Posted by Nancy Northcott Apr 18 2013, 11:38 am in Boom, Dee Davis, favorite books, favorite videos, Georgette Heyer, historical romance, Jessica Andersen, Nancy's blogs, Nora Roberts, paranormal romance, Patricia Rice, small town romance
Sorry about the late blog, everybody! My head was wrapped around a different day, but I’m here now and ready to roll.
There are certain books or videos I go to when I need to kick back, relax and read or watch something I know I’ll enjoy. Anything by Georgette Heyer makes that list, and I’ve built up a good collection of her books. If I want to see a smart, brave guy with a wicked sense of humor turn the tables on his snooty, condescending relatives, I go for The Unknown Ajax.
Or I might reach for Frederica (love the way the Merrivilles upend Alverstoke’s neatly ordered and self-centered life) or, if I want something a little darker, Regency Buck (is the hero really a hero? Or is he a villain in disguise), or, if I’m the mood for clashing swords, The Conqueror (can an invading Norman knight win the heart of a Saxon maid while his liege tries to win the country?).
Those are my top four favorites of hers.
In the clashing swords video department, with a touch of mystical fantasy thrown in, is The Thirteenth Warrior, starring Antonio Banderas. Our frequent guest Gerri Russell recommended this movie to me. I love the Viking elements and the evolution of Banderas’ character from scholar to warrior. And, of course, the thirteen warriors risking themselves to protect a kingdom from bear cult marauders has a lot of appeal.
My all-time favorite ever book is To Kill A Mockingbird. I was so disappointed that the museum in Monroeville, AL, was closed when we were in that area last summer. But it’s not a comfortable choice. It’s a thought-provoking book, a beautifully written book, with justice served at the end, but it’s sad, too.
Books or movies with a heavy eew factor also don’t make the list. Eew moments are not relaxing. Sagas also don’t qualify for me. So the LOTR trilogy, book or film, doesn’t qualify as a comfort choice. Now, there are some eew moments in The Thirteenth Warrior, I have to admit. Sword fight are not, er, tidy. But the rest of the movie outweighs the eew factor, so maybe it’s better to say the eew has to be outweighed by the fun stuff
Boom, on the other hand, why, that’s very cathartic. Hence the presence of SWAT on my comfort list and my video shelf. It has lots and lots of boom and stars Colin Farrell as the sympathetic hero (Farrell’s character, Jim Street, played by the late Robert Urich, was my favorite of the TV SWAT guys).
Samuel L. Jackson is the tough mentor, Jeremy Renner is the sleazy bad guy, and Michelle Rodriguez is great as the kick-butt female cop. Maybe we should qualify this, though, by saying that the boom cannot be accompanied by the spurting blood and graphic depictions of injuries that some action films love to linger over.
If I want romantic suspense, I reach for Dee Davis or Cindy Gerard. I love Dee’s A-Tac series and Cindy’s Black Ops, Inc. I’m so sorry to see A-Tac about to wind up. But one of the joys of owning a book is the ability to read it again. Pictured at right is Double Danger, the latest release in the A-Tac series.
Anything by Patricia Rice qualifies for the list. One of my favorites is Merely Magic, the book that introduced the Malcolm and Ives families. I loved the interplay of the siblings, the Georgian setting, and the mysterious man who threads his way through the series until he takes center stage in the final book.
Another favorite by Patricia Rice is an oldie, Denim and Lace. It’s a western and opens with the heroine shooting the hero. It has romance and boom! What’s not to love?
For superb writing, excellent performances, and a balance of comedy and drama, you can’t beat early Boston Legal. If I’m in the mood for something like that, I might watch an entire disc at a sitting. All three of us loved this show.
For paranormal romance with a fabulous arc, hot romance and plenty of boom, I’ll take Jessica Andersen’s Nightkeepers. Now that the series is complete, I can go from book 1 to book 7, secure in the knowledge that I’ll be happy when I get to the end.
It’s hard to pick a favorite book in that series. The first, Night Keepers, is a wonderful setup for the entire series. But I also love the fourth, Demon Keepers, for the geek-to-hero transformation of Lucius. Choices, choices.
As our regulars know, I grew up in a small town and have one in my Protectors mage series. So it probably isn’t surprising that I have a weakness for books set in small towns. One I’ve read many times is Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights. I love escaping to the little town of Lunacy, Alaska, and seeing the hero, Nate Burke, come back from personal tragedy in his new job as its top cop.
I don’t like the oversize paperback format (the picture at right is not distorted but proportioned for that format), but that’s not a problem on an e-reader, which is how I usually read it. Yet the book stays on my keeper shelf because, hey, never know when the power might go out.
