On June 30, EXIT STRATEGY, the first book in my new romantic suspense EXIT Inc. series, will be released by Avon (an imprint of HarperCollins.) Readers have asked me just what is this EXIT Inc. anyway? Obviously, I hope you’ll read the books to find out. But for our KaT readers, I’m giving an exclusive sneak peek into the world of EXIT and explaining what sets this series apart from other series in RomanceLandia.
What is EXIT Inc.?
EXIT is an acronym for “EXtreme International Tours”. EXIT Incorporated is a privately owned company that offers guided outdoor tours all over the world. Or at least, that’s what EXIT wants you to believe. In reality, the tour side of the company is a front for the government sanctioned clandestine organization of highly trained operatives, called Enforcers, who will do whatever it takes–legal or not–to protect the United States and its citizens from terrorists and other criminals. Enforcers are often placed in the role of assassins and preemptively eliminate the bad guys before they can hurt or kill more people.
What makes this series different from other series?
There are a lot of brotherhood, assassin, or secret protector types of series out there, like Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series or Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights Inc. series–which are both fantastic! But two main things set EXIT apart from the others.
One – The moral dilemma of assassins preemptively killing bad guys before they can strike again is explored in depth, pitting the heroes and heroines of these stories against each other and giving poignant glimpses into the hearts and minds of each character and why they make the choices they make.
Two – Where other series cast the brotherhood organizations as the force of good, EXIT Inc. turns that completely around. The Enforcers come to realize that the company they’ve devoted their lives to may have been using them all along, and that EXIT Inc. may actually be a force of evil. Seeing how the heroes and heroines come to this realization and what they do about it is what makes this series so fun and exciting.
Is this series related to your Deadly Games series? Yes and no. The Deadly Games series has law-enforcement heroes and heroines primarily focused on hunting down serial killers. It’s very family-centric, with the heroes of each book being either a Buchanan brother or a close friend (such as Logan Richards in the first book) and is set in Florida and Georgia.
The EXIT Inc. series has bad-boy heroes, definitely not law enforcement, whose prey are hard core terrorists and deadly criminals far more dangerous than serial killers. While the Enforcers in these stories form a brotherhood, they aren’t a true family. And the books are set in the two places where EXIT Inc. maintains headquarters–North Carolina and Colorado.
The connection between the two series is that the last Deadly Games book–TAKE THE KEY AND LOCK HER UP–features Devlin Buchanan, who is an assassin for EXIT Incorporated. The book can be considered as a prequel for the EXIT series as it introduces the company and some of the primary players. The EXIT series is actually a natural spin-off that happened organically while I was writing Devlin’s story. And for fun, I feature many of the Buchanans in cameo roles in this new series. But you can read and enjoy the EXIT books without having ever read the Deadly Games books.
How many books will be in this new series? Currently there are three books planned: EXIT Strategy, No EXIT, and Final EXIT.
How often will these books be released? Unless the schedule changes, they will come out about every six months, beginning with the first book on June 30, 2015.
How can I buy the EXIT books? This series is in print and ebook. You should be able to buy these books in Walmart, Barnes and Noble, and many other “brick and mortar” physical book stores beginning June 30, 2015. You can also order print or ebook formats online pretty much anywhere–like Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo. AND YOU CAN PRE-ORDER RIGHT NOW!
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I hope that answers some of your questions about this new series. Please let me know if you have more questions! EXIT STRATEGY is available for pre-order now. The description and buy links appear below.
Lena Diaz launches her thrilling new series featuring the undercover vigilantes of EXIT Inc. with a skilled operative putting his life—and his heart—on the line for a woman in trouble
When Sabrina Hightower awakens to the sound of an intruder, she figures he’s there to rob her, murder her— or worse. She doesn’t expect to be carried off by a muscle-bound stud with male-model good looks . . . or that he came to rescue her.
Mason Hunt became an enforcer with EXIT Inc. to eliminate the bad guys—terrorists, militia groups, all those who would do America harm. But his latest target is innocent. If EXIT could lie about sultry, strong-willed Sabrina, what darker truths might they be concealing?
Going rogue in the rugged North Carolina mountains, Mason risks everything to keep Sabrina close, especially now that EXIT’s lethal assassins are chasing them down. The heat is on . . . but it’s nothing compared to the slow burn of seduction.
