Hi Sarah and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, How to Keep a Secret!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
How To Keep A Secret focuses on three generations of women from the same family, all of whom are keeping secrets from each other. When circumstances force them to spend the summer together on the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard, those secrets gradually emerge and the revelations change the nature of the relationships between the women. It’s a family drama, with twists and turns (and a few surprises!). It explores the intricate and complicated relationships between family members – grandmother, mother and child. And of course there is also romance! I’m not sure I could write a book without a romantic element!
Please share the opening lines of this book:
The book opens in Notting Hill, London and I spent a couple of days strolling round the streets taking photos (which I often share on Instagram!). It’s such a pretty place and familiar to so many people after the move of the same name.
Much of How To Keep A Secret takes place in a beach house, and I spent hours researching coastal décor and imagining how the place might be decorated. I became obsessed with all things coastal, and my office is now filled with shells and small beach touches. I live nowhere near a beach – all the more reason to bring the beach to me!
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- The book opens in Notting Hill, London and I spent a couple of days strolling round the streets taking photos (which I often share on Instagram!). It’s such a pretty place and familiar to so many people after the move of the same name.
- Much of How To Keep A Secret takes place in a beach house, and I spent hours researching coastal décor and imagining how the place might be decorated. I became obsessed with all things coastal, and my office is now filled with shells and small beach touches. I live nowhere near a beach – all the more reason to bring the beach to me!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Lauren and Jenna are sisters, and really close. They talk for hours on the phone, and yet there are still some major things they don’t know about each other. Given how much they talk, that was surprising!
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
I’d use the scene where Lauren returns to Martha’s Vineyard on the ferry. The place has so many memories for her, and she is experiencing intense emotions. The scene also includes her teenage daughter, her mother and a man from her past who is the last person Lauren is expecting (or hoping!) to see. Here’s a snippet:
They hauled their luggage off the ferry and she saw the familiar figure of her mother clutching the edges of the same unflattering gray coat she’d worn for the last decade. For someone lauded for her use of color, it had always puzzled Lauren that her mother now showed such a lack of interest in clothing. Despite the fact that her paintings commanded eye-watering sums, she never seemed to spend anything on herself. Her once blonde hair was now a uniform gray and a pair of glasses perched on the end of her nose.
Next to her stood a man. His shoulders were wide and powerful and he hunched them slightly as protection against the relentless buffeting of the wind. His legs were long and strong and his hair was the color of the sky at midnight. Although she wasn’t close enough to see his eyes, she knew they were blue. Ice blue, like frost on the water or a pale winter sky.
Lauren stopped walking and Mack bumped into her, almost knocking her off balance.
“Whoa! If you’re going to put the brakes on, some warning would be good.” Steadying herself, Mack stepped round her mother and kissed her grandmother. “Hi, Grams. Yes, I’ve grown. Yes, I’m taller. It’s an amazing feat of nature.”
Nancy gave a distracted smile, either not noticing teenage sarcasm or unfazed by it. “How was the crossing? Lauren, I hope you don’t mind that I didn’t drive. My car is in the garage. You remember Scott Rhodes? He’s been doing some work on the house and he gave me a ride.” She gestured vaguely to the man standing next to her and Lauren tried to control the waves of dizziness.
So in fact she hadn’t hit rock bottom yet. She was still falling.
It had been more than sixteen years since she’d seen him, but the recognition was instant and visceral. Heat seared her skin and shot through her pelvis. Her legs started to tremble.
Her gaze locked on his and she felt as if she’d slammed headfirst into a wall.
Her senses felt as if they’d been woken from a long sleep.
Through a cloud of mist she heard Mack say, “wait a minute, did you say your name was Scott Rhodes?”
The world started to spin. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t suck air into her lungs. Something heavy pressed against her chest. Heart attack?
As if in slow motion, she felt the bag slip from her fingers and her legs start to give way under her.
