Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RETURN TO ME Discussion

Welcome to the RETURN TO ME discussion! Grab your favorite beverage, a tasty snack and settle back. We’re going to be talking about Noah McCall and Samara Lyons, two of my favorite LCR characters. Feel free to chime in and share your thoughts of their story, favorite lines and scenes, or ask me questions. And if you have questions for Noah or Samara, here’s your chance. Also, if you have questions or comments regarding RESCUE ME, feel free to ask them too. The books are so closely related, it's hard not to talk about one without the other. You'll see that in my comments below.

Be warned, there are spoilers ahead!

The moment I met Noah, I knew I was going to have to know his story. At first, I thought he and Eden would be a couple. It seemed to make such sense. Noah had rescued and trained her. Why wouldn’t they fall in love? Eden quickly let me know that Jordan still held her heart and she looked upon Noah as her mentor, friend and boss, but nothing more. So that meant I was going to have to find someone for Noah. A woman worthy of the man who felt he had no heart. I found that woman in Samara.

I knew I would be walking a fine line with this relationship. Samara had broken up with Jordan—the man she believed she loved…intended to marry. Their break-up in RESCUE ME was a minor plot point. I never intended to take her character any further than the one phone call near the beginning of the book and then mention that Jordan had ended things with Samara because he was falling for Eden. But then, I began to wonder about Samara. How did she really feel about Jordan? When he’s injured and she comes to the hospital and lies about being his fiancée to get in to see him, she intrigued me. What kind of woman would be gutsy enough to rush to see a man who’d broken her heart? No matter how injured he was, I would think it would take someone of strong character.

By the end of the first draft of RESCUE ME, I knew that Samara and Noah would be a couple. However, I originally had no more of Samara in the book other than Eden overhearing Samara say she was Jordan’s fiancé. My editor urged me to introduce her. Since the first two LCR books were released three weeks apart, she felt it would be a great teaser. I’m so glad she suggested that, because I learned so much about both Samara and Noah in those scenes. Every time I brought them together, sparks flew. (:

As you know, Noah’s childhood is one of the worst of all the LCR people. Not only was he abused by his father, abandoned by his beloved mother and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, he was sexually brutalized. I had only a vague idea of what happened to Noah in prison. I got the full story, with everyone else, when he was trying to encourage Samara to tell him what happened to her. Having him admit that to her broke my heart and made me love him even more.

The villain was unexpected as well. In RESCUE ME, I knew that Noah was more personally involved in a case than he usually was—an indication that someone in his past had returned. However, it wasn’t until I was on page 100 of my first draft of RETURN TO ME, that I knew the identity of that person. When Samara raises her head and looks up at her abuser, I was shocked too.

I think I received more emails about RETURN TO ME than any of my other books. I’m not sure if it was because it’s Noah’s story or the book grabbed readers more than any other LCR book. Though the emails were kind, the reviews ranged from fabulous to one and two starred rants. The criticism Noah received for his treatment of Thomas Bennett surprised me, though I’m not sure why. I don’t condone Noah’s behavior, but I do understand it. His determination to protect the innocent by almost any means necessary goes well beyond what most people would be comfortable doing.

Introducing Ethan Bishop wasn't planned. I hadn't yet decided on the characters for the third LCR book. But then, there he was, looking out for Samara, and so sad and hollow, I knew immediately RUN TO ME had to be for him.

Another surprising event was the phone call Noah made to Rebecca near the end. I didn’t know the identity of the person he was calling until he asked to speak with her, but it only made sense that he would try to make amends. Even years later, he still felt responsible for what happened.

I not only loved Noah and Samara together, I adored that she rarely let him get away with things. He could scowl and intimidate most people but not this petite, fragile looking woman. I think Samara ended up surprising both of us with her feistiness and spirit.