I do like the Alaska setting. One of my guilty pleasures is Alaska State Troopers on NatGeo. I’m not sure why, except the setting. I don’t watch any other police reality shows. Except I did like Police, Camera, Action! out of the UK, which was shown on TLC for a while. And, hmm, also not set where I live.
Anyway, getting back to the topic, I also love Nora’s Chesapeake series and her Sign of Seven trilogy. And, of course, Chasing Fire, which is not set in a small town, as these others are, but features the small, close-knit community of the Missoula Smokejumpers.
These are some of my favorite go-to books and videos. What are yours? Do you go for pure romance or suspense? Do you want some magic or some book thrown in?
I’ll give one commenter today a choice of a Protector or Renegade ARC. The winner can also opt for a download instead of an ARC if downloads are available in the winner’s home area.
And tonight I’ll post my winner and Jennifer McQuiston’s from last month. I just realized I hadn’t done that. The announcement will be in the comments and will go up as a booty post.
If you haven’t already clicked “like” on my Facebook page and inclined to, you can find it here.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Apr 21 2010, 6:20 am in A-Tac, Dark Deceptions, Dee Davis, Romantic suspense
posted by Nancy
Dee Davis, whose romantic comedies have entertained us, returns to the Lair with her new foray into romantic suspense, the A-Tac team in Dark Deceptions. Dee’s many contest wins and placements include winning the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards and being nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt Medallion and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. I’ve always loved her romantic suspense and am delighted to see her publishing in that sub-genre again.
Welcome, Dee! Your last visit, we chatted about Set-Up in Soho. I gather that the A-Tac team will be very different in tone from The Matchmaker Chronicles. Tell us about it.
Romantic Suspense has always been my first love. And after a brief departure into romantic comedy, it’s great to back writing thrillers. A-Tac is an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. Brilliant, badass, and seemingly bulletproof, the members of A-Tac are assigned to the riskiest missions and the most elusive targets.
For more on A-Tac check out the microsite at www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/darkdeceptions/DarkDeceptions.html
Who are the heroine and heroine of Dark Deceptions?
Physical Profile: 6’2″. Wavy brown hair. Brown eyes. Muscular build. Identifying scars on torso.
Psychological profile: Independent, almost to the point of being a loner. Questions authority. Dislikes technology, especially computers. Loyal to other A-Tac members, particularly Tyler Hanson and Avery Solomon. Popular with students. Past history with ex-CIA operative Annie Gallagher should be noted.
Background: Long term CIA operative with exemplary record. Original posting in Eastern Europe. Recruited to A-Tac by Avery Solomon. Born in Austin, Texas. Graduate of University of Texas. No living relatives.
Present position: A-Tac’s second in command. Covert operations expert. Recognized political historian. Chairman of the history department at Sunderland.
Reason for interest: Possible terrorist threat involving American Ambassador.
Physical profile: 5’6″. Long, dark red hair. Hazel eyes. Wiry, good physical shape. No current stats.
Psychological Profile: Loner. Comfortable in her own skin. Not a team player. Thoughtful hunter. Has the ability to out wait and therefore outmaneuver opponents.
Background: Ex- CIA. Trained as a sharp-shooter. One of a handful of the best in the country at time of disappearance. Betrayed her partner (Nash Brennon) and then dropped off the grid after an operation gone bad. No abnormal activity until recent intel indicating her involvement in assassination plot.
What’s the biggest threat they face, and what’s the biggest obstacle to their romance?
He thinks she’s a traitor and betrayed him years ago. She believes he chose his career over a relationship with her. Theirs is a dance with a history that threatens to destroy them.
Ooh, I love that phrase- “a dance with a history that threatens to destroy them!” Would you like to share an excerpt?
“We were good together, and you know it.” The minute the words came out, she regretted them.
“You don’t have to remind me, angel,” he said, taking a step closer, his gaze colliding with hers.
She swallowed, steeling herself against the onslaught of memories. “I was talking about our business relationship.”
“I wasn’t.” He moved closer, his breath warm against her cheek.
His lips crushed down on hers. She opened her mouth, welcoming him inside, reveling in the feel of his tongue. It was take-no-prisoners contact. As much a battle of wills as an expression of emotion.
The power of his touch was almost more than she could bear . . .
For a longer excerpt go to www.deedavis.com/bookshelf/darkdeceptions.php#excerpt
Are there other books in this series?
