Author Archives: Sarah Andre

Lark Brennan Explores the Dark Side of the Caribbean

Lark Brennan

Lark Brennan

I am thrilled to introduce you to my critique partner of 10 years, Lark Brennan. On December 1st she’ll debut her multi-genre romance, DANGEROUSLY YOURS. (It’s a romantic, paranormal, suspense-thriller.) Lark is an outstanding author, whose wild imagination and unique world building will turn this industry on its head. Check this out:

Whales don’t just vanish, but marine biologist Lex Durand saw one do just that. With years of research at stake and driven by her bond with the whale, she seeks the help of scientist-in-hiding Bodie Flynn—a man with a mysterious past and a justified hatred of her brother. But while Lex was warned Bodie would be difficult, she never expects to find he has psychic abilities equal to her own.  

bookmark-1.5inx7in-h-frontBodie despises being trapped in Durand Tech’s version of the witness protection program, and when a gorgeous Durand heiress lands on his beach asking for help, he’s unhappier still. The last person he wants in his life is the sister of the man who ruined him, but the disappearance of Lex’s whales could be related to his own research and he isn’t above using her to get her data.  

As the dangerous force behind the changing seas becomes deadly, Lex and Bodie must put aside their personal agendas to track down a powerful foe. But when their attraction reaches a boiling point, facing their feelings may prove the hardest battle yet.    Dangerously Yours

Click cover to pre-order

Welcome, Lark, and congratulations!! Your authentic world-building even blew your editor away. How did you come up with this unique premise?

I was playing around with the idea of a family of powerful psychics when Lex Durand marched in—a 6’ tall, gorgeous animal telepath who runs a marine mammal research foundation. She had so much attitude, I had to write her story. Of course a romance about a marine biologist had to start with a whale vanishing on camera and Lex blackmailing a super-hot physicist into helping her find it.


What kind of research did you do to make delphic energy and dolphin behavior sound so authentic?

Delphic energy is a totally made up scientific explanation of psychic abilities—glad to hear it sounds believable. I’m sure real scientists would roll their eyes. As for the dolphins—I spent countless hours on the web, bought a dozen dolphin books then ended up contacting the medical director at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida. She answered even my stupidest questions brilliantly. The dolphin telepathy I made up. I’m sure I’m going to hear from animal telepaths that I got that wrong.

Your descriptions of the BVI beaches, restaurants, etc. are sensational. Did you visit or live there?

I lived in the US Virgin Islands for seven years and spent a lot of time sailing and diving in the BVI. It’s an amazingly beautiful part of the world. We sailed the BVI just last summer and I’m relieved to report the places in the book are still there.caribbean

I know you’re under contract for a series, tell us the date, title and any details about the next book.

IRRESISTIBLY YOURS comes out June 21, 2016. It takes place in Paris where powerful telepath Adrien Durand has been forced to take over his family’s international business empire and protection of the source of their power. A lovely American empath shows up and he suspects she’s a spy. There’s plenty of action and intrigue and smooching.

Nothin’ wrong with plenty of smooching! Tell us one thing you’re thankful for (so we can call this a Thanksgiving post.) ;)

I’m so grateful to have such wonderful and supportive family and friends, especially the generous authors who have made the rocky road to publication so much fun.

Favorite food you can’t say no to?

Can’t think of a food, but don’t test me with a glass of excellent Bordeaux. :)

“I’d love to be stuck on a deserted island with…” (can be dead or alive.) And the one item you’d take with you.

My husband’s not reading this, right? No contest– Chris Hemsworth. And the item? I’d be wearing Heidi Klum’s body.

Really, Lark? Heidi?

Really, Lark? Heidi?

Favorite novel or author, and why?

Wow, there are so many. Probably Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ NATURAL BORN CHARMER because I love every character and subplot in it—and it has Dean Robillard!

If you could have any other career besides your present ones and had the skill to do it, what would you be?

An astronaut!

(Wow, I’ve known you for 10 years and that came outta left field!) What question did I not ask that you’d like readers to know about you?

You didn’t ask about Jody and Buffy!! My two puppy-dogs are just great—sweet, loving, hilarious and a little naughty! Thank you for asking.Buff - Jode

A question for all of you—one commenter will get a $25 Amazon gift card:

Bodie and Adrien are clean shaven except when stubble catches up with them, but I’m seeing lots more men with beards these days. How do you feel about facial hair? What do you think is sexy in a hero—clean shaven, stubble, beard, other? While you’re thinking about men and hair—body hair or man-scaping?

On Saturday, December 5th at 4:30pm, Lark is signing at MURDER BY THE BOOK with best selling romantic suspense author Laura Griffin! 2342 Bissonnet St, Houston


Lark’s love of reading, writing and travel has led her to a string of colorful jobs and a well-worn passport – as well as several years spent sailing and diving in the Virgin Islands. Her travels have inspired her stories–romantic adventures set in some of her favorite destinations around the world. When not traveling, she lives in Texas with her brilliant husband and two adorable canine “children.”
You can find Lark at, and @larkh.


Thank you SO much for being here today, Lark, my excitement for your debut is only second to yours! Welcome to the published world, my friend. Buckle up, your sales will resemble a comet. :)


JULIE MULHERN: Diverse, Dedicated and a lot of Dead Bodies.

Julie Mulhern- photo by Larry Levenson

Julie Mulhern- photo by Larry Levenson

Rarely have I read an author who writes in two completely different voices. Julie Mulhern’s series: The Country Club Murders is a cozy mystery set in the 70’s, and filled with laugh-out-loud snark. Naturally when I picked up the first book in her new Haunting series, A HAUNTING DESIRE, even though I knew it was historical with a touch of paranormal, I still expected similarities in writing style. Nope. You’d never know the same writer wrote this solemn, eerie, twisted suspense involving Voo Doo and some grisly, dark New Orleans scenes that have you biting your nails like a teen. The two series are SO far apart in voice, style and spectrum on the mystery genre that I’m left thinking Julie Mulhern is either exceptionally talented or has a split personality.

