Author Megan Walker muses on what makes a real-life hero.

My husband and I recently celebrated our ninth anniversary of marriage, and as he and I reflected on our courtship and especially our early married days, including starting a family together, I’ve felt such gratitude and love for him. He is the flawed hero in our love story, and I’m the stubborn, willful heroine.

I’ve been asked as an author how much of my writing is inspired by personal experience. Do I write my husband into my heroes? My first instinct is to say, “No way. My husband loves basketball, his favorite food is Mexican food, he is absolutely the most unromantic man on planet Earth (I like to joke that I write romance because my husband is so bad at being romantic, and he laughs because it’s true)–and he couldn’t care less about impressing anyone. He does not belong in the Regency.”

As I write the words now, I’m laughing, and my heart is full for the crazy man I fell in love with my senior year at college. I must’ve rejected him a dozen times at first, but he still persisted. He asked me to go rock climbing with him–a bucket list item of mine. On a total whim, I went, and it was the best decision I have ever made. That date surpassed every date I’d ever been on, and not because I turned out to be an amazing rock climber. We laughed, we talked, he accidentally tied my harness wrong and the entire thing fell off when I reached the top of the rock wall…true story. But I remember closing my apartment door after he dropped me off and sincerely thinking, if he doesn’t ask me out again, I’m going to be devastated.

Thankfully, true to his persistent nature, we’ve seen each other nearly every day since that date. And I am the luckiest girl. (He’s pretty darn lucky too, in my opinion.)
So why am I blabbering on about my husband? As authors, we write with our hearts, we write what has shaped us and taught us. Peter Wood and my husband are vastly different personalities though. Peter is proactive and hands-on, he’s outgoing and charismatic and charming. My husband has that signature doctor personality–he’s logical, inhibited, and detail-oriented. My sweet husband doesn’t use words to compliment me or show me love, while Peter could write sonnets about Amelia.

That said, while writing Peter in Lakeshire Park, I wanted a hero with a sense of humor like my husband, who can turn any argument into a comedy show. I wanted a hero who cared deeply for his family, who wasn’t afraid to love, and whose persistence despite odds stacked against him would pay off.

I wanted these things because in my mind, in my experience, a perfect hero isn’t a man who does everything ‘right’ by society’s standards. He’s flawed, he’s at times sensitive, he’s human. He isn’t going to sweep in and save my heroine, he’s going to support her and see her for who she really is and still decide she’s the one he wants beside him. He’s going to give her a choice and let her choose her own path.

I think that’s why a good love story is so relatable. The heroes are flawed, but they hold morals and characteristics that are attainable.

My own love story is nothing exceptionally noteworthy to an outsider. We went rock climbing, we fell in love, he took weeks and weeks to kiss me, and we’ve stayed up way too late on way too many occasions binge watching our favorite shows.

You’re not going to see my husband leaving love notes on my pillow. (Though that would totally be something Peter would do for Amelia.) That cute dinner we shared on our front lawn for our anniversary? My idea, thanks to COVID19. But guess what? He knew my favorite dinner. He surprised me with roses. And he asked me about my current work in progress and actually cared about a few historical details I’ve been researching.

We talked about our parenting, where we could improve, and our future and how we see things a little differently sometimes. But most importantly, we reflected on nine years of loving each other despite overwhelming workloads, little humans wearing us thin, devastating tragedy and loss, and unfulfilled expectations. Our happiest times are still those ugly family vacations where everyone’s crying and exhausted except for a few beautiful moments when the stars aligned.

He drives me crazy sometimes, and vice versa. But we choose each other every day.

This, to me, is a true love story. It’s the one I want for my characters, and I hope you, dear readers, have or find such a love for yourselves.

Either way, join me at Lakeshire Park and dream a little with Amelia as she learns what love is all about, and Peter, as he tries desperately to win her heart.

Best, wishes, Megan Walker

Megan Walker was raised on a berry farm in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where her imagination took her to times past and worlds away. While earning her degree in Early Childhood Education, she married her one true love and started a family. But her imaginings of Regency England wouldn’t leave her alone, so she picked up a pen and wrote her first novella, A Beautiful Love: A Regency Fairy Tale Retelling which was published in 2019. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and three children. Lakeshire Park is her debut novel.

Brighton, England 1820

Amelia Moore wants only one thing–to secure the future happiness of her younger sister, Clara. With their stepfather’s looming death, the two sisters will soon be on their own–without family, a home, or a penny to their names. When an invitation arrives to join a house party at Lakeshire Park, Amelia grasps at the chance. If she can encourage a match between Clara and their host, Sir Ronald, then at least her sister will be taken care of.

Little does she know that another guest, the arrogant and overconfident Mr. Peter Wood, is after the same goal for his own sister. Amelia and Peter begin a rivalry that Amelia has no choice but to win. But competing against Peter–and eventually playing by his rules–makes Amelia vulnerable to losing the only thing she has left to claim: her heart.

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