Currently there are six books scheduled in the A-Tac series. The second, Dangerous Desires, will be out in July. And the third, Dangerous Deeds will be out in August. Book two features Drake Flynn. And book three, Tyler Hanson. Books four, five and six will be out in 2011 and 2012.
Any more Matchmaker books in the offing?
After her adventures with Andi, Althea is taking a well-deserved break. I think somewhere in the south of France with her mother, Harriet. But sooner or later she’s bound to come home, and who knows what mischief she’ll be up to next?
For more about Dee and her various books, visit her website.
Dee is giving away one copy of Dark Deceptions to a commenter today, so tell us one or more of these things–what’s your favorite action team? Do you prefer spies or police/FBI or military adventure? US settings or international intrigue? Who are your favorite lovers with a painful history at the start of their book? Dive in and let us know!
Posted by Nancy Northcott Nov 16 2009, 6:26 am in Dee Davis, Set Up in Soho, T-shirts
Today, award-winning author Dee Davis returns to the lair to chat about her newest “matchmaker” novel, Set Up in Soho. Welcome back, Dee!
Tell us about this book.
The Matchmaker Chronicles continue…
When Andrea Sevalas’ long time boyfriend announces he’s seeing someone else, Andi’s thrown for a loop—well, actually, down a cellar. Head throbbing and nose out of joint, she’s rescued by one of New York’s finest – attorney’s that is. Ethan McCay — the upper east side heir to the kingdom of Manhattan. But Andi isn’t interested in princes. At least not the uptown variety. She’s a downtown girl with no time for Park Avenue royalty.
So what’s a fairy godmother supposed to do? Well, if she’s Andi’s Aunt Althea (the infamous Manhattan matchmaker) a little manipulation is in order. After all, even Cinderella needed a little prodding to go to the ball. And with a little help from her friends, Althea’s plan goes charmingly – until the clock strikes midnight and the truth is revealed.
Certain that she’s been betrayed by the people she trusted the most, Andi runs for the safety of SoHo. But matchmakers don’t give up that easily, and with Althea at the helm, Andi will discover that love comes in all kinds of packages. And that sometimes all it takes to recognize the fact, is opening your heart to the possibility – that and a fairly substantial shove from your not so fairy godmother.
In the book, the heroine hosts a local cooking show. You were also a host of a local cooking show once. What aspects of yourself do you see in Andi, and what aspects of her do you aspire to or admire?
I think all of my characters tend to be, at least in some way, a reflection of parts of myself. I would love to have the opportunities Andi does with her cooking show. If only there’d been a Food Network when I was first starting out. There’s something so wonderfully challenging about taking various ingredients and combining them to make something mouthwateringly delicious. My grandmothers were both excellent cooks and I learned from them, very much the way Andi learned from Bernie. And I have to admit, like Andi, I absolutely love trying to recreate a fabulous dish I’ve eaten somewhere.
Will we see characters from A Match Made on Madison?
Absolutely. Andi is friends with Cybil and Vanessa and so their social worlds often intersect. As well as Mark Grayson and Stephen Hobbs. And since Althea is Andi’s aunt, and a famous matchmaker with a penchant for interfering—I think we can safely say that she plays a major role in the book.
Any special tips for doing research on New York or other major cities?
I’m lucky that I live in Manhattan—so for me research is as simple as walking out the door of my apartment. And like A Match Made on Madison, Set-Up in SoHo features some of my favorite places in the city. But for people that don’t live in the city they’re writing about I think travel books and internet sites about those cities are a good way to get a feel for a place. Also online groups discussing the area—its restaurants, sites, local flora and fauna, even its architecture, can be a wonderful way to add authentic color about the place you’re setting your story. In addition, contacting people who do live there is a wonderful way to get insight into the place. And information about how things work in that particular location. I often call places to get information or to make certain that my description of something is accurate. I even called Riker’s Island once to find out which bus a person would take if he/she was released from prison there. I find that most people are more than willing to help when asked.
Can we have a peek inside Set Up in Soho?
Sure—from the first chapter:
“Fine,” I said, brushing angrily at my tears. I’d be damned if I’d let him be the one to cast the death blow. “Then let’s just end it now.”
Without giving him a chance to respond, I turned and walked away with as much dignity as I could muster considering the circumstances and the fact that I was wearing four inch heels. Okay, there was also the small matter of a little too much champagne. But hey, I was thankful for the insulation.
Three minutes later and I was out on the sidewalk, hand extended for a cab. Except of course there wasn’t one in sight. So I turned and started walking, reaction setting in, my body shaking as the tears began to fall in earnest. I still couldn’t comprehend the enormity of what had happened. In less than two minutes my life had imploded. Everything I’d believed to be true proving false.
