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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"The Color of the Season" (Julianne MacLean) ★★★★★ Promotional Blast with GIVEAWAY!!

Title: The Color of the Season (Color of Heaven #7)
Author: Julianne MacLean
Age: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction

From USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean comes the next installment in her popular Color of Heaven series - a gripping, emotional tale about real life magic that touches us all during the holiday season…

Boston cop, Josh Wallace, is having the worst day of his life. First, he’s dumped by the woman he was about to propose to, then everything goes downhill from there when he is shot in the line of duty. While recovering in the hospital, he can’t seem to forget the woman he wanted to marry, nor can he make sense of the vivid images that flashed before his eyes when he was wounded on the job. Soon, everything he once believed about his life begins to shift when he meets Leah James, an enigmatic resident doctor who somehow holds the key to both his past and his future…

** This is book 7 in the Color of Heaven series, but can be read as a stand alone. **


(Taken from Chapter 21)
I am constantly amazed by the resilience of the human body, and more importantly the human spirit. Three days after waking from a five-day coma as a result of two gunshot wounds and major surgery, I was walking steadily—albeit slowly—on a treadmill.
 At this rate, the doctors told me it wouldn’t be long before I would be discharged. Surprisingly, I had mixed feelings about that.
 “Every time you come to see me,” I said to Leah one evening after visiting hours were over, “you ask questions about my life and how I feel about this or that. I answer your questions and you scribble things down in my chart. Then you run off because you have some other patient to see. Is it possible that we could have a conversation where you’re not talking to me as a patient? Could you just be Leah, the girl I knew when we were kids?”
 Her expression warmed. She checked her watch and laid her clipboard down on the windowsill. “I suppose I’m due for a break. What would you like to talk about?”

So, I'm not even sure what to write, exactly! This book was not what I thought it would be yet so much more than I expected. This book left me thinking about it long after I finished reading it - to me, that makes it a remarkable tale. This is a beautiful story that had me anxious to turn the page to find out what would happen next. There were a few surprises - I actually gasped at one in particular! There is sadness, joy, anger and love. Josh, a police officer recovering from a near death experience, reconnects with old childhood friends. The turn of events from that point on are uplifting and real. I was cheering on for his friends to stand strong and, of course, for Josh to find his true soul mate. This is the first book I've read of Ms. MacLean and I am more anxious than ever to read more of her works, because this one had me thinking about it long after I finished reading it - to me, that makes it a remarkable and wonderful story. Don't Miss This One!! (Received copy for honest review)


Where did the idea for The Color of Heaven series come from?

It’s funny, some author friends of mine keep a giant folder full of ideas for stories they would like to write someday, but that’s what I struggle with the most—coming up with the concept for even one book. Once I have it, I can flesh it out and write it fairly quickly, but I have to dig deep and hard to find the first kernel of the story idea.

There is no big fat file folder full of book ideas in my house.

As far as this particular series goes, when I began it, I’d been writing historical romances for ten years and wanted to write something contemporary, just for a change, creatively. Two of the major events in the novel THE COLOR OF HEAVEN actually happened to me. (My daughter became seriously ill at the age of three, and I had a car accident very much like the one I describe in the book.)

I think a part of me wanted to explore the “what if” question in relation to both of those events: What if I had died during the crash?  What if my daughter hadn’t survived? So, while the book is a work of fiction, a lot of it, including the main character’s thoughts and feelings, came from my real life experiences.

Originally I had written the book as a standalone novel, but I received so many letters from readers asking me to write more stories like it, I knew I had to figure out a way to turn it into a series.  

What were the challenges (research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing this story or characters to life?

The Color of the Season is the story of a Boston police officer, Josh Wallace, who gets dumped by his girlfriend in the opening scene. That was a challenge because the girlfriend who dumps him was the heroine of the previous book, and I didn’t want her to become unlikable. (Sadly, not all relationships can work out, but it doesn’t mean the people involved are bad people when they choose to end it. They just weren’t the right fit.)

Josh gets shot later that night when he pulls over a suspicious looking vehicle on the road, and like Sophie Duncan in The Color of Heaven, he has a near-death experience while undergoing surgery to remove the bullets. I’d done research on the subject for The Color of Heaven, but that was a number of years ago, so I had to read up on the topic again to make sure I depicted the experience accurately and realistically.

There are also a few twists and turns in this story that are always a challenge to execute. It can be difficult to gage how much information to hold back from the reader so they won’t see certain things coming. I love hearing from readers who say: “I didn’t see that coming at all!”

I also like to write stories where the reader will feel an urge to go back and reread the book a second time to pick up on clues that were there all along, but they didn’t recognize them on the first read.

