pretty well, don’t you think? Of course, Saul would never have worn a pink neckerchief (what was the artist thinking???) but I love the suggestion of a market behind, and check out the Land Rover! The ultimate romantic car (my first real kiss was pressed up against a Land Rover, and I’ve never got over it!)
Another book I remember really enjoying was by Mary Wibberley. It was called something like Gold from Peru, and it was about a heroine who was stuck in South America and disguised as a boy, and she and the hero ended up pretending to be married, or maybe they actually got married with the idea they would divorce as soon as they got back to England. Can’t remember now, but there was a terrific sexual attraction between them and he was sort of engaged to a very nice girl at home, so there was a Big Problem. I’ve always thought that a really nice other woman is much more of a threat than the manipulative bitch. An exotic setting, a marriage of convenience, great characters … what was not to like?
Anyway, I'm always interested to know which books other people really love. It’s amazing how possessive we all feel about our favourite books. I always get really cross if other Georgette Heyer fans, for instance, don’t like my favourites (The Talisman Ring, The Grand Sophy, Friday’s Child) and insist that Venetia or These Old Shades are better … I mean, how wrong can you be?