Please join me in welcoming Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy. I’m delighted to share her guest post on Herman, Missouri and a behind the scenes glimpse into how this story idea was developed. Cozy up for Christmas in July with this festive spin on a new Scrooge in Scrooge and Marlee.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: Scrooge And Marlee
Author: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Genre: Contemporary romance/sweet romance
Theo Scrooge, like the fictional Ebenezer, isn’t fond of Christmas. Any resemblance ends there for the chef and proprietor of Bah Humbug! but his love life is almost nonexistent until he meets a teacher who plans to relocate to the small German flavored town in the Missouri Rhineland. When Marlee falls into the turbulent Missouri River, Theo rescues her. As their relationship grows, so do the obstacles in Theo’s life until his worries about making money and his profit margin overshadow their romance. He’s changed but it’s not an improvement. On the eve of Christmas, Marlee offers him an ultimatum and a copy of Dickens’ book to read. Whether or not Theo will reorganize his priorities will affect if Marlee and their love can both survive.
Scrooge And Marlee is available from World Castle Publishing and most online retailers in eBook format, hardback, paperback, and audio.
Although Christmas does figure into the plot, it is a story for all seasons!
The German Town in Missouri
Tucked away in the hills above the Missouri River as it ambles through the center of the Show-Me State is a small town with a German flavor. Hermann, Missouri was founded by German immigrants. Vineyards surround the city and there are numerous wineries, some within the city limits and more just outside in the surrounding countryside. The original town lies adjacent to the river with architecture that evokes a European flavor. Several restaurants offer up German cuisine and there are multiple festivals, many imported from the old country, each year including Oktoberfest and Maifest.
My latest release, Scrooge And Marlee, is set in Hermann. Because the place is one of my favorites to visit within my home state, I loved the idea of setting one of my novels in the picturesque area.
Like most of my novels, the inspiration began with a “What if?” question. Dickens Christmas Carol is one of my favorite classics and so I wondered what if there was a young man who happened to have the surname Scrooge. I pondered how it would affect him – especially if he had a reason not to like Christmas. As Theo Scrooge came to life in my imagination, I decided he should live in Hermann. Despite the English surname, I gave him a mother and extended family with a German heritage. I also decided that some of the locals would tease him about being Scrooge.
As the story began to build in my mind, I decided Theo was a chef. Although he once wanted to travel the world, he instead returned to his hometown where ten years earlier he opened a little pub/bistro he named Bah Humbug! As the novel begins, Theo is established but he’s also lonely. He’s close to his family and best friend who happens to be the local sheriff but he would like to find a lady to love. A past relationship ended badly and he’s yet to recover.
I also have a partial German heritage so I delighted in Theo cooking German dishes and adding just a little bit of German to the conversations in the novel. Once he meets a schoolteacher who hopes to relocate to the small town, Theo is smitten but he has to save her from drowning in the river before he can meet her.
Their love story isn’t without obstacles and one of the largest is his dislike of all things Christmas. Second to that, he’s preoccupied with making money and that eventually rubs Marlee the wrong way.
Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy grew up in an old blue collar neighborhood in her hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri, the place where the short lived Pony Express began and where outlaw Jesse James met his end. Her love of reading was nurtured by a steady supply of Little Golden Books and books from the neighborhood Washington Park Library. At the age of nine she wrote a poem, her first publication, that appeared in the local newspaper and from then on, she wrote.
When her family relocated to the Ozarks, she discovered a new community in Neosho, home of the real Camp Swampy of Beetle Bailey comic strip fame. After graduating from two colleges with degrees in journalism, English, and history she worked in radio, education, and became a newspaper reporter, then editor.
She met the man she married when she was thirteen and he was fifteen, but she didn’t settle down to married life until her early thirties. They raised three children before her husband passed away in 2019. Her first novel was published in 2010 and she continues to write with a growing backlist of more than thirty titles. Her favorite places include anywhere with beaches or mountains.
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