Writing a story with a brain damaged hero was sort of a no-brainer for me (no pun intended). I’d known for three years that this book was inevitable, but it took much longer to gather the nerve to actually put it to paper.
His Saving Grace is about Michael Ashworth, an officer in the Crimean War who suffers a brain injury and returns home a different man.
On May 9, 2011 my husband left our house to go on a bicycle ride with our dog. He’d been riding with our Labrador retriever for years, holding the leash and letting the dog run beside him. We’re not certain what exactly happened. The only one who knows the entire story is the dog—and he’s not talking.
My husband fell off his bike and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was in a coma for nine days, in Neuro ICU for eleven days and in a rehabilitation hospital for fourteen days. He had to relearn how to walk, talk, eat and dress himself.
When he returned home he was a different man.
Like Grace and Michael, John and I had to learn how to live with this injury that had dug its tentacles into every aspect of our lives. The brain injury left nothing untouched. I had suddenly and unexpectedly shed my role as a wife and shouldered the mantle of a caregiver. It was up to me to talk to the doctors, to find the best treatment and to juggle the kids, the bills—a task I’d never done before—and doctor’s appointments. There were many, many doctor’s appointments.
While I had the medical community and an entire stable of wonderful doctors, nurses and therapists in our corner, Grace did not.
And that is exactly why I decided to set my story in Victorian England. Many times I’d tried to write this story as a contemporary but the science of traumatic brain injury always seemed to float to the top and take over the story.
In Victorian times doctors were just learning about the brain. As little as we know about the brain today, Victorians knew even less and this allowed me to concentrate on the relationship between Grace and Michael, rather than Michael’s brain injury.
It was both cathartic and difficult to write this story. Reliving the emotions was painful but it also allowed me to see how far we have come in this journey.
And while I partly wrote this story to tell our story, I also wrote it to give others hope. Since May 2011 my goal has been to spread the word to those who suffer from a TBI to not give up.
We are nearly four years post-injury and like Michael and Grace, we realize the injury will never go away. This is something we will live with for the rest of our lives. And that’s another thing I wanted people to walk away with after reading this story. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that while love conquers most things, it doesn’t conquer all things—but it sure does help.
After a tremendous amount of work my husband ran his first 5k just five months after his injury. It was the proudest moment of my life.
Book 4 in the Secrets & Seduction series
Perfect for fans of Mary Balogh, Sharon Cullen’s captivating novel tells the deeply emotional tale of two devoted lovers facing the ravages of war.
For months now, Lady Grace Ashworth has mourned the death of her beloved husband—until the day a very-much-alive Michael arrives at her front door. It’s nothing less than a miracle. However, Grace soon realizes that this Michael isn’t the same man who left for the Crimean War. She’s stunned to learn that he has suffered a devastating head injury. Putting all her own desires aside, Grace resolves to devote herself to Michael’s recovery and to love him no matter what troubles may come.
Convinced that his wife is wasting her time on a broken man, Michael attempts to shield Grace from a life of inconvenience by driving her away. But Grace will have none of that. Despite every obstacle Michael throws in her path, she stubbornly soldiers on, fighting not only for their marriage but for the love they once shared. In the end, will her determination alone be enough to save Michael from the darkness that threatens to consume him?
COMING MARCH 31, 2015
Book 5 in the Secrets & Seduction Series!
Seduction abounds in Sharon Cullen’s steamy historical romance! For the Crown’s top agents, love is a hazard best avoided—until an unforgettable affair exposes their undercover hearts.
Sebastian Addison has a powerful secret. To society he is the Earl of Claybrook, the patriarch who raised his siblings after the death of their parents. But to the king, Sebastian is Britain’s top spy—a position that has taken an emotional toll on him. Contessa Gabrielle Marciano has also been living a lie, her title a cover devised by the Office of Intelligence. The femme fatale was plucked from a life of crime and prostitution and trained to restrain her passionate nature. Until she meets the earl.
For three deeply sensual days and nights, Sebastian and Gabrielle drop their masks, indulging in pleasures that seem too good to be true. Then the lovers go their separate ways. Seven months later they reunite when inside sources report that an English aristocrat has been aiding France in a plot to topple the Crown. Their objective: to find the turncoat. Their greatest challenge: to keep their wild, wounded hearts from derailing a mission of life and death.