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New book from New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross

Set on the Olympic Peninsula with Gold Star spouse main character

The cover of JoAnn Ross’ new book, Herons Landing. Photo provided by Joann Ross

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Local New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross' new book, Herons Landing, will be available May 22. This is the first novel in her new Honeymoon Harbor series; the title comes from the Great Blue Herons that nest in a tree near the home (called Herons Landing). The novel is set on the Olympic Peninsula in the fictitious town of Honeymoon Harbor. In a unique twist, the Gold Star spouse main character is Seth Harper, and the novel shows the experience of loss from a male perspective. 

Ross shares how her experiences living close to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, meeting military members and their families, and her volunteer work were the inspiration for two characters in her latest book.

One of your main characters, Seth's wife Zoe, was killed in battle. Can you tell our readers a little bit about this? 

Seth Harper is a civilian. When Herons Landing opens, he is spending a spring Sunday afternoon detailing his Army nurse wife's Rallye Red Honda Civic, getting it ready for her return home from Kabul in two weeks, when two notification officers arrive to tell him that his wife has been killed by a suicide bomber. Before she deployed, Zoe was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which I used partly because I drive past it, and I also (because I) run into soldiers and their families in grocery stores and restaurants all the time, so we think of it as "our base." It also allowed her to visit their families on the Olympic Peninsula, where she would be returning when her tour was up.  

How did you come up with the idea to have the wife be the servicemember who was killed?

From early in the Iraq War, I belonged to two national volunteer groups that made cards for deployed troops to send back home to family members and loved ones. Every few weeks, we'd have an assignment to make cards for men who were waiting at home, which made me wonder how a civilian husband would feel having his wife in danger. And worse, killed. Seth, needless to say, struggles with a great deal of survivor guilt before he receives his well-deserved happy ending.  

How has the Olympic Peninsula inspired the Victorian home, Herons Landing, and the town of Honeymoon Harbor? While your settings are fictional, are there any iconic Olympic Peninsula sites like Olympic National Park featured in your novel? 

I've always believed setting is another character in any book, and since we love the spectacular Olympic Peninsula, which has the coast, the mountains, the lakes, waterfalls, rain forest, and harbors reachable by Washington's iconic ferries, it seemed a perfect place for this new series. The peninsula also has some wonderful historic Victorian buildings, which let me have Seth and Brianna Mannion (who was a best friend to both Seth and Zoe) restore Herons Landing. In this book, Seth drives Zoe's car up to Hurricane Ridge every Sunday to keep it in condition while she's gone, and he believes that his weekly trips are a secret to everyone but the ranger at the entrance. But, of course, being a small town, everyone knows about them. He and Zoe were married at Lake Crescent's Moments in Time Meadow.

Herons Landing, A Honeymoon Harbor Novel, will be released May 22.  It is currently available for order on and

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