This book was a true by the seat of my pants book. Though I knew the destination for my characters, I had no idea what journey they would take to get there. Each chapter became a surprise, delight or a frustration, but I enjoyed writing Noah and Samara’s story probably more than any other LCR book. I truly love these characters and I feel fortunate that each book in the series always has a scene or two with Noah and oftentimes Samara. Being able to keep up with them and watch them love and grow as a family is so much fun.

Here’re are some little known facts and changes I made to RETURN TO ME:

1) After writing the first two LCR books, my editor and I discussed changing the order, allowing Noah’s book to go first since he's the leader of Last Chance Rescue. That would have meant rewriting both books, changing characters and storylines. I’m so thankful that didn’t happen.

2) Noah’s real name was supposed to have been Micah. However, it was determined it was too unusual and might be confusing for the reader, so we changed it to Michael. I was thrilled that when Noah and Samara had their son, they named him Micah.

3) In the first draft, Noah killed the villain in the middle of the book. A dear writer friend of mine asked me why I killed the bad guy off so soon. I’m so grateful she asked that question because she was so right. The book was so much stronger with the prison escape, along with the scene of Noah and Samara working together to bring him down.

4) I cried over the cover. 'Nuff said. (:

Some of my favorite RTM lines:

Turning away from him, she grabbed the nearest weapon, a photograph of her entire family. She swung at him.

He easily grabbed her wrist and held it, grinning. “What are you trying to do, frame me?”


Standing on her toes, she leaned against him and cupped his face in her hands. “Go. Do what you have to do. Be the hero that you are…but come back to me. There’s more to Noah McCall than Last Chance Rescue. I see that man…I love them both.” She pulled his head down to her and pressed a soft kiss to his mouth. “Return to me, Noah. Please.”

And, the wedding scene continues to be one of my favorites from all of my books.

So there, dear friends, are my notes and thoughts on RETURN TO ME. I hope you enjoyed going doing memory lane with me. Now, let me hear from you. Comments, questions or observations?

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I collected lots of books, along with bookmarks and romance trading cards, while I was at the RT convention. Five random commenters will win these prizes. Also, later on in the day, I'll post a RETURN TO ME trivia challenge. Winner wins fabulous prize package!

Looking forward to your comments!


Ronlyn said...

I love Samara & Noah (as you well know Christy.) From the sparks flying during their initial meeting to Samara storming into Noah's office I just knew they were going to combust if they managed to stay in the same space long enough.

Please excuse my jumble of thoughts as I'm at my desk at work and being interrupted:

There are too many favorite scenes to list :-) but know that Samara's inner strength and determination to stand on her own combined with Noah's attempt to remain detached made for a wonderful read.

ok, back to work....

Jackie P said...

This is the book I reread. Even though my favorite is "Run To Me" (it has everything to do with how you wrote the book and the "Monster").

In the begining did you have a list of characters? And if so then who were they?

krisgils33 said...

I love all your characters, each one so unique and life-like. I am truly fascinated by your post and seeing how your mind works, like saying you didn't know who Noah was calling when he picked up the phone. It is so amazing to me and I'm so grateful to have found your stories!

Christi said...

I re-read this book last night and I will be honest, I had forgotten how incredibly awesome all these books are and how much I love them (that comes from reading too much...LOL!) Your character development and story lines are just so good and heart-wrenching! I love Noah and Samara. His history just makes me ache for him. I love them together. They make such a good team!!

I love Samara's scenes with Ethan and how much she sees of his hurt. Love, LOVE, LOVE this book...and ALL of them!!!

BTW, I read this book originally before I had my book review blog so I have never written a review of it. That will be rectified (the post will probably be up tomorrow afternoon or Thurs afternoon!)

I can't wait to read more of the discussion...

Hope said...

I loved Noah and Samara. There are so many great lines between the two, but the wedding scene is my absolute favorite. Especially when she asked him "will it hurt", I ended up getting the giggles from that one.

I really liked Samara meeting Ethan and him seeing her inner and outer strength and then tell her as much and Noah too.

I love that Jordan and Eden are still a big part of her life and that Jordan still loves her in his own way as a sister type person in his life.

