To their friends, Nick and Cathy Chance have the perfect marriage. High school sweethearts who’ve been together for ten years, they’ve weathered challenges and are as committed as they were when they first fell in love. Cathy trusts Nick, Nick’s world revolves around his wife, and the future looks golden.
To everyone who knows them, Cathy Chance and Roxanne Ruiz have a perfect friendship. They connected in grade school and since then have been each other’s confident and trusted advisor. Cathy loves the gorgeous Roxanne like a sister, Roxanne has fun-loving Cathy’s back in every situation, though lately there’s been tension between these two best friends…
And then, on a sunny summer morning, the unthinkable occurs, throwing into doubt the truth of what each of these people really know about themselves and one another.
Will Roxanne’s sacrifice be too little, and too late? Should Nick’s love for his wife be strong enough to risk trusting his heart more than logic? Can Cathy’s devotion to Nick give her enough strength to convince him to see her for who she really is?
Secret Sister proves how strong, how stubborn, and how trustworthy love can be as Nick and Cathy and Roxanne are challenged to overcome the secrets, the lies … and one extraordinary twist of fate that turns their lives upside down.
It was sunny and mild the July morning Roxanne and I headed up the state highway into the Verdugo Hills. But the Santa Anas were blowing in from the desert, and those aptly called devil winds rocked our car with gusts of heat and dust that caused tiny sparks of electricity to snap against my fingertips every time I touched my hair.
I looked forward to the Santa Anas each summer because they cleared every trace of smog from the vast L.A. basin and left the air sparkling. But that day they were weeks early and their intensity increased a sense of foreboding I’d awakened with.
I squeezed my hands together and glanced at the woman sitting next to me, for she was the true reason for my uneasiness.
My best friend and I should have been relaxed and chatty, but we hadn’t been either lately. Roxanne had recently broken up with the guy she’d been seeing for years, and her mood alarmed me. She had barely said a word at the front door when she picked me up, and nothing at all since we’d been in the car.
Slowly I turned my head from side to side, trying to ease the knot of anxiety in my neck. I reached up to massage my shoulder but the seatbelt held me snugly, so I undid it.
The lock made a sharp click as it released.
“What’s wrong?” Roxanne asked.
“Nothing.” I spoke quietly. “Just a kink. I must have slept weird.”
She frowned and shifted gears and the road rose higher in front of us…
- Where did you get the idea for the novel? Secret Sister started with one question, “If everything about you changed on the outside, would your true love recognize you?” I knew I didn’t want to do a ‘Beauty and Beast’ story, where of course someone would have to be disfigured to pull it off. I like ‘trading places’ stories, starting with “Freaky Friday” through “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson, and I thought it would be interesting to add the ‘what if’ twist of one of the traders dying. So I mixed all those elements together and ended up with this book.
- Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title? I came up with the title Secret Sister almost immediately, then changed it for a year to “Nick & Cathy and Roxanne” I thought it was clever and evocative and elegant. Everyone else thought it shrieked ménage a trois. Including the artist my publisher assigned it to, whose first shot at a cover looked pretty much like an orgy. So I changed it back.
- Why did you pick this genre? What do you like about it? Secret Sister is a contemporary romance/women’s fiction/paranormal. HA! Dizzy yet? Truth is, I’ve never been a straight down the line genre follower (never could color inside the lines, either). I like a touch of magical realism in a contemporary novel, suspense in all romances, and have a suave and sexy ghost in my next contemporary novel. Blended genre is who I am, and I like it, but primarily because I can’t seem to train my mind to come up with anything but these kinds of stories.
- Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you? I was at a cocktail party on a boat in Mobile Bay in Alabama. My friends, who owned the boat, introduced me to another guest who asked me what I did for a living. I’d just contracted for my first book the week before. I gulped and replied, “I’m a novelist.” I can still see his smile of appreciation, and can still feel the thrill up my spine I had speaking those words, and having them be true!
- What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read? I’m currently reading Diane Gaston’s A Reputation for Notoriety, a tension filled gem about a gaming establishment called The Masquerade Club in Regency England. The last book I read was The Halo Effect by Shauna Allen. Wowie…tattoo parlors, hot guys on Harleys, and a couple of angels. Yes, angels. It was marvelous.
- What is your writing process? Write, cry, throw away. Okay, kidding. Come up with an idea. It’s always the end of the story, and the title for me. Then try and use Michael Hague’s fabulous Six Stage Plot Structure. Fail miserably. Write, cry, throwaway. Not really kidding now. I write everyday. Even when I don’t. I do several drafts. Then pray for inspired input from my critique group, aptly named The Lifesavers, do five or six rewrites, rely on my hubby, ‘Phil the fist’, for food, clean clothes, and stern admonitions to keep going, and voila, a book.
- At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say? I haven’t done book signings for a long time, but when I did as a Harlequin Intrigue author, I found it easy to ask who the book was for and just sign to them with thanks. I really did feel thankful that someone had come to see me, and wanted to read the book. It choked me up. Even the one time I talked with a woman for five minutes, signed the book to her, gave it to her, only to have her hand it back to me and say, “Oh, I don’t want to buy it. I just wanted to see what was going on here.” Writing is humbling in a million different ways.
- What is something people would be surprised to know about you? I love televised golf. I’m addicted to it. Sergio. Tiger. Or, be still my heart, Graham McDowell and Camilo Villegas. My author friends think I’m insane, but I love the ‘you against yourself’ nature of the sport. And I can sit on the couch all day in my nightie when I watch it, always a plus.
- How do you react to a bad review? I actually appreciate well written bad reviews, and by well written, I mean those that state why my book didn’t work for them, and then enumerate the reasons. I learn from those. I hate (yes, strong word, but strong feeling arises) the ones that state they dislike my book, and then give reasons that are factually incorrect. I got one of those with Secret Sister. Of course I wrote back and gently corrected their facts. The reviewer still hated the book.
- How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? Wine. Dinner. A trip to Disney with the kids. A Dooney & Bourke purse. And thanked my karmic spirits that I’d found an editor who believed I could tell a good story!
Emelle Gamble was a writer at an early age, bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection which evolved into bad teen poetry and took her first stab at full length fiction in an adult education writing class when her kids were in bed. As M.L. Gamble, she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin. She has contracted with Soul Mate Publishing for Secret Sister, summer of 2013, and Dating Cary Grant, an early 2014 release.
Always intrigued by the words ‘what if’, Emelle’s books feature an ordinary woman confronted with an extraordinary situation. She most enjoys reading stories that surprise and amaze her, and hopes her readers will enjoy the challenging and exciting journeys her characters take.
Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her husband, Phil, her hero of thirty years, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. These girls, like all good villains, have their reasons for misbehaving. Her daughter, Olivia, and son, Allen, are happily launched on their own and contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish.
FaceBook: Author Emelle Gamble
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