Rachel Lacey’s Unleashed is available in stores and online today.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Rachel Lacey.
Ms. Lacey is the debut novelist of Unleashed (Forever, $6.00)–the first in her Love to the Rescue series. An animal lover, she spends her spare time volunteering with Carolina Boxer Rescue. Ms. Lacey is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her local Heart of Carolina RWA chapter. She makes her home in North Carolina with her husband and son, and is at work on her next book.
Early response to Unleashed has been enthusiastic. Lori Wilde, New York Times bestselling author, praised, “Endearing! Rachel Lacey is a sure-fire star.” Further, Publishers Weekly noted, “Dog lovers rejoice! The stars of Lacey’s cute series opener, set in Dogwood, N.C., have four legs instead of two, and their happy ending is guaranteed.”
From the publisher:
What happens when you find the right one at the wrong time?
Cara Medlen has a serious case of animal attraction. And it’s not because of all the foster dogs she’s rescued. She’s got it bad for her incredibly sexy neighbor. Her one rule: Don’t get attached. It’s served her well with the dogs she’s given to good homes and the children she’s nannied. Yet the temptation of Matt’s sexy smile might just convince her that some rules are made to be broken.
Matt Dumont doesn’t need his skills as a private investigator to detect disaster on the horizon. Cara is everything he thought he’d never find-gorgeous, funny, and caring. But there’s no way he can start a relationship just as he’s about to move to another state. Talk about bad timing. As their attraction sizzles too hot to deny, they’ll have to make a decision: forget the consequences and let loose, or forget each other and let go…
Now, Rachel Lacey romances readers with her inspiring story …
1) What inspired you to write UNLEASHED – and how did you know that this world you’d created was meant to be revisited (as a series)?
My rescue boxer, Lacy, is the reason I envisioned a series set within a boxer rescue group. Adopting her, helping her get past the traumas of her past, and becoming involved with the rescue group that saved her are the true inspirations for Unleashed and the Love to the Rescue series.
As I was writing Unleashed, the town of Dogwood really came alive for me. The boxer rescue that my heroine, Cara, volunteers with played a central part in the book, and as I introduced her friends – fellow animal rescuers – I started thinking about their stories and plotting out their own happily ever afters.
2) There is the perception, no matter how unfair, that romance novels are often predictable or cliché. How do you balance delivering what readers expect with originality – and how much of a concern was that, if at all, when crafting this book?
Honestly, this wasn’t really a concern for me as I was writing. The people who will buy my book know what to expect (spoiler: it will have a happy ending!). Despite the fact that we all know my hero and heroine will end up together, I believe that my books and characters are unique. My setting in fictional Dogwood, North Carolina, the emphasis on animal rescue, and the individual obstacles that my characters face will set them apart from other books on the shelves.
I’ve read hundreds of romance novels, and while some are similar, I don’t think they are any more predictable or cliché than other genres. In a women’s fiction novel, you know you will follow a woman on her personal journey of growth. In a mystery, you know a crime will be committed, and you’ll be following along as it’s solved. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a general idea of what to expect when you choose to read a certain genre.
3) Pets populate the pages in addition to people. How do these four-legged friends enrich the story – and what of your own work with animals were you able to incorporate in the narrative?
Pets are a huge part of this series, as well as my own life. Casper, Sadie, and the other dogs of Unleashed are characters in their own right. They face their own obstacles, and as readers get to know them, I hope they will want to see my canine characters get their own happily ever after – in the form of a forever home – as much as they do for Cara and Matt.
When I was beginning to plot Unleashed, I had a basic idea that my heroine would work in animal rescue. As a volunteer with my local boxer rescue group, I sometimes received emails forwarded from area shelters listing urgent dogs needing immediate rescue. Shortly after, I received an email with a photo of a fawn boxer named Sadie. The look on her face was heartbreaking. I copied that photo into my plotting notes, and the rest of the book fell into place around her. I don’t know if the real Sadie found rescue, but I made sure to take good care of her fictional counterpart.
4) Tell us about your path to publication. What lessons did you learn along the way – and what is the single most important piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring writers?
I’ve been writing since I was in high school, but it wasn’t until four years ago that I decided to seriously pursue publication. I started taking classes, joined Romance Writers of America, and formed a critique group with several other local authors. I’ve learned that this journey is not an easy one, but it’s absolutely worth it.
My best advice to aspiring authors is: never give up! There is so much information out there, through classes, workshops, and local writing groups. Learn your craft and keep writing. Always. As the incomparable Nora Roberts says, “You can fix anything but a blank page.”
5) Leave us with a teaser: What comes next?
The second book in my Love to the Rescue series, For Keeps, will be out on January 27th, 2015.
Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue – even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It’s hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children’s camp where she’s just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry’s style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay.
TJ Jameson isn’t looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family’s ranch with a wife and kids. “No-strings” Merry Atwater doesn’t fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ’s a goner. If he doesn’t give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .
With thanks to Rachel Lacey for sharing her publication day with us.