Where My Heart Breaks by Ivy Sinclair
Publication date: August 30th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
If there were a course in screwing up your life, Kate Spivey would get an A+.Trust is in short supply for Kate at the start of the summer before her senior year of college. Her parents sentenced her to spend it under the watchful eye of her aunt at the famous Willoughby Inn. It was further proof that she was a prisoner in, and not the decision maker of, her life. Nothing she does is good enough to prove that she learned from the mistakes of her past.
Almost immediately, Kate finds that her new summer home holds another person who understands the unfairness of her situation better than most. Reed Black has had his own share of tragedy and regrets, but instead of trying to fight his reputation, he embraced it.
Sparks fly between Kate and Reed, but Kate needs to steer clear of Reed if she wants to regain control of her future. He is one temptation she can’t afford to indulge in, although fate seems to have other ideas for both of them.
If you are a fan of Stephen King or Quentin Tarantino, you may have noticed that they both seem to enjoy writing little parts for themselves into their movies. It’s always interesting for me to observe the roles that they chose for themselves inside the stories that they tell.
Recently, I realized that I inadvertently had done a similar thing while writing Where My Heart Breaks. My family and friends often ask me if I base any of my story characters on anyone in real life. The answer is usually no. (And even if it wasn’t, I don’t think I’d tell them.) In this instance though, I realized that isn’t completely true.
People who know me know that I have a thing for big, old houses. It’s an all-encompassing love affair to be honest. I drag my husband sightseeing to any and every historical mansion that I can find. Thank goodness he’s a good sport. There’s something about being able to feel like you can almost touch the past inside those houses that gets me every time. It amazes me to see how people lived before, especially those of privilege and wealth.
A common theme in many of the stories I write is that I’ll feature a location that is a big old mansion. Where My Heart Breaks is no exception. In it the fictional Willoughby Inn is brought to life. I describe this location as a southern style plantation home, just like the one you think about in the movies. (Imagine my disappointment when last summer, during a multi-plantation tour outside of Charleston, I found out that type of home in the old South was a myth propagated by Hollywood.)
Where My Heart Breaks is set in North Carolina, and so I was able to draw on local inspiration for the Willoughby Inn as well. The Biltmore, which is touted as America’s largest home, can be found in the foothills of the mountains in Asheville, NC. While the Willoughby Inn of my novel isn’t nearly as large as the Biltmore, the surrounding landscape did heavily influence it. The fictional towns of Bleckerville and Cheshire are located west of Asheville.
So here’s where I found myself after writing the book.
One thing that isn’t mentioned in the blurb is there is a story within a story woven into the plot. Readers will discover that the title of the book is actually based on a fictional book that was written by a man who was a guest at the Willoughby Inn one summer many years ago. His book became famous and is studied by Kate and Reed throughout the course of the novel. The author of that book I named Walter Moolen.
Walter Moolen clearly had a love of big, old houses and was inspired enough to write a story set in one of them. Just like me.
If Where My Heart Breaks were ever made into a movie, I’d ask the screenwriter to revise Walter Moolen’s character into a female role, and then that would be the small role I’d want to play. I figure I’d be a shoe-in for the part.
I had no idea how much time passed as I was absorbed deeper and deeper into Jackson and Camilla’s forbidden romance. The story was set in the 1920s. Jackson was a wealthy industrialist staying at the Willoughby for the summer with his wife, who had taken ill. The doctors had recommended that Jackson take her out of the city to recuperate. Camilla was the daughter of the Willoughby’s owner. The hot summer days wore on, and the forbidden attraction between Jackson and Camilla grew in intensity.
I was entranced. Anyone with common sense would know that Jackson was a bastard. It shouldn’t have mattered that he married young to someone he barely knew. But that was how Walter Moolen drew the reader in to make Jackson likable and vulnerable beneath his gruff exterior. Camilla, young and inexperienced, didn’t stand a chance once Jackson set his sights on her. I wanted to hate her for being so naive, but instead I found myself rooting for her to win Jackson’s heart.
I just reached the part where Jackson pulled Camilla into his arms for the first time, intent on declaring his desire for her, when I heard the tumble of rocks behind me. I jumped up, and the scream caught in my chest when Reed stepped into the lantern’s light.
