By: Marie Force
Hello, Casa friends! It's been a while since I visited with you all, and I've missed you! Since we last chatted, I've gotten great news on my second book. First, it has a new title, which I love, and a cover that I adore! This was the third book I ever wrote, and I finished it just about three years ago. I'm very excited to see it as a real, live book in July! While of course I loved my debut novel Line of Scrimmage, I'll let you in on a little secret. I love this second one even more.
My characters, Michael Maguire and Juliana Gregorio, meet at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport on a Friday evening when they are on their way to visit their significant others in Florida. He's engaged to Paige, a high-maintenance yet lovable woman he's dated for four years. Juliana is looking forward to seeing Jeremy, her boyfriend of ten years who has seemed distant lately on the phone. During the flight, Michael and Juliana commiserate on the pitfalls of long-distance relationships and both are anxious about the weekend ahead. A Baltimore prosecutor about to begin the murder trial of his career, Michael has better things to do than attend the over-the-top engagement party Paige and her parents have planned for that weekend. Juliana is anxious to know what's bugging Jeremy lately.
After Michael and Juliana each endure a disastrous weekend, they meet up again on the flight home, striking up an unlikely friendship that leads to love. Michael's trial spins out of control, endangering both of them as they deal with an ex-fiancée and ex-boyfriend who refuse to go quietly. One of the things I love best about this book is the way Michael and Juliana are friends first and lovers second. Their love blossoms slowly and sweetly as they support each other through difficult breakups and challenging work and family situations.
Line of Scrimmage fans can expect something a little different from this book. For one thing, Michael is nothing like Ryan Sanderson. Whereas Ryan was a swaggering alpha, Michael's style is quieter and steadier. He experiences a startling moment of clarity the first time he ever sees Juliana and never gives up on their love despite the many twists and turns their relationship takes. I find that kind of quiet confidence to be every bit as sexy as Ryan's in-your-face swagger and bluster. What do you think? And unlike Susannah, who led a somewhat pampered life, Juliana has taken a lot of knocks. Her family is a mess, her mother a disaster, and the bright light in her life is her long-term relationship with Jeremy. But the longer he's away on a one-year assignment, the more she begins to question their failure to take the next step in their life together. I admire her gritty moxy and the way she has survived in spite of a messy upbringing during which she couldn't count on anyone but herself.
The idea for this book came from a conversation overheard in the BWI airport about ten years ago when I was waiting for a delayed flight back to Jacksonville where I lived at the time. Two 20-somethings were commiserating on their troubled long-distance relationships and later realized they were on the same flight home. I imagined them falling for each other, and a novel idea was born. I carried that idea around with me for about seven years before I wrote Michael and Juliana's story.
I had a really special experience writing the end of this book. I was getting very close to the finish and had just the last chapter to go. It was a Sunday evening, and I had to work the next day, so I went to bed around midnight only to get up again fifteen minutes later to write down something I didn't want to forget. Went back to bed. Got up again twenty minutes later to make another note. Went back to bed. Got up a third time and said, "To hell with it!" I stayed up and finished the book at 5:30 a.m., just as the sun crested over the horizon. I was dead tired the next day but euphoric about the way that last chapter came together. I've written quite a few books, but this one has my favorite ending. I'll look forward to hearing what readers think!
Naming the book turned out to be a lot more difficult than writing it ever was. It's had three different names, but the one on the cover is the absolute perfect name. One more note of irony... You all heard me talk about how disdainful I was toward football until the muse delivered Ryan and the idea for Line of Scrimmage. Guess what my absolute least favorite thing in the world is? FLYING!!! I hate to fly so passionately that I'd rather do just about anything else than get on an airplane (even more so since plane + birds = river). So of course I had to write a book about a couple who meet on an airplane, right?
As we count down to July 1, tell me, have you ever had a close encounter of the romantic kind on a flight? Are you a member of the mile high club? LOL! I'm not, and don't worry, neither are Michael and Juliana...