Blog Archives

Bittersweet End to the Tennessee SWAT Series

Tennessee Takedown introduced readers to the fictional town of Destiny, Tennessee and the sexy, funny detectives and part-time SWAT team of five alpha men and one kick-butt woman. Readers loved it. Tennessee Takedown won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. And to this day, it’s still my best-selling Harlequin Intrigue.

Fabulous reader response to Tennessee Takedown resulted in the creation of an entire series in 2017 and 2018. The fifth and final installment, SWAT Standoff, releases on June 19. It’s been a fun, wild ride and saying goodbye to this series is bittersweet. I’ll miss the heroes and heroines of Destiny, Tennessee. But as I learned after Tennessee Takedown‘s release, you never know where a book – or a series – might lead. One day perhaps another new series may intersect with this one and I’ll revisit the SWAT team of Destiny, Tennessee. You never know!

A SWAT team vanishes.

Can two partners put aside their differences to save them?

Playing hero backfires on sexy SWAT team member Blake Sullivan. He infuriates his partner, Donna Waters, as much as he attracts her. But before they can resolve their differences, they discover that the rest of their team has been kidnapped by an unknown assailant. Now as they race to rescue the small Tennessee town’s real heroes, they share a growing mutual trust…and a hot, life-changing connection.

 

Learn about these and other books by Lena Diaz by visiting her website.

The View From Cloud 9!

All nine of us are up here and the champagne is overflowing!

Welcome, friends, as we celebrate blog-mate and close friend, Sharon Wray on her debut day. Every Deep Desire is book one in her Deadly Force series and a novel that garnered her one of eight RWA Golden Heart® nominations.

Like most things Sharon undertakes (studying wedding dress design in the couture houses of Paris, a mother of twins, a librarian and astounding photographer) she added her unique flair to the modern day romantic suspense. Every Deep Desire is a sweeping saga of haunted pasts, tortured secrets, epic yearning and a love that transcends all. K&T members thought this blog post should reflect a unique approach as well, so we’ve each participated in the interview. Grab some bubbly and join us!

Need-to-know questions from the great interviewer, James Lipton; “Inside the Actors Studio”:

  1. What is your favorite word?    Grace.
  2. What is your least favorite word?        Hurry.
  3. What turns you on?     Politeness.
  4. What turns you off?    Bad breath.
  5. What sound or noise do you love?      Garden water fountains.
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?     Barking dogs.
  7. What is your favorite curse word?       Damn.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?              Home organizer.
  9. What profession would you not like to do?    Anything where I have to drive.
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?        “I missed you.”

When did you know you wanted to write novels, and when did you actually begin writing?

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 (my twins were four), I started reading romance novels again to help offset some of the grief. After reading Night Embrace by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dark Prince by Christine Feehan, and Letters to Kelly by Suzanne Brockmann, I decided I wanted to write a novel myself. Except I had no idea how so I joined RWA in March 2, 2004. My debut novel comes out March 6, 2018.

This modern retelling of Romeo and Juliette is fascinating. How did Shakespeare influence you to create your strong heroine?

It was a trip to Verona and a guide took us to see the city’s most famous celebrities: Romeo and Juliet. We went to Juliet’s courtyard and Romeo’s palazzo, and she told us the history of this famous story. A history that included six earlier sources of the love story, including a mention in Dante’s Divine Comedy. But the detail that caught my attention was that she kept calling the story Giulietta and Romeo.

Apparently, in all of the prior source material that Shakespeare used, Juliet was the protagonist. The story belonged to the heroine!

Juliet’s statue in Juliet’s courtyard in Verona, Italy

When I got home, I read translations of all of the source material and studied the literary criticisms. Shakespeare had not only made Juliet the main protagonist, but that it was the first time in all of his works that a woman was the hero of a play. The reason why deserves a blog post all its own, but when you study the text you can see that Juliet is given half of all of Romeo’s sonnets. She makes plans and follows through while the men can’t control their tempers. She even kills herself like a man while Romeo uses poison—a woman’s weapon.