I’m going to faint, she thought. Maybe I’ll hit my head and all this will be over. Maybe I’ll fall in the water and drown—
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
This book is a family drama, and the story emphasizes the importance of family. There are twists and turns and a few surprises, but I hope readers will feel uplifted. Even when my characters are going through hard times (as we all do!) I hope readers will find the story hopeful and comforting. A good book should feel like a mini break!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
I’m currently working on my third standalone novel, which is set mostly in Paris. It’s called One Summer in Paris and it will be out in the Spring, 2019. There are two central characters in this book. Grace, whose marriage ends on her twenty fifth wedding anniversary, leaving her to take a romantic trip to Paris alone, and Audrey, a teenager who has escaped her difficult home life to live and work in Paris for the summer. Their paths converge in ways neither of them can predict, and by the end of the summer each of their lives have changed. I’m having so much fun writing this story.
Apart from How to Keep a Secret, I also have The Christmas Sisters coming Sept 25th.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: One print copy of How to Keep a Secret to a lucky winner! (US / CAN)
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Much of How To Keep A Secret takes place on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Which island would you choose for a vacation?
Excerpt from How to Keep a Secret:
LAUREN PARKED HER mother’s car and walked down to the boatyard.
It was still early and she’d left everyone else asleep. She’d been awake since one o’clock, which would have been six in the morning in London. It had been weeks since she’d arrived on the Vineyard, and still she wasn’t sleeping. The moment she closed her eyes her mind started to race. Her chest felt as if it was being squeezed by metal bands and panic rushed down on her like the tide.
First Ed, then the money, leaving London, her mother selling The Captain’s House—
Lauren breathed deeply, trying to find the calm that used to come so easily.
The early morning sky was cloudy, the sea a gunmetal gray. Her coat, which had felt perfectly adequate for chilly coffee mornings in London, was woefully inadequate against the cold bite of the wind that slapped at her face and tugged at her hair. She turned up her collar, wondering if she’d ever feel warm again.
After everything that had happened lately, one more thing shouldn’t have had an impact but when Mack had told her about the beach incident she’d felt physically sick.
Part of her was relieved Mack had confided in her, but she knew that for Mack to be so open with her given the current rocky state of their relationship, she must have been very shaken up.
And no matter how much she didn’t want to see Scott Rhodes, she owed him her thanks.
On the other hand, maybe it was crazy doing this to herself.
She was already half way back to her car when she saw his pickup bouncing down the uneven dirt track toward her.
He’d already seen her so it was too late to run.
She was conscious that it was just the two of them, alone on this cold morning and felt as guilty as a woman contemplating an affair.
I’m sorry, Ed, I’m sorry.
And then she remembered that Ed was the reason she was back on Martha’s Vineyard.
If it weren’t for him, she wouldn’t be standing here now, waiting to talk to her ex-lover.
She’d loved Scott so much she hadn’t been able to see further than the end of her feelings.
Her heart accelerated as Scott slammed the door and strolled across to her.
A dog bounded toward her, tail wagging. She might have felt nervous except Mack had talked about the dog nonstop.
It had surprised her to learn that Scott had a dog. Surely a pet was a commitment?
She stooped to stroke the animal, which gave her an excuse not to focus on the man, although she’d already seen more than enough.
He’d filled out. Shoulders wider, chest bigger. Different in every way to Ed, who had grown up pampered and indulged by a doting mother. Scott rarely talked about his past, but he’d said enough. The legacy of his hard upbringing was visible in the way he chose to live his life. He kept himself fit and ready for anything. He was self-contained and self-reliant.
Scott Rhodes needed no one.
And yet he’d understood her as no one else had before or since.
She straightened and forced herself to meet his gaze. The past, blurred and muted over time, sharpened into focus.
The dangerous crackle and snap of chemistry hummed to life inside her.
She tried to shut it down, but looking at him was all it took for her to feel herself begin to unravel.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise
Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.
Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.
Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?
Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, the rewards could be infinite…
Meet the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. Described as ‘a magician with words’ by RT Book Reviews, she has sold over 15 million copies of her books. She has been nominated five times for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award three times; in 2012 for her book ‘Doukakis’s Apprentice’, 2013 for ‘A Night of No Return’, and 2017 for ‘Miracle on 5th Avenue’. She also won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award in 2012 and has made numerous appearances in their ‘Top Pick’ slot.
As a child Sarah dreamed of being a writer and although she took a few interesting detours along the way, she is now living that dream.
Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying.
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