Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Midnight Confessions of Ella Grace

Manda hbio-picere. You may not know this about me,  but one of the romantic suspense hero types that really cranks my tractor is the small town sheriff. So when I picked up the first book in Ella Grace’s new trilogy set in Midnight, Alabama and saw that the hero was…a small town sheriff, I was SO there. And when I realized that Ella Grace is the alter ego of Christy Reece, who writes angsty, nail-biting international romantic suspense, I HAD to know more.

So, being the Nosy Nellie that I am, I invited Ella to K&T so I could get the real scoop for me and for all of you out there who read and loved her Last Chance Rescue books as Christy Reece and who are well on the way to adoring every word that Ella Grace puts on the page. Without further ado, let’s welcome to the K&T lounge, the delightful, Ella Grace!

MC: Welcome, Ella! I’m so glad you’re here. I first started reading your Last Chance Rescue series cover_rewardunder your Christy Reece name and became a fan. That you’re also an Alabama girl just cements it!

EG: Hey Manda! Thanks so much for having me over. I’m excited to be here. And I always love talking to another Alabama girl.

MC: Bama gals have to stick together! Only we know how grateful to be for the existence of Mississippi! Speaking of locales…Your Last Chance Rescue series feels global in scope, with many of the stories taking place overseas, and the headquarters of the Last Chance Rescue organization calling Paris home. Your new Ella Grace stories are set in small town Alabama, which is about as far from Paris as you can get. What are the challenges of writing about people and places that are so narrow in focus? Do you prefer one over the other?

EG: At first it was a struggle to go from an international setting to a place that could be my own back yard. I love the exotic excitement of international settings. Depending upon how far you want to go in making the setting a part of your story, it can add a lot or a little extra flavor. My LCR characters are sophisticated, street smart, and somewhat edgy. They wouldn’t fare well in a sleepy little southern town, no matter how many murders take place there. So I felt the need to tone down the ‘world-weary toughness’ of the characters but still make them comfortable if danger came calling. Which it does.

When I first started writing the series, I wanted to stretch myself creatively so I worked to keep Christy’s voice out of Ella’s writing. My Christy Reece books tend to be dark and angsty. I don’t think I was totally successful, because there’s quite a bit of angst in the first two books and the third one is shaping up to be even more so. However the blend of Christy and Ella’s voice began to work quite well and became a good fit for the series.

When the town of Midnight finally came alive for me, so did the book. The story wasn’t really working until I finally named the town. I was going for a Southern sounding name but could never find one that I liked or wasn’t already a real city or town in the South. Then I noticed that certain monumental, life-changing events kept occurring around the midnight hour. That’s when the name Midnight struck me, and suddenly the town and it’s citizens came alive.

hcover-midnight-secretsTo create it further, I drew on my knowledge of small southern towns. I grew up in a small Alabama community where whatever you did was scrutinized and talked about almost before you did it. And I’ve lived in small southern cities where shady dealings of law enforcement was known and accepted as a way of life. Having lived in the South most of my life, I felt comfortable creating the characters, from the quirky and loveable Aunt Gibby, the nosey Inez, the humorless but somewhat mysterious Faye, to the hideous red neck characters of the Daytons and Hensons. At some point in my life, I’ve met them all.

It was so much fun creating this pretty little south Alabama town. I’d love to live there–well, except for the murders. 🙂

I can’t say that I prefer one setting more than the other. However, I do have to get in a particular mindset to write each series. And in its own way, it’s freeing to be able to ‘switch gears’ voice-wise.

MC: Midnight Secrets the first of your new series set in Midnight, AL introduces the reader to the Wilde triplets whose parents died under mysterious circumstances when the three girls were children. Midnight Secrets is Savannah’s story which reunites her with her high school boyfriend Zach. Reunited lovers is one of the most popular tropes in romance. What do you think draws readers to these stories? Do you have a favorite?

EG: I adore reunited lovers stories. Four of my LCR books are reunion romances. There’s just something about having that history, the remembered heat of passion. Reigniting the spark and watching it flame out of control is so much fun to create and watch. You know I love angst and what’s more angsty than past hurts or betrayals and working to overcome them?

MC: Choosing triplets as your heroines for this series is a bold move, and I love it. What was your reason for casting this series with triplets instead of just sisters? Was there something about the bond between multiples–and especially identical ones that intrigued you?

EG: I really wish I had an intelligent, well thought out reason for making the sisters triplets. I don’t. From the moment I sat down to write Midnight Secrets, I knew the sisters were triplets. However, once I got into the story, I realized how much fun I was going to have with it. The sisters are identical in appearance but how they reacted to their parents’ deaths became such a wonderful personality and character study. Savannah turns inward, becoming shy and bookish. Samantha hides her pain behind her popularity, letting no one know what’s going on behind her bright smile. And Sabrina rebels, making each issue that comes her way a battle she must fight and win.

And I do love the bond that they have. It’s not psychic or supernatural. It’s pure, untainted lovehcover-midnight-lies between siblings. I didn’t want the typical strife one might see between sisters. I wanted the girls to be best friends. When the world comes crashing down around them, they have each other. No matter who’s against them, they always have each other’s backs. Their relationship is one of my favorite aspects of the series.

