Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Scene Spotlight: UNCHAINED MEMORIES by Maria Imbalzano

 Hi Melissa:

     Thank you so much for inviting me to do a scene spotlight.

Maria, you're welcome! It's wonderful to have you here today. My new blog feature is a "Scene Spotlight" which is a more intense examination of an excerpt. It allows the reader an opportunity to hear the author's commentary, sorta like a director's cut. :-) 

To set the tone, here is the blurb for UNCHAINED MEMORIES.

As a rising medical malpractice attorney, Charlotte Taylor believes in standing up for the injured, giving them a voice, and advocating for their rights. She couldn't do it for her mother, so she does it for others, even if it means losing the love of her life.

Dr. Clayton Montgomery believes in working hard and playing even harder, until he reconnects with Charlotte. Barely noticing her crush when he tutored her ten years ago, Clay has a chance to make up for lost time when the beautiful lawyer comes back into town...until he discovers her chosen career path.

Now, philosophical differences soon become a reality and Charlotte is faced with the choice of representing a client against the hospital and against Clay. Will Charlotte give up her career and her tribute to her mother for a second chance with the man who got away?

UNCHAINED MEMORIES by Maria Imbalzano is a contemporary romance published by The Wild Rose Press in worldwide release since January 17, 2014 (340 pages)

The Scene:

Clay reached across the table and took her hand, an obvious gesture of comfort.  But that small touch sent shock waves through her system and arrows to her heart.  She pulled away.  She couldn’t let him see the effect he still had on her.  Besides, it was ridiculous.  She didn’t even know him anymore.

Her rude response unfortunately sent him in a different direction.  “The other night you said you were at your parents’ firm. At the time I didn’t realize it was a malpractice firm.  What made you get into that?”

A knot formed in her gut at the underlying censure of his words.  She hadn’t anticipated this subject coming up so soon.  As a matter of fact, she had naively hoped to side step it all night. 

“I . . .I don’t know.”  She wasn’t ready to tell him the truth. Although she wasn’t sure why.  Maybe because it would sound accusatory.

“Your parents didn’t practice that kind of law.  It seems odd you’d find yourself suing hospitals and doctors after everything Dr. Collins and others at the hospital did for you.”

 Although he was attempting to be polite, Charlotte heard the biting undercurrent.  That, and the ensuing guilt brought about by the truthfulness of his statement made her lash back in defense.

“My clients have a right to be represented, and to be represented well.  My current client is only twenty-four and paralyzed because of an error made by someone at your hospital.  She deserves to be compensated for her pain and suffering, for her loss of employment, for her future medical expenses.”  Charlotte knew her voice was getting louder with her argument and toned it down.  “I’m sure, if Dr. Gallway and the hospital were not sued, they would not voluntarily give her the money she needs to live a less than spectacular life as a quadriplegic.”

“And you think money is going to make her feel better?  Doctors are under the gun every day, dealing with life and death situations, doing the best we can.  We all took an oath to do everything in our power to heal the sick.  We’re human.  We make mistakes.  Just like everyone else.  When something like that happens to a patient, we agonize over it.”  The pain in Clay’s eyes twisted at her heart.  He was one of the good guys.  But that didn’t make her, or her client, the bad guy.

“Suing people, or institutions that act negligently, make things better for the next person.  If an anesthesiologist extended someone’s neck to intubate her and transected the cord, paralyzing her, then that victim has a right to damages.  The doctor is responsible for his actions and the hospital is responsible for them as well.”

“You make it sound so simple.”  Displeasure registered on his face.  “Did you consider that her neck could have been injured in the car accident and it wasn’t Dr. Gallway’s negligence but the driver who caused her eventual paralysis?”

She groaned.  Clay must have looked into the case.  Either way, she shouldn’t be talking about it with him.  They were on opposite sides, and he was too connected to the hospital to be an unbiased party.  

Maria explains:

In this scene, Charlotte and Clay are on a dinner date. They had recently run into each other, after a ten year hiatus, at a charitable fundraiser and their attraction is palpable. Ten years earlier, Charlotte had been an eighteen year old patient at the same hospital where Clay was an intern. She’d been in an auto accident with her parents, who both died. She was in the hospital and re-hab for six months, and a few of the doctors, Clay included, had taken her under their wing and not only helped her heal physically, but mentally.  Clay also tutored her so she would graduate with her high school class. She had a mad crush on the good doctor, but he was aware of her age and his role in her recovery and therefore, thwarted her teenage advances. 