As a dedicated KaT reader, I’m sure you recall reading about Julie after her debut last February when we featured her novel THE DEEP END. Next week the second book in The Country Club Murders comes out: GUARANTEED TO BLEED. 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]Let’s check back in with Julie and see how she is able to pull off such completely unique writing styles in the romantic suspense genre:

  • You write a series that’s a hilarious snarky cozy and another series that’s historical, paranormal suspense. How hard is it to switch hats?

Actually, switching between two different genres is good for me. When I’m writing the mysteries, I get a break from turn of the century New Orleans and vice versa.

That doesn’t mean I’m not constantly having ideas for the wrong book. I am. I’ve started files.

  • Which series is YOUR fav?

What a question! A bit like asking a mother which child is her favorite. Right now I am editing A Haunting Need (book two in the Haunting series) and writing Clouds in my Coffee (book three in the Country Club Murders). I love them both. That said, it’s easier for me to write mysteries.

  • We interviewed you in February for your debut release. Tell us how well The Deep End has been doing.

THE DEEP END coverThe Deep End had a great spring and a wonderful summer, somehow managing a top spot on the Goodreads’ 2015 Best Beach Read list. I took screen shots of my book wedged between “Me Before You” and “The Rosie Project.”

Lynn Farris of said of The Deep End, “This certainly isn’t your grandmother’s cozy mystery, and I loved it. This is a cozy mystery with an edge. Ms. Mulhern walked a fine line in this mystery with a tantalizing topic while still being acceptable to most cozy readers.”

Mystery readers who don’t want gore seem to respond to it.

  • Are you a plotter or panster? What kind of research have you done for each? (You already answered or The Deep End, but it never hurts to refresh memories.)

I write to plot points. In an 80,000 word novel that means INTERESTING things better be happening at the 8,000, 20,000, 40,000, 60,000 and 72,000 words marks. Ish. I generally begin knowing my plot points but have no earthly idea how I’m going to fill in between them. Those misty spaces are where the magic happens.

As for research, I believe you mean RABBIT HOLE. I love it. Recently I needed to know how much it cost to rent a condo for a week in Vail in 1974 and found myself flipping through the virtual pages of a decades old ski magazine ($400 if you’re wondering). I’ve discovered Thea Porter caftans, renewed my fondness for Tab, and listened—willingly (once)—to “Seasons in the Sun.” I’ve also watched every movie Steve McQueen made in the 70s—that was no hardship.

Sometimes the research finds me. A New York Times article led me to this website – I fell in love with The Jewel Box and knew I had to place a scene there.

  • What are future release dates and titles?

Book two of The Country Club Murders, GUARANTEED TO BLEED, releases next week on October 13th. This is the book that features a scene at The Jewel Box. It also sees the return of Ellison, Grace, Mother, Aggie, Anarchy, and Hunter. I adore this mystery and am thrilled to see it venture out into the world.

Book three, CLOUDS IN MY COFFEE is slated for early May, 2016. I’d best get writing!

A HAUNTING NEED will release in April, 2016 (if I ever get these edits done).


QUESTION OF THE DAY FROM JULIE: As I mentioned, I’ve been watching loads of Steve McQueen movies and my favorite from the 1970s is Papillon. That said, my favorite movies from the 70s are The Sting, Blazing Saddles (after twenty years of marriage, my husband made a Mel Brooks fan of me) and Star Wars. What are your favorite 70s movies? FIVE COMMENTERS WILL WIN A DIGITAL COPY OF THE DEEP END!

Finally, readers, if you don’t believe me on how DIFFERENT Julie’s style is, please enjoy the excerpts below:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]FIRST EXCERPT – In Guaranteed to Bleed, Ellison has a couple of awful dates (believe me, I’ve had worse). So in honor of my 20th wedding anniversary tomorrow (hurray, no more dating!), I thought you’d like to join her on one…

The scent of Aramis overwhelmed the aroma of my coffee. I looked up.

“How are the two prettiest ladies in town?” A man wearing the ugliest plaid sports coat I’ve ever seen—burnt sienna, burnt umber, cadmium deep yellow—stood in front of us.

Mother smiled. Daddy stood and thrust out his hand. Quin Marstin shook it. I looked from Mother to Quin to the empty seat at the table. Oh dear Lord.

“We’re so glad you joined us.” Mother’s smile didn’t mean a thing. The expression certainly didn’t touch the rest of her face. Was Quin a last minute addition because Hunter hadn’t wanted to come? “Please sit.”

Quin sat.

Next to me.

When we were in high school, Garret Hargrove Marstin V, more commonly known as Quin, was the class president, the starting quarterback for a football team that won the state championship and the boy named most likely to succeed. As far as I knew, our senior year was the apex of his life. He’d been young, popular and almost every girl at school had wanted to date him. The world had changed. Quin hadn’t noticed.

He leaned back in his chair and grinned at me. “Ellison, looking good, babe.”


Next to me, Daddy tensed. Across from me, Mother washed away a sour-pickle expression with a deep sip of Bloody Mary. I shifted in my chair, inching as far as possible from Mother’s idea of a set up. Had she lost her mind? “Thank you,” I murmured.

The man positively reeked of cologne. What’s more, I’d bet, hidden beneath his white shirt, boring tie and that appalling blazer, there was a gold chain with a medallion nestled among his chest hairs. Bleh.

“How’s single life treating you?” Given that I was single because my husband had been murdered, I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. True, Henry had been a cheating low-life and I didn’t exactly mourn his passing, but…

He scooted his chair closer to mine. “Chick like you, you don’t have to stay single long.”

Across the table, Mother choked on her drink.

Quin leaned toward me and his Aramis assaulted my nose again.

Maybe his sense of smell was gone. Maybe when he looked in the mirror, he didn’t see the thinning hair. Then again, how could he, hidden beneath a toupee the way it was? Maybe he didn’t notice the thickening waist that threatened to become a paunch. The man remained a legend in his own mind.

