Category Archives: Manda Collins
Thanks so much to Diana Cosby for her fantastic blog Tuesday. And true to our word, we’ve let the randomizer pick a winner from our commenters. Congratulations to
Come by next week when Rachel welcomes lovely and talented Montlake author Diana Miller!
Until then, toodles!
(Stop #2 – see JustRomanticSuspense for stop #1)
Since Halloween plays a critical role in the plot of my romantic thriller, FIRST DO NO EVIL, I wanted to do something special to celebrate the holiday.
At first, I thought about re-telling my favorite ghost stories from childhood. But we’ve all heard them before. Then I thought, what if….
What if – I poll my friends and find out if they have had some sort of TRUE paranormal experience. Wouldn’t that be fascinating?
It turns out several of my author friends have had paranormal encounters, and they were willing to share. The stories I have for you today may seem less dramatic than those childhood tales and urban legends…but these stories are TRUE.
I’ve got more stories posted on the other blog I’m doing today over at JustRomanticSuspense so be sure and drop by there to read more true life ghosties!
Samhain author Carey Baldwin (that’s me!): Blue-eyed Brown-eyed Girl
I make no warranties that someone else in my family may not have a different version of this story. Everyone seems to have his own way of telling it. But according to family lore, my grandmother, Bessie Baldwin, was clairvoyant. This much I know is true because I remember: She was a beautiful woman with very unusual eyes. One of her eyes was blue. The other eye was half green and half brown. Like a magical marble.
According to family lore, she frequently knew when trouble was about to befall someone near and dear, or had a premonition before someone passed. Only once, that I know of, did she have a vision that was not directly related to family members.
When I was a little girl, a python escaped from the Ft. Worth zoo. Everyone was hunting the python. Where had it gone? Was it injured? Would someone harm the snake or be harmed by the snake? The whole community became caught up in the human interest story of the lost python. Day after day news reports came in that the python was still missing and feared dead or lost forever. After a few days, my grandmother turned to my grandfather and said, “Call the zoo and tell them the python is curled up in the grasses behind her cage.”
My grandfather did what any sensible person would do- he refused. So my grandmother called the zoo herself. Sure enough, the python was there behind the cage, just as she’d predicted!
Three-time Golden Heart finalist Sharon Wray: Baboo the Friendly Ghost
I grew up in a haunted house with a real imaginary friend- a ghost -named Baboo. Although no one in my family believed me, ever since I was a small child I could sense when Baboo was around. My room had once been an attic, and every night at 3am, his pacing would wake me up. I’d tell him to please stop, and he always did. Eventually I learned to sleep through it. Every once in a while my dad would ask me why I was walking around at night. I’d just shrug and say I couldn’t sleep.
Baboo wasn’t an active ghost who moved things or tormented me, but he did have one habit which used to drive my parents crazy. Baboo liked to turn all the locks in the house. My dad would lock up the house every night, but some mornings all the deadbolts were unlocked. I used to try to tell my parents it was Baboo, but at an early age I realized no one believed me.
This went on for years – since preschool until I went to college.
But one day in middle school I came home early. I had a key just in case my parents weren’t home, and that afternoon I went into the house through the front door. Except every time I turned the key, it would relock.
The key would turn, open, then immediately relock as if someone were on the other side of the door turning the lever. I got so frustrated, I went to the side door. Four times I’d unlock the deadbolt, four times it would relock. Finally, I went to the lower basement door and it opened. As I went in, I heard noises upstairs. I just assumed it was my father who often came home for lunch and I’d missed him walking around the house. So I yelled, “Hi, Dad!” as I went up the basement stairs.
Just as I said that, the door ahead of me slammed shut and locked. I was about to pound on the door when I heard two male voices speaking – and I realized neither one was my father. A moment later, I heard a crash, a few curses, then a door slam.
