Returning to her hometown of Princeton was not part of Charlotte Taylor’s plan. She had a prestigious job as a medical malpractice attorney in San Francisco, a great apartment overlooking the bay and a somewhat serious relationship. But her brother-in-law’s untimely death has her flying clear across country to help her sister and two young children survive unimaginable loss. Memories of her parents’ deaths in a car accident ten years earlier, as well as her serious injuries, come flooding back.
Running into Dr. Clayton Montgomery at a fundraiser was the last thing she expected. He had been an intern at Princeton General when she’d been a patient a lifetime ago. As an 18 year old, she had a mad crush on the gorgeous doctor, yet he didn’t seem to notice. Now, sparks fly as they reconnect.
Unfortunately, philosophical differences over the benefits and detriments of medical malpractice suits soon become a reality and Charlotte is faced with the choice of representing a client against Princeton General – and against Clay.
I love stories involving the legal and medical professions. A book that combines both sounds great. What drew you to this particular one?
When I was younger and couldn’t sleep, I would make up stories in my head. One of those stories was about a romantic reunion between a doctor and a previous patient who came back to visit an old friend at the hospital When I began writing romance, I remembered this story and decided to work with it.
I determined that the heroine would be a medical malpractice lawyer to ramp up the conflict between her and her old crush. And I always like the idea of family conflict, so I gave the heroine a reason to come back to her hometown, causing the deep-seated resentment of her sister to come to a head.
The setting was easy because I live near Princeton and I love the town – a perfect combination of quaint shops, the University campus, and historic and cultural sites. Armed with a hero, heroine, their careers and a setting, I was able to then develop the romance, along with the characters’ personalities. It was pure fun – and a lot of work. But I loved every minute of it.
What’s your next project?
My current work in progress is called DANCING IN THE SAND. It’s about an accomplished dance major at New York University, Ava, who is pursuing her dream of becoming a professional dancer upon graduation. When on stage, her feelings of unworthiness melt away, and in their place grows confidence and value, feelings she doesn’t get from her workaholic father whose presence in her life all but disappeared the day her mother abandoned the family to live her dream.
One summer weekend in Newport, she meets her roommate’s brother, Brian, a charismatic Harvard grad who is joining his father’s business. They steal private moments together and fall quickly for each other, but the weekend ends with a disastrous accident leaving Brian with a head injury and no memory of Ava.
When Ava learns she is pregnant, her world collapses. She gives up her passion –dance – and goes to law school so she will have a lucrative and steady career, if not the creative career she aspired to. She wants to help support her daughter financially, even though she convinced her sister and brother-in-law to adopt her child.
Five years later, as a new associate at an environmental law firm, she meets with Brian, who is looking for representation for the family business. He doesn’t know Ava, but is drawn to her. They start dating and old feelings surface, as well as memories of their weekend together. But will her secret destroy their newfound love?
That sounds fantasitic! You have an affinity for the legal heroine and I can see why after reading your bio. Very exciting. But with your demanding career and a family, you obviously know how to manage your time. What one tip would you offer writers?
Be persistent and never give up. I started writing fifteen years ago. At the time I didn’t know where to start. I had never been a good creative writer in school, and writing legal briefs and memoranda of law is a very different type of writing.
I knew nothing of point of view, conflict, characterization or dialogue. I just started writing (after I made a lengthy outline.)
It wasn’t until I joined New Jersey Romance Writers and began attending seminars and conferences that I learned the art of creative writing. Needless to say, the first two manuscripts I wrote will never see the light of day. Since then I wrote four more manuscripts, one of them being “Unchained Memories.”
I received dozens of rejections over the years, but I knew if I was persistent, I would get published someday. Last May, I signed my first publishing contract with The Wild Rose Press.
Do you have challenges with finding writing time?
What time, right? I am a divorce attorney in central New Jersey and have a husband and two daughters. My daughters are now in college, so I have a little more time for writing at nights and on weekends. I needed to learn to give up watching TV in the evening to relax and instead, sit at my computer and write. After a long day at work, you may not think that you have anything left in you to start working on what may be called a second career. But I find that I enjoy writing so much, it doesn’t seem like work. It’s fun, exciting, and gives me a chance to create wonderful characters and stories.
What energy you have. Thanks for taking time to sharing your journey with us today. I can't wait to start on UNCHAINED MEMORIES.
Here's an excerpt:
His familiar voice rained over her like fairy dust and her skin tingled as she turned away from the hospital elevator.
“Clay. I was wondering if I would see you here today. I stopped by to visit with Dr. Collins.” She inwardly held her breath as she made the snap decision to leave it at that and not disclose the true reason for her visit.
Clay’s smile quieted some of the sting still smarting from Matt’s caustic comments on her career choice and his kiss on her cheek definitely made it all better. Clay sure had the power to heal.
“I bet Collins was thrilled to see you. He brought your name up over the years with such pride in what you were accomplishing.”
“Really?” Strange since she barely kept in touch with him after she had gone to college, despite his attempts. It just showed what a genuine, caring person he was.
“Did Collins tell you about all the renovations that were made since you left? Especially to the children’s wing. You wouldn’t recognize it.”
“No. We didn’t talk much about the hospital. Maybe you can give me a tour sometime when you’re free.” Charlotte hoped her tone held just the right amount of interest without sounding like she was desperate to spend more time with Clay - although she had thought about him non-stop since running into him at the Gala. And every time she replayed his invitation to dinner in her head, she pummeled herself for not accepting.
“I just got off and was heading to talk to Collins about some administrative issues, but that can wait.”
“Matt Branson was just in there to meet with him as well, but Dr. Collins said he didn’t have time right now.”
“Then I’ll catch up with him later. Let’s go.”
Clay put his hand on her back to guide her in the right direction – an insignificant gesture that burned through her suit jacket and sent crazy atoms zinging through her body.
As they moved along the hall, he explained some of the changes that had been made to other areas of the hospital as well. His enthusiasm was catchy and Charlotte found herself an engrossed and captive audience. Or perhaps she was just caught up in Clay, the man who once again starred in her fantasies.
Approaching the children’s wing, Charlotte gasped. The colors burst from the walls – blue, green, purple, yellow, orange. No longer that sanitary eggshell paint that she helped decorate with the children’s drawings when she visited them. “This is amazing. I love it.” She turned in every direction to take in the wonderful changes. “This doesn’t look like a hospital wing.”
“That was the goal.” Clay grabbed her hand and took her over to a little girl maneuvering on crutches toward a play area. “Hi, Tessie. How’s it going?”
“Good, Dr. M. I’m really getting the hang of these things.” She smiled at him with a missing-tooth smile that warmed Charlotte’s heart.
“This is my friend, Charley. She used to be a patient in this hospital after a car accident, just like you.”
Tessie looked Charley up and down. “You got better?”
Charlotte smiled. “I sure did. This is a great place to heal. And Dr. Montgomery helped me a lot.”
Although Tessie was substantially younger than Charlotte had been when she was a patient, Charlotte could see the infatuation on Tessie’s face when she looked at Clay. God, I hope I wasn’t that transparent.
Clay introduced her to a few more children and explained their conditions, just as he had done when she’d been a patient here. She had loved coming to the children’s wing, not just to spend more time with Clay when it had been part of his rotation, although that had been a bonus. But to take the children’s minds off their troubles by playing a board game with them or making a puzzle or drawing a picture. Having no family around, it was therapy for Charlotte as well.
The memories clogged her mind and she barely heard Clay when he suggested they continue on the tour. Were those memories as vivid for Clay? Doubtful.
For the next half hour, Clay was the ultimate ambassador for the hospital. If she hadn’t known him, she would have expected a subtle request for a large donation at the end of the tour. Instead, she was the beneficiary of Clay’s time and attention and she loved every minute of it.
When he finally brought her to the main entrance of the hospital, disappointment swirled around her; their brief time together, over. A miniscule grain of hope pitted in her brain. Maybe she could bring the conversation around to his prior dinner invitation. This time she wouldn’t be so negative.
Just then his phone buzzed. The conversation was brief and curt. “I’m sorry, Charlotte, but I have to go. Great seeing you again.” He squeezed her arm and without more, he left.
She watched his retreating back, strong and solid, his stride purposeful, until he disappeared.
Along with her hope.
Maria Imbalzano is a matrimonial lawyer in central New Jersey where she not only uses her law degree to navigate her clients through the court system, but her psychology degree to guide them through their personal struggles. While writing motions, legal memoranda, and briefs is fascinating, it pales in comparison to creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys.
In addition to practicing law and writing fiction, Maria enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters either at home or at the Jersey Shore.
Visit Maria at www.mariaimbalzano.com
To purchase UNCHAINED MEMORIES go to any of the following:
The Wild Rose Press
Barnes & Noble.com