Message From The Author

Roxann Delaney

Genre: Current Series Imprints, Harlequin American Romance, Series

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Author's Message

Long before the glimmer of an idea for The Maverick's Reward, Tucker O’Brien was hero material. It’s a distant road from a name to a full-blown hero in a book—a road which began with the first book of what has become a series of stories set in the fictional town of Desperation, Oklahoma. Tucker was introduced in The Rodeo Rider as the hero’s younger brother who had disappeared at the age of fifteen and had fathered a son shortly after. At the time I had two books planned, with vague thoughts of another where Tucker could be the hero, but I had no idea who he was or where he’d been for fifteen years. I knew only that his family and neighbors still talked and wondered about him.

Fast forward to the fourth book, when an unknown sister of the two O’Brien brothers is introduced, finds her own hero and marries. While lying in bed after an evening of thinking about this new story and also wrapping up the third book, thoughts of the heroine’s wedding skipped through my mind. The wedding, my muse pointed out, would be held outdoors at the eldest brother’s ranch, and I began to imagine the area filled with family and friends gathered around a just married bride and groom. In the midst of the celebration, the bride looked up and saw a man in the distance, using a cane and walking toward her with a limp. Smiling, she went to meet him. He greeted her by name, told her she’d grown, and she responded with, “So did you, Tucker.”

Soon after the muse gave me the hint, the questions started again. Where had Tucker been? Why the cane and limp? How, where, and when had he become injured? And just why, after more than fifteen years, had he returned to Desperation and his family?

Instead of focusing on Tucker, I had to return to book three, in which I’d added a new female doctor in town. That brought about the realization that the new doctor would be a perfect match for a literally and figuratively wounded hero. But there was still book four to work on, so Tucker, his doctor and his book were pushed aside to “cook” in my mind.

In the end, it all came down to letting the character provide the answers, and Tucker did that. He’d become a soldier and sustained the injuries that caused not only his limp, but intense pain. He learned he had a son and was determined to get to know the boy who was almost a man. What he didn’t know was that on the way he would fall in love with the woman who would heal him, both physically and emotionally. Yes, it was a long road, but I loved every minute of traveling it.

- Roxann Delaney

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