What the Heart Wants: Book Review & Author Interview
By Danielle Rose
What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
From the #1 bestselling author of the beloved Calendar Girl books comes the first in a witty, wise and emotionally compelling new series, where coming home is just the beginning…
Encouraged to follow her dreams—and "fly free"—by her recently deceased mother, Suda Kaye Ross abandons her life in Colorado and spends the next decade traveling the world. Throughout her time away from home, Suda Kaye is comforted by the letters her mother left behind. One to be read every year on her birthday, these notes written on pink parchment paper in her mother’s handwriting have been Suda Kaye's guiding light. But on her twenty-eighth birthday, she opens the letter that sends her home.
Back in Colorado, Suda Kaye is welcomed by her older sister, childhood friends, and her wise grandfather, but even with this community supporting her decision to finally plant roots, Suda Kaye feels lost. Soon, she realizes her greatest desire is to find a love as true as the one she left behind many moons ago.
An emotional, passionate summer read, What the Heart Wants is a heartfelt, unforgettable story about self-discovery and self-love, sisterhood and wanderlust, family and friendship, forgiveness and second chances. This is an absolute must read for anyone who enjoys romance or women's fiction.
Continue on to read a spoiler-free interview with Audrey Carlan, the author of What the Heart Wants...
Q: As someone who primarily writes erotic romance, why did you decide to delve into women’s fiction? Have you always wanted to branch out?
A: Honestly, I wanted to challenge myself. Stretch my writer’s wings. My biggest fear is writing to a formula. I don’t want the readers to always be able to figure out where the story is going to go. The stories I love the most have a take away. Something you learned from the book during the couples' trials and tribulations, or maybe from the conflict of the secondary characters. My goal in writing women’s fiction was to give the reader a token, a talisman if you will, a take away. Something they can ponder over in their own lives. I hope What the Heart Wants does that for them.
Q: From the plot to the characters, the setting to the themes, can you share your inspiration behind What the Heart Wants? Can you tell us which aspect of this story came to you first (e.g. the plot, the characters, a particular scene, etc.)?
A: The inspiration actually came from my assistant, Jeananna Goodall. Her mother is named Suda Kaye Ross, and her aunt is named Evie Ross. Her grandfather is Tahsuda Tahsuda. They are of the Comanche and Wichita nations. The concept of growing up on a reservation fascinated me. Learning about the Native American cultures, her sharing her stories, fueled this series. I wanted to write about sisters who, for the most part, were extreme opposites but could find a common thread that kept them close. It’s something I find beautiful in my own relationships with my sisters.
Q: My favorite character from the book is Suda Kaye’s grandfather, Tahsuda Tahsuda. His warm, welcoming demeanor and subtle wisdom drops made me connect to Suda Kaye’s story on a deeper level. Who was your favorite character to write? Who was your least favorite character to write?
A: Funny enough, I really enjoy writing Milo, Evie’s ultimate love interest. He’s dark, brooding, and honest to a fault. Book two is about Milo and Evie, and it was a lot of fun to write. All my characters are important to me in some way. I don’t really have a least favorite.
Q: Do you have any intentions of returning to this world and expanding beyond the first book?
A: There will be four interconnected standalones. The series is technically called The Wish Series, and Harlequin has already announced the second book, To Catch A Dream (Evie’s story and journey), to be released March 9, 2021.
Q: If What the Heart Wants were to become a film, who do you see playing your characters? Do you envision the cast before you start writing or is this something that happens after the book is written?
A: Usually I pick characters randomly online by doing searches for characteristics. For the sisters, I looked up actresses and models that were half Native American. Suda Kaye’s image to me looks a lot like Victoria Justice. Evie looks like Blake Lively. Camden is some model with roguish features, sandy blonde hair just past his jaw, and my Milo looks like a Native American God. Super hot. LOL
Q: Finally, can you tell us what you’re working on now?
A: I’ve actually already finished To Catch A Dream, the second in this series, and am working on the third now. I also have written most of book one for a new erotic suspense novel I plan to release late-October if everything works out timewise and the muse plays nice!
Danielle Rose is a USA Today bestselling author, a book reviewer, an occasional editor, and an always Oxford comma enthusiast. She graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in English from UW-Parkside, and in 2014, she obtained a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Currently, Danielle resides in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband and their five rescue pets. When she is not writing, she is usually reading, renovating and decorating her historic Victorian manor, or sating her wanderlust. More about Danielle can be found at www.droseauthor.com.