Posts Tagged ‘Guarding Suzannah’
Guarding Suzannah, the first book in my Serve and Protect Series, is currently free! It’s featured today on Free Kindle Books & Tips, an excellent site to learn about free and bargain books.This is a great time to try the series for free. If you like it you can go on the check out Books 2 and 3.
And here’s a little known fact – my Montlake romantic suspense Fatal Hearts, while not strictly a part of the series, is set in the Serve and Protect world. If you’ve already read the series, you can revisit some of the key characters in Fatal Hearts.
So what’s the last series you discovered by getting the first book in the series free? The best series you discovered that way?
Book 1 in the Serve and Protect Series
Copyright © 2010 Norah Wilson
Published by Norah Wilson
All rights reserved.
Detective John Quigley stepped inside Courtroom 2, closing the door quietly behind him. One or two people in the small gallery glanced up at him briefly, then returned their attention to the front of the courtroom where a young patrol officer was being sworn in.
Quigg took a seat, glancing around the drab, low-ceilinged, windowless room. Provincial Court. Nothing like the much grander Queen’s Bench courtrooms upstairs or the Court of Appeal chambers on the top floor. But aesthetics aside, they did a brisk business here. In the fifteen years Quigg had spent on the Fredericton force, he’d been responsible for sending quite a few customers through these doors. Doors that all too often turned out to be the revolving kind, the kind that spit offenders right back out on the street to re-offend.
On that thought, Quigg glanced over at the accused. Clean shaven and neatly dressed, he sat off to the right, beside the Sheriff’s deputy. His long hair, drawn back into a ponytail, glinted blue-black under the fluorescent lights. If he were conscious of Quigg’s scrutiny, he didn’t betray it with so much as a twitch of a muscle. Rather, he kept his flat, emotionless gaze trained on the witness.
“Your witness, Mr. Roth.”
At the magistrate’s words, Quigg faced forward again.
“Thank you, Your Honour.” The Crown Prosecutor adjusted his table microphone and directed his first question to the witness. Mike Langan, the impossibly young looking constable in the witness box, responded, his answer clear and concise.
Over the next fifteen minutes, the prosecutor methodically built his case with one carefully chosen question after another. Constable Langan’s manner in the witness box was confident and assured. He referred often to his notebook, which appeared to contain copious, comprehensive notes. Quigg unclenched his fingers and leaned back into his seat. What could go wrong?
His gaze slid to the one area of the courtroom he’d so far managed to avoid, the defense table. Suzannah Phelps. There she sat, primly erect, all that straight blond hair pulled up into a knot at the back of her head. Even under the black tent-like court robes, she still managed to look model elegant. His pulse took a little kick.
Dammit, why did he do this to himself? He didn’t have to be here. He was off today. He didn’t have even a glancing involvement with this case, or with Constable Langan.
Because you’re a bloody masochist.
“Any questions on cross, Ms. Phelps?”
The magistrate’s voice cut into Quigg’s thoughts.
“Just a few, Your Honour.”
A few? Yeah, sure.
Quigg glanced at Langan, saw the younger man tense. Relax man. He tried to send the thought telepathically. Don’t let her get to you. Don’t let her see you sweat.
“So, Constable Langan, you didn’t actually see my client flee the crime scene?”
“No, ma’am. Not from the actual scene. But I did see a man fitting the robber’s description running just four blocks from the scene.”
“And who provided this description?”
“And the description was…?”
“Native … er, First Nations individual, average height, stocky build, long black hair worn in a ponytail.”
“Were those the shopkeeper’s precise words? First Nations individual?”
“Did the shopkeeper describe the perpetrator as Native? Native American? First Nations?”
Quigg sank lower in his seat, suppressing a groan. This was gonna be a train wreck and Langan didn’t even know it yet.
“Exactly how did he describe him, then?”
“He made it clear that the individual was Indian.”
“Those were his words, then? Indian?”
“No.” Constable Langan shifted, glancing down at his notebook.
“What were his precise words, Constable?”
Langan glanced at the judge, then back at Suzannah Phelps. “I believe his precise words were, wagon burner.”
“Which you took to mean a member of the First Nations?”
Quigg massaged his temple. Ah, Christ, here we go.
“Thank you, Constable.”
Her voice was polite, prim, even. Which just served to show that sharks came in all kinds of guises.
Suzannah glanced down at her notes, then back at the hapless witness. “So, Constable Langan, could you take a guess how many males from our Native population would fit that description?”
