Posts Tagged ‘Rock*It Reads’
I am so pumped today to play host to Vanessa Kelly. Vanessa is one-half of the husband-and-wife writing team, V.K. Sykes. She’s also a writing pal, a fellow Canadian, and a fellow Rock*It Reads author. Vanessa and her hubby Randy Sykes have a brand new sports romance out, this one an awesome romantic suspense. Take it away, Vanessa!
VANESSA KELLY: Hi, Norah! Thanks so much for helping me celebrate the release of my new VK Sykes romantic suspense, Lethal Confessions.
When my hubby and I were brainstorming characters for Lethal Confessions, we decided we wanted our heroine to be a fish-out-of-water. The setting for the story is the world of minor league baseball in Palm Beach County, Florida. We knew our heroine would be a homicide detective, and we knew she would be smart enough and tough enough to fit into that demanding environment. But we also wanted her to be something of an outsider.
So we made Amy Robitaille a transplanted Francophone from Quebec who emigrated with her parents from Montreal to Palm Beach when she was a young teenager. Amy hated the move to Florida, but over the years she eventually came to embrace her new country. But she never forgot her beloved Quebec, or completely gave up thinking in French. It was a lot of fun to put her in situations with the tough alpha males—some of them good old boys—who work with her in the Homicide Unit.
The brutal murder of her twin sister drove Amy Robitaille into a career as a homicide detective for Palm Beach County. When a serial killer targets the wives of local baseball players, Amy has more than just a professional interest at stake—her only surviving sister fits the profile of the other victims. Amy’s hell-bent on catching the killer, not only to protect her sister but to destroy the demons haunting her since the death of her twin.
Baseball star and former soldier Luke Beckett has just retired from the game and is looking to move on with his life. When he’s asked to consult on the serial killer case for the local police, he finds the challenge he needs—despite the objections of lead detective Amy Robitaille. But Luke has no intention of backing away from the job and every intention of getting to know the intriguing detective.
Amy has no time to babysit a celebrity consultant while trying to catch a serial killer. But Luke is not the man she assumed him to be and he threatens to become a powerful distraction. That’s the last thing she needs, especially when the killer starts closing in on her family. But without Luke’s help, Amy stands to lose everything.
Here’s a little snippet of Amy—the first meet with the hero, former pro baseball player, Luke Beckett.
The tall, broad-shouldered man strode through the double sliding doors of the hospital as if he owned the place, and suddenly Amy Robitaille felt like she was sixteen again. Back home in Montreal with her girlfriends. She didn’t much care for the feeling and almost stumbled over her own feet in surprise.
Luke Beckett. The last time she’d seen the man in the flesh had been when her girlfriends had dragged her to a late season Montreal Expos baseball game to moon over him. Le Grand Luc, the player soon to be named rookie of the year, already darling of the team’s faithful, and heartthrob to practically every silly female in Quebec.
Amy almost laughed. Could it really be fifteen years ago? She felt like she’d aged a half-century in the meantime. But the years had treated Beckett with an easy hand. He was still as hot as the twenty-two year old superstar whose talent and ambition had overshadowed even Montreal’s hockey stars for a few years. Maybe even hotter. Maturity sat well on his lean, handsome features.
As he strode through the lobby in her general direction, she automatically gave him a quick scan. She was used to working with big men—tall, burly cops who threw off guy hormones like a wet dog shakes off water. But Beckett, as big as he was, had more than size and GQ looks. He had the smooth grace of the gifted athlete. And, deep inside, in a place she kept under lock and key, something responded to all that masculine perfection and power, sending a flush of unwelcome heat purring through her body.
Beckett glanced her way, catching her undoubtedly startled expression and the brief hitch in her step. Then he dropped his eyes to the gun and badge on her belt. He veered toward her, his mouth lifting in a dazzling smile that froze her in her tracks.
Amy didn’t want to stop. She had no desire to speak to Luke Beckett, however famous or handsome he might be.
But Beckett clearly had her in his sights. He strolled up to her, assuming, no doubt, that a lowly police detective, especially one of the female variety, would welcome a brief brush with greatness.
“Ma’am, I just thought I’d say hello,” he said in a seductive southern drawl. “I talk to a lot of police officers here at the hospital, but we haven’t met before. I’m Luke Beckett.” He stuck out his hand, a mitt big enough to engulf both of hers. He clearly thought she’d recognized him, and he was right.
Reluctantly, her hand came forward and disappeared into his oversized paw. “Detective Amy Robitaille.” She inwardly cursed the catch in her voice.
He must have heard it, too, because his smile kicked up a notch. He tilted his head, looking curious, and a lock of black hair feathered across his forehead.
Calice, this guy is good. Maybe he practiced in front of a mirror.
“Roh-bi-tie…” He drew the syllables out in a lazy cadence, one she felt down the backs of her legs. “With that name and that accent, I’d guess you’re from Montreal. Did you recognize me from up there?” His dark eyes seemed to laugh at her. “I sure did love that town.”
“And Montreal loved you right back,” Amy said, starting to inch around him. “Yes, I grew up there.”