MC: The second book in this series Midnight Lies, is Samantha Wilde’s story. What kind of trouble is on the horizon for this sister, the cop? Who is her hero?

EG: Samantha is a homicide detective in Atlanta, dating Quinn Braddock, who she thinks is the ‘most perfect man on earth’. However when his ex-wife is murdered and he’s found standing over her body, she begins to wonder if the perfection she thought she saw in him was a facade. She’s never really dealt with her parents’ deaths and all of that comes crashing down on her, making her question her judgment.

Quinn is an ER doctor and has been betrayed repeatedly by the people in his life. However, if there’s one person he knows he can count on, it’s Samantha Wilde. Imagine his surprise when he realizes she’s not sure of his innocence.

After their break-up, Samantha returns to Midnight and Quinn follows her. But all isn’t rosy. They’ve hurt each other badly and their earlier relationship put more emphasis on their physical attraction than it did on getting to know each other. This is something they have to rectify if they’re going to move forward. Into the mix comes another murder and once again Quinn is considered a suspect. This time Samantha stands by her man, unaware that the killer has set his sights on her as his next victim.

MC: Who are some of your influences? Your favorite authors, romance, suspense or otherwise?

EG: I grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. (MC: Hi fives! Always love meeting other Nancy Drew fans!) I loved the excitement and fun of puzzling out the mysteries. Some of my favorite romance and suspense authors are Linda Howard, Karen Rose, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood and Allison Brennan.

MC: Do you have any more projects underway? Tell me about them!

EG: Yes, I’ve started a new series called Grey Justice. The first book, Nothing To Lose, features a young woman who has everything she’s ever dreamed of and then loses it all because of one family’s corruption and greed. She’s determined to see that they pay. Enter a mysterious man who offers to help her in her quest but has his own agenda and another man who’s number one goal is to save her from herself, even if it costs him his life.

I’m also continuing my Last Chance Rescue series, with at least three more books planned. And another book in the Wildefire series for Sabrina Wilde, the third triplet.

MC: Ella, thank you so much for visiting us today! I can’t wait to read your next book, no matter which of your personae is writing it!

To learn more about Ella Grace and her Wildefire Series or Christy Reece and Last Chance Rescue, check her out on the web, on her LCR Facebook Page, her Ella Grace Facebook Page, or @EllaGraceBooks on Twitter.

So, gentle readers, do you like your Romantic Suspense with an international flavor or a downhome flair? Tell us which one you like best, and give us an example! One lucky reader will receive a copy of Ella Grace’s latest Wilde Sisters book, Midnight Sins.

Thursday Winners!

Due to having two guests this week, Gail Ranstrom on Monday and Hank Phillippi Ryan on Tuesday, we have a plethora of winners today! But first, before I announce the winners, I want to congratulate Kiss and Thrill author Rachel Grant for this great review:

Body of Evidence

“Rachel is an author new to me but her style of writing reminds me very much of when thrillers were my favourites, of the court room drama of John Grisham, the suspense of James Patterson and the detail in Patricia Cornwells work.” 

Read the full review here.

And now for our winners…

SweetTreasonGailRanstromBecause Lena Diaz is in a giving mood, we have TWO WINNERS of SWEET TREASON by the amazing Gail Ranstrom!! Deborah D and Carmen Pacheco – please contact us through the contact page and tell Lena if you prefer a Nook or Kindle copy! Thanks for stopping by.



WINNER of THE WRONG GIRL, by our Tuesday guest, Hank Phillippi Ryan is Sherry Gladden. Please click on
the contact us tab and let us know where we can send a digital copy to you! Congratulations, and thank you to all of you who stopped by to welcome Hank!


EllaGraceChristyReeceMonday, October 1st: Manda Collins hosts ELLA GRACE


Tuesday, October 2nd: Rachel Grant hosts JILL SORENSON

Hank Phillippi Ryan: A Force of Nature

It’s our great pleasure to welcome award-winning, best-selling author Hank Phillippi Ryan! We have a lot to talk about and she’s crazy-busy, so let’s get started:

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan

I know for ‘The Other Woman’ you based your ‘what if’ premise on a real story about a Senator having an affair. Is there a ‘real story’ behind your newest release ‘The Wrong Girl’?

HANK: Yes! And that’s one of the great things about having a dual career as a TV journalist and a crime fiction author—sometimes there’s a news tip about a story—that doesn’t pan out for TV—but with a little imagination and a lot of adrenaline, it can turn into a terrific thriller.

 And you know,  I have an abiding philosophy that sometimes the universe provides.  Like every author I’ve ever known, coming up with that beautiful gem of the idea, the core of the book, is the hardest part of all. You know it when you have it and when you have it you can write it! But when you don’t have it, it’s miserable. And I writhe on the couch, haunted by the question,  trying to think—what’ll be the unique interesting original plot of the next book? And when it’s time—every time!—something presents itself. (Which should teach me not to worry, although that hasn’t quite happened yet.)

 In this  case, I got a phone call at my tv station from a woman who said she had a story for me. Now, I get a million of those calls a day—well, not that many, but many—and I try to listen to them all as much as I can. Who knows when it may be the story of the century. It could happen.