“Objection, Your Honour. We have eye-witness testimony from the shop owner that the accused is the individual who committed the robbery. He was picked out from a lineup containing no fewer than ten Native men of similar ages and builds.”
Finally! An objection from the Crown. Quigg resisted the urge to rake a hand through his hair.
“As my learned friend knows, I could cite dozens of cases where eye-witness identification put innocent men behind bars,” responded Suzannah. “And those were cases where the perpetrators’ faces were not partially obscured by a kerchief.”
“Point taken.” The judge leaned forward. “Your objection is overruled, Mr. Roth. You may proceed, Ms. Phelps.”
“Thank you, Judge.” She turned back to the witness. “Again, Constable Langan, in your opinion, can you tell me how many males of Mi’kmaq or Maliseet descent could answer to that description: medium height, stocky build, black hair?”
A pause. “Quite a few, I would imagine.”
“A majority of them?”
“Possibly,” Langan conceded.
“Then any Native male observed within a reasonable radius of the crime scene might have fit your description?”
“Maybe. But then again, there aren’t a lot of them in this particular shopping district.”
Mother of God. Quigg sank even lower in his seat.
“Ah, so my client shouldn’t have been there in the first place, in an exclusive shopping district?”
“That’s not what I meant.” Langan’s face hardened. “This particular Native male was fleeing capture.”
“Is that so?” She made a show of reviewing her notes. “Was my client running when you first spotted him?”
“When did he start running?”
“When I cut him off with my vehicle. He was walking fast—I mean, real fast—down the sidewalk, in an easterly direction. I pulled into an alley, blocked him off.”
“And then he fled?”
“Yes. He turned and fled back in a westerly direction.”
“Were your red and blue bar lights flashing when you executed this maneuver?”
She shuffled some more papers. “Is it conceivable that my client’s flight might have been an ingrained response to perceived police harassment?”
“No? Constable Langan, are you a member of a visible minority?”
The judge held up his hand in the prosecutor’s direction. “Overruled.”
“Imagine for a minute that you are a member of a visible minority. What might you do if a police cruiser were to suddenly swing into your path like that?”
Constable Langan bristled. “The guy had the money on him. The exact amount that was later determined to be missing from the cash register.”
“Ah, so now we have a First Nations male, walking where he ought not to, with more money in his pocket than he should have?”
“Money he stole from that shopkeeper at knifepoint!”
Damn, the kid was losing it.
“Ah, yes, the knife.” Suzannah flipped the page on the legal pad in front of her. “A knife which bore no fingerprints and which you haven’t been able to tie to my client.”
“He dumped it down a sewer grate a block from where he was apprehended, two blocks from the scene. He still had the polkadotted blue-and-white handkerchief in his pocket. Give or take the coins in his pockets, he was carrying exactly the amount of money that was stolen. He was ID’d by the shopkeeper…”
Quigg closed his eyes, pressing a thumb and forefinger against his lids. Inside his head, he heard the theme from Jaws.
“Thank you for that summation, Constable, but I think the Crown was planning one of its own.” She flipped another page on her yellow pad. “Since you’re feeling so loquacious, maybe you can answer this question for me—do you yourself ever carry a handkerchief?”
“Would you like me to repeat the question, Constable? When you’re off duty, wearing your civilian clothes, do you ever carry one of those polkadotted handkerchiefs? Shoved in a front pocket of your jeans, maybe, or in your coat pocket?”
Five more minutes. That’s all it took to completely decimate the Crown’s case. Not that Roth surrendered without a fight. He called the shopkeeper and adduced his evidence. Evidence which the defense challenged effectively. But by the time Suzannah finished her summation, she’d planted more than just the seed of reasonable doubt. No one in the courtroom was surprised when the judge pronounced his verdict without even a short recess. Not guilty. The prisoner was released.
Quigg stood and slipped out the door as quietly as he’d slipped in.
* * *
Suzannah stood, turning to scan the gallery. The seats had emptied out, apart from her client’s two female cousins. Certainly the owner of the gaze she’d felt boring into her back for the last half hour was gone.
She turned toward Anthony Roth, whose lean, dark features were wreathed in resignation. Fiercely competitive, he hated to lose, but he was a good prosecutor. He knew his role wasn’t to secure a conviction at any cost; it was to get to the truth.
“And you made yourself a brand new friend on Fredericton’s finest, too. Quite a day.”
