Today we welcome Tess Thompson back to Romancing the Book as she celebrates the release of her newest novel, Riverstar. Before we get to her top five post, let’s learn a little more about her.
Tess Thompson is a novelist and playwright with a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. In 2011, she released her first novel, Riversong, which subsequently became a bestseller.
Like the characters in Riverstar, Tess is from a small town in Oregon. She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters, Emerson and Ella. She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window.
Top Five Places to visit in Oregon
I could never narrow places in Oregon to only five so I’ve decided to only discuss locations mentioned in my novels.
My River Valley novels (Riversong, Riverbend and Riverstar) are set in the fictional town of River Valley, Oregon. Although I grew up in Cave Junction, famous for being the gateway to the Oregon Caves and marijuana production, River Valley is actually a compilation of all the small towns of Oregon. As Lee Tucker says in Riversong, “All small towns in Oregon are the same. They all have Dairy Queens.” That said, the landscape of the River Valley novels are all taken from real places, including the Redwoods, which is actually in northern California.
Caramel and Magnolias is set in a fictional town on the northern coast of Oregon. Again, the town is made up, but the terrain is real.
So, without further ado, here is my ‘must see’ list of Oregon.
- The California Redwoods. The Redwood Highway takes you from Grants Pass all the way to the California coast. Between the Oregon border and the coast are the Redwoods. The size of these giant Redwoods is unimaginable.
- Cannon Beach, Oregon. It is a quaint and sweet little tourist town (what the gang of misfits in the River Valley Collections dreams of for their town) with candy, ice cream, and kite shops and some of the finest restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. The beach has the famous Haystack Rock and miles of sand to walk or jog. My favorite place to stay is the Cannon Beach Lodge. All the rooms look right out to the beach and smell of the wood-burning fireplaces in the lobby and library/game room. Every morning in the common area there is a huge complimentary breakfast, including the best apple/caramel pie I’ve ever eaten. Also, my favorite bookstore, Cannon Beach Books, is right in the middle of town. As an aside, the fictional town of Legley Bay in Caramel and Magnolias is set south of Cannon Beach but is more like some of the towns on the central or southern Oregon coast.
- Six Mile on the Illinois River. This river spot is in the opening scene of Riversong, where Lee attends her high school senior party. I just recently took my children there. They agreed it is the best river spot in the world. I know, this is a bold statement, but if you go there, you’ll agree with us!
- The Hellgate Boat Excursion on the Rogue River in Grants Pass, Oregon. A jet boat takes you down the Rogue River all the way to the coastal town of Gold Beach and back again. On the way you’ll go through spots on the river you can only see by boat, including the Hellgate Canyon, featured in several movies.
- Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon. I actually have an entire scene about Peter Ball (main character in Caramel and Magnolias) in this famous bookstore that I cut from the final version. It didn’t move the plot along and was a flashback but I was so very fond of it. He sits in the stacks of the literature section and kisses his high school girlfriend. But I digress…anyway, this is an enormous bookstore with every book you could ever want. Imagine rows and rows of books in every category – you can literally get lost in there for days.
Here’s an excerpt from Riverstar to whet your appetite:
Like she’d just been wrapped in a soft blanket, she went warm with pleasure. Have the courage to tell the truth, she instructed herself. “Ben, I’m finished with Graham. Have been since the moment I went back to Los Angeles. The truth is, you got under my skin. Big time. And I’m sorry for how we left things. It was my fault. Totally my fault. I was confused and, well, it was just bad timing. I’d love to try again.” She paused, watching the bubbles in his glass of champagne. Even his hands were sexy: close cropped nails, thin tufts of dark blond hair on his wrists and knuckles. She shivered, remembering the way he’d moved his hands over her body, the way he’d gripped her hips, how lightly he’d touched her breasts. “I’m going to be here. Working on the film. We could start over.” She moved her gaze to his face, hoping to see a clue to his thoughts, but he was looking toward the house with the same veiled look in his green eyes. “There was a real connection between us. Right? You felt it too?”
“I did.” His voice was muffled, subdued. “Like nothing I’d felt before.”
She filled with hope. Perhaps there was a chance. Annie was right. Just be open, tell him the truth. “I haven’t stopped thinking about you.”
He met her gaze then, reaching out and touching her bare arm with the tips of his fingers. There it was, the undeniable spark, like something alive between them. “I haven’t stopped thinking about you either.” He withdrew his hand, looking up at the sky and then back at her. “But Bella, you’re bad news—a heartbreak waiting to happen. And I can’t go through another one. I won’t survive.”
“Because of what happened with your fiancé?”
“Yes.” He rolled his glass between his hands and spoke as if relaying someone else’s story instead of his own. “I was engaged to her for three years. A week before the wedding I found out she was in love with my cousin, who was like a brother to me. We grew up together. Close. It wrecked my world. I couldn’t function. Almost lost my job. If it hadn’t been for your brother’s grace I would’ve. I cannot possibly go through something like that again. I had a little taste of it that morning you left. Took me weeks to get past it and start breathing again. So, no, Bella. Just no.”