Melissa Koslin’s latest novel, DANGEROUS BEAUTY, entertains and enlightens in a non-preachy way, while providing a new perspective on a common theme found in current headlines.
On the first page we meet Liliana—running for her life from human traffickers—and are soon introduced to Meric, who for reasons he can’t seem to fathom, takes an extreme step to save her from the men who have kidnapped her.
We quickly discover that Meric also needs to be rescued, and Liliana is just the woman to do it. But first he must allow her into his self-imposed prison.
After she agrees to his proposal of marriage to stay in the United States, he struggles when he finds himself attracted to her. She doesn’t want to be a burden to him and tries to figure out a way to “free” him from his obligation to her, even though she knows she won’t be able to stay in America without the benefit of their “marriage of convenience.”
To complicate matters, she starts to have romantic feelings for him. Given his own history, Meric is reticent to acknowledge his attraction to Liliana. So he avoids her, leaving before she awakes at his apartment and returning after she is asleep. This pushes her to take action in an effort to leave him as soon as possible. He worries the past that haunts him could cause him to harm her.
When they decide to combine forces for a common goal, they discover they have more in common than they thought. Not the least of which is an inner strength that enables them to use what they have learned from their own experiences to help others—even when it puts them in mortal danger.
DANGEROUS BEAUTY is a compelling story about the tenacity of the human spirit, with characters who are survivors and refuse to consider themselves victims. Below is an exclusive interview with the author, Melissa Koslin, that lends insight into her latest novel and her thoughts on the writing life.
Human trafficking is a hideous crime. In my opinion, you did a great job of capturing the terror a victim would feel and the frustration law enforcement experiences. How did you conduct the research to be able to depict the situation so accurately?
A whole lot of reading and searching. It wasn’t easy, but I really wanted to get it right.
The name Wilmer suits that character’s identity and older age, but I haven’t heard it before. Why did you choose that particular name?
My husband is a Mason, which is predominantly older men. That’s where I get my old-guy names.
What made you decide to become an author?
I watched an interview with a writer, and she explained how she’d come up with her first story. I realized I had a story in my head; it’d been there for years and years. I decided I would try writing it down. It was horrible at first, but I rewrote, rewrote, read about writing, and eventually, it became a great story.
From what I know about human trafficking victims who cross the border into the US from Mexico, there are a couple of states that could have been used for the primary setting in your story. What made you choose Texas as the backdrop for DANGEROUS BEAUTY?
It was mostly because that state seems to see a lot of this since they share so much border with Mexico. And Texas seems like a pretty nice place—after doing so much research on Houston, I’d really like to visit.
Have you had any jobs or experiences that helped you write either of your novels?
I’m a commercial property manager, and I’m able to pull some details from that experience—basic business lingo and an understanding of property infrastructure. You’ll see it pop up in little ways, like Liliana looking out over a white roof (which is good in sunny areas due to its reflectivity) and a ton of the interactions while Meric is working on buying that property in LA.
And much more interestingly, I’m a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo, so all the fight scenes are completely from experience and are realistic.
When Liliana goes off by herself, she enjoys being by a “small pond made of concrete with bronze statues of foxes.” Does this place really exist in Houston, or did you take creative license?
Yep, that does exist. It’s Sam Houston Park just outside downtown. It looks so cool. I’d really love to see it in person. Meric’s building, on the other hand, is fictional.
What was your path to publication?
That was a winding road. I was agented by Mike Nappa for a while. We didn’t succeed in getting published, but we parted very amicably. When he was unable to finish A Dream Within a Dream due to a personal loss, he reached out to me to help. He thought I’d be able to mimic his writing style (we’re not dissimilar in our styles) and do the story justice. Revell was happy with my writing and the work I did in marketing, so they offered a contract for me to write Never Miss.
You seem to have a good grasp of Houston, Mexico, and Beverly Hills. Do you have a special connection to any of these places, or is it excellent research on your part?
Nope, but Google Earth is a very good friend of mine.
I love that Liliana buys a “proper purse” at one point in the book. The scene you place the purchase in is logical, but I have to ask, with your love of handbags, do you own a blue textile wristlet?
I’m not really a girly girl, but I have to admit I love handbags! It’s partially because they’re pretty and partially because I love to be organized. I do own a blue wristlet! But mine is cobalt with a band of sequins.
Melissa Koslin is a fourth-degree black belt in and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. In her day job as a commercial property manager, she secretly notes personal quirks and funny situations, ready to tweak them into colorful additions for her books. The author of Never Miss, Melissa lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her husband, Corey.
Find more information on her books at www.MelissaKoslin.com.