New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper alternates between writing contemporary suspense and historical novels. But in FORBIDDEN GROUND, book #2 in her new contemporary trilogy, she has managed to combine her love of the intriguing past with fast-paced, modern-day action. THE BIG THRILL caught up with her between publicity gigs—a speech at the Ohio Librarians Conference and the annual Buckeye Book Fair.
Can you tell us about your new book?
FORBIDDEN GROUND is the middle novel in THE COLD CREEK TRILOGY, set on the edge of Appalachia. Three sisters left their small town for “bigger lives,” but are drawn back—and each faces danger and death—and finds a local man to love. In FORBIDDEN GROUND, Kate Lockwood thinks she’s only in town for her sister’s wedding, but soon becomes embroiled in a mystery: What is in the ancient Adena tomb in the backyard of Grant Mason’s house? Kate, an archeologist is dying to excavate the tomb to see if it contains royal corpses and valuable relics, but Grant insists, “Let the dead stay dead.” Though she’s falling for him, she fears she can’t trust him—but he’s not the only one hiding deadly secrets.
So in the trilogy, Kate takes center stage in the middle book and her sisters in SHATTERED SECRETS and BROKEN BONDS?
That’s right. The three women are very different. Kate’s the bright, educated, well-traveled one. Charlene in BROKEN BONDS is the ‘bleeding heart’ who wants to help the poor children of Appalachia. The youngest, Tess, is the one with the traumatic past who bring the three sisters together in the little town they thought they had fled forever.
But ancient tombs in Appalachian Ohio? What a combination!
That’s what I thought too. After sixty novels published, why hadn’t I thought of using the prehistoric Adena Indian culture before? Their burial mounds are scattered from the U.S. east coat to the Mississippi, but many are in central and southern Ohio near where I went to college and live now.
Sandy Samerad’s writing brings a wonderful mix of steamy romantic prose, excitement, and a strong journalistic craft. In her latest novel, A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES, she has Carrie Sue Justice fighting for justice and risking her (and her best friend’s) life in the process. Amid the tension, she is also embroiled in a love affair with a guilt-ridden man, her former boss, who’s none other than the owner of the town newspaper.
Semerad’s own journalistic background—as reporter, writer, and editor—shines through in her latest page-turner, and the author graciously agreed to answer a few questions for THE BIG THRILL.
Tell us about A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES.
The story begins in present day, with Carrie Sue Justice finding her diary. She was once a young and passionate newspaper reporter, investigating a shooting death in South Atlanta in 1986. Three black teenagers have been arrested for killing a white teen. Her life was in turmoil. She caught her husband with another woman inside the antebellum home she inherited from her parents. On the rebound, she fell in love with an unavailable man plagued with guilt. The man was none other than the irresistible owner of the Southern Journal where Carrie Sue worked.
As they began a steamy love affair, Carrie Sue discovered one of the black teens was wrongly accused. Determined to help prove his innocence, she endangered her life and the life of her best friend.
Do you sometimes add life experiences into your writing?
Yes, definitely. A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES is based on a murder trial I covered as a news reporter. The love story is fiction, but the characters share backstories and traits of people I’ve known.
By Amy Lignor
With every novel this author pens, fans receive a never-ending supply of “hunky heroes and kick-butt heroines.” The works gifted with a plethora of storylines that include thrills, suspense, action, romance, and the paranormal. The “teams” are unforgettable; from their ability to save the day and fight evil, to the hot and heavy relationships that make the heart race out of control, Paige Tyler has carved her own unique niche—a niche that covers a variety of genres, creating a master blend of everything a reader craves.
The X-OPS series has fans intrigued and excited. Is there a set plan as to how many there will be?
For all those readers out there, you’re going to squeal over this answer. Essentially, the way I set up the overarching storyline for the Department of Covert Operations with the intrigue and backstabbing—and the myriad of subplots and endless cast of secondary characters—I don’t intend for this series to end.
Currently, I have the first ten books outlined, with basic conceptual material for at least another dozen or so. While each story spotlights a primary team, I also work really hard to weave in extra characters and plots to utilize in future books. There’s also that larger drama developing, with the DCO operatives fearing that they’re working for an organization which might be even more evil than the bad guys they go after. I think readers are going to love having the X-OPS series around for a long time to come!
Were you a personal fan of romantic suspense before beginning your writing journey? If so were there any authors that stood out for you?
I always read romantic suspense, but it wasn’t something I went out of my way to look forat the bookstore. Suzanne Brockman and her Troubleshooter series are incredible; I read those books like I was an addict. Her formula of multiple characters and subplots became a how-to for me as I began X-OPS.
L.R. Nicolello packs a 1-2-3 punch with DEAD DON’T LIE, her debut novel featuring Detective Evelyn Davis, a profiler for the Seattle P.D. In this exciting debut, Evelyn is helping track down a serial killer who turns out to have an interest in Evelyn herself.
