By: Karen Rock
Congratulations to "Cody G", the winner of Karen's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!
Thank you so much for having me on Just Contemporary Romance today! I’m honored to be here on your wonderful site Now that my first Harlequin romance, Wish Me Tomorrow, has hit the virtual bookshelves, I couldn’t be more excited or prouder to chat about it and the inspirations behind the story with you.
When my husband I moved to our subdivision, the first neighbors to welcome us had a little girl the same age as our own daughter, Danielle. We soon learned we had much in common with Katie (name changed) having the same birthday and initials as I do and she and her husband Michael (name changed) having the same anniversary! We were instant family friends and the more I’ve learned about them over the years, the more they’ve impressed me with their devotion to their children, one another, and their community. Most of all, I was taken with their love story. It is the inspiration behind Wish Me Tomorrow, my September release.
Michael met Katie, the girl of his dreams, his first year of nursing school. Shortly after Michael and Katie began dating, Michael learned he had leukemia. He told me he was sure that he’d lost Katie but, to his surprise and relief, she stayed by his side. She helped him get through his chemotherapy treatments and kept him up-to-date with his assignments so that they graduated, together, with RN degrees. Twenty years later, they are happily married, now have three beautiful children and Michael is cancer free. Michael calls Katie the strongest woman he knows, and I agree.
The idea of writing a love story where feelings were strong enough to withstand an uncertain future took hold. Such devotion is the purest, most beautiful, selfless kind of love and I hoped for a story idea that would do it justice. I needed to create characters with complex, compelling back stories and vulnerabilities that made it difficult for them to take such risks with their hearts. Yet, if they did, the payoff couldn’t be greater.
I began with Eli, a strong, devoted father who married a woman who couldn’t handle his illness and had never liked the idea of having children. When she left him during his chemotherapy treatments, he became extremely protective of his children. So much so that, even during his recovery, he worked hard to save money to guarantee their future since his own was uncertain. More importantly, he won’t allow another woman in his life and risk her breaking his children’s hearts if his cancer returns and she walks out. As for himself, he’s become too much of a realist to believe in falling in love when he doesn’t know what his tomorrows will bring.
Next I imagined the type of woman who would be uniquely able to help his troubled children, be capable of handling Eli’s recovery, but have a past that would make her guarded about getting romantically involved with a cancer survivor. Christie’s character was born- an oncology grief counselor RN who specialized in working with children. While she was willing to help Eli’s children deal with the aftermath of their father’s illness and the loss of their mother, she wouldn’t trust her heart with a man who affected her more than any other. While she counsels her patients with an optimistic, hopeful approach, she’s experienced loss too. Her positive approach masks her painful past. The guilt she associates with it has made her fear relationships in general, especially with a man whom she might lose.
Both of these characters had much to overcome in terms of trusting and forgiving themselves and life. They needed to have faith in each other and love… to believe that their time together was more precious than holding on to past hurts and old regrets. As you can see, it’s a deeply emotional book, yet with lots of fun secondary characters like her speaks-her-mind, 1940s glamour girl Gran and perennial ladies’ man, and Eli’s older chemo-buddy, John. The children provide humor as well and, for me, that is what life is like. Moments of despair, moments of joy, and all of the other grades of high and low moments in between. I adore all kinds of romance, but have a special place in my heart for contemporary stories about real people overcoming true-life issues to find lasting love.
Here’s an excerpt from the story. I hope you enjoy it!
“You’ve been gone too long.” he breathed in her ear.
She felt as if electricity coursed from her sensitive lobe and sizzled through her body. Her lungs trapped her breath and took it hostage. Was there anything more amazing than being held by the man you loved?
She turned and put her arms around his neck. In an instant, his breath quickened, his blue eyes
“I’m the luckiest man in the world.” His voice was low, throaty. “Remember what you said earlier, about feeling like a monster?”
She nodded, burying her face in the firm planes of his chest. Why would he bring that up when things felt so romantic?
He tipped her chin and held her gaze. “Please don’t say that again. Don’t even think it. You’re imperfect. Flawed, a little scarred, but stronger now in a way that makes you the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. Inside and out. I wouldn’t want you any other way.”
It was the most incredible thing anyone had ever said to her. Did she deserve it? An image of Bill came to mind. She could almost picture him giving her a thumbs-up.
Before she had another moment to think, he captured her lips with a kiss so intense it was bruising. Her thundering blood deafened her and her shallow breathing rolled out like a low tide. He tasted like salt and fire as his mouth slanted across hers. She buried her hands in his thick hair, drawing him closer still.
His mouth left hers and traveled along her cheekbone. She could feel the erratic beat of his heart against her chest. His arms held her tight, as if he never meant to let her go. She rained kisses on his neck, his jaw and finally on his lips.
Suddenly, an aching tenderness replaced their earlier frenzy. They needed to explore, to know each other. When he returned her kiss, his hand stole into her hair and wound her tresses with his fingers. Their kisses deepened slowly, softly, the intensity growing between them once more…a single match that had ignited a blaze.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek! Wish Me Tomorrow is available as a Kindle download at Amazon or on Nook at Barnes and Noble as well as a print book version on eHarlequin.
Please share your thoughts about contemporary love stories you’ve fallen in love with- fact or fiction- and you’ll be entered to win my giveaway of an autographed copy of Wish Me Tomorrow and my Young Adult Romance, Camp Boyfriend to share with a family member or read for yourself! Thanks so much
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Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Sep. 15th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.