HAPPY RELEASE DAY to Tonya Lowe & Beach Haven – the first book in her Carolina Coast series due out this year! Check out all three gorgeous covers in this series on the JustRead Instagram Tour this week!
Tonya “T. I.” Lowe is a native of coastal South Carolina. She attended Coastal Carolina University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in psychology but excelled in creative writing. In 2014, Tonya independently published her first novel, Lulu’s Café, which quickly became a bestseller. Now the author of twelve published novels with hundreds of thousands of copies sold, she knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. She resides near Myrtle Beach with her family
SERIES: Carolina Coast #1
GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary Romance
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2020
Free-spirited Opal Gilbert seems to have everything she needs to keep living a happy life in Sunset Cove as she refurbishes vintage furniture to sell at her funky ocean-side boutique, Bless This Mess. Until Lincoln Cole, a new-to-town ex-Marine nursing deep wounds and harboring hurts he can’t seem to shake, wanders into her shop. Opal knows a person in need when she sees one and offers Lincoln a job in her workshop. But the brooding former soldier has no interest in Opal’s offer. Thanks but no thanks.
But then a hurricane strikes, damaging Bless This Mess. Feeling guilty for how he treated Opal, Lincoln decides to help her repair the store. And soon it becomes clear Opal wants to restore not only her business, but also help Lincoln find restoration. As much as Lincoln tries to keep her at arm’s length, Opal’s well-meaning meddling begins to heal his wounds . . . and capture his heart almost before he realizes it.
Check out a couple of excerpts from Beach Haven HERE
Hi Tonya! Welcome back to the blog!
Q: What inspired you to write Beach Haven?
Tonya: The Bible verse shared at the beginning of the book sums it up. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11). Storms in life can come in and make such a mess that this promise can get overlooked. Haven means “refuge,” so I was inspired to write a story centered around finding our haven in God during these storms, seeking his refuge and redemption in the aftermath. Readers will see this physically manifested through a hurricane and spiritually demonstrated through Lincoln’s redemption of faith.
Carrie: oh we need that reminder now more than ever!
Q: As an author, what did you particularly enjoy about writing this story?
Tonya: The most enjoyable part of this story was introducing the Knitting Club, a geriatric group of busybodies. Opal has this thought in the book: “It was said that the Knitting Club came over on the Mayflower and somehow found the fountain of youth upon landing.” These feisty broads are the comic relief of the story with interesting dashes of wisdom thrown into the mix. They are big fans of mischief and meddling.
Carrie: haha! I can’t wait to meet them 🙂
Q: What was the most difficult part of writing this story?
Tonya: When I create a character with such an altruistic background as Lincoln’s military career, my goal is to pay my respects and to honor them. I’m always a little nervous about getting that right and mindful of how it will be perceived.
Carrie: yeah, no pressure, right? lol
Q: Can you tell us about your inspiration for the main character in this book, Opal Gilbert, and your inspiration for Opal’s shop, Bless This Mess?
Tonya: Opal is what folks consider weird. Different. Too silly at times. She allows people to form those opinions but doesn’t allow them to keep her from enjoying the eccentric fit of her quirkiness. Opal’s purpose is to inspire readers to own up to their uniqueness.
I’m a huge fan of the show Fixer Upper, and I love the idea of taking something old and considered unappealing and transforming it into something new and charming. On the show, the designers highlight imperfections instead of trying to hide them. None of us are perfect, but our flaws can be used in an appealing way. This is what I hope for readers to discover while they are exploring Bless This Mess.
Carrie: ooo i like that!
Q: And what about Lincoln Cole?
Tonya: Lincoln is a big ole teddy bear hiding behind a grouchy pout, but boy does he have one fierce stubborn streak. Once his mind up is made up about something, there’s no wavering from it. Lincoln finally reaches a point in the story where there is no other choice but to come to terms with accepting God’s repurposing plan for his life.
Carrie: you had me at ‘big ole teddy bear’ 🙂
Q: What can you tell us about the relationship that forms between Opal and Lincoln?
Tonya: Neither one of them wanted a relationship. Opal’s focus was restoring her shop in the aftermath of Hurricane Lacy, and Lincoln’s focus was restoring his life, which was left in ruins due to a career-ending injury and the poor choices he made afterward. Even though they both fight against their developing feelings, of course love wins in the end. Exploring the unexpectedness of their love story was an appealing challenge for me. They butt heads quite a bit, but both have that endearing quality where they have each other’s back. I’ll share one of my favorite scenes below that showcases this when a guy makes fun of Opal in public.
“Aw, come on, Opie. You know you earned your weirdo status.” Ray laughed like it was the funniest thing until the formidable man behind her leered over her shoulder. Lincoln’s rigid stance pressed close to her, and Ray’s taunting eyes froze as the shadow encased them both.
“Who are you?” Lincoln asked with enough grit in his voice to scare even Opal.
She was about to back away from the confrontation when a strong arm secured itself around her waist, a wall of muscle pressing firmly against her back in a united front.
“Ray Owens. I’m a friend of Opal’s from back in high school.” He reached a shaky hand out and Lincoln ignored it. After getting the hint, Ray retracted his hand and swiped it over his forehead, looking right nervous.
“Opal’s never mentioned a friend named Ray. Certainly never mentioned an idiot dumb enough to call her a ridiculous name. What are you, two?”
Ray stammered out a shaky laugh. “Come on, man. I was just joking around. I mean . . . look who we’re talking about.” His head tilted toward her with his eyes growing round.
“No way are you talking about this woman standing in front of you. She’s one of the most creative and kindest people I know. You’d be wise to take note of that and to also take note I won’t be putting up with anyone treating her with anything less than absolute respect.” Without another word, Lincoln used his hold on Opal to spin her around and place her away from the hurtfulness the guy had just pushed on her.
Opal was used to having Lincoln’s strong personality aimed against her, but it was remarkably comforting to have it used as a shield of defense for her.
Carrie: “Lincoln’s rigid stance pressed close to her, and Ray’s taunting eyes froze as the shadow encased them both.” – what a great visual!
Q: What role does faith play in Beach Haven?
Tonya: Life is a gift from God, even when we perceive it to be in ruins and past repair. During a confrontation with Lincoln, Opal points this out to him by checking his pulse. She tells him, “Each pulse you have is another chance. Another opportunity. . . . You’re a living breathing miracle. Your life is a gift from God and yet you’ve just wasted eighty-eight chances to appreciate that in the last minute.”
Carrie: He makes everything new – even lives we think are past repair. Yes!
Q: What are you most excited for your readers to experience through reading this story?
Tonya: I’m most excited for readers to experience the victory of redemption. Lincoln will make mistakes, he will fight against necessary change, and he will try running from his faith and the feelings developing for Opal. I loved, loved, loved when I finally got to the part of the story where this giant of a man humbles himself to accept it all. He is a decorated soldier and wore bravery like a fine suit before he was wounded in battle, but I found him at his strongest when he stood up for Opal and when he reconciled with his father.
Carrie: Heroes like that in fiction ALWAYS capture my heart so completely. Can’t wait to be watch his journey.
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from Beach Haven?
Tonya: Just because a chapter of your life inserts an unexpected plot twist and is far from what you had planned doesn’t mean the story is over. Embracing change is never easy, but it’s a part of life.
Carrie: oh that’s so well said & so crucial for us to grasp in these unusual circumstances we’re all in right now!
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂
I’m offering a print copy of Beach Haven by T.I. Lowe to one of my readers! (Open internationally as long as Book Depository carries the book & ships to your country. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
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What about you? What interests you most about Beach Haven and/or my Q&A with T.I. Lowe?