So, Leigh, where did you get the idea for Lost and Found Family?
That’s a good question. Where do ideas come from? In this book the two main characters “spoke” to me first. And with each novel, I try to give myself a challenge: How do Emma and Christian Mallory survive such a tragedy and learn to love each other again? To heal their marriage? In that way it’s a reunion story—my favorite kind.
How long did it take you to write?
About four months. The story had several false starts until it finally jelled around a carousel and a smaller, carved version of an actual horse in the book. Then my editor (brilliantly) suggested we link that horse to the hero rather than to another character so he now owns The General. That really tightened things up.
What’s your favorite scene?
The one in which Emma, who’s a professional household organizer, meets with a client. The woman (actually Christian’s ex-wife) has twin girls the same age as the son Emma lost. Through them she is finally able to glimpse a way through her own grief to find a new “normal” for Emma.
Who was your favorite character, and why?
Christian, I think. After his divorce Emma was his second chance and they had the son he’d yearned for. Christian is such a good guy who only wants his family to be whole once more—yet he has a hard time forgiving Emma. And I do love writing heroes!
This is your seventeenth novel (plus a few novellas). What does that mean to you?
That I’m still in the business of writing (grin), pursuing that other love of my life (can’t overlook my husband here) and enjoying every minute of it—well, except for line edits, which I just finished for another book. I have so many projects in my head…
Speaking of that, what do you plan to work on next?
I’ve completed The Reluctant Rancher mentioned above (more horses and some cowboys this time!), which will come out from Heartwarming next fall. That book is the start of my new mini-series, Kansas Cowboys! So I’m now writing the second book. Its working title: Cowboy of Her Dreams.
What are you reading for pleasure right now?
I just read C.J. Box’s first book in his Joe Pickett series, Open Season, about a Wyoming game warden. And, although it’s not romance, I’m hooked! So now I’m in the middle of Savage Run, the second book in that series. I ordered both in one week. Amazon loves me! At the same time, I’m reading this month’s other Heartwarming titles; and just look at those gorgeous covers!
Here’s a brief, edited excerpt from my own Lost and Found Family. [After a quarrel, in this scene Emma has paid a visit to her husband’s office]:
“I’m sorry about the other night,” she said.
“Me too.” In the next instant Christian slipped his arms around her and drew her close against him. “Let’s both cancel anything else for today…We can take a drive, talk, eat somewhere—you love that restaurant near the Georgia border—”
“I don’t know if they serve lunch.”
“Somewhere else, then…” He waited a moment before going on. “There won’t be many more days like today before winter sets in. We could…” His next words were low. “Maybe even get a room at the inn.”
“How romantic,” she said, her pulse picking up.
His teasing suggestion made her remember a night, more than six years ago, when he’d taken her to dinner there then dropped down on one knee on the stone patio and asked her to marry him.
How could he still love her?
“It’s been way too long, Emma.” With the words Christian cradled her face in both hands, then slowly brought his mouth to hers. That one light kiss reminded her of all they’d had once; all they’d lost.
For a long moment she let him kiss her anyway, gave in to the feel of his lips on hers, his strong arms around her just like the night they’d become engaged. At the end she went boneless in his embrace and kissed him back. The temptation to sink into him, as she had so often in their years together, to share his love again, was almost enough. Then, as if by instinct, the old need to protect her emotions made Emma straighten.
Slowly, she drew her mouth from his. Inch by inch she backed away until the coldness had settled between them once more like a chill wind blowing down the mountain, making her shiver without his arms around her.
There could be no going back, no forgiveness. Because of her.