Liz: What woman alive or dead would you want to have dinner with and what would you talk about?
Allison: I'd pick Annie Oakley. She supported her family by hunting game at a young age and as everyone knows, was, pardon my French, a hell of a shot. She and her husband Frank were deeply in love, which is really romantic. I'd love to hear all about her time with the Wild West shows and visiting London.
D'Ann: What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?
Allison: I kind of wanted to write a Beauty and the Beast-esque tale that was a little different. My hero, Turner, isn't a beast, but more of a man who's lived with the results of how beastly the world can be. The heroine, Celia, is Belle-like in that she's an outcast because of her Native American heritage. It made perfect sense to me to set in Arkansas after the Civil War because it was one of those states torn apart by disagreement over the state of the Union. It affected both characters' families and set the stage for them to help each other heal.
Kristina: What is your favorite genre to read?
Allison: Romance, romance, romance! And it doesn't really matter what sub-genre, as long as there's a love story.
Margie: What is your favorite way to get over a writing block or hurdle?
Allison: Knowing that you can't fix what you haven't written. I'd rather write something that seems horrible at the time than waste time knowing I didn't write anything. NaNoWriMo is a huge help, because the pressure of a deadline motivates me to keep writing.
Shawn: How much of you is in your characters?
Allison: All their fears and uncertainties, that's me. If they're clumsy, that's me. One of my heroes from my steampunk series is afraid of heights—that's me. But the bold ones, the ones who take chances—especially on love—are me too. I put a lot of me in them, but I learn from them too. If they can put aside their differences or face something scary, I figure I can send them out into the world for other people to look at and judge.
All About Wildwood Spring:
When they face their fears, they'll find the path to love.
No one goes to Wildwood Manor—a hulking stone house on a hill outside town. Legend has it crazy old man Wildwood owes his life to the magical water of the spring at the back of the property. Celia Landry needs that water to save her mother, and she'll brave anything to get it.
Turner Wildwood, the son of the house's eccentric builder, is growing as reclusive as his father. When Celia turns up at his door, he's drawn by her beauty and bravery. Wary of strangers, he doesn't reveal his identity, but agrees to her request. When she returns to Wildwood in wake of personal tragedy, he's waiting there with a stunning change in his heart. He knows he should tell her the truth, but he doesn't want to ruin their budding friendship.
Celia's curiosity leads her to part of the frightening answers hidden behind Wildwood's doors, but her own troubled past may lead Turner into danger neither of them suspected.
"Would you like to dance?" Mischief sparkled in his blue eyes. "This is one of my favorite songs. Despite my almost solitary upbringing, dance was part of my education."
She felt heat scorch her cheeks. "Not part of mine, I'm afraid."
"I'll teach you." He faced her, putting one hand on her waist and taking her hand in his. "Do the opposite of what I do. I'll count."
He counted in fours, moving in time with the music. Celia stumbled, but after a few moments, she caught on. Turner led her around the room as they spun in circles. She laughed, forgetting her worries. It wasn't a ball and they were both in their nightclothes, but it was as elegant a dance as she could hope for.
Turner grinned as he pulled her a little closer. Their bodies came together, fitting perfectly. He dropped her hand, wrapping both arms around her waist. They stopped moving, standing in the shadow of the mastodon. Dark blond hair fell over his forehead, but it didn't hide the desire on his face.
Her name was a delicate breath of air, and he clung to her as though afraid she was a dream. She was too wide awake to believe that. Her senses seemed sharper than ever. He smelled of the lemony soap Mrs. Southard used for washing the sheets and the coffee he'd had at supper. Even in the muted firelight, she saw him clearly, his golden hair bright as sunbeams, his blue eyes the color of the sky after a storm.
She'd never been a romantic, knowing all too well she'd either be a spinster or a housewife too busy with chores and children to consider stolen kisses. She'd never imagined a man would want to show her stars, or dance with her around the skeleton of an ancient beast. These were moments she could cherish forever, think of when her world came back into focus.
It all had to end.
He lifted his hand to her face, pushing a strand of hair over her ear. "You look upset."
"I'm grateful." She forced the words out. "It's not every day I get escorted around a ballroom."
"You mean it might never happen again." He looked somber. "You'll return to the kind of life you led before we met. One where you're often hungry, alone, and overworked."
She glanced away, hating the truth of his words. "It isn't that bad."
"Somehow I don't believe you."
He wouldn't, not after the way she'd reacted to everything he'd shown her in his life. They were from different places and he could never understand how she'd lived before. She couldn't explain it without risking his pity.
"You could always stay. I'll find something for you to do in the manor. Official book reader. In the evenings you could recount all my favorites and the new ones I don't have time for."
His breath stirred the hair near her ear, tickling her skin.
"I think I prefer the title of cookie sampler. Who wouldn't want to sit in Finny's kitchen all day tasting the items he draws out of the oven." She pressed her cheek against his velvet lapel and closed her eyes. "You should have taken me back to town when you found me at the spring."
"I couldn't do that." There was the slightest hitch in his voice, as though the idea caused him pain.
"I'll be ruined for life outside of Wildwood."
"Good. Then you'll have to come back."
A love of reading turned Allison Merritt into an author who writes historical, paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She graduated college with a B.A. in mass communications that's gathering dust after it was determined that she's better at writing fluff than hard news.
She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she's not writing or reading, she hikes in national parks and conservation areas.
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