Sunday, December 7, 2014

Luke's #1 Rule, by Cynthia Harrison

The characters come to life in Luke's #1 Rule, a small town contemporary romance set in Blue Lake that is brimming with realistic conflict. Chloe Richards has to move with her two adorable young sons to Seattle, very far away from her mother and the kids' father. Why? Because the father has an addiction problem, and Chloe is on her own to raise and provide for her children as a single mom. Chloe  has secured an executive level job in Seattle. Her solution makes perfect sense, but it will require taking the children away from their grandmother and father. The move will also tear Chloe from her mother, with whom she has been living since the meltdown in her marriage, and from Luke, the good, sweet man she has grown to love. 
Now she knew the rip of kin from kin, and it hurt.
Luke's #1 Rule has the feel of a true story and is riveting. There is nothing artificial or forced about Harrison's writing style. The author handles really challenging themes with clarity, accuracy and heart. It is a book to learn from, to cry over, and to rejoice in. I loved the boys in the book--they act and feel just like real-live boys. The book reminded me a lot of Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek series, especially When Snow Falls. I love small-town contemporary romances like this because they capture the essence of strong communities and show people facing real-life struggles.

Because the book is so realistic, I had a lot of questions for the author, all of which (and more) are answered in an interview that is included at the end of Luke's #1 Rule. I was allowed to reprint the interview here for you. 

As a new release, this book is on sale for a few days at The Wild Rose Press.

Cynthia will also answer your questions, so please comment.

An interview with Cynthia Harrison 

1. You said that your husband gave you the idea for this book twenty-five years ago. Why didn’t you write your true love story?

I’m a fiction writer. I like making things up. I also wanted to protect the privacy of the real people involved in this story. Not just my husband and sons, but their father, their other mother, and their siblings.

2. Their other mother? Why not stepmom? Do you mean the character of Bettina?

I’ve always felt, from almost the first day, great respect for the woman who would help raise my children. I feel like I can talk to her about anything and she will understand. She’s very friendly and open and nonjudgmental. I love her. She took great care of my children; she is truly their other mother. Stepmom has such negative connotations in literature. She’s the opposite of that.

3. So the next obvious question is your ex-husband. Is he anything at all like Spence?

Not an iota. Not even close. Spence is the character I had the most trouble with, at first. I didn’t want to make the ex the bad guy. It’s such a cliché. So I did the opposite and that didn’t work. This is fiction, and I needed conflict. I’m a writer who teaches, and the first seven years of my teaching career, I taught at-risk high school children. I learned a lot about addictions and how they destroy families. Then there’s my addiction to chocolate and potato chips, which sounds funny but created serious consequences. I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes. So no more sugar for me. I have an addictive personality. Fortunately, I can’t drink more than a few glasses of wine without getting dizzy and then sick. So food has been my primary addiction, but I am also a binge television watcher, huge movie fan, and constant reader of novels. Aside from the food, these are all soft addictions, but they all gave me insight into Spence.

4. What will happen to Spence? Will he be okay? How can the reader know?

As a reader, I sometimes have questions when a story ends, too. In the literature, the relapse number is very high, but Spence has a unique supportive system in Blue Lake. We will see Spence in other stories, but I don’t know if he will relapse because he hasn’t (yet). Still, it’s true what they say: addicts will always be in recovery.

5. How many books do you plan for the Blue Lake Series?

I still have a lot of stories to tell. I like telling two thematically related stories in every novel. So Fast Eddie’s will be about the reunion of Bob and Lily, who were going off to college in Blue Heaven. They’ve graduated, and Lily comes back to Blue Lake. So does Eddie’s first love. My favorite way to write is to have a new adult storyline and a more mature romance as well.

6. Blue Heaven was more of a traditional romance, but Luke’s #1 Rule had many more characters. There are the four adults and two children, plus the meddling mothers. Why the change?

They say every writer has a “book of her heart.” Luke’s Number #1 Rule was mine. It was not just a love story, although that’s the main plotline. Using the theme of blending a family was the book I’ve always wanted to write. It was a challenge. And it wasn’t a romance. I will always write love stories because I have a romantic soul, but the larger picture interests me, too. 7. You said you’re a reader. Who are some of your favorite authors? If you came to my house, you would look at my bookshelves and know. I use an e-reader these days, but still collect my favorites in hardback. First came Jane Austen and Erica Jong, then Alice Hoffman, Louise Erdrich, Sara Lewis, Elizabeth Berg. I also love poetry and short stories, so add Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. Also Carol Shields.

8. Do you read male authors?

I do. Raymond Carver is a personal favorite. I also admire TC Boyle and Richard Ford. There is not a book by David Lodge I have not laughed through. Richard Russo is in there, too. I don’t collect any of them except Carver. I think taking two degrees in English literature filled me up with male authors. The classics. After college, I started my own education of contemporary female writers.

9. Do you read contemporary romance?

I do. I never miss a novel by Barbara Delinsky, Pamela Morsi, or Rachel Gibson. I’m also a fan of romantic suspense and several of my fellow TWRP authors write in that line. Mysteries! Sue Grafton and Anne Perry. Lee Childs. Every book.

10. How do you find the time to teach, read, and write? Are your little boys grown up now?

Yes, my boys are grown with families of their own. When they were young, I wrote less and read less. I enjoyed my time with them. More recently, I’ve been teaching less, which gives me time to read and write. I’ve found you can do it all, but you can’t do it all at the same time. I’m also dedicated (again, I could say addicted) to Twitter and my blog. My older son suggested I start a blog in 2002. He set it up for me, and I’m still there at For ten years, I wrote about my efforts to publish my novels. Then it happened and I decided to write about other things, the concerns in my novels, but also the love and joy in everyday life.

11. Do you ever speak to book clubs?

I adore meeting people I’ve only known on the Internet. In real life, I’ve met friends from New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle. I live north of Detroit, but, time permitting, I’d be happy to Skype with a book group from anywhere in the world. One of my favorite things to do is talk books.

Connect with Cynthia here:


  1. What a lovely review, Nicci. I also adored this book and I think you nailed it in saying. "The author handles really challenging themes with clarity, accuracy and heart. It is a book to learn from, to cry over, and to rejoice in."
    I also enjoyed the interview at the end of the story as it gave me more background and insight into not only this story but into the author's life.

    1. Thank you, Robena! It's great to know you also enjoyed the book and the interview.