Tears dripped off the end of my nose and I swiped at them, trying to keep my pain to myself. Fortunately, it wasn’t that difficult of a task. In Manhattan, no one really gives a damn. Which meant my break-down was going pretty much unnoticed. Except for a guy in a box on an abandoned stoop.
“Hey, lady,” he called from his cardboard studio. “It can’t be that bad.”
I shook my head in answer, his words triggering the floodgates. Tears turned to sobs, and I closed my eyes, struggling for at least some semblance of composure. I could fall apart later. First, I had to get home.
I sucked in a breath, squared my shoulders and moved forward, my foot landing on—nothing.
Nothing at all.
And, with an inverted jackknife worthy of an Olympian diver, I fell, butt first, into the abyss.
What’s next for you?
I’m hard at work on a new romantic suspense series coming from Grand Central Press. The first book, Dark Deceptions comes out in April 2010, followed by the second, Dangerous Desires (July) and Desperate Deeds (Aug). Here’s the blurb for Dark Deceptions:
TORN BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE
Covert operations expert Nash Brennon has spent the last eight years trying to forget Annie Gallagher, his former field partner and the only woman he ever loved. Annie betrayed him when he needed her most, then vanished without a trace. Now suddenly she’s back in the game—this time as a suspected traitor and threat to national security.
Annie’s son has been kidnapped by political terrorists. The price for his life? Assassinate a UN ambassador. When Nash and his group find her, the smoldering passion between Annie and the man she swore she’d never contact again blazes out of control. But can Nash trust her? The stakes couldn’t be higher: Their enemy’s endgame is personal, and one false move could cost them their lives.
Way cool! And you’re coming back to talk to us about that in April.
What’s your favorite matchmaker story? Your favorite mismatched couple?
Dee’s giving away a copy of Match Made on Madison to one commenter.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Feb 21 2008, 5:01 am in Bandita Booty, Dee Davis
Drumroll, please! The winner of Dee Davis’s book Chain Reaction is Maureen. Congratulations, Maureen! If you’ll email me, nancy AT nancynorthcott DOT com, with your contact information, I’ll pass that on to Dee.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Feb 6 2008, 6:00 am in Dee Davis, romantic comedy, Romantic suspense
interview by Nancy Northcott
Dee Davis joins us in the lair today. Dee is the author of fifteen novels and three novellas and has made a name for herself writing time travels and romantic suspense. She has won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and she’s been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt, two RT Reviewers Choice Awards, and an RT Career Achievement Award. Last year, she published her first romantic comedy, A Match Made on Madison. A sequel, Set-Up in SoHo, is due out later this year. And her newest romantic suspense series will begin in 2009. Welcome, Dee!
Tell us how you became interested in writing.
I’ve always written, pretty much from the first time I had a blank page in front of me and the power to wield a pencil. I always talked about writing a book, but I never seriously considered doing it until I had a sort of mid-life crisis just before I turned 40 and realized that if I wanted to write – it needed to be now.
We have tremendous interest in call stories in the lair. Would you like to share yours?
Well first off, I have to say that I had a very Cinderella beginning. I wrote my first book Everything In Its Time in 1998. Got an agent six months after finishing and sold the book seven months after that. EIT was published in June 2000. So much about this business has to do with right thing, right time.
As far as the call itself is concerned. I was actually asleep. And was so excited by the news that I hung up on my agent before I realized that I had no idea who I’d actually sold the book too. Had to call her back to find out for sure. And then I spent the rest of the day literally shaking with amazement and excitement (and running around screaming like an absolute loon). Here I was on the verge of reinventing myself at almost forty. It was, and still is, as I approach fifty, absolutely fabulous.
Everything in Its Time was a Scottish time travel. You followed that up with a western time travel. What drew you to that sub-genre?
Interestingly enough, the three time travels were actually published out of order. I wrote EIT, and then Wild Highland Rose(a second Scottish time travel), and then The Promise (the western). All three books stand alone but are loosely related. After EIT came out, I actually sold my first romantic suspense, and then since I thought The Promise was more suspenseful, I decided it should come next. Hence the out of sequence publishing.
As to time travel, I’ve always loved time travel romances. Particularly Diana Gabaldon’s first book in the Outlander series. I think it’s something about a love so strong it transcends even time. Sappy I suppose, but there you have it. Anyway, Katherine and Iain’s story had been hovering at the back of my mind in various forms I think for a long time, so it was almost therapeutic to finally work out the details and put it on paper.
After your second time travel, you turned to romantic suspense with your fabulous Last Chance, Inc. group. How did you go about developing the concept?
