Movie star Mercedes Montague has it all – the fame, the fortune, and the glittering celebrity lifestyle. But she lost herself somewhere along the way. On a publicity tour for her next movie she realizes she’s just fifty miles from her hometown. Mercedes – real name Marie Dillard – decides to bolt and go home to see if she can find what’s left of herself. Hiding away in her grandparents’ old home in a working class neighborhood she’s haunted by memories and reminders of her first and only love, Joe Shelby.
Marie’s stunned when Joe shows up at her door. Passion kindles between them from the first moment their eyes meet but she won’t let it consume her unless it’s going to include a lasting love. As they renew their relationship, Marie and Joe face many struggles.
Can a movie star return to reality or is love just a distant dream?
Buy it today!
Reviews for Urban Renewal
MR Review: “I have become a fan of Murphy’s over the last couple of years. Her writing is always well done, her heroines are always strong, well-rounded and appealing to men and women alike. They could manage by themselves, but are made even stronger by the love of a good man. Her heroes are trustworthy, caring, sexy, and willing to do anything for their mates. The settings are always in the deep south and always well-described enough although I have never been there, I have a really good picture in my mind of the areas.”
“Here we meet Marie, who, as Mercedes, has been a silver screen idol for the past 20 years. She tires of all the glitz, glamour, and paparazzi, so she goes AWOL and runs back to her home town, and Joe, the boy she left behind all those years ago. They fall in love again, and up to here, I’d swear I’ve heard this story before, in a book or movie, (maybe a cross between Notting Hill and Roman Holiday). However, from here on, various circumstances, dangers, and troubles require all Marie’s cunning, acting ability and money to solve. Urban Renewal is a lovely love story, the second time around, that I enjoyed, and which left me waiting for the next heroine to emerge from Murray’s fertile mind.”
Julie’s Book Review: “This is the first book I’ve read by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy & I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. The characters are down to earth & easy to love. The story line keeps you entertained from the first page til the end. This book will make everyone want to go back home to the past… I rate this book 4 1/2 stars”
Reader Review on Amazon.com: “This book is for anyone who has experienced that intense first love and still holds a small piece of it in their heart. As I was reading the reunion between Marie and Joe, I wondered if someone who hadn’t experienced this would grasp that even though many years had passed, it would be as if it never had when they were once again reunited. The author captures this well. She also knows what is important in the story. She only touches briefly on Marie as Mercedes, which is all we need to know. This story is about “going home” and finding yourself again. Learning what is truly important in life. I absolutely loved her description of Marie walking into Ma’s house and taking in all the nostalgia. I’m apparently around the same age as Marie, because I remembered all of this from when I was young. It was a fun trip down memory lane. This was a heart warming love story, and I will definitely read more by this author.”
As she slid toward the door, hand on the latch, Joe stopped her. “Whoa,” he said in a tone she remembered very well. “I want a good night kiss.”
Her hesitation lasted two seconds. She wanted one as much as he did and besides, he didn’t give her a chance to respond. He pulled her across the seat and into his embrace. As his scent washed over her, Marie spiraled into the past beyond all restraint. Their previous kiss had come as a surprise, too suddenly to stop, and her response was pure reaction. This time, Joe kissed her with slow deliberation, his mouth insistent and all too familiar on hers. Her body responded with such passion she thought she might pass out in his arms. His mouth burned against hers, pliant and searching, and she gave him back the same fire.
They’d kissed like this too many times to count and the old dynamics fell into place the way a puzzle did when enough pieces matched. Marie’s arms locked behind Joe’s neck and he latched tighter to her. Like two teenagers, they necked until the windows of his truck steamed and even then Marie wondered if they would’ve stopped if a passing driver hadn’t blasted his horn. She didn’t have a clue why, if he dodged a stray animal or if he noticed the fogged windows, but they broke apart.
Startled, Marie stared at Joe who grinned back at her. “Wow,” he said. “I’m impressed. It must be true.”
“You don’t lose the knack for it,” he said. “You know, like riding a bicycle.”
His eyes sparkled, so earnest and alive Marie almost yielded to an impulse to invite him in anyway but she didn’t. If something were to revive between them, she wanted it to happen in its own time, not hurried or rushed. If, she thought, if it could happen then it needed to be the way it was supposed to be–and no mistakes this time.
She vowed she wouldn’t go to bed with Joe unless she meant it, not just for one night but for a relationship. As they said their good-nights, heat flared between them and Marie knew keeping her promise wouldn’t be easy. Not at all.
Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy was born a dreamer in the old river town of St. Joseph, Missouri. She grew up listening to the elders talk and soaked up history. She learned about love and life on trips to the beauty parlor with her grandmother and later moved to southern Missouri, to a small town in the Ozark Mountains. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Missouri Southern State University in English and History as well as an Associate Degree in Journalism from Crowder College. She spent a decade in broadcasting after college and began writing for publication in the same era. Other employment has included working with the developmentally disabled and elderly, retail and manufacturing, even working as a server and a cook. Lee Ann now works as a substitute teacher at the local high school. She has served on the local library board and arts council. Lee Ann is a member of Romance Writers of America, Missouri Writers Guild, and the Ozark Writers League. Along the way she married Roy W. Murphy and they have three children plus one spoiled Jack Russell terrier. Lee Ann lives in what passes for the suburbs in a small town, on the site of what was once a flourishing orchard and fruit farm. Her byline appears on numerous articles, essays, and short fiction in multiple venues. She writes a column for the local newspaper and she currently has multiple works out in both electronic and paperback formats.. When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys the outdoors, poking around in family history, traveling, and the paranormal.
Also by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Will’s Way, Urban Renewal, The Widow’s End, Kinfolk, A Time To Love Long Live The King, The Love Covenant series (Love Tattoo, Love Scars, Love Knots, Love Shadows), Wolfe’s Lady, Red In The Hood, Movie Star Magic, An Emerald Heart, The Marriage Cure, What Fills The Heart….coming soon Stranger Danger, Byrd’s Desire, The School Teacher’s Scandal, Cat’s Patient Heart and more.
Interview with Holly Hewson
HH: Lee Ann, thank you so much for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is Urban Renewal. Where did you get the idea for this beautifully-written romance?
LA: I grew up in the old river town of St. Joseph, Missouri and return there whenever possible to visit. It’s a place very dear to me, as well as a sort of touchstone. When I need to focus or get balanced, I like to “go home” again although it’s been a very long time since I lived there. Urban Renewal is inspired in part by my experience. I don’t own my grandparents’ old home but there are times I’ve wished I still did. I am a sucker for second chance romances. Many people may not be aware but I met my husband in high school although we never dated, although I would have been willing. When we met again years later, we fell hard and were married six months later!
HH: What can you tell us about Mercedes/Marie and why will readers identify with her?
LA: Mercedes/Marie is the woman most of us have inside, a woman who isn’t always certain of herself, who needs someone to ground her and give her life purpose. In Marie’s case, she needed to go home to find this person. Her movie star life had become increasingly shallow and meaningless so she went back to her roots. I think many women will identify with Marie because she’s a lot like them, a woman who’s made the occasional wrong choice but wants to fix her mistakes and who still believes in happy endings and the power of love.
HH: What do you like best about Joe and why will readers love him?
LA: Joe is a rock, an all round good guy, the kind of man others can count on. He takes responsibility for his wayward stepson, Riley, and he’s willing to forgive. He’s hard working, he cares, and he manages to be happy most of the time. A lot of women, including me, adore a strong man who isn’t afraid to get emotional.
HH: What makes this story different from your other works?
LA: Because Urban Renewal is set in my hometown, it probably has more of me in it than some of my other works. The people who know me best and longest probably can point to the parallels. When the novel first released, I posted an except in a Facebook group devoted to the old home town and the response was overwhelming. Those who live away, like me, said I brought them home. I think there’s more of a diverse emotional level in this one, feelings beyond the romantic love aspect.
HH: What do you think about its reception so far?
LA: I’ve had readers tell me Urban Renewal is my best yet and some great reviews. One reader who reviewed it on Amazon.com caught the important part of the story – it’s about coming home. Among other things, she wrote: “This story is about “going home” and finding yourself again. Learning what is truly important in life.” and it is.
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
LA: 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for me. I have two coming out from Evernight Publishing, a romantic suspense “Stranger Danger” and my first stand alone shifter romance, “Byrd’s Desire” and two from Astraea Press, “The School Teacher’s Scandal” and “The Courtship of Ebenezer Scrooge”, which, despite the tie to Scrooge, isn’t really a Christmas tale but a love story. I have some other subs out there and I’ve just begun dipping my feet into the indie publishing water with two small releases, the very poignant “Will’s Way” and “Cat’s Patient Heart”, a Valentine’s Day themed story.
HH: What can you tell us about day-to-day life for you as an author?
LA: I’m also a wife, mom of three, and a substitute teacher so my day to day life gets a little crazy sometimes. My twin daughters graduate from high school this year and are planning college as we speak. My day begins early when I check emails, make a to-do list for the day, and check my social networking sites before everyone else is up. If I’m not filling in for a teacher in the classroom, I spend the morning writing, doing edits, or promotion. Sometimes I stop after lunch but some days, I write through the afternoon too. In the evenings, I spend time visiting on social network sites with friends and family members to wind down. Of course, when I get deep into a new work-in-progress, it’s Katie bar the door – I write like a fiend whenever I have a free moment! And no matter what else is going on around me, I end the day reading, still one of my favorite pastimes.
HH: What are you reading now?
LA: I recently discovered author Susanna Kearsley and I’m reading “The Rose Garden” and loving it. I just finished “The She Wolf and The Priest” by one of my favorite authors, Joanne C. Berroa.
HH: What appearances do you have coming up in 2014?
LA: I’m doing the Indie authors mashup in July in Arkansas, the local author’s fair (no date yet), and since it’s early in the year, hopefully many more!
HH: Where can readers find you online?
LA: MY LINKS
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy-Romance-Author/287540748010934?ref=hl
A Page In The Life: http://leeannsontheimermurphywriterauthor.blogspot.com
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/leeann.sontheimermurphy
A Page In The Life: http://leeannsontheimermurphywriterauthor.blogspot.com
Romance Author: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy: http://leeannsontheimermurphy.blogspot.com