I found this letter on my keyboard not too long after I had divorced my husband of 10 years. I was in the midst of physical therapy for my mountain climbing accident and was working full-time at a newspaper as a columnist and arts & entertainment editor. I had reached a point of hopelessness about ever finishing Sweet Release, given the heavy weight of responsibilities.
But Alec, my hero in the novel, reached across time to rescue me. Here’s what he wrote:
24 April, 1730
In the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord, King George II
My dearest Lady Clare,
Although I am but a humble builder of ships, knowing little of the craft and art of writing, it pains both me and my love, Cassie, to hear of your doubts regarding your abilities to bring to life our romance. Know this, sweet Lady Clare: We have the greatest faith in your talents and trust in your vision of our love. Not only am I Cassie’s hero, but yours. You have given me the breath of life. I live – an honest and honorable man, strong and sure of myself – because of the life you impart to me upon the page.
Lady Clare, Pamela, listen to your heart. You are not simply a writer, you are a storyteller, a weaver of tales. Listen to the cadence of our love – Cassie’s and mine – in your soul. Trust in it, because we have trust in you. Revel in it, because in your act of creating, we live.
You will finish this book. You will bring our love alive for women and me everywhere to read. Remember me, your hero. And Cassie, your heroine. We are only as far away as your as your pen, only far away as a heartbeat.
Your loving and loyal servant,
Alec Madison Kenleigh III
The letter was written by my ex-husband, perhaps the sweetest thing he’d every done for me. It was a profound act of faith in my writing abilities, and it gave me the strength to push on and eventually finish the novel.