I inched farther. So far, I risked falling off my chair. Maybe Daddy would catch me. Although…he looked frozen in horror. No help there.

“What are you doing now, Quin? For a living, I mean.” I asked.

Clipping coupons off the bonds his grandfather and father had amassed. We all knew it. Then again, cutting along a straight, dotted line is something of a skill.

He sat up straight, grinned, then leaned against the back of his chair. “I’m thinking of investing in a chain of incense stores. Not too late to get in on the action. You interested, Harry?”

This time Daddy choked on his drink. I patted his back and looked for a waiter. With everyone choking, we were going to need more ice water.


And, one of my favorite scenes from A Haunting Desire…AHauntingDesire2

“There’s not enough water to make tea and read the leaves. It’ll be the cards.” With a rustle of her patched skirt, Granny led Trula into the cabin and settled into her seat at a table scarred by hot pans, dripping glasses of rum, and time.

Trula sat across from her in an uncomfortable straight-backed chair.

Behind Granny, a narrow plank painted a vibrant shade of blue groaned beneath the weight of a large crucifix, the curve of a snake’s skeleton, a small painting of the Virgin, tightly wrapped gris-gris, a cascade of crimson lace, brightly colored beads, painted stones, and a bottle of rum. Several candles burned and flower petals floated in a glass bowl filled with water. Next to the altar’s dense opulence, the rest of the simple cabin appeared drab.

“Are the wards holdin’?” Granny asked.

“I saw a boy.”

“Did he cause any mischief?”


Granny snorted. “The wards only keep out ghosts who mean you harm. I reckon that boy didn’t aim to cause trouble.”

The wards didn’t work against all ghosts? Until Zeke Barnes beat Carter Wayne, she’d never seen a single one in her home—it was a phantom-free haven. The wards made living in a city beset by ghosts bearable.

“You didn’t ride clear out here in the middle of the night because of the wards.” Granny’s head was wrapped in a bright tignon, a red shawl draped over her narrow shoulders. Her hands, roped with age and bent like claws, caressed a tarot deck.

“I’m worried about Cora James.” Trula bit her lip. It wasn’t exactly a lie.

“Cora’s in a safe place. Don’t you worry your pretty head about Cora James.”

The tension in Trula’s shoulders eased. “Where is she?”

The old woman grinned. “I done told you. A safe place.”

Trula closed her eyes and breathed through gritted teeth. If she wanted information from Granny, she’d catch more flies with honey than vinegar. “If you speak to her, would you please tell her the police are all over the district looking for Belmain’s murderer?

Granny laughed softly. “The New Orleans police aren’t gonna catch that killer. Least half those men couldn’t catch fish in a barrel. This ain’t somethin’ they understand. Darkness is roamin’ round the city.”

Trula shuddered. Eulie Echo had warned her about Baron Samedi, now Granny had as good as confirmed her suspicion that a spirit committed the murders.

“Cora’s not the only reason you rode clear out here in the middle of the night.” Granny’s faded eyes glittered in the dim light.

“I’m worried about my own girls as well.” That wasn’t a lie, either. She did worry about the girls. The man who’d invaded her thoughts wasn’t worth mentioning. Trula scrubbed at her tired eyes. Had he followed her?

Granny’s disbelieving laugh grated on Trula’s last nerve. “Maybe. But that’s not why you came. The cards have answers for you.” She shuffled the ornate deck and fanned it on the table. “Pick three.”

For more information on Julie Mulhern, please visit her website:



Young woman read book relaxing on sofa in lounge

I read voraciously- you probably do too, and it suddenly struck me this week (after thousands of books) that I have an instinctive 4-tiered rating system.

1) There’s the poorly written story I stop reading when it takes too much effort or I find I’m dreading picking up my Kindle. (Dread should never be associated with reading novels!)

2) There are the stories that entertain me all the way through, but it’s still easy enough to put the book down and perform critical human functions like eating and bathing.

3) Then there are the amazing authors who consistently capture me into their world. You know the kind: the writers who make writing look easy. My impulsive story-craft critic never rears it’s ugly head…not even once. These are the stories you burn your family’s dinner trying to read ‘just one more page.’

4) And finally- the handful of authors (and I mean one hand, folks!) who are SO talented that I only pick up their stories when I’ve ‘earned it.’ Perhaps I finished a manuscript. Or I’m finally on vacation with nothing but that story in front of me. I begin them thinking it’s the 3rd-tier I just described. I say goodbye to my husband, because nothing will pull me from the novel. But the plot is profound, the characters and setting are so real that reading the story becomes an experience. In this 4th tier, the further I read, the more I begin to SLOW DOWN. Weird huh?

CRIMINALLast night I finished CRIMINAL, by Karin Slaughter, one of the top police-procedural thriller writers of our time. If she were in my 3rd tier I’d have finished the book in a day-and-a-half. But her phenomenal skill at story weaving puts her in the 4th tier. CRIMINAL took me a week to finish. Let me explain, because it’s so counter intuitive:

When an author is that enthralling I don’t want to be without the story. Those characters enrich my life. I also know I won’t get another new work for a year or more (all 5 of my top-tier authors rarely publish more than once a year.) Therefore, the more the story progresses and the more my soul has completely drowned in the author’s world, the more I’ll only read a chapter or two in one sitting. Miserly nibbling away, because I’m already sorry I’m this far into it. And maybe during the epic final battle (what we writers call ‘the black moment’) I’ll put that book down for a whole day. It’s masochistic, I know.

