Return to Love is romance novel that I never thought I would write. Why? Because eighteen months ago was the first time I’d written a word of sweet, romantic fiction in my life. Yes, I’d written about love in award-winning historical and women’s fiction, but it wasn’t until I was invited to contribute a novella to an anthology called, Bliss, that it occurred to me that I could write romance, that I even wanted to. And boy, have I fallen in love with it.
Bliss is a collection of stories that are all set in the same house on the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina, but each story is set in a different era. How fun is that? Well, I was one of the last to choose my era and the 1960’s was one time period available. I narrowed my setting down to 1969 and I could not be more thrilled with what I found in researching that era! My novella in the collection is called Home Again and from that story, came two characters who I could not stop thinking about. April and Hale Abercrombie—two lost souls who find love together.
Return to Love is a novel, book two in the April and Hale series, and it takes the reader further into their relationship—a journey filled with sweet moments, passion, and humor. Still, knowing that a great romance holds the couple at its center, didn’t keep me from formulating a world around them that went beyond the well-worn stereotypes of the time (or at least I hope so!).
Some struggles of the Vietnam War era are well known and I do draw from them in making Hale a navy pilot. Hopefully he comes across as a fully developed, layered man and not just a hanger holding up a uniform. Likewise when I created April, I wanted to go beyond the well-known archetypes of the time. I wanted her to embody elements of women who were experimenting with freedom and control over their livelihoods, but as I researched I found that was not always a straight path from daddy’s little girl to independent woman breaking glass ceilings. I wanted her to embody the struggle between the two, the struggle that is less often portrayed—a woman with all the advantages, skill, education and desire for a career who is not sure how that will fit with her personal goals.
In Return to Love, April must deal with the loss of a late-term pregnancy. Hale must return to her in order to help her through it. Again, this area of research was fascinating and compelling. The push and pull between a couple caught in the distance and stress that war creates is material rife with passion. But again, there is humor. If nothing else, it is clear that the most resilient people in life are those who find pockets of laughter in grief, in worry, and from this ability to see absurdity in sorrow, there is hope.
It’s my hope that readers love April and Hale as much as I do and find their story heartwarming and satisfying. They are unique fun characters who led me to learn a lot about life at a time that found love and peace to be the motto by which it was defined.
Amazon Top-100 Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
April and Hale Abercrombie’s love is tender and sweet. While he serves in Vietnam, their marriage is marked by trust and the belief that they will grow old together with a gaggle of grandchildren at their feet. But, their charmed marriage changes in the face of losing their newborn daughter.
On leave from his tour, Hale can barely wait to hold his wife and her help her heal. When he arrives, his embrace, his touch, and his love are as perfect as April remembered. Their reunion is passionate and their physical connection is strong and soothing. But, April’s heartache remains.
Hale stumbles through his attempts to prove to April that their future will be rich and full of wonder. His good-hearted, but take-charge approach causes her to retreat. Even in grief, April can see Hale’s earnestness, yet she finds solace in putting space between them. With a short time before Hale must return to war will they see that real love endures in the face of adversity, that their marriage can be strengthened even when it looks as though all is lost?
Set on the beaches of the Outer Banks, Return to Love is the second book in the Endless Love series. Book one, Home Again, was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.