I stood there shaking, not sure what to do, when the door in front of me suddenly unlocked and opened. I could barely walk, I was so scared. But I also realized that Baboo wouldn’t have opened the door if it wasn’t safe – so I went into the house. A few things were knocked over, some things broken, but the back kitchen door was wide open. Someone had broken in and I’d interrupted. The police found the two men later that night, trying to break into a neighbor’s house. Both men were carrying guns and knives.
Many, many years later my father asked me about that day. He asked me if Baboo had kept me out of the house. I said yes. He nodded and apologized for not believing me. He then admitted that he’d had an incident with Baboo the day before he sold the house, but he wouldn’t tell me what happened. Maybe he still didn’t believe it. My parents moved out of the house nine years ago, and I often wonder if the new family has met Baboo or if he finally found his way home.
Most of my family comes from Kentucky. Since my dad was in the Navy, we traveled a lot, and we were living in Florida when my oldest sister woke up in the middle of the night and saw my grandmother standing at the foot of her bed – my grandmother who lived in Kentucky at the time. My grandmother didn’t say anything, but she smiled sadly and reached out as if to pat my sister, then disappeared. It totally freaked my sister out. She got up and ran into my parents’ room. My mom and dad tried to console her, and then the phone rang to tell my dad that his mom – the grandmother my sister had just seen – had just passed away. My sister was always my grandmother’s favorite grandchild and my sister has always believed that grandma came to her that night in spirit to say goodbye.
Okay this story is not true and it is not a paranormal story, because Sky Novak is the heroine of my romantic thriller, FIRST DO NO EVIL. But it is a great read for Halloween!
FIRST DO NO EVIL opens on a Halloween morning. Halloween is the worst day of the year for Sky, the anniversary of her father’s murder. If you want to know more about Sky’s story, I’ve pasted the blurb below:
FIRST DO NO EVIL
One killer is in her blood. The other is in her house.
There’s a killer lurking in Dr. Skylar Novak’s family tree: the gene for breast cancer. That’s why her brilliant brother invented the Bella vaccine. But even if the miracle drug protects her from the cancer that took her mother’s life, it can’t save Sky from the flesh and bone evil stalking her in secret.
When the killer strikes, detective Daniel Benson finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. The bold detective manages to save Sky’s life…just in time for her to return the favor. Survival leads to seduction, and Danny risks everything—his career, even his life, to keep Sky safe. But will the buried sins they uncover cost him her heart?
Danny’s strong arms may hold her close, but only Sky can stop the terror that’s coming next…
Warning: Contents include: One heart-melting hero—good luck getting this delicious detective out of your head. One reluctant heroine—wielding a Glock was never on her to-do list. One crazed villain—an entire flock of baa baa black sheep won’t be enough to put you to sleep. And a lifesaving vaccine with one deadly side effect—murder.
Commenters : We’ve got PRIZES GALORE! So please read carefully.
One grand prize, consisting of the following books, will be awarded to one lucky commenter: FIRST DO NO EVIL by Carey Baldwin, (Nook or Kindle copy); SIMON SAYS DIE, and HE KILLS ME HE KILLS ME NOT by Lena Diaz (winner’s choice of electronic or print), HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE by Manda Collins (winner’s choice of electronic or print copy). Leave a comment here, on Kiss and Thrill, to be eligible to win this grand prize.
But wait, today only, EVERYONE’S A WINNER
Are you the kid who never, ever, won the cakewalk, no matter how many tickets you bought? Well, not on my watch. Today I’m also blogging over at JustRomanticSuspense and everyone who leaves a comment by midnight tonight on this blog, AND my Just Romantic Suspense blog will win an electronic copy of FIRST DO NO EVIL for kindle or nook. Remember, you must comment on both blogs to automatically win FIRST DO NO EVIL.
So tell us please, do you have a favorite Halloween memory?
YOU WIN A COPY OF BOTH MANDA COLLINS BOOKS IN HER UGLY DUCKLINGS SERIES:
How to Dance with a Duke
AND How to Romance a Rake
Please click on Contact Us and let us know if you prefer digital or paperback.
