Monday, March 4, 2024

Virtual Tour + #Giveaway: Island Detour by Maria Imbalzano @MariaImbalzano @GoddessFish

Island Detour

by Maria Imbalzano

GENRE: Contemporary Romance


Falsely accused of wrongdoing at a Princeton Prep school, Sophie Kearns accepts a temporary teaching position at an environmental school in the Florida Keys to wait out her suspension. The time away is meant to be an anxiety-free escape, but her clashes with the hot but arrogant marine biology teacher, Max Heaton, are anything but tranquil.

Max is determined to start an environmental research institute at the school, but he suspects the gorgeous new Lit teacher, who lacks even the most basic outdoor skills, is there to hinder that dream. Yet, something about her tames the demons from his past, and he can no longer ignore the fire she’s lit inside him.

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It wasn’t long enough before Max and Ben ushered Sophie to the fishing boat. She inhaled huge breaths of salt air, hoping the oxygen would perform some magic on the dull throb in her head.

I know you’re going to find this hard to believe,” she started hesitantly, “but I don’t know how to fish.”

What a surprise.” Max didn’t even bother to moderate his sarcasm.

Sophie’s scowl fell on his back as he and Ben gathered up rods and reels, a tackle box, and cartons of what she could only assume contained live bait. He had been sniping at her for days. Ever since Andy had asked her to cover for him as director. It was as if she had caused Andy’s accident intentionally, just to take over his job and keep it from Max.

She followed them onto the dock and into the boat, wishing she had brought her bottle of aspirin to dull the pain of this ill-conceived trip.

She sat on the bench, quiet as a church mouse, as Max steered the boat out toward the ocean. Her eyes betrayed her as they were drawn to the muscles in his back and shoulders, stretching and straining with each movement. His tawny, bronze skin glistened with a layer of sunscreen and ocean mist. A work of art. His jaw was square and tight, his cheekbones chiseled. Soft, wavy brown hair blew straight back from his forehead, giving her a bird’s-eye view of one very gorgeous man. Oh, so easy on the eyes. Too bad he wasn’t as easy on the nerves.

Interview with Maria Imbalzano

    Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

    I know that many books of fiction are based on real people—especially historical fiction. I happen to love that genre. We know that the author did a lot of research into the life and times of a particular person or event and wrote the dialogue without knowing what was actually said. But one book that I read recently really disappointed me because it was not historical fiction or a biography, yet it was the retelling of the life of a famous couple. The book, “Meant to Be” is by one of my favorite authors, Emily Giffin. The story is clearly about the lives of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette, although the author used different names and changed the ending. I felt cheated and thought she deceived her readers by “borrowing” their story. Maybe I’m the only one who felt like that, because the book was a New York Times best seller.

    How do you select the names of your characters?

    I generally choose names I like. I might see them in another book or hear them in a movie. If I’m stuck, I pull out the baby name book that I used when our daughters were born.

    Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

    No, but what a great idea!

    What was your hardest scene to write?

    One of the beach scenes in “Island Detour” which is mid-way through the book, was a difficult scene to write. It’s where Sophie and Max share a huge piece of themselves with each other. Since I don’t want to give anything away, I can’t say more, but the demons that have followed them to Sunrise Island are discussed and explored.

    Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

    This book, “Island Detour,” is the first of The Sunrise Island Series. While all the books in the series will be stand-alone, in which I will take a character from Sunrise Island School and tell his or her story, the same characters will be in each book. I did this for my Sworn Sisters Series where each of four girlfriends has their own story, but the other friends are in each other’s book.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

    My overall goal is to write a good story that you don’t want to put down. I want you to love (or hate) the characters so you are invested in their story. My other goal is to start the story with a flawed or misunderstood main character who changes over the course of the book because of the relationship he/she develops with the other main character. Because I plot out my books to the nth degree before I even start writing, I am able to write the characters that I set out to create. I am hopeful that I wrote a book you can’t put down—but I’ll have to wait for my readers to weigh in on that.

    What inspired you to write “Island Detour”?

    Many years ago I learned of an environmental semester abroad type program for high school students which was connected to The Lawrenceville School (a private high school in Lawrenceville, NJ). I was so intrigued that I researched it and set this story in a similar environment. I chose the Florida Keys (instead of the Bahamas where the real school is located) because I spend two weeks in Key West every year and I know and love the area.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the next books in The Sunrise Island Series or what you have planned for the future?

    There are six secondary characters who work at the Sunrise Island School and I plan to write some of their stories. Kristin and Maddie are definites. However, before I get to them, I must finalize the last book in the Sworn Sisters Series. It has been a bear to write and I have now changed the entire format to tell Denise’s before story in addition to her current story.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in “Island Detour”?

    Sophie Kearns is a Lit teacher at a private school in Princeton who is a bit buttoned-up and conservative. It is her way of fitting into the academic world that denied her a place when she applied in high school. She is collaborative by nature and is pursuing her dream of becoming the Chair of the Lit Department and eventually the Head of School. When she becomes embroiled in a scandal at the school and is suspended, she accepts a temporary job at an environmental school in the Florida Keys. But her talents do not lie in kayaking, swimming, fishing, or camping – all required activities in which the teachers must participate. Max Heaton is an expert marine biologist and outdoor enthusiast who teaches at the school. His need for control over every situation sets him apart from the other teachers and as a result, he is a bit of a loner when not working. His goal is to start a research institute at the school but he believes Sophie’s presence will thwart that dream. Sophie and Max are opposites in every way.

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

    It was a lot of fun writing the dialogue for the disagreements between Sophie and Max. Two head-strong, powerful personalities who had different goals and different life views made for some interesting arguments. One of my favorite scenes was when they had to go fishing together to provide food for the school for the week. Max is snarly and condescending and Sophie is confrontational and provoking.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Maria Imbalzano is an award-winning contemporary author who writes about strong, independent women and the men who fall in love with them. She recently retired from the practice of law, but legal issues have a way of showing up in many of her novels. When not writing, she loves to travel both abroad and in the states. Maria lives in central New Jersey with her husband--not far from her two daughters and granddaughters. For more information about her books, please visit her website at where you can also sign up for her newsletter.


Maria is a member of New Jersey Romance Writers and has received many honors and awards for her work including the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award, the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers Award, The NEST (National Excellence In Story Telling) Award, the Carolyn Award, Book Buyers Best Award, The Stiletto Reader’s Choice Award, Long & Short Reviews Book of the Month Award (3rd Place for Book of the Year), and Still Moments Magazine Reader’s Choice Award.

Connect with Maria Imbalzano

Goodreads ~ BookBub ~ Amazon

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website



$15 Amazon/BN GC 

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

We appreciate you featuring today's book and author!

Marcy Meyer said...

The cover looks great. Sounds like a story I would enjoy reading.

Maria Imbalzano said...

Thanks so much for having me on your blog and for asking some great questions.

Sherry said...

This sounds like a good book and I really like the cover.

Kim said...

I enjoyed the interview.

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a good read.

Michael Law said...

This looks like a book I will thoroughly enjoy.

Maria Imbalzano said...

Hi Sherry, Kim, Rita, and Michael: Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with the raffle.


Nancy P said...

Sounds amazing

Daniel M said...

looks like a fun one

Elaine G said...

Enjoyed reading the post. Sounds like good book

Damaris Maidana said...

I would ask the author: Any advice to new writers?

Damaris Maidana said...

I would ask the author if you plan the stories in detail before writing them or do you let them emerge as you go?

Damaris Maidana said...

I would ask the author: Have you changed any ending after writing it?

Damaris Maidana said...

I would ask the author: How long does your documentation process take?