Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Interview & Excerpt ~ FINDING HER FOREVER FAMILY by Traci Douglass


Finding Her Forever Family (Anchorage Mercy Hospital, #2)
by: Traci Douglass
Series: Anchorage Mercy Hospital
Genre: Contemporary Medical Romance
Release Date: May 1, 2019
Publisher: Harlequin Medical Romances
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A nurse to heal his heart…

…and complete his family.

After losing her mother to a hereditary illness, trauma nurse Wendy Smith vowed never to risk having a family of her own. So acting on her instant attraction to sexy single dad Dr. Tom Faber is a definite no! But through her unexpected connection with his daughter, Wendy grows closer to Tom and their chemistry intensifies…along with her longing for her own family—with him!


Hi Traci. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
I’m great, thanks for asking! And I’m so excited to be here on your blog today.

Congratulations on the release of Finding Her Forever Family. What can you tell me about the book?
This story focuses on Wendy Smith, a trauma nurse with a bit of a shadow hanging over her in the form of a genetic disease she may or may not have inherited, and Tom Farber, an OB/GYN who’s doing his best to cope with raising a pre-teen daughter on his own and having a bit of trouble with that. Both my hero and heroine have plenty of reasons to not want to get involved, but (of course) the sizzling awareness between them makes it pretty much impossible for them to ignore it or each other for long. Plus, Wendy is enlisted to help Tom with his daughter and shenanigans ensue from there.

Is the story related to your One Night with the Army Doc book? If so, how?
Both stories take place within the fictional Anchorage Mercy Hospital world that I created in my debut book with the Harlequin/Mills & Boon Medicals line, One Night with the Army Doc. There are mentions of previous characters from book one, but both are standalone stories and can be read independently. (Though I hope if you like one, you’ll want to check out the other… **wink**)

Tell me about the characters of Wendy Smith and Tom Faber.
Wendy was first introduced in One Night with the Army Doc and was described by the hero in that book as “half-Inupiat and all attitude” and that pretty much sums up Wendy in a nutshell. She’s feisty and funny and smart as a whip. She’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind and isn’t one to put up with a lot of crap from others, a trait that serves her well as head trauma nurse in the ER where she has to spend her days wrangling patients and staff and the occasional wayward doctor as well. On the flip side, she’s also kind and compassionate and more than a little guarded as well, since she’s carrying around this secret about her possible Huntington’s Disease diagnosis. Not many people know about her family history, other than her family and close friends, and she doesn’t want it to get out. She’s not the type to want to be pitied or treated differently because of a potential diagnosis. She’s tough, but her toughness covers a soft, squishy center.

Tom Farber, on the other hand, is a guy who’s coping with a lot on his plate and trying to keep it all in check and failing pretty much everywhere. His ex-wife, with whom he had a tenuous relationship (to put it mildly) recently died and he’s now become the sole caretaker of his pre-teen daughter, whom he barely knows (see “tenuous relationship” above). He’s a bit of a control freak and analytical and having his well-ordered world thrown asunder is more than a tad overwhelming for him. He loves his daughter and wants her to be happy, but the more he does to help, the more he gets wrong. When Wendy suddenly appears in his life, she’s like the lifeline he never knew he needed. Add in the grief both he and his daughter are experiencing and the undeniable attraction growing between him and Wendy and it’s all a powder keg ready to explode in ways none of them expected.

I’ve read an excerpt of Finding Her Forever Family. I was pleasantly surprised to find the book doesn’t seem as straightforward as I thought. Wendy lost her mother when she was only ten-years-old. While she has done genetic testing to see if she carries the gene which killed her mother, she refuses to find out what the results are. Why does she take the test and then just choose to live her life like she’s going to die?
Great question! And I’m glad you found the book more complex than you’d originally thought. As a reader, I always like books that I can sink my teeth into and I wanted that here too, so yay! And yes, the book deals with what could potentially be really dark, depressing subjects, but hopefully I’ve dealt with them in an uplifting, optimistic way. This is a romance after all, and category romance at that, where the happily-ever-after is guaranteed. How the characters get there is the fun part, I think. Now, to your question.

In researching Huntington’s Disease for the book, I spent some time not only looking up all of the medical stuff, but also in some support groups for people with the disease in their families. That was really fascinating. I think as outsiders, sometimes it’s easy to make judgments about another’s situation and think you’d know exactly how you’d respond in those circumstances, but as Wendy says at one point in the book, they should “walk a mile in her shoes” first. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to live with what could be a ticking time bomb in your DNA. In reading lots of perspectives from people dealing with the disease themselves or with family members suffering from Huntington’s, there really is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on the individual and how they want to deal with the possibility of inheriting the disease.