Beckett shifted a little. Not enough to block her path, but enough to make it clear he wanted to continue the conversation.
She repressed a groan. Beckett reminded her of Gabe Labrash, though admittedly her ex-boyfriend wasn’t as poster handsome as the man standing in front of her. Gabe had taught her the dangers of getting involved with a pro athlete, but that wasn’t a good enough reason to be flat-out rude to a stranger.
His eyes flicked down over her chest to the ID card on her belt. “Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, right?”
“You have sharp eyes,” she said.
“I recognized the colors and the logo right away.” He cleared his throat. “Est-ce que tu viens à l’hôpital souvent?”
Amy gave a reluctant smile at his decent stab at French. His use of the familiar “tu” was a little forward, but she decided not to use the stiff “vous” in response. “C’est beau, ton débit. Tu parles français pas mal,” she said, and then switched back to English. “I’m impressed. Your accent isn’t half bad.”
He shook his head. “I used to speak a fair bit of French, but now I’m rusty as hell. I left Montreal nine years ago, and I haven’t kept it up.”
Amy nodded, knowing how easy it was to lose your French in southern Florida. Sure, there were thousands of Quebec expatriates and snowbirds there, and you could buy La Presse in some Fort Lauderdale convenience stores. But English was too dominant to allow most people to preserve their native language and pass it down. She’d managed, but only through iron will and fanatical determination to spend every vacation in Quebec since her family had forced her to leave. But her younger sister, Marie-Louise, had already lost some of her fluency, and M.L.’s little boy would probably be barely functional in French.
“It’s hard to maintain a language in a foreign environment,” she said, beginning to enjoy the conversation.
Beckett shifted closer. It was an easy, fluid movement, but one which brought her native sense of caution flooding back.
“Are you visiting someone here, Detective?” he asked. “Or working a case?”
Amy cast a pointed look toward the hospital exit. “I dropped in to see a ten year-old girl. A bystander caught in the middle of a double homicide shootout last week. She was transferred down here for follow-up surgery. I was just checking to see how she was doing.”
The tough lines of his face softened a bit. “Poor kid. What’s her name? I’ll drop by.”
Amy hesitated, caught off guard by his offer. “Tanesha Malone. That…that would be nice of you.”
He flashed another devastating grin. “No problem. I’ll make sure I catch her.”
“I guess you’re doing one of those celebrity visits,” Amy said, thinking back to all the times she’d seen athletes, actors, and politicians make whirlwind tours of children’s hospitals.
Beckett’s smile faded. “Not really.” He suddenly sounded cool.
Shut your big mouth, Amy. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to give offense.”
He actually looked kind of pissed. “That’s okay. I just don’t like to be stereotyped.”
She started to back away, hating that her self-assurance seemed to be taking a perplexing nose dive. Thank you, Luke Beckett. “I understand. Well, if you’ll excuse me—”
“Before you go,” he interrupted. “I recognized your ID because a good friend of mine heads up the Violent Crimes Division at the Sheriff’s Office. Kellen Cramer. You must know him.”
Amy knew Kellen Cramer, all right. Her boss, captain and commander of the division that included her Homicide Unit. Talk about a small world. And not in a good way.
She dredged up a smile. “Of course. I’ll mention to him that I ran into you, Mr. Beckett.” She kept backing away. “Have a good day.”
Beckett raised his eyebrows, his gaze latching onto her with a sharp return of interest. Sexual interest, by the look of it. But she didn’t stick around long enough to give him a chance to reply. Every cop instinct she possessed shrieked that Luke Beckett was capable of weaving a web and capturing a victim in the time it took to drink a cup of coffee.
Amy simply refused to play fly to Luke Beckett’s spider. Not after Gabe Labrash. She wouldn’t make that mistake twice.
What’s your favorite type of heroine in romantic suspense novels? One person who comments will win a copy of my award-winning VK Sykes anthology, The Philadelphia Patriots.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Vanessa! If I didn’t already own the book, I’d be off to snag it after reading that snippet.
Okay, it’s comment time! On the line is that awesome box set which contains the three novels, Fastball, Hardball and Bigger Than Beckham.
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|
To set the scene, Fredericton Police Detective Ray Morgan has been forced to take the wife he believes has been unfaithful on the lam with him while he tries to figure out who is trying to kill them. She’d shocked him to the core a week ago when she’d announced she was leaving him to go join some unnamed other man, but she’d wound up crashing her car on the way out of town and no longer remembers anything. Not the name of the guy, not even the fact that she was having an affair. Her neurologist says the memories may come back, but she needs time and peace and rest. That plan goes out the window when bullets start flying and Ray gets jammed up by an internal investigation he fears is a frame job. He has to keep them safe until he can unravel the mystery and safely go back to his life. What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with his wife of five years, for real this time.
Ray was right, Grace thought, as she clutched the towel around her shoulders. Her hair had always been her “thing”. A full, rich sable, it fell perfectly straight with the lightest encouragement with a brush and blow dryer. Everything else about her might be forgettable, but people noticed her hair.
It seemed only right somehow that she should sacrifice it.
“Okay, give me some guidance, here.”
Poor Ray. He’d dodged bullets back there in that parking lot without breaking a sweat, but his hands were shaking now. She pretended not to notice.
“Just comb out a small section, then pull it tight between your fingers.”
“Forget it, Grace. I’m not cutting it that short. There’d be nothing left for the hairdresser to fix.”
“But that’s hardly short enough to make any difference.”
They compromised, agreeing on a mid-length.
“Okay, what now?”
“Just angle your fingers like so.” She used her own fingers to demonstrate.
“Perfect. Now snip away.”
He muttered something that sounded like “Hail Mary,” and snipped.
The coppery lock fell onto her denim-covered knee. No going back now. For a moment, panic assailed her.
She cleared her throat. “That’s good. Keep going.”
The second lock fell, this one hitting the newspapers, joining Ray’s impossibly blond hairs. She blinked rapidly. It was just hair. An external manifestation of her stupid vanity. She would not cry.
Besides, her old precision haircut was fine for the woman she’d been before this nightmare started. The new Grace needed something different. It was going to take all the courage she could scrape together to get through this. Just as her smooth coif had given her poise and polish, maybe a sassier color and a rough-and-ready cut would lend her the edge she needed.
Image was everything, right? Fake it until you can make it.
“What do I do with the front?”
She glanced up at Ray. His mouth was set in that way that made his jawbones stand out, the grooves bracketing his mouth deeper than ever. He looked like a man completely out of his depth and hating it.
“Leave it fairly long, about so.” She indicated a spot at the level of her cheekbone.
“Christ, I’m probably making a mess of this.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she assured him. “With all the mousse and hair spray I bought at that drug store, I could probably make it look like the CN Tower, if I wanted to.”
That earned a laugh, but when he made the next snip, his jaw had again taken on that grim line. The chair wasn’t high enough, she noticed. He had to bend to do the job, which must be killing his back.
And that’s not all she noticed, now that her panic had passed. His hands were clumsy in her hair, compared to the brisk competence of her stylist. But they were gentler, too. He separated the next section delicately, easing the comb through a snarl. She shivered.
“It’s okay. It doesn’t hurt.”
But it did hurt. Quite suddenly, it hurt a lot. It hurt that this was the first time he’d voluntarily touched her for so long, apart from that display they put on for the clerk.
And, oh, that scene in the office! She dropped her eyelids, her face heating at the memory. The way he’d touched her….
She clamped down on the warmth flooding her belly. Nothing had changed. Their performance had been necessary to divert the clerk’s attention.
Still, awareness shimmered through her when he pushed his fingers through her hair again.
“Almost done. Then you can get that cold towel off your shoulders,” he said, obviously mistaking her shiver.
True to his word, he was soon finished. Grace didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed when he pronounced her done. Removing the towel from around her neck, she strode to the closet-sized bathroom to inspect her new appearance. She flipped the switch for the overhead light and froze.
Yikes! Was that really her? Her eyes looked huge, her chin more pointed. Lord, it even seemed to lift her cheekbones.
Ray’s reflection appeared behind her in the mirror. “What’s the verdict?”
“Sorry,” he said gruffly. “I told you it was a mistake.”
“No, it’s good. You did a better job on me than I did on you.”
“Really. A little mousse and a blow dryer and it’ll kick butt.”
He just regarded her in the mirror, unspeaking, a yellow-haired stranger.
She pushed a tendril of hair behind her ear and sighed. “I suppose I should style it now, so we can hit the road.”
“No, let’s get a few hours sleep first. We can finish our transformations in the morning.”
She met his gaze in the mirror. “I thought we were going to sneak away under cover of night?”
He shook his head. “Better to blend in with rush hour traffic tomorrow morning than travel tonight. I just wanted to pay for the room in advance so we wouldn’t have to show ourselves to the clerk after we’d morphed.”
“We actually get to grab some sleep?”
The corners of his mouth turned up at her obvious relief, his eyes crinkling the way she loved. She smiled back into the mirror. For a few seconds, despite their altered appearances, they were the old Ray and Grace, but then his face sobered again.
“You take the bed; I’ll sleep in the chair.”
He turned and left the bathroom, leaving her staring into the mirror at the empty spot where he’d stood. She drew a deep breath, then followed him.
“That’s not going to work, Ray. You’ll insist on driving tomorrow, which is fine, but that means you’re the one who needs the rest. I’ll take the chair tonight, then doze in the car tomorrow.”
“I can sleep anywhere, Grace. It’s part of the training. You, on the other hand, would sit awake all night, and we can’t have that. We’re both gonna have to be sharp.”
And you’d rather wake up with a cricked neck, a sore back and a killer headache than share that bed with me.
She felt like crying again, which was really stupid. He’d slept on the couch every night since she’d come home from the hospital. Why should it hurt that he sleep elsewhere again?
She shrugged and turned away. “Suit yourself,” she said, picking up a t-shirt and disappearing back into the bathroom.