Interview with Lynn Raye Harris, Author of Hot Pursuit

Please welcome USA TODAY bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris to the virtual offices this morning.  She’s here to chat about Hot Pursuit.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Lynn Raye Harris ] I’m a Southern girl who loves romance novels, hot military guys, kitty cats, and shopping — especially when shoes are involved.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Hot Pursuit?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant, her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.
But then someone starts shooting at her, her sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man big enough and bad enough to help.
Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s wedding.
But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead, staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Boy, that’s the million dollar question!  Hot Pursuit took a lot of time and thought, because it was my first suspense and I actually began it around 2005.  I wrote many versions of it over the years because I believed in this story and these characters!  I think Evie came to me first.  She was down on her luck, but not completely defeated.  And then there was David, her ex-partner who stole everything.  That came from a real life incident that happened to someone I knew.  She’d started her own restaurant and had this suave boyfriend who went in on it with her.  And then one day he took the money out of the safe, in front of her, and told her there was nothing she could do about it.  Well, David is a bit more sneaky than that, but that’s where that idea came from!  Matt had to be a military guy because in 2005 that was my life.  My husband was in the Air Force and I was surrounded by military.  I love a man in uniform!  Mr. Harris hasn’t worn one since 2007, but they’re still in the closet.  I’m thinking about asking him to put one on… ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Evie?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Determined, loyal, and kind.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Matt had a theme song, what would it be?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] It’s cheesy but how could it not be Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For a Hero?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Evie is never without.

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Her determination to land on her feet!  She’s not always certain she will, but when she starts to feel sorry for herself, she gets mad and vows she will come out on top in the end.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Matt’s bathroom?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] A bottle of cologne (who has time for that?), Crest Whitestrips (really, he’s a badass, he doesn’t walk around with strips on his teeth), and male skin care products (he’s too manly for that, though I’ve implored Mr. Harris for years to moisturize — you can guess the answer).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Evie’s greatest regret?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Not keeping in better contact with her baby sister as she grew up.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Oh my, I’m not sure!  I get inspired by many things.  Reading, watching a movie, listening to a friend tell a story, people watching.  Everything goes in the churn in my head and you never know what will come out!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] I must have a computer.  Not a longhand writer at all, though I can in a pinch.  I also like to have quiet, though sometimes music is good.  And knowing there are readers waiting for the result?  That’s the best thing of all. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Hot Pursuit?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Oh man, there are so many!  Like I said before, this book was written and rewritten a few times, so there were many distractions.  One of the most major distractions was me.  I wasn’t sure it was good enough.  I doubted myself and questioned and second-guessed and wondered if anyone besides me would ever want to read this story.  The response thus far has been overwhelming and vindicating too.  An agent added to my doubts when she told me the book wasn’t dark or gritty enough and wouldn’t sell to a big house.  The book never went out on submission, so I won’t know if that’s true or not — but the readers seem to enjoy it just the way it is!  I wrote it because I love stories just like this.  Very romantic adventures with action and suspense but lots of romance too.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare.  I *love* a bookish spinster heroine and the handsome rake.  So so much.  Oh, when Colin begins to see that Miranda is intriguing beneath those glasses?  Melts my heart.  I could not put that book down!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] That’s kinda hard, because I’ve always been a reader, but when I was a kid my favorite books by far were the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley.  I devoured them.  And I wanted to write stories just like that! 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] Watch good things on TV with my husband, shop for shoes and clothes and the occasional antique, hang out with friends, and go for drives in the countryside.  We live in the South and there is so much to see.  Just last weekend we saw a gorgeous plantation home called Rattle and Snap. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Lynn Raye Harris ] You can find me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLynnRayeHarris
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LynnRayeHarris
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2973925.Lynn_Raye_Harris
Wattpad:  http://www.wattpad.com/user/LynnRayeHarris

Come say hello!  Also, I love my newsletter subscribers.  Once a month, on the first, I give away a $50 gift card to Amazon, B&N, or Kobo to one lucky subscriber.  All you have to do is subscribe!  I only send emails when I have a new release, and I do not share your address with anyone.  I don’t believe in spamming you when you’ve trusted me with your information!  And hey, you might win a gift card!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase links:

coming soon!

 

About the book:

The last man she ever wanted to see…

Might be the only one who can save her…

Things are about to get HOT in the bayou!

Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant, her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.