When young Mike Langan had finally been excused from the witness box, his body language as he jammed on his hat and tugged at his Kevlar vest had screamed exactly how he felt. Suffice to say he wouldn’t be joining the ranks of the Suzannah Phelps Fan Club any time soon.
That’s how it goes, Suzie-girl. You didn’t get into this business to make friends.
“Couldn’t be helped,” she said lightly. “You know I had to play the cards I was dealt.”
“Of course. I’d have done the same thing in your shoes.” Roth swept his briefcase from the desk. “Fair warning, though. It’ll be different next time we cross swords over this guy.”
“There won’t be a next time.”
His lips lifted in a cynical smile. “Right.”
As soon as the Crown Prosecutor moved off, her client moved in. Gripping her hand in a two-handed clasp, he pumped it enthusiastically. “Thank you, Ms. Phelps.”
“You’re welcome, Leo.” Suzannah withdrew her hand. “You still interested in a job at the graphics studio I mentioned?”
He nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.”
She plucked a business card from her briefcase and handed it to him. “Give this lady a call. She agrees you have talent, but you’d have to prove yourself.”
The card disappeared into Leo’s huge hand. “Thanks, Ms. Phelps. This is great.”
“And you’d have to stay clean, Leo. You understand?” She caught his gaze and held it. “Squeaky clean. No more altercations with the police.”
“I hope you do. You put a foot wrong after this, they’ll be watching.”
He cast a sideways glance at his cousins. “Gotcha.”
“Good. Now get out of here.”
He grinned and was gone.
Suzannah turned back to the desk, her smile fading as she began packing her note pads, law books and files back into the big hard-sided court bag.
Dammit, she’d won, hadn’t she? Why didn’t she feel better?
Made yourself a brand new friend today … Roth’s words echoed in her head.
“Oh, for pity’s sake.” She was such a baby sometimes. Shoving the last file into her bag, she glanced around the courtroom. Normally, she’d adjourn to the ladies room to remove her court garb, but she could do a striptease in here today and there’d be no one to witness it.
One tug and the white tabbed collar came off. Then the robe, over the head like a choir gown. She ran a hand over her hair to make sure it hadn’t come loose. Satisfied, she folded the robe carefully, stuffed it into a blue velvet sack and pulled the drawstring tight. There. Street ready. She smoothed her pinstriped skirt, slung the sack over her shoulder, hefted her bag and headed for the exit.
Despite the quick change, her getaway was not as clean as she would have liked, however. In the corridor, she ran into Renee LeRoy, half-assed reporter and full-fledged pain-in-the-ass. Suzannah searched her mind for the name of the local weekly Renee worked for, but it eluded her. Not that it mattered. She avoided reading her own press if she possibly could, especially anything this particular woman might have to say.
Well, at least this explained the sensation she’d felt of being watched back there in the courtroom. Suppressing a groan, Suzannah tacked on a pleasant smile. “How’s it going, Renee?”
The other woman didn’t smile back. In fact, her face was set in grim lines more reminiscent of a Russian forward in the ’72 Canada/Russia hockey series than a female reporter. As soon as the thought crossed her mind, Suzannah chastised herself. Her dislike of Renee LeRoy had nothing to do with the other woman’s appearance and everything to do with her attitude.
“I see your client walked away a free man.”
Oh, hell, here we go again. The woman was a broken record. “The burden of proof always rests on the Crown, Renee,” she said reasonably. “This time, they failed to meet that burden.”
“Thanks in no small part to you.”
“Why, thank you.” Suzannah offered a wide if disingenuous smile. “I’d be flattered, except I think any reasonably competent criminal lawyer would have secured an acquittal under the circumstances.”
The reporter’s eyes narrowed. “Doesn’t it keep you awake at night, Ms. Phelps? Doesn’t your conscience ever bother you, knowing you’re helping guilty men go free?”
Suzannah’s lips thinned, along with her patience. Was a little open-mindedness from the press too much to ask? “What would bother me is to see a conviction entered on the quality of the evidence we saw today. My client deserved to be acquitted. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a schedule to keep.”
A minute later, she descended the steps of the Justice Building and crossed the parking lot. The sun had already begun to dip behind the tallest buildings, casting long shadows. Even so, heat rose from the asphalt in shimmering waves.
