Consider the role of strangers in our lives. An unknown postman in Virginia hides a bag of mail one day. His simple action set in motion untold consequences for many others—strangers—all over the country. How many bridges were burned in that forgotten mail pouch?
Sara Richards’s world is rocked when three love letters from 1970 are delivered decades late. The letters were written by Paul Steinert, a young sailor who took her innocence with whispered words of love and promises of forever before leaving for Vietnam. Sara is left behind, broken hearted and secretly pregnant, yearning for letters she never received.
Then Paul died.
Now, years later, she discovers the betrayal wasn’t Paul’s, when her mother confesses to a sin that changed their lives forever. How can Sara reveal to Paul’s parents that they have a granddaughter they’ve missed the chance to know? Even worse, how will she find the words to tell her daughter that she’s lived her life in the shadow of a lie?
Picking her way through the minefields of secrets, distrust, and betrayal, Sara finds that putting her life together again while crossing burning bridges will be the hardest thing she’s ever done.
Burning Bridges is a love story begun in Virginia Beach as the Vietnam War is winding down—though no one knew that at the time—and ending in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where two soul mates find each other again. Do they stay together? I’ve already said it’s a love story, but sometimes, even true love has a way of not quite lasting.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Years ago, while visiting my mother in Virginia, I heard a news story. Up in Lynchburg, a mail carrier had died. When his family was cleaning out the property, they discovered two bags of mail decades old thrown into the back of his garden shed. They story was, maybe the man hadn't felt like working one day and stuffed the bags into the place where they'd lain all this time. I immediately wondered how lives had been changed because one man decided not to do his job that day. Had people not received bills? Birthday cards? Expected packages?
Letters of love?
The Post Office did their best to deliver the lost mail, but what life went one direction instead of another because of that one slip of fate?
Thus came the story of Burning Bridges, where Sara Richards' life changes not only because of letters she didn't receive but because of the letters she did, decades late.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
For some reason, male characters come easier for me, so Paul was pretty simple to write. I grew up with a dad in the Navy and was around sailors. I think I have a good idea of how they feel away from home, wondering what's happening and having no control over it. Paul's angst over not hearing from Sara was painful to write and still hits me hard when I read it now. I like Paul. He's a hard working, steady and true man who loved only once, and deeply.
Sara was more complicated for me. She goes from feelings of betrayal by the man she loved, to fear to shock when the truth comes out. Then she's hit with having her daughter marry and move far off, one of her best friend's leaving for the other side of the country, and possibly losing her business. All times of upheaval. How would she handle another, even greater upheaval in her life? That was the question, and I had to dig deep to find the answers.
Sara stared at the letters arranged before her in numerical order. The moment in time she and Paul shared was long ago, yet her dream had conjured his presence as though she’d just seen him. In her mind, his blue eyes darkened with passion before his lips captured hers, and he moaned his appreciation when their tongues met. She tasted his sweetness and knew the steel of his arms as he held her. How many nights had she put herself through hell reliving those memories? Too damn many.
After the concert, they’d met clandestinely on weekends, mostly at Sandbridge, where they could walk and talk undisturbed. With each meeting, stirrings built deep in Sara that pushed her to want more, but Paul insisted they restrain themselves because of her age.
Then the weekend before he shipped out, she'd planned a surprise and her life changed forever.
The kettle screeched, bringing her back to the present. Sara prepared a cup of tea and then picked up the envelope marked twenty-eight. At one time, she would have given her right arm to hold this letter. Now, curiosity and the desire for a brief escape drove her more than the passion of youth. Blind love had faded when she’d had no word to bolster her during the long weeks after the ship left.
First had come the waiting. No letters arrived, even though she wrote him daily. There were no phone calls, no notes, no anything, for days that dragged into weeks then crept into months.
Anticipation morphed into anxiety. She worried he was sick or hurt and unable to write.
One day she admitted that Paul must be afraid to write for some reason, and she feared what he would say if she did receive a letter. That their time together had been a mistake, that she was too young to be in love. That he really loved someone else and Sara had been only a stand-in while he was in Virginia. Perversely, she began to sigh with relief when she arrived home and found no word.
Now, knowing why she hadn’t received mail, what would she feel if she opened this letter and her old fears proved to be true?
“Nothing,” she murmured. “Paul’s dead. He can’t hurt me anymore.” At the very least, his letters might allow her to put his ghost to rest. For that reason alone, she had to read them.
She slid her thumb under the flap and ripped the envelope open. A single sheet held his hurried scrawl.
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