An author who is releasing her 50th Mills and Boon novel has described her very own love story.
It was love at first sight for Susan Stephens and husband Steve Sutherland, chairman of Huddersfield glazing firm Dortech, who met on holiday in Malta in 1978, where Susan was working as a singer.
Just five days later the couple were engaged - and three months later they tied the knot.
Susan and Steve are still happily married 38 years later.
Now Susan says she teases Steve that he’s the inspiration for her books - and even though she’s a romantic, he would have swept her off her feet anyway.
She said: “It was like a nuclear explosion. I’ve never experienced anything that before or since. He just changed my life.
“I was a professional singer and was performing in Malta when some mutual friends brought him to hear me sing.
“It was my night off, and he arrived before our friends did - but just came and sat down at the table where I was having dinner, he didn’t wait for them to arrive.
“He was quite alpha male, just like the heroes I write about.
“The conversation just flowed.”
Susan says while the experience was overwhelming, they were both in the right place in their lives for romance to blossom.
She said: “We both wanted a family and we shared very similar principles. We were both ready to commit.
“Every couple has to get to know each other and we did that after we were married.
“The first year was fiery - we’ll leave it at that!”
The couple now have three children and Susan says she would have been worried sick had they got engaged after such a short time.
She said: “I think my mother was very stoic and I don’t think I would have been - but they didn’t follow my crazy path.”
And as a romance novelist with more than 8 million sales under her belt, Susan’s marriage advice is to work at it, maintain trust and be loyal to each other.
As her 50th novel, On The Sheikh’s Service, is released, she says: “Steve is delighted with my novels. I tease him that he’s the inspiration - it’s all fanciful, but we need romance in life.
“It puts me in contact with women all over the world and sometimes I get to meet them. It’s very humbling when they share their stories with me.
“Entertainment is a very valuable thing.”