Love Calls You Home (Deerbourne Inn) by Donna Simonetta

It’s June and with it comes two more new Deerbourne Inn releases! First up, Love Calls You Home by Donna Simonetta. I just finished reading this delightful novella. It drew me in right away: a woman who left her sleepy, cold New England town (hey, I live in New England and can relate!) for a blooming sunny career and life in Miami...but work calls her back home. Psst…a new love interest does, too!

Welcome, Donna!

What inspired this (specific) story?

When the Wild Rose Press put out the call for stories for their Deerbourne Inn series, the idea for Love Calls You Home came to me right away. When I began to write it, the story just flowed, and it was the fastest writing experience I’ve ever had.

(Jean side note: Me, too! Fastest story I’ve written, and it slammed it to me so quickly like a train! What a ride the Deerbourne series has been [in a good way]!)

What did you discover while researching/writing this book?

Since this is a series being written by lots of different authors, the publisher has a “bible” for the fictional town and some local characters. My original idea involved a woman who was the town librarian and her male childhood best friend, who is now a real estate developer. However, when I saw the series bible, the librarian was a man. I decided to go with my original story premise, but flip the genders, and I think it actually made for a more interesting story.

Tell us one unique thing about you people might not know.

Writing is actually my third career; before this I worked as an Account Executive for many years in the business world, and was a school librarian for even longer. Here’s the part that is more unique…my husband was my client when I was an Account Executive, and I actually got to know him over the phone before we met in person. He lived in Georgia at the time, and I lived in Connecticut. If one of my friends told me they met someone that way, I would think they were crazy! But we’ve been married for almost twenty-two years now, and together for a few before that, so it worked out for us!

Anything else you'd like to add?

This has been my first experience writing a story in a shared world, and it’s been great to get to work with so many fabulous authors on the Deerbourne Inn project!

(Jean again: I ditto that!)

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Stephanie Williams left skid marks on the road out of Willow Springs, Vermont after she finished high school. She didn't return until her company sent her to evaluate the town for a massive development project. Back then she thought the town was way too small and too cold. Now the cold isn't as much of an issue since she's reconnected with her childhood friend, Donald Flanagan. Stephanie doesn't remember his eyes being quite so green, or his body quite so built. He's smart and funny as he ever was, and a forest-fire sized attraction burns between them.

Donald never understood his old friend's driving need to leave Willow Springs. He loves everything about it. When he learns the truth about Stephanie's project, and how it will turn his hometown into a theme-park version of itself, will it extinguish the flame that has sparked between them?

Find the book online:

Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Apple iBooks

What do you usually write?

I mainly write novels, although Love Calls You Home is a novella. It is part of the Wild Rose Press Deerbourne Inn series, and is the first novella I’ve written. It was a fun challenge to fit everything in the shorter length, but I think I’ll stick to mostly novels.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process. 

I tried to find an agent with the first book I wrote. I sent out five queries and thought, “Let the bidding war begin!” Instead, I received my first rejection within half an hour. I didn’t let it discourage me (for too long, at least!) and continued writing and querying. That book, or the one that followed it, have never seen the light of day. With my third novel, Angels Fly, I still didn’t have any agent interest, so I decided to submit it directly to publishers, and was thrilled to have it picked up by the Wild Rose Press. Seriously. Thrilled. One of the best moments of my life!

(Jean: I agree! I also went down a similar path!)

What lies ahead for you?

I’m currently actively working on three projects. Love Calls You Home was on June 12, 2019, the third book in my Rivers Bend trilogy, What Was I Thinking?, is with my editor for the first round of revisions/edits, and I am also writing the first draft of another book. The last is tentatively titled Spirits Desire, and is a contemporary romance set in Richmond, Virginia, with a ghostly aspect to it. I’m really proud and excited about it! Fingers crossed that a publisher will want it, and y’all will get to read it some day!

Speed-dating round!

Ice cream (favorite flavor)? Coffee

Coffee or tea or wine? All three, just not at the same time!

What is your writing vice or must-haves?  I love colored pens, notebooks, and my laptop.

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? My happy place is the Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach.

What do you like to do when not writing?  Reading, watching TV (I’m addicted to ghost-hunting reality shows), and chilling on the beach is my all-time favorite thing to do, when I can.

Beach, lake, or mountains?  Beach all the way!

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Morning rooster. As the day fades, so do I.

What comes first, character or plot (or other)?  I start with detailed character profiles, although I have a general idea about the direction of the plot.

Favorite childhood book?  Nancy Drew!

Now for an Excerpt!

It was much darker on this side of the building, without the bright, neon lights around the entrance, and even though they could hear the muffled music through the wall, it felt as though they were all alone in the world. Donald stopped and turned to face her, which placed her between him and the building. He cupped her face in his hands, and Stephanie marveled that she’d never noticed how big his hands were before. He leaned down a little and studied her face. His eyes seemed to be searching for a clue as to what she wanted. There were complications aplenty––putting their lifelong friendship at risk, and her work here in town, which Donald still didn’t know the extent of, being two major hurdles, but Stephanie knew what she wanted right now. She knew it from the bottom of her toes to the top of her head, with a certainty she’d never experienced before. Her blood pounded in her veins, and she felt a little breathless with excitement about the step they were about to take.