But then someone starts shooting at her, her sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man big enough and bad enough to help.

Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s wedding.

But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead, staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.

Things are about to get HOT in the bayou!

About the author:

Bio:  USA Today bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris burst onto the scene when she won a writing contest held by Harlequin. The prize was an editor for a year — but only six months later, Lynn sold her first novel. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome husband and two crazy cats. You can learn more at her website, www.LynnRayeHarris.com.
For more information about HOT PURSUIT, visit Lynn’s book page at http://www.lynnrayeharris.com/books/hot-pursuit/.  Buy links will be posted there as soon as the book is live on all the retailers’ sites!

Interview with Anne Elizabeth, Author of SEAL at Heart & Giveaway!

Anne Elizabeth, author of SEAL at Heart, is visiting the virtual offices today.  Please give her a warm welcome! After the interview, enter for your chance to win a copy of SEAL at Heart!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 words or less.

[Anne Elizabeth] I’m a romance writer, comic book creator, monthly columnist, wife, step-mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, godmother, daughter, sister, friend, and adventurer. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about SEAL at Heart?

[Anne Elizabeth] Being a SEAL means everything to Petty Officer First Class John Roaker. So when a head injury coupled with a bout of amnesia takes him out of the action, he has to find a way to heal his wounds and recover his lost memories. Enlisting the help of beautiful physical therapist Laurie Smith, he heals his body and discovers that his unlocked memories hold a dangerous secret about his last mission that threatens his life, his country, and the woman he’s starting to fall in love with.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Anne Elizabeth] One night, my husband and I were sitting around the dinner table with a friend talking about SEALS and romance. The idea popped out of my mouth and I knew it was the one. BTW, my husband is retired from the Teams.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Laurie?

[Anne Elizabeth] Courageous, passionate, and determined.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Jack had a theme song, what would it be?

[Anne Elizabeth] Queen, WE WILL ROCK YOU

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Laurie won’t leave the house without.

[Anne Elizabeth] Laurie would never leave the house without her purse. It holds all the magical things she cannot live without during the day–from lipstick to a small first aid kit. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Jack’s bedroom?

[Anne Elizabeth] Collectible figurines, framed photographs, and large pieces of furniture—Jack doesn’t have any of those things.  Instead, he can pack and be out the door in under an hour with everything he owns packed in duffel bags. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Anne Elizabeth] I have a lot of creative influences. From my husband’s presence to the nature surrounding us, I draw it all in and it ends up in my stories.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Anne Elizabeth] In order to craft, I need a strong connection with my story and characters, support from my family and friends, and my laptop. I also need time–an opportunity to research, think, and type.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Anne Elizabeth] I read a lot of books. I am huge fan of Cathy Maxwell, Suzanne Brockmann, and Anne Rice. I’ve loved all of their latest books!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Anne Elizabeth] Dante’s THE DIVINE COMEDY—I’ve read that book at least a hundred times.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Anne Elizabeth] I love adventures! Kayaking on the ocean, biking or hiking in the mountains with my husband and our dog, cooking for family and friends, flying, or reading a book—these are some of my favorite activities.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Anne Elizabeth] Fans can contact me through my website and I’m on facebook and twitter, too.

Link to website: www.AnneElizabeth.net

Twitter: http://twitter.com/aeanneelizabeth

Link to personal Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Elizabeth/e/B002BX3M7C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Link to book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/SEAL-at-Heart-Anne-Elizabeth/dp/1402268904/ref=la_B002BX3M7C_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353888262&sr=1-1

I have a monthly column in RT BOOK REVIEWS magazine on comics, manga, and graphic novels. I also attend the Comic Cons in New York and San Diego as well as the RT BOOK LOVERS CONVENTION.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Ready to enter for a chance to win SEAL at Heart? Just fill out the widget below for your chance to win!  Earn extra entries for following.

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You can order SEAL at Heart from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the covers below.  Available in print and digital.

About the book:

Being a SEAL means everything to Petty Officer First Class John Roaker. So when a head injury coupled with a bout of amnesia makes him undeployable, he has to find a way to heal from his wounds and recover his lost memories. Enlisting the help of beautiful psychoanalyst Laurie Smith, he discovers his unlocked memories hold a dangerous secret about his last mission that threatens his life, his country, and the woman he’s starting to fall in love with.

