The Romance Novelist, His Muse and a ‘Healing’ Plot Twist

When Kimberlee Stevenson married John Murray on April 30, 2021, “we thought the worst was behind us,” Mr. Murray said. “We were ready to start our lives together.”

“We had both been through so much,” Ms. Stevenson said.

And for the first six months, life was indeed good.

The two first connected in March 2016, when Ms. Stevenson picked up one of Mr. Murray’s books, “Until I Saw Your Smile” at her library in Chesapeake, Va. Mr. Murray is the author of more than 40 romance novels, and Ms. Stevenson is a fan of the genre.

Their commonality ended there.

Ms. Stevenson, now 41, had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 2½, and raised by her mother, and at the time, was single and did not have children. Mr. Murray, now 60, was 18 years older, divorced, had two sons from that marriage — Jontae, 25, and Joshua, 29 — and was convinced he would never marry again.

After reading his book in three days, Ms. Stevenson friended Mr. Murray on Facebook, but the communication ended there.

Ms. Stevenson holds the book that brought the couple together. In 2016, she picked up the romance novel by Mr. Murray, whom she would go on to marry, at her local library.Credit…Kristen Zeis for The New York Times
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