As for Nicolello, she’s wonderful! She has this vibrant, excitability to her that can only bring a smile to your face. She’s spirited and dedicated and I think it’s those two qualities that (along with her talent) have helped her over the years. Also, her love of all things suspense definitely adds to her craft.
Nicolello answered some questions for THE BIG THRILL.
When did you start writing? Why?
After an English assignment in fourth grade where we wrote and bound our own books (which I still have) I came home and told my parents I wanted to be an author. I dabbled with writing for a long time but didn’t get serious until 2010. I wrote my first novel, queried it and received requests for multiple fulls, but ultimately it never got picked up. Looking back now I know I basically did everything you’re not supposed to do. As heartbreaking as it was for me to get so close it really helped to solidify that, yes, in fact, I did want this dream. After regrouping, and getting over that royal flop, I sat down and wrote my second novel, DEAD DON’T LIE.
Tell us more about DEAD DON’T LIE.
DEAD DON’T LIE is a romantic suspense featuring Detective Evelyn Davis, the best psychological profiler in the Seattle P.D., whose talent comes from heartbreaking experience. After two local families are wiped out, Evelyn believes a serial killer is at work. With each new discovery, the case becomes more personal and Evelyn starts to suspect the families aren’t the killer’s ultimate target—she is.
THE BIG THRILL caught up with New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper while she was reading the edited copy of the third book in her new suspense trilogy, The Cold Creek Novels. She was kind enough to answer some questions about the trilogy launch book, SHATTERED SECRETS, (Sept.) to be followed closely by FORBIDDEN GROUND (Nov.) and BROKEN BONDS (Jan.). She admits that she’s familiar with this interview format because she’s usually on the other end, asking ITW authors about their new books for THE BIG THRILL.
What is your novel about? It obviously sets up the next two books in the trilogy.
SHATTERED SECRETS focuses on the youngest of three sisters, but it is Tess’s life which shattered the entire family. She was abducted from the cornfield behind their house when she was young, and later, somehow, escaped her captor. Traumatized, drugged, she recalled nothing of her ordeal. Now as an adult, she’s back in Cold Creek to sell the old family home. But when another child is taken in much the same way, Tess is forced to face her buried memories to help the sheriff try to save a life—because two other abducted girls have never come back.
This is the third trilogy you have written. Does that three-book format suit your style?
I have written a nine-book series The Queen Elizabeth I Mysteries, but I prefer the three-book format, which I think of as a mini-series. It lets the reader spend time with the characters and the setting and gives me time to develop plot and people. However, my trilogies always have a new hero/heroine in each book, because I think that keeps things fresh. In The Cold Creek Novels, the main characters are three very different sisters. Each is impacted by and helps to solve a terrible crime with the help of a man she hopes she can trust. The same small town/ Appalachian setting helps to tie the stories together.
Shiloh Walker has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember. She put pen to paper as early as third grade and has never looked back. The author of more than one-hundred books and short stories, she sold her first book in 2002 to Ellora’s Cave when electronic publishing was in its infancy. Romance and urban fantasy are her chosen genres, and she has written many popular series in both.
SWEETER THAN SIN is the riveting second book in the Secrets and Shadow series and takes place in the small town of Madison, Indiana. There is an ugly history in this fictionalized version of Madison: a group of prominent men have established a secret society to carry out their abuse of their young sons. The society has been disbanded and the men brought to justice, but when a series of murders are committed, suspicions arise that the heinous society has resurfaced. Adam, the town lothario, is forced to face his own demons when a woman from his past returns to town and they work together to solve the murders and the secrecy behind them.
Shiloh Walker recently talked to THE BIG THRILL about her newest book and her writing life.
What inspired the Secrets and Shadows Series?
A small town. Nothing particular about that small town except for the fact that I’m drawn to small towns…I love them. But then I’m always looking for weird things. People are going to start putting up roadblocks when they see me coming because I do bad things when I visit small towns.
What research did you need to do for SWEETER THAN SIN?
Does it count if I say I visited the town a few times and drank wine from the local winery? I also read some articles but I can’t go into detail about that without spoiling things.
By Cathy Clamp
Nick Donovan gave up his Black Ops life for a more satisfying role with AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men working under the radar of most governments, helping people with nowhere else to turn. Unfortunately, just saying you’ve left the life of an operative behind doesn’t mean your enemies won’t keep coming after you . . . or your family. When a drug cartel decides to use his sister-in-law as a hostage to bend Nick to their will, they wind up abducting the housesitter instead. One minute Jennifer Grayson is minding her best friend’s house, and the next she’s abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?
THE BIG THRILL contributing editor Cathy Clamp sat down with the author at the Romance Writers of America conference to ask her more about her intriguing ‘mistaken identity’ thriller.
AEGIS is an interesting band of ex-military working in the private sector. What gave you the idea for the group?
That’s actually an interesting story. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and has had a series of tutors to help him with his schooling. One of his tutors was ex-DEA who worked for a private security company before starting to work with special needs kids. Talking about his past experiences when he visited our home was fascinating and I started doing research on the concept.
