Blackhorse Road by Merida Johns/ Blog tour

Welcome back to Lamon Reviews. Today we are happy to be part of the blog tour hosted by Goddessfish Promotion for Blackhorse Road by Merida Johns.

We have not only an excerpt from the novel, but you can read about the author, and if you enjoyed the excerpt, you can use the provided links to get your own copy when available. You can also enter for your chance to win a $25 giftcard by clicking on the link at the end of the article.

Without further ado, let’s learn more about Merida Johns and her latest novel, Blackhorse Road.

But first, we did ask our author one question we were dying to know. And that was ‘Where does Blackhorse Road land?’

Where Does Blackhorse Road Land?

There was a robust discussion about the proper landing place of Blackhorse Road among the genres and sub-genres of fiction when my five enthusiastic beta readers came together as a focus group.
“It isn’t just a romance,” Marian ppinsisted.
“It’s self-help, but it isn’t self-help either,” Sue chimed in.
“But it’s a love story although not a bodice-ripping romance,” added Carol.
Her remark caused a howled from all of us. “Maybe it should be bodice-ripping,” I joked, which produced some raised eyebrows and nods around the table.
But the beta readers had made an important point. Determining a novel’s category is essential for many reasons, but from a practical point of view, identifying its genre helps readers find an author’s book. While novels may cross over into several genres, having a home base helps to set expectations about the story and subject matter between the book’s covers.
So, where should Blackhorse Road land?
Because of my background in women’s leadership development, there was no question that I wanted Blackhorse Road to be a story of a woman’s maturation overtime.

Blackhorse Road begins in 1966 when Luci, the protagonist, is eighteen years old and ends twenty years later in 1986. That period provides numerous opportunities for emotional growth as the protagonist hits brick walls, experiences love and loss, struggles with self-doubt, and makes some hard choices to save herself.

At the end of the beta reader discussion, there was no doubt that Blackhorse Road fit squarely in women’s fiction—a story of a woman protagonist’s journey toward a fulfilled self. That conclusion led to a preconceived viewpoint on my part about who the audience would be for Blackhorse Road—women thirty years and older. But those perceptions changed dramatically a few months later with two “ah-ha” moments.

The first came during a virtual launch party for Blackhorse Road when an audience member asked the beta readers if the book would be appropriate for younger readers. What prompted that question was the beta readers’ observation about how the lines of communication between Luci (the protagonist) and her father play a critical role in the formation of Luci’s values and belief system, and her grit to achieve autonomy.

In response to the question, one of the beta readers said that she had given the book to her seventeen-year-old granddaughter so that the two of them could read it together, and another beta reader shared that she was reading the book with her fourteen-year-old daughter. The consensus among the beta readers was that the book was appropriate for teens fifteen and older—an insight we had not discussed at the original meeting of the beta readers seven months earlier!

Okay, I said to myself. Blackhorse Road lands for women readers fifteen years and older.

But then a second ah-ha moment came roaring through like a tornado when I received a text from a fifties-something aged man. “Just finished Blackhorse Road. WOW! Very powerful. Made me cry! Great job. Let me know when you have a book signing event in my area.”

Where does Blackhorse Road Land? Well, it is a big airport, for sure!

Blackhorse Road
by Merida Johns

GENRE: Women’s fiction romance


Under another hand, Blackhorse Road could all too easily have been a singular romance. Johns provides more as she follows Luci down the rabbit hole and out the other side of life experience, bringing readers into a world where . . . transgression changes everything and challenges carefully-constructed foundations of belief and values. As Luci lets go of her lifesavers and navigates obstacles to happiness, her story becomes a vivid portrait of hope and self-examination which ultimately moves into unexpected territory. Novel readers seeking a tale that closely considers deception and forgiveness, love gained and lost, and family ties will welcome the multifaceted Blackhorse Road’s ability to come full circle in a satisfyingly unexpected way. – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

It’s the turbulent mid-1960s, and Luci, an eighteen-year-old Southern California girl, is on the quest for self-determination and new beginnings. Three powerful forces influence her values: the grit of her Irish great-grandmother, Lucinda McCormick; the philosophy of choice of her father, Sam; and the 1960s ideals of equity and altruism. But potent foes thwart Luci at every turn. Her budding romance with a handsome United States Air Force Academy cadet sets the stage for conflict and deception that last for two decades. When Luci discovers how her autonomy and her love affair were hijacked, she struggles with anger and bitterness. But from a surprising source, she finds a forgiveness path that restores her well-being and hope and, in the end, faith in herself.

Uncertain what to make of Luci’s stillness, Barry brought his head close to hers and asked, “What are you thinking?” Luci held back, still gazing ahead. She turned and drilled into Barry’s blue eyes. “I guess, using an Irish term, I could say, ‘What a bunch of malarkey!’” She drew back her lips in a saucy grin and weighed his reaction. Luci’s response was unarming but charming. Barry laughed. “No one has ever told me in such a nice way that I’m full of bullshit.” “Well, I guess there’s that!” Luci chuckled, then turned thoughtful. “Putting the ‘BS’ aside, I’d say the story is about choices, not a lovestruck fairy tale. It’s about risks and consequences and being true to your values. It’s about living who you are and not how someone else expects you to live.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:


For three decades, I was a university professor who taught classes and wrote textbooks on “nerdy” subjects centering on computer systems in healthcare.

But a decade ago, informed by my experience in a male-dominated area, I started my practice as a leadership coach to help women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential. Consequently, during the past ten years, I transitioned from writing textbooks to motivational books on creating environments where people flourish through better leadership.

About a year ago, I was on a conference call discussing concepts of what makes a fulfilling life with fellow life coaches. Bang! Like a thunderclap, I had an insight. What would it be like to help people understand the concepts of a flourishing life in a story instead of through a motivational book or text? After all, I thought, storytelling has been the most compelling form of communication for thousands of years. As far as I could recall, none of the great prophets fed up learning objectives and multiple-choice questions to their followers. No! They got their message across through stories.

Motivational books and textbooks give frameworks, theories, and ideas, but they don’t immerse us in the human experience. They don’t show us how others face challenges, embrace their passions, overcome sorrow, celebrate achievement, quash self-doubts, develop positive emotions and relationships, handle betrayal, or act on aspirations.

Storytelling ignites our imagination and emotion. We experience being part of the story rather than being served up a platter of facts, exercises, and information.

This eye-opener was enough for me to take on the challenge of novel writing. My passion is to help people catapult beyond concepts and theories and jump into the wonderment of imagination in designing a flourishing life for themselves. Storytelling does this best.

Happily, as a fiction writer, I have jettisoned learning objectives and test questions. Ah…the freedom makes me feel as light as a balloon on a summer breeze.




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  1. Thanks for hosting me and Blackhorse Road. I loved your first interview question–it got right to the point of who is the target audience. And, as in real life, perceptions that we first hold often are not correct. Many thanks for a great interview.


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