Ironically, I don’t tend to enjoy thrillers and I hate scary movies! Let me be frank: the thriller part of Slaughter’s Will Trent series is beyond horrific. Her antagonists’ twisted evil defies my imagination- and probably yours too. It’s airplanes-crashing-into-buildings shocking. It simply never occurred to you that a person could think up something this horrific to harm others. And Slaughter is 8 books in, folks. Will Trent and his female partner, female boss and girlfriend make up the gist of the story, but that’s 8 villains so heinous, so much more evil than Hannibal Lecter, that I guarantee they’ll each blow your mind. Nerd alert: It’s the kind of horror that requires me to watch three Bewitched sitcoms before sleeping, so her villain won’t seep into my dreams. :)


Karin Slaughter

Why on earth would I stick her in the 4th tier? Because her hero, Will Trent is so mind-bendingly flawed and so determined to move beyond his disabilities, his past and his faults. His boss has such incredible depth and secrets that in 9 books (I’m including COP TOWN) you aren’t even close to figuring her out- and you know it! His girlfriend is stoic and beautiful and has held up under massive human suffering. It’s the realism of these characters’ lives and their good-trumps-evil spirit that make me slow down and drag the book out.

Initially I did not read her series in order, but I recommend you do. The Will-Trent-experience is far more enriching when you know what happened and what character traits and secrets were revealed in the previous novel. Below is the sequence of the series. And in her brilliant creativity she’s begun weaving the boss, Amanda Wagner’s backstory within the series and as stand-alones, so I’m adding COP TOWN in as a must-read too.  Will Trent isn’t in it, but you need to know this part of Amanda to make CRIMINAL that much more of a 4th tier experience!

Name your top tier authors! One commenter will win a $10 Amazon gift card. (My way of paying for that author’s next book!)


A pic found on Karin’s FB page. Why yes, I am a stalker-fan. SO?


Karin’s Amazon Author Page

WILL TRENT SERIES (links to each book on her website.)

Rolynn Anderson: FEAR LAND

If you’re a KaT regular, you’ll recognize this week’s guest. We’ve hosted her three times and are delighted she’s back today for a spirited discussion about her newest release. Welcome Rolynn Anderson!



I’m tickled to be back on Kiss and Thrill with you, Sarah.  You’ve hosted coming out parties for three of my romantic suspense novels (LAST RESORT, SWOON and LIE CATCHERS).  Now it’s FEAR LAND, my fifth published novel. I am giving a portion of each sale of FEAR LAND to the Brain Research Foundation (

Sarah:  Given the story line, that is a truly wonderful gift! Tell us about your journey to write FEAR LAND.

Rolynn:  Trauma is the topic, the many shades of anxiety. Most of us experience a trauma or two in our lifetimes, suffering symptoms from mild depression and a few nightmares to full-blown post traumatic stress. My own response to a trauma interested me, but I also wanted to know more about PTSD and high suicide rates among soldiers.  I wondered if some children were born anxious. Were all forms of trauma curable? 

Sarah:  Wow, that’s fascinating, but it kind of sounds like a thesis, not a suspense novel.

Rolynn:  I know! We novel writers are researchers at heart. I like to learn and teach with each novel I write, as well. I think the reader will learn a lot about trauma in my novel, but I hope the plot makes it a page-turner.

Sarah:  Start with the hero, heroine, so we know we’re looking at a fiction piece.

Rolynn:  Yes, ma’am! My heroine, Tally Rosella, is a child psychiatrist who has finished one study of anxious kids in Washington State and will begin a second study at a big California college. Her new neighbor, Cole Messer, an Army Major who will teach ROTC at the college, is good at hiding the effects of combat trauma. He’s single-parenting a highly anxious boy; Cole wants to enroll his son into Tally’s new study.

Sarah:  Ah, a couple with conflict, but clearly Tally’s the strong one, here.

rolynn_smallRolynn:  Nope. Now I introduce a modest paranormal feature. You see, Tally hears mind-rants from adults who have strong (usually negative) feelings toward her. These men and women might be perfectly polite, even flirty with her, but their minds are ranting nasty tunes.

Sarah:  Ooo, I wish I had that feature! That must make her a powerful psychiatrist.

Rolynn:  You’d think so. She couldn’t take on a patient who rants at her, because it interferes with her objectivity. That’s why she works with kids. Their minds don’t yell at her.

Sarah:  Now add the suspense…

Rolynn:  I’ll avoid spoilers here. Bottom line: Tally encounters devious colleagues, spurring her on to ‘use’ her elementary mind-reading skill. Trouble is, evil people have a way of taking advantage of good folks, and soon, Tally, Cole and Cole’s son are in danger.

Sarah: Yep! Now we’ve got the suspense. Where can we pick up this mystery?

Rolynn: Amazon Kindle  

BTW, LIE CATCHERS comes out in re-release through Amazon Encore today! And for my other books and events, check out my website.


Here’s the blurb on FEAR LAND:

Tally Rosella, an acclaimed psychiatrist who helps children fraught with anxiety, avoids adults because their brains rant at her.  But the chance to start a second child study and connect her findings to PTSD, sets her squarely among devious colleagues at a big California university.

Army Major Cole Messer, Tally’s new neighbor, won’t admit that trauma from combat tours in Afghanistan, destroyed his marriage and hampered his ability to lead.  As a teacher of college ROTC and single parent, he’s focused on enrolling his highly anxious son in Tally’s study and getting back to active duty.

Someone is dead set against Tally’s presence at the university, and blowback from her battles with co-workers put Cole and his son in jeopardy.  Watch what happens when people struggling with shades of anxiety collide with corrupt, revengeful foes.

Here’s today’s question: How astute are you at ‘mind reading?’  Whose mind would you like to read better…and why?  Commenters are entered into a giveaway of an e-copy of FEAR LAND!

Faint RolynnCOMING THIS FALL: FAINT (the 3rd in Rolynn’s Funeral Planner’ series.)

How did funeral planning morph into crime-solving?  Ask free-lance embalmer Trudy Solomon or Pete McDonald, a blind forensic investigator.  They’re solving mysteries of the deceased for their pregnant boss, Jan Keller, while her journalist husband, Roman, is benched by a ten million dollar defamation suit.

A dead client goes missing, and investigating his disappearance forces Trudy and Pete to confront their fiercely independent styles.  When danger stalks them, will they blend brains, brawn and belief in one another?


Meet the 2015 Golden Heart RS Finalists!