In my story, Wendy and her siblings all get tested when they turn eighteen. Wendy’s the youngest kid of her family, and at the time she’s tested, she’s just getting ready to head off to nursing school and start her life as an adult. She’s got a lot going on and decides at that point she doesn’t want to know, which is totally understandable. First, who doesn’t think they’re immortal at eighteen? And second, she knows the test results will always be there once she’s out of college and settled in a job. She’s not interested in starting a family at that point, so she decides to wait. Her older brothers, on the other hand, were all planning to go to work in the family business and not college and were already in serious committed relationships. There’s a fifty-fifty chance their mother passed it on to each of them, so it’s not certain if any of them or all of them would have the disease. Her brothers were all in serious relationships at the time of their testing, so they felt it was important for them to find out right away since they could potentially be having children. Wendy wasn’t there yet at eighteen and as her life progressed, the time to find out just never seemed right. She’s careful, birth-control wise, and avoids long-term relationships, so she just never got her results.

Now, though, as she gets closer to the age her mother was when she showed signs of Huntington’s and ultimately died, Wendy’s fears about the disease grow stronger and as her relationship with Tom intensifies, she’s faced with the real need to get her results while at the same time, being scared her days could be numbered. It’s a big source of conflict internal for Wendy and eventually between her and Tom as well. I wouldn’t necessarily say she’s living her life like she’s going to die, but she’s definitely developed a “live each moment to the fullest” mentality because of it.

Tom is a single father and is finding that it’s not as easy as he thought it would be. He and Sam don’t seem to have the close relationship you generally find in romances. What did you find to be their biggest challenge or obstacle?
Another great question! Tom’s relationship with his ex-wife was rocky at best. They married young and didn’t really take the time to get to know each other well before taking the plunge. This resulted in Tom finding out his ex was using drugs and him having to deal with her addiction and trying to get her help even though she fought him every step of the way. It created an obvious chasm in their relationship. When Sam was conceived, they did their best to make things work, but after the birth, his ex-wife went back to her old ways and she and Tom grew farther and farther apart. Toward the end of their marriage, she even had a restraining order against him, preventing him from seeing his daughter at all.

The judge in their divorce proceedings sided with Tom’s ex-wife, so he had virtually no contact with Sam until after his ex-wife’s death and he returns to the East Coast to collect his daughter and bring her back to Alaska to live with him. Not having seen her for twelve years (not by his choice) means they are basically strangers. They have to relearn how to be with each other again. Tom’s a man who’s used to being in control. As a doctor, it’s vital for his job. But with Sam, he has no control whatsoever. She’s been through a lot too and his ex-wife told her lies about Tom—that he wanted nothing to do with her, that he didn’t love her—and those are huge obstacles to try and overcome.

What do you think Wendy, Sam and Tom have taught you as an author?
Wow. Um. Probably not to judge people and their choices without knowing all the facts first. Everyone’s walking their own path and just trying to do the best they can to get through. Also, that path is so much nicer with good company.

Okay. Enough of the hard questions. Tell me a fun fact or two about Finding Her Forever Family.
LOL. Let’s see… The Snaggle Tooth pub is based off a real bar in Anchorage called The Moose’s Tooth. It appears in each of my Anchorage Mercy books and may or may not have mystical powers to bring couples together. Also, salmon nachos are a real thing and super delicious!

Tell me about one of your favorite scenes from the book and why is it a favorite?
There’s so many, but I think the first time we see all three of them together—Tom, Wendy, and Sam—in the hallway at the hospital is one of my faves. It just puts all their issues out there at once. Tom’s at his wits end dealing with Sam after he’s had to go to her school and pick her up from the principal’s office after she’d run away off school grounds again. She’s upset over him forcing her to go stay with his parents for the Memorial Day weekend. Wendy just happens upon their drama and puts a quick effective kibosh on it. She and Sam bond over the loss of their mothers and the connection between Wendy and Tom flares hotter than ever, though both are denying it. Great stuff as a writer.

One last question. What do you hope readers take away from this story?
I hope readers finish Finding Her Forever Family and feel a sense of hope. Hope that no matter how crazy or complicated or dark things seem, there is always a way out and happiness is possible. Miracles happen every day.

Traci, thank you so much for answering some questions for me.

He couldn’t do this by himself.

The counseling helped Sam, but he needed some support too. He needed Wendy, despite his daughter’s wishes to the contrary.

Tom stopped partway down the hall and headed back to the kitchen, where Sam had stuck Wendy’s business card to the fridge with a magnet. A glance at the clock showed it was now a few minutes after 11 p.m. Late, yes, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

And he had told Wendy he’d be in touch.

