Best-selling and RITA Award-nominated author Christie Ridgway (who also happens to be our romance columnist!) kicks off her new Cabin Fever series with the delightful Take My Breath Away.

Set in the resort-area mountains a few hours outside of Los Angeles, the book introduces Poppy Walker, single mom and bona fide optimist who is bound and determined to spiff up and rent out the neglected cabins on her family's property. Enter impossibly handsome former teen idol Ryan Hamilton, haunted by a terrible tragedy and looking for a place to hunker down for the month of March. The two couldn't be more different from one another, so naturally the chemistry between them is electric. But is their connection strong enough for them to be able to push aside the obstacles keeping them from a happily-ever-after?  

We asked Ridgway a few questions about the utterly charming page-turner and what readers can look forward to in the heartwarming new series. 

Take My Breath Away is the first in a new series for you. What’s the Cabin Fever series all about, and what inspired you to write it?
The Cabin Fever series features the four Walker siblings and their unexpected journeys to love. The books are set in the mountain resort communities of Southern California, where there are peaks and pines, deep lakes and four seasons. My husband’s family has a vacation home in the area, and it’s a great place to visit . . . in person and fictionally. It’s not all sand and surf in SoCal!

The heroine, Poppy Walker, is quite a spitfire. How did her character evolve during the writing process? What do you like the most about her?
I love Poppy’s optimism and determination. These are good qualities in a character for a writer, because she keeps the plot moving with her plans and promises to herself.

The brooding, haunted Ryan Hamilton is a former teen idol. Did you have any real-life actors in mind while developing his character?
Rob Lowe came to mind. I had recently read his autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends. Though Ryan’s tragic history is all his own.

What is it about Poppy and Ryan that makes them “among the unlikeliest of couples”?
Ryan doesn’t want to love anyone—and considers himself incapable of it anyway. Poppy is sunshine and smiles, and he’s afraid he’s going to darken her happy disposition. Then there’s the fact that she’s a single mom, and she and her son deserve a man that can care for them both. Ryan is convinced that can’t be him.

The book actually features two love stories. Not just Poppy and Ryan, but also Charlie and Linus, whose romance is partly told in the form of a screenplay written by Linus. What inspired that technique? Did it come with any challenges? 
I loved writing about Charlotte (Charlie) and Linus. Since the Hamilton brothers are involved in the entertainment industry, it came to me that a screenplay would be a fun way to tell about how the two initially met. I have taken a few screenwriting seminars, but of course I had to write those pieces in a way that would work for readers, not movie-goers. I had a blast with it, and the biggest challenge was cutting those scenes to their absolute essential. I could have gone on and on!

What ingredients do you feel are required for composing a super-sexy love scene?
Details! When you’re in love (or lust) you pay close attention to the other person. So I work to include small things that would only be noticed by an avid observer . . . the body warmth that remains on a shirt as it’s removed or the change in the tempo of the lover’s breathing.

Speaking of which, what sparked your idea for the sure-to-be-infamous intercom scene?
I wanted Poppy and Ryan to be . . . together without really being together. And it occurred to me that a large house like that one would have an intercom system. The writer’s imagination took it from there!

What’s up next for you?
All the Walker siblings are going to get their happy ending. Up next is Shay’s story, Make Me Lose Control. She meets a man, and they have an anonymous but blistering single night . . . until they meet again and she realizes she’s landed herself in big trouble!

 

(Author photo by Damon Kappell/Studio 16)

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