About Helen Pollard
A Yorkshire lass at heart, I’m glad to say I outgrew my rebellious teenage vow never to be stuck in the suburbs with a husband and the obligatory two kids . . . I’m happily married, have two almost-independent almost-adults, and it turns out I don’t mind suburbia after all!
We share space with a Jekyll and Hyde cat that alternates between being obsessively affectionate and viciously psychotic. Antiseptic cream is always close at hand.
I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. It went on the back burner while I juggled work and bringing up a family, but as the kids grew older and I started to write again, it was like rediscovering an old love. When I’m writing, my characters magically take over and I’m caught up in their story – until I realise my son has no clean socks, the casserole is burning and the cat is jumping on my keyboard because I’ve neglected to feed her for . . . oh, at least forty minutes.
When I’m not writing, it goes without saying that I love to read, especially authors who can take me out of myself and into another world.
1. We have had the pleasure to interview you before but for our new viewers could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Yorkshire with my husband, two almost-adults and a psychotic cat. When I'm not writing, I enjoy reading, decent coffee (but only one a day!), watching old TV programmes . . . and I would like to get back into scrapbooking and collage, which I used to do when I had more time.
2. Where did you get the idea for Holding Back?
It was definitely the setting. I'd visited that area of northern Portugal a couple of times, and it was so beautiful and friendly there, it stayed with me until my imagination came up with the characters and story to go with it.
3. Is Quinta Maria an actual 'hotel'?
No, it doesn't exist, but I stayed somewhere similar about twenty years ago, so those memories acted as a basis for my imaginary hotel.
4. I read on your website that you have signed up with Bookouture for two books. CONGRATULATIONS! Can you tell us a bit about The Little French Guesthouse? which
will be published in April.
Thank you – it's so exciting! The Little French Guesthouse is set in the Loire region of France and tells the story of Emmy, who starts out on holiday and ends up on a journey of self-discovery, with mishaps, hope, friendship and down-to-earth humour all playing a part along the way.
5. In 10 things we might not know about you it says that you hate discourtesy. In Holding Back
Laura and Daniel are not really polite to each other in the beginning. How did it make you feel
to write about that?
Ha! That's an interesting point! I wanted my characters to be different from my first romance, Warm Hearts in Winter, where the hero and heroine rather liked each other from the outset and it was mainly a question of getting them past their personal demons to consider a future together. In Holding Back, Daniel and Laura don't get on at all at first, despite a mutual attraction. As for how I felt writing that . . . the main thing for me was that they each have a good reason for their behavior at the time – fatigue, business or family worries, and a general resistance to romance! And they soon develop respect for each other, even if they can't see eye to eye."
6. If you could go on a holiday anywhere you'd like where would you go?
I've never been to Italy and feel it's about time I got around to it!
7. What place/country/city do you recommend to at least visit once in your life?
It's hard to pick, but I'm rather fond of Whitby in North Yorkshire, a fishing town with a superb sense of history, a lively atmosphere and fabulous coastal scenery.
8. Can you tell us one of your favorite quotes?
I saw one just the other day that I really liked, from Oscar Wilde:
"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
I love that. Simple but important. I think as you get older, you become more comfortable in your own skin.
9. If you would have become a writer what would be the next best thing for you?
Now I've got going with my writing, that's a hard one to answer, but it would have to be something where I felt I was making a contribution in some small way.
10. With what thoughts would you like to leave us?
It’s a cliché, I know, but you really can never please all the people all the time. I'm still daft enough to try sometimes, but I worry less about it as the years go by. As long as you are doing your best and what you think is right, that's all anyone can reasonably ask of you.
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Laura's best friend has a hotel in Portugal together with her husband. Every year during her summer break Laura will go to Portugal and help out for three weeks so that her friends can go on a holiday. Being a teacher Laura likes things organized. She is feisty with a thoughtful heart and knows exactly what she wants in life. What she doesn't want however is love. She has seen what love can do to a person when it goes bad and Laura will do anything she can to prevent that from happening to her.
Daniel is a businessman. He travels around the world looking for places he can recommend to his customers. He owns his own company with his brother. His brother cannot do the traveling so that part of the job is all for Daniel. In the past he has made some tough decisions because he put his family and the business first. Daniel is tired and worn out and is asking himself what he can do to change the current situation.
Laura and Daniel meet each other at the airport and get into a heated discussion together. They are both astonished when they meet again at the hotel Quinta Maria. Will they be able to find a way towards each other despite of everything that's holding them back?
I am always in the mood for a good love story and I got everything I needed from Holding Back. Laura is such a sweetheart combined with a fierce character. She will do anything for the people she loves and she will do it with all of her heart. My heart went out to Daniel. Underneath his heated comments actually hides a family man, someone who puts the needs of others before his own.
These characters warmed my heart and I was really hoping that they would find each other in the end. Helen Pollard has done an amazing job creating the scenery. I have been to Portugal myself and I had no troubles picturing the hotel. When I would close my eyes I could see myself walking there and taking in the beautiful surroundings.
This story proved to me that whatever you do to close up your heart and no matter how many walls you pull up love will always find you. Holding Back is a love story that will warm everybody's heart.
Review by Suze
Laura is a teacher who spends her summers in Portugal. There she runs a hotel for her friends, so they have a chance to go on holiday as well. When she arrives at the airport she has a conflict with another traveler. His name is Daniel and he later appears to be a guest of the hotel. They keep having misunderstandings and they often clash. Daniel is at the hotel for work though and Laura should keep him on her side. When they get to know each other better they find that they are very much attracted to one another. Only they both have reasons not to let anyone in...
Holding Back has an amazing setting. I loved the choice of the beautiful hotel and its surroundings in Portugal. It's the perfect location for a story. The main characters are likable and I was interested in what would happen to them from the start. Daniel doesn't have much time to relax and traveling is work, not leisure time. He's tired and has lost the joy that traveling should bring. Together with Laura he tries to find it back, but Laura doesn't trust men and doesn't want to let him in. Together that made a good foundation for a story.
I loved the romance, the sunny summer weather and the conversations between Laura and Daniel. They both have a strong personality and they fight for what they believe in. Laura is decisive which is something she needs in her work. I liked reading about everything that was going on in the hotel. I hoped the main characters would choose to take a leap and grab their chance at happiness. Choosing what's right is lovely advice to give to the readers. I really enjoyed reading this book and think Helen Pollard is a great romantic writer.
Suze will give away several kindle copies of Holding Back as part of her happy mail project. Leave a comment and let us know your e-mail address.