Posts tagged with: harlequin intrigue

Addison Fox

Addison_Fox2_Color_High_Res-3001

Welcome to the Lair on this our American birthday. For a wonderful treat I’ve invited my dear friend, contemporary and romantic suspense author, Addison Fox to stop by and tell us all about the fourth book in her House of Steele series: THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER. Take it away Addison!

My thanks to Suz and the Romance Bandits for inviting me back to the Lair! And for those of you here in the US, wishing you a very happy Independence Day! (Am I the only one picturing very tight, very cute red, white and blue trunks on the Cabana Boys?!?!?)

For the last year I’ve been hard at work on a fun, sexy romantic suspense quartet for the Harlequin Romantic Suspense line called the House of Steele. And in thinking about today’s blog post I realized the subject of independence was a fortuitous fit as that description matches my hero, Liam Steele, to a “T.”

The four Steele siblings run a high-end security firm. The fourth book – THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER – features the most illusive Steele sibling, Liam. I had an absolute blast writing this book and I think what I enjoyed most was how the book evolved between what was in my mind and what ended up coming out on the page.

I expected to write a book about a suave, sexy, James Bond-esque character romancing his total opposite: our shy, reserved, scientist heroine, Dr. Isabella Magnini. What ended up coming out instead was a suave, sexy, James Bond-esque character who had to deal with two nosy sisters, a nosy sister-in-law and a woman who was more than his match in every way. THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER ended being a family book and it was great fun to see how Liam not only fell in love with Isabella, but how he had to find a way to get closer with his family and re-engage as part of their family unit as well.The Manhattan Encounter_Cover

I suppose in a lot of ways, that’s life. The things we often expect to happen don’t, but what takes their place is exactly what’s meant to happen. Life has a very funny way of unfolding in its own time and in its own way.

I pulled a quick passage to share…since it’s the 4th of July I thought I’d shoot off a few sparks! <g> As quick set up to this scene, Isabella’s learned some disturbing news about the individuals who are after her and her research (the reason why Liam’s protecting her). She’s done the proverbial “I can take care of myself” dance and he’s forced her to own up to it.

Something dark and raw churned under her fury, erupting from her in a wash of flame.

“You know nothing about my life. About the humiliation of what I’ve lived with. About the betrayal of not one parent, but two.”

She dashed away the hot tears that fell freely down her face, clogging her throat in a tight fist, determined to get out the rest of it. “And you sure as hell don’t know what it’s like to live like a freak. Someone whose intelligence and drive and innate sense of freaking order scares the hell out of everyone around her.”

18468034“Isabella—” he reached out but she flung off his hand, stepping back from the sheer weight of the pain that threatened to drag her to her knees.

“You can’t know what it’s like. You have a family who loves you even though you keep them at arm’s length for some puzzling reason known only to you. You have a reputation that’s sterling. You even have an endless parade of women content to share their time and attention. I have nothing.” He reached for her once more, but she flung him off. “Nothing!”

And then he had his hands on her and he was dragging her close and she was trying to breathe through the tears and the need and the most desperate desire to connect with someone.

No, she amended as his mouth crashed on hers with the force of a hurricane. She had the desperate desire to connect with him.

With Liam.

Hot, wild need sparked under her skin everywhere he touched. His hands were on her shoulders, on her lower back, roaming over her stomach before reaching up to cup her breasts.

She should have been shocked or felt some sort of embarrassment that she’d been wearing the same clothes for nearly twenty-four hours or that her stomach wasn’t flat enough or that her slacks hadn’t been ironed but none of it seemed to matter to the man who had her in his arms and demanded she give him everything she had and then some.

And oh boy, did she own up to the task.17738200

Her hands matched his for fervor, the hard lines of his shoulders a sensuous feast for her fingertips. She explored his body, even as their mouths never broke contact and as he walked her backwards toward the wall. She willingly let him lead, ready to follow him anywhere.

His tongue thrust into her mouth, a carnal feast that mimicked a joining of their bodies and she sucked hard before biting his lip.

Isabella felt his fingers lock with hers and then he had her hands up on either side of her head, holding her steady as he plundered her and still, she gave it all back to him, every move countered with one of her own.

The temptress she never knew lived inside of her skin came to life under his tutelage and, if the low moans echoing from the back of his throat were any indication, was having a grand time teaching Liam Steele a thing or two about desire.

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I had so much fun bringing this couple together and I so appreciate you spending some time with me today! And as an extra special treat, two commenters will win today! One will win a copy of THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER and one will win all 4 books in the House of Steele quartet – THE PARIS ASSIGNMENT, THE LONDON DECEPTION, THE ROME AFFAIR and THE MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER.