One of my favorite scenes in the previous book was of Mara and Noah when she burst in his office. Such sass and grit that one has.

Christy Reece said...

Ronlyn, I still remember the email you sent me about Samara's name. LOL Seems like ages ago. And I too love the scene where Samara storms into Noah's office in RESCUE ME and then in RETURN TO ME. She was constantly surprising him and I don't think he knew how to handle her.

I think you'll see some of these traits in Dylan and Jamie's story. Throwing a strong, somewhat arrogant man off-kilter is so much fun!

Christy Reece said...

Hey Jackie, no. I have no idea who the characters are until they're introduced to me. When Eden has her first nightmare in RESCUE ME, that was my first inkling that there was a man who had perhaps rescued her...that man was Noah. Each successive book and character has been the same way. Jordan and Devon were the only ones I knew initially.

I think that's one of the most fun things about writing LCR books. Each time I write one, I'm introduced to new characters and I cannot wait to know more about them. (:

Christy Reece said...

Hey Kris! LOL Thanks. Sometimes it scares me how my mind works, but when I meet these new characters or reread a scene I've written and realize the characters are the ones who told me what to write, I'm so glad they talked to me!

Ronlyn said...

LOL. Yes I still think you modeled Samara after me. ;-)

Christy Reece said...

Christi, thanks so much for reviewing RETURN TO ME. I'll look forward to reading it. And I'd forgotten how much I loved this book until I reread it too. Even though I wrote it, I'd forgotten some of the scenes and the little nuances that made the story special to me.

I think Samara's ability to see inside a person is one of the things that makes her so unique. She saw the hurt Ethan felt even when she knew nothing about him. And I loved it when he called her 'little warrior' when she took down that creep near the end. (:

Alison said...

I just finished my re-read yesterday and loved it just as much as I did the first time around!

I love that Samara is fiesty and is always surprising Noah, like when she pretended to pass out and then punched him! Her determination and strength makes her perfect for Noah who denies his feelings for her and is convinced he should be alone.

I liked seeing Eden and Jordan again, and Samara and them were close friends.

I LOL'd when Samara asked if it would hurt at the wedding! So glad Eden helped Noah see the light that his blood isn't tainted!

Christy Reece said...

Hey Hope! LOL The wedding scene. So many surprising lines. At first I worried that I'd made it too humorous and then it dawned on me that they were getting their HEA and the humor came from their happiness.

Yes, I loved Ethan for telling Noah how strong Samara was. Noah wouldn't let himself see that.

I was thrilled that Eden and Samara became such good friends and that Jordan was still so protective of Samara. I worried that there might be some hard feelings or jealousy. Thankfully there wasn't. I think both women are confident in themselves and the love their husbands have for them. Being jealous of each other never entered their heads.

Christy Reece said...

Alison, when she pretends to pass out and Noah thinks he's hurt her is one of my favorite scenes. She's feeling so smug. (:

The scene with Eden and Noah was a surprise to me. I had thought Noah would eventually realize he couldn't let Samara go and then go to her. When Eden walks in the door and starts in on him, I let her take over. I loved when she brought up her vile mother and threw that in his face. He had no defense against it. LOL Stubborn man!

Alison said...

Loved the nickname Samara's friends gave Noah at the beginning of the book..."Mr. Tall, Dark and Please-Jump-My-Bones Sexy"!! LOL!!

Christi said...

LOL...I agree Alison!!

Christy, another couple of things that I loved...

I loved that when she was attacked, Ethan let her handle it on her own and just took photos to show to Noah. I loved Ethan's faith in that she could handle herself simply from his watching her.

Another thing that I really loved about this book was how good of a relationship Samara has with both Jordan & Eden. I really love how close she and Eden have become and how clearly Eden sees both Noah's and Samara's feeling for each other.

And I know that this is jumping way ahead, but I love how Samara eventually works for Noah giving her read on how people are handling the stresses of their jobs/lives.


Elke said...

When I first read Rescue me I wondered how Noah had the idea for LCR and what his story was so I was thrilled that Return to me answered my questions.

