Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Making of a Fictional Small Town

With: Reese Ryan

Giveaway Alert!

Growing up, I never had to wonder where we were going for summer vacation. There were no family meetings. No this time we’ll go to your destination, next time we’ll go to mine. The answer was simple. We were going to load into the family car, sans air conditioning, and make the eighteen-hour trek from Cleveland, Ohio to Coldwater, Mississippi.

I was not a happy camper.

I wanted to go to Disney World, the beach, or any cool destination that would take a lot less time to reach. But no, we were going to the tiny town in Mississippi where my mother had grown up.

It was a world away from the urban neighborhood where we lived. We walked the dusty road that ran past the town cemetery to visit one cousin of my mother’s or another. There was no corner store to run to for a bag of chips or a pop (a term that drives Southerners crazy). Instead, a woman sold stale chips and cold drinks from a refrigerator in her garage.

Fortunately, I adored my great aunt, whom we stayed with. She was fierce and funny. She dipped snuff and watched wrestling matches, imitating the moves and shaking her fist at the television screen. And to this day, I haven’t had a homemade biscuit that comes anywhere close to the melt-in-your-mouth biscuits she made from scratch each morning.

Still, I counted down the days until we could rejoin civilization. That required a short drive to Memphis, Tennessee—where my mother was actually born. We stayed with my aunt in the suburbs and splashed in the above ground pool in her backyard. Then we attended the family reunion—the highlight of our annual journey.

When I was eighteen, I stopped making those long treks to that small town. I ventured back once when my son was about three. But a funny thing has happened in recent years. I started to long for a little of the small-town charm I had so much disdain for as a teenager.

In the years that I’ve been married, we keep moving to smaller cities and towns. Eventually, we chose to live in a North Carolina suburb that is zoned rural and has the quaint feel of a small town. After more than eight years as a transplanted Midwesterner with deep Southern roots living in the South, I’ve developed an accent that confuses both Midwesterners and Southern folk. I still call soda pop (mostly because it bugs the hell out of the natives). And I often find myself nostalgic for that small town where my mama grew up.

Magnolia Lake—the town where my new Harlequin Desire series The Bourbon Brothers is set—is my homage to that small town and to many of the “characters” I met there. The Bourbon Brothers series follows the romantic exploits of five siblings who are heirs to a Tennessee bourbon empire. Here’s a summary of the first book in the series:

Savannah’s Secrets

Falling for the boss, or taking him down?

Savannah Carlisle had the perfect plan. By infiltrating the Abbott family’s Tennessee bourbon empire as their events manager, she’d be one step closer to claiming half of the business they stole from her grandfather. Now, she’s not so sure. Because sexy Blake Abbott, heir to it all, is simply intoxicating. He’s supposed to be the enemy. But after one long, stormy weekend, she’s pregnant with his child….

Check out a three-chapter sample of Savannah’s Secrets here.

Purchase a copy of Savannah’s Secrets from your favorite retailer:

As for the tiny little town that inspired Magnolia Lake, I hope to get back there soon to visit with my great aunt. She’ll be 108 this month and still shakes her fist at the television screen.

Enter below for a chance to win my entire Pleasure Cove series, set in a fictional, coastal North Carolina small town: Playing with Desire, Playing with Temptation, and Playing with Seduction. Your choice of e-books or signed paperbacks (sent to U.S. mailing addresses only.)

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