Available: Now Amazon
Type: Contemporary Romance
Elli Morenelli has lived through a nightmare and now must conquer her fears to live her dream…
Her life could have been over with her breast cancer diagnosis, but Elli had fought it and won. Now through her foundation, she is fighting for other women facing the same nightmare. But the foundation has been thrown into financial crisis. Elli needs money. And she needs it fast.
Two determined people.
Elli finds herself with half ownership of a Louisiana plantation with a man who wants her to go away. A twisted inheritance has set her up with an interesting future. Unfortunately, the cancer taught Elli not to plan for a future. She just wants to sell the plantation, take the money and run.
Ben Bienvenu wants nothing to do with the woman from California who is certain to turn his world upside down. The conditions of the will that left the property to both of them doesn’t give him much choice. Not if he wants to keep the property that’s been in his family for generations.
Two people with more in common then they realize.
A snobby diva rental dog, an impossible will, a nosy Bienvenu family, a distracting Mardi Gras season and a man who thinks he is protecting his son and not repeating past mistakes by standing his ground against her… Elli knows that finding common ground with the man known as the Cajun Dog Whisperer is going to be an uphill battle.
Two broken people. Both in need of a Second Chance
(Nikki) Tell us a bit about yourself and why you chose to write your first book now.
Thank you, Nikki for taking up valuable real estate on your site to interview me. I’m thrilled to be here and chat with you. I’m a fan of Ramblings From a Chaotic Mind and Caffeine and Craziness. It is strange for me to be on this side of the interview table, however. I have had a 25 plus year career as a broadcast journalist asking, not being asked the questions. So, if you don’t mind, I need a moment to absorb this new thing…Oh, so, this is what it feels like…hmm…okay…yes, it feels strange…and humbling and very interesting at the same time. You know, all I have ever wanted to do was tell to the story. It started when I was a child writing my stories in my little black and white marbled notebooks. It continued when I was on television and radio reporting on the real stories of people, events and special moments. I’m just grateful I always had the sense to keep the two separate—fiction and non-fiction—otherwise that would have been a BIG problem, LOL. Then, it was in 2008 that I decided I wanted to write Elli’s story. This was the year that I learned intimately the emotional and physical effects breast cancer has on a person. You see, on June 1, 2008, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. It was through my fight and those of the people in the chemo infusion lab and the radiation center that I found Elli’s journey. They not only inspired Elli’s story as a Breast Cancer Survivor, but they inspired me as well. All of the author’s proceeds for Elli, a Second Chance Novel, will be donated to help women in the fight against Breast Cancer.
(Nikki) How did the idea for your book come about?
The first idea for Elli’s story came when I was in the chemo infusion lab, receiving a three hour treatment. I was there with the nurses and other patients. We were watching the progression of Hurricane Gustav on television. It was clear that it was going to threaten our community. One of the patients, a young thirty-something mother of two toddlers was discussing her evacuation plans. I wondered about her—young, beautiful, with a new family. I thought of another young woman I knew who had a genetic disease that her mother and grandmother had. She had decided to live a single life. I started considering if the woman getting chemo across from me would have made the same decision if she had known she would have breast cancer before she got married and had children. That was where Elli’s story began. It grew from there, as I realized that I didn’t want to write the story of Elli battling cancer, but of her restarting her life after the treatment ended. I wanted to tell a story in a lighter way, because my voice is lighter. I wanted to leave the reader with an understanding of hope and optimism and realism because living life after cancer is exactly that. You are hopeful you have beaten the disease, but you are also fearful that it may return. Yes, I do address serious issues in the book, but I want to make sure you know that this is a romance. It is a story of love…and dogs…and the love of dogs. I’m smiling right now because I have lots of dogs in this story.
(Nikki) Where is your book set and is the location somewhere you’ve been before?
The book is set in Cane, Louisiana. I have never been there, except in my head and heart. I made it up. That said, Cane is based on several small Cajun towns in the bayou area of south Louisiana. I’m very familiar with these communities, having worked and raised my family here with my Cajun husband. If you had wandered into the town of Cane from my book, you’d find oak and cypress trees dripping with curly gray moss beards, lazy earthen colored bayous where tired alligators and turtles sit sunning on the grassy banks, and acres of tall fertile sugar cane wave in long neat rows. There would also be a small, old fashioned town with one and two-story storefront buildings on the Main Street and beautiful tall plantations standing proudly just outside of the city limits.
(Nikki) What would you say are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your hero and heroine?
