Jamie Beck is the author of Worth the Risk:
When Jackson St. James decided that six weeks in Vermont’s Green Mountains would help him get his life together, he didn’t anticipate replacing his craving for whiskey with a craving for his alluring new landlord, Gabby. Now, instead of prioritizing his sobriety and the resolution of the lawsuit threatening his business, he’s making excuses to spend time with the spunky young landscaper whose candor is more than a little addictive.
Gabby Bouchard refuses to let her pill-popping mother and unreliable baby daddy turn her into a cynic, so she doesn’t fight her attraction to her enigmatic new tenant. Although Jackson’s smile rarely reaches his eyes, his generosity and dependability make her willing to overlook his demons. But once she convinces him to give in to temptation, Gabby’s jealous ex threatens to disrupt the life she has built for herself and her son.
With so much at stake, Gabby and Jackson must decide if love is worth the risk.
Read on for an interview with Jamie.
S.R.: What inspired you to write Worth the Risk?
J.B.: Worth the Risk is the third and final book of my St. James series. Its hero, Jackson St. James, is introduced in book one. His story actually begins there and continues to unravel through book two, so that Worth the Risk is his redemption story. The idea for the series grew out of my interest in family dynamics—how we sometimes hurt those closest to us, and more importantly, how the role of forgiveness (or not) plays into our happiness. In terms of the specific elements of this series (infidelity, alcoholism, infertility), those were inspired by real-life experiences of people close to me. I haven’t wholly replicated any person’s story, but I have borrowed bits and pieces in order to craft this family and its responses to those issues.
S.R.: How has your past experience as an attorney shaped the story in Worth the Risk?
J.B.: I write love stories, so my former career as a commercial real estate and lending lawyer doesn’t factor too heavily into my work. However, I do sometimes use my knowledge of corporate, real estate, and lending law to craft realistic subplot conflicts and plot points. In this book, in particular, Jackson is a homebuilder who’s being sued by a former employee, so there are a few scenes where he’s negotiating a settlement, and then a decision he makes toward the end, that I came up with as a result of my former expertise.
S.R.: How or why did you decide to stop practicing law and become a writer?
J.B.: My husband and I made the decision that I would stay at home with our children, so I quit practicing law when my daughter was born. I flirted with the idea of working part-time, but in my experience, the women lawyers who did that ended up working nearly full-time hours for part-time pay. Also, I’m a bit neurotic, and the stress of legal work would not have helped me be a good mother. I envy women who can juggle everything and keep their good humor, but I also know my limits.
That said, once my kids were in school for the better part of the day, I got bored. I volunteered at a local non-profit, but that wasn’t enough. One day, I toyed with the idea of trying to write a love story. As a young girl, I’d always wanted to write for television dramas or movies, so this was an itch I’d needed to scratch. I didn’t tell anyone, and about seven months later I’d written a terrible manuscript that I still adore because it got me started on the path toward publication. It took me two more manuscripts to land my agent, but my first published book (In the Cards) is actually my second-ever manuscript.
S.R.: On your website you mention that you always create a playlist when writing a first draft. What songs help inspired you for Worth the Risk?
J.B.: Typically my story playlists are eclectic groups of songs, some of which relate to the main characters, and others that relate to their love story. One of the primary songs I relied on for Jackson’s character is Annie Lennox’s “Dark Road.” I love the lyrics, the haunting vocals, and the anguish expressed in the song. A perfect fit for Jackson’s frame of mind at the outset of his book. Gabby, on the other hand, is a brighter character despite her hard life. To me, Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” captures her enduring optimism and grace. And for me, this love story is much more about Jackson than Gabby. The song that I hear him humming when he thinks of Gabby is Edwina Hayes’s “Feels Like Home.” That sense of home—of belonging—is what he’s been searching for since losing his mom (and some other things I don’t want to spoil for readers). It’s a beautiful song, and I only hope my story captures that magic.
S.R.: What do you hope readers take away from your book?
J.B.: Forgiveness—of family, friends, and one’s self—is really the best way to deal with disappointment and pain. It isn’t weak to forgive, and by letting go of anger and resentment, you set yourself free to be open to love and happiness again. That’s really a theme of the entire series, not just this book. And if reading it makes you want to take a road trip to Vermont in the fall, well, that’s not a bad idea either!
S.R.: What’s next? What are you working on now?
J.B.: I’m just finishing the first draft of Before I Knew, which will be the first book in a new series (The Cabot Novels) featuring a blended family that lives in Portland, Oregon. That book should release next July. Like my St. James novels, these books will explore how painful issues like divorce, mental illness, suicide, and other things can disrupt lives, and how love helps people heal.
Jamie Beck is a former attorney with a passion for inventing realistic and heartwarming stories about love and redemption, including her popular St. James and Sterling Canyon series. In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking, and hitting the ski slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family. Fans can learn more about her on the web at www.jamiebeck.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JamieBeckBooks.