Friday, January 11, 2013


There's nothing like a good suspense or thriller to get your heart pumping on a cold winter night. If it has a bit of romance in it, all the better. I thought I'd share a few with you today.


Vicki Hinze


Can a first-grade teacher from Grace, Alabama stop a terrorist group from its deadly mission?

Can she trust her heart again?

Former Air Force scientist Dr. Julia Warner-Hyde went into hiding three years ago to escape her abusive ex-husband. Her new life as a small town schoolteacher is safe and peaceful-until her old lab partner, Dr. Seth Holt, arrives.

Terrorists have stolen the missile system Seth and Julia designed, and they fully intend to use it. Seth needs Julia's help to find, outwit and halt them, but he and she didn't part on the best of terms. He doesn't know that Julia has a secret enemy who might kill them both. Can she fight that threat and the terrorists-all while keeping Seth in the dark? How can she refuse to try, with millions of lives at stake? Excerpt

This is a good 4 star read. Good blend of military, black box (black ops) research lab, and a villain with a vendetta against the United States and for whom the idea of treason doesn't apply--in his mind. Good character driven story. A good romance played out against the background of treason and devastation. Lots of pressure to figure out who the villains are, their motives, and a race to stop a bomb from being detonated and taking out millions. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I definitely plan on reading more from this author.


A woman without a past…

After a tragic accident left her with no memory, Kate Alexander struggled to fit in with a husband and world that didn’t feel right. She’s had no reason to question what friends and family have told her, not until her husband is suddenly killed and she finds a photo of a young girl in his office. A girl who can’t be anyone but a daughter Kate didn’t know she had.

A man desperate for a reason to live…

Ryan Harrison lost his wife in a plane crash five years ago. To cope with the pain of her loss, he dedicated himself to his job and to raising their daughter. Now a successful pharmaceutical executive, Ryan has everything a man could want—money, fame and power—but he’d give it all up in a heartbeat for just one more day with the woman he still loves.

Two lives about to converge.

As Kate begins to dig into a past she doesn’t remember, evidence leads her to San Francisco and puts her on the path toward Ryan, a man who sees in her the woman he loved and lost. Kate feels a draw to Ryan, one she can’t explain, but is that feeling enough to convince her this is where she’s supposed to be? As Ryan and Kate search for answers, they uncover lies long buried, a passion hotter than either expected and a danger that threatens…even now…when the second chance they’ve both been searching for is finally within reach. excerpt  (HEADS UP FREE ON KINDLE)
In my opinion this is a 4 1/2 star read. Love a good romance with a twist. Smooth and filled with suspense, lots of tension, unexpected twists, and danger. Elisabeth does a great job with romantic suspense (and on paranormal too.) This book was chosen as a nominee for 2012 Best Romantic Suspense--for good reason.

Speaking of heart pumping reads: yesterday's winner for Colby Marshall's, THE CHAIN OF COMMAND is John Philipp! Congratulations John!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


My guest is suspense/thriller writer, Colby Marshall. Her debut novel is a captivating story of an assassin with an agenda, a government in crisis, a dangerous web of lies and corruption, and as with all good stories—a touch of romance. Being the curious sort, I had some questions for Colby.
How has your own romance colored how you write romance in your stories? Or does it?

I laughed out loud at this question, because my first thought was, “Does your blog have a rating?”  Let’s just say between us girls that some of the love scenes…hmm.  I’d better plead the fifth.  My mom might read this post! 

All joking aside, my husband is actually a brilliant sounding board for my romances, simply because I do write from both female and male points of view.  When it comes to the violence in the story, I've heard many times that I write like a guy. What five-foot-one girl who owns more glitter than your average craft store doesn't have a thing for car chases and knife fights, right?  But when it comes to writing romance from a man’s point of view, I’m sometimes a bit too…tasteful.  My husband reads my work as I write, and he always reminds me to keep my voice in the right place when writing a male POV.

Well, I don’t have the glitter but I’ll admit I love fights, car chases, and action flicks and books 

  • You’re a dancer and choreographer. Do you design the dance composition of a piece, like the dance patterns and movements? I’m thinking of the routines they do with Dancing With The Stars?