Elli is a survivor. She not only survived her battle with breast cancer, she did it alone. She is a tough woman. She has reevaluated her life and made conscious decisions on how she wants to live it. She is focused and smart. Her greatest weakness is that she has made all of those decisions from a basis of fear and loneliness and she doesn’t realize she has done so. Her fear is real and she doesn’t want to feel vulnerable again.
Ben has a strong sense of family and loyalty. He will sacrifice self to protect his son and family. That is a noble thing, but it proves to be both his strength and weakness. He failed to protect his son in the past and his fear of failing him again has him not trusting his judgment with women.
Just one thing, huh? Just kidding. Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything. My journey is my journey. I believe things happen in the way and in the time it’s supposed to happen. It’s all good.
(Nikki) Are you reading anything at the moment?
I love to read but as I’m writing Jewell’s story, I’m not reading fiction. Jewell is the second story in the Second Chance Novel series.
(Nikki) Who are your favorite authors?
Tough one. It’s like thanking people when you win an award…you are always afraid you will forget to name someone important, like your mother. There are so many super authors that it’s hard for me to name just a few! I will tell you, I read Stella Barcelona, my cousin and writing pal. I also like to get my adventure fix by reading Cherry Adair, my humor fix from Susan Elizabeth Phillips, my fall-in-love-with the characters fix from Maggie Osborne, my girlfriend-feel-good fix with Mary Kay Andrews, my take-me-away fix with Heather Graham, and of course, there’s always my Nora fix…and you see, the music has started playing and time prohibits me from naming the other important authors whom I love…I knew it would happen.
(Nikki) If you could meet any one fictional character who would you choose?
Hands down, Tante Izzy! She is a true Cajun woman who is the matriarch of Bienvenu family in my book Elli, a Second Chance Novel. I adore her. She has a unique sense of style, wearing bright colors and fashions she likes which don’t follow any trends nor would EVER set any. She is wise and honest and fun. She speaks her mind in that special way that someone with confidence and enough age can get away with. I’m sure she would be giving her opinion to me on how to raise more money for the fight against breast cancer and how I should learn to cook a better roux for my gumbo. You will be seeing more of Tante Izzy in the Second Chance novels following Elli.
(Nikki) Do you have any personality quirks?
Oh, gosh, yes! A person isn’t raised with all of the eccentricities, party traditions and cultural unconventionalities of New Orleans without developing a few quirky personality traits. Especially when you add to the recipe’ that created me-in equal parts, a strongly opinionated Italian-American family (both paternal and maternal), a Catholic education, a huge imagination, a ridiculous sense of optimism, and an aversion to routine. Quirks? Heck, yeah. I own them and I like having them, too. 🙂
(Nikki) What can we expect from you in the next year?
Optimism. Fighting for women with breast cancer. Book signings. Blogging. Jewel’s story. Losing ten pounds (okay, maybe five!).
I’m really exciting about sharing Jewell’s story of a Second Chance with you. Jewell is the daughter of one of New Orleans most famous strippers. As you can imagine that brings a whole lot of problems for a woman who has a doctorate degree in Louisiana history and loves pickin’ through dusty attics and sheds. She comes to Sugar Mill Plantation with her grandmother, Mignon, who claims the planation is her home and she is looking for her twin there. Even though Mignon has dementia, and more importantly, because of it, Jewell is determined to help her find her sister before her mind slips away forever. Adopted into the family, Beau is committed to protect the Bienvenu family, especially from women who could very well be con artists…or true heirs to Sugar Mill plantation. The third book in the series will be Abby’s story. You meet Abby in the beginning of Elli’s book.
There is one more thing I would like to bring to your attention. I’m happy to tell you about Friends Fight Together. Authors Cherry Adair, Stella Barcelona and I will have a booth at the RT Convention in New Orleans. We will have a photo booth where for two hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, convention goers can take pictures with cover models! There will also be a raffle on each of the days! 3 separate raffles of 4 foot tail-gaiting pirogues filled with thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes including an iPad, E-Readers, designer handbags, books, faux fur throws and more! Please stop by. All of the proceeds are being donated to help women in the fight against breast cancer. Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center of Louisiana will receive the funds raised at the RT convention to use to help with specific needs of breast cancer patients. (I have attached two of the photos for the campaign
Tina is giving away an amazing basket of goodies to a winner here on the blog! It includes: Elli’s favorite MoonPies, Cajun Mellow-Yellow Coffee, Stein’s Cane Syrup (for the Pain Perdu that is a Bienvenu favorite), Cajun seasoning for seafood, toys for the winners dog, a cute stuffed beagle dog toy that looks like BJ from the book, special all natural Lavender body butter and bath salts and other fun items.
Open to US & Canadian residents until 5/10/14 at 11:59 EST with winner announced shortly after!