About the Book:
His disappearance changed her life forever.
Twenty-five years ago, Halle Lane’s best friend vanished from their Tennessee town. When a childhood photo brings Liam Hart to Winchester, Halle is certain the man is the same child who vanished. Now Liam seeks out Halle to help him investigate the circumstances of his mysterious past. Can Liam and Halle uncover the truth before a killer buries all traces of the boy Halle loved—and the man he may have become—forever?
DEBRA WEBB is the award winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 150 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama. Visit Debra at http://www.DebraWebb.com or write to her at PO Box 176, Madison, AL 35758.
Author Q&A for BEFORE HE VANISHED by Debra Webb (Harlequin Intrigue)
- What was the romance novel that got you hooked on the genre (or: What was the romance novel that inspired you to become a romance author?)
A: I’ve always written stories, but it wasn’t until about a year after I started writing with a goal of actually being published that I understood what I wanted to do. A friend who had a home library that looked much like a small Barnes & Noble store read my newest completed manuscript and announced that I was writing romance. She thrust a book from her extensive library at me and said, “read this.” The book was Perfect Partners by Jayne Ann Krentz! I was hooked!
- Please share in your own words what it means to experience That Harlequin Feeling
A: Sometimes life can throw some really tough times your way. There is nothing like a great book to give you a mini-vacation away from those less pleasant times. Harlequin has published about 60 books in my Colby Agency series. I’ve received a great deal of fan mail about Victoria Colby and her team. One I remember well was from a lady who needed extensive eye surgery and would literally be unable to read for an entire year. At the end of her ordeal once her eyes started to recover, she wrote to me and said that one thing that helped her get through that dark period was the four Colby books that were released during that time. She couldn’t wait to see what would happen next with the Colby Agency.
3. What was the name of your first published novel, and tell us a bit about that experience?
A: Safe By His Side, a Harlequin Intrigue! When I received “the call,” I was in the middle of preparing for my local school’s annual harvest festival. I was the PTA president and in charge of the event! I was so overwhelmed by emotion that I couldn’t stop crying during the call. The editor said she would call me the next day. The rest of that day all I wanted to do was tell everyone and celebrate, but I couldn’t! Not to worry, I celebrated plenty later!
Read an Excerpt:
The shower was like heaven on earth. Her body had needed the hot water so badly. Her muscles relaxed and she took her time, smoothing the soap over her skin and then shampooing her hair. She was grateful for the toiletry pack that included not only soap, shampoo and the usual, but disposable razors, as well.
By the time she was finished, her bones felt like rubber. She dried herself, slipped on underwear and the nightshirt and then used the hotel dryer to dry her hair. That part took the longest of all. When she exited the steamy bathroom the delicious aromas of room service had her stomach rumbling.
“Oh my God, that smells good.” She rushed to the table where the silver service sat. “Why aren’t you eating?”
“I was waiting for you.” He joined her at the table.
Ever the gentleman.
Halle curled her feet under her in her chair while Liam removed the covers from the dishes. Fish, chicken, vegetables. He had ordered all sorts of dishes and they all looked amazing.
“I thought we’d try a little of everything.”
A bottle of white wine as well as a bottle of rosé had her licking her lips.
“I wasn’t sure which one you preferred.” He gestured to the iced-down bottles. “And I didn’t forget dessert.” The final lid revealed a heavenly-looking chocolate cake with fudge icing.
“I may die right now.” She wanted to taste it all.
“Eat first.” He placed a linen napkin over his lap and stuck his fork into a tiny, perfectly roasted potato. She watched him eat and it was the sexiest thing she had ever seen. She didn’t fight it. Surrendered to instinct and that was how they ate. No plates, just taking whatever they wanted with a fork or fingers and devouring. They drank the wine and laughed at stories from their respective childhoods. From all the stories he’d told her, she could not wait to meet his sister, Claire.
