Sit-Down Saturday with Lee McKenzie

I’m so excited to be here today to celebrate the May release of To Catch a Wife, the first book in The Finnegan Sisters trilogy.

As young children, the Finnegan sisters' father came home from Desert Storm in a wheelchair, and their mother walked out on them three months later. Middle sister Emily has never overcome her fear of abandonment. Annie, the eldest, became the nurturer, always looking out for her little sisters. CJ, the baby of the family, has always thrived on being the center of attention. Three sisters, three stories.

These stories are set in the fictional town of Riverton, Wisconsin. To learn all about Riverton, I hope you'll check out my April post here on the blog—“Making Stuff Up."

Sleepy little Riverton isn’t home to (m)any bachelors but the sisters can't imagine living anywhere else, so they settle for being single. Then a tough Chicago cop becomes the town’s chief of police, a dedicated doctor returns to take over the clinic, and an injured Texas cowboy, back stateside from two tours in Afghanistan, comes to town seeking solitude. And suddenly Riverton isn’t so sleepy.

To Catch a Wife is middle sister Emily's story.

Here’s the back cover blurb for To Catch a Wife:

He'll prove he's back for good
Detective Jack Evans will keep proposing as many times as it takes. He never expected to come home to Riverton, Wisconsin, let alone to find himself lost in a night of passion with reporter Emily Finnegan—and he gets an even bigger surprise when he finds out she's pregnant. Now he's determined to marry the beautiful brunette. It took a world-shaking surprise to make him realize what was missing in his life. But Emily has been hurt before and isn't convinced his desire to marry her is about love. He'll do whatever it takes to prove his heart is hers…for as long as they both shall live.
I'd also like to share snippets from two of my favorite scenes in this book because I think they dovetail nicely with one another and with the blurb.

Scene One [hero finds out heroine is pregnant]
     “We’ll get married,” he blurted. “Right away, as soon as you want.” The declaration caught him completely off guard.
     Emily gaped at him. “Married? Are you out of your mind?”
     “What did you expect me to say?”
     Emily sprang to her feet. “I don’t know. ‘How did this happen?’ ‘What are you going to do about it?’”
     He couldn’t help himself. He grinned. “I know how it happened. I was there, remember?” Then he sobered. Why would she think he would ask what she was going to do about it? Unless…no. He moved toward her, but she ducked out of reach.
     Okay, not exactly the response he would have liked.
     “Are you planning to do something about it?” he asked.
     She nodded. “Have it, raise it.”
     Her declaration was meant to be defiant, but it had him breathing a little better. She might not make this easy, but he had to do the right thing.
     “Okay, then. We’ll raise it together.”
     “Right.” Emily rolled her beautiful brown eyes. “That’ll be easy for two parents who live three hundred miles apart. Easy, until the next big case comes along, and you forget all about us for months on end. Yeah, that’s going to work.”
     “Come on, Emily. I’m sorry I didn’t call. I know you think I’m a thoughtless jerk, but I’m not. Give me a chance to prove it.”
     “And how do you plan to do that?”
     He couldn’t believe he was about to say what he was about to say. “We’ll get married. You can move to Chicago. I’ll take care of you and the baby and…”
     Horrified didn’t come close to describing her expression.
     “What?” he asked.
     “Oh, gee. Let me see. There is no way I’m moving to Chicago, and we hardly know one another, so I am not going to marry you.”
     “Emily, we’ve known each other for years.”
     “We’ve been acquainted for years. Big difference.”
     “They’re basically the same things.”
     “All right then,” she said, offering up a challenge. “What’s my favorite color?”
     He looked her up and down, as though her wardrobe might offer up a clue. “Yellow?”
     “What’s my middle name?”
     Hmm. Should he know this?
Scene Two [that evening over dinner]:
     Emily pounced on a slice of warm focaccia, swirled it through the oil and savored the crunch of rosemary and coarsely ground salt as she bit into it.
     “I’m so hungry, I could eat a house,” she said.
     Jack laughed. “I thought the saying was, ‘I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.’”
     “My sister CJ always flipped out when anyone said that, so my dad changed it to house. I know it doesn’t make sense. Eating a whole house is just silly, but we were all little, and we never really gave it much thought.”
     “When you think about it, it’s not a lot sillier than eating a horse.”
     “That’s true.”
     “So,” Jack said, helping himself to a slice of bread. “Blue. Martin. April seventh.”
     Bewildered, Emily set her bread on her side plate and stared at him. “Excuse me?”
     “In the spirit of getting to know one another…my favorite color, my middle name, my birthday.”
     His directness startled a laugh out of her. “Hmm. I didn’t expect getting to know one another to work like a game show. And blue is every guy’s favorite color.”
     “I guess that makes me predictable.”
     “Oh, I doubt it.” But she decided to play along. “So it’s Jack Martin Evans. Is that a family name?”
     “Jack is short for Jackson, but don’t even think about calling me that. Unless you want to sound like my mother after I’ve done something to annoy her.”
     She smiled. “Noted.”
I also had a lot of fun creating secondary characters for this book, and one of my favorites is a retired high school English teacher—Mable Potter. She's taught generations of Rivertonians, including the hero and heroine. She now lives alone with her scallywag of a mutt called Banjo. The title of this book is a play on To Catch a Thief and, well, what can I say?  Mable Potter and her dog just might be involved. While I was writing those scenes, I imagined Banjo looking exactly like this.

