Once upon a time, many years ago, when her two boys were small, and she was a stay at home mom, Christine Merrill decided it was time to fulfill her childhood dream and become a writer.

Since romance writers were obviously the easiest sort of writer to be, she would do that. And she would live the lapdog petting, chaise lounging, tiara wearing life, just like Barbara Cartland, and be happy ever after.

Years passed. She wandered in the wilderness and was punished for her hubris. She learned about writing: why it is bad to head hop, why she should have listened closer in 8th grade English on the whole ‘comflict thing’, and first hand what it was like to live stages three through eleven of the Hero’s Journey.

And then, everything changed. She won the RWA’s Golden Heart contest for unpublished manuscripts. The winning story, soon to be known as THE INCONVENIENT DUCHESS, was bought by the contest judges, the delightful editors at Mills & Boon, in Richmond, Surrey.

Chris is now living the life of her dreams which, strangely enough, is a lot like the life she always had. Her tiara is plastic and lights up if you press a button. Her chaise is an overstuffed recliner, and the labradoodle lounging on it thinks that, at seventy pounds, he is still puppy enough to sit on her lap.

Her family has kept its sense of humor about her career change. Her sons are teenagers, and emphatically do not want to know what she’s writing. Her husband is adept at dodging questions about ‘romance writing research’. Her goldfish are unimpressed by her success and her cat doesn’t give a damn either.

And she lives happily ever after.