4 Time RITA Winner Cheryl Reavis


Bell Bridge Books

Vietnam took her first love away from her.Now it may take her next love, too.After her husband dies Gillian Warner realizes how many sorrows she carries inside her, including her unresolved grief over her first love, who died in Vietnam decades earlier. Haunted by his death in combat as well as by a tangled web of guilty secrets, she books a guided trip to the battle site.The tours are led by cynical Vietnam War vet A.J. Donegan, who makes his living taking naïve Americans on what he calls “Guilt Trips, Inc.” If they’re looking for peace of mind, they can forget it.A prickly attraction sparks between Gillian and Donegan, with neither able to let go of the past without the other’s provocative challenge. In a test of willpower and desire, they’ll have to share much more than a journey to a place and a memory; they’ll have to travel deep inside the walls they’ve built around their hearts.

Love Inspired Historical

Love Inspired Historical

4 time RITA WINNER & 4 time FINALIST
 ANGI: How often to you get lost in a story?
CHERYL: As a writer, I used to get "lost" all the time, completely, totally lost. I got to the point where I needed to make sure the season of the year in my story matched the actual season, because it was such a jolt coming out of my make-believe summer and finding it was really the dead of winter, and vice versa. Now, however, I'm a card-carrying member of the "T'ween" Generation, and my writing time is so fractured, it's very difficult to get to the level of "lost-ness" that I once did. Interruptions are the order of the day, so much so that I refer to my cell phone fondly as "The Bat Phone."

As a reader, I'm sorry to say that it's not often that I get lost in the story. I think it just that writers read with a different "eye." I'm apt to stop cold to admire some turn of phrase I think is very well done or to wonder why something was done the way it was, or what something means--those "Wait--what?" moments. It's wonderful when a story is so strong I forget to pay attention to technique. Sometimes--when a book is really good--I can get lost AND do my assessments. I'm currently reading the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series by Louise Penny. I really like these books, the characters, the complexity of the murder mystery, and especially the texture, i.e., the subtle inclusion of details about things I don't know. I love to learn and be entertained at the same time.

ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading? 
CHERYL: The first book I remember reading all the way through was a "Dick and Jane." (The reading series for first graders WAY back in the day.) The reason I remember is that my teacher allowed me to take the book home--but ONLY if I didn't read past the reading assignment. As it was, I stayed in trouble a lot of the time in the "reading circle" because I could already read, and as a result preferred a "talking circle." Unfortunately, the teacher didn't. ANYWAY, I was absolutely thrilled to be able to take the book home. I got it out of my blue and green plaid book satchel (they were "satchels" in those days, not bags), hopped on my bed with a handful of vanilla wafers and began to read. Now if any of you have ever seen/read a Dick and Jane reader, you know they're not exactly riveting, but I got lost in the story anyway. I kept reading and turning pages and reading--and suddenly there was the glossary. Scared me to death. I had done exactly what my teacher  told me not to do--several times. Having gotten in so much trouble for my reading circle infractions already, I wasn't sure she wouldn't kill me for this one. In fact, I think I'm still traumatized.

ANGI: What’s your favorite “love” word?
CHERYL: Not sure what this means, Angi. Do you mean an endearment? If so, I prefer my actual name.

ANGI: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
CHERYL: Fortunately, I've met several. My husband is a real-life hero, as is my son and grandson, and a young teacher whom I worked with when I was a school nurse. My husband (then boyfriend) made a friend for life when I was in nursing school. I had an instructor who taught out of one book, but tested out of another, one we students had no access to. The books differed in content, so that one test question might have two different answers, depending on which textbook you were looking at. But she absolutely would NOT accept any answer from our textbook. It had to be what HER book said. Needless to say this was really upsetting--apparently, I have a low tolerance for academic bullying, which I considered this to be. I intended to buy my own copy, but the book cost a fortune--there was no way I could afford it. But one day, my husband showed up at the dorm, and he gave me the book. Did I say he made a friend for life?

ANGI: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
CHERYL: I would have to say Cinderella. I never got to see the Disney movie when I was a child, and my son, who knew that was one of my Little-Cheryl-Growing-Up regrets, bought me the video one Christmas when he was a teenager. (I said he was a hero, too.) I was thrilled. Finally got to see Cinderella and have since watched it many times with my granddaughter.
ANGI: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
CHERYL: I like the Porky Pig/Sylvester the Cat duo, especially when they're in a haunted house. And the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd hunting adventures. I like the Powder Puff Girls, too. And Sponge Bob. He's such a lovable birdbrain.

