Love Songs contains two oldies but goodies. The first of the two, Up All Night, takes place largely in a sleep clinic. Ever had insomnia? I haven’t, though there are certainly times during the writing of a book when I toss and turn trying to decide what comes next. Originally titled Knightly Love, Up All Night was first published in 1982, yet the problems of insomnia are paramount today. And sleep apnea? As disorders go, it’s come into its own. A whole raft of studies are showing the positive effect a good night’s sleep can have on the heart, the brain, the spirit. Reflecting this, modern sleep clinics are very different from the one depicted in Up All Night, as are the treatments for sleep disorders. But … love? It’s just the same, as sweet as ever.
Speaking of sweet, the second book in Love Songs is Sweet Serenity. Originally published in 1983, it was inspired by a candy store in my hometown. When I first walked into the store to buy gifts for my kids’ teachers, I had never seen such unusual candies and went from bin to bin, intrigued. Before long, my imagination took over. After I showed the owner copies of several of my books, she graciously agreed to share her trade secrets , though, truth be told, I think she was as eager to be part of my project as she was terrified that I was a spy, planning to steal her ideas for a candy store of my own.
The store in my book is called, well, Sweet Serenity, and the heroine is serene indeed until she finds herself face to face with the reporter who ruined her family years before. Does the heroine recapture the happiness for which she’d fought so long and hard? Does a white chocolate Pretzel Joy melt in your mouth?
In Up All Night and Sweet Serenity you’ll find two love distinct stories, one involving a nemesis from the past, the other a new acquaintance, but both involving women who are strong, resourceful, and desperately wanting the happily every after that comes with true love.
Warm Hearts, a 2-in-1 print edition, brings back two novels that have been lost for nearly twenty years: Heat Wave and A Special Something. Why have I bundled together these two particular books? Both involve the fantasy of instant attraction between strangers. Both involve hot weather. Each features a strong heroine who is wary of commitment, a hero who seems too good to be true, and a raft of family complications. That said, there are more differences than I can count in plot, setting, and detail. So alike, and yet so different. In this sense, Heat Wave and A Special Something are a perfect pair.
Heat Wave is set in Washington, D.C., but rest assured that it has nothing to do with politics, which is one of two topics (religion being the other) that I do not touch in my writing. That said, I have loved the nation’s capital since my first visit there when I was eleven. There are vintage elements in Heat Wave, most noticeably the absence of cell phones and sonograms during pregnancy. Beyond that, though, the fantasy of falling for an irresistible stranger across a sultry courtyard is as electric today as it was in 1987.
Another timeless fantasy is at the heart of the second book of this pairing. Have you ever fallen for a guy in a magazine ad? When I wrote A Special Something, an ad for cologne featuring a searingly handsome guy in a bed, not wearing chaps or much of anything else, was all the rage. I stared at that ad for days before realizing what a perfect story it would make. A Special Something is set on the island of St. Barts, where the Caribbrean heat is in sharp contrast to the February chill in New York, from which hero and heroine have escaped.
Hold My Heart
When Hold My Heart was first published, it was known to romance readers as The Ardent Protector. Why the change? The word “ardent,” for one thing. Do we use it much today? I certainly don’t. Pair it with “protector,” and you get the sense of a medieval hero, which Jed Dawson absolutely is not. Oh, he’s opinionated, even dictatorial at times, but deep inside he is vulnerable and, oh yes, totally in love.
What I most remember about writing Hold My Heart was doing the research for it. I had never been to North Carolina, and, in 1982, there was no Internet to serve up information with the click of a mouse. We certainly had telephones, though, so I called the North Carolina Tourism Bureau and was sent a raft of information, along with – and I remember these in vivid detail – four of the most beautiful posters of the most picturesque parts of the state. I put the four up in my office, where they were a source of inspiration. All I had to do was to paint those posters in words, and, voilà, I had the backdrop for my book.
Silken Sands was originally published under the title Surrender By Moonlight. It was only my second book, but it contained a great big first for me as a writer – my very first consummation scene. The lovemaking took place in the ocean, and I tried to describe it in such a way that those readers who had never experienced sex wouldn’t necessarily know it had happened. I half-hoped my editor wouldn’t either. I was taking a chance going all the way, and worried I was writing myself out of a career!
