Where the Heart Lies: In Hillsborough, N.C.

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Where the Heart Lies cover
When I set out to write Where the Heart Lies, I created my characters, Alicia and Liam. I liked both of them, thought they had realistic problems, problems that would keep them apart if their love wasn’t strong enough to overcome them. So then I started to wonder: Where do they live?

I thought about this a long time. Where could two people fall in love but be held apart? I’ve lived in small towns almost all my life. I was born and raised in North Carolina, and I continue to live here as an adult because I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. So I’m pretty familiar with small town life in this state. It’s both wonderful and much less than idyllic.

For the purposes of my story, I chose Hillsborough, N.C., one of the most beautiful, historic, quaint southern towns I’ve ever lived in. I spent four very happy years there shortly after I got married. My first son was born while we lived there. I left a part of my heart there when we moved away.

I took a lot of liberties with Hillsborough’s geography. The Colonial Inn, where Liam and Alicia have their first date, was open when I was there but has been closed for years. To the best of my knowledge, there is no shop in downtown Hillsborough like Lulu’s sex shop. Also, though Hillsborough does have a very nice little book store I visit whenever I’m there,  the store Alicia takes over from her father, The Book Nook, is based largely on my memories of a similar store in my own hometown by the same name.

What I came up with after I peopled my half imaginary Hillsborough with townsfolk concocted for the purpose of both encouraging and hindering Liam and Alicia’s love, was what I felt was the perfect background for a slow, lingering kind of love story with southern grace and a spice of antagonism.

Here’s the blurb for Where the Heart Lies:

All widowed Alicia Galloway has left of her war-hero husband are the flag that draped his coffin and his final wishes: to move to his hometown, take over the family bookstore and enjoy a simple, quiet life with their two small children. When she arrives, her husband’s best friend makes that new life anything but simple. How can she be so drawn to Liam Addison?

Liam only intended to help Alicia get settled. But one unexpected kiss awakens his long-held forbidden feelings. Soon, the town busybodies swoop in to warn Alicia away from him. Because no matter the man he’s become, he’ll never live down his reputation as town troublemaker and wolfish womanizer.

No one wants the war hero’s sweet widow and the supposedly former bad boy together. But the more everyone tries to keep them apart, the closer he and Alicia get. And the more determined Liam is to prove he’s a changed man. Will it be enough to convince Alicia to let a new love in her life?

What about you? Where would you fall in love if you could? Leave me a comment here for the chance to win a $10 e-gift card to Amazon!

12 thoughts on “Where the Heart Lies: In Hillsborough, N.C.”

  1. Kathy Ivan says:

    I love setting romances in small towns, with interesting and quirky secondary characters. It just develops that extra layer of richness and realism that a story needs so the reader gets immersed that much deeper and invests stronger with the characters.

    Congratulations on the release! :-)

  2. Michelle_Garren_Flye says:

    Thank you, Kathy! Believe it or not, my first romance was set in New York City! Although I enjoyed writing it, I’ve stuck with what I know best since then.

  3. Candice M. says:

    Congratulations on your new book release! I enjoy reading your work, and especially like the NC settings. I prefer romances set in small towns; it seems like there are less distractions and more character depth in those stories. Congratulations again!

  4. Michelle_Garren_Flye says:

    Thanks, Candice! And yes, small towns make great settings for romances.

  5. Michelle_Garren_Flye says:

    Twitter entry: @denisedyoung said: Hey Michelle. I tried to reply but had technical difficulties. Good post. I’d totally fall in love in Stars Hollow. #romance

  6. Even though I grew up in a semi-rural area, I have an urban sensibility. I prefer to set my novels in medium to large cities. I like the variety and anonymity that a city can give. Sometimes, though, the story and the characters require a different setting. A small town can be a nice change of pace (literally).

  7. Michelle_Garren_Flye says:

    It’s fun to play around with the setting, isn’t it, Andrea? I’m writing one set in Cancun right now. The heroine is (surprise) from a small town in NC, and the hero is from London.

    Thanks for the comments, everybody. I’ll check back tomorrow morning and announce the winner then!

  8. Coleen Kwan says:

    Looking forward to reading Where the Heart Lies. Love the blurb, the cover, the excerpt. Congratulations on your new release.

  9. Na S. says:

    I would like to fall in love somewhere familiar, comfortable and close to home. That way the place will be physically near and I feel more like myself. I would like a place that is quiet, peaceful and picturesque. There are many pretty mountains and parks, and lakes around here thankfully.

  10. Mami2jcn says:

    I live in North Carolina and love it. I fell in love with my husband in New Jersey, though.

    If I could fall in love anywhere, it would be a deserted island.

  11. Michelle_Garren_Flye says:

    And with no further ado, the winner is…Kathy Ivan! Kathy, email me at michellegflye@gmail.com to claim your $10 Amazon e-gift card.

    Thank you all for your responses! Mami, I’m liking the deserted island idea! I know it’s been done (a LOT), but I’m wondering if there’s a way to put a twist to it.

    BTW, I love giving stuff away…so visit me on my blog BREATHE at http://michellegflye.com.

  12. faruwaa oladapo says:

    Great indeed. I am a Nigerian I was brought up in a very remote area and fell in love there before I gained admission and today we are still together. I share your ideology. Congrat!

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