Having written in the romance genre myself, I'll admit to not having explored the genre as deeply as a reader. Perhaps it is simply because I am male or that it doesn't usually strike me as my first choice for reading material...
...in fact - both of these are a lie because if I am truly honest, I am a sucker for a good love story. I think it's perhaps more the case that good romance novels are hard to find - ones that balance good story telling with strong, believable characters and deliver the romance in just the right way that make you go all gooey. It takes a good author to do that. Molly Ringle (one of my Central Avenue Publishing stable mates), is an exceptional example a good romance writer. Likewise, Nichole Chase - a fellow Star Wars tragic and now bona fide New York Times best selling author is another.
New onto my radar in recent times and another Central Avenue stable mate is Minnesota based romance author Abbie Williams. Having connected via Twitter in the past couple of weeks, I have thoroughly enjoyed kicking off a conversation with Abbie which has ranged from topics such as our mutual love of bluegrass music, of course - our writing and the works of 17th century poet John Donne, which Abbie has caused me to fall in love with.
Born and raised in Minnesota, Abbie has always been a writer. She pays homage to her home state, setting nearly all of her novels in Minnesota lake country, some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of the world. Her novels feature true love, passion and intensity, humour and the strength of family ties. She lives with her husband, three daughters, and a great deal of books.
Abbie has built an impressive resume of titles for Central Avenue's romance imprint Everheart Books - the most notable of these is her Shore Leave Cafe series. Constructed around her love for the Minnesota country side where she grew up, Abbie's novels have those essential ingredients that make for, not just romance, but really good romance.
I am presently reading her Shore Leave debut - Summer At The Shore Leave Cafe - and what I am finding already is a story that is very real, with vivid characters and a grounded narrative where I feel connected to both it and the people she has created.
From the liner notes on the novel;
Joelle Gordon is leaving Chicago and her cheating husband to head for her hometown of Landon, Minnesota. WIth her three beautiful daughters in tow, Joelle is bombarded with an onslaught of memories that Landon evokes. Landon -- home to the Shore Leave Cafe, the restaurant Joelle's family owns -- has some surprises in store for Joelle. Finding herself confronted with the reality of single motherhood, a mysterious but handsome young staffer at the Shore Leave Cafe, her upset daughters, and the prospect of returning to her husband for the well-being of her kids, Joelle must make decisions she never thought she'd face.
A story about heartbreak, blame, family, desire, love, and the difficulties of returning home, Summer at the Shore Leave Cafe highlights hardships to which everyone can relate.
In our conversations, Abbie told me that she is inspired very much by real life characters - people who have influenced her and affected her. Likewise, Abbie has brought to life her beloved Minnesota with all the sounds and the smells and the visuals of a place that is very close to her heart. Not only is it immersive, is addictive and satisfying. I should add also, that her stories are also sexy, offering readers another satisfying, toe curling facet that will have the pages turning from beginning to end.
As a writer, Abbie has drawn on many and varied inspirations to bring life to her novels and I was particularly taken by the inspiration for Summer At The Shore Leave Cafe which Abbie recounting in a 2013 interview with Wovenmyst Magazine:
"I actually first had the idea for Summer at the Shore Leave Café from a commercial I saw years ago. It featured an attractive woman getting out of an SUV and unloading a surfboard from the back, all the time being observed by a group of cute guys, who were drooling over her from afar. After a moment, the passenger door opened and three girls (obviously her daughters, ages early teens to maybe about eight years) came piling out. The guys observing are like, “Whoa, she’s a mother!” as though they can’t believe it. It was funny and yet the idea was also in my mind that, Hey, mothers can be sexy, too! Mothers are women! I started thinking about a novel with a mother of rambunctious daughters as the central character. What the commercial advertising? I honestly don’t remember!"
Wovenmyst Magazine: Interview with Abbie Williams March, 2013.
I'm so pleased to have discovered and connected with Abbie Williams. As an author, she represents romance alchemy - great story telling, great characterization and vivid imagery. As a person, she is a breath of fresh air and I enjoy interacting with her very much.
You simply must acquaint yourself with Abbie Williams.
Tweet with Abbie Williams here.
Connect with Abbie on Facebook here.
Visit Abbie's official website here.
Purchase Abbie's Shore Leave titles here.