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Archive for April 4th, 2014

APlacewithBriar

 

It’s a special thing – setting a romance in the same small, coastal town you grew up in and fell in love in yourself. My Harlequin Superromance novel, A Place With Briar, is a bit of a tribute to life on the U.S. Gulf Coast where I’ve spent over half my life. And, naturally – everything about this place and the people who live here have informed who I am and those who came before me.

 

But today I’m going to talk about one of the big downfalls about settling down on the southern coast. That is hurricane season. I’ve experienced quite a bit of tropical weather – from tropical storms to Category 3 hurricanes. (Anything bigger than Cat. 3 usually means RUN!) While rewriting this book, I came to the middle of the manuscript and thought, “Something’s missing….” The inn where most of the story takes place is on the Eastern Shore of the Mobile Bay, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. It also takes place during June, the first month of hurricane season. I came to the swift conclusion that unfortunately what this manuscript needed was a named storm. It helped that at that moment there just happened to be a tropical storm by the name of Lee sitting on top of our area. It was all the inspiration I needed.

 

The situation was ideal for that point in the storyline. The hero and heroine are stuck inside the inn together. The power’s out. There’s not much they can do but wait it out. Grab a little bit of comfort from each other, of course. Hurricanes can be a harrowing, especially if you live in the direct impact zone….

 

Late in the summer of 2004, my family was enjoying the sun on one of our local, white-sand beaches. At that same moment, hundreds of miles away from impact, Hurricane Ivan was gathering strength and speed in the middle of the Gulf. The high-cresting waves were the only indication that a natural disaster would occur in a few days’ time. While wading on the shore, I watched a small shark’s tail pop out of the surf as it fought the rough tide. Days later, the eye of Ivan made landfall less than a mile from where we had been enjoying the beach. While accessing the wreckage with my husband in his Jeep, I was heartbroken. Our beaches were ripped to shreds. Water had crashed inland, flooding nearly the entire island of Gulf Shores. Sand had been pushed into the lower levels of high-rise condos, which along with miles of beach-houses were reduced to rubble on their Gulf-facing facades. Costs for damage was far into the millions. Several acquaintances lost their homes. National Guard patrols took over the streets to catch looters and enforce strict curfews for those who were able to return home. For two weeks, the region felt like a war zone. Aside from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it was the worst beating Alabama beaches have taken in my lifetime.

 

It was important for me to show that neither of my characters were foolish for staying in the Category 3 storm’s path, they were respectful and cautious enough of the potential of a hurricane this size, and that they were prepared for the worst. On another level, as all frightening experiences go, the storm gives the hero and heroine a chance to mend the emotional bridges between them and bond as only survivors can. It gives them an added push toward one another and fuels them in their quest to clean up the damage the storm leaves behind. It also forges a deeper part of their relationship, enabling me to get them from the middle of the storyline to the third act climax and finally to their well-deserved HEA.

 

Here’s a little storm snippet from A Place With Briar, which is on shelves now in stores and online….

 

It didn’t take long for the wind to start howling. First it came as a kettle whistle. Then it strengthened into a steady, wolfish wail, interrupted only by brunt gusts that tossed limbs against the side of the house. The inn began to groan loudly, as if the storm’s elements made it feel its age like never before.

 

Driving sheets of rain drilled the Eastern Shore in sporadic bands. One minute the wind was all that existed, the next stinging nettles of water pounded the roof.

 

As the night wore on, it escalated. Endless wind, endless rain coupled with several hotspots in the fast-moving clouds. Then the sky rumbled its fury and deadly bolts forked overhead, illuminating the hampered world with blinding, white light.

 

And finally, the hail. The clouds littered rocks of ice on the bay. As soon as Briar heard their chilling cacophony, she knew Hurricane Brett was closing in.

 

The power lasted longer than she would’ve wagered, but when it shut down, it did so without a warning flicker. The house fell dead around her. There’d been no television or radio on, no noise inside the house. But without the fan spinning above her, without the drone of the air conditioner or the refrigerator, and without the comfort of light, she felt little between the storm and herself.

 

The generator growled, hesitated then roared. Lantern in hand, Briar waited to make sure it would keep running. Satisfied, she picked up several lengths of ready extension cord and unraveled it as she made her way toward the kitchen.

 

It took a minute to wrestle the refrigerator away from the wall, but once she put her back into it, it scraped across the floor with a shriek. First cord in hand, she unplugged the fridge and fit the cable into the extension. A spark from the surge between the two zapped her palm and she dropped both with a clatter, cradling her numbed hand as the fridge hummed to life.

 

“Are you all right?”

 

Heart launching into her throat, she pressed her back to the wall, blood draining from her head as she glanced up into what she thought for a moment was the face of a ghost. Then she blew out a shuddering breath. “Oh, dear God, Cole. Where did you come from?”

 

“Upstairs,” he said, pointing toward the ceiling. At her blank look, he added, “I…never left.”

 

“Your motorcycle’s gone,” she pointed out, puzzled.

 

“I moved it onto the side porch. I thought that would keep it out of the worst of the storm.”

 

As she struggled to her feet, holding her numbed hand in the other, she frowned at him. “Why didn’t you leave?”

 

He lowered his eyes, lifted a shoulder. “I couldn’t leave you here. All alone in this.”

 

Blurb:

 

He’s in some serious trouble…. 

 

Cole Savitt does not want to deceive Briar Browning. But if he hopes to see his son again, he has to find the weaknesses in her charming bed-and-breakfast, then get out of town fast! But the quaint inn isn’t the only thing charming him….

 

Cole’s straightforward plan becomes anything but when he begins to fall for the beautiful innkeeper. Suddenly everything’s on the line—his future with his son, a chance at happiness and the love of a good woman. Cole must rethink his priorities…and the stakes have never been higher.

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Place-Briar-Mills-Boon-Superromance-ebook/dp/B00FTQIM64/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392412584&sr=8-1&keywords=a+place+with+briar

 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-place-with-briar-amber-leigh-williams/1117254426?ean=9781460329351

 

Harlequin: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=51153

 

www.amberleighwilliams.com

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Amber will be giving away a $15 Books-a-Million gift card to one lucky reader. Leave a comment for a chance to win.

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