Friday, May 23, 2014: Dedicated Issue: Harlequin Mira

Harlequin: Think You Know Harlequin

Harlequin: The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs

Harlequin: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

Harlequin: The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

Harlequin: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Harlequin: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Editors' Note

Harlequin Mira

With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness looks at books and their authors coming out soon from Harlequin Mira. Headed by Tara Parsons, the imprint has been aggressively adding to its list of commercial literary fiction in the hardcover and trade paperback formats.

Harlequin: Breakout Literary Authors

Books & Authors

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

In Little Mercies (July), her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf delivers a powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice. Veteran social worker Ellen Moore is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for. Meanwhile, 10-year-old Jenny Briard suddenly finds herself on her own in a strange town with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

Why do you write?

Growing up, I was so fortunate to have parents and teachers who instilled in me the love of reading. I've found so much happiness as a reader. Reading allows people to escape into new worlds, travel back in time, meet amazing characters, feel great joy and triumph. Books also allow readers to journey through tragedy, heartbreak and fear while safely ensconced outside the pages. In my own little way, my hope is to share with others, through my writing, some of these same experiences.

What was the first thing you wrote?

As a young child, I remember being fascinated with the cursive handwriting that my parents and older brothers and sisters used. I knew the intricate squiggles and loops meant something very important, but I had no idea how to decipher them. Using my crayons and markers, I would fill page after page of paper with messy imitations of the cursive script that translated to nonsense, but to me, told wonderful stories. The first real story I remember writing and my mother saved for me, was a short story called "The Emma Dilemma," a fictionalized story about our very real poodle named Emma. In the story, Emma finds herself in the family way and in the end we happily we got to keep all the puppies. Even way back then, there had to be a dog in my stories.

What inspired your latest book?

The inspiration for Little Mercies came as many of my ideas from the news. After hearing several accounts of dedicated, overworked social workers who suddenly found themselves on the other side of a legal system they have diligently supported, I knew my next novel was to be found.

author photo: Morgan Hawthorne

Harlequin: Page Turning Suspense

The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs

In The Beekeeper's Ball (July), New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs returns to sun-drenched Bella Vista and a rambling Mission-style hacienda. With its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, it's the idyllic venue for Isabel Johansen's destination cooking school--a place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts--and the perfect place for her to forget the past. But Isabel's carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O'Neill arrives to dig up old history. This richly imagined novel reveals the secrets that keep us from finding our way, the ties binding us to family and home, and the indelible imprint love can make on the human heart.

Why do you write?

I write because I couldn't figure out how to make a living by being a professional puppy cuddler, or by being the person who gets to open all the new books as they arrive at the library, and sniff the new-book smell.

What was the first thing you wrote?

I have a picture of the first thing I wrote! Check it out! I was three years old.

What inspired your latest book?

The characters in The Apple Orchard inspired me to write The Beekeeper's Ball. As I created the world of Bella Vista around the mysterious family heirloom, there were many other intriguing people who came into the picture. Tess, the main character of The Apple Orchard, finally meets Isabel, the sister she never knew she had until they were both adults.

The moment I wrote the scene of their first meeting, I knew there would be a book about Isabel. She is complicated, passionate, shy and deeply lonely. She's yearning for something and striving for something, and her story as it unfolded became the core drama of The Beekeeper's Ball.

[Note: The Apple Orchard, which Mira is publishing this month in trade paperback, tells the story of Tess Delaney, a provenance expert who has always loved finding lost treasures and illuminating history. Her own history has always been filled with gaps--until the existence of a half sister she's never heard of is revealed. Set against the rich landscape of Bella Vista and Sonoma County, Tess begins to discover the simple pleasures of food and family, and a world where family comes first and the roots of history run deep.]

author photo: Susan Doupé

Harlequin: Thoroughly Engaging Editorial

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Hailed by bestselling author Lisa Gardner as "a twisty roller coaster ride" for "fans of Gone Girl," Mary Kubica's The Good Girl (August) is an addictively suspenseful and tautly written debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems. One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. Following Colin Thatcher home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. When Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

Why do you write?

I write because I can't imagine not writing. It's one of those things I simply feel called to do. When I'm writing, it's one of the few times in life I become completely transfixed, and can lose myself entirely in my characters and stories, setting aside everything else in the world, if only for a short time.

What was the first thing you wrote?

