Stories have lives of their own. Some spring into being and race to completion. Others follow their authors around for years, demanding to be told. My January Harlequin Historical, ON THE WINGS OF LOVE, is the second kind of story. Even though it isn’t a Western, I’d like to share it with you here.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by flight—especially the men and women who first ventured into the sky. About fifteen years ago I came up with an idea for a story with a hero and heroine, Rafe and Alexandra, who are drawn together by their passion for flying. I loved it. From the very beginning I knew it was the book of my heart.
I wrote a proposal and sent it out. It came back again and again and again for two reasons. First, nobody wanted a story set in the early 20th Century. Second, nobody was neutral about Alex, my reckless, strong-willed heroine. Some editors hated her. A few loved her. After I started writing for Harlequin I tried the story again. The senior editor almost bought it but changed her mind at the last minute. “I loved the chemistry between Rafe and Alex,” she said, “but the time period is too modern for our historical line.” Years passed, editorial policies changed. I sent the story to my new editor. “Interesting time period,” she said. “But I can’t stand your heroine.” More time passed. I had another new editor, and suddenly Harlequin Historicals was looking for new settings. I sent my story in again. Finally… it sold!
Even then the saga wasn’t over. I’d conceived the book as an epic, covering the early days of flight through World War I. To fit the Harlequin format, I had to cut, and cut, and cut. Every lost word was painful. But I got to keep Alex with all her faults. The final result was a thrilling love story that I’m still proud to call the book of my heart.
At last it was done and I sent an ARC out for an early review. “Interesting time period,” the reviewer said in essence. “And it’s a nice story. But I didn’t like the heroine!”
And so, dear readers and fellow fillies, I leave it in your hands. Alex is a rich man’s daughter, desperate to escape her restricted life. She is passionate and courageous, but determined to do things her way. She makes terrible mistakes, including one that almost costs her marriage, her life and something even more precious. Will you love her or hate her? If you happen to read my book next month, I’d like to know. Meanwhile, let’s discuss heroines in general. What qualities do you like or dislike in a heroine? Do you have a favorite heroine? Why did she touch you? I’d love to hear. I will put the names of readers who post in a drawing. The winner will receive a copy of ON THE WINGS OF LOVE. I’ll do my best to get it to her before it hits the shelves in January. Good luck to all of you.