Four bestselling Christian romance writers return to the fictional town of Smitten, Vermont
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Returning to the fictional town of Smitten, Vt., was a dream come true for contemporary romance authors and best friends Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter. Secretly Smitten (Thomas Nelson) follows on from the popular Smitten, the original collaboration born of Diann Hunt’s desire to pen a novella collection with her dearest writing friends.
In Secretly Smitten, four new Smitten residents—Anna and her daughters, Clare, Tess, and Zoe—discover love while engaging in a quest to find the truth about Grandma Rose’s first love. As in Smitten, each character shares a characteristic or two with their author.
“We came up with different parts of our personalities for this book,” explains Colleen. “For example, I mother people to within an inch of their lives! It can be very annoying. So Tess is the oldest, just like me, and she mothers everyone.”
The same can’t be said for the leading men reflecting the writers’ husbands, says Denise. “My husband is an outgoing businessman, whereas Ethan is an introverted, Harley-riding, handyman. They’re both tall though. Does that count?”
Kristen believes that opposites attract, so look for fireworks in her story. “Zoe Thomas is a homebody with no desire to leave her beloved birthplace. William Singer is a city manager who helps towns transform and then moves on… so they both have different ideas about life.”
Diann says that Natalie, Julie, Shelby and Reese from Smitten make cameo appearances. Meanwhile, her story finds her leading lady discovering Michael and learning more about sheep than she ever wanted to know!
While the characters have captured readers’ imaginations, the town itself is a major draw.
“Smitten is an idyllic place because it’s very connected,” Kristen says, “the way life used to be before social media and computers took over family get-togethers and church potlucks.”
“Life gets crazy busy,” Diann says, “and sometimes it’s nice to slow down and get to know people. Like stopping for pie in Mayberry—if you’re lucky enough to not get arrested by Barney Fife!”
The collaboration has strengthened the friendship between the writers, something they hope to convey in Secretly Smitten.
“Women need those close friendships in their lives,” Denise says, “and we feel so blessed to have found that with one another. We hope readers who have those friendships will have a renewed appreciation for them and that those who are longing for fellowship will be inspired to keep their hearts open. You never know when your next best friend will enter your life.”
A recent brainstorming retreat has birthed the idea for a third Smitten collaboration: Book club friends unite when one loses her firefighter husband tragically—and yet find love along the way.
“It’s such a seamless effort because we know each other so well,” Colleen shares. “We have had such fun dreaming up characters and plots! Working together has made us even closer.”
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!
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Swimming to the Surface
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The Trouble with Cowboys
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Isn’t It Romantic?
The Smitten ladies have their say on how they like to be romanced:
I’m married to a romantic guy. He does little thoughtful things all the time—a sweet card, an email telling me he loves me (when he’s sitting four feet away!) and a surprise vacation or two. He knows my favorite gift is jewelry, and he has great taste.
I’m a quality time person. I like deep conversation and time spent together.
Unexpected surprises, shared coffee in the morning, a movie, an impulsive slow dance in the family room.
I’m all about the little things. A kind word, a helping hand, an unexpected hug. No grand gestures necessary.