5-18 Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Sheryl Lister's LOVE'S SERENADE: For the Jazz Lover in You

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance

Note: Love’s Serenade is the third book in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010.  Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page,

The 1920s signaled a time when women embraced new freedoms, aside from conventional roles in the home. The number of working women increased, dress hems rose and arms were left bare. My heroine, Leigh Jones is one such woman. Born from my imagination (okay, and maybe a little from the fact that I love to sing), she escapes an arranged marriage and flees her southern hometown for Harlem's vibrant jazz scene in pursuit of her dream to become a singer. Leigh possesses just enough sass and the determination to turn her aspirations into a reality.

The hero is a different story. Anyone who knows me well knows that my favorite musical artist is Will Downing (oh, that voice). He has a song that talks about a man leaving a woman whom he loves. Of course, I asked Will why the man was leaving if he loved her and would never find another love like theirs. He told me the man was a musician with restless feet. Being the romantic at heart that I am, I said he needed a happily-ever-after. Will’s response: write it. Can you see me smiling? Meet the hero, Miles Cooper. Though he isn’t one for putting down roots or staying in one place for longer than a season, memories of Leigh's sultry voice, beauty and sass make him long for the life and love he forfeited. Having walked away once, but never again, Miles sets out to prove he’s a changed man. And I have the privilege of sharing their story in the backdrop of one of my favorite subjects—music.

I. Love. Jazz. From the fast-paced infectious rhythm of ragtime and swing that has me up on my feet and the mid tempo fusion of jazz and blues that makes me bob my head, to the slow, sensual wail of a saxophone that has me longing to cuddle with my husband, I love it all. So, it’s no wonder when I was asked to participate in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance project that I chose Harlem 1920s. During that time, Harlem rose as a focal point for this new sound and helped create a shift in African American culture. Jazz broke the rules of music by favoring improvisation over composition. What moves me is the sound. In all its elements, jazz is about the freedom of expression, telling the authentic story of our life’s journey through slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow and beyond. Just like no one person’s journey is the same, each piece of music has its own fingerprint. The same can be said about the hero and heroine. Both tell their stories, Leigh from the lyrics she belts out from her soul, and Miles from the notes he plays as his fingers float over the piano keys. But it’s the melody that they create together—the music of their hearts—they have to find. I enjoyed writing their story and hope you’ll enjoy it as well. 

Pre-order Love's Serenade here,

Sheryl Lister writes sweet, sensual contemporary romance. When she’s not writing, Sheryl can be found on a date with her husband or in the kitchen creating appetizers. For more information, visit her website at

Instagram:  sheryllister


Maggie Lynch said...

I love Jazz too, Sheryl. The way you describe it takes me back to a visit to Chicago in the mid 1980's for business. I was there two weeks and on the last night after all the business projects were done, I went out all night with friends to the amazing Jazz clubs. Even after crawling into bed at 3am, I was still singing in my head.

As I don't know Will Downing, you really need to give us a link so we can hear the voice you love. Your story sounds amazing. I must check it out.

Judith Ashley said...

Sheryl, I'm not into music but your post is music in and of itself. Thank you for sharing how "Love's Serenade" came to be. Leigh and Miles certainly earned their HEA!