So this woman tells me a cousin of hers had spent the past ten years searching, unsuccessfully, for her birth mother. And finally, it seemed she’d found her. The adoption agency had called to say the birth mother had decided to let herself be known, and as a result, the agency called the daughter and set up a reunion.

But then, the caller said, everything began to fall apart. The “mother” and “daughter” met—they liked each other fine, and had a cup of tea. But as they chatted, things just didn’t add up.  Dates, times, cities, birthdays.

 And finally, the caller said, “They realized the agency had sent the mother the wrong girl.”

 I still remember the goose bumps I got when she said that.  I thought—this is my book!

 Now, in reality, the story of what happened is –surprisingly—not that interesting! It was a clerical error, and a name mix-up, (someone was Mary Williams and someone was Marie WiIliams, something like that) and they were indeed relatives, and nothing that would have happened to anyone else. But I was instantly transported to the world of adoption and foster care and the love of mothers and daughters—and the heartbreaking decisions that sometimes have to be made.

 What if an adoption agency was reuniting birth parents with the wrong children?  Could that happen? Whoa. And in that instant—I had THE WRONG GIRL.wrong-girl-225

All of us crave family—it’s our identity and our history and our story. For a person searching for her birth parent—do they really want to know? What if they don’t like them? What if the answers they find are unsettling? What if you were happier—before?

Or—and I’m smiling now—what if you get linked up with the wrong person? And what if someone deliberately lied about it?  Would you know? How? And what would you do?

What if you didn’t know the truth about your own family?

 Again, did I know the answers when I started writing it? Who, what, when ,where, why?  Nope, not  at all. But it was terrific fun and a constant surprise to find out.

Follow up to that: given your life as a reporter with WHDH in Boston, do you work on stories and think “wow, this would make a great novel!” (Like the ancient graveyard just discovered last month?)

HANK: Every moment of every day. You’re right, a few weeks ago we discovered that cemetery officials, for instance, were trying to hide that during a renovation of a building they discovered bones. Now—what crime fiction author wouldn’t alert to that one?

And seeing the world through the eyes of a crime fiction author as well as a reporter has changed everything, now that I think about it. Everything—from a personality to a bit of dialogue to a crime scene to an office conflict to the fragrance of the Boston Harbor and how a mother offers her child a potato chip…you know? Becomes the beginning of a possibility.

I love that—it’s not just “it would make a great novel”—but it would give me a genuine moment, or an authentic emotion, or a realistic setting.

And of course, as a reporter, (I’ve been on the air almost forty years!) people are always trying to tell me other people’s secrets! And secrets are always treasures.

I LOVE gritty, determined Jane Ryland! How many books do you plan in her series? And what about a relationship with her hot editor? 🙂

HANK: Thank you! Well, four are done deals, and I am thrilled about that—coming out in 2014 and 2015.  And I am laughing—what a good idea about the relationship with the hot editor—you might be very intrigued about what happens with exactly that in THE WRONG GIRL. Let me know what you think.

What will happen with Jake and Jane? If anything? I have no idea. No outline, no idea!

other-woman-240h ‘The Other Woman’ won the 2013 MWA/Mary Higgins Clark Award (congratulations!) What was it like actually meeting the great author or is she an old friend?

HANK: Oh. It was—life changing and inspirational. I was so thrilled to win—I can’t even describe that—and to know that she read my book and approved, well, can you imagine?

She was elegant, and regal, and bejeweled–and completely charming. A wonderful sense of humor. She’s the real thing, and that’s clear in everything she does. She worked hard from moment one, and still does. And she’s not resting on her laurels—I think  she’s interested in getting better every day—and again, that’s inspirational. I went home and worked even harder.

Name authors whose books you automatically buy and devour.

Sue Grafton. Tess Gerritsen. Lisa Scottoline. Lisa Gardner. Linwood Barclay. Julia Spencer-Fleming.

So, you’re married, a reporter, a bestselling author, president of ‘Sisters in Crime’, on the Board of Mystery Writers of America as well as being a MWA instructor and contribute to two well-known blogs: the Femme Fatales and Jungle Red Writers and you have a newsletter. Seriously. How on earth do you accomplish all of this? Do you schedule yourself down to the minute?

HANK: Well, you know, I kind of do. Not in such a draconian way, but I am very organized—I have lists and list of lists, and several calendars, and I’m always figuring out the next thing I need to do. The deadline for the book is always the umbrella decision-maker—can I do whatever it is and still write the best possible book? If yes, then I can do it.

Ah, I used to cook all the time, and I’m good at it, but there’s a lot of Whole Foods carry-out salmon on our menu these days. We don’t have dinner parties anymore, and I can’t remember the last time we went to a real movie or on vacation. So I guess I admit my “external fun” level is low.

My husband—my dear, patient, supportive husband—is a criminal defense attorney, and has lots of big cases, so he has projects of his own.

On work days, I work at Channel 7 from 9 til 6-ish, then write or do book things from 7-10. Then we have dinner at ten! We try to think of it as, ah, chic.