I must confess that I often had the feeling that I had to shake some sense into Noah for manipulating Samara to keep her distance although he was clearly very interested in her and for not allowing himself to accept her love and be happy with her.

One of my favourite scenes is when Eden sets him straight and calls his believes of "tainted blood" stupid, arrogant and downright backward.

I really enjoy it that we see more of Samara and Noah in the following books and I hope that will continue in the Sweet books.

Christy it is very interesting to get a look into the writing process.

As you describe it I get the impression that the characters develop their story while "on the road" .
How do you start a book and what gave you the idea of LCR ?

Christy Reece said...

LOL I loved that nickname too, Alison. I always wondered if Rachel would reappear and start talking to me but so far, she hasn't. I think she would be an interesting character to write.

Christy Reece said...

Christi, I think Ethan's own experience with Shea helped him see Samara in that light. He was already in love with a beautiful woman who could kick butts. Noah looked upon Samara as a woman who needed to be protected. Ethan saw her as a woman who could take care of herself.

I love Eden and Samara's relationship too. One of my favorite scenes is when the women are talking after the ordeal in Mississippi ends and they're waiting to hear how the takedown of Thomas Bennett went. I learned even more about Noah during that discussion.

At first, I was concerned that people would be disappointed that Samara didn't want to become an operative. But I knew I had to be true to her character. Making a difference was what mattered to her. I do love that Noah offered her the job, even though he was scared to death that she would take it. (:

Anonymous said...

I've really enjoyed your LCR series I've read all of them and look forward to more! What I have enjoyed most about "Return to Me" is someting you have mentioned already but what the heck...Noah and Samara's adversarial relationship is wonderful, they made me laugh out loud. I love how they clash from the very beginning and nothing big bad Noah does scares Samara away. She is onto him. I know this scene isn't in RTM but at one point Samara confronts Noah in his office and after their 'discussion' she makes certain he knows he'd better not even think about firing his tatooed, pierced, arty receptionist downstairs or he won't be able to wear pants for a week. I really thought it was wonderful how you took their tough as nails, toe to toe relationship and turned it on its head into love...yum. Thank you!

Christy Reece said...

LOL Elke, I think Noah frustrated a lot of readers. Me too! The man has definitely mellowed since he married Samara...she's taught him a lot!

I loved that Eden set him straight too. She's not one to mince her words and I love her for that.

Noah appears in SWEET JUSTICE and SWEET REVENGE, but not Samara, though she is mentioned. I have a feeling she's going to make a reappearance in SWEET REWARD though. I think one of the operatives is going to need her guidance. (:

I usually start a book in the midst of a conversation either my hero or heroine is having. I'll butt in and ask questions and hopefully they start answering. Then the story develops from there.

When I was writing RESCUE ME, LCR hadn't formed yet. It was just a book about a girl who disappears and then reappears seven years later as a different person. But I knew someone or something had rescued her. I just didn't know who. Then, in the midst of developing the story, there were some real life and highly publicized disappearances. I remember wishing that an organization existed that could and would do whatever they had to do, no matter the risks, to rescue these missing people and the idea for Last Chance Rescue was born.

Christy Reece said...

Hi Elise! Thanks so much! I loved their relationship too. Noah was so used to intimidating people and I think that's one of the things that threw him. Samara's so petite and fragile looking, he never anticipated her feistiness.

And yes, in RESCUE ME, when he threatens to fire Angela (which, of course, he never would) Samara makes sure he knows he would be in a world of trouble if he even tried.

So happy you enjoyed the series!

Christy Reece said...

Okay, here're some trivia questions for you. Email me at christy@christyreece.com with the answers. You have until noon tomorrow to send them in. If more than one person answers all the questions correctly, I'll randomly select the winner, using random.com.