My thanks – as always – to the Banditas for hosting me and for the very warm welcome to the blog!

XO,

Addison (http://www.addisonfox.com/)

(Don’t forget, if you want to download the ebook copy of any of these books, click on the picture.)

Jana DeLeon talks mysterious Bayous

Bandits and Bandit Buddies, I’m very glad to have my friend, Jana DeLeon returning to visit with us in the Lair, today. She’s brought along another delicious mystery from the Bayou, The Lost Girls of Johnson Bayou.

Welcome, Jana. Please pull up a stool. I believe Paolo has a pitcher of mojitos for us today.

Suz: Jana, since you’re from Southern Louisiana, can you tell us what it was like growing up there?  

Jana: When I was living it, it seemed completely normal. It wasn’t until I moved away that I realized how unique Louisiana culture is and that my childhood was vastly different than most.  My parents owned a camp (think really unfancy lakehouse) on a bayou that you could only get to by boat. We ran shrimping barges in the winter, usually during a front which was the best time to catch shrimp, and had three commercial deep freezes at our house full of shrimp, crab and fish. It was very common for us to eat shrimp in some form three or more times a week.

Suz: Did you spend a lot of time in the bayous?

Jana: We spent a lot of weekends and weeks during the summer at the camp. Fishing, shrimping, crabbing – whatever was in season. I also spent a lot of time in a hammock on the end of the pier reading books. (The pictures below are similar to the fishing camps where we stayed.

Suz:  Were there any mysteries in the bayous where you grew up?And is that why you’ve placed your mysteries in that setting?

Jana: Louisiana, in general, is full of lore because of the diverse backgrounds of the residents. All the myths and legends make it a great setting for my Intrigues because I wanted them to have that gothic feel. None of my Intrigues are based on local rumor, but my first single title, RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU, is based on drug runners who use the Gulf of Mexico to transport product.

Suz:  Can you give our readers a glimpse into the premise for The Lost Girls of Johnson Bayou?

Jana: Ginny Bergeron was only six when she wandered out of the swamp the night the LeBlanc School for Girls burned to the ground, killing everyone inside. She has no memory of anything before waking up in the hospital. But at night, the burned remains of the house seem to call to her, beckoning her into the swamp to uncover her past. Paul Stanton believes Ginny’s lost memories may be the key to finding his sister, who he was separated from as a child in the foster care system, but it’s soon clear that someone doesn’t want Ginny to remember.

Suz: This is the second book where your heroine goes into the swamps to solve a mystery. Is there a theme you see running in your books?

Jana: Absolutely! I intend to set books in the bayous of Louisiana until I run out of ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

Suz: What’s next for you?

Jana: I have a new related series releasing back-to-back months at the end of this year called the Mystere Parish series. All the books are set in the fictional Mystere Parish and center around mysteries that include the lore and myths of Mystere Parish. For my single title humor fans, I’m also working on the first book in a new humorous mystery series that I’ll be releasing myself, hopefully in spring.

 

So readers, is there anyplace you’ve been that scared you? Did you sit around the campfire and tell scary stories? Was there a myth or story growing up that everyone you knew told that scared you?

Jana will be giving away autographed copies of The Lost Girls of Johnson’s Bayou to two lucky commentors.

Jana DeLeon Takes Us Into the Spooky Bayou!

interview with Suz

Fellow Bandits and Bandit friends please help me welcome my dear friend Jana DeLeon to the Lair! Jana is a multi-published author who has her first book with Harlequin Intrigue, THE SECRET OF CYPRIERE BAYOU, coming out on March 8th. Jana, pull up a chair and we’ll get the cabana boys to bring you your favorite drink. (Isn’t this a great picture of Jana and her dog Bogey reading together?)

Suz: Congratulations, Jana. THE SECRET OF CYPRIERE BAYOU received a 4 1/2 start TOP PICK review from Romantic Times magazine! Can you  give us a glimpse into THE SECRET OF CYPRIERE BAYOU?

Jana: I would call the book a “gothic lite.” It’s a bit of a ghost story set deep in the Louisiana swamps.

Suz: Your heroine, Olivia Markham is a horror writer, but she has a very unique way of researching her books, doesn’t she?

Jana: Olivia rents reputed haunted houses to stay in while writing her books. She says the location provides the ambience for creating a good horror novel.

Suz: Okay, that’s like way too much realistic research for this author! Your hero, John Landry, isn’t quite the caretaker he is supposed to be, is he?

Jana: John in an undercover cop with his own agenda, and Olivia is not part of it. In fact, she’s in the way. But he has good reasons for wanting her to leave the house even though he ultimately becomes her champion and protector.

Suz: And he’s all secretive, yet sexy, too! One of the best parts of your book is how you made the setting a character in this book. How did you make the bayou feel so alive?

