When I was a child, books were not a major part of my household. So imagine my dismay when, after being allowed to attend my first sleepover, my 13-year-old hostess pointed to a bookshelf of Harlequin Presents, told me to grab one, and proceeded to read. I was crushed but determined not to go home. I’d moved recently and was thrilled to make a new friend. Surely Lynette couldn’t read all night? But she did… and strangely enough, so did I. From then on, I became an avid fan of Harlequin romance and credit it for making me the strong reader, and English teacher, I am today. Yet another reason to be proud of writing
books that mothers feel good about sharing with their daughters.
Through the years, my grandmother passed along her Harlequin books to me. Sometimes she’d give me paper grocery bags full of novels! Talking about our favorite stories and authors was a special bond we shared. To this day, some of my best memories are sitting in her warm kitchen, learning how to make family recipes, and chatting about those uplifting romances. Whenever I had boyfriend troubles, she always said, “Karen, don’t cast your pearls before swine.” And by that she meant, don’t settle for any boy- wait for a special love with a deserving young man- the kind we read about and adored. On my wedding day, she confided that my husband Greg looked like Lynn Graham’s hero, Alex, in the VERANCHETTI MARRIAGE. It was huge compliment from my choosy Nonna and I treasure it to this day now that she’s passed from my life.
My opportunity to write for our outstanding editors, Victoria Curran and Laura Barth, came when my wonderful agent, Barbara Rosenberg, sent out an email about this new opportunity. At the time, I was focused on writing a Young Adult
romance series, CAMP BOYFRIEND, with my sister-in-law, Joanne Rock, a talented and popular Blaze author. While my mind was occupied imagining the romantic possibilities involved in bonfires and late night swims, an idea for a
Heartwarming took root that I couldn’t shake. I’ve always enjoyed talking to couples and hearing how they’ve found lasting love. One couple’s inspiring story touched me the most- my close friends and neighbors, Marty and Kathy.
They met in nursing school, started dating, then discovered Marty had Leukemia. Kathy surprised Marty by staying by his side, helping and supporting him through everything. Marty calls Kathy the love of his life and the strongest
woman he knows for not giving up on him. They married shortly after they received their nursing degrees and now, eighteen years later, Marty is cancer free and they have three beautiful children. What their amazing journey taught
me is that illness can never conquer true love. My September, 2013 release, THE FOREVER WISH, is inspired by their beautiful love story.
I pitched my Heartwarming idea to my agent who loved it so much that she sent it directly to Victoria. Victoria wrote back that she liked it as well and wanted to see three chapters. All of these emails were happening, unbeknownst to me, as
I worked with my students. What a joyful surprise when I read the news later that day. I quickly got to work on those chapters and heard back, a month later, that Harlequin Heartwarming wanted the novel. What a thrill!
In THE FOREVER WISH, we meet Christie Bates who has worked hard to overcome the pain of her brother's death as a teen, a path that led to her work as a grief counselor. When she meets cancer survivor Eli Roberts, she is touched by his obvious devotion to his children, all the more so after learning his wife left him during his treatments.
Yet no matter how drawn she is to Eli, Christie knows better than to risk her heart to the kind of loss that brought her to her knees once before. Except that, during the course of their friendship, Eli's kids have already found a place in her heart. And Eli's strength of spirit has taught her to live - and love- again. Soon Christie begins to see that love and family are
worth any risk- even when forever isn't guaranteed.
I'm so proud to be a part of the Harlequin Heartwarming family which has allowed a novel like this to be possible. I hope it gives hope to many who may need it and touches everyone's hearts the way that it touched mine.