Author Adds Faith to Fun Romances
Byline: Susan Dibble email@example.com
Villa Park writer Allie Pleiter says she has more fun than anyone she knows.
For her latest published historical romance, "Masked by Moonlight," Pleiter learned to crack a bullwhip, took fencing lessons with her then 10-year-old son and revisited one of her favorite cities, San Francisco.
Her upcoming contemporary "Bluegrass Hero," due out about Aug. 1, turned her into connoisseur of artisan soap.
Anything, Pleiter says, might spark the idea for a book. Like the newspaper article that made her realize that she really didnt know anything about fancy soap. And the search for a charming Kentucky town to set her next book in and seeing the sign for "Midway Soap Works" in her rearview mirror.
"It was one of those magic moments when you know, if you write inspirational fiction, that God is looking out for you," she said.
So comes the story set in the fictional Middleburg, Ky., of how the lives of the smelly hired men on Gill Sorrents horse farm are changed by a trip to Emily Montagues bath shop.
Soon, the lovelorn farmhands are attracting women instead of working. Gill barges into the shop only to find pretty Emily, his polar opposite, selling soap by the truckloads. What happens from there is what the book is about.
As for "Masked by Moonlight," Pleiter said she was attracted by the idea of doing a dual identity story. English gentleman by day, Matthew Covington turns into the crime-fighting masked Black Bandit by night. His exploits
are made famous by newspaper accounts pseudonymously written by Georgia Waterhouse, whom Matthew is falling in love with in real life in what Pleiter calls "the worlds most complicated relationship."
Whether writing about swashbuckling heroes is 1880s San Francisco or contemporary farmhands in the Bluegrass state, Pleiters books contain characters who possess a strong Christian faith or come to faith. But dont expect to be hit over the head with a religious message.
"I think the reason people like my books is because theyre funny," Pleiter said. "A lot of people go, you werent what I expected and I love that."
Readers identify with the characters in Pleiters books, said her editor, Krista Stroever, senior editor at Harlequin.
"She does amazingly sympathetic female characters. Theyre human," Stroever said.
Stroever said Pleiter, whose books are published under the Steeple Hill imprint, started writing chick-lit before turning to the more traditional romance and historical romance.
"Allie really tackled it like a pro," she said.
Pleiter now has eight books in print, including two nonfiction parenting books. Two more books in the Middleburg, Ky., series are under contract, and a sequel to "Masked by Moonlight" is under discussion.
Not bad for a woman who only began writing 10 years ago on a dare. …