Jana: By writing what I know. I grew up in the bayous of Louisiana. I know the appearance, the weather and the peculiarities of small-town bayou inhabitants well. It’s easy to write something so familiar.

Suz: Setting often has big impact on a story. The mansion where the book takes place is La Malediction? What significance does this have to the plot?

Jana: The name laMalediction means “The Curse.” Legend has it that the house and all its future inhabitants were cursed by the original owner, who went insane and murdered his wife. The house is isolated deep in the swamp with a single, muddy path connecting it to the closest town. A big rainstorm can leave people stranded at the mansion without power.

(Check out the exerpt here: http://janadeleon.net/harlequin-books/the-secret-of-cypriere-bayou-excerpt/ )

Suz: While this is your first novel for Harlequin, you’ve had several single titled books published. Would you tell our readers about them and how they differ from THE SECRET OF CYPRIERE BAYOU?

Jana: Prior to writing for Harlequin, I wrote five single title contemporary humorous mystery/romance novels. The combination of mystery and romance is the same and all my prior works are set in Louisiana, but the big difference is the humor. While the plots are serious, the humor is a key component to all my previous work. All of my previous books are available in ebook format.(Check them out @  http://janadeleon.net/ )

Suz: What future books do you have on your agenda?

Jana: In July 2011, BAYOU BODYGUARD releases. This book is a related book to THE SECRET OF CYPRIERE BAYOU and finished up the overarching mystery surrounding the house and its history. I have another book under contract with Harlequin scheduled for a release in early 2012. So far, all of my books with Harlequin have that hint of spooky.

So dear readers, Jana wants to know, Do you believe in them and if so, do you think you’ve ever seen one? One lucky commentor will receive an autographed copy of THE SECRET OF CYPIERE BAYOU.

Thanks so much for having me!

Guest Author Dana Marton: Passion + Action = Paction (and Giveaway!)



I’m so happy to welcome author Dana Marton to the Lair! Dana Marton is the award-winning author of twenty-three books with Harlequin Intrigue. The latest is The Spy Who Saved Christmas, more of a Die Hard kind of Christmas story than It’s a Wonderful Life. High stakes, instead of fruitcakes. Dana is known for her fast-paced action and sexy, emotional romance. Dangerous men, thrilling women. Connect with Dana online at danamarton.com and facebook.com/danamarton.

Thank you for the warm welcome, Kate!

I read a wide variety of books. My favorites are romance novels, of course. Specifically, romantic suspense, the kind of story I also write, like this month’s The Spy Who Saved Christmas. But even when I read outside of the romance genre, the stories I like best are those that include a love story.

Love is a part of every human story. In fact, love is what makes us human, and the search for love is what makes our characters relatable.

In a good romantic suspense novel, the passion and the action are inextricable. Paction, you might say.

The romance is the motivation for the suspense. The hero and heroine love each other – even before they admit it – so they put their lives on the line in order to keep the other safe. They throw themselves into the path of danger on each other’s behalf.

Here are a few movies that adeptly combined passion and action in such a way that one would not exist without the other. Paction movies.

  • Avatar – The hero entered a new world and fell in love. If he hadn’t fallen in love, he would likely have succumbed to the pressure to leave that world behind. But because he loved his heroine, he fell in love with her world, so much so that he was willing to fight to the death to save it.
  • Casino Royale – First, let’s get this out of the way: Daniel Craig is H-O-T. Can I hear an “Amen”? Now, about the movie… In past James Bond movies, there was always a romantic interest, but we knew that she wouldn’t hold his interest for long. But in Casino Royale, the prequel, James found true love, and the loss of that love explained why he would never let himself feel that deeply again.
  • True Lies – This is an old movie but not old enough to be cool. However, I’m naming it anyway because it’s one of my favorites. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a mild-mannered salesman, or so his wife believes. But in truth, he’s a spy whose frequent trips are actually dangerous missions. When his restless wife gets pulled into one of those missions, the stakes rise, and the hero will do anything to save the woman he loves. And she puts herself in danger’s path to save him, too.

When I write a Harlequin Intrigue, I write a paction story. The romance and the action are inextricably combined. In The Spy Who Saved Christmas, Reid Graham and Lara Jordan share one night of passion, and then Reid is killed in a mysterious fire, leaving Lara pregnant and alone.

Reid is an undercover spy, and he had no idea Lara was pregnant when he allowed her to believe he had died two years ago. Now he’s about to break the biggest case of his career, and Lara reappears in his life at the worst possible moment. For the first time, Reid has something to lose – the twin sons he’s never met, and the one woman he could never forget. With bullets flying and enemies hot on their heels, Reid and Lara have to work together to bring their babies home by Christmas.

Paction.