SO far, so good.  But very, very non-stop.

Food you just can’t say no to?

HANK: Twizzlers. Pizza.  Triple venti non-fat latte.  Fresh raspberries.

What’s next for Jane Ryland and is there a tentative release date?

HANK: TRUTH BE TOLD will be out Sept 2014—I love it!  Jane’s on the trail of a bank executive who may be manipulating mortgage records to keep people out of foreclosure. (Yes, she admits, its robbing the bank from the inside. But hey—banks were bailed out—maybe it’s time for the people to be bailed out.)

And Jake’s assigned to investigate the murder of a woman found in an empty house—a house that’s been foreclosed on.

What happens when you do a good thing—but it’s illegal?

Wow! That sounds GREAT! If you hadn’t been a reporter or writer what would you have been?

HANK: I think about that sometimes. I read an article where it suggested you look back at your childhood dreams and see how what you’re doing now compares to that.

When I was a kid I wanted to be a flight attendant (glamorous back then), and a waitress (you got to bring people things that made them happy and then get money for it. Hey, I was 6.)—then a geneticist (discovery!), and then a disc jockey (music and show business) or the lawyer for the mine workers. (Helping people and making the world fair.)

But really, what I discovered in over-thinking about the essence of it all, was that I wanted to perform, and tell people what to do.

That still makes me laugh.

What else would I do? This is it, sister. Story-telling. Sometimes true stories—and sometimes stories I get to make up.

READERS: For a chance to win a copy of THE WRONG GIRL please comment or ask Hank a question. Today’s Q: If you were adopted would YOU seek out your birth-parents?

Hank and Louise photoHank doesn’t know this, but our own Diana Belchase managed to capture a picture of her interviewing Louise Penny at the Malice Domestic Conference this past May. I think you’ll agree with me, readers, after reading all of Hank’s activities, jobs, blog and novels, she really is the definition of a Force of Nature!

HANK: (Do readers have searching stories? I’d love to hear them..send me an email via my website—or find me on Facebook!)



Blogs:  and

Gail Ranstrom’s Sweet Treason

When I first started writing, I was fortunate to meet and become friends with several writers who became my mentors and helped set me on the “write” path. One of the most influential was Gail Ranstrom.

Gail, aside from being one of the nicest people I know, is an incredible writer of emotional, unique, suspenseful historical romances. I am honored to welcome her today on Kiss and Thrill.


Gail’s newest release, due out September 23rd, is called SWEET TREASON and is a historical romantic suspense novel. Here’s the awesome cover and back cover copy.

Passion and deadly secrets…

On the run from British troops, American Revolutionary War spy Ryan Straughn forces Emily Nevins to hide him on her English farm. But Emily already keeps secrets that could mean her demise if discovered. Nevertheless as the long night wears on, attraction sizzles and they give in to unexpected passion, sure they’ll never see each other again…

Deception and desire…

A chance encounter in London society stirs heated memories of their sensual night together. They begin a heady dance of suspicion and desire. Though sympathetic to the struggling Colonists, Emily cannot trust a traitorous spy who may expose her dangerous intrigues. And Ryan risks his very life by trusting a woman privy to his true loyalties. But they are unable to deny their need for one another, even as Emily’s secrets are about to be exposed, and the noose around Ryan’s neck grows tighter. Betrayal and love…

And now someone has discovered both their secrets. The price of silence? Betrayal. Of their causes, their love, their futures. In the end, lives will be lost and sacrifices made. Their choice is impossible. Which will they surrender—their lives…or their hearts?

(shiver) Doesn’t that sound awesome? At the end of this post is an excerpt to whet your appetite for this delightful story even more, but for now, let’s get to know Gail a little bit better. And if you happen to notice a couple of gorgeous outdoor pictures sprinkled in the interview, they are from Gail’s home in beautiful Montana. 

Neighbors Drop By - GailRanstrom

Lena:  Your website describes you as an author of “Regency Noir”. Can you tell us a little bit about what you mean by that?

Gail:  I’d love to!  Traditional Regencies are shorter, sweeter and more about life, customs, manners and courtship in ‘polite’ society from roughly 1800 to 1820.  Most often the plot revolves around misunderstandings and very sweet romances—the bedroom door is closed very tight.  Regency Noir, or dark Regencies, deal with the grittier side of the Regency period—the side that was rarely spoken of or acknowledged in ‘polite’ society.  The ‘real life’ that played out in the shadows.  My stories deal with mystery, suspense and romance about people who walk the fine line between these two worlds.  Occasionally polite, rarely sweet, and always dangerous.

Lena:  (I can personally attest to the gritty, suspenseful nature of Gail’s books since I have read ALL of them. They are truly awesome.) Your newest release – SWEET TREASON, is a bit different from what you’ve written in the past. What inspired you to write a historical with an American Revolutionary hero?

Gail: It is different. But after writing in the Regency era with characters who are British to the core, I yearned for a bigger conflict.  What could be more different than an American spy and a privileged English farmer’s daughter?  The conflict could not be more fundamental than one’s core beliefs.  Examining and adjusting those beliefs can be both dangerous and painful.