Yep, that’s exactly what I do.  In fact, not too long ago I was one of the professional dancers for the Dancing Stars of Central Georgia, a charity event modeled after Dancing with the Stars that raised over $200k for the Central Georgia Alzheimer’s Association.  I was paired with a local celebrity, and I created a routine for us.  I trained him for eight weeks prior to the event, where we performed the samba to Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.”  I love flashy concepts and do a lot of choreography for theatres, so of course we dressed the parts as well, complete with glittery lightning bolts on our faces and crazily-teased hair.  What can I say?  The theatricality came out!

Wow! Sounds like a lot of work but fun, too!

I love to read a good thriller although writing one would be tough I think because all of the parts that have to come together to make the story flow and build tension.

  • What excites you about this genre?
Those things that have to come together are both the most challenging thing about writing thrillers as well as the thing that excites me most about them.  When I’m reading a thriller, I try to solve the puzzles as I go, and if a read keeps me guessing until the end and delivers a resolution that I believe, that author has made a fan for life in me.  That’s why when I’m writing a thriller, I will give myself headaches to make it more layered and complex: I hope to give readers that experience of not knowing what’s coming, but also the ability to read back and totally see how it was coming the whole time.  

  • How much do current events play into your writing? 

Current events (and past events) do often give me initial sparks of ideas.  CHAIN OF COMMAND first took root in my head when a few years ago, more women began to appear in campaigns for the White House.  The idea for the new thriller I’m currently working on started when I read about a recent high profile murder case.  My stories are never “based on a true” story type things, as they are entirely fictional, but I do tend to hear news items and think, “But what if that sort of a situation happened with a different twist?”

  • What do you like about McKenzie McClendon, the heroine of Chain of Command? What about Noah? 

McKenzie is fearless.  She might not know she’s fearless, but she is.  When she gets an idea in her head, she will chase it down, wrestle it to the ground, and beat it into submission no matter what.  I think her tenacity makes her a fun character to write.  As for Noah, I just love that he is a complete badass.  There’s no way around that phrase to describe him for me.  He’s the type who, in movies, sets off the explosion and walks away without flinching.  They’re both independent, but that mutual boldness is exactly why they bring each other to their knees where no one else can.     

What’s not to love about a badass like Noah?

  • Noah is a SEAL and proud of his training (and McKenzie has a rather negative view of SEALS)—what’s their common ground that allows them to work together? 

They definitely don’t have much common ground at all in the beginning.  They end up working together because each has an ulterior motive: Noah plans to use McKenzie to get out of a sticky situation, and McKenzie thinks she can use Noah for a career-making story.  Unfortunately for both of those well laid plans, as they hunt for the truth, the two of them find out the other is a real person and not just a tool to be utilized.

  • Now that you’re a new mother how has this impacted on your writing time? 

Balancing a new baby and writing time is a feat.  Sometimes I do it quite literally: I balance the baby on my lap to feed her with one arm and pluck out keystrokes with the other.  The biggest impact on my writing time is that now it is not guaranteed.  When I get settled in to write, I know at any moment I could be interrupted.  A chunk of writing here and there as I can grab it has to work, where before I would make sure my writing environment was more controlled.  Basically, I have had to become one with the chaos.  Luckily, I’m good at multitasking.  (Birthday cake ice cream helps, too.)

  • How has being published changed your life? In what ways? 

It’s an interesting change, for sure.  Mostly, I've noticed how things that would before have seemed so “out there” now feel like just part of a running machine.  Recently, I missed a phone call that a few months ago I’d have scheduled my entire day around.  I wasn't able to return the call that day because I was in between TV spots to promote the book, which felt crazy!  I've had people I've been friends with for years ask if they could possibly “get me to autograph” a book for a friend of theirs.  I always want to say, “Are you kidding?  I love signing books!”  I always tell them of course but laugh and say, “But I do hear if you can find a copy that isn't signed, it’s worth an absolute fortune.” 

  • What’s coming next from Colby Marshall? 

I’m currently editing the next book in the McKenzie McClendon series, which is about a surgeon providing infants for the black market baby trade.  McKenzie needs an angle on this story to keep her job—and her home.  When her high school sweet heart tips her off that his wife may have been one of the victims, she launches a frantic search to find the killer and her ex’s son.  I’m also working on a new series about a forensic psychiatrist with graphemeàcolor synesthesia—a form of synesthesia in which an individual's perception of numbers and letters is associated with the experience of colors. One half of a vicious team of killers is caught, and she uses her unique gift to hunt down the mastermind still at large.

Hmm, how soon did you say I can read these? I'm looking forward to getting my hands on these!

