Just For Her
To the world Jules von Habsburg has a privileged, fairy-tale life, but married to the cruel robber baron Dominic DeRohan, she’s living a nightmare. After he shoots her lover, Jules flees to the Cote d’Azur and lives among the artists, writers and expatriates who flock to the bohemian paradise.
One night the infamous cat burglar known as the Panther climbs through her window. Jules realizes he’s the man who can dispose of her husband, but he’s no killer—unless she gives him something in return. The Panther will settle for nothing less than her body and soul. They begin an affair, and Jules begins to desire the Panther far more than is wise—for he holds a secret that could shatter her world.
The South of France has been, for me, the scene of both crushing defeat and joyous vindication. On my first trip there, with my sister in the late ’70s, I fell in love with the Cote d’Azur. It filled me with a sense of magical possibility and the dream of someday returning as a published writer, worthy of the glamorous setting.
When I did return, with my husband and young daughter in 1988, I had many reasons to feel happy. We’d come to France directly from a three-week journey to China. My husband was covering the Cannes Film Festival, so everything was being charged to his expense account. I was surrounded by the same sunshine and glamour that had inspired me a decade earlier. But I still hadn’t been published and, after a recent rejection, everyone was advising me to give up. So this time the setting seemed to mock me, to rub in my face the fact that I was still struggling after all these years, that I might never be able to make my dream come true.
But I didn’t give up and by the time I returned to the French Riviera for a third trip to research my twelfth book, JUST FOR HER, the dream had come true. This time, my reunion with this heaven-on-earth couldn’t have been sweeter. Everything—the light, the color, the effervescent air, the breathtaking beauty all around—seemed to be telling me that this is where I belong, this is where my soul will always be the happiest.
This emotion became the keynote of my heroine, Juliana von Habsburg, and the reason why she will always be one of my favorite characters.
And when I look back on that sad young woman who saw all this splendor through disenchanted eyes, I wish I could tell her what I now know. That nothing is unattainable. That no one knows what you’re capable of but you.
Just for Her