Many romance writers are busily packing bulging suitcases for next week’s Romance Writers of America national conference in New York City. So what better time to get you psyched for the RWA Awards Night, next Saturday, July 25th. WHY? Because this year RWA is streaming the event LIVE (click the word that night to be linked immediately, or go to!) Now you too can be a part of that magical night of glitz, glam and stunning ball gowns! And one of these remarkable writers will walk up to the podium (in front of 2,500 fellow writers) and accept the coveted 2015 Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense! Let’s meet these lucky women:



DECEPTION ISLAND (to be published in mid-2016 by HQN Books!)

In DECEPTION ISLAND, a rogue French Foreign Legion officer and
a Californian conwoman become unlikely allies in a deadly battle
against 21st century pirates and slave traders, in the steamy jungles and azure waters of an Indian Ocean paradise.

As their lives are plunged into danger, their damaged hearts and minds reluctantly begin to open to the possibility of finding love in the most unexpected of places. When loyalties are tested and damning secrets revealed, will their fragile trust in each other be enough to pull them through?

FIRST LINE: Time to get this over with.

Extra detail: I didn’t realize the French Foreign Legion still existed
until a couple of years ago, when I came across a Vanity Fair article about modern-day Legionnaires. What a fascinating concept for a novel—what would prompt a man to walk away from his life, and even his identity and native language, to risk his neck for another country? Thus my hero in Deception Island, Capitaine Rafe Angelito, was born.  


                                                                                                                      JESSICA DARAGOJessica Darago - Author Photo


Renée Norton isn’t sure how she wound up here, in the empty attic of a Bloomsbury town home with a disassembled cell phone in one coat pocket, an SD card full of homemade porn in the other, and her dead best friend’s blood all over her hands, but she knows she has to act fast, before she winds up dead herself.

Cut off from the police and the American embassy by her suddenly violent diplomat ex-boyfriend’s quick maneuvering, she’s left with only one ally, an ex-MI6 agent who calls himself William Gillette. Clever, charming, and—Renée suspects—more than a bit off his rocker, Gillette was not only smart enough to track her down, he’s also discovered her most closely guarded secret: that “Renée Norton” is just another role she’s been playing. And though the last thing Renée wants is to place her trust in another man, she may not have a choice: If her enemies catch up with her, it’s not just her secrets on the line, but the lives of millions.


The mirror showed Renée everything: It covered half of Vilém’s bedroom wall and caught the whole rest of the room in its gaze, from the gaping maw of the walk-in closet to the drapes that shut out the wet, dark London morning and even—especially—Renée herself, sprawled naked and sated on the rumpled bed.

Extra Detail: Every writer should have a Jimbo—though at times, his intervention feels as much like a curse as a blessing. One day—May 2, 2010, to be precise—he simply asked me if anyone had ever written a story about the murder of Sherlock Holmes. I said I didn’t know.

A half hour later, I had a plot; a new setting and context; I had new identities and arcs for the characters representing Watson, Mycroft, Morstan, Lestrade, and Moriarity. I had a way to resurrect my Holmes from the dead—because Sherlock Holmes always comes back from the dead. Because I am, down to my core, a romance novelist, I knew this book would really be about Holmes and the woman. And it would be the most important story I know how to tell: How to go on loving each other when the whole world tries to stop us.

So this is not a book about the murder of Sherlock Holmes…but it almost was. And if those kinds of ideas excite you, I recommend talking to Jimbo.


Arlene%20McFarlane%20picARLENE MCFARLANE


Valentine Beaumont is in for a hair-raising shock when her spoiled client, socialite Portia Reynolds, is strangled right under her nose. Unfortunately, a dead customer in the beauty industry is not exactly a drawing card, and Valentine feels obligated to find the killer. She learns Portia had more kinks than curls in her personal life and, as she untangles the mystery, she finds out just how nasty Portia was. With Guccis on her feet, a bag of tools-of-the-trade over her shoulder, a hard-nosed cop on her back, and a kooky cast of characters in her midst, will Valentine survive her own investigation?

FIRST LINE“You wound a perm rod around a man’s what?” Detective Michael Romero stood in the middle of the Mediterranean-styled salon, hand on his gun hip, stunning blue eyes piercing me with a look that said now he’d heard everything.
Extra Detail: I combined my experience in the beauty industry with my love of rom/com mysteries, and the Murder, Curlers series was born.


                                                                                                                TRACY POOLEIMAG0130%20-%20Copy%20(2)


After stopping terrorists from detonating a dirty bomb, Special Ops soldier Tony Vincenti and FBI linguist Angela Hoffman intend for their next joint mission to involve under-the-covers work, only someone wants to cash in on a contract on Angela’s life. With little evidence to support their suspicions of who is trying to kill her, Tony must convince Angela to violate her own ethics to expose the would-be assassin before they can get a shot at a future together.

FIRST LINEThe fun factor of camping out with eight of even his closest friends only lasted the first month or two, max, of a deployment.

Extra Detail: This is the second MS in my Bad Karma Spec Ops series. When I wrote the first book, I didn’t originally plan a series until a friend asked if I was going to do a series around the team like Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. At first I said no due to other book ideas brewing in my head, but I changed my mind and fell in love with the rest of the team. This story was adapted from a spec movie script I’d written previously. The (current) first line was actually inspired by an Army helicopter pilot I supported.


sharon wray



When Sarah Monroe, a strong-willed historian, travels to a rural Savannah sea island to solve the last unbreakable Revolutionary War cipher, she draws the attention of a ruthless arms dealer. Now her life, and the secret hidden within the cipher, is at the mercy of ex-Green Beret Major Nate Walker. Nate, a man who suffers from seizures, memory loss, and regret, will do anything to save his men and take down the arms dealer even if it means betraying the woman he loves.

FIRST LINE:  Sara Munro adjusted the hood of her field jacket and frowned at the hand-written sign nailed to the ancient oak: Trespassers will be shot. Then prosecuted. No kidding.

