Famed for her racy novels that are brimming with brooding heroes, Jilly Cooper's real-life hero happens to be a very special Premier League footballer - Marcus Rashford!
During an exclusive interview in this week's HELLO!, the 83-year-old author revealed: "It's Marcus Rashford. I think he's absolutely wonderful. Gosh, he's a good boy."
The Manchester United player, who has been campaigning for free school meals for children during the holidays, appeals to Jilly's compassion and sense of fair play. "When you can't feed your children, it must be awful," she added. "Living in lockdown and being short of money is terrible."
WATCH: Marcus Rashford recalls heartbreaking childhood memories
It may come as a surprise to learn Jilly, whose novels have sold more than 12 million copies in the UK, has experienced financial hardship herself. "The worst rows my husband Leo and I ever had were about money," she said. "We were so broke the bank told us twice we'd have to sell our house."
Jilly saved the day with her books Class and Riders, and continues to serve up love, romance, raunchy scenarios and "heavenly heroes" in her novels.
Her current list of desirable men now includes American actor John Krasinski, but she is less enamoured by the current crop of male politicians. "There aren't many appealing ones at the moment," she noted, but reckons Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak are "quite attractive".
Jilly Cooper is famed for her racy novels
In her next book, Tackle!, which will be completed in time for the 2022 Fifa World Cup, Jilly has swapped the polo field for the football pitch. "In Tackle!, all the Wags go straight to HELLO! for inspiration and to copy the decor," she revealed.
As for Jilly herself, the love of her life was her husband of 52 years Leo Cooper, who died in 2013. Embarking on a new relationship is not on her agenda. "It would be lovely to have someone to take you out to lunch," she said. "But to live with someone new at the age of 83? The good thing about lockdown is you don't have to put your make-up on."
Her children, property expert Felix and make-up artist Emily Tarrant, live nearby, and her six grandchildren Jago, Lysander, Acer, Scarlett, Sienna - and Kit, from Leo’s first marriage - surround her with youthful energy. "Everyone should write down all their children's and grand-children's funny remarks because it does cheer you up later," she said.
To read the full interview with Jilly, pick up the latest issue of HELLO!, out now.