Rebekah Millet is a Cascade Award and ACFW First Impressions Award-winning author of contemporary Christian romance novels. A New Orleans native, she grew up on beignets and café au lait, and she loves infusing her colorful culture into her stories. Her husband endures her rearranging their furniture and being a serial plant killer, while her two sons keep her laughing and share her love of strawberry Pop-Tarts.
In this interview, Rebekah talks with us about her new novel, Julia Monroe Begins Again.
FF: Can you tell us a little bit about your new novel, Julia Monroe Begins Again?
I’d love to! My book is a romantic comedy set in New Orleans that follows Julia Monroe. She’s just turned forty, and both of her teenagers are now attending college out of state. After being a widow and single mom for ten years, she avoids risk like the plague. Especially in the love department. Then one Sunday, Samuel Reed (the man who crushed her heart twenty years ago), shows up at her church. Adding to Julia’s dilemma with Samuel’s reentry into her life is her meddling best friend, and her cranky-pants mother who hates Samuel with a capital H.
FF: In the book, Julia must face the heartache of the past in order to move forward with her life, but readers will see her struggle to do so. What inspired you to write about this kind of heartache?
Letting go of the past is something so many people seem to wrestle with in all sorts of ways, so I felt like it would be a topic that would resonate with readers. And my hope is that those who do pick up this book will find encouragement and even a few laughs as Julia works through her struggles.
FF: Your main character Julia is a bit older than the classic rom-com novel protagonist. What compelled you to write a story around an older widow with two sons and fill this space in the genre?
Well, I love to read. Especially contemporary romances and rom-coms. And I’ve enjoyed all of the stories that have featured characters in their twenties and thirties. But I noticed that as I got older, the characters in those genres weren’t aging with me. I was talking with a group of friends (who are voracious readers), and asked if they could recommend any Christian romances with the main characters in their forties. They couldn’t, and we were all kind of shocked. When I broached the idea of writing a romance with characters our age, they were thrilled. And I was equally ecstatic because I could write (in an honest and humorous way) about the insecurities middle-aged women face.
FF: Your male protagonist, Samuel Reed, is a retired Green Beret. What kind of research did you have to do on Green Berets when writing this novel?
I’m smiling at this question, because the research aspect is one of my favorite things about being a writer. For Samuel’s background as a Green Beret, I devoured Dick Couch’s nonfiction book, Chosen Solider, which actually makes a comical appearance in Julia Monroe Begins Again. I also read numerous articles online, as well as combing through different blog posts written by family members of Green Berets.
FF: This novel brims with beignets and café au lait—two New Orleans classics. What other fun New Orleans favorites do you feature in this novel?
Food is such an important part of life down here, and I loved including it in this book. Other than beignets and café au lait, readers will find jambalaya, several types of gumbo (chicken and andouille sausage is my personal favorite), crab cakes, crawfish, muffulettas, and the famous flaming Bananas Foster from the Palace Café.
Julia Monroe Begins Again
Beignets for Two
Release Date: October 24, 2023
Samuel was back. It seemed unfair to be blindsided. And in church no less. Shouldn’t there be a commandment about that? Thou shalt not step foot inside thy ex’s place of worship.
Julia Monroe has just turned forty and has high hopes for a fresh start after the last decade of her life abruptly left her a young widow and a single mom. With both her boys off to college, she can finally focus on expanding her New Orleans-based cleaning business. Julia is ready for new beginnings—but God has other plans. Samuel Reed, the ruggedly handsome Green Beret who shattered her heart over twenty years ago, has returned to town and is the kind of distraction she never saw coming.
After their first interaction in years leaves her mind spinning and her emotions out of control, Julia knows she needs to avoid him if she wants any chance of preventing history from repeating itself, but her meddling best friend keeps throwing them together. And now it seems inevitable that the man who was hard to forget might just be impossible to resist.
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