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Every now and again, you hear an author talk about the “book of her heart”, and it’s a phrase I often use to describe my debut Harlequin Romance, Soldier on Her Doorstep. Prior to selling this story to Harlequin Mills & Boon, I’d written a number of manuscripts that had received great feedback from editors, but ultimately none of them sold. And then the idea for Soldier on Her Doorstep came to me, and I had a feeling that it was the one! I can’t explain why I thought this book would be the one to sell, but something about it felt different. I was obsessed with the characters from the moment they entered my mind, and to this day I still adore them.
I have always enjoyed stories and movies about soldiers, and for this book, I wanted to write about a troubled soldier just returned from war. As much as this book is about love, it is also about a man’s journey from guilt-ridden soldier to well-adjusted civilian. Alex promised his dying comrade he’d make sure his wife and daughter were okay, but of course Alex wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the woman and little girl he found in Alaska.
Lisa Kennedy, the heroine, is a brave yet grieving young widow. Like so many women with husbands serving overseas, she has been left alone with a young child to raise. After all her years as a soldier’s wife and looking forward to the day her man would be home with her for good, she is now facing life as a single mom.
What I love most about this story is how the hero and heroine were in no way looking for love. Lisa was, in many ways, still in love with her deceased husband, and she didn’t think she’d ever feel like that again in her lifetime. Alex, on the other hand, had grown up in foster care and never known love and family like Lisa had. He’d also never been in love before, and he had a lot of issues to overcome before he could confront his true feelings for Lisa.
Another important part of my story was Lisa’s daughter, Lilly. I love writing about children, and Lilly is still my favorite “little” character. She is grieving for the father she never got to say goodbye to, and as a result, she’s talked to no one besides her mom since. But Lilly connects with Alex almost instantly, as if she somehow senses that he’s in pain too, and eventually she starts to talk to him, which in turn draws both of them from their shells. It’s a very special moment in the story when Lilly begins to talk.
My visual inspiration for Alex and Lisa were celebrities Eric Dane and Rachel McAdams, and the USA cover in particular has the perfect feel and tone for my story. I wrote this book fast and furiously, completing the draft in record time, but the characters and the setting felt so real to me that they leapt from my mind on to the page. Lisa and Lilly’s dog was also very real to me, probably because I’m a dog lover and owner myself. I truly believe that an animal’s love can help to heal a broken heart, because in return for love, care and kindness from a human, they are capable of giving so much.
Soldier on Her Doorstep will probably always be my favorite book, because even though I love all my characters and their individual stories, Alex and Lisa seem so incredibly real to me. I’ve had emails from readers already, as well as reviews, stating that this story made them both laugh and cry, and that’s a huge compliment to me.
This book is part of my Heroes Come Home mini-series, and the second book in the series, The Army Ranger’s Return, is available in August.
For more information about my books, I’d love you to visit me online – www.sorayalane.com
- Soraya Lane
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