Rereading Silken Sands now, I was touched to see reference to a barrel factory in the Old Port area of Portland, Maine. This would have been my grandfather’s cooperage, which I visited as a child.
In a way, Silken Sands, from 1981, is a precursor of my latest, Sweet Salt Air, coming in 2013. Both take place largely on islands off the Maine coast. In Silken Sands, Three Pines has two homes and two inhabitants, while Sweet Salt Air’s Quinnipeague has several hundreds of each. Likewise, while Sweet Salt Air is a layered story of family, friendship, marriage, and love, Silken Sands focuses on love. Both will warm your heart.
A basic rule of writing is, write about what you know – which is why Amber’s Embrace opens with a Little League game in a suburb west of Boston. I’ve lived in a town just like Dover for as long as I’ve had kids – and, having three sons, I sat through more Little League games than I can count. I also know Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, where my characters work and where I’ve been personally active for years – and the Haymarket near Faneuil Hall, where my characters buy fresh produce and meat. In the early days of our marriage, my husband and I used to visit a butcher shop there once a month, freeze what the guy cut us, and take great pleasure both in the outing and the super deals.
Amber’s Embrace was originally titled Amber Enchantment. We changed the name here so that readers wouldn’t expect a book dealing with magic. That said, there is a kind of magic in how Amber meets Zach and how their paths keep crossing, though neither one is on the lookout for love. But isn’t that how it happens best?
Call My Name
In Call My Name (née Whispered Promise), you also have a story that breaks a cardinal rule of mine as a writer – NEVER write about religion or politics. But what did I know back in 1982? Back then, politics wasn’t as rancorous as it is today, and I found the whole thing intriguing. I was eleven when I first visited Washington and saw the White House, the Supreme Court, and the monuments. I returned when my soon-to-be-husband interviewed for law school there, and though he eventually chose a law school in Boston, we must have caught a bug and passed it to our kids, because two of them live there now. We visit once a month and, politics aside, I’ve come to appreciate the city all the more.
Moreover, Andrew Charles, the Senator who falls for the heroine of Call My Name, is a good guy. He is honest and hard-working, adept at compromise (a good thing, both in his work and his relationship with headstrong Daran Patterson), and he fights for the rights of children. He is also extraordinarily human. ReadCall My Name, and you’ll see what I mean.
Pictures of You
Pictures of You holds a special piece of my heart. It was my very, very first book. Ever! I had never thought to be a writer until I read a newspaper article about women who penned romance novels. They made it sound totally do-able for a mom with three young kids at home. So I read a bunch, loved them, and sat down to write my own. Where to set it? Well, where did I want to go? After hours of library research, I chose Brazil, set off, and never looked back. Ah, where the imagination can take you!
Originally published in 1981 as The Passionate Touch, this first Bonnie Drake book swept me away from runny noses, dirty hands, and laundry, to the lush forests and bracing mountain air of South America, where Eva Jordenson goes in search of a fabled topaz and finds a tall, dark-eyed stranger instead. I may have written this book back when flight attendants were called stewardesses, before we had smart phones that could translate English to Portuguese. But emotion and passion are timeless. Bruised by a bad marriage, Eva finds both, in this story of adventure and healing.
Don’t Tempt Me
The heroine of Don’t Tempt Me is a lawyer, one of many I’ve written about in my career. After all, I’m the daughter, wife, and mother of lawyers, and writing about what you know is a basic literary rule. Whereas my family lawyers are male, though, Justine is female in a field that, in 1982, was just beginning to open to women. Yes, there was sexism. Have times changed? I hope.
First published in 1983 as The Silver Fox, this story brought a raft of personal memories for me. When Justine mention having to have an heirloom ring cut off her swollen finger after a bee sting, I relived my husband’s experience with his wedding band the summer before I wrote the book. When I mentioned a small French restaurant in Manhattan’s East Fifties, I was back eating in the one we visited all the time. And when tears came to my eyes and my throat tightened at the emotional climax of this book, I knew that Don’t Tempt Me had withstood the test of time.
I originally wrote Home Fires under the Billie Douglas pseudonym, and the most amazing thing to me in revisiting this book was the original bio. “Billie Douglass confesses that her family, friends and imagination influence what ultimately comes from her typewriter.” Typewriter? You gotta love that. But there’s more. The bio goes on to say, “She spends hours at the library researching new and interesting locations.” Sadly, those hours went the way of the typewriter. I now work on a computer where, with the click of a mouse, I can take video tours of locales all over the world.
