Leave a comment and enter below for a chance to win a copy of Jennifer Delamere’s new book, “The Heart’s Appeal.” Winner will be announced in the next Author Spotlight feature. Congratulations to Judith Smith for winning Anna Marlis Burgard’s book, “The Beachcomber’s Companion.” Please email my assistant Christen to claim your prize. Note: This post contains affiliate links meaning I will get a small commission if you click and buy from that link.
Can you tell us about your newest release? Is it part of a series or a stand-alone?
The Heart’s Appeal is the story of Julia Bernay, who comes to London to study medicine. She ends up saving the life of Michael Stephenson, a barrister whose client wants to close down the medical school she wishes to attend. When they begin to find common ground and their personal attraction grows, things get even more complicated! The Heart’s Appeal is book two in the London Beginnings series, but it can be read as a standalone.
Is anything or anyone in this book based on real-life experiences?
There are several real-life people who appear in this book. Julia’s mentor at the medical school is Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who was the first woman to qualify as a physician in Britain, and who co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women. Her husband, James G.S. Anderson (Jamie), was the joint-owner of a successful shipping line. He offers advice and help to Michael at a critical time. Julia also has an inspiring encounter with Dr. Anderson’s sister, Millicent Fawcett. Today, Millicent is most remembered for her role in the women’s suffrage movement, and in fact, a statue of her was recently placed in Parliament Square in London. Both sisters were quite extraordinary, and I enjoyed being able to include them in this book.
Who was your favorite character in this story, and why?
Without a doubt, it was Julia! The middle of three sisters orphaned as children, Julia was raised in George Müller’s orphanage in Bristol, England. (George Muller’s orphanage was an actual place, a Christian orphanage that prospered supported only by believing and prayer.) Julia is energetic and forthright—some might call her bossy, but she has great compassion, too. She has a sharp mind and loves learning. She is “ahead of the curve” in her goal of becoming a licensed physician. That career had only just opened up to women. Julia has a deep love for God and a desire to serve Him. I admire her because she is bold and never hesitates to speak the Gospel in any situation—even among naysayers. That is something I aspire to!
Compared to your other books, was this one easy to complete or challenging? Any idea why?
Plotting the overall book was easier than some of the others because it had such a strong premise. However, it was hard for me to finish writing it because I had many different storylines to interweave and tie up successfully. Pulling it all together in the final chapters is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle—it is challenging but exciting to see it all come together!
What was the hardest scene in this book to write? What made it difficult?
I would say the toughest scenes to write were those relating to the lawsuit against the medical school. This was an important aspect of the story, and I did a lot of research to ensure I portrayed the legal details as accurately as possible. But there was a lot more than simply the “mechanics” to relate: the outcome of the trial was so critical to Julia and Michael’s relationship that I wanted to do justice to the inner turmoil it was causing for both of them.
What did you (or your editors) edit out of this book?
We writers know much more about our characters’ backstories than we can include in our books. Sometimes that information is so interesting that we really, really want to put it in! In The Heart’s Appeal, there was a story told by one of the characters about how the three sisters got from Plymouth to the orphanage in Bristol after their mother died. The story was poignant, as you might expect, but it was uplifting, too. A young woman stepped in to help the children in their hour of need, getting them to a safe place where they would be properly cared for. Otherwise, they might have wound up on the street—a fate common to many poor orphans in those days. As a result, the woman found her own life changed for the better in an unexpected way. I had to agree with my editor that the story should be cut from this book, but perhaps I’ll turn it into a novella or short story one day.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing from the point of view of the opposite sex?
I work diligently to hit the right tone and make my male characters believable. One thing I try to keep in mind as I write is that most men might be thinking many thoughts but only verbalize a short sentence or two. Fortunately, I have a sharp editor to let me know if I have hit a false note in my characterization or dialogue.
More about The Heart’s Appeal
He Never Expected to See Her Again. Then She Appeared with a Most Unexpected Request. . . .
Strong-minded and independent, Julia Bernay has come to London to study medicine and become a doctor—a profession that has only just opened up to women. When she witnesses a serious accident, her quick action saves the life of an ambitious young barrister named Michael Stephenson. It’s only later that she learns he could be instrumental in destroying her dreams for the future.
Coming from a family that long ago lost its status, Michael Stephenson has achieved what many would have thought impossible. Hard work and an aptitude for the law have enabled him to regain the path to wealth and recognition. His latest case puts him in the middle of a debate over the future of a women’s medical school. He’s supposed to remain objective, but when the beguiling and determined Julia reappears with an unexpected entreaty, he begins to question what he’s made most important in his life. But Julia may be hiding her own motivations. As the two are tangled into spending more time together, will their own goals be too much to overcome?
Jennifer Delamere’s debut Victorian romance, An Heiress at Heart, was a 2013 RITA Award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, A Lady Most Lovely, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She’s been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.