What other authors are saying about EXIT STRATEGY…
“Sexy romance and edge-of-your-seat suspense…EXIT STRATEGY is a book not to be missed!” –NYT and USA Today Bestselling author Cynthia Eden
“Taut, compelling… kept me hooked to the last page.” -NYT Bestselling author Mary Burton
“EXIT STRATEGY is a tension-packed read, an addicting mix of suspense and romance.” – Kendra Elliot
“EXIT STRATEGY starts out with a bang and never lets up. Perfect pacing, smart and sexy, this is exactly what you want in a romantic suspense.” – Award winning author HelenKay Dimon
Lena Diaz is a country girl at heart who has planted her Kentucky roots deep into the sandy soil of north Florida where she lives with her hubby and a shetland sheepdog. FSU-grad-son and college-daughter visit when they can. Lena is an action movie and crime-TV junkie. She also loves gardening, and hiking in the beautiful Smoky Mountains in Tennessee whenever she can get away. EXIT STRATEGY is Lena’s 10th published novel.
And the winner of a $10 Amazon gift card from last week’s post, courtesy of Heather Ashby and Chris Bergeron, is Nancy Stillings! Congratulations!!!!
The minute Halloween ended, the stores had their Christmas decorations up. Yikes! So now I’m thinking Christmas gifts. And romance. Because, uh, romance writer.
Which got me thinking me of my first Christmas with my husband (a.k.a. The Engineer), back in our dating days. He bought me aftermarket cruise control for my car.
Right up there with vacuum cleaners you say?
Well, maybe. Would I have swooned for some jewelry? Oh yeah. But romance is about more than cards and flowers and gems. You can have all that and still end up with a dud instead of a stud. Flowers and jewels are easy outs. Pick one and I’ll probably like it.
No, the real challenge in my mind—and the real definition of romantic—is knowing your partner well enough to get a gift he or she will truly enjoy. It shows you’ve been listening and have given a lot of thought to what would please.
In that respect, in spite of what his roommate thought, The Engineer’s gift was wildly romantic. We had been driving two hours each way to another city every few weeks for family visits. Without cruise control, I was constantly battling my lead foot and my (then) sporty five-speed to stay within a reasonable speed limit. How much nicer life would have been if I had a newer car with cruise so I could relax. I definitely didn’t need any more speeding tickets!
Well, the newer car was out. We were poor college students, after all. But the cruise control… Who knew you could put something like that on after market? The Engineer, of course! And he installed it too. See? Smart, handsome, and handy with a tool. How could a girl go wrong? 😀
And every once in a while, he gets totally impractical and buys me something pretty that I don’t need. Like jewelry. Which makes it all the more special, because he also understands that sometimes I just want something that sparkles.
What’s the most romantic (or unromantic) gift you’ve ever received?
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Thank you for helping me celebrate the release of my newest book, THE BODYGUARD.
And now, the TWO winners of print copies of THE BODYGUARD are…rolynnanderson and Kim H. Please check out our “Contact Us” page to claim your prize!
Join us again on Tuesday for an exciting new post by Diana Belchase!
And if you want to see my other books, please check out http://www.LenaDiaz.com! Below are some covers for your viewing pleasure.
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My newest book, THE BODYGUARD (rated 4 1/2 Stars in RT Magazine), is one of the most difficult books I’ve written so far. This book touches on a very sensitive subject, spousal abuse. I say “touches”, because other than the very first scene, there isn’t any abuse “on page”. That was a deliberate choice on my part because I didn’t want the story to be about the abuse. The story is about the aftermath and how a woman transforms from victim to victor and learns to rely on herself. She learns that she doesn’t need a man to feel whole and she can take care of herself. But once she has become the person she was always meant to be, she is then able to let love into her life and plan a future with the one man who treated her with respect all along – the bodyguard who saved her life.
I’d like to thank my fellow author, Rachel Grant, for giving me some critical information about this delicate subject. Rachel used to work a hotline for victims of abuse. The information she gave me was crucial and really helped me to understand how the heroine in the story would feel and react in various situations. Rachel also provided information on The National Domestic Violence Hotline, which I put in the dedication of the book. That dedication appears below:
This book is dedicated to abused women everywhere. It’s not your fault. It’s NEVER your fault that someone else chooses to hurt you. You deserve a life without fear. Please, don’t wait until it’s too late. For information or help, visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org. (The website has a quick escape option in case your abuser monitors your Internet activity). Or call 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
This book isn’t a treatise on domestic abuse. That’s just one element in this poignant love-story with action-packed scenes of the hero and heroine running from an unknown killer. But if someone in an abusive relationship picks up this book, I hope they read the dedication, and draw strength from the story…maybe enough strength to make that all important phone call that could possibly save their life.
Below is the back cover copy for THE BODYGUARD. (Print edition available 4/15; Ebook edition available 5/1.)