When it was first published in 1983, the title of Home Fires was Beyond Fantasy. From the start, that title fit. Isn’t seeing a handsome stranger across a crowded room – you falling for him and him you, there and then – the ultimate fantasy? What happens to Deanna Hunt goes beyond fantasy, though. She may have no cell phone and have to stand in a phone booth stuffing in dimes while the rain pours down outside, but the love she finds is as warming as the home fires of the title.
What the Waves Bring
What the Waves Bring is set in Nantucket, which, though I’ve never been there, has always been on my radar screen. I lived there vicariously during the writing of this book – still remember the map of the island that I had tacked up in my office. The Jared Coffin House is still there, still going strong, as is the Downyflake Restaurant, though it changed location after a fire in 1991. As for the North Atlantic shoreline and hurricanes, I had enough personal experience with each to write those scenes without help.
When this book was first published in 1983, its title was Lover From The Sea. What I adored about it was the wildness of the romance between a handsome, take-charge stranger and a heroine who more than holds her own. Oh yes, Tylenol is more often used today in place of aspirin, and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) is history. Moreover, poor April Wilde has a computer, but no Google, which hadn’t been born! Still, the emotions playing out in What the Waves Bring are as true today as they were back then.
The Scent of Jasmine
What inspired The Scent of Jasmine? I work at home, which means that I get to know the mail carrier. “Got a good one here,” I remember his saying one day as he handed me the pile. On top was a letter with my name in elaborate script and perfume rising from within. It turned out to be from an invitation to a wedding shower on a floral theme, and it spawned one happy bride and one treasured book.
The Scent of Jasmine was originally published under the name Jasmine Sorcery, but given the current popularity of the paranormal, we feared confusion. Pepper MacNeil, the heroine of The Scent of Jasmine, is the mail carrier in a small town in Maine, and though the newest patron on her route is fixing up a very old house, there is nothing supernatural about it. She drives a Rabbit, has a huge collection of records, and is waiting for the pictures to be developed from her recent trip. In these regards and others, The Scent of Jasmine is vintage. Accept that, and you’re in for a treat.
The Forever Instinct
The back story of The Forever Instinct is a long-standing rivalry between two fabled football quarterbacks. What inspired my writing this? I could say it was my dad, who believed that his young daughters should understand football, so took us to one game a year at Harvard Stadium, during which he tried to explain the game. I could also say it was my own family – husband and three sons – all of whom love the game, meaning that the tv is rarely off on weekends. I could even say it was my totally feminine appreciation of the lean-hipped, broad-shouldered quarterbacks on said tv.
Whatever, The Forever Instinct is vintage. I wrote it in the days of Dan Marino, Joe Montana, and Boomer Esiason. These were also the days when, if you were flying, a loved one could walk you to the gate, hug you there, and stand at the window, throwing kisses and waving as the plane pulled away from the gate. Oh yes, I’m a romantic. True to that, The Forever Instinct does have a happy ending, but that isn’t to say I wasn’t crying my heart out at the end.
Straight From the Heart
What struck me most as I reread Straight From the Heart was the fact that it focuses on two elements that appear often in my current work – namely, medical problems and the emotional issues they cause. The heroine of this book has a condition that deeply affects her life, but one that can be corrected if she can get past her fear. Here, of course, is a vintage moment. Had she been born with this condition today, it would have been corrected in childhood. Hospital stays were much longer back then, testing far less sophisticated. We’ve come so far!
Other vintage moments in Straight From the Heart? The heroine, who loves music, is a fan of Wham! and Duran Duran. Does that take you back? How about the fact that there are no cell phones? For someone with a medical condition, this would be a major drawback, don’t you think?
My heroine lives in Chester, Connecticut. I remember driving there to get a feel for the setting, and loving it. She is also a crafts person. Those of you who follow me know that I am, too, so this was a good fit. I hope you’ll agree.
First Things First
What inspired First Things First? Most notably, a trip my husband and I took to Cancun. We had three young kids and didn’t have the money or childcare to travel much, so this one of the first times we’d left New England since our honeymoon. Read through this book, and you’ll follow the route of our trip. A guide gave us much of the inside scoop; I didn’t realize how thoroughly I’d take it all to heart!