Research is always a strong element in thrillers. You use foreign locales in both this book and the first book in the series, HARD TARGET. Did you visit the areas to experience those little details that make the book read so authentic?
Not yet, but I hope to someday. I watched a ton of videos and read blogs from ex-pats who lived in the region to get some of the finer details down. Travel videos tend to show the highlights of a town, but not the mundane things. I wanted to put in that sort of detail because it’s what I like to see when I read books. I get lost in research. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing.
By Cathy Clamp
Brilliant kids around the country begin disappearing, and Search and Rescue pilot Deb Lansing’s sister Ashley is one of them. She trusts only one other person to help her rescue the brilliant teenager—Gabe Montgomery, a former SWAT officer on covert assignment. As bodies start to turn up, Deb and Gabe discover that the one common element is the video game Point of Entry, a game Ashley frequently played. The clock is ticking as a brilliant serial killer known only as The Warden turns his attention on Deb and Gabe. Can they save Deb’s sister, or will they even be able to save themselves?
THE BIG THRILL’s contributing editor Cathy Clamp sat down with the author to learn more about this new thriller:
This is the third book in the Montgomery Justice series. What inspired you to create the reality?
Montgomery Justice actually started with a single character who wasn’t even a Montgomery. My first novel, IN HER SIGHTS, features a female SWAT Team Sniper, Jazz Parker. While attending a SWAT Team presentation at a writer’s conference one of the attendees asked if women could be considered for positions. The SWAT Team Commander indicated that there were no rules against it, but the applicant would have to pass all the physical tests. From there, Jazz was born: a female sniper. Her motivations were key to the story, and she ended up being someone who was utterly alone in the world.
I needed conflict with the hero, so Luke Montgomery came into being. An ex-Army Ranger from a big, boisterous family he could always count on. As I explored their world, I realized that though they stood side-by-side through everything, all was not perfect. From there, the Montgomery Clan was born. They won’t stop until justice is done!
Arlene Kay, author of such hits as DIE LAUGHING and INTRUSION, follows up with the newest novel in her Boston Uncommons series, MANTRAP. The novelfollows the ever-popular, romantically linked characters Eja and Demming, who must prove the fatal crash of a munitions heir was not a tragic accident but murder most foul.
For those of you unfamiliar with Kay, she has two graduate degrees, one in constitutional law and one in political science. She then ended up becoming a senior executive with the federal government, where she was known as an unconventional public servant. Kay enjoyed her twenty years there and rejoiced in the unintentional humor that surrounded her. She left government work to move to Cape Cod and craft clever, entertaining mysteries filled with mayhem and a pinch of romance. Like MANTRAP, available online and in stores.
Tell us about MANTRAP.
MANTRAP, the second in the Boston Uncommons series, blends mystery with a dollop of romantic suspense, and a whopping dose of luxury. The setting is lush, a beautiful Cape Cod village shaken by the tragic death of Dario Peters, heir to a vast fortune. His grieving grandmother insists Dario was murdered and persuades my amateur sleuths Eja Kane and Deming Swann to prove it. They soon discover that Dario was a thoroughly unpleasant chap (the Brits would call him a bounder), loathed by the locals, and feared by his adversaries. In fact his character, or lack thereof, is key to understanding his death. Along the way the issue of law versus justice constantly looms. One final point—the banter between Deming and Eja has been likened to the vibe between Nick and Nora Charles, or Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.
Do you have a favourite supporting character in MANTRAP?
Anika Swann, Eja’s prospective mother-in-law and Deming’s mom, confounds all those stereotypes about women of a certain age. She’s bright, beautiful, brave, and totally supportive of Eja. No evil troll hoping to supplant her son’s fiancée. No sir! Anika is a strong presence, and co-conspirator in all four books in the series.
Teri Anne Stanley’s debut novel, DEADLY CHEMISTRY, just released and USA Today bestselling author Ruthie Knox notes that “[w]ith fast-paced, clever writing, strong heroines, and to-die-for heroes, Teri Anne Stanley is definitely one to watch!”
In DEADLY CHEMISTRY, former undercover cop Mike Gibson has been laying low, working as a maintenance man to put his troubled younger brother through college. But when a beautiful scientist enlists Mike’s help to repair the damage done to her lab by a group of vandals, Mike finds that his, and his brother’s pasts, are about to be brought to light. Laura Kane was happy having a secret crush on the hot maintenance man at Tucker University, but when the drug she was studying is stolen, Laura has a chance to get to know Mike in person. The problem is, he seems to know more about what’s going on than any maintenance man should. But then the drug turns up in the wrong hands, and Mike and Laura have to decide if their own chemistry will help, or hinder, the race to save innocent lives.
Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she could hold a crayon—though learning to read was a huge turning point in her growth as a writer. Teri’s first stories involved her favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, followed by her favorite teen idols. She has also authored a recipe column (The Three Ingredient Gourmet), and scientific articles (Guess which was more interesting!). Now she writes fun, sexy romance filled with chaos and havoc, populated by strong, smart women and hunky heroes.