All of southern New Brunswick had been gripped in a heat wave since the July 1st Canada Day holiday. Like the rest of her pasty-faced compatriots, Suzannah had welcomed the first real taste of summer. Now, almost three weeks later, she cursed the humidity that made perspiration bead between her breasts before she’d even reached her car.
She thought briefly about stowing her case in the BMW’s trunk, but decided that would require too much effort. Instead, she hit the button on her remote to release the door locks. She opened the back door on the driver’s side and tossed the garment bag onto the back seat. She’d started to swing the heavy bag into the vehicle when a flash of color from the front passenger seat caught her eye. She lost her grip on the handles, and the bag collided with the car’s frame and thudded to the pavement.
Oh, God, no. Not again.
* * *
“Can I give you a hand with that?”
She seemed to just about come out of her skin at his words, whirling to face him. Wide blue eyes locked onto him, and for an instant, Quigg saw fear. Not surprise. Not your garden variety momentary fright when someone startled you. This was real, raw fear. Then it was gone, and she wore her smooth Princess face again.
“Thank you, no. I can manage.”
Her voice was cool, polite, completely assured. Had he imagined the blaze of fear?
Bending, she righted the briefcase, deposited it on the car’s seat and closed the door. She must have expected him to move on, or at least to step back, because when she turned, she wound up standing considerably closer than before. Closer than was comfortable for her. He could see it in the quick lift of her brows, the slight widening of her eyes. But she didn’t step back.
Neither did he.
Damn, she was beautiful. And tall. In those three inch heels that probably cost more than he made in a week, her gaze was level with his. Throw in all that long blond hair that would slide like silk through a man’s hands, and a body that would…
“You’re that cop.”
He blinked. “That cop?”
“Regina vs. Rosneau.”
“Good memory.” They’d secured a conviction on that one, but her client had taken a walk on appeal. Though in truth, Quigg hadn’t minded over much. The dirtball had done it, all right, but strictly speaking, the evidence had been a bit thin. One of those fifty/fifty propositions.
“Regina vs. Haynes. That was you, too, right?”
Okay, dammit, that one still stung, although the insult was almost two years old now. Two defendants, separate trials, separate representation, each accused managing to convince a jury the other guy’d done it. Of course, Quigg could take consolation from knowing the noose was closing yet again around Ricky Haynes’ good-for-nothing drug-dealing neck. Haynes had since moved outside the city limits, beyond municipal jurisdiction, but Quigg had it on good authority that the Mounties were building a rock-solid case against him.
Yes, he could take some consolation in that. Some small consolation. Not enough, however, to blunt the slow burn in his gut right now.
“Keep a scrapbook, do you, Ms. Phelps? Or maybe you cut a notch in your little Gucci belt, one for every cop you skewer?”
Something that looked astonishingly like hurt flashed in her eyes, but like before, it was gone before he could be certain he’d really seen it. Then she stepped even closer and smiled, a slow, knowing smile that made him think about skin sliding against skin and sweat-slicked bodies fusing in the dark, and he knew he’d been mistaken. When she extended a slender, ringless finger to trace a circle around a button on his shirt, his heart stumbled, then began to pound.
“Definitely not the belt thing,” she said, her voice as husky and honeyed as his most sex-drenched fantasy. “At the rate you guys self-destruct under cross, there’d be nothing left to hold my trousers up, would there, now, John?”
Then she climbed in her gleaming little Beemer and drove off before his hormone-addled brain divorced her words from her manner and realized he’d been dissed.
Against all reason, he laughed. Lord knew it wasn’t funny. Certainly, young Langan wouldn’t share his mirth.
Of course, the whole thing defied reason, the way it twisted his guts just to look at her. She was rich. She was beautiful. She was sophisticated. She was the daughter of a judge, from a long line of judges. She was … what? He searched his admittedly limited lexicon for an appropriate term. Kennedy-esque.
Meanwhile, his own father had worked in a saw mill; his mother had cleaned other people’s houses. Suzannah Phelps was so far out of his league, there wasn’t even a real word for it.
She was also the woman not-so-affectionately known around the station house as She-Rex. And worse.
Except she hadn’t looked much like a She-Rex when she’d spun around to face him, her face all pale and frightened.
Quigg turned and headed for Queen Street, where he’d parked his car. What had spooked her? Not his sudden appearance. He was sure of that. She might not have much use for cops, but she wasn’t scared of him.
Maybe it was something inside her car.
He’d reached his own car, which sprouted a yellow parking ticket from beneath the windshield wiper. Great. He glanced up, searching traffic. There she was, at the lights a block away.
