Posted by Rachel Grant
Before I announce the winners for the two giveaways we had this week, I want to take a moment to share Kiss and Thrill’s featured title of the week, Lena Diaz’s ASHES ASHES THEY ALL FALL DEAD.
“Lenz Diaz has mastered the perfect mix of suspense, murder, and rhyme which creates strong, memorable characters and well developed story lines.”
Read the full review here.
The winner of a print copy of MIDNIGHT LIES by Ella Grace is Diane Sallans!
The winner of a print copy of FREEFALL by Jill Sorenson is Kim Hunsberger!
Congrats to both winners! To claim your prize, use the contact form to email us within 10 days and please include your U.S. mailing address.
Come back to Kiss and Thrill next week, when Lena Diaz hosts Kathy Bain!
Posted by mandacollinsauthor
Manda here. 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!
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.
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.
To 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.
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?
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 love 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Gwen Hernandez
When I met Christy Reece at my first-ever Romance Writers of America chapter meeting in 2009, she’d just sold a three book series called Last Chance Rescue. In short order, she made another three book deal and became a best-selling author. Nine books later, the New York Times bestseller is switching gears—and names—to pen the new romantic suspense Wildefire series as Ella Grace.
Her first Wildefire book, MIDNIGHT SECRETS, comes out April 30th. I’m so excited she agreed to join us on Kiss & Thrill today to answer some questions about her new identity and the new series.
GH: We’re all dying to know, why the name change?
EG: My publisher decided they didn’t want to continue the LCR series and asked me to develop a new one. My editor had some specific elements she wanted to see in the new series proposal. She wanted a more character driven storyline, more romance, not as dark as my LCR books, and a domestic setting. (Many of my LCR stories had international settings.) With those suggestions in mind, I created the Wildefire series. I’ve always wanted to write a series based in the South since that’s where I’m from, so I created the town of Midnight and put it in South Alabama, not far from Mobile.
Then my publisher suggested a name change. I resisted at first. I already had a solid reputation as a romantic suspense author and didn’t want to lessen that by taking a new name. But as I continued to write the first book in the series, I realized the name change might be for the best. Christy Reece’s stories are darker and plot driven, featuring tortured, kick butt characters and nasty, evil villains. Ella Grace’s books are character driven, romance centered, and contain as much mystery as suspense.
Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision to make and I still don’t know if it was the right one. It’s my sincere hope that my LCR readers will enjoy this new venture. I also hope to gain new readers who prefer less dark stories.
GH: I have no doubt you’ll succeed. Good writing always wins. Your Last Chance Rescue series is full of seriously tortured (and hot) heroes and heroines, steamy encounters, international adventure, twisted villains, and well-deserved happy endings. I never would have guessed such a quiet, sweet woman could be so mean to her characters! 😉 Tell us about the Wildefire series, and what makes it different from LCR. What’s behind the name? Are there any cross-over characters?
EG: Ah yes, I do love to torture my characters. And quiet, sweet woman? I do have you fooled! ☺
The Wildefire series revolves around the three Wilde sisters who lost their parents to a murder/suicide when the girls were just children. Since their last name is Wilde and they live on Wildefire Lane, we chose to call it the Wildefire series.
Cross-over characters from my LCR books? No, they’re completely separate. However, I could definitely see my heroes being LCR operatives!
GH: The Wildefire series is set in Midnight, Alabama. What made you decide to switch to a southern setting? In what ways does Midnight resemble the small Alabama town you grew up in?
EG: I grew up in Alabama and the southern culture is one I’m familiar with and love. Every region of the country has its eccentricities and flavor. Southerners pride themselves on their uniqueness. I’ve enjoyed creating the town of Midnight and filling it when some unique and colorful characters. Thankfully, Midnight in no way, shape, or form, resembles the tiny community where I was raised. We only had a stop sign. Midnight has traffic lights, plus businesses like Tillie’s Hair Today, Gertie’s Wash and Wait and Faye’s Diner. Gossiping is a national pastime in Midnight and these three businesses always have the juiciest and most up-to-date news. Oh wait, my little community did have Ethel-Mae’s hair salon. ☺
GH: Wow, one stop sign! In your LCR books, you really put your characters through the ringer. They’re tough and kick-butt, but usually emotionally—and sometimes physically—scarred. How do the characters in the new series compare? And can you tell us a bit about the hero and heroine in Midnight Secrets?