Here goes:

1) Name Samara's brothers
2) What state did Samara live in before she moved to Alabama?
3) What was Samara's occupation before she moved to Birmingham?
4) What's the name of the small town in Mississippi where Noah grew up?
5) What did Noah do in prison that made him get more time added to his sentence?
6) What's Samara's father and mother's first name?
7) Noah had a dog when he was a kid, what was its name?
8) What was the name of the organization Samara started working for to trap online predators?
9) What was the name of Noah's best friend and mentor (the one who helped him create LCR).
10) When Noah was a kid, what meal did his mom make for him every Friday night?

Have fun!

ShellyE said...

I agree with Cristi -- the great thing about all of your books is the depth of the characters. You get to know them and you can sympathize with them, or you want to kick their butt, or whatever. You can imagine them as real people you would like to know personally. I appreciate this even more after recently reading a couple of books where I just couldn't like the characters, and even though the story was ok, I didn't like the book because I couldn't like the characters. The thing I liked best about RTM is that Samara wouldn't let Noah just walk away from her - she really had to fight with/for him to make him realize she was right for him. (Men never listen to their better half) LOL I have loved all of your books and the interaction between all of the characters.

Christy Reece said...

Thank you, Shelly! Having people love my characters is a thrill for me. And even when people have hated them, I tell myself that's still a good thing. Having a character create such strong emotions in a reader means that they were moved in some way. LOL However, I will admit, I'd rather people love them. Well, except for my villains. They're okay to hate. (:

And I agree, I loved that Samara wouldn't let Noah just walk away. When she comes to Paris to confront him, I was so proud of her! She never let pride get in the way of revealing her love to him.

Aly said...

Noah....oh Noah! Noah is so with the wrong woman b/c he should soooo be with me! That is all! LOL!

Christy Reece said...

LOL Aly, if only you'd met each other sooner!

Kara C said...

I'll have to come back later when things have quieted down to share my favorite parts, assuming I can narrow them down to one post! Noah is...wonderful, of course. I will always remember meeting him in RESCUE ME and wondering if I was really going to like this guy or if I was really hoping someone popped him! Frustrating. Man. So glad he stuck around. LOL!
And, Christy, you mentioned the cover? Aaron still takes me by the aisle in the bookstore with your books, holds RETURN TO ME up, and giggles. ;)

Christy Reece said...

LOL Kara, I'm glad Noah stuck around too! And tell Aaron no fair laughing at my poor blurred Samara, with or without the nose. (:

Hope you come back and post some of your favorite parts. Are you guys still having bad weather? We're getting ours tomorrow.

Christy Reece said...

Don't forget the trivia contest! I have several entries that were 100% correct. You have until noon tomorrow to email me at christy@christyreece.com with the correct answers. Then, using random.org, I'll choose a winner from those correct entries.

A very nice prize package could be yours! (:

Also tomorrow, I'll choose five winners from the commenters here to win signed books and romance trading cards! Get your comments in before 11:00 AM (CST) tomorrow to be entered into the contest!

Christy Reece said...

Congrats to the following commenters:

Ronlyn, Elise, Shelly, Christi and Elke!

Ladies, please email me at christy@christyreece.com so we can converse about your prizes!

Thank you everyone who commented on RETURN TO ME. It was so much fun remembering the characters and story for one of my favorite LCR books!

Next month, we'll be chatting about RUN TO ME. Yay! And you'll have lots more opportunities to win!

I'll announce the winner of the trivia contest at 12:15 today. There's still time to get your answers in before the contest closes!

Christi said...

Yippee! thanks, Christy!!! I already sent you an email! I cannot wait until next month's Run To Me discussion!! smiles...

oklanannie said...

I loved rereading RETURN TO ME and enjoying once again Noah's surrender - heart and soul - to Samara!

Several things I picked up on this read that I want to mention, Christy.

1 - I didn't find where Noah's mother was given a name. Was there a reason?

2 - I was wondering how Michael Stoddard chose the name Noah McCall?

3 - Does the cabin in Minnesota belong to Noah? Do we know the significance, if any, there is to this cabin? Does Noah always retreat to this cabin or was this just a one time "cabin getaway." We know he disappears after ops and doesn't tell anyone where he goes for these "crash-and-recover" sessions.

