Today I am so pleased to welcome Helena Stone to Joyfully Jay. Helena Stone has come to talk to us about her latest release, Double Dutch Courage. She has also brought along a copy to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


Thank you Jay, for inviting me to your wonderful blog today. I’m delighted to share a wonderful coincidence that happened while writing Double Dutch Courage with you and your readers and to be able to offer one of them the chance to win a copy of the book.

‘Write what you know.’

The advice above is often given to authors. In general, I’m not convinced of the truth in that statement. Only writing about what you actually know, or have experienced yourself, can be very restrictive. And with all the ‘easy’ research options we all have at our fingertips these days, there is no good reason not to expand your (and your readers) horizons while crafting a story.

Having said all that, when I decided to set my latest story in Amsterdam, I did write what I knew. After all, I was born there and spent the first thirty-four years of my life in or near that city. So, when I sent my two main characters on a day-long tour around the centre of Amsterdam I didn’t have to resort to Google Earth or other sites; I was able to write their route and the sights they encounter from memory. In fact, only one detail among all those I shared in those two chapters sprang from my imagination…or so I thought.

In Double Dutch Courage Ronan, one of the main characters, is deeply closeted. He’s never even allowed himself to enter a gay club or bar in his home town, Dublin. So, to start him on his journey toward coming out, I needed Ronan to enter such an establishment in Amsterdam. The neighbourhood where that should happen was obvious. It is no secret that Amsterdam’s gay area can be found near Rembrandt’s Plein. The one thing I didn’t know for sure was exactly where those bars and clubs might be located exactly.

I suppose I could have switched to Google to find an existing pub and use that location, but I didn’t. For the story it didn’t make a difference whether or not the pub they visit actually exists, and I was writing a romance, not a tourist guide after all. So, to say I was very happily surprised when I discovered, after the story had been finalized, that there actually is a gay pub in the exact location I used in the story, would be an understatement.

I don’t care whether it was a coincidence or the result of my subconscious knowing Amsterdam even better than I realised. I just marvel at the fact that reality and fiction met in such a wonderful and surprising way.

In the following excerpt Ronan unknowingly follows Lucas to what will be his first visit to a gay establishment:


Fuck. There was no sign of Lucas, as if the crowds had swallowed him. Half-panicked, Ronan turned on his spot, searching his surroundings for any sign of his guide, until he spotted him, turning into a street not too far away. Half running, he followed him, not paying any attention to his surroundings until he was right behind Lucas again. Then he noticed that the makeup of the people surrounding them had changed. Almost everybody was male, and it was impossible not to notice some men kissing each other, holding hands. He had to force himself not to stare as excitement battled with the all too familiar panic inside him.

Lucas halted and turned to Ronan, making an ill-disguised effort to appear relaxed. “This is my go-to pub around here. I eh…hope you’ll like it too.” He walked through the open doorway, came to a standstill a few meters in, and waited for Ronan to catch up.

The hair on Ronan’s neck stood on end. The pub’s interior was dimly lit and it took his eyes a moment to adjust. He glanced around and studied the details. The place was charming and unlike any of the pubs he’d frequented at home. Whereas Irish pubs tended to be large with room for hundreds of drinkers, this place looked as if it would burst at the seams if more than fifty people tried to squeeze in. His first impression was that everything was brown. The wooden bar and furniture combined with the beige walls made the pub look even smaller than it was, and yet it also gave the place a cozy feel. Then it struck him. It was even more obvious here than it had been outside. Every single person he could see was male. And not just male. He might not have entered a similar establishment before but he had no doubt where he was.

Ronan took a deep breath in an effort to crush the panic rising from his stomach. “Is this a gay bar?” The way Lucas stiffened beside him indicated that it had been the wrong question to ask.

“Yes,” Lucas confirmed, his tone clipped. “Is that a problem for you?”

“No, it isn’t. I’ve…” Ronan wasn’t sure how much he wanted to reveal but knew he had to say something. If he didn’t his behavior would give him away soon enough. “I’ve never been in one before.”


Ronan Collins has spent most of his life in Dublin hiding who he really is. Coming out would hurt his mother, and Ronan isn’t going to be the second gay man to do that. When he receives news the father he has never known has died, leaving him both a house and a business in Amsterdam, he jumps on the opportunity to get to know the man who fathered him and to discover what he’s been denying himself for years.

Lucas Brandt thought he had it all when Paul Kelly offered him a job and rooms to live in. With Paul deceased he fears he may be about to lose both. He didn’t even know Paul had a son, and now this stranger is on his way from Dublin to pull the rug out from under Lucas’s feet.

The two men don’t expect to like each other, never mind feel attraction. With numerous reasons why hooking up would be a bad idea, why does giving in feel so much better? And is Ronan’s back story really as he’s always imagined it to be?

Sudden changes require great bravery. Can both men find the courage to be true to themselves and each other? 

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Helena Stone can’t remember a life before words and reading. After growing up in a household where no holiday or festivity was complete without at least one new book, it’s hardly surprising she now owns more books than shelf space while her Kindle is about to explode.

The urge to write came as a surprise. The realisation that people might enjoy her words was a shock to say the least. Now that the writing bug has well and truly taken hold, Helena can no longer imagine not sharing the characters in her head and heart with the rest of the world.

Having left the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for the peace and quiet of the Irish Country side she divides her time between reading, writing, long and often wet walks with the dog, her part-time job in a library, a grown-up daughter and her ever loving and patient husband.

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Helena has brought a copy of Double Dutch Courage to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, July 22nd at 11:59 pm ET.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
FILED UNDER: Excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post