What inspired you to jump from your earlier days of writing about cartoon characters, science, and cooking to writing suspenseful, sexy romance novels?
Well, I kind of outgrew the cartoon characters, the science stuff is a little dry (and there aren’t any nekkid parts), and I kind of gave up cooking. Even with just three ingredients—cooking is such a time suck!
By Azam Gill
Paige Tyler’s HER PERFECT MATE (X-OPS Book 1) is set to start a cult following. When Special Forces Captain Landon Donovan is chosen for an assignment with the Department of Covert Operations, he’s stunned to find himself partnered with a beautiful woman who looks way to gentle to take down a terrorist. But Ivy Halliwell isn’t your average covert operator. Her feline DNA means she can literally bring out the claws when things get dicey. She isn’t thrilled to be paired with yet another military grunt, but Landon is different. He doesn’t think she’s a freak—and he’s got her tingling. Soon they’re facing a threat beyond imagination … and an animal magnetism between them impossible to ignore.
An impressively prolific writer, Tyler already has more publications than Agatha Christie managed in her entire career. Her mastery of the craft shows in HER PERFECT MATE, the start of the X-Ops Books. Effortless narration derives its authority from insider knowledge cleverly woven into the prose. And cluster bursts of short, sharp sentences and an astutely crafted plot propel the story at breakneck speed. In addition, original, finely-drawn and unforgettable characters keep the ball rolling at the gripping pace required of a top-of-the-line thriller. Hardly surprising, then, reviews of HER PERFECT MATE have been enthusiastic and unrestrained.
Tyler graciously agreed to answer a few questions for THE BIG THRILL.
Let’s start with a brief personal introduction.
I’m a USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. I’ve written over fifty books in practically every genre of romance, but my favorite is definitely the paranormal/romantic-suspense combo. My very own military hero (also known as my hubby) and I live on the beautiful Florida coast with our adorable fur baby (also known as our dog). I actually graduated with a degree in education, but decided to pursue my passion and write books about hunky alpha males and the kickbutt heroines who fall in love with them.
Maybe you know her as Bobbye Terry, or Daryn Cross, or Terry Campbell. Either way, you know her writing is sizzling, with a dollop of humor and a side of macabre details. You could call Bobbye Terry a talented multi-tasking master, and you would be right. She worked as a hospital and hospice administrator and as a writer for national and international magazines. She wrote various articles for over ten years before she made the jump and started writing fiction.
Bobbye has a knack for character development; her characters capture true-to-life emotions and reactions. Her new novel, THE WIDOW JAMES, is no different. It features a strong female lead named Lindsay “Lindy” Deane James. She’s searching for answers in Lynchburg, Virginia, determined to prove an elderly friend sane and innocent of murder, but as she searches she uncovers dark secrets dark enough to kill for. The book is out this month.
Tell me about THE WIDOW JAMES.
It’s romantic suspense about a woman who is from Lynchburg and returns after decades in order to clear an older woman of murder charges and the potential for being found incompetent. Lindy, the widow, is a forensic psychologist and no newcomer to murder and psychological crimes. However, she left Lynchburg and has not returned except as required by her now-deceased husband because the former love of her life lives there, as well as her nemesis, a man-hungry woman named Carrie. Lindy also detests her mother-in-law, whom she nicknamed “the vulture.”
Additionally, this book is very personal to me, in that Lynchburg is my hometown and I am in the process of moving back there. Here is what I said in the dedication:
By Amy Lignor
When it comes to historical suspense, there are authors who can effortlessly unearth the appeal of an era through beautiful locations and perfectly written characters. Everything from cultural points and societal issues to accents and wardrobes come together to make the reader feel as if he or she is standing beside the characters, perhaps looking into an empty grave while the night wind blows through the cracks of an old abbey, alerting everyone to the ghosts that roam the landscape. Anna Lee Huber does just that with flawless precision in each of her Lady Darby mysteries. So flawlessly, in fact, that while providing a great read, Huber also gives the reader a portal where he or she can effortlessly travel back in time.
A GRAVE MATTER is the third tale of Lady Darby, first introduced in the amazing novel, THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE. This is a woman who not only had to face personal risk, but also rose to the occasion and ended up being both heroine and sleuth. In A GRAVE MATTER, released this month, Lady Darby deals with her ever-blossoming relationship with a man named Gage, and solves a case of body snatching where the motive turns out to be far more complex than anyone will believe.
From the very first tale, Lady Darby was embraced by readers because of her strength and the passion she held for all areas of life; so it will come as no surprise that her creator shares that passion for everything from travel to music to Star Wars to an imaginative writing career that will expand in many directions, as she takes on new genres and characters in the coming years.
You write history so well—covering every aspect of a chosen time period. Are there other genres you wish to explore?
I adore Gothic suspense novels, especially anything by Mary Stewart, and I’m actually in the midst of writing one myself. It’s set during the Regency period, so still historical, but a definite departure from the Lady Darby series. I also have an idea for a contemporary mystery series with a bit of a paranormal twist. I haven’t written anything contemporary in years, but I’m hoping I can find time soon to try my hand at it.