Extra Detail: Once I was a Latin student studying ciphers used during the reign of Elizabeth I. (I’d been reading too many Jean Plaidy novels!) Years later, I found an assignment I’d done – a Latin-based substitution cipher based on a Puritan poem by Anne Bradstreet that had been popular during the 18th Century. And suddenly a tortured ex-Greeen Beret, Nate Walker, popped into my head and told me the woman he loved was a historian who studied General Washington’s ciphers and there was one she couldn’t solve. They needed to figure out what the cipher protected before an arms dealer unleashed a weapon last used during the Revolutionary War. Nate’s desperate appeal led me down a writing rabbit hole that ended with this story and led me to my series.


SHARON WRAY sharon wray


When Madeleine Ashton, a Charleston, SC couturier and socialite, is targeted by an arms dealer in search of a 17th Century secret hidden in tunnels under her city, her last hope to save her family is Alex Mitchell: ex-con, ex-Army Ranger, and the baddest boy she’s ever met. Alex, besides being forsaken by his family and damned by the price on his head, has a secret — he used to work for the arms dealer. And when he’s given the opportunity to do so again, he must choose between a life of unlimited money and power or the prim, proper woman who has stolen his heart.

FIRST LINE:  Alex Mitchell hated waiting.

Extra Detail: When I was sixteen, my future mother-in-law took me on a tour of Charleston, SC. The tour guide told stories of the pirates who plagued Charleston during the 17th and 18th centuries. These ruthless men blackmailed the populace, used secret tunnels to hide their treasure, then ran underground smuggling operations during the Revolutionary War. Years later, I met Alex Mitchell, an ex-Army Ranger just released from prison, who told me the “pirates” were back in Charleston. The woman he loved needed my help to stop a weapons smuggling race between a brutal arms dealer and Alex’s own brother. Hence the next rabbit hole that led to the third book in my Black Ops Brotherhood series. 

BRENDA NOVAK returns to Romantic Suspense!

HanoverHouse_800x1200He’d found what he needed. At last. After twenty years of waiting, of planning, of purposely blending in to escape notice, he had the thread that would lead him back to the only woman who’d ever really mattered in his life.

The only woman who’d ever been a challenge.

The only woman who’d ever gotten away.

Once his parents had finally gone to bed, and long after anyone would expect for them to have a visitor, Jasper Moore stared down at the envelope he’d recovered from his father’s desk. Inside was a letter from Evelyn Talbot’s father, pleading with Stanley and Maureen to come forward if they possessed any information on Jasper’s whereabouts. It said that Evelyn had been through enough. That the Moores should finally do the right thing and divulge any information they possessed.

But they never would. They were the ones who’d helped him escape in the first place, all those years ago—and they told everyone they hadn’t seen him since before the murders, even though, in recent years, he risked a furtive visit now and then, if he could do it safely.

Anyway, it wasn’t the letter that concerned Jasper. He didn’t give a shit about the Talbots’ emotional plea for justice and closure.

He was far more interested in the return address on the outside.

Excerpt from HANOVER HOUSE by Brenda Novak

She’s baaaack! That vintage, creepy Brenda-Novak-writing, folks. She’s the kind of suspense writer who grabs you from the first page and sends you on the kind of ride even amusement parks would ban! HANOVER HOUSE, her return to the romantic suspense genre, isn’t the only change we’ve seen from Brenda this year. May, 2015 came and went without the usual author enthusiasm (let’s be honest–hysteria) over Brenda Novak’s Auction Anything for Diabetes Research. That’s right, after 10 successful years and accumulating a total of $2.4 million toward her Diabetes Research charity, Brenda took the year off. Well…not exactly.

For 2015, I came up with another plan to raise money, one I thought readers might like even better. Because…what’s better than getting a great deal on a great book? Getting a steal of a deal on a whole bundle! And what’s better than having all the proceeds go to diabetes research? Well…nothing. Nothing I can think of, anyway. That’s why I’ve curated THREE fabulous box sets filled with BRAND NEW stories from some of today’s most popular authors—so I could launch my fundraising initiative for 2015 and  contribute to the effort of finding a cure for my son (who was diagnosed at five) and all the other people who have to cope with this terrible disease.”

That bears repeating: Brenda ingeniously collected stories from some of today’s top-notch romance authors and developed 3 box-sets that are only available until the end of June. (A week from today, people!) ALL proceeds go toward her Research for Diabetes, and each is priced at $2.99, a staggering special! The kick-off to her romantic suspense series, HANOVER HOUSE is featured in the SWEET DREAMS set. So let’s start with that one. Brenda, who else has contributed to SWEET DREAMS?



SWEET DREAMS. This limited edition set contains thirteen new thrillers. Allison Brennan, Cynthia Eden, JT Ellison, Liliana Hart, Heather Graham, Alex Kava, CJ Lyons, Carla Neggers, Theresa Ragan, Erica Spindler, Tiffany Snow and Jo Robertson have all contributed. I’m in this box, too. I’m including a brand new story that’s nearly 200 pages long—HANOVER HOUSE, the start to the new suspense series I just sold to St. Martin’s Press. And none other than the amazing Lee Child has written the foreword.

Wow, that’s some superstar lineup! I’ve bought it already, but was intrigued with your other sets.

SWEET TALK. This is a limited edition contemporary romance collection featuring



ten brand new stories by such amazing authors as #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Sherryl Woods of Chesapeake Shores series fame. We also have the magnificent Linda Lael Miller, as well as Melody Anne, Violet Duke, Steena Holmes, Gina Maxwell, Molly O’Keefe, Melissa Foster, Rosalind James and Nancy Naigle. Great lineup, right? As a bonus, I’ve thrown in the prequel to my Whiskey Creek series, WHEN WE TOUCH—and megastar Robyn Carr has written the foreword.

So we’ve covered suspense readers, and contemporary romance readers…what would the last box set encompass?



SWEET SEDUCTION. This box is for those who like their romances with some HEAT (a la FIFTY SHADE OF GREY). It features new work from erotica greats Lexi Blake, Nicole Edwards, J. Kenner, Megan Hart, JS Cooper, Karen Erickson, Nina Lane, Roni Loren, Elisabeth Grace, Julia Kent, Mari Carr, Lauren Hawkeye and Avery Aster. Lisa Renee Jones, another popular author in this subgenre, has not only written the foreward, she’s provided one of her full novels as a bonus!