By the time they were finished, she was feeling a little tipsy. The food was mostly gone and both bottles were drained. She felt more relaxed than she had in decades. They had discussed the day’s events and Burke and Austen—and Derrick. The man was still convinced she had a thing for Derrick. No way. She’d also told him what her mom had to say about any friends from Nashville the Clarks might have had, which was none who ever appeared at their door. She and Liam agreed that was somewhat unusual considering how social the Clarks had been in Winchester.
“You know,” she said, after polishing off the last of the wine in her glass, “I wrote you dozens of letters.”
She frowned and shook her head. “Andy.” Then she stared at him. “No. You. I mean you. Whatever you believe, I know you’re him.”
“Okay.” He laughed, his eyes glittering with the soft sound.
God, his mouth was sexy when he was relaxed. She put her hand to her mouth just to make sure she hadn’t said the words out loud.
“Tell me about the letters,” he prompted.
“I told you what was going on in Winchester. Who was doing what at school. I even put pictures with the letters.” She laughed. Placed her glass on the table. “It was silly, I know. But I wanted to still feel you and that was the only way I could.”
She blinked. He had moved. He was suddenly next to her, on his knees, staring into her eyes, and her breath caught.
“I don’t know if I’m this Andy you loved so much when you were a kid,” he said softly, so softly she shivered, “but I would really like to be the guy you care about now.”
Her heart swelled into her throat. She started to suggest that it was the wine talking, but it wasn’t. The truth was in his eyes. Those blue eyes she knew as well as her own. And despite her wine consumption, she was stone-cold sober as she considered what could happen between them tonight.
“I’m really glad, because I would hate to think I’m in this alone,” she confessed.
He kissed her so sweetly that tears stung her eyes. Then he stood and pulled her into his arms. He carried her to the nearest bed.
No matter what happened tomorrow, she would always cherish this night.
Reporter Halle Lane has never forgotten her childhood best friend, Andy, who mysteriously disappeared twenty five years ago. In the intervening years, Andy’s parents have never given any interviews about their lost son. Andy’s father has since died, and Halle decides to approach his mother, who, surprisingly agrees to be interviewed. She makes a cryptic statement about finally telling the whole story, but before the interview takes place, she is murdered.
Meanwhile, across the country, Liam Hart receives an anonymous letter, which contains a copy of the newspaper article about Andy’s kidnapping. The pictures of the young boy show that he looks identical to Liam in his childhood photos. Ironically, Liam’s family have no pictures of him before he was seven years old, telling him that those photos were lost in a fire. With his father deceased, and his stepmother on an extended European trip, Liam impulsively decides to travel to Tennessee, to confront the reporter who wrote the story.
Almost as soon as Halle sees Liam, she is positive he is the little boy, Andy, she loved as a seven year old child. Liam is not convinced at all, and in fact, totally rejects the idea. He has no memories of this town, or of Halle. He does, however, agree to accompany her as they follow the trail of young Andy’s life. When the evidence begins to suggest the unthinkable, Liam struggles with the fact that his whole life, as he knows it, may be a lie.
This is my first book by Debra Webb, and I was genuinely wowed! Though it’s a suspense novel, it has such heart and emotion. The story alternates between the present and twenty five years ago, to the solid love between two seven year old best friends, who appeared to be true soul mates even back then. Their affection, closeness, and joy in each other was so honestly portrayed, that my heart broke at their cruel separation. Today, Liam can’t deny that he feels a strong pull toward Halle, even though his world is crumbling. Is what they’re both feeling for each other now just a continuation of that childhood love, or is it a whole new attraction? I love the kind and thoughtful person Liam is, and I love how Halle didn’t try to bulldoze him into accepting that he was Andy. She calmly presented her facts, and supported Liam as they worked their way through the layers of lies and deception to the shocking truth. BEFORE HE VANISHED is a shorter book, and flows along at a quick and exciting pace — one of those I didn’t want to end, yet couldn’t wait to get to the end. It’s so well written, and I believe it holds great appeal for readers who love tantalizing suspense as well as heartfelt romance. ~Rose