By Cathy Clamp
Most people who have stood in a security line at an airport have wondered what they would do if a bomb actually went off. DiAnn Mills’ latest novel, FIREWALL, brings that frightening image to raw, terrifying life. Taryn Young, a newlywed boarding a plane to her dream honeymoon after a whirlwind romance is caught in a bomb blast that rocks the Houston airport. When she wakes, not only is her husband missing, but the authorities consider them both suspects in the attack. She’s informed that the man of her dreams isn’t who he appears to be. In fact, he doesn’t exist at all. With her high security clearance in computers and genius IQ, Taryn isn’t normally taken by surprise, and is nobody’s fool. Something doesn’t smell right.
FBI Agent Grayson Hall, as the lead investigator, considers catching the one responsible for the attack to be his first priority, yet he can’t help feeling that despite all the evidence to the contrary, Taryn is an innocent. Is her naiveté just for show? Or is she a conspirator, the mastermind of a terrorist cell?
Half-truths, double crosses, and a ticking clock to prove her own innocence before she gets locked away forever drives the heroine to risk everything. But who can she trust? She thought she could trust her husband but he’s gone missing. Is the FBI right in believing he’s a terrorist? Or is the government trying to steal vital computer secrets from her by using her husband as bait? As Taryn and Grayson each try to solve the case, each suspecting the worst of the other, it might be that all they can do is put their trust in a higher power to guide them to the answer.
By Azam Gill
WHITE COLLARED, Shelly Bell’s pulsating four-part series of erotic suspense, is a boost to maintain this sub-genre that shot to popularity in the nineteen eighties with the success of, among others, BLUE VELVET and FATAL ATTRACTION. The eloquence of the synopses speaks for itself.
In WHITE COLLARED, PART ONE: MERCY, third-year law student Kate Martin outruns her tragic past. She becomes an intern for her idol and secret crush, the powerful attorney Nicholas Trenton. She is thrilled when Nick assigns her to represent his best friend and client, millionaire Jaxon Deveroux, the prime suspect in his submissive wife Alyssa’s murder.
Kate knows they have only a few days to find the real killer. Since signs point to a member of the BDSM community, she volunteers to go undercover as Jaxon’s submissive at Benediction—the private sex club where he is a member—to covertly investigate Alyssa’s last few months. For years, Kate has kept her dark fantasies a secret, but a chance to explore them with sexy, dominant Jaxon is just too tempting to pass up.
Nurse turned author, Shiloh Walker (who also writes under the name J.C. Daniels) is back with another exciting novel. Her latest, DEEPER THAN NEED, is the first in a new trilogy that gives the reader a strong dose of steamy romantic suspense in a small town. Walker caught the writing bug at a young age and she has a real talent for capturing the reader. Luckily, her fans won’t have to wait long for the next installment, the second in the series, SWEETER THAN SIN, will be out this fall.
Tell us about DEEPER THAN NEED
DEEPER THAN NEED is the first of my Secrets & Shadows trilogy…set in a small Indiana town, a town that’s fairly quiet on the surface. The heroine has moved there to start her life over and that’s all she wants to do. That plan sort of goes straight to hell when the renovations on her house uncover a body buried in a cellar. We’ve got lots of secrets, lots of suspense…and a sexy, not-exactly-brooding, but very much a tortured hero. I loved writing it.
What inspired you to write?
Being born? I’ve been a storyteller pretty much from the get-go. The first story I can recall actually writing was in third or fourth grade.
By George Ebey
Author Shelley Coriell’s latest novel, THE BROKEN, kicks off the first in a new exciting series featuring an elite team of FBI agents known as The Apostles.
Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim—and only survivor—of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.
Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .
I recently checked in with Shelley to learn more about The Apostles and the world they inhabit.
By Tracy March
One of my favorite parts about writing romantic thrillers is researching my stories. Whether it’s a specific character quirk, an intriguing setting, or a science-related plot element, I’m all in. Especially when it comes to researching an incredible setting. My latest romantic thriller, A SHOT OF RED, is partially set in Lucerne, Switzerland, and my husband and I had the awesome opportunity to visit there before I wrote the story.
We had a fascinating time in the land of watches, army knives and chocolate. But there’s way more to Switzerland than that. Here are ten things my husband and I enjoyed most, and some of them can even be found in A SHOT OF RED.
1. Strolling through the charming narrow streets of old town Lucerne, admiring the still-intact medieval city walls with their fairy-tale towers. Countless clocks chime on the hour, but the oldest clock in the city does the honors. It’s allowed to chime a minute before all the others!
2. Visiting the Engelberg Benedictine Monastery and meeting real-life monks. Engelberg means angel mountain, and the monastery got its name when two monks saw a host of angels while they were walking in the nearby meadows. The monastery gave its name to the village that grew up around it, and an angel is the symbol of the idyllic town.