Colby, thank you for taking  time, out of a very busy life, to answer my questions and sharing a bit about your other loves. 
  • A publisher's ARC copy is up for grabs for a lucky commenter today.


The road to the Oval Office is paved in blood… 

The simultaneous assassinations of the President and Vice President catapults the Speaker of the House into the White House as the first female President of the United States. Evidence points to a former Navy SEAL as one of the assassins.

Relegated to writing sidebar stories instead of headlines, journalist McKenzie McClendon composes a scathing story about the Navy training killers, igniting the fury of the alleged assassin’s former partner.

Former Navy SEAL Noah Hutchins doesn’t believe his partner could have committed the heinous crime. They’d endured the horrors of Afghanistan together. His buddy was a hero, not a murderer. 

No one who knows the truth is safe… 

Thrown together in a search for the truth—and a career-making story—McKenzie and Noah must unravel a dangerous web of lies that includes a radical foreign faction, a violent ultra-feminist group, and corrupt politicians willing to kill to keep their secrets. And an assassin who is still on the loose. 

His next targets are already in his crosshairs…Excerpt

  •  A publisher's ARC copy is up for grabs for a lucky commenter today.

Monday, January 7, 2013


I love history and always have. I got that from my Dad, I suspect, or at least in part. As a kid, I read a lot of non-fiction history and many of those books belonged to my dad and many more came from our library. He was a big aficionado of the Civil War era. We had many a debate on battles and the politics of the time.

My love was the Revolutionary War era. I loved the contrast and similarities between European politics and structure and what was being created here in the 1700’s. The early battles for something different from what they left behind.

Then I discovered historical fiction (remember John Jakes?) where real history was the backdrop of the story and the fictional characters were woven into that history. It takes a true understanding of the era to weave those characters into existing history. Oh, how I loved reading those books. They were like doors into the everyday life of the time depicted. Rich on details of the politics, battles, and alliances and they weren’t short, quick reads, either. I loved that aspect.

Then I discovered romantic historicals. I was in heaven. There were plenty of battles and political machinations, danger and daring, heroes, spies, and a code of honor and all twined into the rich history of the time. They were long books—500 plus pages. They were great because they transported you to another time so well that who paid attention to the fact they weren’t a 300 page read? The authors needed that extra space to accurately create the world their characters played in. Epics and family sagas.

I think I devoured books like the Roselyn Chronicles, by Roberta Gellis (who was an historian and taught it). The Greatest Knight (and a host of others), by Elizabeth Chadwick, Skye O’Malley series, by Bertrice Small.  The Thornbirds (as well as several others), by Colleen McCollough and quite a few other authors that all wrote fabulous stories that put you in the era they were writing. They all wrote stories that were over 500 pages long. Too long? I didn’t think so and still don’t. They were bestsellers and some were runaway best sellers. Marvelous stories that were like a mini vacation in a time machine.

From there I discovered other authors, who wrote books a bit shorter—about 400 pages but still told a great story. Still rich in everyday life, politics, and beliefs of the historical period but not quite as long. Jude Deverau’s Velvet trio. Catherine Coulter with Rosehaven, and other medieval stories that were over 400 pages, Julie Garwood with Honor’s Splendor and Lyon’s Lady—just a little shy of 400 pages. And then there were Michael and Kathleen Gear’s first North Americans series, Anne McCaffrey’s first dragon books of Pern (I still go to Pern for a vacation and ditto on the other authors listed).

I don’t like many of the historical romance that has been put out recently. They seem to have a good storyline but they don’t really give a flavor of the time they’re set in. They cut out all the rich history reducing the story to actors dressed in period clothes but little else spouting romantic nonsense. The story could be in any era and the only way you can tell is by the clothes they wear and the historical names they drop. There have been some notable exceptions: Grace Burrows, Julia Quinn, and Elizabeth Loupas. All of them write rich stories steeped in the mores, customs, and politics (which is such an integral part of history), of the era they write. Great storytellers!

I think there is a great deal of difference between books that use filler and those that skillfully use historical narrative and information and weave a good story within it. Somewhere along the way authors/publishers started thinking everything must be fast paced action or lose readers. I have news for them; they lose readers, or at least this reader, by condensing everything into a homogenous romantic storyline and slapping historical on it.

I miss those wonderful stories that open a door to the past and let you spend time there.   

What are your thoughts on the past few years of short and fast?