Do you love paction books and movies as much as I do? What are some of your favorites?

Contest: Each time I reach another 100 people who “Like” my Facebook page (facebook.com/danamarton), I’ll select a random fan to win an Amazon.com e-gift certificate. Please come to my page and click “Like” for your chance to win.

Also, one lucky commenter on today’s blog will win a free copy of a book from my backlist.

Kay Thomas is BULLETPROOF in the Lair!

by Suzanne
Oh hey, y’all! Give me a second to finish putting on my Kevlar vest. There! Now I’m ready to sit and chat with my good friend, Kay Thomas, who once again has brought us another intriguing book with bullets flying.

Suz: Kay, welcome back to the Lair. BULLETPROOF TEXAS is your second novel for Harlequin Intrigue and this is set, of course, in the Hill Country of Texas. Tell us a little bit about this book.

Kay, eyeing the vest: Sure, Suz. Thanks so much to you and the Banditas for having me back in “the Lair” today.

The bulletproof action continues when a pharmaceutical research scientist and a brooding caving guide are forced to work together extracting cancer-eating bacteria from a flooding Texas Hill Country cave. As the sparks fly and passions rise, so do the dangers when a competitor decides this potential cure shouldn’t see the light of day–and is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way.

Suz: Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for BULLETPROOF TEXAS?

Kay: My family and I were in Carlsbad Caverns a couple of years ago for Spring break. I was listening to an audio tour that talked about cancer-eating bacteria found in Lechuguilla, another nearby cave. This bacteria is showing promise for cancer treatment in the research world. From the moment I heard the details of the discovery, I was fascinated with the idea of setting a romantic suspense novel against a cavern backdrop. I’d just finished a manuscript with a biomedical edge and a pharmaceutical company’s machinations as part of the plot that would later be my debut novel, BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF (Harlequin Intrigue, January 2009). This new idea seemed the perfect fit for a sequel.

Suz: Your hero in BULLETPROOF TEXAS, Zach Douglas is a Park Ranger with a fascinating background. Can you tell us how you used it in the book?

Kay: Zach is the twin brother of Tammy Douglas from BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF. In the opening scene of BULLETPROOF TEXAS he makes the discovery of a lifetime (Devil’s Hollow Cavern) and gets the news of Tammy’s murder, both within moments of each other. The next scene takes place three months later. He’s quit his job with the park service and is now a free-lance caving guide for the heroine, Maxine (Max) O’Neil.

Suz: Maxine O’Neil isn’t your typical research scientist. How has she had to prove herself in her field and why?

Kay: Max is a woman with the body of a “Hooter’s girl” and the brain of a rocket scientist. On the surface she appears to have it all. But her success has come at a huge price and her personal life is a wreck. She’s just left her unfaithful fiance’ at home in New York.

As a top pharmaceutical researcher in her field, her looks have been a handicap and she isn’t always taken seriously in this “boys club” because of her stunning appearance. Over the years she’s developed a very “hard case” personna. From the moment she and Zach first interact, there are fireworks.

Suz: The relationship between Max and Zach sizzles on the pages, are you finding it harder or easier to pack both steamy romance and plot into the category size books?

Kay: In this case it was easier to write because these characters just couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Their relationship is more intense from the beginning and their personalities dictate a more physical relationship from the start.

Zach is angry with himself that he’s attracted to a woman who infuriates, yet fascinates him at the same time. What he feels for Max breaks through the wall he has put up since his sister’s death.

Max is drawn to Zach despite all her best intentions to keep him at arm’s length. She’s very aware of her responsibilities on this project and being in charge at Devil’s Hollow, plus she’s just broken off her engagement. She doesn’t feel she’s in a good place for a relationship or a casual fling because of how it would look to the others on her research team. But all those objections fall away once she and Zach start spending time together. Their chemistry is unstoppable.

Suz, grinning at Kay: Okay, since we’re good friends, I know you did some interesting research for BULLETPROOF TEXAS. Want to tell our readers how far you went to be authentic in your story?

Kay, rolling her eyes at Suz: Oooh, I knew you were going to ask me this. : )

Much of the book’s action takes place in a cave and since I’m too claustrophobic and too chicken to try actual “on-my-belly-in-the-mud” caving, my husband and I went to a rock climbing gym for the climbing part of the research. I was determined to feel my rear end in the rappelling gear-to feel the exhilaration of sliding down that rope and to get great pictures for my website. (For the record, my agent begged me not to do this! She thought I might get hurt. I assured her I would be fine! Note to self. Always listen to your agent.)

After the initial stomach churning experience of climbing to the top of the thirty-foot wall, (Did I mention I have this thing about heights, too?), I was having a fabulous time. Once I got over the nausea and rappelled down a couple of times, I was feeling very proud of myself…quite accomplished. What had I ever been afraid of? My husband was “on belay.” He does lots of this kind of stuff a lot, so I wasn’t worried.