Brenda, I am truly amazed at the generosity of these authors giving their works to such a great cause. And my compliments to you for thinking up such an incredible giveaway to continue your ongoing charitable contributions to Diabetes research. Any last words?

“According to the CDC, nearly 10% of the American public has diabetes. That’s an outrageous figure! So let’s do something about it—read and raise money at the same time.” For more information, visit

Here are links to the different online stores that offer the sets:

Amazon: (or click on the covers.)
Barnes and Noble:
Google Play:

And for more information on Brenda-the-author, please visit her at:

Author Facebook




Thank you for being here today, Brenda and we look forward to your new suspense series AND hearing how much you and these generous authors raised this year!






Join us next Tuesday when Lena Diaz and Kay Thomas dish 5 things about

the heroes of their latest books– EXIT Strategy and Easy Target.

The Nine-Year-Long Rollercoaster Ride

Over here at Kiss and Thrill, it’s no secret that we loooove romantic suspense. We began this blog in 2011 specifically to share other authors, books and plots with you. Back then, only three of our members were under contract. Now, due to the myriad of publishing options, we’re all carving out a path that’s right for us. And after nine years of writing, I too will achieve that coveted title: published author. My debut, LOCKED, LOADED and LYING will be available on JUNE 16th!

Most authors will tell you: the whole writing-publishing experience is like a rollercoaster ride. The highs are true adrenalin rushes, the kind where you throw your arms in the air and shriek until you’re hoarse. Could be over winning writing awards or having a literary agent call and gush for twenty minutes about your novel before offering to represent you. There’s no other job or achievement (for me) that surpasses the thrill of creating characters and conflict, and sharing ‘my baby’ with the world. 

Along with the rush of those highs come the lows, which are just as powerful. Harsh judge comments on a contest entry, reading all those agent/editor rejections sure do emulate the G-forces of a rollercoaster. As in: it sucks the breath right out of you, leaves you stunned and glued in place (usually a fetal position on the floor.)

Nine-whole-years of crazy ups and downs, folks. :)snowy river

But the rollercoaster has click-clacked back to the loading platform, I’ve gotten off, and am shakily standing in line for a whole new ride. When I had absolutely NO topic for today’s blog, Sharon Wray suggested I write about the ‘standing in line’ part. The transition between signing a contract and actually selling a book on Amazon, B&N, etc.

It began with a phone call from my agent. “Entangled Publishing just sent over a contract for your book.” (See rollercoaster high symptoms above.) Then came months of pins and needles waiting while she negotiated my terms, and I suffered the torture of keeping this secret to myself. Which, of course, I didn’t. ;)

When I finally did sign the contract, oh boy, did I blurt the news! Unfortunately, the editor who’d loved my story, and initially sent over the contract to work with me was no longer there, so I was assigned to another editor. Yikes! I’d heard horror stories of writers changing editors and the new one did not like the plot, the voice or the writing.

Youth Olympic Games 2012Wasted energy! My new editor, Anya Kagan, was insightful, patient and saw the big picture–whereas I obsessed on a word or scene level. It became a team effort to spit-shine that manuscript. There were 1st edits (major revisions that instantly drew the reader’s sympathy to my hero’s plight, and upped the stakes he faced.) I returned those in a month and within 10 days 2nd edits were in my Inbox. Less changes, but a suggestion to delete an entire chapter that ‘explained’ my heroine, and wasn’t very interesting. Why not feed snippets of her secrets within the first 100 pages? Brilliant!cabin

3rd edits consisted of changing one sentence. (Yay me!) Then on to Copy Edits, where another editor, who specializes in fact-checking, read through the story and made suggestions. Could my hero (a US Olympic Alpine Skier) have competed in the 2006 Torino games? (Sure that was a long time ago, but Torino is also a major subplot. And don’t forget, I’d written the story back then!) Turns out, Bode Miller competed there, and he’s already competed this year, with a DNF (did not finish.) Case closed, I got to keep the Torino Olympics in the book. Whew!

Hooded man hiding gun behind his backOff the story went to be formatted into a book, and then we were Proofreading the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC.) Any changes here meant catching spelling errors, a word that was supposed to be italicized, etc., not to revise. I seriously had to reign in my inner editor (who’s still criticizing each paragraph, even after all these years!) By this time, if you’ve kept count, I’d reread this entire novel 5 times in 3 months. So to proofread it that slowly and with such care, made me honest-to-God hate the plot, the characters, every $@&# word on every page, and OMG-why did I ever think I could write?!  :) I hear that’s normal…

Next was creating my dedication and acknowledgements pages. After nine years I had a lot of people to acknowledge, because in the publishing industry it DOES take a village! Thanking all these people who’d done so much for me, in a page the whole world could read, warmed my heart. AND it was one more step toward authenticity…what a rush! Interestingly, I put much more time into it than I expected. I wanted to get the words absolutely right, the tone perfect. ASPEN road sign

I have one more step to look forward to: seeing what the Entangled graphic artist creates for a cover, which will happen in early May. Once I have the cover I can decorate my Facebook and Twitter pages, set up an Amazon Author page , update my website and invest in ‘swag.’ (Fun giveaways.)

You’ll notice I didn’t tell you much about LOCKED, LOADED and LYING. Why? Because there’s plenty of time and many blogs where my cover, official back-cover blurb, and plot points will be broadcast.

Love coupleFor now I leave you with 2 clues 1) these pictures are all broad hints: An heiress is murdered in Aspen and all evidence points to her boyfriend, my insanely hot hero, Lock Roane. He was too drunk to remember anything that night, but given his past history of blackout violence, it’s not a big leap for him to believe he did kill her.