ANGI: What do you like about the hero of your book?
CHERYL: I like that he's a decent man, despite his flaws, and that he is kind to children. It also didn't hurt that, in my head, he looks something like Mark Harmon.

ANGI: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
CHERYL: THE theme song for this book is Patty Griffin's "You'll Remember." Here's the YouTube link if you'd like to hear it:

The minute I heard this song, the character of "Gillian Warner" formed in my head, the fact that she'd had a good life, but suddenly, after so many years, her heart and her mind were filled with the first boy she had loved and the sorrow and the guilt she'd never addressed. The words of the song seemed to me to be something he would have wished for her, that someday she would think of him and she'd smile.

Other playlist songs are just about anything from the Vietnam war era, especially "Last Train To Clarksville."

ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
CHERYL: First, let me say that the Kindle has been a godsend to me. I have vision "issues," i.e., I'm legally blind in one eye and I have glaucoma. Besides that, my eyes aren't as young as they used to be in general. But, with the Kindle Fire, I can widen the margins so that the sentence lines are short enough that I can keep them in the part of my lens I use to read without having to constantly turn my head and crane my neck (which must have looked really weird). I also use the white font on a black background and set it larger than most print books, but not as big as the Large Print books. (Don't quite need that yet.) As a result, it is so much easier to read now, so I'm reading a lot more than I did. My usual reading time is whenever I'm waiting somewhere, which as a T'ween Generation person, tends to be a lot--doctor's appointments, car-rider lines at my granddaughter's school, etc. This works out well because even with the Kindle I can't read with the prolonged intensity I used to. The time I have to read in these situations is about what my eyes will tolerate.

ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
CHERYL: Rain. And wind in the pines. I grew up in a house surrounded by pine trees--not the really tall, spindly ones. The ones that were about the size of a maple tree, but had a large trunk and low enough branches so that you could climb them fairly easily--if you didn't mind getting pine sap all over you. As a child, the trunks were so big I couldn't reach around one. Anyway, the sound of a whispering pine was always a part of my environment then, especially at night as I was falling asleep.

ANGI: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
CHERYL: Fairy Tale

ANGI: What was the first story you remember writing?
CHERYL: THE DOG WITHOUT A TALE. Complete with illustrations. I believe I was in the second grade.

ANGI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
CHERYL: I don't know that I have an absolute favorite. I tried to like SOUND OF MUSIC in the way most people do, but I couldn't get past the rigid father even if he was reformed by the love of a good woman by the end. I liked GWTW a lot, despite Clark Gable. He always seemed so OLD to me. And I liked THE WIZARD OF OZ. And THE HELP. And ON THE BEACH (Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck). And a very obscure movie called THE PURPLE PLAIN (also Gregory Peck). THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING (Burt Reynolds in his hunky hey-day and Sarah Miles.)

ANGI: Who’s your favorite villain?
CHERYL: I don't think I have one. How about my favorite hero, aside from the Reavis men? Roy Rogers, that would be. I fell in love with the King of the Cowboys when I was three, and I'm still not over him. I think I tell everybody that--even people I've known for five minutes--which may be why I get Roy Rogers birthday cards and family will give me Roy Rogers memorabilia for Christmas. What can I say? Whenever he sings "My Little Buckeroo," I'm in love all over again. You remember I said I call my cell phone "The Bat Phone." Well, Roy singing "Hold On, Partner" is my text message ringtone. I feel like I can face anything if Roy is the one bringing the news. LOL.

ANGI: What is your biggest vice?
CHERYL: My biggest vice, my biggest vice…. Well, I don't smoke, drink, gamble or run wild. I think it must be housework. Or more accurately, not doing it. I love a clean orderly house--but I don't want to be the cleaner. In my part of the country, when I was growing up, a woman who kept a spotless house was considered "smart," a real compliment, especially if a man said it. But I decided a long time ago not to be "smart" in that way--and I still feel guilty.

ANGI: Is there a “Blooper” in your story (it may have been changed before printing)?
CHERYL: Can't think of one offhand, and I hope I haven't missed one. It's easy for me to do when it's my own writing, because I see what I meant regardless of what I said. I'm great at finding bloopers in somebody else's writing, though.

ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: There's a picture on your website of you in the Painted Desert when you were six. It inspired the Silhouette Special Edition™ "Family Blessings" series.  Is there another location that you inspired another book?  (Cheryl, if you have a picture that would be awesome.)
CHERYL'S GOTTA ANSWER:  I often use photographs, staring at them as I write--while listening to the playlist. Sometimes a photo will have inspired an idea. More often than not they are ones that I see later and think "That's it."

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The former public health nurse, now award-winning romance novelist describes herself as a "late bloomer." Her Silhouette Special Edition™A CRIME OF THE HEART, reached millions of readers inGood Housekeeping magazine and won the Romance Writers of America's coveted RITA award the year it was published. She has also won the RITA award for her Harlequin-Silhouette novels, PATRICK GALLAGHER'S WIDOW, THE PRISONER, and THE BRIDE FAIR. BLACKBERRY WINTER, THE BARTERED BRIDE and aBerkley novel, PROMISE ME A RAINBOW, as well as THE SOLDIER'S WIFE have been RITA award finalists. She has received numerous awards from Romantic Times magazine. 

Her award-winning literary short stories have appeared in The Crescent Review, The Bad Apple, The Mosaic, The Sanskrit, Laurels, The Emrys Journal and Writer's Choice

Publishers Weekly described her Berkley single-title novel, PROMISE ME A RAINBOW, as "...an example of delicately crafted, eminently satisfying romantic fiction."

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  1. Hi, Cheryl. To answer the question, I don't think I've ever bought a writer's second book if I didn't like the writing in the first one. (I don't have to like the book, just the writing.) I have NOT bought so many books because of Amazon's free sample on my Kindle; if I can end that chapter without regret, I don't buy the book. You didn't ask that, though, did you? :-)

    At any rate, to other commenters, I've read THE FIRST BOY I EVER LOVED and have to say it's probably my favorite Cheryl Reavis book (that's saying something), even more now that I know Donegan looks like Mark Harmon. I think I may have to go re-read...

    1. Liz, I tend not to buy/read a second book if the first one isn't something I enjoyed, too--but I might if I hear really good buzz re: one I haven't yet read. I think that's because I'm a "glommer" (Is that a word?). Whenever I find a book I enjoy, I always want to read more, if not all, of that writer's work. By doing that, and from my own personal writing experience, I know how up and down the writing process can be. I've read books by a particular writer I've loved and others by that same author--not so much. It's hard sometimes to hit the ball out of the park--or even to hit the ball at all (I'm talking about myself here). The bottom line, I guess, is that I just don't want to ever miss a great read. Who knows how many "Dick and Janes" there are out there?

      LOL about the re-read, and thank you so much for your kind words re: THE FIRST BOY I LOVED. Makes me happy.

  2. Cheryl, what a lovely interview. Welcome to Get Lost in a Story. Oh, gosh, what a tough question. If I read a new author and don't like her work I probably won't pick up another. But if it's a writer I've read before and I loved her first book or others, I'll always give her/him another chance. Thanks for joining us!

    1. Thank you, Donnell. It's my pleasure to be here. I see you don't want to miss any riveting "Dick and Janes," either. :)

  3. I just downloaded this book and can't wait to get started. The Vietnam era which I keep getting told is a hard sell, is the era I came to my adulthood in and there are so many heroes from that era in my life. I was sold on this book even before I saw the reference to Mark Harmon but that would have sealed the deal.

    1. Thank you, thank you, Skye. I hope you'll enjoy the book. From what people tell me, you might need a hankie. Hopefully, that's because the book is emotional and not because it's reading torture. I think you, Liz and I can start a 3-person Mark Harmon Admiration Society.

  4. hi, Cheryl! Great interview, and fun getting to know a bit more about you! As to your question ... in truth, if it's the very first book I've read by an author and I don't like it, I don't think I'd try again. (But never say never.) I think it's different if I already liked an author's writing and then happened upon a clunker. That HAS happened before, and it hasn't stopped me from trying again, although I'll likely read the first few pages before doing so.

    1. Thanks, Mary. I pretty much always select a book by reading the first few pages, and that's because the first library I had access to didn't have books with "jackets." Those first few pages were the only way I had to decide if I wanted to check out the book. Well, I could have asked the librarian, but I was scared of her. (I said I was traumatized by that "reading circle" experience. LOL.)

