The single requirement of a romance novel is that it has an HEA – a ‘happily ever after’ ending, but the beauty of romance novels is that there are so many sub-genres to choose from – from inspirational/Christian romance, to sweet/clean romance (which I write) to the very spicy books at the other end of the scale. You'll also find books from contemporary to historical and everything in between.
Among romance novels, the ‘return home’ trope is very popular – some would say, overdone. The challenge therefore for authors is to apply our own spin on it by creating a memorably different reason for the hero or heroine to return home. I hope I’ve done this well in my latest book, Life Support: #3 in the ‘Escape to the Country’ series, released today.
We first met Emma O’Connor in book #1, Intensive Care (FREE at time of writing). Emma is Joel’s annoying and opinionated younger sister who didn’t take too kindly to Kate Kennedy stealing her brother’s heart. But five years on, Emma has grown up. She’s completed a nursing degree (encouraged by Kate), has met a man, moved to Melbourne, married and started working in the Emergency Department. But after a marriage breakdown, followed by tragedy, Emma’s whole world crumbles around her. Her only choice is to return to Birrangulla – home – and start again. Alone.
The first time Emma saw Tom Henderson she was a shy, never-been-kissed 16 year old and he was the older, wiser, handsome school hero. For her, it was love at first sight. His good looks, humour, personality and all-round quintessential Aussie country bloke persona had her swooning from G’day. (Me too!)
Unfortunately Tom had a girlfriend and Emma didn’t even register on his radar. Until one fateful night. A night Tom clearly didn’t remember.
Emma’s ex-husband Lleyton has left her an historic heritage listed property called Lexton Downs. Inspiration for this homestead comes from a property called Mount Mitchell, owned by one of my husband’s colleagues. (Check it out here: www.mountmitchell.com.au)
When Emma returns to Lexton Downs, the last person she expected to see was Tom.
A man’s silhouette filled the doorway. Emma looked up and stifled a gasp as shock swelled within her. Once she remembered to breathe again, Emma stared at Tom in astonishment. Her heart was beating so hard she was surprised he couldn’t hear it from the other side of the room. Age and time had been kind to him. Exceptionally kind. If possible, he appeared taller – he had to be at least six foot four now – and he’d filled out in all the right places. She exhaled in a rush. The adult version of Tom Henderson was far sexier than the one she remembered in her dreams.
The shadow of a day’s stubble covered Tom’s face and his thick dark hair looked like it had been unfairly trapped beneath a hat all day. Emma had to curl her fingers into a tight fist to stop from reaching out to give him a hug and tousle his hair. He twirled the well-worn felt hat in his hands and she knew she’d been right. He’d been out working on the farm all day, his Akubra crammed on his head. The same striking blue eyes sparkled beneath his smooth forehead.
Small lines fanned out from the corners, crinkling as he frowned at her in recognition. “Emma O’Connor?”
“I wasn’t sure you even remembered me.”
“I remembered you.”
Her heart sped. Did he remember the night they’d shared too? She searched his face but saw nothing. Disappointment surged through her like a dam bursting its banks.
His eyes darkened with sympathy as he gazed down at her. “I’m sorry for how things have turned out for you, Emma.”
He stunned her by enveloping her in a hug and Emma returned the hug, wrapping her arms around his waist and drawing comfort from his strength. His arms tightened across her back as she fitted herself into him the way she had once dreamed of doing. She closed her eyes. It had been a long time since she’d felt so safe. Turning her head to one side, she rested her cheek against his chest, listening to the steady pounding of his heart. Time stood still. Memories flooded. Was it possible to sustain a crush for ten years? She pulled back to gaze into his eyes and her stomach shifted south. Apparently, yes, it was possible. Very possible.
Whatever the driving force, Emma didn’t recognize it. But she had to kiss him. Ignoring the clanging and banging alarm bells, she stood on tiptoes and kissed him. She felt him hesitate at first and she almost pulled away in embarrassment, then he returned her kiss softly.
The years faded, her legs liquefied and she was sixteen again.
What comes next is not what Emma expected! Her world implodes once again when their kiss is interrupted by Tom’s fiesty five year old daughter Ruby!
There’s so much I love about this story. I love Tom and the relationship he has with his daughter, Ruby and also with his Mum, Judy. I also love how Emma picks herself up after tragedy and loss and rebuilds a new life back home in Birrangulla.
I hope you enjoy this ‘returning home’ book. As always, there are plenty of medical dramas and moments which I hope I move you to tears.
For a chance to win an e-book copy of Life Support, please tell me what your favourite type of romance novel is, and what your favourite ‘trope’ is. Winners will be announced on 1st March, 2016.
Here’s some examples, but I’d love to know if you can come up with some others.
· Returning home
· Childhood/teenage sweethearts
· Blind date falls in love
· Bad girl/bad boy repents/changes
· Best friends become lovers
· Widow/widower finds love again
· Single parent finds love again
· Beauty and the beast
· Confirmed bachelor meets woman of his dreams
PURCHASE 'LIFE SUPPORT' NOW:
About Nicki Edwards:
I'm a city girl with a country heart. Growing up on a small family acreage on the outskirts of Geelong in Victoria, Australia, I spent my formative years riding horses and pretending the neighbour’s farm was my own.