The Secrets & Shadows series is a romantic suspense series centered around a small town in Indiana, and the tortured heroes who try to find love as they struggle to overcome their dark pasts. Readers love Shiloh Walker’s hot writing and surprising plot twists.
In LONG FOR ME, Christina Bell remembers what it was like to be part of a loving family. The youngest of the Bell children, she simply cannot believe that her dad, or anyone else she loves, had a hand in her mother’s disappearance. She’s looking forward to moving on and spending more time with her sexy best friend, Guy Miller. But when her mother’s body is found—and the mystery of her death slowly reveals itself—Christina is left not knowing who to trust. What if Guy, her one true desire, proves to be her biggest danger?
Walker has been writing since she was a kid. She fell in love with vampires with the book BUNNICULA and has worked her way up to the more…ah…serious vampire stories. She loves reading and writing anything paranormal, anything fantasy, and nearly every kind of romance. Once upon a time she worked as a nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest. Interested in how she transitioned to writing the Secrets & Shadows novellas, THE BIG THRILL recently caught up with her to ask:
You are an incredibly prolific writer, and LONG FOR ME is the third book in the Secrets & Shadow romantic suspense series with St. Martin’s Press. When did you first envision this series and how is it different from your other work?
I started coming up with the idea in probably 2010, maybe 2009. The Secrets & Shadows series is my second venture, I guess we can say, into small-town romantic suspense. I started out writing mainly erotic romance and then paranormal romance, but over the past few years, I’ve been concentrated more on romantic suspense and the small-town setting seems to fit.
By Derek Gunn
Colleen Thompson is a busy woman. As Gwyneth Atlee and Colleen Easton, she has written historical novels. These are commonly referred to as steamy romances and you may wonder why we are discussing them in THE BIG THRILL.
It’s because Colleen also writes in the “Romantic Suspense” arena. And her latest novel, THE BEST VICTIM, is a damn good story and has every right to be called a thriller. Yes, relationships play a large part in the story, but don’t they in real life as well? Her characters are believable, likable, or unlikable when they are the bad guys, and easy to cozy up with.
This story was originally released as a serial and the chapters tend to end in a place that will have you anxiously waiting on the next installment. No such worries in this edition as the whole novel is now available. The book skips along at a good rate. The main characters’ interactions are interesting as feelings grow and deepen in line with the mystery.
So what’s it about, you ask? Brent Durant is an FBI agent desperate to stop a killer. But it’s unclear if a killing has taken place. Disgraced from his position Brent is driven to kidnap Lauren Miller, sister of the recently dead Rachel. But Rachel committed suicide—didn’t she? At least that’s what the police think.
Brent’s plan to use Lauren to tease out the killer doesn’t quite go as planned. Lauren may be a recluse but she is far from a victim and she and Brent must work together if they are to have any hope of surviving, let alone revealing the elusive killer.
By Karen Harper
Karen Harper was glad she caught up with Laura Griffin, who is one of the busiest writers around. It was a fun interview because both the interviewer and author write romantic suspense thrillers. The questions cover all three of Laura’s series—each different, yet each with the Griffin stamp of realistic plots and characters, inspired by her years as a hard-hitting journalist and hands-on researcher.
What is your novel about? Is it book one in a series or a stand-alone?
Thanks for inviting me to THE BIG THRILL!
FAR GONE is the story of police detective Andrea Finch, who is a rising star in her department until a split-second decision derails her career. She’s on leave from her job when she gets an urgent call from her younger brother. She’d prefer to ignore his latest plea for cash, but this time instinct tells her something is very wrong. Andrea’s search for answers takes her to a dusty Texas border town where she crosses paths with FBI agent Jon North, who is working undercover in west Texas investigating an unsolved murder that may be linked to a broader plot.
FAR GONE is a stand-alone novel with new lead characters, but readers of my Tracers series will recognize a few familiar faces.
Your heroine in FAR GONE is “disgraced and disillusioned.” Why did you decide to have her operating from a down-and-out experience early in the story? Yet she obviously has a lot going for her. What talents or weaknesses do you like to give Andrea and your other heroines?
Andrea is up against tough odds and has been most of her life. I like stories about people in difficult situations who have to use their instincts and intellect to find a way out. The crux of the problem in FAR GONE is that Andrea is torn between the people she loves and the job she loves. From her first scene in the book, she’s in a no-win situation, and as the story unfolds it keeps getting worse.
By J. H. Bográn
Here’s the description of THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE, the exciting new thriller from debut author Jana Hollifield:
Hiding from a mysterious stalker whose rage culminated in the brutal slaying of her sister, Cora Dalton believes there is no one she can trust. No one, until she meets Ryan McCabe, a handsome stranger who offers her help when she needs it most. But Cora knows the killer will never quit until he finds her and she must decide if she can allow Ryan to put himself in danger for her sake.
Ryan knows all about being alone in the world. Beautiful Cora is on her own and in trouble, and he can’t just walk away. But Ryan immediately senses there is something Cora is desperately trying to hide. As an intense attraction builds between them, Ryan seeks to gain Cora’s trust and unveil the truth before the killer strikes again.