Thank you to everyone who commented on Manda’s new release last week, and to those who shared our link on Facebook and Twitter. We appreciate your enthusiasm for our Kiss and Thrill author and friend!
TOMORROW: We interview WILL SIMON, forensic computer PI, author of several thriller novels and a story in the Love is Murder 3 anthology.
If his plots are even remotely based on personal experiences he should be assigned a triple-digit aka…like: Will Simon, 008.
Don’t miss this interview!
Here at K&T we’re getting ready for summer by loading up our Kindles and Nooks with new releases, debut authors, and old favorites! After checking out our nine picks for the beach, or pool–or even your daily commute, help us add to our list. What are you reading?
Sarah Andre recommends ALL THAT FALLS by Kimberly Frost
ALL THAT FALLS by Kimberly Frost is a breath of fresh air for the paranormal genre! This romantic suspense/mystery is chalk-full of unexpected twists, sparkling dialogue and sexual tension; and Kimber’s paranormal characters and world are intriguingly unique. I cannot recommend this novel enough! I am fortunate enough to be a friend and West Houston RWA chapter-mate of Kimber’s and predict she’ll be a well-known bestseller as word-of-mouth gets out about these fabulous Etherlin novels!
Set in contemporary times, The Etherlin is a peaceful, beautiful world within our world. Kimber’s heroine Cerise is one of the four young Muses who live in the Etherlin. She’s the Muse devoted to helping humans achieve greatness in Art and Athleticism. When her musician boyfriend dies of mysterious causes, she loses her powers and her memory of that horrific night. The golden haired, winged hero is Lysander, a heartbreakingly tragic fallen archangel consumed by revenge. After thousands of years in limbo here on earth, he finally sees a sign that The Prophecy has begun. Needing all his concentration and fighting skills to assure Heaven is his final destination he has no time or interest in humans, even if she is a beautiful, graceful, stubborn Muse. (Amazon, BN)
Krista Hall recommends AN UNEXPECTED GUEST by Anne Korkeakivi
“Time rained down on Clare.” The prophetic first sentence of Anne Korkeakivi’s debut novel AN UNEXPECTED GUEST hooked me with its freighted simplicity. This day-in-the-life story of Clare Moorhouse, a British diplomat’s wife, opens with the same deceptive simplicity. It quickly gains speed and complexity until you are breathlessly turning the pages in a mad dash to the end as a secret from Clare’s past is revealed in a series of unexpected events that unravels her carefully constructed façade. This story is as beautifully written as it is compelling.
Clare Moorhouse, the American wife of a high-ranking diplomat in Paris, is arranging an official dinner crucial to her husband’s career. As she shops for fresh stalks of asparagus and works out the menu and seating arrangements, her day is complicated by the unexpected arrival of her son and a random encounter with a Turkish man, whom she discovers is a suspected terrorist. (Amazon, BN)
Gwen Hernandez (SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES) recommends FLASH HEAT by Joyce Lamb
As much as I love to read–and write–military and law enforcement heroes, it’s refreshing to read about ordinary people facing danger. And Ms. Lamb does a fabulous job crafting real, imperfect, interesting, wonderful characters that you can’t help but root for. Joyce Lamb is a multi-published RITA finalist–and curator of USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog–but this is one of her self-published titles. You would never know it. The writing is great.