Dinner starts out perfectly. They are at a romantic restaurant and Clay is attentive and flirty.  They learn that neither is in a relationship and their bond from years ago strengthens with their time together. But then the floor drops out when Clay challenges Charlotte over her career choice. How could she sue doctors and hospitals after all he and others at the hospital had done for her ten years earlier? 

This scene highlights the external conflict between the hero and heroine. Their chosen careers will never meld, and as a result, their romantic connection may not survive. Charlotte had high hopes for this evening.  Although she kept advising herself this was not a date, just two old friends getting together, her heart refused to cooperate.  She had anticipated a flirty, fun, romantic dinner where the two of them could reconnect and possibly move onto something more than friendship. But before long, Clay raised the issue of her career choice and she gets very defensive as well as vocal about the benefits of medical malpractice cases.

Clay argues the counter-point, and their initial bond is stretched and frayed. “Their swords had been drawn, and it would take a miracle to get them back in their sheaths.”

Beneath their external conflict is their simmering lust, and both of them yearn to find a way to put their philosophical differences aside. But the night ends on a cautious note, and neither knows whether they will see each other again.

About Charlotte and Clay: Both Charlotte and Clay are workaholics who have devoted their life and passion to their careers. With regard to personality traits, Clay is driven compassionate and family-oriented but he thinks providing funds to his siblings to complete their education is comparable to sharing time with them. He also does not believe he can commit to someone in a relationship because his career takes precedence.  Charlotte is also driven and compassionate regarding her clients, but she is not family oriented, having lost her parents in an accident. She has built a wall between her and her sister, her only surviving relative, because she believes her sister should have been there for her when their parents died and Charlotte was in the hospital.  Instead, her sister stayed at college and didn’t deal with the aftermath of the accident. Charlotte’s and Clay’ s flaws give rise to the internal conflicts each are struggling with. 

Imaged hosted on
When I was writing Unchained Memories, Clay took on the features of Patrick Dempsey from Grey’s Anatomy.  Although definitely taller than Patrick, Clay has that rumpled look from being overworked and not concerned about his appearance.  His hair is finger-combed, his face not always shaved, his clothing mostly scrubs (except that he wears a designer suit and tie when he meets Charlotte for dinner in the above scene) but he’s always gorgeous.  
Image hosted on
Charlotte looks a bit like Jennifer Garner – long, chestnut-colored hair, dazzling smile and crystal blue eyes.

          Don’t they look great together?

To purchase UNCHAINED MEMORIES, you can go to:

Maria Imbalzano is a matrimonial lawyer in central New Jersey where she not only uses her law degree to navigate her clients through the court system, but her psychology degree to guide them through their personal struggles. While writing motions, legal memoranda, and briefs is fascinating, it pales in comparison to creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys.

In addition to practicing law and writing fiction, Maria enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters either at home or at the Jersey Shore.

For more information, you can go to my website at

Please send in your comments for a chance to win an ebook of UNCHAINED MEMORIES. If you decide to comment, I'd love to know which celebrities you'd choose to play Charlotte and Clay in the movie.


  1. I enjoyed reading the background on this scene and also liked Unchained Memories. Congrats on your book release!

    1. Thanks Ashantay. I had a question at the end of the blog, but it didn't make it into the post. I wanted to know what celebrities you would choose to play Charlotte and Clay.

  2. Hi Maria,
    Thank you so much for being my guest today. I'm reading your comment and going--Gak. Did I cut something out? I'm so sorry!

    1. Hi Melissa; Not a problem. Thanks for having me.

  3. Sounds like an great story with lots of good conflict. Good luck with your release!

  4. Great post. Trying to get caught up on all my new TWRP friends/authors. Finding it interesting on the ways to promote. Your idea of posting excerpts is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Debra Jupe is the winner of the ebook, Unchained Memories. Thanks for stopping by. Debra, I am tryinbg to find your email address but have been unsuccessful. I will keep trying.

    1. Maria,
      I left a comment on Debra's blog. Hopefully, she'll email me and I'll be able to help you two connect.