One of the best books I read to help my writing was From the Inside Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you by Rachel Hauck and Susan May Warren. One of the many topics they cover are the different categories of romance plots that are out there. “Home Again, Home Again” is a popular plot device because it offers so much opportunity for conflict and romance.
Think about it. How many books have you read where the heroine returns home and runs into the high school sweetheart that broke her heart? Perhaps she broke his when she left town? Maybe she had a crush on the popular athlete who never noticed her and her bookish ways until she returned for a high school reunion? I love the various ways to write a home again scenario that jumps off the pages for readers.
In my June release, ENGAGED: Surrendering the Future, Trish Maxwell was the “bad girl” in book 1, ENTRUSTED. She grew up in the Adirondack village of Speculator Falls and resented it. Her dreams had nothing to do with the county that boasts no traffic lights, her sights were set on New York City. She had an opportunity to pursue city life and took it, leaving everyone behind without a goodbye. Her departure was so abrupt that the senior center was briefly closed, angering many of them.
When ENGAGED starts, Trish is back in town with egg on her face and a lot of apologies to make. The dream job was a nightmare and the Big Apple was a rotten experience for her. She’s back in Speculator Falls living with her parents. She has no career prospects and no friends. Her ex boyfriend, grocer Ben Regan, married the Ohio city-girl who became the new senior center director. Trish has to start over, and she’s got her work cut out for her.
I thought I’d share an excerpt with you so you can get to know Trish better.
CHAPTER ONE (Partial)
Shirley McIwain and her huge specs enter the Speculator Falls Department Store right before closing. Nothing like a big pair of bug-eye glasses to magnify my troubles.
She saunters down the main aisle, stopping to pick up the black bear figurines and to sniff a vanilla candle. From there, she walks up the slight slope that leads to the clothing section. Where the register is located. And I’m there pretending to read the weekly paper.
Please don’t come over and ask me why I’m back in Speculator Falls.
As Shirley crosses the threshold and enters the world of sweatshirts, flannel and every kind of Adirondack logo imaginable, she stops near the gloves and picks up a pair, seeming to inspect them as she holds them up to the light. “Do you think you made a mistake?”
I look around and realize it’s just us inside the store. I lean closer. “Excuse me?”
She returns the gloves to the stand. “You know, Trish. A mistake.”
I clear my throat and walk toward the woman with jet black hair curled under in a style that has to be older than me. “Is it the gloves? I sell them. I don’t make them.”
Shirley rolls those big eyes of hers. “No. You, Trish. You couldn’t wait to leave Speculator Falls for the big city. When you left, the senior center shut down. Remember? Your ex-boyfriend? Poor councilman Ben was so upset with no staff, and he didn’t think as a volunteer it was appropriate for me to manage the center. Then there was the reminder of what you did to him, leaving the way you did. Ben made sure he closed the center for what he hoped would be forever.”
A line of perspiration slides down my back.
She’s not wrong. But talk to Shirley? No thanks.
“All so you could fulfill that dream of yours. But just like that, you returned.”
I clench my hands together to control the sudden shakes.
“And in not much more than a year, city girl Trish Maxwell is back in Speculator Falls without a permanent job, helping her mom at the store.”
I try to swallow, but my throat catches as the perspiration continues down my backside.
“So I wonder, was leaving here a mistake?”
My eyes start to roll and my knees give out.
“Trish? Can you hear me?”
A male voice, almost a whisper, is the first thing I hear before I even open my eyes.
But the person I see, close up, is Shirley hovering over me. Those big pupils can really scare a person.
“What’s going on?” I try to sit up, but my head collides with Shirley’s. A hand lands on my shoulder and presses me down to the floor.
“Trish, I need you to stay down until I’ve finished examining you. Shirley? Could you do me a favor and give us a little room?”
Shirley disappears, and kneeling before me is Wayne Peterson, Hamilton County paramedic. I didn’t know his eyes were Caribbean blue.
“What happened?” Left on the floor, all I’m able to do is gaze into those ocean blues while he flashes a light between mine.
Wayne clicks off the light. “You fainted.”
Do you like the “home again, home again” theme in a romance? What has been your favorite title so far?
To prepare for ENGAGED, I will be releasing book 1, ENTRUSTED, as an e-gift to newsletter subscribers this month. The Julie Arduini: Surrender Issues and Chocolate newsletter is a monthly update filled with recipes, freebies, book suggestions and more. Subscribe for free at juliearduini.com.
Pixabay/Julie Arduini images