The Last Chance Series came on the heels of a couple of related romantic suspense novels I’d written – Midnight Rain and Dancing in the Dark. Characters from the first continued (one of them as the hero) in the second. I really enjoyed having more time to develop these characters and wanted to explore the idea of writing about a continuing group of people. Last Chance itself was born from the idea of bringing together the best of the best from different expertise without the bureaucratic red tape of the various organizations they worked for. Cullen Pulaski, the head of Last Chance, was based loosely on H. Ross Perot. And also, I loved the idea of three men who had shared a horrific wartime experience and the bonds it created between them and the residual affect the event continued to have on their lives.
Match Made on Madison makes superb use of New York City. How did you research that book?
I have dreamed my whole life of living in Manhattan, and now that we actually do, we spend a whole lot of our time exploring the city. So the research, if you want to call it that, came easily. Vanessa’s favorite places are, for the most part, mine!
How did you come to have such an eclectic career?
I like tackling different kinds of projects. Although to be honest, both my time travels and my paranormal novellas are romantic suspense at their basic core, which means that it’s not as much of a departure as one might initially think. And Match was a lark. I read an article in the New York Times about matchmakers and combined it with my love of Jane Austen’s Emma and Vanessa was born. I think writing different kinds of things stretches a writer’s wings and makes her a better at her craft. Or at least I hope it does! Anyway, my first love will always be romantic suspense, but it’s fun to write something else, as well.
How do you create romantic conflict and integrate it into your plots?
Well, Nora Roberts always says that if you need to raise the level of conflict: kill someone. (My apologies to Nora if I’m misquoting-but I’ve always loved that.) Seriously, I think the romantic conflict must be integral to the story or you’re not writing a romance. The trick with romantic suspense is that you have two sets of conflict – the romance and the suspense. And for the book to work, I think that the two have to feed off of each other. At the most basic level, one should not be able to exist without the other. And that’s probably the trickiest part. So it’s not so much a matter of creating the conflict, typically that just happens as the story goes along, it’s more about balancing the romantic conflict against a backdrop of escalating suspense.
Your books have a variety of settings. How have you drawn on your own experiences in creating them?
Well, definitely places that interest me. And usually some place I know and love. Although I recently set a book, Chain Reaction, in Idaho and I’ve only been there once, but I have family in Montana and have spent time there and the culture is similar I use Creede, Colorado a lot, as I spent my summers there growing up. I also lived in Vienna for three years and so it seemed natural to set a book there. I’ve traveled extensively in Ireland and Scotland, so it was with love that I set books in those countries. And the same is true of Atlanta in Dark of the Night. I lived in Austin a number of years and also Corpus Christi (and all over Texas for that matter), so it’s natural to set books there. I think you do draw on places you know. I also think that books are a marvelous way to travel around the world. I still remember reading Mary Stewart’s books as a teenager and the joy I got from traveling with her to places all over Europe. My love for Vienna came from Airs Above the Ground and I still yearn to travel to Greece because of The Moon-Spinners and My Brother Michael. So I guess, I hope that my readers enjoy the same ‘traveling’ with me.
What’s the most fun about writing for you?
Creating a world and the people that inhabit it. And honestly, the moment when you reach ‘the end’ and it’s actually all come together. And most of all—when someone talks about one of my characters as if they’re real. Truly, there isn’t a greater compliment-even when they’re trying to explain to me why the character should have done something different from what they actually did.
What’s the hardest part of writing?
The middle of the book. To quote A.A. Milne: ‘you’re neither up nor down’. And usually I’m ready to just blow everyone up and be done with it.
Tell us about Set-Up in SoHo and your next romantic suspense.
Set-Up in SoHo is the second book in the Matchmaker Chronicles. When Andrea Sevalas’ long time boyfriend announces he’s seeing someone else, Andi’s Aunt Althea (the infamous Manhattan matchmaker) figures a little manipulation is in order. Things are going charmingly until truth is revealed. But, with Althea at the helm, Andi will discover that love comes in all kinds of packages, and that sometimes all it takes to recognize the fact, is opening your heart to the possibility.
Now available are Chain Reaction, Match Made on Madison, and Hell in Heels. Next up on the romantic suspense front, a dark, sexy new series about an off the books black ops division of the CIA. Look for the first books in ’09.
Readers can learn more about Dee from her website, http://www.deedavis.com/. Dee is giving away a copy of Chain Reaction to one lucky commenter.
So, dear readers, what kinds of settings do you like? Of romantic comedy, romantic suspense, and paranormal, what’s your favorite?