On the eve of his felony murder trial he saves the life of a young woman in a blizzard, not knowing she’s his biggest media nemesis. And when Jordan Sinclair regains consciousness she will lie through her teeth to keep it that way (you’ll find out why.) As she recuperates she gets to know the personality he doesn’t show the camera and begins falling for him, but her tangled lies hamper their growing attraction. And sizzling sexual tension wreaks havoc in their frantic attempts to uncover the grisly events of what exactly happened on that fateful night.

And 2) “An impressive debut! This book has everything readers crave: believable, endearing characters, an intriguing conflict and plenty of heart. Don’t miss LOCKED, LOADED & LYING.” Brenda Novak

So that’s my standing-in-line story. Off to buckle up for the next ride!


 The winner of a $10 gift card and e-copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP  goes to Julie Oest!


Julie Mulhern- photo by Larry Levenson

Julie Mulhern- photo by Larry Levenson

I took another sip of coffee and glanced around the pool. The morning light still looked delicate enough to break. The weeping cherry tree had lost a few leaves and they skittered across the pool deck in the soft breeze. The police conferred around the body. Then they stepped away and I saw it. Saw her. In that second, my morning went from plain dreadful to the worst ever. (Excerpt from THE DEEP END.)

Funny how you stumble across strangers who instantly become close friends. I’d judged a writing contest a couple years back, and the anonymous entry, THE DEEP END, was a total standout! Who WAS this author?! The snarky tone of the heroine (the only sane character in a zany cast of 1970’s preppy, country club wives and a mother from hell) had me howling. Enter the requisite dead body (and not just any corpse- it’s a fantastic twist- ALL in Chapter 1) and I was hooked!

Naturally I gave this entry a perfect score, left my name/contact info and an entire page of gushing remarks…mostly over my shock that this hilarious cozy mystery hadn’t been snapped up for publication. And then I did something I’d never done: asked a complete stranger if I could beta read the rest of it. (Yeah, like I have that kind of time on my hands!) But that is HOW GREAT the novel is.

To my delight, the writer- Julie Mulhern, wrote back and (yes!) sent the rest of the hilarious cozy mystery. Now we’ve not only become close friends, but we were nominated for 2014 Golden Heart awards together and we will be published by the same publishing company in the near future.

And, dear readers, I’m honored to announce that Julie’s debut, THE DEEP END, releases TODAY!toast Naturally, on the busiest and most exciting day of her life I insisted she stop everything and answer my nosy questions. (Because that’s what friends do.) Introducing Julie Mulhern-take note of her name, folks!

Q-Your heroine’s glib ability to balance the fine line between hysterical snark and nasty sarcasm is honed to perfection. AND it’s written in 1st person. Do these type of thoughts come to you in real life or do you channel someone inside when you sit down to write?

The snark and internal sarcasm are all me. Ellison lets me give voice to things I would never say. 

Q-How on earth did you come up with this premise?

I wanted to create a straight-laced world, perfect on its surface, then flip the rock. Everyone thinks the 60’s changed everything but really it was the 70’s. The ideas that existed on the fringes of society in the 60’s went mainstream. The roles of women changed – even Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis got a job. Divorce rates skyrocketed. I am woman, hear me roar.

Q-I’m assuming you’re a child of the 70’s since you nailed the culture so well. Why did you choose that era rather than contemporary?

You guessed right. I grew up in the 70s and felt a certain nostalgia about the decade. I was too young to go to discos so I remember the sweet parts – rainbow socks with individual toes, deodorant called Tickle, how no self-respecting kid showed up on the playground if they’d missed Happy Days.

THE DEEP END coverQ-WHERE did you come up with all the foods, commercials, songs, teen accessories, etc that are in your story? Research? YouTube? There’s no way you remembered Cherry Lip Smackers for example (in your 2nd novel of the series.)

Research. Fun, fun research. I got on ebay and bought magazines from 1974. I am the proud owner of a full year of Gourmet plus many, many Vogues, Glamours, Cosmos (oh, my) and Architectural Digests. Looking at those ads and reading those articles was amazing.

And Pinterest – I LOVE Pinterest. My board for The Deep End ( captures the clothes, the vibe and the original Mr. Coffee.

Q-How long do you expect this series to run, because I totally see a new “Cabot Cove” mystery series here! 

I’m hoping The Country Club Murders finds an audience and that Ellison has the opportunity to solve lots of murders.

Q-When is the next story due/what’s the title/can you give us a couple of sentences on the plot?

Guaranteed to Bleed (remember the madras labels?) will release in November. When Ellison finds a dying boy beneath the stands at a high school football game, her life is again upended. Now she’s dealing with a teenage daughter with an attitude, an unexpected house guest and another body on her lawn.

Q-Why stretch out the love triangle between your heroine and two yummy men?

Could you decide between Hunter and Anarchy? Ellison is recently widowed, she’s not ready to make up her mind.

Q-You also have other novels in the works—are they cozy mysteries in 1st person too?

My novel, A Haunting Desire, which was a finalist in the 2014 Golden Heart contest is a romance. It releases in August from Entangled Select. It’s not written in the first person, but there is a murder mystery which my heroine solves. The story is set in New Orleans in 1902 – think voodoo, ghosts, plenty of eerie ambiance and a yummy hero.

Q-On a personal note, what’s a food you cannot say no to?

Bread pudding with crème anglaise

Q-Favorite movie and why?

One? Yikes! Casablanca because I never get tired of watching Rick change from a cynical ass into a hero. Romancing the Stone because I love watching Joan Wilder transform into a strong woman.

Q-What’s your favorite ’70’s song?

Again, one? You’re So Vain by Carly Simon. I’d like to title a book Clouds in my Coffee. Who can hear that song and not sing along? I also love You’re in my Heart by Rod Stewart for the chorus: You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul. You’ll be my breath should I grow old. You are my lover, you’re my best friend. You’re in my soul. Isn’t that how we all want to be loved?

Which ’70s songs do you love and why? Julie is giving one lucky commenter a $10 Amazon gift card! Stop by next Tuesday to see if it’s YOU!

Back cover blurb.

Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her.

Find out more about Julie HERE:



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