Learning to Love is the third story in my Serendipity series, and takes place in Morristown, NJ, which is close to my hometown. In some ways, this sotry was the most complicated to write. The overarching theme is looking beyond the surface. Both my hero, Adam, and my heroine, Dina, are more than first meets the eye. They also have to learn to be less judgmental of others in order to allow themselves to fall in love.
As a writer, this story posed several challenges for me. The first challenge actually resulted in my having to completely rewrite the story based on outside events. Adam has appeared in the previous two books as a minor character. He’s friends with the main characters in those two books, and he jumped onto the pages of those books as a player. In both of those books, he was a love ‘em and leave ‘em guy with a heart of gold. That meant he was a terrific friend, but definitely not boyfriend material. In fact, the heroine of book 2, Five Minutes to Love, is sick of men just like him, having dated him for a brief time.
When I first sat down to write Adam, I wanted a misunderstood hero. I created a character whose lack of commitment stemmed from his mother leaving him without explanation, and an emotionally distant father. It worked. But I wanted more. So I originally made him falsely accused of sexual harassment. And then #MeToo happened. Regardless of one’s thoughts on that subject, or one’s political leanings, I really did not want to delve into this area. I didn’t want to come across as making light of the subject, nor did I want to seem as if I was suggesting women shouldn’t be believed. And, I wanted a likeable hero, so making him accused of sexual harassment did not seem to be the way to go. Unfortunately, I was finished with the first draft and it was already with my critique partners. I put a halt to everything, took the story back and rewrote it.
This time, and this is the version that is published, Adam is accused of messing up at work. He’s been careless and as a result, has lost several cases for clients. His father is the head of the law firm, and even though Adam is his son, he fires him. No matter how many times Adam declares he didn’t actually mess up, no one believes him. He is in desperate need of fixing his reputation, getting his head on straight, and settling down. Dina is the perfect solution. She’s brilliant—like Mensa brilliant—and doesn’t physically look like the typical women he’s dated. What’s even better, is that she can see through him, past all of his moves, and appreciate his heart of gold. This terrifies him. As for Dina, like she repeatedly says to her friends that Adam is nothing like the men she typically dates either. He’s completely out of her league, or so she thinks. But then he comes to her rescue, and everything changes.
I’m not going to tell you any more about the book, but it required a lot of digging into my own soul to figure out how to write theirs. In the world we live in currently, it seems that the outer layer, the one we portray to the world, has to be perfect. On social media, no one posts early morning bedhead pictures. We post edited versions of ourselves, happy status updates, and funny anecdotes. But it’s what we don’t show the world that really matters. Adam and Dina—and I, as their creator—had to figure out the deep core of themselves, in order to let that shine through, and serve as a magnet to each other.
Now for an excerpt:
What the hell just happened? She wanted to be friends. The only kind of “friend” he wanted to be with her
had “boy” attached to it. No, that wasn’t true. He enjoyed her friendship because he loved talking to her, hearing her opinions, sharing himself with her.
But he was becoming more attracted to her. So far, they’d only kissed, but that one kiss, that unbelievable kiss, haunted him. His lips still burned where they’d touched hers, his insides still turned to jelly when he thought about it. In fact, he’d been hoping there would have been more kissing in her apartment once he’d apologized for his gaffe.
But she’d focused on their arrangement and her overreaction, and here he was pulling away from the curb into rush hour traffic.
She thought he was dating her only to impress his father. If he were one hundred percent honest with himself, he’d acknowledge the partial truth in that statement. But the more time he spent time with her, when he wasn’t royally screwing things up with her, the more he wanted to move beyond their arrangement.
His head was another matter. It was still focused on not making a fool of himself, on maintaining the right reputation, on spinning the right message.
But listening to his head was probably what had gotten him into this mess in the first place. As unbelievable as it might sound, it was time to follow his heart.
Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.
In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with her family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open in the first place. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.
She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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Oxford comma, yes or no? Sometimes, which creates a ridiculous amount of editing problems.
Ice cream? Chocolate—there is no other flavor.
Coffee or tea or wine? Coffee and tea, depending on the time of day.
What does your desk look like? Hopefully ordered chaos. There is a combination of papers, files and cute things my kids have made me.
In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)?I’d love to be an archaeologist. I love learning about previous times.
You have a time travel machine: where/when? I’d go into the past. Probably somewhere with castles.
What do you like to do when not writing? I love hanging out with my friends and family, as well as taking photographs.
Beach, lake, or mountains? I think the mountains. My husband and I love hiking in the summer.
Learning to Love can be found for pre-order on (it releases November 28th!) : Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble