5Qs Travels North with Alaskan Hearts by Teri Wilson
(Giveaway ends July 13, 2012)
Congratulations! I will contact you soon. Now, everyone, let’s take a cool breath of fresh Alaska air via Teri Wilson!
Teri, welcome to Five Questions! Today we’re going to escape the summer heat and head north to Alaska by discussion your latest release from Love Inspired entitled Alaskan Hearts. I’ve read this book and LOVED it! I can’t wait to get to the question but let’s give everyone a little peak at what your latest release is about.
Former Alaskan sled-dog musher Ben Grayson is still grieving the tragic loss of his dog team. So much that he put the reins—and his dreams—away.
Now a photographer, Ben’s covering the Gold Rush Trail sled-dog race. He’s surprised his heart isn’t more guarded around lovely journalist Clementine Phillips—until he learns that Clementine plans to handle a sled-dog team herself. Ben can’t bear the thought of Clementine in danger.
So he comes up with a compromise—one to keep her close…forever.
1. I love reading about unusual occupations. What made you choose to make your hero a sled-dog musher and how does it add to the story?
I wrote Alaskan Hearts after my first trip to Alaska to volunteer at the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race. I’m a big dog lover, and traveling to Alaska to see the start of the race had been a dream of mine for some time. While I was there, I learned that dog mushing is another world entirely. Combined with the beauty of Alaska in winter, I knew at once it would be a great setting for a romance.
2. Well, it make for a fascinating read. Let’s talk about your heroine. What sort of challenges does Clementine face during her first experience with Alaska?
My heroine has been sheltered most of her life and has a thirst for adventure. She holds nothing back! During her time in Alaska, she progresses from learning how to help care for the dogs to mushing a dog team herself.
3. She’s also a Houstonian like me. I enjoyed her reactions to seeing real snow for the first time and by ‘enjoyed’ I mean envied. Will you give us a hint about what the first meeting between your hero and heroine is like?
Oh, it’s very romantic! She slips on the ice and falls right into his arms.
4. Too sweet! What was your favorite scene to write?
Hands down, my favorite scene in the book is the first kiss scene. When my hero kisses his heroine, she sees stars. Quite literally. The air sparkles with diamonds.
5. You guys will love that scene. It’s so romantic and very original! Teri, is there a spiritual message you hope readers will find in this book?
Yes. The theme of the book is living life to the fullest, best expressed in John 10:10, “I come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” My hero and heroine must move beyond pain in their pasts and fully embrace the life God intends for each of them. I think this is an important message for all of us. Life is too short not to make the most of our time here!
That’s a great message. I definitely believe in living not just existing. Here’s your chance to ask and answer your own question. Take it away, Teri!
BONUS: Do you plan on writing more books set in Alaska?
Absolutely! I’ve already written a follow-up to Alaskan Hearts. Alaska is so beautiful! I’ve been there three years in a row now and I find new inspiration each and every time.
Fantastic! I’m glad to hear that because I’m ready for another Alaskan excursion. Ladies, grab your boots and strap on your seat belts because we’re flying non-stop to Alaska with this excerpt.
Clementine Phillips stared at the dead fish on the wall, only inches from her face, and shuddered. She’d shuddered quite a bit since arriving in Aurora, Alaska, but this time it wasn’t a result of the subzero temperatures.
Her gaze shifted from the enormous fish to the brass nameplate hanging directly beneath it. Wild Alaskan Salmon, it read.
Clementine looked back at the salmon, scrunched her brow and tried to reconcile this monstrous creature with the contents of the frozen dinner she’d eaten while sitting in her cubicle at Nature World magazine not more than twelve hours ago. Lean Cuisine. Wild Alaskan salmon in basil sauce. An homage to finally embarking on the research assignment of a lifetime.
She and her officemate, Natalie, had eaten twin low-cal, instant meals and toasted Clementine’s newfound freedom with diet sodas. Clementine hated to think about the fact that she’d landed this same assignment a year ago but turned it down to appease her worrywart fiance.
Those days were over, as her ringless finger could attest to.
She forced the unpleasant memory from her mind and focused once again on the fish gaping at her.
Wild Alaskan salmon…just the name brought a smile to her lips. Every time she’d heard of Alaskan salmon, it was always preceded by the word wild. Was there even such a thing as tame Alaskan salmon? Or domesticated Alaskan salmon? It was always either wild Alaskan salmon or plain, generic salmon from nowhere.
Wild or not, she was surprised to discover salmon had such big teeth.
“How many photographs have I seen of grizzly bears snatching salmon out of raging rivers? Countless thousands,” she murmured to herself. “And yet I never once knew they had teeth.”
“Here you go,” a grandfatherly voice boomed from behind her, followed by the thud of her luggage landing on the slippery floor of the hotel entrance.
Clementine searched the pocket of her parka for tip money, but soon realized one of her bags was missing from the pile. The most important bag of all. “Um, I don’t see my…”
“Little pink bag?” The white-haired shuttle bus driver rolled his eyes and snorted. “Yeah, you’re going to have to come get that one yourself. When I tried to pick it up, it growled at me.”
Clementine’s cheeks burned. She’d had every intention of dragging her own luggage inside, especially her dog carrier. But once she’d gotten a look at the ice-covered sidewalk, her confidence had wavered. Sidewalks in Texas weren’t covered in ice. Not unless someone accidentally spilled a snow cone. Then again, the heat in Houston was often so unbearable that the ice would have melted before it hit the ground.
She pressed a few dollar bills into the driver’s hand. “I’ll be right out. Thank you.”
“Sure thing,” he grunted and clomped back to the shuttle bus. How he managed to clomp on three inches of ice, Clementine would never understand.
She shoved her suitcases against the wall, out of the way of the revolving doors she supposed led to the main lobby, and slipped into her parka. She pulled the zipper until it covered her entire mouth and the better part of her nose, heaved open the door and tiptoed onto the ice.
No sooner did her new pink UGGs make contact with the slick sidewalk than she slipped and went airborne. She squealed, closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable crash landing.
Except it never came. Instead, she found herself falling into a pair of very strong, masculine arms. Arms that belonged to an equally masculine voice.
“Whoa, there,” the voice said, and Clementine knew in an instant it wasn’t the shuttle bus driver who had come to her rescue.
Her eyelids fluttered open and, with that first glance at the pair of glacial-blue eyes peering down at her with concern, the salmon flipped in her stomach. The one from the Lean Cuisine, not the wall.
Her rescuer smiled down at her, and his blue eyes crinkled in the corners in a most charming way. “Are you okay?”
Clementine swallowed. “Um, yes. A little rattled, that’s all.”
“Let me help you up.” He lifted her to her feet, as if she weighed no more than her tiny Pomeranian, still waiting in the pink dog carrier in the shuttle bus.
“Thank you. I’m not accustomed to walking on ice.” Her mind flashed briefly to the Bible story about Jesus walking on water. She supposed if the gospels had taken place in Alaska, he would have walked on ice. It would have been equally miraculous in Clementine’s eyes.
“It comes with practice.” The man glanced down at her new UGGs and frowned. The frown did nothing to lessen the effect of his startling blue eyes and deep dimples, visible even through his closely trimmed beard. “And shoes with better traction. Take very slow steps. That ought to help.”
Something about the way he said it pricked Clementine’s nerves. She had to stop herself from asking him what he could possibly know about women’s shoes.
“Slow steps,” she repeated curtly, with a nod. Clementine could do that. She was, in fact, an expert at taking slow steps. She’d been taking things slowly her entire life. Stepping on the plane to Aurora had been the most daring thing she’d ever done.
“This is your first trip to Alaska I take it?”
Clementine flushed, although whether from the realization that he still had a protective grasp on her arm or the fact that he seemed to read her thoughts, she wasn’t sure. “Yes.
Yes, it is.”
“Enjoy your stay.” He released her arm and lingered, watching to make sure she was steady on her feet.
“Thank you.” She did her best to ignore his rugged good looks and instead focused on keeping her feet flat on the icy sidewalk. Not falling seemed like the best way to avoid a lecture on her choice of footwear. And she was having enough trouble maintaining her balance without thinking about those dimples. “And thank you again for the rescue.”
“Anytime.” He winked and headed toward the parking lot.
Clementine followed him with her gaze and couldn’t help but notice his steps were most definitely not slow. In fact, they were downright brisk.
Then again, he looked Alaskan. He’d probably had more than enough practice walking on ice.
“Ahem.” The gruff voice of the shuttle bus driver interrupted her thoughts. “Are you coming or do you need some help?”
“No, I’ve got it.” She took a quick glance over her shoulder to check on her bags. They still sat right where she’d left them, under the cold, watchful eye of the mounted salmon.
Wild Alaskan salmon.
The words danced in her head.
Maybe everything in Alaska was wild. It certainly looked that way in the many photographs she’d sorted through for the magazine throughout the years. She thought about the calendar of Alaskan sled dogs that hung above her computer monitor. Mark had given it to her last year when she’d turned down the assignment in Alaska. As if looking at photos of Alaska could ever take the place of actually being there.
The dogs on her calendar looked nothing like her own sweet Pomeranian. They had hungry eyes and paws that moved so fast that they were nothing more than a blur.
Wild Alaskan sled dogs.
She laughed. She’d be willing to bet money they didn’t even have cubicles in Alaska. Or Lean Cuisines.
And maybe, simply going to such a place could change a person. Take an ordinary girl with an ordinary life and transform her into someone just a little bit wild herself.
Clementine could only hope so.
Excerpt © Harlequin Enterprises 2012 Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Teri Wilson grew up as an only child and could often be found with her head in a book, lost in a world of heroes, heroines and exotic places. As an adult, her love of books has led her to her dream career—writing. Now an award-winning author of inspirational romance, Teri spends as much time as she can seeing exotic places for herself, then coming home and writing about them, of course. When she isn’t traveling or spending quality time with her laptop, she enjoys baking cupcakes, going to movies, knitting and hanging out with her family, friends and five dogs. Teri lives in San Antonio, Texas, and loves to hear from readers. She can be contacted via her website at www.teriwilson.net.