“Hurry up and kiss me, Flanagan, before I spontaneously combust.”

One side of the mouth she longed to be kissing quirked up in a sexy half-grin. “There’s no turning back if we take this step, Williams. Are you sure?”

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Lion Dancing for Love: the latest in the Deerbourne Inn series

What inspired Lion Dancing for Love?

I wanted to write a story that reflected the multi-cultural world we live in, and how, as human beings, we have far more in common than we have differences. I have a number of Chinese friends and I have always been intrigued by their culture, and the process whereby immigrants are absorbed into the mainstream culture and what they retain and what they lose from their culture of origin. My heroine Caitlin’s family is typical of many immigrant families in that her granny, who was born in America to Chinese immigrants, is still very Chinese. However, her mother married an Anglo American, so Caitlin has a foot in both worlds. My hero Corey, however, is a born and bred Vermonter several generations back.

As a city dweller my whole life, I am also always intrigued by the differences between large and small towns and how individuals used to the hustle and bustle of large cities adapt (or don’t) to the intimacy of smaller towns.

Licking her wounds after a bad relationship, San Diego accountant Caitlyn Summers travels to Willow Springs to help her friend gear up for the annual Maple Sugar Ball. She isn't planning on staying long, but one encounter with the delicious Corey Duncan has her re-evaluating her plans. 

Corey swore off love when his wife Annie died from breast cancer. Caitlyn is too young, too citified, and vibrates with a passion and energy that will upend the safe, comfortable rhythm of his life. Corey has to choose between playing it safe and taking a risk on love. Caitlyn needs to find the patience to let Corey lead. If not, the Maple Sugar Ball might end in a sticky mess, instead of a slow dance with the man who has captured her heart. 

Will their fire burn hot enough to erase doubts and past hurts?

Did you learn any interesting discovery or tidbit of info while researching/writing this book?

Lion Dancing costume similar to Caitlyn and Corey’s in the book

Lion Dancing costume similar to Caitlyn and Corey’s in the book

So many! However, the ones tied to the lion dance were most interesting. I’m familiar with the color and pageantry of Chinese New Year celebrations, but it wasn’t until I started researching the topic that I found out that a Lion Dance is performed to usher in good luck and fortune. It is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals – including the opening of new businesses. That’s the link that allowed me to tie a Lion Dance to the Maple Sugar Ball held in Willow Springs.

I also discovered that 1.5% of Vermont’s population is Asian in origin, of which at least some are Chinese, so I felt comfortable introducing Chinese characters despite its French colonial history and association with maple sugar, maple syrup and skiing.

Tell us one unique thing about you we might not know.

I’ve always been a bit of a nerd and a bookworm, so many people are surprised to find out that I paid for my university education with a tennis scholarship.

How about an excerpt?

Caitlin gulped in a cooling draught of fresh morning air. She didn’t want to get off to a bad start with Annette’s friends and neighbors, but she would not, could not, say anything good about that show.

“So not a fan of reality TV, huh?” Corey sounded amused.

She bristled. “No.”

“Up to people what they want to do with their time, isn’t it? Popular entertainment has been around since the Romans fed gladiators to the lions. I’m sure some Romans found other entertainment, plays and suchlike.”

“It’s the biggest con job, on both participants and audiences. The only people who get rich are the producers who dream up the rubbish.” She gave him a sidelong glance. “I suppose I’ve offended you.”

Corey shook his head. “Not me. I’m hard to offend. Besides, I like to watch sports. Also reality TV, but not scripted.” He winked at her.

“So they say,” she muttered, but her tension eased.

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those conspiracy theorists who thinks every match is fixed?” He clutched at his heart. “And I thought we were developing a beautiful friendship.”

“We can’t be friends if I don’t like sports?”

He shrugged, but his lips tilted up, and his eyes twinkled. Built and a sense of humor. Why couldn’t he live in San Diego?

 

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Laura Boon stole her first romance from her father’s bookshelves as a teenager, The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and was immediately captivated. After holding a variety of positions in publishing, from bookseller to sales rep and publicist, she eventually found the courage to write her own stories. She was born in Zambia, grew up in South Africa, and went to university in America. She now lives in Australia with her husband and their fur babies Beau and Arro. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys sleuthing for artisan chocolate and beautiful stationery, watching tennis, and walking alongside Sydney’s beautiful harbor. Laura was name 2018 Australian Romance Readers of Australia Debut Romance Author of the year (The Millionaire Mountain Climber).

You can find Laura on her blog or Facebook page and on Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads, Bookbub and Amazon.

 

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