“What the hell?” I said, my heart pounding wickedly against my rib cage. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
He put up his hands in mock surrender. “I didn’t mean to scare you. You must have been pretty deep in thought if you didn’t hear me coming.”
I was torn between chewing him out for interrupting me at such a pivotal plot point in my book, and being thrilled that he was there. Which led me to an obvious question. “What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to make sure you made it home safely,” he said, cocking his head. “Considering you left Lula’s without letting me know you found another ride. You seem to make friends easily.”
“I’m not the only one,” I retorted, thinking of the two busty blonds hanging on his every word.
Reed looked surprised. “I told Bud that I’d get you home. I’m just upholding my end of the bargain.”
I didn’t know what to make of him. One minute he was all bad boy, and the next he was like this, tentative and uncertain. Which one was the real Reed?
“Obviously I’m fine, safe and sound right where I’m supposed to be,” I said, outstretching my arms to encompass my surroundings. “Sam brought me home hours ago.”
“Sam’s a good guy,” Reed said, moving closer to me. “A little on the soft side, but dependable and reliable. Trustworthy.”
“That’s a good kind of guy to have around,” I said faintly. I had to get a grip. I was acting like a silly girl in a romance novel who never laid eyes on a man before. What was it about Reed that drew me in and made my heart beat so fast?
“Not like a guy like me,” Reed said as if he read my mind. He stopped a foot shy of me. His eyes passed over my shoulder and out to the lake. “I’m sure you heard the warning. Any single woman under the age of forty who sets foot in Bleckerville hears the warning about me as soon as she meets someone like Lula or your Aunt Patrice. I’m a favored topic of town gossip.”
“What warning is that?” It shocked me that he was putting himself out there like that. I was doing nothing but trying to forget my reputation. Reed seemed intent on bringing his out in the open. His glittering eyes focused back on mine. The intensity in them took my breath away.
“To stay away. Don’t get involved. That the bad things that happened to me in my youth left me heartless and cruel when it comes to the fairer sex,” he said.
“Is that true?”
His hand reached out, and his fingertips pushed a stray strand of my hair behind my ear. “It usually doesn’t matter. Reputations are built on kernels of truth. People might change, but in a town like this, reputations don’t. The only way I’d ever stand a chance of getting away from it would be to leave Bleckerville, which I can’t do.”
As someone plagued by a reputation that I earned, but didn’t feel like I deserved, I knew exactly what he meant. No matter what I did or said, my parents, my college friends, my teachers, even Millie at times, all still judged me by the person that I used to be. I was the person who let Trevor in and proceeded to let him walk all over me, even when he walked me right to the edge of a metaphorical cliff and left me dangling with no help in sight.
“I prefer not to judge someone by what other people say about them. I make my own decisions,” I said, raising my chin. “All’s I ask is that I get the same consideration.” Remembering his earlier insinuation, I decided to call him out. If we were going to be honest, then we were going to be honest.
Reed dug his hands into his pockets. “I might have heard a few things about you.”
“I’m sure you have,” I said. I felt a flash of anger. “Is that why you’re here? To see if the bad girl is as naughty as they say she is? Seems like if you were looking for an easy lay, you could have taken a turn with either of those blond bimbos at the bar.”
Reed’s expression was unreadable. He leaned in and my breath caught in my throat. “And just like that, you judged me just like everyone else in this shithole town would without even knowing if what they’re saying is true.”
Then he moved around me. The imaginary bindings around my chest that I didn’t even realize were there loosened. I turned and watched him walk across the sand to the water’s edge. His arm ratcheted back, and then pushed forward and I heard the plop of something dropping into the water.
I made my way down to stand a few feet away from him. I was ashamed of myself. He was right. So far, he had done nothing to me. He changed my flat tire. He offered me a ride home. He appeared in the moonlight and made no movement toward seduction, which I admit was mildly disappointing. So far, the only person being an ass was me.
“I guess I deserved that,” I said.
Reed threw another pebble out into the water. He didn’t look at me. “You did.”
Ivy Sinclair cut her romance teeth on classics like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, An Affair to Remember, and Sabrina. She is a firm believer in true love, a happily ever after ending, and the medicinal use of chocolate to cure any ailment of the heart. Ivy’s guilty pleasures include sushi, endless Starbucks lattes, and wine. Readers of Ivy’s stories can expect smoldering sweet stories of romance that tug at the heartstrings.