A few minutes later, on my last climb of the afternoon we had a major “equipment malfunction.” I was about twelve feet from the ground and my rope kinked. The ascender thingie (that keeps you from falling) jammed and I plummeted straight down. Flat on my back. The earth moved. Some of you may have felt it there in Australia. I scared those teenagers running the place half to death. Not to mention my sweetheart. It wasn’t pretty.

After an MRI and multiple hours on a massage therapist’s table, the doctor decided I did not have a compression fracture and cleared me to travel. For a month I had been planning (and packing) for a big writers’ conference in San Francisco that started a few days after my umm…tumble. The doctor gave me a raft of muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories and pain-killers to get me through RWA National. This conference is always a wonderful and wild time, but a backache in high heels, even when you haven’t fallen on your rear the week before.

Suz glances over the rim of her glasses in that omnipotent way of hers: And what did you ultimately learn from this adventure?

Kay, laughs: Well, this could be a whole other blog post about how I learned not to be stupid while researching.

Number one. About my agent.
Always listen to your agent. After I fell, the first thing that ran through my head (as I was lying flat on my back and trying to breath again) was: “My agent told me not to do this. I should’ve listened.”

Number two. About my research.
Always, always in these kinds of situations rent the “how to DVD” and
interview the hot athlete. Have your picture made with him for your website (The photo of my behind in that sling is something that will never see the light of day!)

Number three. About my husband.
When I’ve had an MRI because my husband thinks he dropped me, I can buy as many pairs of shoes as I want and he won’t say a word. In fact, he may ask if I want to buy a purse to go with them! However, I do not recommend this as a path to Jimmy Choo.

Number four. About myself.
I am a writer. I do not necessarily have to experience things to write about them. (I know, not exactly an epiphany, but apparently I need to be reminded of this “truth” from time to time!)

Suz: BULLETPROOF TEXAS is Kay Thomas’s second novel from Harlequin Intrigue and is on US store shelves this week. Romantic Times gave BULLETPROOF TEXAS 4 stars calling it “taut, tricky and worth the read.” Cataromance gave it 4 ½ stars calling it “non-stop action, nail-biting suspense and fiery passion.” Her debut novel BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF was released in the US in January and in Australia in March. For excerpts, to enter Kay’s April contest, and more please visit www.KayThomas.net.

Kay: So, readers, what’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done against good advice? Or if you really don’t want to share that particular experience ‘cause trust me, I know we’ve all had some “never-want-to-think-about-it-again” adventures. What’s the best thing you ever did against good advice?

You’ve already heard about one of my sillier moments. Now for the best thing I ever did against good advice….I got married! I’d only known my husband seven weeks when he proposed. Some friends thought we’d lost our minds. But I knew this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Twenty-one years later—we’re still together and ridiculously happy. Not listening to those friends was the best thing I ever did against good advice!

So…your turn…best thing you’ve done against good advice or silliest mistake made against good advice? One random commenter will get a copy of my new Harlequin Intrigue, BULLETPROOF TEXAS.

Kay Thomas is BULLETPROOF in the Lair!

by Suzanne
Oh hey, y’all! Give me a second to finish putting on my Kevlar vest. There! Now I’m ready to sit and chat with my good friend, Kay Thomas, who once again has brought us another intriguing book with bullets flying.

Suz: Kay, welcome back to the Lair. BULLETPROOF TEXAS is your second novel for Harlequin Intrigue and this is set, of course, in the Hill Country of Texas. Tell us a little bit about this book.

Kay, eyeing the vest: Sure, Suz. Thanks so much to you and the Banditas for having me back in “the Lair” today.

The bulletproof action continues when a pharmaceutical research scientist and a brooding caving guide are forced to work together extracting cancer-eating bacteria from a flooding Texas Hill Country cave. As the sparks fly and passions rise, so do the dangers when a competitor decides this potential cure shouldn’t see the light of day–and is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way.

Suz: Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for BULLETPROOF TEXAS?

Kay: My family and I were in Carlsbad Caverns a couple of years ago for Spring break. I was listening to an audio tour that talked about cancer-eating bacteria found in Lechuguilla, another nearby cave. This bacteria is showing promise for cancer treatment in the research world. From the moment I heard the details of the discovery, I was fascinated with the idea of setting a romantic suspense novel against a cavern backdrop. I’d just finished a manuscript with a biomedical edge and a pharmaceutical company’s machinations as part of the plot that would later be my debut novel, BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF (Harlequin Intrigue, January 2009). This new idea seemed the perfect fit for a sequel.

