Character Spotlight: Johnnie Alexander’s Amy & Gabe (with giveaway)

what-hope-remembersMeet a lobbyist and a former Marine in

Johnnie Alexander’s

contemporary romance

What Hope Remembers



The Story

When Amy Somers loses her job as a lobbyist, she moves to Misty Willow, well aware that she’s crossing bridges she’d burned years before. With all the mistakes she’s made and the uncaring things she’s done–even to her own family–she can hardly believe that happiness will find her, especially when Gabe Kendall, her first crush and her first kiss, rides back into her life atop a buckskin mare.

A former Marine, Gabe is at loose ends after serving a prison sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees beyond Amy’s hard exterior to the girl he once knew and loved, and he longs to see her open her heart. Yet with his vision clouded by shame for his past and fears about the future, he finds it difficult to see the path ahead.

But the memory of that long-ago kiss just may have the power to reignite a romance that brings out the best in both of them.

Introducing Amy & Gabe

Brief physical description

Amy Somers towers over her diminutive sister-in-law and she’s fine with that! The sophisticated blue-eyed blonde inherited her father’s Scandinavian coloring and her mother’s gorgeous features. Her dimples aren’t deep as her brother’s but her smile is just as charming . . . when she wants it to be.

Now that he’s out of the military—and out of prison—Gabe Kendall wears his brown hair just a tad too long. His hazel eyes don’t miss much and he’s very aware of his surroundings. Most comfortable riding his horse or driving an old Ford F150, Gabe is scruffy-handsome.


Is it lame to say they resemble the characters on the cover of the book? It’s true, though! Unlike many authors, I only have visions of the characters in my head. I don’t “cast” them as famous actors unless I’m asked to do so.

When I saw the cover, I thought: That’s them!

JA couple

Book cover Amy has strength in her features. She’s no dime-a-dozen beauty.

Book cover Gabe exudes an easy-going country charm.

Together, they’re perfect.

Strengths and weaknesses

With her intelligence, political savvy, ambition, and connections, Amy was a successful lobbyist until her destructive lifestyle caused her collapse. Now she’s trying to make a new start away from the state capital. Her strong sense of self and can-do spirit may seem like weaknesses when her goals create trouble for her cousin (in an earlier story). But these qualities also help her overcome the grief that’s haunted her since she was a child.

Gabe’s strength and weakness is the same—his loyalty. He’s always got your back, and he risks his freedom and his life for those he loves.

Quirk (if any)

Gabe’s life has been regimented for several years, first in the military and then in prison. He awakes at the same time every morning, is hyper-vigilant, and gobbles down his Aunt Tess’s snickerdoodle cookies.

Amy slides strands of her long hair between her fingers, an unconscious gesture she’s had since she was a young girl. She’s a tea drinker and sensitive to her brother’s misguided efforts to monitor her eating.

Your inspiration for the character

Gabe’s character was inspired by “I Hold On,” the country western song by Dierks Bentley. He holds on to his deceased uncle’s beaten-up truck and weathered Stetson. And he holds on to his first love even when she says she doesn’t remember him. (Secret: She’s lying.)

Amy just happened.

She’s in the first two Misty Willow books (Where She Belongs and When Love Arrives) as a secondary character. She fulfilled her role as antagonist in those stories very well. I didn’t know then she’d be the heroine of her own story so I had to work with what I already had written.

Amy is first given her own voice in this story. We see her perspective and her pain, and we see her through the eyes and heart, Gabe’s, of someone who knew her before she became hard and nasty. As the story unfolds, she becomes a heroine worthy of Gabe’s love and respect.

Background to the story

Drive along a certain country road south of Columbus, Ohio, and you’ll pass a stately brick house shaded by old trees. Built in the mid-1800s, it may have been part of the Underground Railroad. The farm has been known by a couple of names—Maple Lane, Twin Oaks—but when my family lived there during my teen years, we simply called it The Brick. (Photo, courtesy of Johnnie Alexander)

JA house

After my parents moved away, the owners neglected the house. I’d drive by sometimes, my heart aching with the forlorn air that now surrounded the home I loved.

There wasn’t anything I could do about it except imagine a heroine who felt the same way about a house from her childhood. Maybe she could do what I couldn’t.

That was the inspiration behind Where She Belongs, the first novel in the Misty Willow Series.

The next two novels grew from the first one, and the main characters—including not-very-nice Amy, slowly revealed their heartaches and their fears. Most of all, they revealed their need for God’s steadfast love.

Thank you Johnnie!

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35 Responses to Character Spotlight: Johnnie Alexander’s Amy & Gabe (with giveaway)

  1. Yes! Our house is 151 years old, the original owner received the land through a land grant after his service in the Civil War.

    • Hi, Jennifer. What a fun history for your house. I didn’t realize Civil War veterans received land grants. Many Revolutionary War veterans did–that was how a large section of Ohio was settled. It was called something like the Virginia Military District. I use that as the backstory for my fictional Misty Willow!

  2. what a great post. when I lived on our farm in CA there was an abandoned housed we were not allowed to go into. Literally, forbidden. Well as kids do, they ignore what their parents say at times. My brother and I went in one time and yes it was dirty from neglect, but there were all these old papers. We looked through a lot of them there. notebooks, diaries etc. So we got a box and put all the papers and few other items in them. We took the box home and went through all the papers. a lot of the dates were from the late 1800’s Finally we couldn’t hold it in anymore, so we showed mom. Wow the history that was in this box was unbelievable. when she asked where we got this stuff, well lets just say we got in a lot of trouble. lol Turns out it was from a family that had moved from another country and about their life as they settled the area.