Review: Until There Was You by Jessica Scott

 

Title: Until There Was You

Author: Jessica Scott

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

From the author of Because of You comes an all-new contemporary eBook romance. He plays by the rules, she’s not afraid to break them. Now these two strong-willed Army captains will prove that opposites attract . . .

A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Captain Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure–except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya. From that moment on, though, Evan has been at odds with her, through two deployments to Iraq and back again. But when he is asked to train a team prepping for combat alongside Claire, battle-worn Evan is in for the fight of his life.

Strong, gutsy, and loyal, Captain Claire Montoya has worked hard to earn the rank on her chest. In Evan, Claire sees a rigid officer who puts the rules before everything else–including his people. When the mission forces them together, Claire soon discovers that there is more to Evan than meets the eye. He’s more than the rank on his chest; he’s a man with dark secrets and deep longings. For all their differences, Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: Blaze of Winter, The Devil’s Thief, and Santerra’s Sin.


Review:

I read Until There Was You because it is an original Loveswept release. Loveswept has been a favorite series of mine for years, and I am delighted that Random House is releasing older titles in digital, as well as new titles. Jessica Scott’s first release, Because of You, looked intriguing, but I was swamped when it came out, so it kept getting shuffled to the bottom of the review pile. When I had the opportunity to hop onto a blog tour for Until There Was You, Jessica’s follow up, I eagerly hopped on. I haven’t read many military romances, so I wanted to give myself a little more exposure to them, and after learning that the author is in the Arm has Army experience, it became that much more interesting.

Claire Montoya is a career soldier, and after years of dedicating herself to the military and the war efforts in the Middle East, she was promoted in rank. Now an officer, her current assignment is to prep a newbie unit for the rigors of warfare. They will be deployed in five weeks, and Claire’s good friend, Sarah, is in charge of the unit. With her best friend, Reza, an enlisted man, Claire must get these young soldiers ready for their convoy duties. The task seems impossible; Claire’s superior officers are focused on skills that Claire and Reza deem unimportant to the survival of the troops. With great despair and trepidation, Claire must set aside her personal views about the training and stick to the program, or risk being disciplined and tossed out of the Army.

I found this an fascinating read because I know so little about military life. The story is set after the Surge, when US troops were supposed to provide more of a support function to the fledgling Iraqi government. Life for the deployed soldiers was still frighteningly dangerous, and Claire had been faced with many decisions early in her career that left soldiers injured or dead. She doesn’t want to see any more lives lost, so she is frantic to prepare Sarah’s troops for the dangers they are about to face. She is constantly clashing with Evan, a West Point officer she has been sparring with for years, about the appropriateness of the training schedule. She calls Evan Captain America because of his unwavering dedication to rules and his job duties. Claire is a bit of a rebel, and she’s paid a price for her outspokenness. She has not been promoted as quickly as she might have been otherwise, but she won’t back down when she thinks she’s in the right and that soldiers will be needlessly killed. The conflict between Evan and Claire seemed insurmountable to me. How could either one of them ever compromise on this very basic but personality defining stance? Follow the rules to the letter, or bend them in order save lives.

Until There Was You is a book about conflict and conflict resolution. When we meet Claire and Evan, neither of them is able to adequately work through the conflicts in their life. Claire is driven to train Sarah’s troops as best she can with Reza’s help, but Reza, having seen several deployments, is suffering from PSTD. To keep his demons at bay, he has taken to drinking excessively, partying and hooking up with women indiscriminately. He’s two steps away from being court-martialed, but Claire is skilled at running interference for him. This adds to the tension between Evan and Claire. He doesn’t see how she can, in good conscience, keep covering up for him. Reza is going to get people killed one day, if he doesn’t kill himself first. Claire already tried to save her father from the demons lurking in the bottom of a liquor bottle. Her failure haunts her, and she isn’t ready for a repeat of that.

Evan hasn’t had an easy life either. He feels responsible for his sister’s death, and his guilt has driven him away from his family and away from close relationships. He and Claire make for a sympatric couple because both of them are so damaged. Neither of them can trust themselves to care for someone else for fear of being hurt again, so it’s easy to get behind their relationship and hope that they will somehow find a way to be together, even as messed up as they both are. It is Evan who takes that first, frightening step of accepting his feelings, and of having to face his fear of Claire’s rejection.

