I’m thrilled to welcome my Aussie author friend Carolyn Miller to Inspy Romance. Many of you may have seen or read Carolyn’s regency romance books. Today you’ll learn about her love for Christian contemporary romance (CCR). Carolyn has kindly offered a giveaway of her first published CCR – Restoring Fairhaven: Merriweather Island (Independence Islands Book 6).
Narelle: What was your inspiration for writing Restoring Fairhaven?
Carolyn: My husband is a horticulturalist and has worked in some fabulous places around the world – including Lyme Park, which was depicted as Mr. Darcy’s home Pemberley in the 1995 miniseries Pride and Prejudice. It’s meant I have a great affinity for people who work in gardens, and thought this would be a fun angle to explore for this book series. I love Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart, and wanted to explore how someone overcomes grief, which we see as both the garden and heart of Max Fairhaven are restored. So if you love gardens and don’t mind seeing a sassy-tongued girl trying to make it a man’s world, then I hope you’ll check this book out!
Narelle: Please tell us about the Independence Island series and the Merriweather Island setting.
Carolyn: The very first books I ever wrote were contemporary romances, so I have a bunch of stories I want to see published one day (more about that soon!). When the Independence Island series was presented, I saw this as an opportunity to step away from my historicals and revisit my writing roots while partnering with some amazing contemporary authors.
The Independence Island series is a novella series from six authors (Chautona Havig, Melissa Wardwell, Kari Trumbo, Rachel Skatvold, Tabitha Bouldin and yours truly) that is set in fictional islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Each author writes about one of the islands with some interlinking characters and settings, which makes the series a lot of fun to read – and write!
Merriweather Island is an island the residents are keen to keep non-touristy. They’ve employed mobile businesses (such as Greener Gardens) to help keep things as relaxed and chilled as what their parents and grandparents knew. It’s a place where locals know each other, trust each other, and can be a tad suspicious of newcomers. The beaches are nice, the weather is mild, but some of those gardens are needing attention. Hello Samantha Green of Greener Gardens.
Narelle: Do you have a favourite character in the story?
Carolyn: I have to admit I love Samantha. Family obligations might have brought her back to Merriweather after her adventures around the world, but her ‘can do’ attitude, and grit to hold her ground against those who think she should be the southern belle she never was, make her real, relatable, and engaging. She’s definitely got some family dramas going on, but she overcomes with grace – and a sense of humor that certain reclusive writers on the island don’t always appreciate!
Narelle: Did you have any specific issues to research for the story?
The plant life of the South Carolina / Georgia area was the main element for me (an Australian) to research. The Independence Islands might be fictional, but the setting still needs to be grounded in a degree of reality, so it was fun to explore some of the things so different to where I live. Like hurricanes – we don’t get hurricanes in my corner of Australia (we do get tropical cyclones further north!) – so looking at how these sorts of events impact on vegetation etc was really interesting.
Narelle: Did you find it easier or harder to write Restoring Fairhaven compared to your trade length Regency romances?
My Regency historicals are all at least 90k words, so it felt like a joy to write only 50,000 words. It did mean there had to be less subplots and more focus on the main characters, but having written nine Regency Brides books in a relatively short amount of time, it felt marvellously refreshing to write a contemporary like Restoring Fairhaven. (And it didn’t hurt that I didn’t need to research whether a word or phrase was in use during Regency times!)
Narelle: Please share with us your plans for future contemporary Christian romance (CCR) books.
I have another four books that form part of the Independence Islands series, with the next Regaining Mercy (about a failed reality TV star) releasing in June 2021 (and available for preorder now). I’m also in the planning stages with Narelle Atkins and some other Australasian-based authors about a Christian western-set series, so watch this space!
I’m also really excited to be publishing a hockey-based series set in the Original Six cities of the National Hockey League, with the first releasing in October next year. These are standalone romances with engaging characters, humor and God-elements woven throughout, that early readers such as Rachel McMillan and Carrie Booth Schmidt have loved. I can’t wait to share more about them! (Find out more by visiting my website www.carolynmillerauthor.com and stay up to date with my bookish news by signing up for my newsletter there.)
Samantha Green of Greener Gardens gets more than she bargained for when she is employed to restore the overgrown gardens of the estate owned by a reclusive writer, whose romances about unrequited love have become bestsellers and movies, despite never having a happy ending. New to this role, Sam is determined to succeed, despite facing challenges with the business and her family.
Max Fairhaven just wants to be left alone. But the green-thumbed intruder to his island hideaway is stubborn, and her quick wits and sunny disposition soon get under his skin. Between banter and garden renovation she gradually brings some much needed life to this widower, as he begins to engage with the real world.
Can happily-ever-afters be found in real life as well as fiction?
I really enjoyed reading Restoring Fairhaven and escaping to the gorgeous Carolinas island setting. Carolyn Miller is known for her regency romance series, and her first published Christian contemporary romance includes story elements that will delight her regency romance fans.
Max Fairhaven is a proper English gentleman who has hidden away from the world and poured his melancholy into his best selling fiction books. Samantha Green is the hard working gardening contractor who disrupts Max’s insular world and inspires him to evaluate his life choices.
Drawing on the beauty and the beast fairytale, a fun, sweet and faith-filled romance develops into something more than friends. Max and Samantha negotiate many obstacles and embarrassing moments on their journey to happily-ever-after. Highly recommended.
Thank you, Carolyn, for visiting with us. Carolyn is kindly offering a giveaway of a Kindle copy of Restoring Fairhaven. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post. The giveaway will close on Thursday and the winner announced in the Sunday Edition.