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Julie Ann Walker Celebrates Romantic Suspense!

Julie Ann Walker

Today I am thrilled to welcome Julie Ann Walker back to Kiss and Thrill! The eagerly anticipated 5th book in Julie’s Black Knights, Inc. series released Tuesday, and I’m pretty sure her wonderful fans have already devoured it and are deluging her with requests for the next book. Fortunately for all of us at Kiss and Thrill, Julie has compiled a list of favorite authors to tide us over until book 6!

If you haven’t read Julie’s series yet, but don’t want to start with book 5, here is your chance to get caught up – she’s is giving away print copies of books 1-4 to one lucky commenter!

And now, I’m delighted to hand the blog over to the fabulous and talented Julie Ann Walker!

Let’s Celebrate Romantic Suspense!

AKA: The Authors Who Inspired Me to Write in the Genre

I’ve been wanting to do a shout-out to my fellow romantic suspense authors for quite some time now.  And what better place to do that than here on Kiss and Thrill, the blog dedicated to, run by, and specializing in the RS genre.  (Hi, ladies!  *waves*  Thanks for having me back!)  Because, truly, those of us who write romantic suspense first started out reading romantic suspense.  We fell in love with the action, the mystery, the mayhem, the thrill and chills and, of course, the sexy times.  *wink*  And while I adore the work of all the ladies here on the Kiss and Thrill site – seriously, if you haven’t picked up their books, you’re truly missing out – I wanted to dedicate this particular blog to some of the authors who pioneered the way for us, those wonderful writers who’ve been plugging away in the genre for years, sometimes decades.  I thought I’d do that by listing my top five favorite romantic suspense authors – in no particular order – adding why I love their writing and how they inspired my own.

So, without further ado…

1.)  Sandra Brown

Sandra has been writing romantic suspense since before romantic suspense was even considered a sub-genre.  (Not to give away her age or anything.  It’s obvious she started writing as a fetus.  *winces*  Hi, Sandra!)  But, the thing that always intrigues me about Sandra’s books are her intensely flawed heroes.  I adore them.  They’re unique.  They’re angst-y.  And above all else, they’re real.

2.)  Elizabeth Lowell

Can you say delicious prose, boys and girls?  Because Elizabeth does it like no other.  Rich descriptions, tasty metaphors, scrumptious word choices.  I fall in love with her sentence structures.  Plus, Elizabeth’s books are always a like mini college classes in 400 pages or less.  Her research is phenomenal.  And to read one of her books is to get a crash course in everything from the emerald trade to the collection of old tintypes.  So. Much. Fun!

3.)  Linda Howard

Talk about a pioneer.  Linda’s  first single title was published in 1982!  Her books are always filled to the brim with adventure, intrigue, daring heroes, dauntless heroines, and intensely despicable villains. I like to say Linda writes romantic suspense in its purest, most distilled form. Her books epitomize the genre. I suppose that’s why she’s so long-lasting, eh?  Go, Linda!

4.)  Suzanne Brockmann

Oh, be still my heart.  Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series is the entire reason I started reading the genre.  And the thing that most inspires me about Suzanne is that she’s a rule-breaker.  She writes from multiple points of view – something not done until recently.  One of her heroes is gay – something still frowned upon in some circles.  Her books usually have two love stories – something that editors will tell you is a no-no.  The list of ways she’s pushed the envelope goes on and on.  But my point is, not only does she break the rules, but she does it beautifully, eloquently, masterfully.

5.)  Lora Leigh

Oh, Lora, Lora, Lora!  *fans self*  Does she know how to write one smokin’ hot book, or what?  If you’re a Shades of Grey fan, but like some hard-core action between your titillating sex scenes, then Lora is the gal for you!  She takes romantic suspense to the next level on the heat scale.  Her characters’ chemistry practically sets the pages on fire.  Be sure to set the screen level brightness on your eReader to dim, or else the words might just burn out your retinas.  LOL!

So, thanks ladies, for not only giving me great books to read, but also for giving me the inspiration to pen my own works!  You all rock!

And with that, I’m outa here!  A resounding huzzah to the gals at Kiss and Thrill for having me back.  It’s always such a treat!

One lovely commenter will win print copies of the first four books in my Black Knights Inc. series!  Just answer the following question:  Who is your all-time favorite romantic suspense writer and what is it that you love about their books?

Born-Wild-Book-CoverNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Ann Walker dives back into action with the red-hot romantic suspense Black Knights Inc. series!  They claim they’re bad-boy bikers who own custom motorcycle shop, but these special-ops guys–a mix of Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Marines, FBI and more–handle the jobs too tough for the government to tackle.

TICK…TICK…

“Wild” Bill Reichert knows a thing or two about explosives. The ex-Navy SEAL can practically rig a bomb blindfolded. But there’s no way to diffuse the inevitable fireworks the day Eve Edens walks back into his life, asking for help…

BOOM!

Eve doesn’t know what to do when the Chicago police won’t believe someone is out to hurt her. The only place to turn is Black Knights Inc—after all, no one is better at protection than the covert special-ops team. Yet there’s also no one better at getting her all turned on than Billy Reichert. She has a feeling this is one blast from the past that could backfire big time…

PRAISE FOR BORN WILD:

One heck of a riveting plotline… Born Wild is definitely not to be missed!” —RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ Stars

A wild roller coaster ride of a story… Nonstop action.” —Fresh Fiction

“Drama, danger and sexual tension… Romantic suspense at its best.” —Night Owl Reviews, 5/5 Stars, Reviewer Top Pick

Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics, and prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. For more information, please visit www.julieannwalker.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/jawalkerauthor, and Twitter, @JAWalkerAuthor

To Purchase Born Wild:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Discover a New Love | iBooks | Indigo/Chapters | IndieBound | Sourcebooks

K&T PICKS MURDEROUSLY GOOD READS FOR JULY

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?

NEW RELEASES

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!

ALL THAT FALLS by Kimberly Frost (The Etherlin Series, Book 2, 2012)

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.

AN UNEXPECTED GUEST by Anne Korkeakivi (2012)

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.

FLASH HEAT by Joyce Lamb (2012)

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.

THE RIVER WITCH by Kimberly Brock (2012)

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. (AmazonBN)

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.

PROMISES TO KEEP by Kathryn Shay (2002, e-book 2010)

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. (AmazonBN)

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. (AmazonBN)

Carey Baldwin (FIRST DO NO EVILrecommends 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. (AmazonBN)

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!

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