Happy holidays! I’m Ava Miles, a new contemporary romance writer who kicked off her Dare Valley Series with NORA ROBERTS LAND a few months ago. Thanks to my lovely host for having me on to talk about the newest release, THE TOWN SQUARE, which is set in 1960 and features my own Don Draper-like character from Mad Men. Except she’s the heroine.
So how did a contemporary writer end up writing a book set just as President Kennedy takes office? Trust me, it hadn’t been in my plan, but the grandpa figure in my Dare Valley series, Arthur Hale, captured everyone’s hearts (including mine), and my readers have been begging for his story. Well, I just had to write it then.
In modern times, Arthur is a journalistic legend and helps my current heroes and heroines find their way as they fall in love. But we all wondered: who was the love of his life? He’s a widower when we meet him in present-day Dare Valley.
This is where my Mad Miss, Harriet Wentworth comes in, except like Don Draper, she’s taken an assumed name and introduces herself to Arthur as Harriet Jenkins when she applies to be his secretary. Harriet has an agenda. A newspaper article ruined her father and sullied her family name, and now she’s out for revenge on the journalist who wrote it: Arthur Hale.
Yeah, definitely a Mad Miss. She’s a redhead and is decked out in the fashion that Jackie Kennedy made famous: the pillbox hats, the pearl-buttoned gloves, the tailored suits, the big black sunglasses. You get the picture. Who doesn’t salivate over those clothes? I felt downright underdressed some days as I wrote about Harriet in my PJs.
But this is romance, right? So it can’t end like Mad Men. I love the TV show, but it isn’t a romance by any stretch of the imagination. THE TOWN SQUARE is my ode to the show if it had been set in a small town and had a happy ending.
Because of course, Harriet discovers Arthur is so much more than she thought, a man of integrity. And so incredibly smart and steamy to boot. Triple sigh.
Yet Arthur is no dummy; he’s a journalist, right? He knows there’s something mysterious about his new secretary. She stands out like a sore thumb in their small town, and well, he can’t help but look. Even if she does work for him.
But as Harriet’s agenda is actualized, darker secrets emerge, testing what she knew of herself and him. Luckily, she’s in good hands because Arthur’s integrity is there to see her through.
Is anyone else a fan of Mad Men like me? I’d love to hear if you’ve ever wanted it to have a true love story? Part of me wishes that for Don, but in the meantime, I’ll give it to Harriet.

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Ava Miles burst onto the contemporary romance scene after receiving Nora Roberts’ blessing for her use of Ms. Roberts’ name in her debut novel, NORA ROBERTS LAND, which kicked off The Dare Valley Series and brought praise from reviewers and readers alike. Much to Ava’s delight, BlogCritics says “It [NORA ROBERTS LAND] captures the best of…a Nora Roberts novel,” while USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog praises the series noting its “wonderful, idyllic setting… [and] great characters.” Ava continued The Dare Valley Series in FRENCH ROAST, which Tome Tender says “raised the entertainment bar again” and then THE GRAND OPENING, which reviewer Mary J. Gramlich says “is a continuation of love, family, and relationships.” The fourth book in the series, THE HOLIDAY SERENADE, was met with high praise, and now Ava shares her ode to the early 1960s, THE TOWN SQUARE, what she calls Mad Men in a small town with a happy ending. A descendant of generations of journalists, Ava—a writer since childhood—now lives in her own porch-swinging-friendly community with an old-fashioned Main Street lined with small businesses. Much like Dare Valley.