Guest Post, Review & Excerpt- Holding Back by Helen Pollard

HoldingBack - coverThe last thing they’re looking for is love …

Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends’ hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.

Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn’t have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.

As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?



“Excuse me. You’ve picked up the wrong bag.”

Deep and decisive, the voice startled Laura from behind as she loaded her luggage onto her hard-won airport trolley.

“No, I don’t think so.” She swung round to confront the voice’s owner. Unnerved to find him towering over her, she took a step back, stumbling over her trolley in the process.

With lightning speed, he reached out to catch her arm, his grip strong as he helped her regain her balance. When she was upright again, she took in piercing blue eyes, thick dark brown hair, a hint of stubble on a tanned face—and felt an immediate jolt of attraction.

Laura ignored it. “I can manage, thank you,” she snapped, thinking she wouldn’t have tripped if he hadn’t surprised her like that.

He released his hold and raised an eyebrow. “As I said, you have my bag.”

Pushing away long strands of chestnut-brown hair that had dared escape their ponytail, Laura returned his gaze.

“No, this is definitely mine.” She was hot, harassed, and late. The last thing she needed was a futile argument over her own luggage!

“Would you mind if I check?”

“Help yourself.” Unable to disguise her impatience, Laura waved at it, adding, “But I am in a hurry.” She winced at the hostile tone in her voice, but she really didn’t have time for this. Tapping her foot in irritation, she waited to be proved right as he crouched over her trolley.

“Would you care to look?” he asked.

Laura’s foot stopped tapping. Recognising undisguised triumph on his face, she read the label over his shoulder with trepidation, but there it was in black and white—Daniel Stone, London Gatwick to Porto. The heat that rose in her cheeks seemed to burn right through her skin.

“But it’s the same as mine!” she blustered, watching with embarrassment as he hoisted the heavy bag from the trolley with ease.

“It’s hardly a unique design,” he commented, shrugging broad shoulders. “If you weren’t in such a tearing hurry, you might have spotted your own on the carousel.”

Laura spun around to see her bag riding forlornly around with the few that were left. Mortified, she opened her mouth to apologise.

But he spoke first. “Personally, I would advocate that old saying ‘More haste, less speed.'” His tone softened a little as he added, “I’m sorry, but you’re not the only hot, tired person whose flight was delayed, you know.” And off he strolled through the terminal, his bag flung over his shoulder, without a backward glance.


A dedicated teacher and friend, Laura Matherson, spends a portion of her summer vacation tending to her friends hotel while they take some much needed time off. Unattached and not the least bit interested in a relationship, she looks forward to the yearly ritual and enjoys having something to fill her days.

A headstrong workaholic, Daniel Stone, is on the constant move, travelling with little time to stop and enjoy any of beautiful places he visits. Keeping his business going is top priority. Putting distance between him and a pesky ex runs a close second. He’s not looking for anything other than to stay put for a few days in the same place, but then he meets Laura and she becomes quite a distraction in more ways than one.

Ms. Pollard has written a lovely story that is simply about all the small details. I felt as if I were in Portugal without ever having visited there and her ability to pull out emotions is completely outstanding. At times I became so utterly frustrated with Laura, I wanted to smack her. But in the end, it all comes together and you sit back and realize, that’s what makes a good story. One that makes you deeply feel and understand at the same time.

Set in sunny Portugal, Holding Back is a perfect summer read, filled with the right amount angst, a bit of humor and a sweet clean romance that leaves you happy in the end.


Please say hello and welcome Helen Pollard, who has graciously given me not only an excerpt to share with you, but she’s also taken the time to answer a few questions.  Hello Helen and thank you for stopping by.

First, tell us what is your favorite part about the writing process?

I like the unexpectedness of it best. I don’t really outline much at the start – I’ll have a basic idea in mind, and certain points or events that I definitely want to get to, but beyond that, I tend to allow my characters to take me where they want to go. It’s more fun that way.

I’m always curious to know how long someone has been writing or when they first knew they wanted to be a writer.  Do you have a defining moment or was it something that’s always been there?

I know all authors say this, but it’s true – I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. I don’t recall a time when I didn’t feel the urge to write. As a child, I had a vivid imagination fuelled by my love of reading, so I started to write my own stories in a notebook (I still have it, although it’s a little ragged now!)

You work full time, have a family and write. How do you manage it all?

By being grumpy and tired! You would think it should be a little easier now, as my daughter is at university for some of the year and my son is sixteen so he doesn’t need me as much! But my elderly parents are taking up more of my time these days, and promo and marketing seems to take up the rest.

Recently, I reduced my hours at work a little, the idea being to spend that time purely on writing … but something else always seems to fill the available space. I can’t honestly say that I write each day. I tend to have spurts at it when the mood takes me strongly enough for me to put everything else aside.

Holding Back is your sophomore novel.  I’m lucky enough to have had the pleasure of reading both it and your debut, Warm Hearts In Winter.  I immediately noticed that they vastly differ in setting and season. How important is it for you to have visited the places you write about?

For me, it’s very important. To be honest, I don’t think I would dare write about a place I’d never visited! I know you can research everywhere on the internet nowadays, and I still do a little of that to get my facts straight, but if I hadn’t been somewhere, I wouldn’t know if I was being accurate enough. I’d always worry about making mistakes!

Besides, I like both my characters and the setting of my books to come to life for the reader. If I’ve been to a place, I can try to give a real sense of it – sights, sounds, smells, the whole experience.

What inspired you to write Holding Back?

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 ca

Can you tell us about your characters?

I wanted Daniel and Laura to be quite different from the couple in my first romance, Warm Hearts in Winter. In that story, the hero and heroine rather liked each other from the outset, so it was mainly a question of getting them past their personal demons to consider a future together.

But in Holding Back, Daniel and Laura don’t get on at all at first, despite – or perhaps because of – a mutual attraction. Both are resistant to romance, Laura because of her past, Daniel because of his present. Since my characters tend to develop a mind of their own as I write, getting them together proved more of a challenge than I’d envisioned!

Lastly, tell us a little bit about what you’re currently working on.

I’m polishing up a manuscript that I actually wrote before my two published romances. It’s set mainly in the Loire region of France, but this one isn’t a straightforward romance – I guess it’s contemporary women’s fiction with humor, and just an element of romance … which makes it more difficult to find a home for. But I personally love it, so I’m going to keep trying.

And your favorites- because I’m nosy 🙂

Color                   blue
Holiday               coastal
Food                     lemon sorbet
Season                 Spring
Time of Day       mid-morning (coffee time!)
Book                     Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen by P.G. Wodehouse
Hobby                  writing, of course! & reading
Type of Music   mellow (e.g. Jack Johnson, Simon & Garfunkel)

Helen Pollard author picHelen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor – to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love … and we all need a little love, right?

A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When she’s not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.



Comments ( 4 )

  1. ReplyHelen Pollard

    Thanks so much for having me on your lovely new-look blog, Dena - and, of course, for the review :)

    • Replydenarogers

      You're most welcome, Helen and it was my pleasure to read Holding Back. Such a sweet love story!

  2. ReplyChristina Lorenzen

    I enjoyed getting to know you, Helen. Wonderful interview. I've bought your book - now all I need is the time to read it. Best to you!

    • ReplyHelen Pollard

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Christina. I hope you enjoy it!

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