  5. So glad you're "Getting Lost" today, Cheryl. You're interview will be up all weekend. Since you're on the 'other side of the world,' you can get back to everyone when you're awake.


    1. Thank you, Angi. I appreciate this so much.

  6. Cheryl, I enjoyed getting to know you better through this interview. Thank you for sharing.


  7. Hi, Cheryl. Look your book and can't wait to read this one. To answer your question, I seldom read a second book by an author if I don't like the first one. Something special has to push me there the second time.

    1. Hi, Nancy. And thank you for retweeting my book news. You are that Nancy Holland, yes? If not, I'm still very pleased that to stopped by to comment.

  8. don't usually read another book from that author again

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  9. Hi Cheryl. If I flat out don't like anything in the author's first book, I usually won't buy a second one. If there's any likeable part at all, I'll give one more try simply because I know how hard it is to write that first book. And I believe in second chances. Now that Kindle offers sample reads, I use that often. Thanks for sharing those heart-grabbing excerpts today. I'm off now to buy the books. :-)

    1. Hi Loralee. I'm glad you stopped by. I haven't been taking advantage of those Kindle sample reads--not sure why. But I can see I need to.

  10. Hi!

    If I don't like it at all... I won't give the writer another chance. If I found it so-so but the writer got great reviews... I'll give the writer another chance. I may be alone in this but I didn't love Naked In Death by JD Robb. However, everyone keeps telling me to keep reading so I did. I did like the second book a lot more and I fell in love with the series by the third book.

    1. Hi May. (There's a character named "Mae" in THE FIRST BOY I LOVED--I've always loved the name no matter how it's spelled.) That's interesting about the JD Robb books. I had a similar experience with a writer...whose name I can't remember. He did British family sagas. BIG British family sagas. Apparently I started with the wrong one because I had no desire to continue reading his books. But a reading friend insisted that I read a different series he'd done. That one opened with a British soldier returned from India with stolen jewelry in his knapsack and his unexpected encounter with a desperate bride who has just run away from her own wedding--and boy, was I hooked.

  11. I have so many books stacked up in my TBR shelves that I tend to move on quickly if I'm disappointed by an author's first book. On the other side of that coin is my willingness to read another of a writer's works even if I experience one that I don't like as well as I did earlier books. So that first book is a deciding factor for me.
    Needless to say, I am a fan of Cheryl's, having read and reread all of the Navajo series and several others, both historical and contemporary. I'm thrilled to see "First Boy" back in print.

    1. Hi Dee. Thanks for dropping by. I'm glad to see First Boy out in the world again, too, though technically it was never actually "out." It was up on amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., for pre-order when the line (NeXt) folded. And that was that. Publication was cancelled. My poor First Boy never saw the light of day--not a happy time for me. But now Belle Books has saved it. I can't always say this, but I truly love this book, and I hope readers will, too.

  12. It depends on what I didn't like about the book. If I liked the authors style of writing but maybe didn't like a character or something in the story that happened then I will read that author again if the story sounds appealing.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Maureen. I think you're right. There are different reasons for giving authors "second chances."

  13. I was asked about a playlist for THE FIRST BOY I LOVED and I thought I'd include this link. This is the song that was playing when "A. J. Donegan" took "Gilly" to the DEROS, a seedy Saigon backstreet bar dedicated to slumming tourists and ex pat soldiers who have lost themselves, maybe forever. In my mind, it's also "Donegan's" anthem, a song of his youth. He is finding that he likes Gillian Warner more and more, and he doesn't want to.

    So here's the link (you may have to cut and paste):


  14. If it's an author I've read and enjoyed before, I'll keep giving them chances if I like the book blurb. But if it's a new-to-me author I'd have to make a decision based on the book blurb, excerpts (when I can find them) and reviews from sites I trust before picking up another book.

    Marcy Shuler

    1. Now you're scaring me, Marcy. I find it SO hard to write the back cover copy or a blurb. Almost as hard as titling--I'm the worst title-er ever. Anyway, I've always suspected that the book blurb mattered more than I wanted it to.

      Thanks for stopping by and posting.

  15. And the winner of a copy of THE FIRST BOY I LOVED is:


    I hope you will enjoy Gillian and Donegan's story.

  16. I loved this book ... and every other book you've written Cheryl. A lovely interview it's great to learn more about one f my fav authors.