Lena:  (I can’t wait to read this book!) Your website lists a series called the Wednesday League, and another one about the Hunter Brothers. Can you tell us a little about these series and whether they are connected?

Gail:  Yes, all the novels are somewhat connected.  They all stand alone, but they take place in the same world with characters who may (or may not) reappear.  The first four books are the Wednesday League novels, about a group of women who, pretending to be a book club, secretly aid other women who have been somehow ‘wronged’ by society achieve some sort of justice.  The Hunter Brother novels deal with the brothers of one of the women from the Wednesday League.  They are involved in service to either the Home Office or the Foreign Office, and their stories tend to deal with the London underworld.

Lena:  (The Wednesday League is such fun and includes bow street runners and clandestine meetings in the backs of milliner’s shops. LOVE these books.) What’s the next project readers can expect from you?

Gail:  Back to the Regency.  I’ve had reader requests for Lord Marcus Wycliffe’s story, and I’m well under way with that.  I think, no matter what I may branch out to do, I’ll always come back to the Regency.  I feel at home there.

Lena:  Have you ever been to England? Tell us about it.

Gail:  Yes!  England is wonderful, and best of all, we speak the same language (sort of) and the natives are friendly.  My ancestral roots are there.  My brother lives in Oxfordshire.  I intend to go back as many times as I can.  There’s always something new to see or do.  Every time I’ve gone, I’ve made little side trips – once to Ireland (St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin—what a party!  I marched with the Sullivans in the parade) and another time took the fast train to Edinburgh for the MiltaryTattoo (there’s just something about bagpipes and a man in a skirt).  Next time I’m going to take the Chunnel to Paris.  Fun, eh?  And there are so many sites that it makes my head spin.  Bath, Stonehenge, Winchester, Penzance, Mousehole, St. Ives, Avesbury, Brighton, I could go on and on.  But I think my favorite excursion was to a little village called Great Tew, where I stayed at the Falkland Arms (, a thatched roof public house in operation since the time of Henry VIII.  Good friends, good food, good beer.  Can it get any better?  I actually wrote the Falkland Arms into one of my novellas, A Christmas Secret in the anthology, A Christmas Visit.

Lena:   Are you a Downton Abbey fan? If so, who are your favorite characters? And what have you found to be the most shocking or surprising thing in the series so far?

Gail:  I loved it.  I watched Season 1 faithfully, then the first few episodes of Season 2, then was traveling for the rest and sort of fell off the grid.  I have promised myself I’m going to get all the seasons and re-watch Season 1 and continue through 3 this winter when the Montana snow is flying outside my window, and before Season 4 premiers on January 5th.  Until then… I think Mary is my favorite with Mr. Bates and Cora running close seconds.  Matthew, though, was rising in my esteem when I left off.  As for shocking…that whole debacle with the Italian count…need I say more?

Lena:  (I won’t spoil Gail’s enjoyment of Downton Abbey by telling her there is something far more shocking in a later season that happens to Matthew – ARGH!)  Is there any other genre you write or would like to write in the future?

Gail:  I’m playing with an idea for a contemporary series featuring women with superhuman skills—not supernatural or paranormal, but heightened natural powers.  Those of you who watch Stan Lee’s Superhumans know what I mean.  For those of you who don’t, .

Lena:  What would surprise readers the most about you?

Gail:  I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon and I’m a damn good shot!  (Bear spray only works when you’re up-wind!  Did I mention I live in Montana?)

Lena: (Remind me to always be nice to Miss Ranstrom and her concealed weapon!) Quick question/answer drill follows…

Lena: Cats or Dogs? Gail: Dogs

Lena: Beaches or Mountains?  Gail: Beaches

Lena: Favorite food?  Gail: Chocolate

Lena: Favorite TV show? Gail: Argh!  NCIS?  Castle?  I can’t decide.

Lena: Chicken or Steak?  Gail: Chicken

Lena: Favorite book ever?  Gail: THE SOURCE, by James Michener

Wasn’t that fun? I hope you enjoyed getting to know Gail Ranstrom a little better. Buy links and an excerpt for SWEET TREASON follow, along with all of Gail’s contact information. But first, she has a question for readers. One lucky commenter will receive either a Nook or Kindle copy of SWEET TREASON (see Contact tab for details).

Is the romance, the mystery or the suspense most important to you when reading Romantic Suspense?


The stranger lowered his head further to leave a path of soft insistent kisses from her earlobe to the well of her shoulder blade. The sensation was like nothing she’d felt before—intimate, urging, almost desperate. Heaven help her, Emily wanted more. He slipped his hand down her back, molding her against him. The hot, hard bulge pressing against her belly ignited an answering heat in hers. Naughty. Wicked. Exciting…

He asked a question, his voice a deep vibration that reached to her toes. Her very flesh tingled, sending shivers of delight through her. Her breasts ached and became exquisitely tender. She gasped as he drew her even closer, his large hands moving along her spine.

“Yes…,” she sighed, affirming her suspicion that this man’s arms would be heaven.

“Sweet…” His voice was hoarse with desire as he lifted his head to speak as he brushed across her lips. “Are you the most courageous woman I know…or the most reckless?”

