Title: The Sweet Spot
Series: Appleton Vale, Book 1
Author: Anneli Lort
Cover Artist: Louise Mizen Ferguson
Release Date: July 4, 2017
Romance Genre(s): Contemporary, Sports
Olivia escapes London to overcome memories of heartbreak, and moves to Appleton Vale to ghostwrite the autobiography of Sebastian Bloom, former world number one golfer and global icon. But he doesn’t make things easy for her; Olivia is not ready for a new relationship and fights her feelings for Sebastian.
Their story comes to a head at the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, The Open Championship, where Sebastian’s return to form sets up an explosive clash with his lifelong rival, Troy McLoud.
As the lives of Olivia, Sebastian and the residents of Appleton Vale interweave, passions flare and the stakes rise.
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Olivia Carmichael is an award winning sports journalist who lives in Appleton Vale with her soon-to-be husband Sebastian Bloom. Sebastian is the world’s number one golfer and a global sporting icon. When they are not travelling for Sebastian’s career they reside at Appleton Manor with their dogs, horses, donkeys and turtles.
1) What did you really think and feel when you met Sebastian for the first time?
Honestly? I went a little weak at the knees [Laughs]. He has such an electrifying presence and it can be a little unnerving at times. I thought he was a bit arrogant but I expected that. I’m no stranger to sports stars with egos. There’s no denying how gorgeous he is though. I’m a very lucky woman!
2) Sebastian seemed like a difficult person to work with – what was the hardest part of your writing journey with him?
Sebastian was a completely closed book when I met him. He was happy to talk about golf but not much else and it’s the personal insight and stories that make an autobiography. The hardest part initially was getting him to feel comfortable enough to trust me with his story and also learning how to read his mood. It was harder towards the end as we both had such strong feelings for each other and were in denial about it. There was this electrically charged atmosphere whenever we were together. It’s hard to concentrate when that’s going on!
3) Moving to Appleton Vale was a big change from living in the City. If it hadn’t been for the job, would you still have moved to the country?
I’m slightly ashamed to say that I initially used Appleton Vale as a bolt-hole after everything that happened in my previous relationship. It was always my intention to go back to London but I quickly came to love the village and the surrounding countryside. It gave me a sense of freedom that I never had in the city and it felt good to breathe in the fresh air. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would fall in love here and now my life has changed forever. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
4) What do you love most about Appleton Vale?
It’s a beautiful, peaceful village and I’ve made a lot of good friends here already. We’re a real community but that does of course come with its downsides – gossip is rife and nothing is sacred – but that’s what makes it real. Sometimes I feel like we’re living in this delicious little bubble that’s hidden from the outside world. Every time Sebastian and I go away we’re both itching to get back home and away from all the madness that comes with his celebrity. At home he’s just Sebastian.
5) What’s it like being Lady of the Manor?
[Laughs] I certainly don’t see myself as that. For starters there’s no title and there’s a distinct lack of airs and graces. The manor has been in the Bloom family for generations but it is a family home first and foremost. I’m a little wary of the antiques as I’d hate to break anything but I love living here and it never feels anything other than cozy – which is ridiculous when you think about the size of it!
My favourite room is Sebastian’s study. I think I spend more time in there than he does. There’s a marvellous and eclectic collection of books - some first editions – and I can spend hours browsing for something new to snuggle down with in front of the fire.
6) Will you go with Sebastian on tour? If you can’t always go with him, do you trust the strength of your relationship to keep you together?
I learned a lot from spending time with Sebastian on Tour and seeing how the other wives and girlfriends cope with the separation or with the constant travelling. I’m lucky that I can write anywhere so I’ll be travelling with him as much as possible. That will most likely change when we have a family but that’s a while off yet!
I trust him implicitly. We’ve both been badly hurt in the past and never want to experience that again but I’m completely sure of his love for me and I’m insanely in love with him. We’re strong enough to survive anything!
7) What are you currently working on?
I’m still freelancing for The Times and a few other magazines but I’ve just sat down to write my first novel. Up until now I’ve only written factual books but this one is pure fiction. I’m excited to finally be doing something for me.
8) Why did you choose to focus your writing career in sports?
When you get behind the scenes at any sporting event you see a whole different world full of excitement and drama. In the main the athletes are decent, intelligent people (unless we’re talking about football!) and that’s what makes it a nice industry to work in. Every day is different and it keeps things fresh. One day I’ll be writing about golf and the next it will be an ‘at home with David and Victoria Beckham’. That’s variety for you!
9) What advice do you have to city dwellers thinking about escaping to the country?
Be sure you’re ready. Once you sell up you’ll never be able to afford to go back. Get a great pair of wellies. Spend a lot of time in the village pub – it’s where you’ll make friends. Get a dog – not that you need an excuse to enjoy the countryside on your doorstep.
10) Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Exactly where I am right now. I belong here, with Sebastian, in this wonderful village. I’d like to think that we’ll have a couple of children by then and that I’m a renowned author of fiction. And we’ll have more dogs – lots more dogs!
In a public relations career that spanned more than two decades Anneli worked closely with elite professionals at the highest level and with some of the world’s biggest sporting companies. With this came an access-all-areas pass to the greatest sports events on the planet where she saw for herself the tension, drama and emotions that were played out behind the scenes. While TV audiences around the world watched the sporting excitement unfold, she was there to witness first-hand what really happened before and afterwards – the untold stories the rest of the world never got to see.This is the rich and enviable background she brings to her debut novel - The Sweet Spot.
Anneli lives in a village much like her fictional creation - Appleton Vale - that is nestled against the foothills of the South Downs. She spends her days working in brand communications, writing, walking her dog – Hector – and riding her New Forest Pony Henry. The dog shares the house; the horse has his own rather spacious accommodation.
Anneli is currently writing the second novel in the Appleton Vale series - The Country Club - which will be on sale in December 2017.
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To celebrate the release of her bestselling debut, The Sweet Spot, Anneli is giving away a £20 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. For your chance to win, enter via the Rafflecopter below. The contest closes at midnight EST on September 8, 2017, and is open to entrants worldwide.
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