First Things First has several vintage moments, the first of which is the heroine’s Chevette. GM stopped production of these at the end of 1986, with the last models selling for just under $5,000! Another vintage moment? Electrical wires in little Mayan villages, but no satellite dishes! That said, First Things First has the kind of strong, but vulnerable heroine I love. She and the hero have both realized that the pace of their lives are too fast; they need each other to help slow it down. I can only wonder what they would think of the pace of life today. May they be an inspiration to us all.
A Woman’s Place
Successful businesswoman Claire Raphael returns home after visiting her ailing mother, only to be served with a court order ousting her from her home and giving her husband, Dennis, custody of their two children. The grounds—that she is not a responsible mother – floor her. She loves the children and has always put them before her career. But her career has eclipsed that of her husband’s. She suspects ego is involved on his part.
As Dennis relentlessly pursues divorce, custody, and alimony, the pressure takes a toll on Claire and the children. Legally, the case is stacked against her by biased court personnel. With the threat of a chauvinistic judge’s decision looming, Claire finds allies in her lawyer and business partner as she gropes for an understanding of her disintegrating marriage and the truth of her own desires.
Shades of Grace
Widow Grace Dorian, a famous and wealthy advice columnist, is the very model of a domineering matriarch. Divorced daughter Francine has spent a lifetime in awe of her mother, but rebellious granddaughter Sophie, twenty-three and diabetic, continually fights back.
Following a car accident, Grace is forced to reveal that she has Alzheimer’s disease, but Francine refuses to accept this prognosis for her ultra-competent mother. As Grace’s condition deteriorates, Francine must find her own untapped pool of inner strength, both to deal with her defiant daughter and to take over her mother’s career. Gradually accepting the truth of Grace’s fate, Francine searches for clues into her mother’s cloudy past, leading to one climactic night, when Grace herself reveals the puzzle’s missing piece.
With their daughters off to college, Emily, Kay and Celeste find themselves emotionally adrift. Emily retreats to baking and redecorating to hide the pain of husband Doug’s infrequent visits home. Teacher Kay, certain her body has lost its allure, uses her work as a shield against her husband’s attempts to recapture intimacy. And divorcee Celeste celebrates her daughter’s departure with a nose job and a personal ad that links her to an architect who may be too good to be true.
These friends are Emily’s lifeline when Brian Stasek comes to town. Emily is drawn to him – and increasingly suspicious of Doug’s absences. Moreover, Brian’s presence evokes odd behavior in the elderly woman who lives beside Emily – behavior that grows increasingly strange as Brian investigates the long-ago disappearance of Emily and Doug’s baby son.
For My Daughters
Wealthy, widowed socialite Ginny St. Clair has always been cool and distant to her three daughters. The summer of her 70th birthday, she abruptly invites all of her offspring to help her settle into a flower-strewn mansion on the rocky Maine coast. Each daughter arrives at the estate, aghast to find the others: Annette, the suffocatingly good mother of five; hard-edged Caroline, a hotshot Chicago lawyer; and Leah, the twice-divorced youngest sibling. Their mother, by design, is not there.
Though the three grimly assume battle positions, enforced proximity fosters grudging respect and the opening of minds. For Leah, there is also a scalding affair with groundskeeper Jesse Cray, the wild echo of a romance that had flared half a century earlier between a gardener and the mistress of the house.
The death of Dr. Mara O’Neill takes everyone by surprise. No one understands why this beloved physician would take her own life –or how her friends and colleagues could have missed her desperate state.
Dr. Paige Pfeiffer is the first to have to cope with the rippling effects of her best friend’s death. Upon the unexpected arrival of the baby her colleague had been in the process of adopting from India, she impulsively volunteers her services as an emergency foster mother. Her life is further complicated by Noah Perrine, headmaster of the boarding school where she serves as a track coach. Just as her attempts to understand what happened to Mara lead to an agonizing realization of the limits of friendship, her growing feelings for Noah finally give her the courage to open her heart to the possibilities of both marital and maternal love.
More Than Friends
The Popes and the Maxwells are more than next-door neighbors: Annie Pope and Teke Maxwell were college roommates; Sam Pope and J.D. Maxwell are old friends and law partners. But in a matter of moments, the two families are torn apart by tragedy. Sam and Teke are spotted in an act of spontaneous – and unprecedented – lovemaking by 13-year-old Michael Maxwell, who dashes out of the house and runs into a passing pickup truck. The accident leaves the boy in a coma.