What was the easiest part of writing The Color of the Season?

The easiest scene to write was the one where Josh chases the suspect who shot his partner.  It was pure physical action and I always find those scenes move quickly as I’m writing them.

What is your favorite scene or was your favorite to write? Don’t forget to tell us why.

This is difficult to answer without giving away spoilers. I’ll try to do it…  My favorite scene to write was Josh’s memory of being ten years old and holding a baby in his arms for the first time. I love that I was able to explore the gentler side of this virile, brave cop, and I also loved that he was sensitive enough to recognize that the event was a profound experience in his life, even if he didn’t understand why at the time.

What’s next for you writing wise that you can share with us?

I’m about to start writing The Color of Joy which is book 8 in this series.  It will revolve around a secondary character from Season - Leah’s wayward brother Riley who had a difficult adolescence and later spent some time in prison. Again, it’s hard to share much without giving away spoilers for Season, so I’ll leave it at that, because half the fun of this series is not knowing what’s around the next bend!

I also have another Highlander book to write, as my readers have been begging me to add to the Highlander trilogy my publisher released in 2011. I’ll be releasing Return of the Highlander in June 2015.

Which books have most influenced your life?

As far as fiction goes, Jane Eyre was the book that got me truly hooked on literature - especially the kinds of books that explored a deep, tension-filled love story. I was in first year university at the time, and I loved it so much that I decided to major in English. As soon as I graduated, I dove into the modern day historical romance genre, and I was so inspired, I was driven to write one!  
As far as non-fiction goes, here is a book that everyone should read: The Wealthy Barber. It’s about how to manage your money throughout your life, and it’s surprisingly entertaining. It has influenced the way I live and spend—and save!

What is the first book you remember reading by yourself?
I have a very bad memory, so this is tough. As a young child, I remember the images from Make Way For Ducklings and Go, Dog Go. The first novel I remember being passionate about was Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. I was about twelve years old when I read it. And then Forever, also by Judy Blume, really rocked my adolescent world.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished Gone Girl (I wanted to finish it before I saw the movie). I’m not sure what I’m going to read next. I don’t usually read while I’m writing a book because I need to keep my head in my own story world. But every time I finish writing a book, I take a break and read one. I’m up for suggestions!

What do you think makes a good story?
I get very bored with predictable plot lines and predictable characters.  I like to read things that are fresh and different, and I like to be surprised—not just by the action, but by the choices the characters make, or the private thoughts they have.
I also like to experience the atmosphere of a book in terms of the setting. I want to feel as if I’m really there, and for that, I don’t need big blocks of description—just subtle references to the setting sprinkled skillfully throughout. I love it when I’m out walking, weeks or even years after reading a book, and a memory from that story world flashes into my mind because of a scent in the air or something that catches my eye. Those are the books that really stand out for me and remain on my keeper shelf.

Who would you consider your favorite author and why?
Such a tough question!  My favorite author in the historical romance genre would be Mary Balogh because she writes such complex, realistic characters, but it’s really difficult to narrow that down as I have so many other favorite historical romance authors.
I also love Jodi Picoult and Susanna Kearsley.

Julianne's Favorite Quotes from The Color of the Season
“I still wasn’t sure if she thought I was insane and was just humoring me, or if she believed there was something real about all this.” - Josh Wallace, The Color of the Season
“I thought people who believed in their ‘higher selves’ weren’t operating on all four cylinders. I thought I knew everything about who and what we are—that when we die, it’s game over; pure nothingness—but now I feel completely…humbled.” - Josh Wallace, The Color of the Season
“A year ago I would have come up with some sort of rational explanation for that, but after everything that’s happened to me, I’m beginning to accept that maybe some things just happen, and they aren’t meant to be explained.” - Josh Wallace, The Color of the Season
“There’s nothing concrete about love or the soul. No way to prove either actually exists. You can’t touch love or reduce it down to a mathematical equation.” - Josh Wallace, The Color of the Season

Julianne MacLean is a USA Today bestselling author who has sold more than 1.3 million books in North America, and her novels have also been translated into many foreign languages, including Spanish, German, Portugese, French, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, and Dutch. She has written twenty historical romance novels, including the bestselling Highlander Trilogy with St. Martin's Press and her popular Pembroke Palace Series with Avon/Harper Collins. She also writes contemporary mainstream fiction, and THE COLOR OF HEAVEN was a USA Today bestseller. She is a three-time RITA finalist and has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers' Best Award, the Book Buyers Best Award, and a Reviewers' Choice Award from Romantic Times for Best Regency Historical of 2005. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of King’s College in Halifax, and a degree in Business Administration from Acadia University. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and daughter, and is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada. 


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