Hollifield’s interest in writing was shelved over many years while she pursued her passion for painting. But despite a struggle with dyslexia that challenged her confidence, her desire to write ultimately became irresistible. THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE takes the classic murder mystery and injects it with healthy doses of romance, humor, and extrasensory perception for a unique romantic suspense experience.
Hollifield graciously agreed to answer a few questions:
Please tell us a little more about THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE.
THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE is a romantic suspense novel with a substantial mystery element, set in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon. The story is written in first person narrative alternating between the female and male protagonists, Cora Dalton and Ryan McCabe. I like that this approach creates intimacy between the characters and the reader, and it also adds to the suspense by drawing the reader into unraveling the clues right alongside both of the lead characters.
By Don Helin
Fleeing a violent husband and a dying marriage, Amanda Brougher abandons her life in Nashville. Driving through the night, she eventually lands in Key West, Florida. It’s here Amanda hopes to find the tranquility needed to restart her life managing a small island inn. But Amanda’s plans begin to unravel almost as soon as she arrives.
Paul Brougher isn’t about to let his wife leave so easily. As soon as he discovers she’s left, Paul embarks on a deluded quest to hunt her down. Plus, the inn’s elderly owner has died unexpectedly, leaving Amanda now without a job or a place to live. The owner’s son, Brock Hamilton, is putting the inn up for sale. A veteran U.S. Coast Guard Officer, Brock is trying to come to terms with his own shattered past.
Now, with a major hurricane barreling toward Key West, and a deranged ex-husband quickly closing-in, two lost souls turn to each other for comfort and security. A spark ignites and the flames of romance quickly consume them, setting into motion a chain of events that takes both of them on a life-changing journey of danger, intrigue, and self-discovery.
CIA agent Tate Cox works alone. Everyone knows that. And when the object of his mission is to seduce a pretty RIOT agent for valuable technology, bringing his ex-wife Malene along seems like an especially disastrous idea. But no one bucks Agency orders, not even capable, confident Tate.
Flirting with the enemy is in the job description—but falling for his sexy, sassy ex all over again is an unexpected complication …
“Robinson does a great job of inventing gadgets, secret organizations, hot operators and fast action. …it’s great fun for the reader!” ~RT BOOK REVIEWS
For those of us who have been in the publishing industry long enough we’ve all heard the old adage: “write what you know.” It’s a motto many authors have used, writing novels that reflect their careers, past or current. In certain ways, I’ve done the same with my Degrees of Darkness series.
But what made me write the four book series wasn’t what I knew; it was what I wanted to read.
I’m probably the worst person on earth to take to a bookstore, something of which my husband thoroughly enjoys doing even though it means standing for a few hours waiting for me to find that right book I want to take home. I flit from one part of the store to the next, one genre to another, grousing about not finding that book containing the right mix of all the things I love. My tastes are at the whim of whatever I feel like reading and more times than not I cannot find the right book and resort to the tried and true; buying a writing craft book. I’ve also noticed my oldest son has this “indecision” gene.
In the early stages of my path to getting published, I was meandering through my local library trying to find a book that had what I wanted. I’m an odd duck, who wants to read a book with a character or two that has a profession in the Agricultural world, a few cops, a setting that is rural, romance, murder, a lot of action—and not always the kind that happens in bed—and an antagonist that makes your skin crawl. No luck. Fed up, I left empty handed and decided now was the time to write the book I wanted to read.
By Stacy Mantle
When the Houston Police Department charges Alicia Monroe with the murder of her husband, defense attorney Danny Kinsley quickly discovers he is facing more dangers than the courtroom. The real killers have Alicia in their sights and Danny is all that stands between his former lover and a horrific death.
Bestselling author John Foxjohn has just released his newest thriller, LAW OF SILENCE. Foxjohn has received many accolades over the years, including an “Author of the Year” award in 2008. Born and raised in East Texas, his experiences as a former Army Ranger and homicide detective (with over 300 cases under his belt) feature prominently in his novels.
We had the opportunity to interview Foxjohn about his newest novel, what motivates him, and how his extensive life experiences have influenced his writing.
Most of your books are set in Texas. What is it that fascinates you most about the region?
I am a born and bred Texan, but other than that, it makes it easier to research the area I am writing about. Louis L’amour was one of my early writing heroes, and he believed in going to the place where he was writing about—to get the feel of it. I guess I am that way, too.
You were an Army Ranger. How has that experience impacted the characters in your novels?
I graduated from Ranger school and later I was an instructor there, and I can assure you there is not a tougher school in the world. People in the know would not even debate that statement. However, I have seen many big, strong, tough men quit, crying like a baby.
