Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Debut Novel for Valentine’s Day

Congratulations to "Tammy", the winner of Claire's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated. 

I am a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  I know many people who complain about it, and call it the ‘Hallmark holiday’, but I really like that in our cynical culture we have a day devoted to romance and love.  When I was younger, and single, I didn’t get depressed on Valentine’s Day because even if I didn’t happen to have a special someone in my life on that particular day, I still indulged in romance.  I watched romantic movies, listened to love songs and (yes, of course!) read romance novels.  

So how fitting that me, the incurable romantic, gets to have her first book come out in February? 

A Ranch to Keep is the first romance novel I ever tried to write.  So when I started, I figured I’d better do some thinking about what types of situations actually seem romantic to me.  What made me want to go back and read certain books again and again?  Why have I seen movies like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca and Notting Hill so many times?  I’m not a huge fan of all things Twilight, but there’s a scene in the movie where the hero, Edward, finally blurts out to Bella, in this tortured way, “I feel…very protective of you.” It’s just this tiny moment - so what about that seemed so incredibly romantic that I remember it clearly years later?

After assembling all kinds of memories and ideas about what seemed romantic to me, I started writing my book.  And I quickly learned that romance is very personal and subjective – even for fictional characters!  I may think Edward Cullen’s protectiveness in Twilight is romantic, but my extremely independent heroine, Samantha, hates it when Jack, the hero of my book, gets protective. It makes her crazy every time!  Instead, it’s the little moments that draw her to Jack.  She likes how his hands easily buckle a horse’s halter, or the way he walks so casually over the wet, uneven boulders of a creek bed.  She likes the way he teases her to lighten up a situation.  He’s capable and funny and that feels romantic to her.

So what feels romantic to you?  Maybe it’s not the traditional Valentine’s dinner and roses.  Maybe it’s a walk on the beach with the one you love, or curling up in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a game of Scrabble.  This Valentine’s day, I encourage you to make your celebration of love a true celebration of your kind of love.

And if you happen to be single these days, don’t forget that you can still celebrate love and romance on Valentine’s Day.  How about taking yourself for that walk on the beach?  Or, pour yourself a glass of wine, treat yourself to some really delicious chocolate and read a good romance novel!  


She pulled away.  “I can take care of it.”

He caught her chin in his hand, just for a moment, and turned her head to face him.  A slight smile tilted his mouth but his eyes were serious, looking intensely into hers.  “No 911, no doctor, and now you won’t let me help.  Looks like you’re used to looking after yourself, Samantha.  That’s great.  But out here we like to help out our neighbors.  So let me help you. Okay?”

  A blue lake on a sunny day.  That’s all she could think of as she looked into his eyes.  A lake you could drown in if you weren’t careful.  Her brain couldn’t form a complete sentence so she mumbled “Okay” and sat quietly while he put a bag of ice on her ankle and opened the first aid kit.  

Jack tilted back the lid and let out a laugh as he eyed the contents of the box.  “Lady, you are one of a kind!”  He continued to chuckle, obviously amused by something.

She hated to take the bait but she had to know.  “What?  What’s so funny?” 

“Your first aid kit!  I’ve never seen anything like it.”

She looked over at the neat stacks of Band-Aids, the miniature scissors, the bottles of disinfectant and rolls of bandages.  “Don’t you have a first aid kit?” she asked, bewildered.

“Yes, but not one that looks like this!”  The chuckles subsided a bit.  “I’m pretty sure the contents are alphabetized!”  

What is romantic to you?  (PG rated ideas only, please!) Please share your comments with us and you will be entered to win a signed copy of A Ranch to Keep!

About the Author 
Claire McEwen’s first book, A Ranch to Keep, is currently available from Harlequin Superromance.  It will be available at all major bookstores on February 4th.  She is currently hard at work on two new novels for Harlequin.  

Claire lives by the ocean in Northern California with her husband and their son.  When not writing, she can often be found digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green thumb.  She loves playing on the beach, hiking, traveling, and reading, of course!  Please visit Claire on Facebook, Twitter and at


Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Feb. 2nd. 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 with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


  1. A nice dinner out is romantic to me

    yenastone at aol dot com

  2. doing something nice for someone else

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Love the excerpt, Claire! And I agree, romance is very individual. I would agree with your character. My romantic times are hard to plan for, they just happen sometimes. Taking care of a dog together, going to a free concert... things like that.


Sign up for the JCR newsletter!