Today we’re celebrating Man of the Family
So, Leigh Riker, where did you get the idea for this novel?
Well, that’s a long story, at least in terms of time. The book has been in my head for a while, but it was only when I revised the storyline and even the settings that it suited Harlequin Heartwarming, and I’m very happy with it now. At last. It’s always been in my heart.
Is it a standalone? Or part of a series?
A standalone. Notice the redhead (hero Griffin’s sister) peeking between him and Sunny, the heroine, on the cover? She’s already married to Sunny’s brother or I’d give them a book of their own. Bronwyn’s so cute.
How long did it take you to write?
About three months, give or take. Not counting more revisions.
In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption, what would it say?
Love is in the air! Just look at those two people’s faces. (Or maybe, for today, the caption should say Happy Fourth of July!)
What is your favorite scene?
I love the one in which Sunny has stayed at Griffin’s apartment for dinner (a first for them). He teases her about the hot chili he made and their mutual attraction becomes apparent. Really, he’s already over the moon for Sunny by then but won’t admit it.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Griffin, because I admire his efforts as a single dad to protect his motherless children from further hurt. At the same time he has reinvented himself—and I admire him for doing what he had to do. After his wife disappeared, Griffin quit his busy career as a TV anchor, moved to Florida to be near his sister, and became the manager of an apartment complex so he could work near home and have more time for his vulnerable kids.
How did you choose the settings?
The book was due in November, and I wasn’t looking forward to the cold weather where I live. So Florida seemed a good choice (rather than the original New England). I also met my husband in New York City so that’s my second home—and the perfect place for Sunny to suffer the professional and personal setbacks that finally force her to face her painful past.
Tell us one thing you learned during research?
Sunny was molested as a young girl. I learned that some girls still today are reluctant, even ashamed, to admit what happened to them. I hope this story helps someone to deal with her own experience.
This is your sixteenth novel. Exactly what does that mean to you?
Oh, wow. I love piling up the numbers. This is also my sixth Harlequin novel. And Man of the Family is—by sheer order of the line’s books that have been published—the 100th Heartwarming title. Love that medallion on the cover, even when I had nothing to do with it!
What are you working on now?
My new book is called Painted Ponies. It involves a family tragedy and some hand-carved carousel horses that eventually help them all to heal emotionally.
What are you reading for pleasure?
I just finished Gone Girl. An interesting read but I didn’t find any of the characters especially likeable. Right before that, I read Nora Roberts’ book, The Liar, which I really enjoyed. And The Fixer by Joseph Finder. I seem to be on a thriller kick lately!
I hope readers will enjoy my new romance, Man of the Family.