The Maverick’s Red Hot Reunion is the first book I sold. Entangled Publishing bought the story in 2013 and the story debuted June 2014. That was a wonderful day! More importantly, I was able to bring awareness out about a serious illness ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the Yankees baseball player who died of it in 1941.
You see, my stories all have happily ever after endings, but they are about real people with real problems who have to face those challenges, meet them and then, for the romance leads, they end up with the best victory of all—love and a future together.
Zach Tanner and Kennedy Gibson first became a couple years earlier. They were young. Impulsive. Made mistakes. And even had planned to marry until a terrible loss occurred. One that Kennedy couldn’t bear or ask Zach to go through again. So she keeps the reasons why she pushed him away a secret until many years later, she and their mutual best friend, Michael Sullivan, decide to renovate the resort where she first met Zach.
Michael introduced these two lovebirds. And he’s the reason they reunite and fake another engagement. Why? Michael, a former Olympic swimming Gold Medalist, is diagnosed with ALS. He’s got to get treatment and find a way to deal with this devastating diagnosis. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, Michael uses this disease to bring his best friends back together.
If something good can come out of something this terrible, then he’s going to make it happen. Zach and Kennedy have a lot to work through before they can truly move on as a couple, but they’ll do anything for their friend because they love Michael.
Michael is a secondary character, but he’s an important part of THE MAVERICK’S RED HOT REUNION because he represents how I coped with a dear woman’s ALS diagnosis—a woman who was like a mother to me—and with my grief over another friend’s diagnosis with a glioblastoma.
Writing this story was cathartic for me. I poured my emotions onto the pages. But not just sad emotions… not just grief… No. I also added humor and happiness and hope.
Because we all need a little hope in our world.
Here’s an excerpt from THE MAVERICK’S RED HOT REUNION. Not something between the couple that sexy (though there are plenty of sexy times in the story), but something that showcases Michael Sullivan.
Kennedy’s vision blurred when Michael rolled toward the podium in his motorized, custom-built wheelchair. They all turned their attention to the stage. The spotlight focused on her friend. Zach reached for her hand and laced his fingers through hers. Blinking back the threat of waterworks, she held onto him and listened to her dear friend’s slow, careful enunciation.
After he thanked the audience for attending his fundraiser, Michael said, “When I was first diagnosed with ALS I felt completely alone. But in the days that have followed, I’ve realized how deeply supported I am by my family, my friends, and my community. Yes, it sucks to know that one day I will completely lose my ability to walk and talk. And I won’t lie. I miss doing simple things like tying my shoes or going for a long swim in Sweetbriar Lake. But know this: ALS will never define me. Who I am and what I make of the time I have left will define me.”
Her friend, once so strong and capable, may have been stricken by a horrible illness, but nothing could rob him of his spirit.
I still get teary when I read this passage. And I still get choked up when I think about the two special women in my life who gave me so much love and encouragement. They were taken from me far too soon. But I know in my heart that their spirits live on. Here. In the pages of my books and in the small whispers I still hear today.