One thing that frustrated me about this story was my lack of understanding  of military protocol. I was confused by the chain of command, and about why some of the events would have such disastrous outcomes for the characters. The pacing of the story was also uneven in parts; I found the training sequences fascinating, but found some of Evan and Claire’s missteps irritating in their frequency. Overall, this is an emotional, satisfying read, and I will have to dust off my copy of Because of You for another military romance fix.

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Jessica Scott, Author of Until There Was You

Jessica Scott is the author of Until There Was You, which is the follow-up to her debut title Because of You.  Both books are published under one of my favorite imprints, Random House’s Loveswept line.  I was delighted when Jessica recently dropped by the virtual offices to chat.  She even brought along a present for one of you  to win– a digital copy of Until There Was You! 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jessica Scott] Slightly neurotic, hyperactive mom, writer, solider, wife. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Until There Was You?

[Jessica Scott] Until There Was You is the story of two army captains who must overcome their differences to save a mutual friend from self destruction. I love that it not only features a man in uniform but a woman in uniform, too. Both are seasoned combat veterans with a whole lot of emotional scars.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jessica Scott] I wanted to write a story where the hero had to overcome the heroine’s tough exterior. Strong heroines are tough to write and still make them sympathetic but in Claire, I wanted to find a way to heal the damage from her past.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Claire?

[Jessica Scott] tough, damaged and deeply loyal  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Evan would never have in his rucksack?

[Jessica Scott] panties. No just kidding (there’s more to that story in the book). Wow, tough question. He’d never have pain medication because he’s so stubborn, he’d never have something not on the packing list. So if the list said no pogey bait, you better believe he would not have any pogey bait.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Claire had a theme song, what would it be?

[Jessica Scott] Rescue Me by Digital Summer. It’s 100% Claire’s song. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Evan started a campfire, what would he cook over the flames?

[Jessica Scott] He’d probably have some rations, properly packed and sealed. An MRE. He’d cook an MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jessica Scott] Music, honestly. I get some really crazy ideas from music. Otherwise, while it may seem like I’m wrapping myself in the flag, the soldiers around me. There’s so many stories to tell. I only help I tell them in a way that’s respectful and meaningful.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jessica Scott]  my MacBook (with scrivener), a song stuck in my head and a character that will not leave me alone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jessica Scott] it’s a toss up between Amber Lin’s Giving It Up and Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Blade. Such incredibly damaged characters. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jessica Scott] You know, I don’t ever remember not reading. I’ve always loved reading. I can tell you that authors like Anne McCaffrey are a big part of my inspiration and why I write but I can’t pick just one book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jessica Scott] um, that would imply that I have a life outside of the army and my family, which I don’t. Writing is my me time, you know?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jessica Scott] Twitter is probably the easiest. I’m @jessicascott09. I check Facebook pretty regularly (facebook.com/jessicascottauthor and I’m on goodreads though sometimes not every day. Email is the best way to reach me.

Thanks so much for having me here! I’d love to give away a copy of UNTIL THERE WAS YOU to one lucky commenter!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!!

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Didn’t win? You can preorder Until There Was You from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

New and Notable Releases: Week of September 3 Part One

Here are new adult releases for the week. It’s a monster list, with quite a few titles from my wish list.  I think I am most excited for Her Amish Man because it looks wonderfully cheesy, and  Not Proper Enough.  Are there any must haves from your list? Check back tomorrow for new and notable Young Adult releases.

Click the titles for the Amazon product page.

 

Alone Time: Visits to Petal, Part 1  by Lauren Dane (Sep 4, 2012)

Guardian (Berkley Sensation) by Catherine Mann (Sep 4, 2012)

Her Amish Man by Erin Bates (Sep 4, 2012)

 

In Rides Trouble: Black Knights Inc. . by Julie Ann Walker (Sep 4, 2012)

The Reluctant Amazon by Sandy James (Sep 3, 2012) 

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster (Sep 1, 2012)

 

A Lady and Her Magic by Tammy Falkner (Sep 1, 2012)

The Last Renegade (Berkley Sensation) by Jo Goodman (Sep 4, 2012)

Not Proper Enough (A Reforming the Scoundrels Romance) (Berkley Sensation) by Carolyn Jewel (Sep 4, 2012)

Playing to Win by Jaci Burton (Sep 4, 2012)

Ruined By Moonlight: A Whispers of Scandal Novel by Emma Wildes (Sep 4, 2012)

A Season for Sin by Vicky Dreiling (Sep 4, 2012)

