Come Visit The Heart of the Ozarks....

From the desk of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy……

            I live in the Ozarks, a region which remains unknown to many.  Those who have discovered the true beauty of our rugged hills, our quiet woodlands, our clear streams and our lovely lakes return for more.  Many, however, know little more about the area than what they saw on The Beverly Hillbillies, a vintage comedy television program from the past or comic strips like the classic Lil Abner.  I often write my novels with an Ozarks setting and my latest, Heart of the Ozarks is included.  The inspiration owes a lot to my grandparents, especially my Pop who found his way into these hills back in the 1920’s along with a few notables like Al Capone. He loved the scenery, liked the slower pace, and he brought my grandmother to the Ozarks even before they married.  For the rest of his life, they made an annual pilgrimage to a favorite resort on the shores of Lake Taneycomo.  And sometimes they brought along their granddaughter.

Long before I moved to the Ozarks, I visited here and dreamed.  Another of my dreams as a child – in addition to longing to become an author one day and write books – was to make movies.  In fact, my cousin and co-conspirator joined me in dreams of making a movie production.  Before our teens and into them, we plotted how we could use my mother’s movie camera to make our own production but we never did.  For one thing, she never would turn us loose with the camera.  Since it was before the days of hand held video cameras and phones like my Blackberry which can film, our dream went unfilled.

But thanks to modern technology, I can and do make book trailers with a little (well, sometimes a lot) of technical help from my two teens.  I think they keep improving and Heart of the Ozarks book trailer is probably our best effort yet.

Enjoy the video with scenes from the Ozarks…and how about a little excerpt from the novel:

After St. Louis TV weathercaster Cole Celinksi loses his almost estranged wife and three children in a car crash, his boss orders him to take a leave of absence.  Against his will, Cole leaves the city in late May to find the rest and relaxation everyone else thinks he needs. Without anywhere else to go, Cole heads for Lake Dreams, a resort on the quiet side of Lake Taneycomo in the Ozarks he visited each summer as a child with his grandparents.  Some of his best memories were made in the lakeside vacation haven with his summer friend, Maggie.

Upon his arrival, Cole learns Maggie now runs the place.  Twenty years have passed but from the minute he returns, they reconnect and soon their mutual attraction ignites.  He fishes in the lake, takes Maggie to visit some of the places he remembers and begins to find out who he truly is. Before he can heal, he must learn to deal with his loss and to see if he can create a new family with Maggie and her children. It’s a task he’s not sure he can handle but if he wants to be with Maggie, he must. A near tragedy brings them all together into a close knit unit and afterward, Cole may be able to make his dreams reality.

Heart of the Ozarks “kiss” excerpt

 Cole’d almost forgotten how pleasant kissing a woman he cared about could be until he kissed Maggie.

            Her lips yielded to his unexpected kiss, warm and silky beneath his mouth.  Something sparked between them, old and familiar but new too.  The kiss kindled desire, his want surging strong and rich through Cole’s body and with it, he felt renewed.  Fiery electricity danced through his nervous system, tingling and reviving him.  When Maggie touched him and placed her hands on his body she stirred the embers almost faded in the ashes of his soul.  His living force within soared, catching fire with a whoosh rocketing from his feet to his head.  

            Cole didn’t think, just experienced.  He inhaled the essence of her shampoo, caught a whiff of her perfume, and tasted lingering coffee on her lips.  Her slender body shifted so she stood so close a thin sheet of paper couldn’t pass between them and warmth filled the space. His years, the months of tragic induced agony, the maturity of his third decade, more than halfway to his fourth melted like candy in the rain until Cole felt the wild, heady intoxication of youth.  A carnal yearning rose in him like a wild animal’s need to mate and yet something else tempered, a caring sense of connection.  He wanted to ravish her and yet nurture her, all at once.  He ached to use her like a whore and own her but deeper, Cole longed to become one with her, to twine not just bodies but merge souls.

            He deepened the kiss until his tongue worked into her mouth and Maggie moved the rest of the way until her breasts rubbed his chest.  She made a soft little mew of pleasure and he knew he could have her, take her there on the living room couch, her body supported against the pillows she’d chosen at Wal-Mart or JC Penney’s.   He didn’t doubt it and because he knew, he didn’t.  Cole let the kiss wind down, slow and easy.  He allowed one of his hands to crawl from her back to fondle her full breasts with a gentle caress.  He almost lost control again when she arched her back like a satisfied kitten but he eased back to normal, his breath a little quick and grinned at her.  Maggie smiled back with an unfocused gaze.  She looked the way he felt when he came out of a movie he’d really gotten involved with, dreamy until he walked into the sunlight and a jolt of reality.

            “Oh, Cole,” she breathed, her tone filled with appreciation and what he thought might be affection.


  1. Since it was before the days of hand held video cameras and phones like my Blackberry which can film, our dream went unfilled.


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