February is the month of love. It’s a good time for a month of love in February with the chill of winter still present—almost depressing as the cold, damp days, snow and ice drag on and on. Yet February hangs on the cusp of Spring, too, hinting of sweeter days to come. Valentine’s Day comes right in the middle of February. Everywhere in the stores are hearts and flowers, valentines of every imaginable kind, photos of sweet couples that make us smile, heart necklaces and rings, boxes of chocolate and special love gifts to give to those you care about.  It’s hard not to get in the mood for love in February, to dream of sweet times with someone you care about, to relive old memories of meeting that special someone in your life—or wishing you would someday. To get roses or flowers in the middle of winter. To share a special evening on a cold night with someone you love.

February, too—if you’re an author, as I am—is a great month to settle in at the computer to write a new book. And since I write love stories, what month could be more perfect for beginning a new love story? People often ask me: Why do you write romance books? I often want to answer: Why not? The world is so often a painful place, full of sorrows, war, and cruelty. The world desperately needs love and hope and beauty.  It needs good clean, decent books, too, about people that could be real in real places they can visit—books that make people feel good. I love a sweet love story, and writing romance is my way of bringing more love and happy endings into the world. I get the same joy and pleasure writing romances as reading them—they give you other lives and a story to get lost in with a happy ending to make you feel good. The world needs books about people who still care about each other, help each other in hard times. They need to read about people in small towns and in larger ones who live clean good lives, people who work hard, contribute to their world. And they need to read about people with a strong, good faith. How can they know that life is good if they never read about it? Paulo Coelho wrote: “Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.”

I, admittedly write what I like to read. I am the only one who can tell my stories—just as you are the only one who can tell yours. My heart and soul pour into every character, every book and story. You learn about me through my books and you can feel my heart. Victor Hugo said: “A writer is a world trapped inside a person.” Through writing, I let those worlds and stories that I love pour out. Although it doesn’t always happen, I think we love the concept that a true love story never ends. Even when we close the pages of a book, in our minds we see the story moving on happily through the years—two hearts finding their happy place beside each other.

It is my joy to tell you that in this month of February, two of my new books go up for sale—probably by mid-month for pre-order … but not actually publishing until the first of April. As has been my practice for the last couple of years, one book will take you visiting to a place in the mountains and the other will take you to the beach. Both are “happy places” for me … and I hope you will enjoy visiting in all the places in my new books and meeting the new characters I’ve created and enjoying the new stories.

In my new Mountain Home book SEEKING AYITA, I’ll be taking you to visit Cherokee, North Carolina, the home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. A lot of work and research went into creating this book. I wanted my book to bring respect to the Cherokee, to tell a story set amid them that would make readers feel like they had visited there. Life, government, and so many aspects of culture are different in Cherokee and the people have their own unique past. My main character Annalise Ayita Silva lives in Hawaii as the book begins. Her Cherokee mother is dying and she begs Annalise to take her ashes back home to her people in Cherokee to be buried. She also presses Annalise to stay for a long visit to learn more about her Cherokee roots and to comfort her grandmother.

Annalise is reluctant to uproot her life with her small daughter to go, but a vow is a vow. So she and Leila soon travel to Cherokee after her mother’s death, to stay with Annalise’s grandmother, Inola Crowe Youngdeer. Annalise soon meets a colorful mix of new family and friends, including Solomon Wolfe. An odd attraction sets up between the two, despite their reasons to avoid one another. And a host of unexpected events and a few mysteries will keep you entertained as you read this story of how Annalise learns more and more about her Cherokee heritage and past.  Along with Annalise, you, too, will learn more about the Cherokee and the beautiful mountain area where the Eastern Cherokee live and work at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains….[To read the back cover synopsis for SEEKING AYITA, go to the home page of my website at: http://www.linstepp.com]

My new coastal novel, LIGHTEN MY HEART, is the second in the new Lighthouse Sisters series. The first, LIGHT MY WAY, that you can read, or reread, before the new book comes out, introduces the four sisters who grew up at the Deveaux Inn and Lighthouse on small Watch Island, a part of Edisto Island, South Carolina. The first book was Burke Deveaux’s story. The oldest of the four sisters, Burke had always stayed on the island, helping her parents run the Deveaux Inn and Lighthouse, and her work load had greatly increased with her father’s death. An old friend—and an old secret love—returns to help pick up some of the workload and before the book is over picks up Burke’s heart, as well. In LIGHT THE WAY coincidences and various problems bring all the sisters back together. Lila returns from a religious community after her father dies. Gwen comes home broken-hearted, with three children in tow, because her husband has hurt her heart and betrayed her trust with lies. And Celeste comes back, battered and hurt from her marriage to an abusive husband, who had seemed so charming at the first, even working with her in the entertainment industry.

The second book, LIGHTEN MY HEART, is Gwen’s story. She is angry at her husband Alex Trescott and purposed to make a new life without him. Home with her family at the island, she begins to seek a teaching job somewhere in the area and gratefully gets a job at one of the schools she really liked in Port Royal below Beaufort. Also soon finding a home and place for she and the children to live, all seems to be going well until she runs into Alex in Beaufort and learns he has returned from Arkansas to work at Trescotts Restaurant in his family’s business. Despite Alex’s mistakes, you soon learn he still cares for Gwen and wants her back, but she wants nothing to do with that idea. And so begins the many ups and downs of a couple separated and estranged, trying to find a way to get along for their children’s sake. As you follow their story you’ll wonder if any reconciliation can ever be possible between these two strong-willed, determined people. Along the way in this story, too, you’ll love re-meeting family and friends on the island, and at the Deveaux Inn, and traveling to visit Beaufort and the small, historic town of Port Royal. I have a feeling you’ll find yourself wanting to visit this charming and colorful city the next time you’re at the South Carolina coast and that you’ll find yourself watching for the characters in this series to come walking down the street.. … [To read the back cover synopsis for LIGHTEN MY HEART, go to the front page of my author’s website at:  http://www.linstepp.com]

May you find pleasure in both these books and look forward to reading them. A favorite quote of mine is “Books are the way I go home with people” … and I look forward to going home and visiting with you soon through these two new stories.

See you in March … Lin

Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act

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