EG: The Wildefire series features strong, heroic men and tough, smart women. The men are still kick butt, the women a little less so. But thankfully they are resilient, because I do put them through the emotional wringer.
The hero and heroine of MIDNIGHT SECRETS are Zach Tanner and Savannah Wilde, who were childhood sweethearts until something ripped their world apart. Ten years later, Savannah is a prosecutor in Nashville, Tennessee and returns to Midnight to sell the family home. Zach, who used to be the town bad boy, is a war hero and now Midnight’s new police chief. The two never stopped loving each other but must face some painful issues before they can be together again. In the midst of all of this, Savannah discovers that her parents’ death wasn’t a murder/suicide at all. She takes it upon herself to discover who and why.
GH: Ooh, sounds fabulous! Do you plot out your books ahead of time, or start with a basic premise and go with the flow?
EG: I don’t plot, however, I do a huge amount of world and character building in my head. And I have a tendency to chat with my characters, similar to a character interview, before I start writing. Before I begin the book, I try to write out a short synopsis just to make sure I know where I’m going. The story always changes, but if I get stuck, I can go to the synopsis to get back on track.
GH: Your writing style sounds very similar to mine, despite my constant struggle to be more of a plotter. Okay, now the fun stuff. 🙂 What’s a treat you just can’t say no to?
EG: Homemade chocolate chips cookies (without nuts!) Yum!
GH: Mmm, warm right out of the oven… Ahem. I read on your site that you once jumped out of a plane to impress a man. (You’re clearly a braver woman than I am.) How’d that work out?
EG: Let’s just say I’ve forgotten the guy but I’ll never forget the thrilling, pulse pounding excitement of the jump. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. So glad I had the opportunity.
GH: What’s next for you after the three books in the new series? Will you be doing any more writing as Christy Reece?
EG: So far, there are only two books in the Wildefire series, though I do hope to sell more. I have another sister I want to write a story about, plus three very sexy and intriguing men.
And yes, I will definitely continue to write Christy Reece books. I’m currently finishing up another Last Chance Rescue novel that I’m self publishing. I hope to write at least three more LCR books before ending the series. Then, I have several different romantic suspense series ideas I want to explore.
GH: I’m glad to hear there’ll be more LCR books, but I can’t wait to read MIDNIGHT SECRETS! Thanks so much for joining us on Kiss and Thrill today!
Here’s a bit more about MIDNIGHT SECRETS, due out April 30th:
On a hot southern night, with a storm on the horizon, a family is shattered. Three beautiful daughters—Savannah, Samantha, and Sabrina Wilde—go on with their lives, each significantly changed, as they bear the memory of the murder-suicide that killed their parents. For years, they have stayed away from Midnight, Alabama. Until Midnight calls them home.
Savannah is the first one back, when a grueling case in Nashville leads the young prosecutor to seek shelter in the quiet of the once grand Wilde mansion. But when she finds letters casting doubt on her family’s dark, shameful past, she realizes that peace in Midnight is a shallow façade and sinister secrets lurk beneath the surface. Zach Tanner, once the town’s bad boy, is now the new police chief and still has a wild hold over her. Zach can feel it, too, but he hurt Savannah once. As teenagers, they broke every rule together. Now it’s his job to keep her safe, even though he isn’t sure who her enemies are, or which ones might be his own. All he knows is that they have only each other to face dangers they can’t see coming.
Ella Grace aka Christy Reece lives in Alabama with her husband and a menagerie of pets.
Ella’s giving away a copy of one of Christy Reece’s LCR books (winner’s choice) to one lucky commenter, and she wants to know your favorite Southern food or Southern saying.
“My favorite Southern food is fried okra and my favorite saying is, you guessed it: Bless your heart. :)”
Don’t forget to check back Thursday to see if you won!