Suz: Your hero in BULLETPROOF TEXAS, Zach Douglas is a Park Ranger with a fascinating background. Can you tell us how you used it in the book?

Kay: Zach is the twin brother of Tammy Douglas from BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF. In the opening scene of BULLETPROOF TEXAS he makes the discovery of a lifetime (Devil’s Hollow Cavern) and gets the news of Tammy’s murder, both within moments of each other. The next scene takes place three months later. He’s quit his job with the park service and is now a free-lance caving guide for the heroine, Maxine (Max) O’Neil.

Suz: Maxine O’Neil isn’t your typical research scientist. How has she had to prove herself in her field and why?

Kay: Max is a woman with the body of a “Hooter’s girl” and the brain of a rocket scientist. On the surface she appears to have it all. But her success has come at a huge price and her personal life is a wreck. She’s just left her unfaithful fiance’ at home in New York.

As a top pharmaceutical researcher in her field, her looks have been a handicap and she isn’t always taken seriously in this “boys club” because of her stunning appearance. Over the years she’s developed a very “hard case” personna. From the moment she and Zach first interact, there are fireworks.

Suz: The relationship between Max and Zach sizzles on the pages, are you finding it harder or easier to pack both steamy romance and plot into the category size books?

Kay: In this case it was easier to write because these characters just couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Their relationship is more intense from the beginning and their personalities dictate a more physical relationship from the start.

Zach is angry with himself that he’s attracted to a woman who infuriates, yet fascinates him at the same time. What he feels for Max breaks through the wall he has put up since his sister’s death.

Max is drawn to Zach despite all her best intentions to keep him at arm’s length. She’s very aware of her responsibilities on this project and being in charge at Devil’s Hollow, plus she’s just broken off her engagement. She doesn’t feel she’s in a good place for a relationship or a casual fling because of how it would look to the others on her research team. But all those objections fall away once she and Zach start spending time together. Their chemistry is unstoppable.

Suz, grinning at Kay: Okay, since we’re good friends, I know you did some interesting research for BULLETPROOF TEXAS. Want to tell our readers how far you went to be authentic in your story?

Kay, rolling her eyes at Suz: Oooh, I knew you were going to ask me this. : )

Much of the book’s action takes place in a cave and since I’m too claustrophobic and too chicken to try actual “on-my-belly-in-the-mud” caving, my husband and I went to a rock climbing gym for the climbing part of the research. I was determined to feel my rear end in the rappelling gear-to feel the exhilaration of sliding down that rope and to get great pictures for my website. (For the record, my agent begged me not to do this! She thought I might get hurt. I assured her I would be fine! Note to self. Always listen to your agent.)

After the initial stomach churning experience of climbing to the top of the thirty-foot wall, (Did I mention I have this thing about heights, too?), I was having a fabulous time. Once I got over the nausea and rappelled down a couple of times, I was feeling very proud of myself…quite accomplished. What had I ever been afraid of? My husband was “on belay.” He does lots of this kind of stuff a lot, so I wasn’t worried.

A few minutes later, on my last climb of the afternoon we had a major “equipment malfunction.” I was about twelve feet from the ground and my rope kinked. The ascender thingie (that keeps you from falling) jammed and I plummeted straight down. Flat on my back. The earth moved. Some of you may have felt it there in Australia. I scared those teenagers running the place half to death. Not to mention my sweetheart. It wasn’t pretty.

After an MRI and multiple hours on a massage therapist’s table, the doctor decided I did not have a compression fracture and cleared me to travel. For a month I had been planning (and packing) for a big writers’ conference in San Francisco that started a few days after my umm…tumble. The doctor gave me a raft of muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories and pain-killers to get me through RWA National. This conference is always a wonderful and wild time, but a backache in high heels, even when you haven’t fallen on your rear the week before.

Suz glances over the rim of her glasses in that omnipotent way of hers: And what did you ultimately learn from this adventure?

Kay, laughs: Well, this could be a whole other blog post about how I learned not to be stupid while researching.

Number one. About my agent.
Always listen to your agent. After I fell, the first thing that ran through my head (as I was lying flat on my back and trying to breath again) was: “My agent told me not to do this. I should’ve listened.”

Number two. About my research.
Always, always in these kinds of situations rent the “how to DVD” and
interview the hot athlete. Have your picture made with him for your website (The photo of my behind in that sling is something that will never see the light of day!)

Number three. About my husband.
When I’ve had an MRI because my husband thinks he dropped me, I can buy as many pairs of shoes as I want and he won’t say a word. In fact, he may ask if I want to buy a purse to go with them! However, I do not recommend this as a path to Jimmy Choo.

Number four. About myself.
I am a writer. I do not necessarily have to experience things to write about them. (I know, not exactly an epiphany, but apparently I need to be reminded of this “truth” from time to time!)

