Interview: Alexis Morgan

He’s the perfect catch…

But for how long?

Museum curator Shelby Michaels seems to be the only woman in Dunbar not chasing after the new police chief, Cade Peters. When a stranger lays claim to the town’s famous gold nugget, Shelby helps Cade find the truth. Because if the town loses this precious connection to its past, Cade’s job here is done. Can Shelby stop herself from falling for a man who may not stick around?

From Harlequin Heartwarming: Wholesome stories of love, compassion, and belonging.


What inspired you to write “The Lawman’s Promise?”

I love writing books with an ensemble cast of characters that both me and my readers can get to know and care about over the course of the story. In this case, we see the town of Dunbar through the eyes of the hero and the heroine. While Cade Peters is new to the town, Shelby Michaels has lived there her whole life.

Can you tell us a bit about the main characters, Shelby Michaels and Cade Peters? What makes them unique?

Shelby Michaels has an interesting job situation, holding down three separate jobs all located in the same building. On one side, she runs Dunbar’s small post office as well as a drop-off service for the area’s library system. She is also the curator of the town’s historical museum, which occupies the rest of the building. She has lived her entire life in Dunbar and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

By way of contrast, Cade Peters has spent years bouncing around the world while serving in the military police. Now he wants to settle down and thinks Dunbar is the perfect place to put down roots. That’s especially true once he gets to know Shelby Michaels.

The book is described as a “wholesome story of love,
compassion, and belonging.” How did you approach
incorporating these themes into the story?

The focus of any romance is always the emotional journey for the hero and heroine—finding their way to a love that will last a lifetime. However, it’s also important to show how those same two people interact with everyone else in their lives. An example would be showing how Shelby is deeply rooted in Dunbar by seeing her interactions with others in town—even those she might not be so fond of at times. I loved watching Cade become friends with two very different men, both of whom are also new to town, as the three of them begin making personal connections and becoming part of the

What drew you to the setting of Dunbar for this novel? How did you create a sense of place and atmosphere?

Alexis Morgan—The Lawman’s Promise 2 Dunbar is a fictional town near a fictional mountain of the same name. However, I “built” Dunbar in one of my favorite parts of Washington State just off a state highway near one of the passes that cross the Cascade Mountains. The town is surrounded by towering cedars and Douglas firs. The trees and the rugged mountain peaks in the distance make for the perfect backdrop for the stories. I also tied the town’s history to the gold mining that took place in the area in the past.

The story revolves around a mysterious claim to the town’s famous gold nugget. Can you discuss the importance of this object in the narrative and how it drives the plot?

The centerpiece for the town’s historical museum is a large piece of gold called the Trillium Nugget. It was named that because the shape of the nugget is similar to a trillium flower, a plant native to the area. No one knows how it came to belong to the town, only that was discovered nearby over a hundred years ago. All of that changes when a stranger comes to town with documentation that he says proves that the nugget was found by his great-grandfather and the
family wants it back. The hero and heroine have to combine forces to get to the truth for the sake of the town—and their own relationship.

Shelby is portrayed as a museum curator. Did you conduct any research or draw from personal experiences while developing her character and profession?

Actually, I did. Years ago (as in before the internet was widely
available), I wrote some American West romances. I was looking for some Civil War-era information specific to one town in Missouri. I tracked down the phone number for the town’s historical museum and was able to speak to the gentleman in charge of it at the time. His insight into the history of the area was really helpful even if he was a little surprised that someone from the Pacific Northwest was
calling. He sent me a list of books they carried on local history, including one he’d written himself. The ones I bought proved to be a treasure trove of the exact kind of details that help authors bring stories to life. Since then, I have often stopped at local museums looking for the same kind of regional information.

“The Lawman’s Promise” is categorized as a romance novel. What aspects of the romance genre did you focus on while writing this book?

I focused on creating a three-dimensional hero and heroine who would appeal to readers. It isn’t that Cade and Shelby are perfect people who make no mistakes. Like all of us, they have flaws and insecurities. They second-guess the choices they make and occasionally lose their tempers. However, they also have a lot of positive characteristics—a heavy dose of duty and loyalty; a sense of humor; and incredible compassion for the people around them. In the
end, they care deeply not only about each other but the town of Dunbar as a whole.

Without giving away spoilers, can you give us a glimpse of the emotional journey that Shelby and Cade go through in the story?

Shelby and Cade are drawn to each other from the beginning, but then they end up on opposite sides of a threat to the town. If things go badly, Cade could lose his job as the chief of police and have to leave. Shelby can’t imagine living anywhere but Dunbar. The situation leaves both of them with some hard decisions to make.

How do you balance creating a satisfying ending for readers while still leaving room for future possibilities in a series?

Great question! This is the kind of series where each book will focus on how a different couple finds their happily-ever-after. As I wrote “The Lawman’s Promise,” I kept an eye out for characters who would make great heroes and heroines for future books. With that in mind, I tried to let the readers get to know just enough about those characters to create interest in what comes next for them. They may even appear in several books as secondary characters before they are center stage in their own book.

What do you hope readers will take away from “The
Lawman’s Promise”?

I hope that they will finish the last page with a smile on their face and a desire to spend more time with the Heroes of Dunbar Mountain.

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