When You Give a Duke a Diamond (The Fallen Ladies) by Shana Galen (Sep 1, 2012)  

Witch Born by Amber Argyle (Sep 5, 2012)

Dragon’s Moon (A Children of the Moon Novel) by Lucy Monroe (Sep 4, 2012)

 

How to Drive a Dragon Crazy (Dragon Kin) by G.A. Aiken (Sep 4, 2012)

In a Fix by Linda Grimes (Sep 4, 2012)

The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire, Book 3) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith (Sep 4, 2012)

The Lost Night (A Rainshadow Novel) ) by Jayne Castle (Sep 4, 2012)

The Map of the Sky: A Novel by Felix J Palma (Sep 4, 2012)

Primal Possession: A Moon Shifter Novel by Katie Reus (Sep 4, 2012)

Ravenous (Clare Point Vampires) by V. K. Forrest (Sep 4, 2012)

Riveted (A Novel of the Iron Seas) by Meljean Brook (Sep 4, 2012)

The Skybound Sea (The Aeons’ Gate Book Three)) by Sam Sykes (Sep 4, 2012)

A Tale of Two Vampires: A Dark Ones Novel by Katie MacAlister (Sep 4, 2012)

This Case Is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova (Sep 4, 2012)

Two Ravens and One Crow: An Iron Druid Chronicles Novella  by Kevin Hearne (Sep 4, 2012) (Novella)

The Wild Road: Book Three of Karavans by Jennifer Roberson (Sep 4, 2012)

Are any of these on your must have list?

Excerpt: Until There Was You by Jessica Scott

Thanks to Random House, here is an excerpt from Jessica Scott’s Until There Was You.  If you enjoy military romances, this one is right up your alley.  You can order the book from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking here:  Until There Was You: A Loveswept Contemporary Military Romance

There is a plot description:

From the author of Because of You comes an all-new contemporary eBook romance. He plays by the rules, she’s not afraid to break them. Now these two strong-willed Army captains will prove that opposites attract . . .

A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Captain Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure–except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya. From that moment on, though, Evan has been at odds with her, through two deployments to Iraq and back again. But when he is asked to train a team prepping for combat alongside Claire, battle-worn Evan is in for the fight of his life.
Strong, gutsy, and loyal, Captain Claire Montoya has worked hard to earn the rank on her chest. In Evan, Claire sees a rigid officer who puts the rules before everything else–including his people. When the mission forces them together, Claire soon discovers that there is more to Evan than meets the eye. He’s more than the rank on his chest; he’s a man with dark secrets and deep longings. For all their differences, Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: Blaze of Winter, The Devil’s Thief, and Santerra’s Sin.

 

UNTIL THERE WAS YOU by Jessica Scott, Excerpt

Interview with Julie Ann Walker, Author of Hell on Wheels and Giveaway!

Julie Ann Walker is the author of Hell on Wheels, the kickoff to her Black Knights, Inc series.  She recently visited the virtual offices to introduce herself, and she brought along a copy of Hell on Wheels for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Julie Ann Walker] Romantic Suspense Author, Aspiring Amateur Chef, Vino Enthusiast, World Traveler, Recovering Shoe-and-Handbag-aholic, Dog Poop Scooper Upper, Embracer of Life

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Hell on Wheels?

[Julie Ann Walker] Whew! Can I use more than 140 characters? I can? Thank goodness! Okay, so I think the best synopsis for HELL ON WHEELS came from a reviewer at Publishers Weekly: "Former Marines Grigg Morgan and Nate Weller work for Black Knights Inc., a high-tech motorcycle shop that’s really a black ops group doing side jobs for Uncle Sam. After Grigg dies on a mission, his sister, Ali—Nate’s longtime crush—gets embroiled in a plot that could get her killed. Crooked Sen. Alan Aldus becomes convinced that Ali has secret files that incriminate him, and he hires Dagan Zoelner, an ex-CIA agent, to bring Ali in. Lucky for her, Dagan has a conscience, and Nate will do anything to keep her alive even as he fights his attraction to her." That’s the story in a nutshell, just throw in some steamy sex, some flying bullets, and some really kick-ass motorcycles. Right on!

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Julie Ann Walker] I get this question a lot and it always makes me blush. Because the answer delves deep into my psyche, my own personal fantasies. You see, I’ve always kind of had a thing for two types of men. One: the military man. I mean, what’s not to love about a guy in uniform? And two: the rebel outlaw who rides a loud, mean Harley. There’s just something about a bad boy who loves the open road. And one day I thought, "what if?" What if there was a way to combine the two? That was the seed that grew into the Black Knights Inc. series. And, baby, it’s been a hell of a ride since!

