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Fresh Chat | Julia London on Returning to Homecoming Ranch

The Perfect Homecoming
Julia London




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Pine River

March 2015
On Sale: February 24, 2015
Featuring: Cooper Jessup; Emma Tyler
320 pages
ISBN: 1477821619
EAN: 9781477821619
Kindle: B00NAGE02U
Paperback / e-Book
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Also by Julia London:
A Princess by Christmas, October 2020
You Lucky Dog, September 2020
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One Season of Sunshine, July 2020
A Royal Kiss & Tell, May 2020
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1. THE PERFECT HOMECOMING is the third story you have set at Homecoming Ranch—a family home in the Colorado mountains. What should readers know before they ‘visiting’ the ranch?

First and foremost, these books are all standalone. So you needn't have read the first two to understand what is happening in the third. The second thing I'd say about this ranch is that in my head, it is actually Taos, New Mexico, where my family has a second home. Descriptions of scenery, of some of the more interesting little places in town, and even some of the minor characters are all from Taos. I decided not to set it in Taos because some of the things I needed for the book--like a major airport, medical facilities, and a pro football team--were more readily available in Colorado.

And last, but not least, readers might be interested to know that this series is about three women who inherit a ranch from their deadbeat dad. It's rundown, not working, and really more trouble than its worth. Moreover, the three of them didn't know each other before he died. In fact, one had never known she had sisters until she was notified that the father she had never met had died. here's so much going on for each of these women, both internally and externally, that they can each inhabit their own book and stories. But in the end, it all comes together, and somehow, they have managed to cobble a family out of their strange beginnings.

2. Your heroine Emma is a very hard person to get to know—for both readers as well as your hero Cooper. How would you describe Emma and how did you get into her head while writing her story?

She wasn't easy! I think because Emma had, on occasion, popped in and out of the first two books, I had a sense of her and I had the luxury of time to think about her while I was writing the first two books. I once knew a nice woman--much nicer than Emma--but she didn't have a real sense of how to talk to people. Sometimes what she said sounded off or even slightly offensive. But she spoke with a smile on her face and it took me a bit to realize that she didn't get how her words affected people. It was interesting to explore a personality that means well but is definitely lacking the people-pleaser gene. I think it's especially interesting because as women, we are taught to be people pleasers. You know, make everyone happy, see to everyone's needs. So to have a character go completely against the grain was fun to delve into.

3. Because of her past, Emma is not looking for a relationship—especially one with a incredibly handsome man who wants to learn her secrets. What is it about Cooper makes Emma second think her stance on relationships?

Well he's drop dead gorgeous to begin with. I don't know about you, but it's easier for me to put up with things when I'm physically attracted to something or someone. Sort of like the bad boyfriend trope--they are so cute, you are blinded at first and don't see how bad they are for you. So she didn't dismiss him instantly like she did a lot of men because she was super attracted to him. But the thing about Cooper that really stood out to Emma is that he didn't try and take from her. He wasn't bowled over by her beauty, he wasn't interested first and foremost in getting in her pants. In fact, he kept a healthy distance as he tried to figure her out, and for Emma, that meant something. It meant that maybe there was more to life and relationships than she had allowed herself to believe.

4. Emma and Cooper may be the featured couple in the story, but your secondary character Leo really steals the show. What was your inspiration for this disabled character? What had you adding a person with Motor Neuron Disease to a romance novel?

You know, Leo started so simply. I wanted to have a brother who needed help to soften Luke Kendrick in Homecoming Ranch. Luke had met Madeline (Emma's sister) and as I began to write, I realized he needed a humanize him. So I gave him a sick brother. When I first wrote Leo, he wasn't coming across right in my head. So I tried writing from his first person perspective and he took off. his is the only time I have written in first person, and Leo is the only character who became almost real to me. As for MND, I am not sure why I chose that. I can't tell you that I knew someone or had read something--I don't know why I settled on that. What I wanted was for Leo's illness to be serious, and not something that could be neatly tied up in the end, which, as readers know, happens in a lot of romance novels. For me, Leo's illness needed to raise the stakes for HOMECOMING RANCH. So whatever made me go with MND, I can't say, but it's been an awakening for me. I have heard from so many people who either have a form of the disease, or are caring for someone in their family who has it. I had a woman email me shortly after Homecoming Ranch came out. She'd just been given the diagnosis of ALS (one of the motor neuron diseases), and she was obviously devastated. But there was something about Leo that comforted her. I have been truly enlightened about that class of diseases thanks to the choice I made.

5. THE PERFECT HOMECOMING contains scenes of heartache and loss, but it is also an incredibly hopeful and joyous novel. Which scene in the book was the most uplifting for you to write?

There are two that stand out. The first scene is when Cooper tells Emma that he is strong enough for her, he can take whatever she thinks she can dish out. It's such an important moment for Emma. She's been waiting for someone like that all her life, and I could feel her disbelief, then her relief and gratitude as I was writing it. The second is Leo's dream about what is on the other side of life. That guy would not give into despair. He could see that we are all just passing through, and there was something better ahead, even for him. Honestly, I tear up even now when I think of that scene. I told you he was real!

6. Will we be returning to Colorado for your next book?

Not with the next one. I am going to try a new location that is closer to metropolitan areas. I am creating an area that is a summer getaway for the very wealthy, but there is also a town there where people live year-round. The haves vs. have-nots and the proximity to big cities gives me a much wider canvas for story creation. All sorts of things can happen. I love New Mexico and Colorado and personally spend a lot of time there, but as a backdrop for a lot of books, mountain towns can be kind of limiting.

Q&A courtesy of Morgan Doremus


Emma Tyler’s cool exterior and penchant for sarcasm keep most people from getting too close…and an unusual compulsion drives her to steal from the few men who do. When her trophy-collecting habit goes too far, she quits her ritzy event-planning job in Los Angeles and runs away to Pine River, hiding with her estranged half-sisters at Homecoming Ranch and caring for Leo Kendrick, her ailing friend.

Thrillseekers Anonymous founder Cooper Jessup has his hands full with work and his brother’s looming prison release date. But when a client asks him to track down Emma Tyler to retrieve a stolen memento, Cooper can’t turn down the money…or the chance to see the beautiful Emma again.

When Cooper comes to collect the item, Emma refuses to admit the horrible truth. This handsome man may see right through her steely veneer, but can he get close enough to show her how love and honesty can heal a troubled heart?

"This book explores dysfunction, terminal illness, deep emotions, and family relationships. The cast of characters is colorful and fun... The sweet and loving affection between Leo and Emma is delightful..." ~Fresh Fiction Reviewer Pat Pascale. Read our full review.

About Julia London

Born in Canyon, Texas, and raised on a ranch, Julia London didn’t have her eye on writing romance right away. After graduating with a degree in political science from the University of Texas in Austin, she moved out to Washington, DC, eventually working in the White House. She later decided to take a break from government work and start writing. Today, she is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty novels. She writes historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction, and her most popular series include the Secrets of Hadley Green series, the Cabot Sisters series, the Desperate Debutantes series, the Lear Sisters series, and the Pine River series. She is a recipient of the RT Book Reviews Best Regency Historical Romance award for THE DANGEROUS GENTLEMAN, and a six-time finalist for the renowned RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction. She resides in Austin, Texas.

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