What could be in her car to make her look like that? Or was he completely off base? Was it a guilty start, not a frightened start? Hard to say. She’d masked it so quickly.
Damn, he was going to have to follow her.
Climbing into his not-so-shiny Taurus, he fired it up, signaled and pulled into traffic.
Even at this hour with the first of the home-bound traffic leaving the downtown core, tailing her was child’s play. As he expected, she headed back to her office. No knocking off early for Suzannah Phelps. She probably put in longer days than he did. Two blocks from her uptown offices, she pulled into another office building’s parking lot. Quigg guided his vehicle into the gas bar next door and watched Suzannah drive to the back of the lot where she parked next to a blue dumpster.
Pretending to consult a map he’d pulled from his glove compartment, Quigg watched her get out of the car and scan the lot. Then she circled the BMW, opened the passenger door and pulled something out. The car itself blocked Quigg’s view, but he saw a flash of mauvey/pinky floral patterned paper. Then she lifted the dumpster’s lid and tossed the object in. Quickly, she rounded the car, climbed in and accelerated out of the lot.
Quigg watched her vehicle travel east along Prospect. When she signaled and turned into her office’s parking lot, he slipped his own car into gear. Thirty seconds later, he lifted the lid to the dumpster.
Flowers? She’d been scared witless by flowers?
More likely by who sent the flowers, he reasoned. Maybe they still had a card attached. Out of habit, he patted his pockets for latex gloves before remembering he didn’t have any on him. He wasn’t on duty. He had some in a first aid kit in his car, but he wasn’t about to dig them out. This wasn’t an investigation.
Well, not a sanctioned one.
Grimacing, he retrieved the prettily wrapped bouquet with his bare hands. The florist’s paper appeared pristine, undisturbed, as though Suzannah hadn’t even looked at the contents. Carefully, he peeled the paper back. Then he dropped the bouquet back into the dumpster.
Holy hell! Long-stemmed red roses. Or rather, what he suspected used to be red roses. Now they were more brown than red. Rusty, like old blood. Dead. Probably a dozen of them.
His mind whirled. How had she known? She hadn’t even opened the wrapper.
Because it wasn’t the first time, obviously.
Because they’d been deposited in her car, right there in the barristers’ parking lot, while she was inside defending Leo Warren. While a commissionaire kept an eye on the lot. While her car doors had no doubt been locked.
No wonder she’d been spooked.
He picked up the bouquet again and examined it closer. No card. There’s a surprise, Sherlock.
Why hadn’t she told him? She knew he was a cop.
Domestic. The answer came instantly. Had to be. She knew the source, but wasn’t prepared to make a complaint because she didn’t want to make trouble for the jerk who’d done this, thereby increasing his rage. How many times had he seen that age-old dynamic in operation?
Except he hadn’t expected it from Suzannah. She was too much of a fighter. What could be going on in her head?
Quigg tossed the bouquet back in the dumpster and closed the lid. Climbing back into the Taurus, he sat for long moments.
He should leave this alone. He knew it.
He also knew he wasn’t going to.
“This, you dumb-ass, is how careers are ruined.”
But she’d called him John. Back there, outside the courthouse, she’d called him by his Christian name. Nobody called him John, except his mother. It was Quigg, or Detective Quigley, or Officer, or even Hey, pig! But back there, while her index finger had traced delicate circles on his chest, she’d called him John.
Stifling a sigh, he keyed the ignition and slipped the Ford into gear.
Buy Guarding Suzannah here:
Perhaps because I live in Canada where fall is already giving way to winter, the phrase “Hot Autumn Nights” conjures pictures of indoor activities for me. But before it reaches that point, I love walking in the outdoors. I’m lucky enough to live very close to a pine forest and open fields which I walk every night, although I’ll have to confess that after 30 years of marriage, my companion is usually my trusty dog, Chloe, not my husband. But I do love seeing people freshly in love out walking. It warms my heart, even if my fingers are cold.
Some other things that warm up a cool fall night for me:
Sipping the season’s first hot apple cider. Yum! It just feels so cozy.
Even cozier, sipping warm red wine in front of a fire with a special someone!
And of course, movie night with your significant other.