Suz: BULLETPROOF TEXAS is Kay Thomas’s second novel from Harlequin Intrigue and is on US store shelves this week. Romantic Times gave BULLETPROOF TEXAS 4 stars calling it “taut, tricky and worth the read.” Cataromance gave it 4 ½ stars calling it “non-stop action, nail-biting suspense and fiery passion.” Her debut novel BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF was released in the US in January and in Australia in March. For excerpts, to enter Kay’s April contest, and more please visit www.KayThomas.net.

Kay: So, readers, what’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done against good advice? Or if you really don’t want to share that particular experience ‘cause trust me, I know we’ve all had some “never-want-to-think-about-it-again” adventures. What’s the best thing you ever did against good advice?

You’ve already heard about one of my sillier moments. Now for the best thing I ever did against good advice….I got married! I’d only known my husband seven weeks when he proposed. Some friends thought we’d lost our minds. But I knew this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Twenty-one years later—we’re still together and ridiculously happy. Not listening to those friends was the best thing I ever did against good advice!

So…your turn…best thing you’ve done against good advice or silliest mistake made against good advice? One random commenter will get a copy of my new Harlequin Intrigue, BULLETPROOF TEXAS.

Kay Thomas and Better Than Bulletproof

by Suzanne Welsh
Today is champagne day in the Lair. Why? Because I get to welcome one of my closest and sweetest friends, Kay Thomas, to the Lair. I’m also celebrating with Kay and all of you the release of Kay’s very first book, BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF!

Suz: Welcome to the Bandit Lair, Kay. Here’s your champagne and please have a seat. First, the Bandits love call stories. Care to share yours with us?

Kay: Last year in mid-January, I was packing my family to get ready for a trip to visit my Dad for his 81st birthday. The phone rang and it was my wonderful agent Helen Breitwieser. She usually emails so I knew this was momentous news. She said Harlequin Intrigue really liked my story but it was too long for their line and would I be willing to cut my single title story to a category length. (This meant cutting about 80 pages of the manuscript.)

Was I willing to do that?

“Of course I can.”

“Okay, let me call them back. I’ll email you, it will probably be tomorrow before we hear anything.”

Well, after that awesome call I had to get in the car and drive 8 hours to my parents’ house. And let me tell you, it was a good thing we were almost packed because I don’t think I could have remembered to pack underwear or shoes or anything, I was so excited.

We didn’t really have a deal yet. Just a “Gee, we’re interested.” And I didn’t know if they’d want me to do all that cutting first and see it before they made the offer or after. And I had a long drive to think about that, too. A very long drive.

When we got to my parent’s house it was 2 am, and everyone was wiped out from the drive, so I didn’t want to get into the news just yet. But my Dad has always been such a cheerleader for my writing. Growing up he always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to. When I went to tell my parents good night after the kids were finally in bed, I just had to tell my folks that I thought I “might” be about to sell my book. The looks on their faces were priceless.

I couldn’t sleep after all that and I had to go online to see if there was any news. I really wasn’t expecting any until much later that day. It was now about 3:30 in the morning and everyone was fast asleep but yes, there was the email from Helen! Harlequin had made an offer. I was shouting on the inside but I couldn’t go wake anyone up to say it was finally real.

They’d all just gotten to sleep. But oh, that evening we got to celebrate my Dad’s birthday with the rest of my extended family and my book sale. I don’t think I could have given my Dad a greater birthday gift than telling him about my dream come true in person.

Suz: BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF is your debut novel being released later this month. Could you tell us the premise behind the story?

Kay: Sure, BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF is about a woman who gets caught up in the vaccine autism controversy when her sister disappears and leaves behind her autistic son. Gina Rodgers is an ad executive with no idea how to care for her nephew Adam and his overwhelming needs. She finds an unlikely ally in Adam’s play therapist, Harlan Jeffries. He’s a former Marine sniper looking for redemption in working with special needs children.

Suz: Your hero in BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF is Harlan Jeffries. He’s my favorite kind of hero-big, strong, buff, with both a tender heart and a secret. Can you tell us more about what makes him tick?

Kay: Harlan is yummy, isn’t he? I had great time creating him. He is a Marine home on medical leave after being injured in Iraq. Haunted by all he’s seen and done there, he’s also trying to figure out what he’s going to do with his life now. While he’s working through all this, he’s working with Adam doing floortime. A type of play therapy for autistic kids that lay people can do. (Not a lot of special training required. You just have to like to play!) Yes, he does have a secret, but I hate to give that away here today.

Suz: What did you like best about Harlan? What drove you crazy about him?