SHE HAD NO ONE TO FIGHT FOR HER—UNTIL ONE POWERFUL BODYGUARD REFUSED TO LEAVE HER SIDE
Her perfect marriage was a sham and Caroline Ashton had the physical and emotional wounds to prove it. With nothing left to lose, Caroline is ready to walk away—and hires Luke Dawson as her personal bodyguard. But before he can do more than secure her a safe house, Caroline stumbles upon the body of the man she’d fought day and night to escape. Now, as Caroline is confronted with fears beyond anything she ever imagined, Luke is the only man she can trust. Putting her life in someone else’s hands isn’t easy, but Caroline knows survival never is. Besides, Luke’s proven himself to be a worthy protector—one who’ll stop at nothing to see she never suffers again….
And here’s the excerpt from Chapter One:
The monster sat across the breakfast table from Caroline, looking deceptively handsome in a dove-gray, thousand-dollar suit that emphasized his broad shoulders and the bulging muscles in his upper arms. The tanned hand that flicked the page on his electronic tablet was elegant, strong, with perfectly groomed nails.
They should have been talons.
Talons would have warned people who didn’t know Richard Ashton III that those hands were lethal, especially when they were clasped into fists.
He skimmed through the latest stock-market figures, then looked pointedly at the untouched food on Caroline’s plate.
In spite of the worry that had kept her awake most of the night, the worry that had nausea churning in her stomach this morning, she picked up her fork and took a bite of egg the cook had prepared exactly to Richard’s specifications. She dabbed her napkin on the corners of her mouth as he’d taught her, before training her face into the carefully blank expression she’d learned was the safest.
His brows lowered. “You’re getting too thin, Caroline. That displeases me.”
She stilled, her fingers curling against her thigh.
“I…I…I’m sorry, Richard.”
She fought back the fear that so often jumbled her words. “I’ll eat everything on my plate. I promise.” She took another bite of egg.
Tiny lines of disapproval tightened around his eyes.
Her stomach clenched. What had she done? She raced through a mental checklist. Her hair was neat and curled to drape over one shoulder in the style he preferred. She’d painstakingly applied the makeup he’d selected for her, natural looking but polished. She held her napkin in her left hand in her lap, her fork in her right, no elbows on the table. What had she missed?
“Don’t look so alarmed,” he chided her. He cocked his head, his eyes narrowing. “Or have you done something that requires further instruction?”
“No, no, no, I’ve been good. I don’t…n-need another l-lesson.”
“Don’t stutter, Caroline. It’s unbecoming of an Ashton to stutter. Tell me, why aren’t you eating enough?”
Her hands went clammy with sweat and shook so badly she almost dropped her fork. Desperation had her scooping another forkful of eggs into her mouth. As she chewed, she smiled across the table at him, trying to placate him.
He shook his head. “You’re being rude. I asked you a question, and now your mouth is full. You’re making me wait for an answer.”
. She should have answered him first and then taken a bite. She swallowed hard, forcing the lump of eggs down her tight throat without taking the time to chew.
“I’m so sorry,” she rushed to assure him. “I didn’t mean to be rude. I w-wanted you to be proud that I was obeying, that I was eating.” She wiped her moist hands on her pants.
“I’m still waiting for an answer.”
She blinked. What was the question? What it? She couldn’t remember. He’d said something about her being too thin, and then he’d said—
“I asked why you aren’t eating enough.” His voice was clipped, harsh.
“I’m s-sorry. I guess I’m just…tired. Not hungry.”
One of his elegant brows arched. “And why, , are you tired?”
She grasped for an excuse, anything but the truth—that she’d lain awake most of the night, going over her plans, trying to build her courage.
“I…I don’t know. Perhaps I worked too hard in the garden yesterday. I a bit sore.”
The slight reddening of his face had the blood draining from hers, leaving her cold and full of dread. He would take her comment about being sore as an accusation against him, a complaint. Because, as he frequently reminded her, it was always fault when he was forced to teach her a lesson, fault he had to punish her.
“You’ve worked in the garden plenty of times without being sore.” His voice lashed out at her like a whip. “I’m more inclined to believe you’re complaining that you forced me to teach you a lesson yesterday.”
She dropped her gaze, her pulse slamming in her ears. A whimper bubbled up inside her, but she couldn’t let it escape. Crying was undignified. Ashtons did cry.
“Look at me when I’m speaking to you,” he demanded.
“Please,” she whispered, trying to appeal to the man he to be, the man that must surely still be there, somewhere, hidden deep inside, the man she’d loved once, so very long ago. “Please, Richard. It was a…poor choice of words. I’m sorry.”
He plopped his napkin on the table and stood. “Yes, it certainly was, a very poor choice.” He stalked to her chair.
She shrank back, and hated herself for it.
GIVEAWAY! To celebrate the release of THE BODYGUARD, I’m giving away TWO print copies. Leave a comment for a chance to win and then check back on Thursday. Note: If Non-USA address, book will be mailed directly from The Book Depository (unsigned).