Speaking of watching TV on the couch, here’s a scene from Guarding Suzannah, Book 1 in my Serve and Protect series. Quigg and Suzannah aren’t as comfortable as the two pictured above. Far from it! Suzannah is attracted to Quigg, her self-appointed protector during a scary stalking situation, but she’s very skittish sexually. Quigg is a patient man and determined to show her it can be different. Let’s watch them get ready to get “cozy” on the couch:
She held up a hand to stop him. “I know what I’m talking about, John. It’s not like I tried it once and decided okay, I guess sex isn’t for me. I do feel stirrings from time to time. I am human. And when it seemed like the right thing to do, the natural progression in a relationship, I tried it.” She dropped her eyes, twisting the delicate stem of the now empty wine glass in her hand. “It never got any better.”
“I don’t believe that for a minute,” he said. “The way you kissed me –”
“That’s why I was so upset last night. For a few minutes, it felt like I could … like I might want to….”
Her voice trailed off and the room was silent for a moment. When he spoke, his voice was a disbelieving croak. “And you don’t think you can get that back? Is that the trouble?”
She colored. “You don’t understand.”
“No, sweetheart, you don’t understand.” He stood and held a hand out to her. “Come here.”
She took a step back. “That was last night. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to go to bed with you anymore.”
God, she was beautiful. And so earnest. She really believed she was frigid. “Who said anything about bed?” he asked, advancing a step closer.
“Have sex, then.” Her voice was tight as she retreated another step.
“Who said anything about sex?” Something leapt in her eyes, and he didn’t think it was fear, though she did take another step backward. He smiled. “Don’t you want to know if you can recapture the feeling?”
The yearning and fear that chased across her face made his heart squeeze. This time when he reached for her hand, she didn’t retreat, possibly because she’d backed herself up against the antique buffet and had nowhere to go.
“Come on, Suzannah, trust me this once,” he said. “No pressure, no expectation, just some good old-fashioned necking on the couch.” He stroked the inside of her wrist, where her pulse pounded madly, though with fear or excitement, he couldn’t say. But she certainly wasn’t indifferent.
She chewed the inside of her lip. “I don’t know.”
“What have you got to lose? If it doesn’t work for you, you can tell me to take my hands off you. How’s that?”
He was gratified to see her breath come faster, but still she held out.
“I don’t get it. What’s in it for you?”
He laughed. “Baby, if you still have to ask that when we’re done, you can give me a failing grade.”
“Won’t it be … frustrating?”
“That’s a small price, and one I’ll happily pay.” Especially since he’d been fantasizing about kissing that prim mouth into a flushed, swollen bloom since the first moment he’d laid eyes on her in the courtroom two years ago.
Still she hesitated.
“I won’t let things get out of hand, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Even as he offered the assurance, he prayed for the strength and patience he was going to need to call upon to keep his promise.
With those two words and the trust implicit in them, any doubts about his self control fell away. He’d damned well die of sexual frustration before he betrayed that trust.
He stroked his thumb along the inside of her wrist again, felt the heat of her blood, the strength of her pulse. “So, what do you say?”
“Okay,” she said, her voice high and thin. He felt her fingers flex around his. “Okay, let’s do it.”
So, what’s you favorite way to heat up an autumn night? (Remember – keep it clean!) Post a comment below and you name will be entered in a draw to win one of two prizes:
- A signed copy of my newest romantic suspense from Montlake Romance, Every Breath She Takes (which is currently #1 in Romantic Suspense and #1 in Fantasy, Futuristic & Ghost!); or
- A USD $10 Gift Certificate from Amazon.com or another online bookstore of your choice that sells gift certificates.
Once you’ve commented, please continue on your way! There’s lots more fun to be had and prizes to be won, culminating with the main prize, the ginormous $155 Gift Certificate giveaway! If these links don’t work for you, please visit the bloghop host site, Bella Media Management, and pick up where you left off. Happy hopping!
- H.D. Thomson – Paranormal Romance Author (Int)
- Bella Media Management
- Caris Roane
- Wendy Ely
- Dominique Eastwick (Int)
- The Wiccan Haus (Int)
- Romance Author Vanessa North
- The Beautiful People: A Writer’s Journey
- Malia Mallory
- Jannifer Labelle (Labelle Books)
- Discovering Nya Rayne
- June Kramin
- Tmonique Stephens
- Ann Montclair “Love Triumphs Past and Present”
- Author Nancy Lee Badger
- Kharisma Rhayne
- Happily Ever After Thoughts
- Janna Shay
- Kenra Daniels
- Kathryn R. Blake – A Writer’s Naughty Thoughts
- Sarah Gilman: A Thing for Wings
- CS Maxwell – Where’s My Muse?