   Reckless. Unconscionably reckless…

He nudged her robe open with his chin and lowered his mouth to the slope of one aching breast. She caught her breath and choked back another gasp when he captured one tingling crown with his lips and tugged gently. She tangled her fingers through his dark hair to hold him close. The sensation was so foreign, yet so completely delicious, that she wanted it to go on forever. She sighed. “Tell me your…name, sir, that I…may know who my dreams…”

“You mock me?” he growled.

She gave a soft, husky laugh at his pretended outrage.

The deep vibration of his voice against her skin sent shock waves along her spine.

“By all that is holy…I must be mad! Were it any night but tonight, I’d sweep this desk clear and take you here and now.”

Emily fervently wished it were any other night. She’d have yielded him anything—everything—when he nibbled a greedy path back up her neck and cherished the tender flesh at the hollow of her throat before lifting his head.

He brushed tendrils of hair back from her cheeks with this thumbs. “Now that you’ve seen my face, my only safety—and yours—lies in the fact that you do not know who I am.”

She did not bother to deny his accusation. But betrayal had been the furthest thing from her mind. She caught her breath on a gasp as he slipped his hand up her bare thigh, exposed in the gap of her robe.

She struggled free of his arms and moved away, fighting to regain her composure and recall the true nature of this man.

    Blood-red splotches on his shirt sleeve reminded her that this man had murdered someone this very night. She would be fortunate if she escaped with her life. She pushed him away to gather her robe more closely around her. This had to end before she forgot herself again. She was breathless when she spoke. “Your ten minutes are up, sir. If you are a man of your word, you will leave.”



Barnes and Noble:

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Gail Ranstrom’s Contact Links:



Twitter:  Handle: @gailranstrom



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Winner of the Fatal Series Plus Bonus Prizes!

I want to thank Marie Force for being a fabulous guest on Tuesday!

Before I announce the winner of the entire Fatal Series (that’s six novels and a novella!) we have a few extra prizes to give away. We have a policy at Kiss and Thrill that whenever we have more than 100 entrants in a giveaway, we will give out some K&T author ebooks as a bonus prize. Well, it wasn’t a policy before, but it is now. 😉

Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead by Lena Diaz

“This book has everything a reader could want in a romantic suspense and more. Diaz once more proves that she can write a fast paced romantic thriller that ranks right up there with the greats like Sandra Brown, Linda Howard and Allison Brennan.”

Read the full review here.

The winner of Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead is: Wendy Santorum

Why Dukes Say I Do by Manda Collins

“Witty and smart, Collins’ prose flows smoothly as she merges a charming, compassionate love story with gothic suspense….Add strong pacing and depth of emotion, and there’s no doubt this is a winner.”
~Top Pick, 4½ stars, RT Book Reviews

The winner of Why Dukes Say I Do is: Tara (10:43 am)

FIRST DO NO EVIL by Carey Baldwin

“A perfect example of a well-balanced mix between suspense, romance and strong characterization… This book made me gasp…bite my nails in suspense, cry with its emotional intensity and sigh with its romance. Carey Baldwin wooed me with her excellent writing, heart-pounding suspense and fabulous characters. She’s been added to my list of go-to authors for romantic thrillers! I was just blown away.” ~ Pearl’s World of Romance

The winner of First Do No Evil is: Jane Smolen

Body of Evidence by Rachel Grant

“This is hands down the best book I’ve read this year. I cannot wait to see what is next from this up and coming author that can write suspense like nobody’s business.” ~ SnS (Sugar and Spice) Reviews

Read the full review here.

The winner of Body of Evidence is: Patti Straight


Join us next week at Kiss and Thrill when Sarah Andre hosts Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Award-winning and bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan presents a spine-chilling, heart-wrenching suspense novel that explores a terrifying scenario striking at the heart of every family.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The winner of this:

From Marie Force


Laurie Guerino Bonanno!!!


For all winners, to claim your prize, use the contact form to email us within 10 days and please include your preferred ebook format.

Fatal Series Author Marie Force Joins Rachel Inside the Actors Studio

Today I am thrilled to welcome Marie Force to Kiss and Thrill! Marie is the author of the intense and enticing romantic suspense Fatal Series in addition to the McCarthys of Gansett Island and other bestselling contemporary romance series.

Book 6 of the Fatal Series, FATAL MISTAKE, released in June to the great excitement of her fans, who launched the book onto the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #20 on the ebook list.


A critical error.

A Cinderella season cut short.

A star player murdered.

D.C. is recovering from angry riots after one player’s mistake blew the D.C. Federals’ chance at the World Series, and Lt. Sam Holland is determined to unravel the twisted web of motives behind the star center fielder’s death. Was it a disgruntled fan, a spurned lover or a furious teammate?

While Sam digs through clues, her husband, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano, fights for his political life in the final days of his reelection campaign as financial irregularities threaten his future. It’s a distraction Nick can ill afford with Sam in the midst of another high-profile murder investigation and both of them trying to help their adopted son, Scotty, cope with the murder of a ball player he admired.

 Determined to bring the killer to justice, Sam must root out the truth before another mistake proves fatal.