Tom grabbed his cellphone from the charger and dialed.

After a few rings a husky female voice answered, “Hello?”

Great, he’d woken her up. He cleared his throat. “Hi. It’s Tom.”

“What’s wrong?” Wendy said, her tone groggy. “Did something happen to Sam?”

“No, she’s fine.” The knot between his shoulder blades eased at the sound of her voice and Tom continued down the hall and into his bedroom, shutting the door behind him. “I wanted to talk to you.”

Silence.

“Hello?” Tom asked.

Wendy moaned, low and sultry. And just like that, their kiss flashed back into his head. The feel of her hand in his, the sweet smell of her floral perfume, the taste of coffee and passion on her tongue. More images flooded in—Wendy, entwined in his sheets as he nuzzled and licked her all over, making her cry out his name as he brought her to the brink of climax...

His traitorous body twitched in response.

“Am I interrupting something?” he asked, taking a deep breath to calm his raging libido.

“No,” she said, her tone impatient. “What can I do for you?”

A loaded question if ever there was one.

Frustrated in more ways than one, Tom scrubbed his hand over his face.

He shifted his stance, reminding himself that Wendy Smith was not the woman for him. Things were too complicated. He needed her help to fix things between him and Sam. His daughter needed to be his top priority. His only priority, no matter what his body was urging to the contrary.

Tom pressed on.

“I called to talk about Sam. I know the counselor’s returned from vacation and all, but if you wanted to keep meeting my daughter in the cafeteria, as a friend, I’d be fine with that.” He rubbed his eyes. “Look, the truth is I’m afraid I’m going to screw all this up without you, to be honest. Tonight I brought up what happened with her at school last week and I tried to do the things you mentioned—reassuring her about the weekend with my parents, asking her about her day, opening up and engaging with her—but they’re not working.”

Wendy sighed. “You know you’re putting me in a tough spot.”

“I know, but I’m desperate. I do my best to give my daughter as much time as possible, but I have to work to support us both. Her private school is expensive.” Tom sighed and shook his head. “I’m out of ideas here. What do you suggest I do? The counselor mentioned getting her involved in some extracurricular activities. She mentioned she likes reading. I thought maybe she could volunteer at the local library, but I’m not sure how we’d work that out logistics-wise, now that I think about it. With the nanny and my schedule and—”

“Calm down,” Wendy said. “I may have another solution. Did you know we were putting in a new family lounge in the ER?”

“No.”

“It was Jake’s idea. It’ll be geared toward relaxing the kids who come in while their parents are being treated. We set up a special room with video games, toys, computers to do their homework, a television and a kid-friendly library with everything from picture books to young adult novels. The ER staff planned to take turns on our breaks reading to the kids, but maybe Sam would enjoy taking over for the little ones in the afternoon.”

“Wow. Uh...” Sam had told him she liked reading. It sounded like a good fit to him. “Sorry. Yes, I think she’d like that. But then again, she hardly speaks to me. On the rare occasions when she does surprise me with a full sentence, it’s usually to tell me how much she hates me, how she knows I don’t want her, or how she wishes I’d died instead of her mother.”

Those times, he’d rather she’d just stayed quiet.

“I’m sorry,” Wendy said, her tone genuine. “She’s processing a lot of anger.”

“Please say you’ll “help me,” he pleaded. “Whatever she needs. I’ll do anything. Please?”

The line was quiet for so long Tom wondered if Wendy was still there. Then she said, “Fine. Let me talk to her about the lounge at lunch tomorrow and see what she says. If it’s a yes, then you can come down to the ER around four o’clock on Friday afternoon and hopefully see a different side of Sam. One that’ll change your perspective.”

Yes! He wouldn’t miss this opportunity for the world. “Perfect. Thank you.”

“And for goodness’ sake, don’t mention any of this to her either. Make up some excuse for coming down but leave me out of it.” Wendy sighed. “This is a chance to start something new with your daughter. Don’t screw it up.”

Purchase Finding Her Forever Family from:

Anchorage Mercy Hospital Series:

USA Today Bestselling Author Traci Douglass writes fiction bursting with romance, usually mixed with a healthy portion of snark. Her stories feature sizzling heroes with quick wits and troubled pasts and smart, independent heroines who always give as good as they get. Her books are published with Harlequin/Mills & Boon, Entangled Publishing, and Tule Publishing.

She’s an active member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Indiana Romance Writers of America (IRWA), and the International Thriller Writers (ITW), and holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

Places to find Traci Douglass:

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2 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Kim! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. Thank you for the interview and excerpt. I'm looking forward to reading this story!

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