- Confessions of a Writer
- A Page in the Life – Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
- Kim Carmichael’s Blog
- Sandra Cox
- Dirty Details – Author Alyssa Turner
- Jezebel Jorge – Witch Lit
- Elizabeth Black
- Holly Adair (Int)
- Juliette Springs – The Darker Side of Romance
- Natalie-Nicole Bates
- Imagination Gone Wild
- Amber Kallyn (Int)
- Lawna Mackie – Romance, Wolves and Christmas
- Dianna Venetta
- Ami Blackwelder’s Novels
- Norah Wilson Writes (Int)
- Not Now…Mommy’s Reading
- Cassandra Dean (Int)
- Loni Flowers – Contemporary Romance
- L.J. Kentowski – Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
- Journeys with Jana – Jana Richards
- Susan Frances, Romance Author
- I Smell Sheep
- Booked & Loaded (US/CAN)
- Lexxx Christian: The Southern Belle from Hell
- Bloodthirsty Muses – Author H.A. Fowler
- Alt/Dark Romance by A. Sangrey Black
- Love is a Many Flavored Thing
- Sara Daniel Romance Author (Int)
- Annalynne Russo Vampire Scribe
- Cinsearae S., Dark Para Rom/Horror Author
- Taylor Michaels
- The Jeep Diva (US & Int)
Welcome to the Rock*It Reads Heating Up the Holidays Blog Hop. There are 15 stops on the blog tour. The more blogs you visit and comment on, the greater your chances of winning the grand prize, a $75 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble or Amazon, and a huge collection of books from the authors of Rock*It Reads. Smaller prizes will be available at each stop along the way.
Good luck, and have fun!
What better way to heat up your holidays than with the hot, sexy men of our romance novels?
I have to have a picture of my hero in my mind before I start. Sometimes that mental picture morphs a bit as I get deeper into the character, but sometimes the physical image of him holds for me through to the end. Here are two such cases.
The first hero I’ll tell you about is Tommy Godsoe, a police dog handler who has been sidelined by injury, from my book Protecting Paige (Serve and Protect, #3). It was important to the story that he be quite a bit younger than the heroine, Paige, a youthful-looking single mother. I also wanted him to be very attractive, with sensual features and a slightly dissolute look. He had to be very lean, with the body of a runner (K-9 handlers have to be extremely fit). As I searched my memory banks—and countless celebrity image sites—I found the perfect match: Jakob Dylan, of The Wallflowers. Here’s a YouTube clip of Jakob (it starts to close in on his face about 42 seconds in, if you want to advance it).
No doubt listening non-stop to Red Letter Days, my favorite CD by The Wallflowers, as I wrote the book contributed to Jakob’s image persisting throughout. But when it came to creating the book’s cover, unfortunately Jakob wasn’t available. ,-) I really like this cover, but it’s an example of the compromises you have to make. I’ve yet to land a cover where the hero truly looks the way I imagine him. That being the case, what I strive to do is capture something true about the story. I think this does that nicely.
Another character whose image I had firmly in my mind was Cal Taggart, the hero from Every Breath She Takes. He’s a former champion bull rider who has retired from the rodeo to run a cow-calf operation in the Alberta foothills. Most bull riders are very compact men. The tall, rangy ones tend to get whiplashed and battered. Cal’s not especially short, but he’s compact and wiry. I also didn’t want him to look like a stereotypical cowboy. I wanted him to have a sort of edgy cool factor where you could imagine him in a leather jacket astride a motorcycle as easily as on horseback. This time, I looked to television/film and found my model in a guy with a similar name—Callum Keith Rennie, affectionately known by fans as CKR. In fact, when I settled on my model, I decided that Cal would be short for Callum as a tribute to CKR. Here’s a Youtube homage appropriately titled “Callum Keith Rennie is Awesomeness”.
This cover was created for me by Montlake and I think they did a great job. You can’t really see a lot of detail of the hero in this picture, but they nailed the emotion.
Of course, the way I see the hero of my books might differ wildly from the way you see him, and that’s okay. That’s more than okay. And hey, if you’ve read either of those books, I’d love to know who you imagine as the model for either Tommy or Cal. Seriously!
