Romance novels often get a bad rap. Book snobs (like myself, I will admit) tend to label them poorly and eschew the genre entirely. But Stacey Reynolds, author of Raven of the Sea and this month’s book club pick, does not care. She pointed out the romance genre is always popular and read by many people whether they like to admit it or not. Fans of the genre are both female AND male. The readers are often dedicated fans for many years. Harlequin, a recognized publisher of romance novels, reports that over 35% of its readers have been reading the genre for 20 years or more.

Stacey’s favorite part of a romance novel is that there is always a happy ending. As she told me, “If I want to be depressed, I’ll watch the news.”

Stacey likes that a romance novel has the ability to reach a wide audience, and she isn’t wrong. Many of us thoroughly enjoyed her book, even those who never read romance novels! What I liked about the book was how relatable it was from a military perspective. After an interview with Stacey, I saw that she is reflected in her work: honest, forthcoming, and real.

Raven of the Sea is a tale of two unlikely people brought together by circumstance and a pinch of fate.

raven of the seasBranna O’Mara is an American military brat who is new to Doolin, Ireland and looking for a fresh start after the death of her mother to cancer and her father to war. Michael O’Brien is a lifelong Doolin resident and a rescue swimmer for the Irish Coast Guard. When both Branna and Michael place offers on a cottage in the quaint town – and when both offers are accepted – their paths intertwine.

The owner of the cottage gives them an offer to decide who will win, and Branna and Michael are forced to live together in the cottage. They learn about one another and their fears and hopes; they share pasts and experiences; they fall in love. Branna finds a home not only with Michael but with his entire family and the community in Doolin. The story has twists and turns, and a happy ending does not always seem clear. But without giving too much away, I can say that Stacey stays true to her genre. 🙂

How did Stacey Reynolds, a military wife and mother, come up with this Irish love story?

It started on a trip to Ireland while stationed in the UAE. She fell in love with Doolin, a village on the western coast in County Clare. It was once a fishing village but according to its tourism website, Doolin is internationally renowned as a center for traditional Irish music and as a base for exploring sites like the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren.

She had written a blog but had never been a writer; before she moved around the world with her Marine Corps husband, she was a police officer! She loved the military community and life, and Stacey admitted that she felt a little lost when her husband retired. Writing helped her find some identity again. She said that blogging gave her inspiration to write more and was helpful in developing her skills and drive; she has learned even more as she has become a published author. 

When I asked her how and when she had time to write in the chaos of military and family life, Stacey said that she initially began to write during her autistic son’s therapy sessions. He had many during the week, and she would head to the local library and just go. That was one of her pieces of advice to aspiring writers: write when you can. Give yourself time and permission to write, and when you do, just go. Do not edit while writing. Find somewhere and sometime to write and to succeed because you deserve to try, right?

My talk with Stacey inspired me a little, too.

Like her, I often wonder about life after the military and if I will feel disconnected after so long within this community. She was able to find her own passion and identity, something we can all relate to. Her success as an author was encouraging. I ended our phone call and immediately wanted to start writing! She gave herself the time and opportunity to try, and that’s all we can do as aspiring writers (or for anything you are aspiring to do). She was candid about her life, her process, and her experiences with military and civilian life. There are bad days, tough moments, and difficult situations, yet Stacey and her family survived and thrived. It is nice to hear that success can happen for anyone, especially a fellow military spouse and mom.

What is next for Stacey? Raven of the Sea was the first book in the O’Brien Tales Series. There are five books in the series, and a prequel and sixth book is in the works. Her novella His Wild Irish Rose was released on December 27 as well. You can find all her books on Amazon – click here to see Raven of the Sea and the entire series.

Thank you to Stacey for answering all my questions and for opening up! I always enjoy talking to authors; it might be my favorite part of this book club.

Come back next month as we read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman!

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Rachel has been an Air Force spouse for 17 years. Her husband's career had taken them to many assignments around the world, and she currently lives in Hawaii. She is a mother of four children; their ages range from fifteen to four years old, so her life is often exciting and challenging. She holds a BA in English and a MA in Management. When not busy with work or her family, she enjoys volunteering within the military community and has even been a Key Spouse at two stations. Rachel has always enjoyed writing and literature, and she is happy to find this community to combine these interests. She has been featured on We Are The Mighty, Her View From Home, AMSE, The Beautifull Project, Hand-in-Hand QC, and other publications - but The Military Mom Collective is her home. :)