By J. H. Bográn
In TAMING A GENTLEMAN SPY, John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, is on an urgent mission to find the killer of his fellow spy. After visiting the young widow of one of his agents, Strathairn strengthens his resolve. A spy should never marry, and most certainly not to Lady Sibella Winborne, with her romantic ideas of love and marriage. Unable to give Sibella up entirely, he has kept her close as a friend. Then, weak fool that he is, he kissed her. Lady Sibella Winborne has refused several offers of marriage since she first set eyes on the handsome Earl of Strathairn. Sibella’s many siblings always rush to her aid to discourage an ardent suitor, but not this time. Her elder brother, Chaloner, Marquess of Brandreth, has approved Lord Coombe’s suit.
Maggie Andersen, author of TAMING OF A GENTLEMAN SPY, took some time to answer a few questions for us.
How does TAMING A GENTLEMAN SPY relate to A BARON IN HER BED?How long is the gap between the two books in the series?
In the first of the Mayfair spy series, A BARON IN HER BED, Baron, Guy Fortesque, is rescued and befriended by John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn from TAMING A GENTLEMAN SPY. Although Guy knows little about John and suspects there’s much he keeps to himself, they work together to rid England of a treasonous group of men. England is rife with intrigue and revolution is in the air.
Some thirty years ago, Guy’s father left England after killing a man in a duel, and settled in France. The war with Napoleon has ended, and Guy comes to England to claim his inheritance,which includes the ancient mansion, Rosecroft Hall. But a shadowy figure stands in his way.Guy’s legitimacy as the rightful heir comes under question, after he loses his papers in an attack on his life.Might Miss Horatia Cavendish’s Godfather—a relative of Guy’s who has cared for his house and lands in his father’s absence—be behind the attempts on his life? Guy and Horatia Cavendish arrange a faux engagement to flush out the villain. After a turbulent past, Guy yearns for a quiet life. He is a reluctant spy,but events draw him into the spying game when he encounters Count Forney, a Frenchman involved in a plot against the Crown. An anti-Royalist, Forney is part of a group of French and English men who refuse to accept the Congress of Vienna and are intent on freeing Napoleon from St. Helena.
In TAMING A GENTLEMAN SPY, several years have passed. England still suffers unrest, which reaches boiling point in the North.Lord Liverpool’s unpopular government has been dealing with the Luddites, men pushed out of work by the rise of machinery,while many of the starving poor, angered by the Corn Laws, which have raised the price of bread, are seeking a voice.
Luck abandoned Brooke Justice during her nasty divorce. Desperate to escape her malicious ex-husband, she relocated to the small town of Adams Grove, Virginia. When someone breaks into her new house, she suspects her ex bears the blame for the crime. With no evidence and little help from the police, she asks a private investigator to take her case—a private investigator whose sexy broad shoulders and stunning blue eyes make her question her decision to swear off relationships forever.
Mike Hartman fled Adams Grove when a devastating loss left his heart in pieces. After years overseas in the military, he’s finally returned home, determined to start anew as a private investigator. Then Brooke walks into his office, awakening something he hasn’t felt in years. Can they both move on…into each other’s arms? Or will the pain of the past—and the dangerous threat lurking in the present—destroy their new beginning?
We all have those news stories that haunt us.Often they’re accounts of sudden tragedies. The headlines force contemplation of what the overwhelming loss must be like for the survivors.
For Karen Rose, one of those stories is about a woman who lost her family in a few random seconds at a convenience store.
“She wasn’t with them at the time, but although she lived, she was understandably destroyed by this loss,” Karen says.“She was pregnant and lived on for the sake of her unborn child.”
Writers, of course, grapple with the emotion and empathy of such incidents on the page. Karen did that in writing her new book,WATCH YOUR BACK (Signet) starring Baltimore Homicide Detective Stevie Mazzetti.
“I never forgot that story and when it was time to write Stevie’s character, that story was my inspiration,”Karen says.
Stevie has appeared in the pages of three previous Baltimore-set thrillers from Karen, who grew up in Maryland. Earlier titles include: YOU BELONG TO ME, NO ONE LEFT TO TELL, and DID YOU MISS ME? All involve police and prosecutors at work, so Stevie’s been in the squad rooms and on the mean streets of those stories in a supporting role.
By Ian Walkley
2013 EPIC Award Winner Natalie Damschroder has just released her fifteenth novel, A KISS OF REVENGE, a romantic suspense that one reviewer described as “Wow—boy she packs a good one!” and another commends as having a heavy emphasis on action.
The story follows young bakery owner Reese Templeton who, after being widowed three times, wants to stop changing herself to be worthy of others’ love. She can’t be truly free to live her own life until she wreaks vengeance on the man who destroyed it. But will vengeance set her free, or become a darker trap?
Natalie’s novels span romantic adventure, urban fantasy romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. In addition to her novels, Natalie has published short stories and anthologies. Her works have been published traditionally and translated into Greek, and the paranormal romance Soul Series is self-published. Natalie carves her day up into a million small increments to accommodate her fiction schedule, freelance editing, day job as a chiropractic assistant, and the needs of her family, dominated by the Anti-Teenagers, who make all of the above really easy. When everything goes right, she gets to top off the day trying to guess the plot twists of her favorite TV shows before her husband does.