J.D. copes by trying to get somebody sued or arrested, preferably the driver of the truck, who turns out to be Teke’s childhood sweetheart. When Sam’s indiscretion comes to light, Annie can hardly bear to be around him. As the days pass and the families rally around Michael, they are also forced to treat their own injuries and find a way to heal.
The Passions of Chelsea Kane
Beautiful, smart and sexy architect Chelsea Kane has it all, but she still feels that something is missing because she doesn’t know the identity of her birth parents. When her adoptive mother dies and leaves her with a mysterious antique key, Chelsea defies the wishes of her father and heads to the small New Hampshire town of her birth parents to probe for answers.
Under the pretense of scouting out a rock quarry for business purposes, Chelsea faces resistance from townspeople who don’t like change. It soon becomes apparent that business hurdles aren’t the only things she must clear; someone wants to stop her from her search and is willing to terrorize her to do it. With the fiery love of quarry foreman Judd Streeter, Chelsea pursues her search against all odds until a horrifying climax reveals the mysteries of the past and present.
A Woman Betrayed
With a terrific career as a restauranteur, two wonderful children, and a twenty-year marriage, Laura Frye loves her life. When her husband, accountant Jeffrey, mysteriously vanishes, though, she can’t imagine what happened.
As time passes, it becomes apparent that Jeffrey harbored secrets whose consequences are both emotional and legal. As her world crashes around her, Laura must withstand the pressure of each new shock and rally an inner strength to keep herself and her family together. As she works to rebuild her life, she not only achieves a new independence, but rediscovers a love she thought had been forever lost.
Nothing can prepare writer Hillary Cox for seeing her lover of twenty years, jewelry/mining magnate John St. George, announce on television that he’s preparing to marry another woman. Out for revenge, Hillary begins work on an exposé of John and his cloudy past, which turns out to include an endless stream of horrifying abuses against his sister Pamela.
As Hillary attempts to free herself of John’s influence, Pamela sets out to wrest control of the family’s jewelry and tourmaline mining business from him. She seeks support and love from Cutter Reid, from whom John has brutally kept her. The efforts of the two women, and of Pamela’s emotionally fragile mother, lead to a climactic confrontation with the man who has so damaged their lives.
Heart of the Night
Assistant D.A. Savannah Smith and her competitive twin sister Susan are stunned one night to learn of the kidnapping of their dear friend – and sometime rival – Megan Vandermeer, a pillar of Newport, Rhode Island society. Savannah and Susan set out to find Megan, only to be led to Jared Snow, the sexy-voiced late night disc jockey from whose show, Heart of the Night, the words of the ransom note are taken.
While Savannah is attracted to Jared, her sister is captivated by Sam Craig, the detective on the case. As the dangerous search continues, each woman is forced to reassess her life, leading to the shocking truth that lies behind Megan’s disappearance.
Sabrina Stone had met investigative reporter Derek McGill only once, yet was deeply touched by the way he held her mentally-handicapped son. Derek saw past Sabrina’s wealth and beauty, and an instant bond was formed. Three months later, Sabrina is heartbroken to learn that Derek is in prison for murder. The man she had found so warm and gentle now seems hell-bent on revenge against the power-hungry businessman who apparently set him up for murder.
As her marriage falls apart and heart-rending decisions loom regarding the care of her son, Sabrina finds an odd comfort in visiting Derek in prison. She eventually falls in love with him. Derek is released from prison, but Sabrina realizes that for them to be truly free, she must win Derek’s trust and help him feel love again. This means fighting demons that lurk in each of their pasts.
Linked for years through friendship and intermarriage, the Warren and Whyte families find their charmed world is marred when Mark Whyte and his wife Deborah Warren are found murdered. Police detective Robert Cavanaugh, working on a tip about dissension within the families, sets out to examine the mystique behind their wealth and power.
Katia Morell is part of that mystique. Daughter of the Whyte’s housekeeper but now a successful advertising executive, she is drawn back into the home where she never quite belonged, and is forced to face her life-long, unrequited love for Jordan Whyte. As the police investigation uncovers secret after secret and, finally, boils to a shocking conclusion, Katia and Jordan are but two of the family members who face difficult choices in their search for happiness.