I’ve always loved stories based on families, especially when there is a strong parent. I grew up watching shows like Bonanza, The Rifleman, and The Big Valley, and I remember being drawn to Ben Cartwright, Lucas McCain, and Victoria Barkley, even though I was young when those shows first aired. When the authors at Eskape Press agreed to do a multi-author series about a widower with several children, I immediately signed on to write the patriarch’s story.
As a group, the series authors decided that the family business was an alpaca ranch in Indiana (as a nod to our publisher, who lives there). Since the alpaca business is not as lucrative as it once was, I had to be sure my character had another profession to fall back on. I thought of careers that could continue on a part-time basis and decided the Tom Cooper would be a successful attorney who became an alpaca rancher when he inherited the ranch from his grandfather. Tom had a loving marriage, and has mourned his wife for ten years. To get him to take a chance on love again, I needed a compassionate woman who understands loss all too well, and former nurse Laurie Matthews came to be.
In creating a mental image of my main characters, I again went to my favorite TV shows. The hero is modeled after my favorite silver fox – Mark Harmon. He’s about the age of Tom Cooper, my alpaca rancher. He’s handsome, but not necessarily what I’d call pretty. On NCIS, his Agent Gibbs is intelligent, but not flashy. Actress Jean Smart was my inspiration for the heroine. I loved her as office manager Charlene Frazier on the show Designing Women. She’s sassy, but there’s an underlying layer of pain.
I’m not sure how well these two actors would mesh in a TV production, but they worked well enough in my mind to create a story I hope readers will love.
Book One in The Escape Reunion Series, a multi-author project
Tom Cooper left his high-pressure law practice in Indianapolis for life on an alpaca farm in the tiny northwest Indiana town of Escape. Though he continued to practice law, the farm provided a good life for him, his wife, and their four children. But when his wife died, grief consumed him and the children all left. He’s resigned to doing things alone, but a disturbing medical diagnosis could change things.
Laurie Matthews left her nursing job in shame. The town of Escape has welcomed her, and she now owns the local diner. She’s attracted to the handsome widower who comes in for coffee and a hot meal, but keeps her distance, because everyone she’s ever loved has died – her grandparents, her parents, her husband, and one other.
A romantic relationship isn’t on the agenda for either of them, but when the diner falls on hard times, Tom steps in to help, paving the way for them both to escape the loneliness in their lives.
The familiar scents of good home cooking greeted Tom as he and John entered the diner. Laurie worked with local farmers to include their fresh produce, eggs, and meat on her menu rather than the canned and frozen fare Hal had preferred. Since most of the booths were full, the pair made their way to the counter.
Tom’s gaze zeroed in on Laurie, bent down and taking something out of the oven. She made a mighty fine sight, and Tom took a moment to appreciate it. Whatever she pulled out made him forget about eating something healthy. It smelled decadent. Along with her nutritious meals, Laurie had made a name for herself with her breakfast breads and desserts.
His appreciation was immediately cut short by a stab of guilt. The pain always hit whenever he thought about another woman. He’d been a widower for ten years, but not a day went by when he didn’t think of his Amy. The girl who stole his heart at age twenty and never let go. There would never be another woman like her.
As he did whenever he noticed an attractive woman, he pushed away his feelings. No use acting on his interest if he wasn’t able to let go of his feelings for Amy. Besides, after the news John gave him that morning, what woman would want to have anything to do with him?
The Road to Escape can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo.
Patricia Kiyono was born in Japan and raised in southwest Michigan, where she lives with her very tolerant husband, near their five children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Her first career was teaching, which she still does part-time at a local university. In addition to writing, she likes to sew and scrapbook. She also loves to travel, always on the lookout for special locations and historical details for her books.
Patricia Kiyono can be found on Amazon and at her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest.