I have always loved the Central Coast, which is why I set the Benni Harper series
among its golden hills and sheltering oak trees. When I decided to branch out and write a novel that didn’t have a
dead body as the central plot, I drove around California looking for this novel’s setting. Except for a couple of
Benni Harper novels, all of my stories seem to take place in California. There are a few reasons for that.
One, I find this state and its myriad of ethnic and cultural backgrounds endlessly fascinating, two, it
seems to be a state where a lot of people run to when they are searching for themselves, and three, it’s just a lot easier to do research!
When I got back home from my travels around California with a carful of books,
newspapers, knickknacks and diner menus, I still hadn’t found a place for these new characters that were already forming in my head. (Love Mercy was the first one—I fell in love with Kentucky the many times I did booksignings there and always wanted to write about a character from the Bluegrass
State.) Besides Love Mercy, there were two others: her songwriting granddaughter, Rett (I’m also intrigued by the country music world) and Love’s close friend, ex-Las Vegas police officer, Melina LeBlanc (who is part Cajun). Then it occurred to me that my favorite book in the Benni Harper series,
Mariner’s Compass, was set in the coastal town of Morro Bay. That was it! I immediately saw in my mind’s eye Love Mercy’s
historic California bungalow that overlooked Morro Rock. I walked downtown
where Love and her friend, Magnolia Sanchez, owned the Buttercream Café and where Love’s late husband, Cy, once owned the town’s popular feed store. I followed Love Mercy to her in-law’s cattle ranch outside of town (next door to the Ramsey Ranch where Benni, Gabe and Dove now live!).
Yes, this Morro Bay is set in San Celina County, and Benni and her family are neighbors to the Johnsons. The difference is this book is set in 2008 and the Benni Harper series is in the late
1990s. So, in Love Mercy I give you a future glimpse of Benni, Gabe, Dove and the rest of your favorite Benni Harper characters. This is,
I hope, the first of a trilogy about these characters.
here to view the YouTube book trailer.
Weekly Starred Review
The mysteries of the human heart fill Fowler’s first of a sweet new series about Love Mercy Johnson of Morro Bay, Calif. This delightful departure from her Benni Harper mysteries (Tumbling Blocks, etc.) features cameos of Benni and husband Gabe, but Love, photojournalist and co-owner of the Buttercream Cafe, takes center stage with former Las Vega cop Melina “Mel” Le Blanc and Love’s 18-year-old granddaughter, Loretta Lynn “Rett” Johnson. Rett suddenly arrives in San Celina County with a banjo stolen from her two-timing ex-boyfriend, Dale Bailey. Thirteen months have passed since Love lost her husband, Cy, and 14 years since Tommy, Rett’s father, died. As Christmas approaches, Love must deal with Dale’s hot pursuit of said banjo, her father-in-law’s struggle with Alzheimer’s and Mel’s brush with a menace from her Vegas past. Fowler delivers some wise lessons on life (e.g., “Looks fade... a good heart doesn’t”) in a heartfelt tale sure to please her fans.
Romantic Times 4 star review in March issue!
latest uses the down-home country voice of its main character
fine effect as it explores ideas about family. Love is a delightful
readers will, well, love getting to know.
Love Mercy Johnson is generally happy with her life, even
her recent widowhood into consideration. She has good friends,
photos for a local magazine and helps on her in-laws' cattle
The only thing she wishes would change is her estrangement from
one day her 18-year-old granddaughter, Loretta Lynn "Rett"
shows up after a relationship gone bad sends her hitchhiking
the country. The airing of old wounds must stop when a family
brings the two women together and
they have to make a choice --
looking back or move forward?