When happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy tales and romance novels, is it possible for Janet to find the man her heart was meant to love?
After Janet Mitchell flees a previous relationship and encounters the fierce rain and wind of a hurricane, fate steps in, or rather a trees falls, and smashes the bed of Wes Corbett’s truck. The incident brings them together, fate tying a lasso around them even in the face of terrifying danger.
This book was seriously awesome! The author did an incredible job at coaxing the reader into the story and keeping them there. The details were amazing, the story intriguing, and the suspense kept my eyes glued to the story, flipping page after page until I lost track of time. I loved that Janet is a romance writer, and the way she met Wes was just like a romance novel in real life.
Looking for a suspense novel with an interesting storyline and great romance? Stranger in the Storm ticks all the right boxes. Highly recommend!
My rating: 5 Stars
“You should have let me pay,” Wes said, back in the car. “It was my fault you lost your phone and laptop.”
“It was not,” said Janet and touched his arm. “Stop blaming yourself for everything your brother does.”
Interview with Patricia McAlexander
Welcome to my blog, Patricia! I’m excited to have you here. Let’s talk about your latest release. Where did your inspiration come from while writing Stranger in the Storm?
Some of the inspiration comes from my own experience. Although my MA was in English, not “fine arts,” Janet, my major female character, is in part autobiographical, an earlier me. The novella begins in New York City, where she has just earned a masters of fine arts (creative writing) at NYU. I drew on my time as a graduate student in the City, with its bustling streets, exotic restaurants, and innumerable museums, to paint that setting. Jack, the professor she is involved with there, is based on a type of male I have observed over the years—charming, brilliant, but so above others that he can be condescending, often autocratic. As for Wes, I admired a family who owned an upstate New York dairy farm near my parents’ lake house—an intelligent, strong, practical father and his sons. I am sure I based his character at least in part on them.
The heroine is a writer. Why did you choose that as her profession?
I suppose because, again, she is in part autobiographical, and right now, in my retirement, I am writing fiction. Also Janet’s romances help reveal her character: she portrays a kind of happily-ever-after love in her novels that she has growing doubts about finding in real life.
Are there any scenes you took out from your first draft?
Surprisingly, no. Often I do remove scenes. I think this novel was so compact that I didn’t do that. In fact, I added scenes to the first draft.
Are you a pantser or a plotter? Were there any scenes that took you by surprise?
I am more a pantser than a plotter. It makes writing much more fun. The final scene at Janet’s parents’ cottage took me by surprise, but I can’t tell about that—it would be a spoiler!
The bond with another twin waxes strong in the story. Tell us more about Wes and William’s relationship. Did they grow up close? Did they ever get into any trouble together? Do you think William got what he deserved by going to jail, or do you think he’s a misunderstood character?
As Wes tells Janet, he tried to be close to his brother, but William seemed sociopathic from childhood, once even setting his parents’ house on fire. Wes suspects that depletion of oxygen due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around William’s neck at birth caused some injury to his brain. Neither Wes’s attempts to help his brother nor his parents’ sending him to a special school changed him. When William is an adult, they feel safe only when he’s in jail. Although I have to admit some sympathy for William, his actions are self-centered and destructive except perhaps at the end—but I’ll have to let people read that and decide for themselves.
You wrote the hurricane so well that it felt like I was right there in the story. Did you do a lot of research? Or have you experienced a hurricane first hand?
Thank you. I’m glad those scenes worked for you. I did some research, but I’ve been in storms and hurricanes—some on lakes—and drew mainly on those events. On Facebook and Instagram I’ve posted photographs of stormy lakes—some I’ve taken, others I “shared” (with the permission of the photographer), but they embody my “lakeside” storm experiences.
We know that Janet is a romance novelist. I’m very curious to know the story she’s writing? What is it about?
At her parents’ lake house, Janet is writing her second novel—a romance set in the early twentieth century. The main character, roughly based on one of her ancestors, undergoes hardships but ultimately finds and marries the man she loves.
Do you believe in love at first treefall? Because I’m certainly a believer now!
I’m not sure Janet fell in love with Wes at first treefall, though she is on the way! She feels tremendously relieved and grateful when he gets her car out of the mud and drives her back to her cottage through the storm. And I admit that she does notice pretty quickly that he’s handsome. But I think he really wins her heart when he helps her rescue her father’s boat from crashing on the rocks in the storm.
Thanks for visiting my blog today, Patricia! It was fun to get to know the story on a deeper level.
Excerpt From Stranger in the Storm
The doors on each side of the patrol unit opened. Two uniformed men with badges and guns burst out. They aimed their guns at Wes and shouted an order at him. He raised his hands. The one with the sheriff’s badge grabbed him, and pushed him against the side of the car in spread-eagle position while the other, a deputy, covered them with his weapon. Wes was patted down, then handcuffed with his hands behind his back. The covering deputy lowered his gun and walked to the truck. Reaching in, he turned off the ignition and took out the keys. He picked up Wes’s wallet and phone and returned to the sheriff.
Janet jumped out of her car and ran up to her side of the fallen tree. “Stop!” she cried out. “There must be some mistake!”
“No mistake, miss,” the sheriff said, sounding grim. “You’d best get away from here. This is one of the escaped convicts.”
After she discovers the abusive side of his personality, Janet Mitchell leaves the professor who has swept her off her feet. Is she about to discover the same darkness in Wes, the handsome young man who rescues her during a hurricane?
Wes Corbett has vowed not to get romantically involved again, fearing anyone close to him might be harmed by his brother William, now an escaped felon. But when he finds himself riding out the hurricane with Janet and their mutual attraction becomes clear, will he be able to keep that vow?
About the Author
Patricia is from upstate New York, the setting of Stranger in the Storm, but she’s also lived in Colorado, Texas, and Wisconsin. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of New York at Albany, a master’s from Columbia University, and a doctorate from The University of Wisconsin, Madison, all in English. Patricia now lives in Athens, Georgia, with her Southerner husband, whom she met when they were graduate students in Wisconsin. After retiring from teaching at the University of Georgia, she’s had had more time to garden and travel while renewing her interests in photography, history, and, most of all, writing fiction.
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