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.
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Please tell us a little about yourself
I’m from Southwest Missouri where I live with my husband and a very spoiled Japanese chin named PeeWee. In my down time, my favorite activities are hiking, reading, watching movies, and poking around the internet to find the weirdest stuff available. I write historical, paranormal, and steampunk romances.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
For our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We've made it a habit to go down at least once a year. It's kind of a magical place, very old, so it has an otherworldly feeling about it because it's home to the one of the largest collections of Victorian homes in America. It's settled in the Ozark Mountains on top of steep hills and deep valleys. There are a lot of springs, hence the name, and people in the 19th century believed the water had healing properties. I thought it would be interesting to write a novel set to that theme.
When did the characters first pop into your head?
I started writing Wildwood Spring in July 2013. I wanted to do something that was a little like Beauty and the Beast, with the heroine who's kind of odd compared to the others she knows and a hero who wasn't the kind of person who would be socially acceptable, even if he was privileged. Celia, the heroine, is named for my great-great grandmother on my mom's side. Turner, the hero, is actually the married surname of my great-great grandmother on my mom's side. I love incorporating a little personal history with my characters.
Without giving away any spoilers, was the story always straight forward for you to write, or did it pop up any surprises along the way?
I'm a total pantser. I might have a good idea of how the novel ends, but I let the characters guide me, so every time I sit down to write is an adventure. Most of the time I'm like, yeah, that's good, you characters are really smart. Most of the time.
Where do you like to write?
I have a chair in our living room where I do most of my writing, but I also like to do it in bed because there's no TV in there and fewer distractions. Writing at libraries is good too because I can sit at a table or a cubicle and I pretty much have tunnel vision for the word document.
Do you read a lot?
A lot is probably an understatement. I work in a library and there's always another book to read. I've either always got my computer with Kindle going or a book in hand and I take books everywhere.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I love Linda Lael Miller, Karen Witemeyer, Louis L'Amour, Leigh Greenwood, and Alex Flinn. They're all so good!
And last but not least, have you any words of wisdom for aspiring writers out there?
I read a NaNoWriMo pep talk by Kate DiCamillo that talked about the nay sayers and people who try to stomp on your dreams. She said these people are as important to your writing as everyone who loves it. I agree with her 100%. For everyone who ever had a bad thing to say about my writing or ignored it, I have to admit, those people made me stronger and more determined to succeed. So embrace the bad and the good and become better. You can see the pin on my Pinterest board of Kate's words here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/160229699213908934/
"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 since 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.