Photographer Bailey Chase and reporter Cole Goodman only tolerate working with each other at a Southwest Florida newspaper. Cole knows Bailey’s ex, and he’s told Cole lots of lies about her. Not that Bailey cares. She’s still healing from that disastrous relationship and has far more important issues on her plate: such as keeping her recovering drug addict brother on the right track as a single dad to his 6-year-old son. When Bailey gets slightly injured during a mugging while on assignment with Cole, she’s shocked that he sticks around to help her out. Now, someone is after a photo in Bailey’s possession, and he’ll clearly stop at nothing to get it. Worse, it appears her brother’s shady past is connected. Cole and Bailey team up to crack this mystery before someone ends up dead. While they’re at it, they let the sparks fly … (Amazon, BN)
Sharon Wray recommends THE RIVER WITCH by Kimberly Brock
THE RIVER WITCH by Kimberly Brock is one of the loveliest books I’ve ever read. The lyrical prose and haunting southern landscape are the perfect background for Roslyn’s journey toward healing and love. The writing draws you in until you find yourself wishing you’d grown up on a Georgia Sea Isle. I couldn’t put this book down, and once I was done I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. No wonder this book has become a favorite among book clubs. Ms. Brock layers in so many levels of emotions that you could reread this book over and over again, each time finding a character or turn-of-phrase to love all over again. One of the best summer reads I’ve found in years.
Can the river heal her? Roslyn Byrne is twenty-four years old, broken in body, heart and soul. Her career as a professional ballet dancer ended with a car wreck and a miscarriage, leaving her lost and grieving. She needs a new path, but she doesn’t have the least idea how or where to start. With some shoving from her very Southern mama, she immures herself for the summer on Manny’s Island, Georgia, one of the Sea Isles, to recover. (Amazon, BN)
FAVORITES THAT STAND THE TEST OF TIME
Lena Diaz (HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT) recommends MR. PERFECT by Linda Howard
One of my favorite romantic suspense books of all time is MR. PERFECT by Linda Howard. I discovered Linda Howard years ago just by browsing the shelves at a Barnes and Noble. As soon as I read the first book, I was hooked. MR. PERFECT has the PERFECT blend of suspense and romance and it is so very sexy. Sam is the cop hero and is over the top wonderful. The sexual tension in this novel is unbelievable. And can I just tell you, there is a car wash scene that is so funny and so sexy that to this day some of the dialogue sticks in my head. I laugh and cry when I read this book and highly recommend it.
MR. PERFECT by Linda Howard (2001, e-book 2011)
What would make the perfect man? That’s the deliciously racy topic that Jaine Bright and her three girlfriends are pondering one night at their favorite after-hours hot spot: Mr. Perfect. Would he be tall, dark, and handsome? Caring and warmhearted — or will just muscular do? As their conversation hears up, they concoct a tongue-in-cheek checklist that becomes an overnight sensation, spreading like wildfire at work and sizzling along e-mail lines. But what began as a joke among friends turns deadly serious when one of the four women is murdered….Turning to her neighbor, an unpredictable police detective, for help, Jaine must unmask a killer to save her friends — and herself. Now, knowing whom to trust and whom to love is a matter of survival — as the dream of Mr. Perfect becomes a chilling nightmare. (Amazon,BN)
Rachel Grant recommends PROMISES TO KEEP by Kathryn Shay
About eight years ago a friend mailed me a box of paperbacks and this little gem was inside. I was quickly drawn in by Shay’s vivid characters and loved the two-romances-for-the-price-of-one storyline. I was especially charmed by Kelsey and Luke—I love a hero who has trouble maintaining his cover because he’s falling in love with a woman who absolutely can’t get involved with the person he’s pretending to be.
When by-the-book Secret Service Agent Joe Stonehouse and unpredictable Secret Service Agent Luke Ludzecky go under cover in a high school which has been flagged by their School Threat Assessment Team as having the potential for violence, they expect their differences will cause them conflict. What they don’t expect are the two women who blow their careful plan apart. Suzanna Quinn is the principal and hates being attracted to the new school psychologist, and worse, thirty year old Social Studies teacher Kelsey Cunningham is horrified by her feelings for Luke, her new “student.” But the very real threat of school violence from more than one student forces them to work together and face their feelings for each other. Suicide, gang warfare and bullying all play a part as this stunning drama unfolds. (Amazon, BN)
Manda Collins (HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE) recommends DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND by Lisa Unger
DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND, which takes its title from the Simon and Garfunkel song, is one of the most hopeful suspense books I’ve read in a long time. Weaving together six seemingly disparate threads of narrative, Unger masterfully tells the stories of various inhabitants who live in The Hollows, a small town just outside of New York City, where fifteen years ago a young mother disappeared one night never to return. Our protagonist, retired police detective Jones Cooper, investigated the disappearance years ago when he was first on the job. And now he’s been asked by his former boss to look into the case again. What follows is a gripping, heartbreaking, and yes, ultimately hopeful story about people living lives of desperation. And some of whom just might get a second chance.
DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND by Lisa Unger (2011)
After giving up his post at the Hollows Police Department, Jones Cooper is at loose ends. He is having trouble facing a horrible event from his past and finding a second act. He’s in therapy. Then, on a brisk October morning, he has a visitor. Eloise Montgomery, the psychic who plays a key role in Fragile, comes to him with predictions about his future, some of them dire. Michael Holt, a young man who grew up in The Hollows, has returned looking for answers about his mother, who went missing many years earlier. He has hired local PI Ray Muldune and psychic Eloise Montgomery to help him solve the mystery that has haunted him. What he finds might be his undoing. Fifteen-year-old Willow Graves is exiled to The Hollows from Manhattan when six months earlier she moved to the quiet town with her novelist mother after a bitter divorce. Willow is acting out, spending time with kids that bring out the worst in her. And when things get hard, she has a tendency to run away–a predilection that might lead her to dark places. (Amazon, B&N)
Diana Belchase recommends THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR by Daniel Silva
Daniel Silva’s THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR is so beautifully crafted. Silva’s voice is like molten gold, mesmerizing and poetic. His wonderfully drawn characters — whether elegant, folksy, or quirky — make the intricate plot an added bonus. If you love writers who craft every word, this is the one for you. In this book, a spy, who wants out of the biz, is drawn back in when an art restorer is murdered and a Rembrandt painting is stolen. He uncovers deadly secrets and the evil men behind them.
THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR by Daniel Silva (2010, e-book 2011)
Determined to sever his ties with the Office, Gabriel Allon has retreated to Cornwall with his beautiful wife Chiara. But his seclusion is interrupted by a visitor from his tangled past. An art restorer has been brutally murdered and a long-lost portrait by Rembrandt stolen. Despite his reluctance, Gabriel is persuaded by art dealer Julian Isherwood to search for the painting and those responsible for the crime. Gabriel discovers there are deadly secrets and evil men connected to the painting, and once again he is drawn into a world he thought he had left behind forever. (Amazon, BN)
Carey Baldwin (FIRST DO NO EVIL) recommends THE SURGEON by Tess Gerritsen
This is an older romantic thriller, and I’m recommending it because this is the book that made me realize stories can break with tradition. Gerritsen started out writing pure romance and eventually blended her medical background into her stories. THE SURGEON is the result of that extension in her storytelling. It also introduced characters featured in the wildly popular television series RIZZOLI & ISLES. THE SURGEON is one of the most compelling stories I’ve ever read.
THE SURGEON by Tess Gerritsen (2001)
He slips into homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, about to awaken to a living nightmare. The precision of his methods suggests that he is a deranged man of medicine, prompting the Boston newspapers to dub him “The Surgeon.” Led by Detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli, the cops must consult the victim of a nearly identical crime: Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and killed an attacker before he could complete his assault. Now this new killer is re-creating, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. And neither Moore nor Rizzoli can protect Cordell from a ruthless hunter who somehow understands—and savors—the secret fears of every woman he kills. (Amazon, BN)
Tell us what you’re reading this summer. We’re looking for recommendations for our TBR pile! Stop by on Thursday for a downloadable list of K&T’s Picks for Murderously Good Reads.
HAPPY 4th of JULY!