Kay: Oooh, there were lots of things I like about him. He isn’t perfect and even though he’s very alpha, he doesn’t necessarily have a big ego. In fact he’s struggling with figuring out if he makes a difference anymore. He’s sustained a terrible back injury and doesn’t feel like a hero at all. He loves kids and he’s very driven to help people. And of course, Gina doesn’t want to be helped or saved in any way.

I really enjoyed showing him how much of a difference he could make in Gina’s and Adam’s lives just by being present, not necessarily by doing the physical things that he would normally consider heroic. Gina and Adam are the perfect people to show Harlan that he doesn’t have to do anything special to make himself a hero. That whole idea of being loved for who you are, not for what you can do for someone.

Suz: Gina Rodgers, the heroine in BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF sees herself as a “screwup”. How do you see her?

Kay: I see Gina as a woman who has struggled in the past to become independent from her family. She’s now a competent and successful businesswoman, but thrown into the difficult situation of caring for an autistic five-year-old. While dealing with the emotional ramifications of that and looking for her missing sister, Gina feels all her old insecurities rising again. She has no idea how to care for her nephew. She needs help and she hates that she has to rely on Harlan for it.

She’s also falling hard for Harlan whom she’s not entirely sure she can trust. But she has to trust him because he’s the only one who can help her when bullets start flying and it’s obvious someone is after her and Adam. The situation pushes all her ‘competency buttons’ simultaneously so that she feels like she’s losing control on every level.

Suz: Gina’s nephew in BETTER THAN BULLTETPROOF has autism. It’s a condition you are intimately associated with. Would you care to fill our readers in on that?

Kay: Yes, as you can probably tell from my answers above I’m rather passionate about this. Eight years ago my son was diagnosed with autism and we immediately dove into an intensive array of biomedical and traditional therapies for him. He worked hard and responded amazingly well. I will be forever grateful to a multitude of people that I can never repay for giving me back my son. People who worked with him, played with him, prayed for him and for my family. Incredibly generous parents I’ve met through autism groups online but never met in person who shared their hard won knowledge and advice when we got stuck in various stages of treatment. Doctors, teachers, therapists, and friends who gave so much over the years. It’s a very long list.

Even with exceptional treatment, you don’t always get the kind of results we did. It’s been an extraordinarily humbling and overwhelming experience. Today I look at my son when he’s yakking away (a miracle in itself), and I think about where we were 9 years ago. I’m completely awed.

Suz: If someone wanted to learn more about autism or become involved in helping where would recommend they start?

Kay: I’m so glad you asked. There are many great autism resources on the Internet now.

My favorite is www.nationalautismassociation.org

1-877-NAA-AUTISM

Their motto is “Think Autism. Think Cure.”

They have fabulous resources for treatment options, conferences, and the latest news in the autism world. Practically every reputable autism site on the web is listed at NAA–Autism Research Institute, Talk About Curing Autism, Generation Rescue, Autism One. Please check them out.

And if you lose the address or can’t remember it when you’re chatting with someone, I have a list of autism resources on my website under links. NAA is at the top of the list.
Here’s an article for more information:
http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/childrens-health/2008/12/11/a-parents-guide-to-managing-vaccinations.html

Suz: Was there any special reason you wanted to write BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF?

Kay: BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF is very much the “book of my heart” because the subject matter is so steeped in autism and treatment. I struggled not to “tell too much” as I wrote and to stay focused on the characters—not getting too carried away on a topic which is so close to home. It’s my greatest hope that readers can enjoy Harlan and Gina’s story and be entertained by it as well as learn a bit about autism—an epidemic that is sweeping the country and stealing away some of the brightest children of a generation.

Suz: This is your first book for Harlequin INTRIGUE. Do you have any other up and coming books with them?

Kay: Yes! I have an April Intrigue titled BULLETPROOF TEXAS. The release date is April 14, 2009 and I had a blast writing it. BULLETPROOF TEXAS pulls in some of the characters from BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF.

Suz: Oooo, I love series books where secondary characters get to pop again! Can you give us a hint about it? When will it be released?

Kay: It’s a romantic suspense thriller about a pharmaceutical research scientist and a brooding caving guide who are forced to work together extracting a cancer-eating bacteria from a flooding Texas Hill Country cave. As the sparks fly and the sexual tension increases, so do the dangers when a competitor decides this potential cure shouldn’t see the light of day–and is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way.

Kay:Suz, thanks so much for having me here in the lair today. 2008 was a remarkable and exciting year for me. I can hardly wait to see what happens in 2009. I was wondering what you and your readers are most looking forward to in the New Year? What is it about January and new beginnings that you most enjoy?

Kay is giving away an autographed copy of BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF to one commentor today.
(By the way, Kay loves boston terriors, so this one came to drink champagne with us today! Isn’t he cute?)