Photo courtesy of Border Collies in Need. Please click to check out their website!
Do you enjoy stories with animals? Pets play a big part in the books I write. The heroine of this story, Emily Finnegan, has a hamster named Tadpole.

For this book I held a Name This Furry Friend contest and the name Tadpole was the hands-down favorite among my panel of judges. I had fun coming up with an explanation for the name, and the winner (thank you again, Melanie!) is acknowledged in the book

For readers in Australia and the UK, To Catch a Wife will be available June 1 from Mills & Boon. Here's the UK cover.

To Catch a Wife, Mills & Boon UK
And here is the Australian cover.

To Catch a Wife, Mills & Boon Australia
I love how they apply different treatments to the same cover art to achieve different effects. But don't you find it curious that my brunette American heroine has suddenly become a redhead in the UK and Oz?

Thank you so much for joining me today to celebrate my latest book and the launch of a new series. To keep the party going, I'm offering a GIVEAWAY! Two, in fact. Each consists of a Magnolia Bakery tote bag, one of my backlist books and some assorted swag that will be as much a surprise to me as it will be to you! To be eligible to win one of these two giveaways, all you have to do is leave a comment that includes your encrypted email address (name at domain dot com/org/net//etc.).

Happy reading!

Until next time,

Lee...writing fifty shades of pink

To Catch a Wife (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2016)
His Best Friend's Wife (Harlequin Heartwarming, December 2016)
Cowboy, Come Home (Harlequin Heartwarming, TBA)


  1. The trilogy sounds terrific, Lee. I love the pics and names of your critter characters!

    Best wishes with your release!

  2. Lee, I just finished reading To Catch A wife. Loved the story and so looking forward to the sister's stories. Banjo is such a cute scalawag.

  3. Love the teasers, Lee! And those cute little beastie faces. Sounds like a great set-up and series. Congratulations. And who doesn't love a gazebo?

    1. I'm so happy they put the gazebo on the cover, Muriel!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful trilogy. Thanks for the post. I love reading about the animals in stories.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  5. Congratulations on your new release, Lee! I love stories that include pets, and I think Banjo and Tadpole are precious! I'm off to order a copy of To Catch a Wife; I can't wait to read Jack and Emily's story!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  6. This sounds amazing, Lee! Added to my TBR pile for sure! And the covers are beautiful. Congratulations!

    1. Harlequin does a wonderful job of our covers. We are so lucky!

  7. love animal characters

    alysap at yahoo dot com

    1. Thanks for stopping by, jcp! Great to have you here!

  8. Lee, I am so excited to be in the acknowledgment of your wonderful book. I cannot wait to read about Banjo and Tadpole. Thank you so much! Congratulations to you!

    1. It's a great name, Melanie! Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

  9. I do love your Heartwarming stories, Lee! Added this one to my bulging Kindle now. Hmm - why on earth did they change Emily's hair colour-? Seems strange. Oh well, these are very attractive appealing covers. Everyone should have a gazebo, right? Cheers. celia dot winky at gmail dot com

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Celia! Heartwarming covers are wonderful. And yes, so are gazebos!

  10. I know I would enjoy reading your story. It sounds like od book. Love the cover too.

    1. Thank you, Jackie! So glad you stopped by today!

  11. Hi Lee -- best of luck with your latest. And yes, nice cover art.

    1. Thank you, Helen! I'm looking forward to your next book, too!

  12. Hi, Lee. Everything looks wonderful--including the model for Banjo!

  13. This sounds like a wonderful trilogy! I love the two excerpts. And Banjo. And Tadpole.

    1. Thanks, Patricia! It's been a fun series to write.

  14. Tadpole has to be the best name I've ever heard for a hamster. Sounds like a great series.

    1. It is an adorable name, isn't it? And Tad for short :)

  15. Your new book sounds great!! Thanks for the scene snippets. I love the teacher's name, Mable Potter, and the dog and hamster are adorable. All the best to you with the new series.

    Lauigl [at] carolina [dot] rr [dot] com

    1. Thank you, Laurie! Mable also appears in the second book in the series along with her adult daughter Libby :)

  16. looks interesting

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  17. Your new book sounds incredible. I love stories with animals, and the dog and hamster are so adorable!

  18. Great snippets and I love the play on the title, Lee! Happy release month!


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