4 - Don't know why - but i finally clued in totally on the No. 15 significance!!! Duh!!!

5 - Wondering about Matthew Stoddard Patterson, the son of Rebecca and Mitch Stoddard (the evil rapist). Will he ever reconnect with his Uncle Michael/Noah and perhaps have a story of his own?? Will he ever find out the REAL story?

Rereading these books just makes the anticipation for the SWEETs that much more intense!!! Can't wait!!!

Elke said...

Wow Christy, thank you - I just saw your note. It was fun to talk about Return To Me and to learn more about Noah and Samara.

Christy Reece said...

Yay, Christi! Congrats!

And glad you're looking forward to the RUN TO ME discussion next month. I think Ethan and Shea's story is a favorite of many. (:

Christy Reece said...

Hey Anne! Great questions. I'll see if I can answer them all.

1) I don't think I ever mentioned Noah's mother's name. Not sure why. If I remember correctly, her name is Evelyn. (:
2) LOL Actually, it was kind of a Biblical thing for this writer (me). I saw Noah as saving people from drowning (kind of) by bringing them into LCR. LOL Remember, I wrote this book over three years ago. Things made more sense then that they do now. (:
3) In SWEET REVENGE, you'll learn that LCR has several places like this throughout the world. Places where he and other operatives can go to unwind and also train.
4) Yes, 15 was kind of a vague reference to how old Rebecca was. Not sure many people noticed that. (:
5) I think Michael never knowing the truth is important to Rebecca and Noah both. Knowing what his mother went through would only hurt him. Protecting him from the truth would be as important to Noah as his helping Rebecca recover.

No plans at this time to write his story. In my mind, he's a college student now, enjoying life. (:

Yay! Glad you're anticipating the SWEET books! I am too!

Christy Reece said...

Oops, Anne. I meant Matthew not Michael!

Alison said...

Congrats Ladies!!

Christy Reece said...

Yay, Elke! Congrats! Email me so we can chat! christy@christyreece.com

Christy Reece said...

Christi, thank you so much! That's a lovely review of RETURN TO ME. So happy you loved this book!

Christy Reece said...

Congrats to Alison Peterson! She's the winner of the RETURN TO ME trivia contest!

Alison, your prize includes:

$25 gift card to Barnes and Noble
Signed copy of 2010 LCR books, NO CHANCE, SECOND CHANCE and LAST CHANCE
Signed cover flats for SWEET JUSTICE and SWEET REVENGE

Email me your mailing address!

Thanks to all who played. I'll post the correct answers tonight. (Trying to finish some revisions before another storm hits us) (:

Christi said...

Whoohooo! congratulations, Alison!!!

Good luck with revisions...and the yucky weather, Christy! smiles...

Alison said...

YAY!! THANK YOU CHRISTY!! I'm trying really hard not do my happy dance and scare my cube mates!

Christy Reece said...

Sorry it took so long to post the trivia answers. Had major storms here in today.

Congrats again to Alison. Here are the answers:

) Name Samara's brothers.
Mark, Peter, Scott, Stewart and John

2) What state did Samara live in before she moved to Alabama? Virginia

3) What was Samara's occupation before she moved to Birmingham? Social Worker

4) What's the name of the small town in Mississippi where Noah grew up? Monarch

5) What did Noah do in prison that made him get more time added to his sentence?
Protecting a new kid from the same creeps that had attacked Noah. (Anyone remember who that new kid was? Jackie P. was the only one who named him--Ethan)

6) What's Samara's father and mother's first name? Sam and Mary

7) Noah had a dog when he was a kid, what was its name? Indy

8) What was the name of the organization Samara started working for to trap online predators? Macklin Group

9) What was the name of Noah's best friend and mentor (the one who helped him create LCR).
Milo Evans

10) When Noah was a kid, what meal did his mom make for him every Friday night? Sloppy Joes