I've been writing consistently since I was about 12 years old, toying around with everything from short stories to children's picture books, but seem to have found my calling with The Good Girl, which is the first published piece I've written. Those older stories now sit tucked away in my basement, unlikely to ever see the light of day.

What inspired your latest book?

I wanted to write a novel about a kidnapping plot that wasn't exactly what it seemed. I was also intrigued by the notion of a nonlinear, multi-perspective storyline, but it was the characters themselves--Mia and Colin--who became my muse, filling my mind with ideas and inspiration each time I sat down to write--and also, quite frequently, in the middle of the night. 

Madame Picasso by Anne Girard


Anne Girard's Madame Picasso (September) is the mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time. When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world. With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the 20th century.

Why do you write?

I write because there are stories that come into my mind, and then proceed to wrap themselves tightly around my heart, and they don't let go until I tell them. When that happens, I consider it a duty to share the lives of these wonderful people with dignity and accuracy, and of course with a little dash of spice tossed in for good measure! Being in any part of that creative process is incredibly fulfilling to me. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

What was the first thing you wrote?

The first thing I wrote was a love story I had written longhand when I was 16 about an injured Vietnam vet returning to his life and love in small town America. It wasn't very good, but it was my first attempt at fully fleshing out a novel, and I loved learning the process through that experience. For most of us, I think it starts really early like that.

What inspired your latest book?

What inspired Madame Picasso was a photograph of Eva Gouel taken by Pablo Picasso. In it, she has a striking look of innocence, and yet also this great steel core came through her gaze, and I thought when I first saw it what an amazing young woman she must have been to have captured the heart of a passionate artist so thoroughly as she did. I was absolutely struck. Reading Eva's letters back and forth with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas confirmed for me that Eva was an extraordinary woman, caring and funny, largely forgotten by history, and who, because of her imprint on the heart of a legend, deserved to be known. I hope I did her story justice in Madame Picasso.

author photo: Alexander C. Haeger

The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

In Kimberly Belle's The Last Breath (October), humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. When her dying father is released from prison on a technicality, Gia is called home to care for the man she hasn't seen or spoken to in 16 years, when he was convicted of brutally murdering her stepmother. Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender certainly helps Gia cope. As the past unravels before her, Gia finds herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth--and all the lies that came before--may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated.

Why do you write?

I write because writing defines me. I love playing with words, stringing them together to make a sentence, finding the perfect ones to resonate with the reader. Crafting a story that readers can connect with and be moved by is one of the hardest things I've ever done, yet it's also the most fulfilling. 

What was the first thing you wrote?

Every writer has a file or two or 10 hidden away somewhere, and I'm no different. My first completed manuscript, a rambling story that went round and round and nowhere at all, will never see the light of day, but it was a good exercise. It taught me little things like plot and character and point-of-view and conflict, all tools I felt much more comfortable with by the time I got around to writing The Last Breath.

What inspired your latest book?

The story spark for The Last Breath came from a news clip I read somewhere about a man who was granted compassionate release from prison and returning home to die. I wondered how his family would react, whether they'd be able to find forgiveness for his crimes, if they'd gather around his deathbed or go on with their busy lives, how--if at all--they'd come to terms with what happened. My characters wrestle with all these same issues in The Last Breath, some of them more successfully than others.

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

On the heels of his highly acclaimed and New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Returned, Jason Mott delivers a spellbinding tale of love, sacrifice and the power of miracles. In The Wonder of All Things (October), on an ordinary day, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators. When the dust clears, a 13-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear. Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. Now, the whole world knows, and suddenly people from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, eager to glimpse a miracle. But Ava's unusual ability comes at a great cost, and as she grows weaker, she soon finds herself having to decide how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to save the ones she loves most.

Why do you write?

I write because it helps me understand and empathize with the world around me. And I like to think that's the best thing a person can ever try to do.

What was the first thing you wrote?

I grew up loving The Odyssey and when I started writing, the first thing I wrote was a short story that was an alternative ending to that tale. In my version, Odysseus was taken away from his family again and forced to adventure around the world for many more years before coming home again.

What inspired your latest book?

The Wonder of All Things grew out of watching a dear friend make the transition from "college wild man" to a wonderful father and husband. Seeing his relationship with his daughter blossom made me want to write a story about a father/daughter relationship that the world threatened to tear apart.

author photo: Michael Becker Photography

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