Marie has a special treat for our readers today, she is giving away the entire Fatal Series in ebook to 1 lucky commenter. If you’ve been dying to to read this series, here is your chance to nab them all. And to my Kiss and Thrill sisters – no fair to quit the blog so you’ll be eligible to enter the drawing. 😉

Marie chose my favorite type of interview for today’s blog, because I get to put on my James Lipton costume (Will Ferrell does him better, but since we’re not doing video I’m going to claim to come in a close second).

So now, without further delay, are Marie’s answers to my questions, unabashedly stolen from James Lipton, who adapted them from French television personality Bernard Pivot, who modeled his questions after the Proust Questionnaire.

1. What is your favorite word? Kerfuffle

2. What is your least favorite word? Lover

3. What turns you on? Intelligence

4. What turns you off? Ignorance

5. What sound or noise do you love? My kids’ laughter

6. What sound or noise do you hate? Rap music

7. What is your favorite curse word? Fuck. Is there another one?

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? None.

9. What profession would you not like to do? Accounting.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? All your favorite people didn’t make the cut. Wouldn’t you rather be with them Down Under?

I have to admit, my answer is the same or similar to Marie’s for at least five of these (including #7). How about you? How many of your answers would line up with Marie’s?

One lucky commenter will win this:

Marie Force is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author of more than 25 contemporary romances, including The McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, the Fatal Series, the Treading Water Series and numerous stand-alone books. Her new series, The Green Mountain Series, begins Feb. 4, 2014 with “All You Need Is Love.”

While her husband was in the Navy, Marie lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida, and she is now settled in her home state of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two teenagers and two feisty dogs, Brandy and Louie.

Subscribe to updates from Marie about new books. Join one of her many reader groups.

Twitter | Facebook

Cathy Perkins’ Winners!

A huge thank you to Cathy Perkins for spending the day with us on Tuesday.perkins-headshot-233x300

And now for her winners . . .

Congratulations to Veronica Forand for winning a copy of For Love or Money and to Sherry Gladden for winning a copy of The Professor.

Contact us within ten days to claim your book.

Please join us next next Tuesday, September 17, when our very own Rachel Grant interviews Marie Force. I can’t wait!


Have a great weekend!

The Two (Suspenseful) Sides of Cathy Perkins

Today I want to offer a warm welcome to Cathy Perkins, an award-winning author (and Golden Heart Finalist) of compelling-yet-terrifying suspense stories and lighter mysteries with a financial twist. After I read The Professor (which was fan-tabulous and kept me up reading all night!), I knew I wanted Cathy to spend the day with us.

Cathy: Good morning Sharon! Thanks for letting me hang out with the Romantic Suspense authors at Kiss and Thrill. I released two books this summer which are shelved as romantic suspense, The Professor (Carina Press) and For Love or Money (Entangled Publishing), but (shh, confession!) mine are really mystery/suspense with a romantic element rather than romantic suspense.

Sharon: That’s okay, Cathy. We love all kinds of suspense and mystery stories! When we chatted about this post, you mentioned you write both dark and light stories. Care to explain that comment?

Cathy: Sometimes writing in a different genre (paranormal or YA rather than suspense, for example) will keep ideas fresh for an author. I find writing different kinds of suspense stories stretches me as an author (and hopefully makes me a better one).

As far as “light” and “dark” suspenses goes, just like romantic suspense has varying degrees of heat between the hero and heroine, mystery/suspense can contain degrees of darkness. All suspense novels have a villain who places the hero/heroine—or the world—in danger and shows the dark underbelly of human nature.

Tapping into the inherent conflict between right and wrong, good and evil, makes for some interesting stories. The best ones are page turners that keep you up past your bedtime. Now not all suspense novels keep you awake, afraid to turn off the lights (although a few of Patricia Cornwell’s had me wondering if that sound was a house noise or an axe-murderer breaking in—I had to back off of those!), but there’s always a sense that Something Really Bad will happen if the heroine doesn’t unravel the mystery, find the killer, defuse the ticking bomb or stop the assassin.

Sharon: I can honestly say The Professor kept me up all night worrying about axe-murderers breaking in!  Where do you think the dividing line between “light” and “dark” stories lies?

Cathy: Maybe it’s the tone of the story that makes people label a story “light” or “dark,” but the protagonist plays a role in the distinction for me. In The Professor, the main character is a state law enforcement agent who matches wits with a serial killer. Mick O’Shaughnessy must stop The Professor before he kills again. Readers tell me the scenes from the Professor’s point of view are deliciously creepy. (We are so not delving into anything that might say about me! No axe-murdering!)

For Love or Money-200 x 300
At the other end of the “darkness” scale, For Love or Money, an amateur sleuth mystery, is told from Holly Price’s perspective. A CPA (Certified Pain in the Ass according to the killer, and maybe according to the detective on the case), Holly relates to elements in the victim’s personal life, giving her a different motivation to ask questions and dig into details that don’t add up (in her opinion). She ultimately solves more than one crime, and makes the villain angry enough to come after her in the process.

Sharon: Oh, so the story is light or dark, depending on the POV character? Or is it the emotional tone of the book?

