Shhh. A secret. When I first dreamed of being an author, the last thing I thought I’d write was romantic fiction. I worked on thrillers, children’s books, YA and even fantasy. But never romance. I didn’t consider myself a romantic kind of person, at least not in the conventional way.

Meant To Be

Meant To Be

Romantic fiction was selling well however, so I decided I had nothing to loose by having a try. However I remained sceptical. The expectations seemed so rigid: the meet-cute, the breakup, the happy ever after, and all those familiar tropes and conventions readers would be looking for – the love triangles, enemies-to-lovers, opposites attract, rakes, hunks and manic pixie dream-girls! I thought I’d find the experience stifling, but to my surprise it was . . . ludicrously enjoyable.

What I’ve learned is that, at its core, romantic fiction is about human interaction. Writing it can feel like a form of psychology – timeless, fundamental and endlessly fascinating. It’s such a pleasure to create a cast of quirky, interesting characters then hang out with them in my head. I then add a dose of tantalising escapism, the chance to ‘go’ to any continent, any city, any era. For instance, in my latest book, Meant To Be, the story travels to Old Hollywood, the Welsh mountains and Portobello Road antiques market.

Several romance novels in, I’ve been further surprised by the way I’ve come to love writing sweet and fateful meet-cutes, imbuing them with swoon-worthy charm. My greatest wish is that my readers say ‘Aw!’ I also love the challenge of creating character chemistry, not just the sexual sizzle – although that’s always important – but the banter, which might be humorous, intense or heart-warming. I love to write scenes where my characters riff off each other, where the conversation flows and sparkles.

Once the physical and mental attraction is confirmed, there’s a third layer: emotional intimacy. This is where it gets deep and the story becomes more than just two people flirting. And for me, this is what it’s all about. I want to show on the page my belief that the best kind of romance, the most meaningful kind, happens when two people are willing to let their guards down, be vulnerable and show all sides of themselves. This is where the L-word takes flight.

Meant To Be explores the very idea that opening up to another person – the right person – can change your life and help move you forward, not just in your relationship, but within yourself. My lead character, Jess Taylor, after a lifetime of mistakes, believes she’s finally found the ideal man for her – sensible, stable Tim, whom everyone approves of – but when her ailing grandmother asks her to retrieve a long-lost heirloom necklace, with a mysterious reputation for leading its wearer to their soul mate, Jess’s romantic destiny starts hurtling in another direction. The question is, with two different men in her sphere, which of them is meant to be?

About Meant To Be 

Love can happen when you least expect it . . . After a spate of terrible boyfriends, Jess is sure she's found her perfect man in dependable - but occasionally dull - Tim. But when her grandmother, tasks her with retrieving a family heirloom from a local auction she finds herself face to face with a charming stranger, Guy.

Guy has already bought her grandmother's precious necklace and whilst Jess desperately tries to buy it back from him, he somehow convinces her to go out on a date instead. Ridiculous. But Guy has the necklace and Jess's grandmother's health is declining rapidly.

Jess has no choice but to indulge Guy and go on a date with - if only to get the necklace back.

Will saving the necklace risk disrupting Jess's happily-ever-after? And will she care if it does?

About Louisa Leaman 

Louisa Leaman was born, raised and now lives near Epping Forest. She studied Art History at Leeds University before becoming a teacher working with children with special needs. After winning the Times Education Supplement’s New Writer’s Award, she turned her hand to writing books for children. Louisa currently writes content for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, but has also been published in the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent and The Times Educational Supplement. Her interest in the arts is often inspiration for her plots and her first book, The Perfect Dress, was inspired by the V&As large wedding dress collection and fulfils her dream of writing romantic fiction. When she isn’t busy writing or rearing her three lively children, she paints portraits, takes long walks and spends far too long browsing vintage clothing shops.

RELATED: My favourite romance novels by Georgia Toffolo, author of Meet Me In Hawaii

Since I was little, I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and thought it was the perfect setting that allowed readers to escape to the tranquil beaches after a difficult year. The book is jam-packed with fun, feelgood sunshine and friendship – as well as a sizzling romance of course! It’s been a pure joy to work with my co-author, Rachael Stewart, to tell the story of Malie and Todd, as well as the four girls’ friendship which I feel so passionately about. I hope you love reading it. Lots of love, Georgia x