From the pen of Christina Courtenay 

I love going to art galleries and always make sure I see the latest ones on offer (unless it’s modern art, which I’m afraid I just don’t “get”).  Sometimes though I just wander round the permanent exhibitions, such as the National Gallery here in London, where some of the artwork on display is truly fabulous.

It was during one such trip that I came across a portrait by Anthony Van Dyck, my favourite painter, and it triggered an idea for a story then and there.  ‘Cornelis van der Geest’ was the title of the painting and it’s just a face with an enormous white ruff underneath the chin, almost as if the head of this man is sitting on a huge plate.  It wasn’t this that fired my imagination, however, but his eyes and the way his face had been painted.  They looked so real, I was sure Cornelis was going to start talking to me any second!

‘Cornelis van der Geest’  by Anthony Van Dyck

‘Cornelis van der Geest’ by Anthony Van Dyck. He’s eerily lifelike!

Van Dyck was a genius when it came to painting portraits, and in this one he had excelled himself.  He had created what seemed like a living, breathing man.  One who, if he’d had the rest of his body painted too, could have climbed out of the frame and walked off.  And I couldn’t stop looking at him!  That’s when the “what ifs” started to crowd into my head …

Tomorrow is official publication day for my new time slip novel The Secret Kiss of Darkness, and the above is more or less what happens to the heroine.  Except in her case the painting she sees isn’t of an old man’s head, but a complete man – young, handsome, charismatic and irresistible.  So naturally she has to buy him and of course, she falls in love. There’s just the small matter of her fiancé, who isn’t massively happy with this turn of events …


Must forbidden love end in heartbreak?

Kayla Sinclair knows she’s in big trouble when she almost bankrupts herself to buy a life-size portrait of a mysterious eighteenth century man at an auction.

Jago Kerswell, inn-keeper and smuggler, knows there is danger in those stolen moments with Lady Eliza Marcombe, but he’ll take any risk to be with her.

Over two centuries separate Kayla and Jago, but when Kayla’s jealous fiancé presents her with an ultimatum, and Jago and Eliza’s affair is tragically discovered, their lives become inextricably linked thanks to a gypsy’s spell. Kayla finds herself on a quest that could heal the past, but what she cannot foresee is the danger in her own future.

Will Kayla find heartache or happiness? 

TSKOD_packshot copyKeep in touch with Christina on Twitter and Facebook!






5 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. Thanks, Laura, glad it’s not just me! He really freaked me out the first time I saw him 😀

  2. Those Dutch paintings are eerily lifelike. It looks as if he could walk out of the frame and speak to us right now. I’m looking forward to reading your new book, Christina.

  3. Am loving Jago, Pia. And Wes.

    The problem with your heroes is that they could make us females feel very dissatisfied! Like a child in a toy shop might say…I want one!!

    The Van Dyck painting is incredible. To be able to paint so that your subject looks almost like a photograph is such a special talent. I don’t think it’s something you can learn to do if the gift isn’t there to start with.

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