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Ali?

[Julie Ann Walker] Quirky, courageous, and downright loveable.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Nate would never have in his bedroom?

[Julie Ann Walker]  It scares me a bit that my mind instantly went down a very risqué route when I read this question. But, ahem, I’ll give it a go and try to keep it PG… er, probably more NC-17. Number one: Nate would never have a television in his bedroom. After all, he’s got better things to do in there than watch Seinfeld reruns…if you know what I mean… Number two: He would never have another woman in his bedroom. Ali is his one, his only. Number three: Nate would never have a flame-thrower in his bedroom. Ha! I just wrote that last one because I couldn’t think of anything else. Although, it does seem smarter to keep the flame-thrower in the kitchen… or maybe the garage?

[Manga Maniac Café] What is Nate’s single most prized possession?

[Julie Ann Walker] You mean besides Ali? Well, that would have to be Sierra, his M-40 A5 sniper rifle. Don’t you just love a man who knows how to handle his, um, gun?

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Julie Ann Walker] My hubby is my inspiration. *Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge* No, but seriously, there’s a little bit of him in all my heroes. Shhh. Don’t tell him I said that. His head will swell so much his hats won’t fit.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Julie Ann Walker] A cup of coffee at my fingertips, my warm Labrador Retriever curled around my feet, and pictures of the locales of my latest work in progress taped to the walls around me for inspiration. Currently my office looks like a greenhouse since book four in the series takes place, partially that is, in the jungles of Costa Rica. Oh, soooo steamy!

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Julie Ann Walker] Without a doubt, that would be GLITTER BABY by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. That woman has a way of telling a story – so complex and disjointed – that leaves green with envy.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Julie Ann Walker] ROMONA AND BEEZUS by Beverly Cleary. I consumed that entire series in elementary school.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Julie Ann Walker]  I love to travel. My husband and I are trying to become part of the Travelers’ Century Club. In order to do that, we have to visit 100 countries. We aren’t even close to the goal yet, but we’re having a blast trying to get there. In fact, our last trip took us to Serbia, where we caught a taxi that drove us three and a half hours across the country to Croatia – during which time I was certain we were about to get our organs harvested. But all turned out well, and I still have both of my kidneys. One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Mark Twain, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Julie Ann Walker] Readers can reach me via the contact form on my website at www.julieannwalker.com or follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/jawalkerauthor or Twitter @JAWalkerAuthor.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

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HELL ON WHEELS BY JULIE ANN WALKER – IN STORES AUGUST 2012

Black Knights Inc.—Behind the facade of their tricked–out motorcycle shop is an elite special ops team assigned the jobs too hot for anyone else to handle.

Hold On Tight…

Ex–Marine Nate "Ghost" Weller is an expert at keeping his cool—and his distance—which makes him one hell of a sniper. It’s also how he keeps his feelings for Ali Morgan in check. Sweet, sexy Ali has always revved his engine, but she’s his best friend’s baby sister…and totally off limits.

Rough Road Ahead

Ali’s never seen anything sexier than Nate Weller straddling his custom Harley—or the flash of danger in his eyes when she tells him she’s in trouble. First something happened to her brother, and now she’s become the target of a nasty international organization. With Nate, her life is in the most capable hands possible—but her heart is another story altogether.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deep in the heart of the Windy City, three things can be found at Julie Ann Walker’s fingertips: a keyboard, a carafe of coffee, and a sleepy yellow Labrador retriever. They, along with her ever-patient husband, keep her grounded as her imagination flies high. Look for the next two books in her fast-paced series: In Rides Trouble (September 2012) and Rev It Up (October 2012).

Review: I Own the Dawn by M L Buchman

Title: I Own the Dawn

Author:  M L Buchman

Publisher:  Sourcebooks

Available in Digital:

I Own the Dawn: The Night Stalkers

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Name: Archibald Jeffrey Stevenson III
Rank: First Lieutenant, Dap Hawk Copilot
Mission: Strategy and execution of special ops maneuvers

Name: Kee Smith
Rank: Sergeant, Night Stalker Gunner and Sharpshooter
Mission: Whatever it takes to get the job done

You Wouldn’t Think It Could Get Worse, Until It Does…

When a special mission slowly unravels, it is up to Kee and Archie to get their team out of an impossible situation with international implications. With her weaponry knowledge and his strategic thinking, plus the explosive attraction that puts them into exact synchrony, together they might just have a fighting chance.