Cathy:  Hmm… Good question. While I mentioned that the main character drives the investigation and influences the way that investigation is handled, the emotional depth of the characters is a good indicator of the degree of darkness. I find the emotional depth comes from the characters’ inner conflicts, which may include a relationship issue. Maybe that’s why romantic suspense is so successful—integrating the external conflict with the relationship issues, drawing the hero and heroine together to overcome obstacles. But I digress. 🙂

Many mystery/suspense authors completely avoid any relationship in their books.  Jonathan King’s debut, The Blue Edge of Midnight, is a wonderfully atmospheric (very dark) suspense, whose guilt-ridden protagonist is in as much conflict with himself as he is with local law enforcement. At the other end of the spectrum, I think it’s safe to say Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum stories don’t spend much time on introspection. (Although Stephanie does have a relationship issue or two 🙂 )


A novella linked to The Professor.

Like many of my favorite mystery/suspense authors, I always include a relationship element in my stories. I say “include” because the relationship (the romance) isn’t the primary focus of my books as it is in a romantic suspense. The emotional conflicts—romantic or other personal ones—flavor and complicate life for the main characters. They sharpen external conflicts when the internal conflicts force the main character to change and grow.

Now that I think about it, maybe the “light” or “dark” aspect is how deeply the story delves into the villain’s mindset, either directly through POV or indirectly through the investigation. Both draw the reader deep into a life or death situation.

Sharon: I think both of your answers are right. The light/dark issue is played out through the villain’s POV as well as the internal conflicts of the hero and/or heroine. But the villain POV scenes are usually what add the extra terror! What prompted you to change from dark suspense to lighter mysteries?

Cathy: I can only write so many dark stories and research really awful things people do to each other before I need to take a break. One of John Douglass’ (top FBI profiler) books gave me nightmares. Clearly, it was time to lighten up!

I also find darker stories like The Professor revolve around the actual investigation and the law enforcement officer, which means understanding how the detectives approach a case. Readers, including some from law enforcement, complemented me for “getting it right.” (I have wonderful resources; thanks y’all!)

The lighter stories allow more latitude. With For Love or Money, Holly can do her thing while JC’s over there doing whatever it is cops do. In her role as friend, confidant, or professionally as an accountant, Holly has access to people and information that would be more difficult for a police officer to obtain. She definitely does things no police officer could get away with.

Sharon: Do you decide ahead of time what type of book you want to write? Or is the type (light or dark) dependent on the characters who show up in your head?

Cathy: I’m drawn to darker stories, wanting to know the “why” behind a villain’s motivation as well as enjoying matching wits between my protagonist and villain as the investigation unfolds. It’s a choice for me to write something light when I need the emotional break.

I recently finished another dark story which my agent has on submission. I’m supposed to be working on Book 2 for Holly and JC (a sequel to For Love or Money that’s under contract) but this really dark story showed up and the characters will not leave me alone. . .

Sharon: I can’t wait to hear more!  And now for one of my favorite part of the interviews–the blurbs. 🙂


When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body while hiking, her life takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. The verdict is murder—and Holly is the prime suspect. Of course, the fact that the infinitely sexy—and very pissed off—cop threatening to arrest her is JC Dimitrak, who just happens to be Holly’s jilted ex-fiancé, doesn’t help matters.

To protect her future, her business…and her heart…the intrepid forensic accountant must use all her considerable investigative skills to follow the money through an intricate web of shadow companies, while staying one step ahead of her ex-fiancé. She better solve the case before the real killer decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass…and the next dead body found beside the river is Holly’s.


The Professor presses his palm against her flank, feeling the liquid warmth of her blood, hotter than her skin. Hot, like the life force that he has claimed… The power over life and death is the ultimate thrill.

Someone is murdering women on South Carolina’s college campuses: three women, three different schools. The Governor’s order to State Law Enforcement Agent Mick O’Shaughnessy is simple: make it stop. More political maneuvering diverts Mick to nearby Douglass College. There, instead of another dead body, he finds Meg Connelly, grad student and faculty advisor for the latest victim.

Determined to finish her master’s degree, Meg doesn’t need anybody’s help – including her estranged family – to succeed. There’s something irresistible about Mick, but the last time she let someone get close to her, she lost everything except her self-respect.

As the investigation heats up, so does their relationship. But Mick’s interest in Meg doesn’t just endanger her heart–it puts her in the sights of the killer.

Once he gets her alone, he can take all the time he needs…

So, K&T readers, do you prefer light or dark stories? And if you have a preference, we’d love to know what your favorites are!

And for two lucky commenters, Cathy is giving away one copy of The Professor and one copy of For Love or Money.


Cathy Perkins is a member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters’ lives. Her suspense writing lurks behind a financial day-job, where she learned firsthand the camouflage, hide in plain sight, skills employed by her villains.

Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for HONOR CODE (a novella linked to The Professor) and THE PROFESSOR, she lives in Washington, the setting of FOR LOVE OR MONEY, with her husband, children, several dogs, and the resident deer herd.

Cathy can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Entangled Publishing, her website, and Goodreads.

Thank you for spending the day with us, Cathy. We wish you all the success in the world!

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