It is nearly time to start thinking about buying those books you can give to friends or that you can enjoy reading during any time off over the holiday period. Today's guest in My Writing Corner brings us a wonderful new book that will be released in early December that sounds like a good choice for holiday reading or a gift for friends. My guest today in My Writing Corner is Patricia McAlexander, and her new book is The Last Golden Isle that releases in early December but is now available for preorder.
Welcome, Patricia, please tell us about yourself.
I earned a BA from the University of New York at Albany, an MA from Columbia University, and a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin, Madison—all in English. While teaching at The University of Georgia, I authored or co-authored a number of academic articles and books, and, now retired, I’ve published three contemporary romantic suspense novellas—Stranger in the Storm, Shadows of Doubt, and The Student in Classroom 6, with a fourth, The Last Golden Isle, to be released December 11. My short story “Falling,” which came in second in the Atlanta, Georgia, Writers Club’s 2021 Terry Kay Prize for Fiction, was published in the Fall 2022 issue of the online journal Knot. I live in Athens, Georgia with my husband Hubert, also a retired UGA professor.
Tell us about your new book and how you came up with the idea to write it?”
Thank you, Rebecca Grace, for featuring my book The Last Golden Isle today. When I began writing this, I’d recently re-read a little novel I’d written as a high school student about a Northern girl who goes to spend the summer with her pen pal in Virginia and discovers her family has dangerous secrets. I’d also just had a wonderful trip to Tybee Island, one of Georgia’s “golden isles” off the coast. There I fell in love with its sandy beaches, sea shells, dolphins, and gorgeous sunrises. I put the basic plot of my high school novel together with this setting and came up The Last Golden Isle. And then the novel almost wrote itself.
Let's get a blurb:
Ever since a traumatic experience as a college freshman four years earlier, Clare Matthews has had an aversion to men. But when she goes to spend the summer on one of Georgia’s Golden Isles as a companion for her cousin Sally, she finds herself drawn to Jon, a handsome young security guard who works on the family estate. When the feeling seems mutual, she hopes she has at last been healed. Then signs of his possible involvement in a dangerous criminal activity crop up, and Clare must make a decision that will affect the rest of her life.
Now let's talk to Clare! Tell us a little about what happened to you as a college freshman that shaped your view of men.
I try not to think much about that. It’s been four years ago now. It was the beginning of my first year at the University. Only a few days after classes started, I went with my new sorority sisters to a fraternity party at an off-campus house. Something must have been put in my drink. I don’t remember how I got upstairs to that bedroom or who took me there. I just remembered being blindfolded, then held down. And I remember the drum beats of dance music on the floor below kept pounding and pounding while they…. You read about these things but you never think it will happen to you. I told my mother and the police, but not any of my friends at college. I couldn’t be the same at school afterwards, though. I dropped out of the sorority, cancelled my social media accounts, focused on my studies. If any boy acted interested in me, I turned him away—I couldn’t bear the thought of a male ever touching me again. My roommates told me I was called “The Ice Princess.”
What did you hope for in your future?
When I graduated from college, I just wanted to feel safe and secure, away from the demands of social life. I had taken a summer job at the University library and planned to go to graduate school in the fall. When the library job fell through, my aunt invited me to St. Sebastian’s Island for the summer where I could be a companion for my younger cousin, Sally. Her father, my rich uncle Tony, who owned lots of land there, publicized the island as “The Last Golden Isle.” It was in fact the final one to be made easily accessible to and popular with the public.
At first I didn’t want to go. The word “last” seemed somehow ominous—a place of endings, even death. But then I focused on the phrase “golden isle.” It suggested a paradisiacal place, like the Elysian Islands of Greek mythology. I hoped spending a summer on this island might dismiss the nightmares that still came to me.
What about Jon frightened you?
When I first met Jon on St. Sebastian’s that summer, I was afraid of him partly just because he was male—and a strong, handsome one, partly because he was in a position of authority there on my uncle’s estate as a security guard. He actually at first seemed suspicious of me!
What about Jon attracted you?
I’d resolved to try to get over my—I guess you’d call it post-traumatic stress syndrome—in this new place. Jon’s mysterious background, his tan skin, his slight accent, fascinated me. He was unlike the boys at college. When he helped me out of an awkward situation and then gave me lessons driving a stick shift so I could drive my cousin’s car if I ever needed to, I found myself appreciating his company and wanting to spend more time with him. Soon I realized I was actually physically attracted to him, and he seemed attracted to me too.
Did the summer on St. Sebastian’s go as you’d hoped?
In some ways yes, in others no. As my relationship with Jon developed, I felt I was healing psychologically. But then I learned some shocking things about my cousin, my uncle, and yes, Jon too. At one point I was about to pack my suitcases and leave. Some might say I should have.
Want to know more? Let's get an excerpt:
Reaching the island, she turned on her GPS and keyed in her uncle’s address. The system’s confident female voice guided her over circuitous roads until she reached a wide concrete drive blocked with closed wrought iron gates. The GPS told her, “You have reached your destination.” She didn’t remember those gates. They were like those at the entrances to exclusive communities. Then, seeing the sign Sanderson Estates, she realized that this was such a community—the one her uncle had established since her last visit.
She pulled up to the gates and stopped. A tall, well-built, very tan young man in a white Oxford shirt and jeans—a security guard—came out of a small brick building beside the drive. Clean shaven, with dark curls cropped short and strong, even features, he reminded her of the statue pictured on the cover of her high school Latin textbook. She lowered her window, and he looked in at her, examining her with direct gray eyes. He held a clipboard and had a gun tucked into his belt.
Her hands grew cold. “I’m Clare Matthews, Sally Sanderson’s cousin. They know I’m coming.”
He looked at the clipboard, unsmiling. “You have some identification, Miss?”
If you want to read more, you'll have to get the book! Here are the Buy Links, followed by Patricia's social media links:
X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/PatMcAlexWriter