Review:

I don’t read many military romances, and I’m not sure why.  I loved the urgency and the tension; one mistake could mean injury or death for Kee or one of the members of her special ops team.  Given her impulsiveness and single-minded determination to carry out a mission, that could spell trouble for her crewmates.  Add in the distraction from a forbidden romance on top of that and Kee and Archie could be in for a rocky ride.  Scratch that – they are guaranteed to have a nearly disastrous time!

Kee is a hard woman to like, and she actually likes it that way.  She is not a character that I am used to reading.  Volatile and  prickly, she doesn’t let anyone get close to her.  She guards her past unrelentingly, and while she doesn’t mind a roll in the sheets, there is no way she is going to trust her heart to some guy.  That’s just not happening.  Too complicated, and with her life on the line with every mission, it’s too distracting.  That is, until she is transferred to Emily Beale’s SOAR team, where she meets Archibald Jeffrey Stevenson III, a guy who is everything that she is not. A graduate of West Point,  from a wealthy background, Archie is also an officer and a relationship with him could spell big trouble.  He could get court-martialed, and Kee wouldn’t emerge unscathed should their relationship become public knowledge.   Kee decides that it’s just not worth it, until an unplanned vacation to Italy breaks down her best intentions to stay away from him.

While I was reading I Own the Dawn, I actually felt more comfortable with Archie.  He is a character I immediately liked and could relate to.   Kee, on the other hand, made me uncomfortable.  She comes from the streets, and she is unbelievably tough.  She is also an unapologetic killer.  Trained as a sharpshooter, she rarely misses a target.  I found myself uneasy in her head at times, because she has to be cool under pressure, ready to eliminate her assigned target, which is usually an enemy combatant.  People die when Kee pulls the trigger of her rifle, and sometimes that didn’t sit well with me.  I guess I am not used to heroines in contemporary romances being capable of carrying out deadly missions or murdering gang members.  I know that I am far too wimpy for the life and death confrontations that are part of Kee’s life.  It was difficult for me to embrace Kee’s  profession.  There are definitely gender biases at work, here, too, which I am chagrined to admit.  I don’t know how I would have felt if Archie had been the sharpshooter, or if he had been the hard-ass in this story. 

The relationship between Archie and Kee develops slowly, and I enjoyed the tension that boiled between them.  Kee keeps him at arms length, emotionally, afraid that a long-term commitment with him would never work.  Their backgrounds are too different, she believes, and so she does everything she can to keep from getting her feelings destroyed.  Physical pleasure is one thing, but she just can’t bring herself to trust him with her heart.  Archie, on the other hand, is bewildered by the abrupt change in Kee’s attitude towards him, and after avoiding the situation, he finally lays everything on the line and tells her how he feels.  I have to admit that I was getting frustrated with both of them, and while I expected Kee to be unable to communicate her  feelings for Archie, I was so disappointed that it took him so long to finally confront Kee about the issue of their relationship.  Any longer and I think I would have hurled the book against the nearest wall.  Maybe I was giving Archie too much credit.

There were a few plot points that I didn’t like or find believable, the first being their vacation to Italy just a few weeks after Kee is assigned to Emily’s crew.  It was too convenient, and made the super secret mission they were recalled for even more over the top.  I also found it unlikely that Dilya, the Uzbek orphan that Kee is caring for, would be allowed to continue living at the base or would be allowed to continue on with the crew’s other super secret and super dangerous mission after the young stowaway was discovered onboard the chopper.  They had just been shot at and nearly taken out of the sky.  I found it hard to swallow that Emily would allow a young child to stay onboard when they were heading into even more dangerous territory, not to mention the distraction she presented to the crew.

Even though I Own The Dawn didn’t always work for me, I enjoyed the story and characters enough to want to learn more about them.  The Night is Mine is the first book in the series, and I haven’t read it yet.  It follows Emily and Mark’s story, and I am assuming the next book will be about Connie Davis, a new arrival at the base.  I liked her the little bit she was in the book, and I’m curious to see who she ends up with.  I also found this exposure to military romance exciting, so I’m eager to explore other titles.  If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher