What the Heart Knows, newly edited and dressed in a new cover, is officially on sale in e-format as well as trade paperback. I love a good “secret baby” story, which this is, but it’s so much more. It’s the story of a man who reached for the sky and grabbed a piece of it before tumbling back to earth. Unlike the mythical Icarus, Reese Blue Sky survived his untimely retirement from contemporary hero status as an NBA player, but can he go home again, even briefly for his father’s funeral? And when he runs into the woman he left behind, will he be tempted to stay, just a little bit longer?
Helen Ketterling has struggled since the summer she fell in love with Reese. She had plenty of reasons not to tell him about his son, but her feelings for him were not among them. She’s pulled herself out of the hole she dug for herself using gambling as a shovel, and she’s made a good life for herself and her son. But now that she’s working to help uncover corruption that threatens the casino business on the reservation Reese once called home, how will she handle the reunion she’s carefully avoided for so long?
We writers have all been told by at least one editor that unless your name is Susan Elizabeth Phillips (one of my personal favorites) you can’t write a romance with a pro any sport player as a hero. Romance readers won’t buy it. Okay, rodeo might be the exception, but that’s because the “player” is a cowboy, and who doesn’t love a cowboy? It’s one man, one beast, the ride only lasts eight seconds, and the rules are simple. Ride ‘em, cowboy. But football? Basketball? Up and down the field, up and down the court for hours and hours fighting over a ball, and the season is interminable.
Ah, but a retired player. One who has issues, regrets, dreams yet to fulfill and a heart in need of tender loving care, now that’s a hero we can fall in love with. Basketball is the sport in Indian Country. As a high school teacher I was a big fan. I was a loyal fan when I was in high school myself, a Celtics fan from way back, and now I support my Timberwolves through thick and thin. (Lots of thin, but hope springs eternal for the romantic.) But while it can be a metaphor, the sport itself doesn’t make much of a backdrop for my kind of a novel. It’s merely a part of what makes a character who he is, of where he’s been and what’s brought him to the crossroads where the story begins, the intersection of relationships, the push and pull of human emotion. No matter what the genre, a good story is all about character.
What do you look for when you check out a cover or a blub or a review for something to read? What “sells” you? What turns you off? I’ll be giving away an Amazon download of This Time Forever to one of today’s commenters.