  3. I live near a two story house that has seen it’s better days. It is surrounded by acreage that is as abandoned as the house is. If this house could talk, I wonder what it would say?

    • Janet, you can listen to those walls and imagine the stories! Abandoned houses are so sad. I’m changing moods like a ping-pong ball from giddy to downhearted as I read through these comments! LOL!

  4. Most of the homes in my neighborhood were smaller starter homes, but there was this one a couple of blocks away from my house that must have been the original home of the landowners long before because it was a large Victorian home. I loved the look of it among all the smaller homes and I would often wonder about the people who lived there in the past and the present. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

  5. The house I grew up in was first owned by my grandparents. My mother inherited it, and my parents remodeled and added on to it. There were several older houses around it. A couple of years ago, it was torn down and some apartment buildings were built on it. The area is now almost totally apartments, since it is very close to the university. When I drive in the area now, it’s almost totally unrecognizable. Almost all of the neighboring houses are gone. It’s very surreal.

    • Oh, Winnie. I was hoping you still lived in your grandparents’ home. “Surreal” is the perfect word for what it must be like to go back there now. I suppose apartments are a good thing, especially for students, but it’s still hard when things change so much. The cottage where Amy lives (in the story) is a real place where we used to go in the summertime. Now it’s owned by a motorcycle club and it looks horrible. Nothing like the secluded, almost magical place I remember from my childhood.

      • Johnnie, my parents actually moved around 1975, because they still had young kids and with all the student apartments around, they felt it would be best to move. I was already married by then. They moved to a house a few blocks away. I wish I had taken more pictures of the neighborhood when I was younger. My grandparents also owned the entire half of the block across from us. It’s apartments and a gas station now. :( I’m sure you understand, since your cottage is so different now.

  6. I love old houses and driving through neighborhoods where each house is unique, instead of developer tract housing. There used to be a really creepy old house in my grandma’s neighborhood when I was a kid, but eventually it was demolished.

    • Heidi, you have set my thoughts on a bit of a rabbit trail. Why is it that abandoned places, houses with no life in them, are creepy? The easy answer is that they’re are dark and dirty and probably infested with yucky creatures. But it must go deeper than that. Without life, a house is dead. (I think there’s a spiritual metaphor here, too.)

  7. I don’t remember living near a home that seemed to have a story behind it. Thanks for the fun author interview and giveaway!

  8. I love old houses. It’s neat to know a story behind a house!
    I don’t have any specific stories to tell, but I still like driving past the places we used to live.

  9. We have a lot of old homes in Corinth and sometimes there are tours. You’ll have to come visit during one of the tours!

  10. Connie Saunders

    The house where we lived in the early years of our marriage and the house that was our daughter’s first home had been in my husband’s family for about 150 years. They migrated to Kentucky from Virginia and my husband’s grandmother was born there. She lived to be 94 and her death prompted the sell of the house and farm. We were unable financially to buy it and my husband has always regretted it. I can only imagine the tears that were shed, the laughter that was heard and all of the love that was shared in his family over those years!

    • I confess I turn a little green when I read stories about families living in the same home for generations. If I had written my life, that would have been my story. But God had other plans and He knows best. LOL! (Still a little green.)

  11. This is the cobblestone house I lived in from nine years old til I got married at 20. It was built in 1836. The walls are 18 ” thick. It is now a museum of the village that we lived in. My brother is on the board. My Mother remodeled it inside to look colonial. She was an antique dealer and my Dad used to drive her everywhere– to auctions and sales. She is 100 years old now and in a retirement home.

  12. I tried to put the picture but it didn’t come with the text. The picture is on the Facebook post that tell you to come to the blog!

  13. I love driving past older, large homes and wondering what their history is. My grandparents built a large brick home up on a hill when my Mom was a little girl. It seemed so grand (my Grandpa styled it after homes in Chicago). My grandparents divorced and it fell into disrepair. People mentioned how intrigued they were by the home. Luckily, someone purchased it from my Grandpa’s estate and remodeled the entire thing. It is so fun to know it is now in great condition and will last for many more generations of homeowners!

    • Hi, Laura. Those old, grand houses ARE intriguing! I love how excited you are for the future of that house. I get so caught up in the past, I don’t usually think of the future. And yet, that’s what it’s all about, right?? Parents building legacies (material ones, spiritual ones) for their children. Though actually that was the underlying theme of the first Misty Willow novel. Thanks for sharing!

  14. My Grandmother’s home (which my uncle inherited) sis in nearly the center of a small mining town at the base of of Mount Rainier. There is not on home in this town that is newer than 50 years, but most are over 100 years or more – my uncles being one of the oldest.

    • Hello Johnnie!! My comment above posted before I finished. The perils of typing with one finger on my Kindle! :) I just wanted to add that this town is one road town with a mountain on one side and creek/railway on the other. You can literally run from the moutainside to the creekside in under a minute. As a kid we, we went to my grandmother’s house every Sunday and spent the whole day there. Us kids would run around town getting penny candy at the tiny wood-floored, three aisled grocery store and catching crawdads at the creek. Almost nothing has changed in this town – the homes or that tiny grocery. It’s like it’s captured in time.

      • Hi, Terrill. I’m so sorry I somehow missed your comment. I’ve been traveling for about five of the last seven days through different time zones and my mind is a fog! LOL! I’m glad I found it though because I love the memories you shared and that nothing has changed. “It’s like it’s captured in time.” There are so few places like that anymore so this is a treasure.

  15. Yes. My grandma lived in one of the first homes in her husbands town. The home actually was his moms and the historical society wanted to know its history.

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