Both of these guys are very lean, Tommy in a taller, rangier way, and Cal in a more compact, powerful way. But I’ve cast heroes who are as big and robust as Russell Crowe, as pretty as Jude Law, and as rugged and … well, craggy as Daniel Craig. It’s not really about body type for me. I appreciate a wide variety of men. What about you? Are you as eclectic as me, or do you have a particular look you favor? A guy who’s just your type? Let me know in your comment below. From the comments, I will draw three random winners, for the following prizes:
- $10 Gift Certificate
- Signed print copy of my Rock*It Reads book Guarding Suzannah, the first book in my Protect and Serve series; and
- Signed print copy of my newest release from Montlake Romance, Every Breath She Takes
Leave a comment below to enter for your chance to win!
Don’t forget to visit the other authors on the Blog Hop for more chances to win!
|Kris Kennedy||Bonnie Vanak||Erin Kellison|
|Sharon Page||Lila DiPasqua||Elisabeth Naughton|
|Norah Wilson||Jennifer Lyon||Monica Burns|
|Vanessa Kelly||Mia Marlowe||Joan Swan|
|Pamela Clare||Margo Maguire||Rock*It Reads|
“Rise and shine, sweetheart.”
Suzannah groaned and tried to burrow deeper into the pillows, grasping at the threads of her lovely dream. Hard masculine hands on her body, gravel-voiced words of praise in her ear, hot mouth blazing over her skin….
“Come on, Suzannah. I got a dog at home whose gonna pee on my brand new speakers if I don’t get home and let him out.”
Her eyes flew open. John Quigley. He’d stayed last night, and now he was in her bedroom. She jackknifed up, the twisted sheets pooling in her lap. “Of course. Go. Yes. By all means.” Oh, Lord, she was stammering.
“It’s early yet, barely dawn. I’d stay longer, but the dog….”
“The speakers. Right.” She pushed her hair back from her face and glanced at the digital alarm. Not yet five a.m. She glanced back at John to find his face had changed, sharpened with an edgy, dark intensity.
Oh, hell! Her nipples thrust sharply against her thin cotton tank, thanks to that dream. A dream in which the man standing by her bed, mere inches away, had played a starring role. For a wild, terrifying second, she visualized herself reaching out to touch him as she might have in the dream, her caress bold, sexual, deliberate. There wasn’t a shred of doubt in her mind that he’d answer her need with gratifying urgency.
The idea was scary, dizzying, thrilling, incredibly powerful. Then sanity returned.
She sank back down onto her pillows, pulling the covers up to her chin and burrowing back into her pillow as though to go back to sleep. “Okay,” she mumbled through the sheets. “Thanks for letting me know.”
“Whoa, whoa. Don’t go back to sleep just yet. I need you to throw the deadbolt behind me. It’s getting lighter by the minute, but I’d feel better if the bolt were thrown.”
Damn. “Okay.” She sat up again, this time with the sheets modestly clamped to her chest. “Give me a sec. I’ll drag on a robe and meet you down there.”
His eyes said eloquently that he wished she wouldn’t bother with the robe, but he merely nodded and withdrew.
The moment she heard his tread on the stairs, she leapt out of bed. Damn it, damn it, damn it! She strode into her walk-in closet and yanked a silk robe off a hanger with less care than the garment deserved. Of all the men in her world for her to fixate on, why this one? He was arrogant, pushy, exasperating in the extreme. Too tough, too forceful, too … yang.
And he was a cop.
So why did her body light up for him as it did for no other?
Chemistry. Random, unreasoning, unfortunate chemistry.
She pulled the robe on, wrapping it around her. Well, she never had been very good at chemistry back in school. And she’d get along very well without it fogging her brain again, thank you. On that thought, she cinched the belt of her robe tightly around her waist and marched downstairs to lock Detective John Quigley out of her house, and with any luck, out of her life.
So, I’m not the most tech savvy blogger/author/writer person you ever met, but I do like a cool widget. Here’s one I nabbed from Amazon.com. If I’ve done this properly, you should be able to see all my books below on a carousel!
Okay, they’re not all MY books. Several are collaborations with my writing partner, Heather Doherty. Those would be the very kick-ass YAs, THE SUMMONING and ASHLYN’S RADIO.
So, just push an arrow and watch the carousel turn. Wheeee!
Also, if I’ve done this right, if you hover your mouse over the book, it’ll show you how many reviews the book has and what the average star rating is. And if you click on a book, it’ll take you to Amazon where you can BUY it!
So, what do you think? Is this not nine levels of AWESOME?