Blurb: Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver… Alice James has been a drifter her whole life, working her way through several foster homes before ending up in Wychwood-on-Lea, feeling anchorless and invisible. When a chance encounter leads to Alice accepting a position as a caretaker and companion to Lady Stokeley, she starts to feel as if she might finally be able to put down some roots and live the way other people do. Then, Lady Stokeley’s nephew, city banker Henry Trent, storms into Willoughby Manor, seeming to find fault with everything, including Alice. As the next in line to the manor and title, he threatens to upturn everything she’s started to build. But Henry is hiding his own secret fears and weaknesses, ones he’s desperate for no one to discover. A surprising and inconvenient attraction that simmers between them leaves Alice feeling more confused than ever, and Henry torn between duty and desire, fear and love. When circumstances become even more difficult, both Alice and Henry must decide who they really are, and what they are willing to fight for. Could Alice possibly the next Lady of Willoughby Manor?
Guest post: Tackling The Hardest Thing of All by Kate Hewitt
Whatever I write, my own experiences and emotions come through, and I think that’s true of any other author. It doesn’t matter if it’s science fiction or sexy romance, the truth of your experience will shine through your work.
This has been true, in a difficult way, for my Willoughby Close series. If you’ve read the series so far, you know that Lady Stokeley, the elegant, elderly lady resident of Willoughby Manor, is diagnosed with cancer and undergoes treatment in the first three books. In the last book, Marry Me at Willoughby Close, she decides to stop treatment as it is no longer working, and prepares to die.
A year and a half ago my father died—words that still seem strange to write—and I helped to nurse him through the last days and weeks of his illness (cancer) and was holding his hand, along with my mother and two of my siblings, as he died. It was an extremely emotional and profound experience, and really made me reflect on the nature of death.
I think as a culture we tend to avoid thinking about death, and yet as Lady Stokeley says in her acerbic way, ‘The mortality of the human race is one hundred percent.’ Everyone dies. Everyone is going to die. And that’s not me being morbid, it’s simple truth.
So while there is a romance in Marry Me at Willoughby Close—the titles gives that away!—and there is also the theme of the main character, Alice, finding her own strength, this is a story about loss and grief and death itself. What it means to die. What it means to watch someone die, to support them in the final days and even moments of their lives, something we might be called upon to do in our own lives.
I don’t think it’s an overly sad story. At least, I hope it’s not. More of a thoughtful one. I miss my father every day, but I am so thankful for the time I had taking care of him. I’m grateful I was there when he died. Writing about Lady Stokeley in this way was emotional for me, but in a good way, because it brought back a lot of memories and feelings. No matter what, the memory of Lady Stokeley will live on—just as those of our loved ones do.
Author Bio: Kate Hewitt is the author of over 60 novels of romance and women’s fiction. An American ex-pat and former diehard New Yorker, she now lives in a market town in South Wales with her husband, five children, and overly affectionate Golden Retriever. To learn more about Kate, check out her website kate-hewitt.com, or join her Facebook Kate’s Reads.