One of the questions I’m often asked by readers is “What’s your favorite of all your books?” Which is a bit like asking a mother to name her favorite child and impossible to answer.
That said, I’ll admit that The Homecoming, the first in my Shelter Bay series, is very personal to me. Partly because it’s set on the magnificent Oregon coast, where my husband once bought me a bag of salt-water taffy, then proposed. Decades later, not only is the candy store still there, I’m so glad I said yes! Combining my hobbies of photography and scrapbooking, I created a video virtual tour of Shelter Bay on my website at http://joannross.com. If that red-roofed house on the tour looks familiar, it’s because Signet’s art department used it on The Homecoming’s cover.
Another question I get a lot is why I chose to write about military heroes. That’s a complex question, but one reason is that I’ve always been a sucker for a guy in uniform. When I was growing up, nearly every male I knew got drafted into the military. Even Elvis didn’t get a pass. After going through Army boot camp, he was sent to Germany, where he met a teenage Priscilla, and well, we all know how that turned out.
Along with several military men and women we’ve “adopted” through Soldiers Angels over the years, we also have two nephews in the Army — Patrick, who completed two Iraq tours and Kyle, who’s already “done” Iraq and is currently serving as a medevac in Afghanistan. Needless to say, having them in harm’s way these past years has made my High Risk books, and now my Shelter Bay stories, extremely personal.
Ongoing concern for them is also partly why I’ve returned to my more emotional family-centric romance roots after the murder and mayhem of romantic suspense. Since writing about serial killers eventually gets depressing, I’m so happy to be back telling feel-good stories about good things happening to nice, but flawed people.
Another reason I like to write about military heroes (along with a military heroine in Shattered) is because they possess something that seems to be in short supply these days – honor.
I firmly believe that a man capable of committing to something outside himself can also commit to a mate and, as a woman, I find that really appealing
The hero I like to write about doesn’t have any personal desire to create conflict or aggression, but he does possess an unwavering code that has him not hesitating to put himself in harm’s way and risk being wounded — physically, emotionally, or both — to protect, defend, and fight for what’s right. He’s self-disciplined, decisive (though he often has to battle his own internal demons, as The Homecoming’s Sex Douchett does) and along with an integrity as tough as his body, he’s unwaveringly loyal and self-confident enough to appreciate and support the equally strong woman who manages to win his guarded heart.
Many readers might be surprised to learn that I’ve been writing military heroes since I wrote a male point-of-view romance about a former Vietnam POW in the mid ‘80s, which was a groundbreaking subject for the genre and still remains on many must-read lists. Since then, though I don’t always mention the fact, most of the heroes in my books have been veterans.
One of the things I’m enjoying exploring in my Shelter Bay books is life after war. As hopefully more and more of our troops begin returning home, there are some wonderful stories waiting to be told, and I can’t wait to write some of them.
In The Homecoming, both Sax Douchett and Kara Conway have returned to their small coastal hometown seeking healing and closure. The ocean has always provided a shelter from emotional storms for me. It’s where I go to unwind and put my life in perspective, which is why I named my fictional coastal town Shelter Bay. Do you have some special place where you feel at peace? A place that, at least in your heart, feels like home?
To celebrate the book’s release day, three people who respond (chosen at random), will receive an autographed copy of The Homecoming.