Mailbox where people leave their letters to Juliet in Juliet’s courtyard in Verona, Italy

Up until this time, within my own work, I’d assumed that the men in my Deadly Force series were the protagonists. The men had suffered terribly—violence, combat, POW camps, etc—so why wouldn’t they be the ones who had to change the most? But when I looked at the story emotionally (like I’d studied Romeo and Juliet), I realized that my heroines had the harder journey. They might not have undergone physical suffering, but their emotional journeys came with higher risks. Once I made my heroines the protagonists, the stories came together in a way I’d never expected. And Juliet, in Every Deep Desire, took me on a journey that left my breathless and exhausted. And all of the work to rewrite the books has been worth it.

Do you believe in serendipity? Your career (and how massively busy you are writing, editing and promoting the 3-book deal) is taking off just as your kids headed off for college. Is this the perfect time or do you wish you were well into your publishing career?

While part of me would like to already have ten books on the shelf, the truth is I wouldn’t have been willing to give up the time with my family that that would’ve required. I do think that God’s timing is perfect. Now that my twins are in college, I have the freedom to work, each day, as long as want. For the first time in 18 years, my time is my own and I’m spending almost every waking hour writing or with my husband.

What authors have been your greatest influence? And why?

I know the Bronte sisters are a clichéd choice, but clichés don’t become what they are for no reason. When I was in sixth grade I started Jane Eyre on Thursday morning and finished it on Friday at one a.m. When I woke up at noon on Friday, I started Wuthering Heights and stayed up all night, not finishing it until almost four a.m. Then I crashed. When I woke up later on Saturday, I remember going downstairs and feeling . . . different. I felt awake. I realized that life was much larger, and far more dangerous and exciting, than I’d ever thought possible. And the realization that I, too, might grow up and fall in love filled me such wonder and joy, I could barely breathe.

Tell us a bit about the overall story line for the series.

The Deadly Force series: Where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines redeem Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.

The series is about a team of ex-Special Forces soldiers, accused of vicious war crimes, who are desperate to prove their innocence and find their enemies before they attack again. As these men struggle to rebuild their lives and redeem their honor, it’s the women they love who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.

What is the tentative schedule for deadlines and publishing dates?

Every Deep Desire, March 6, 2018 (today!)

One Dark Wish, (book 2) is currently in revision and I hope to finish soon. This book is tentatively scheduled for publication January 2019.

Deadly Force 3, (book 3) is due September 1. (Yikes!!!!) Title and publication dated TBD. I just call this one DF3. (Poor, untitled DF3. LOL.) 

You, of all people, know what patience and perseverance means in this business. Do you have any advice for writers still waiting for ‘the call’?

Two things in particular: I wasted so much time wondering “if” it would ever happen that I wish I could go back and tell myself to worry less and laugh more. If you begin as you wish to proceed, things will work out eventually. Maybe not the way you expected, or in the time frame you wanted, but usually even better than you’d hoped. So write every day as if you’re published. Take classes, learn your craft, and build your network of writing friends. That way, when the time comes, you’re ready.

The second thing is an order from Winston Churchill. And for our purposes, the enemy is our own self doubt:

“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

 

All of K&T (except Manda!) at Lena’s booksigning

Sharon, we all wish you an unforgettable debut day and a bestselling series!

 

 

Thanks so much, Sarah, for hosting me today. It’s such an amazing thing to celebrate my debut with my Kiss and Thrill sisters.

He’s taking it all back
His honor, his freedom, and the woman he loves

Rafe Montfort was a decorated Green Beret, the best of the best, until a disastrous mission and an unforgivable betrayal destroyed his life. Now, this deadly soldier has returned to the sultry Georgia swamps to reunite with his brothers, and take back all he lost. But Juliet must never know the truth behind what he’s done…or the dangerous secret that threatens to take him from her forever.

It took Juliet Capel eight long years to put her life back together after her husband was taken from her. Now Rafe is back, determined to protect her at any cost, and it’s not just her heart that’s in danger. The swamps hold a secret long buried and far deadlier than either of them could have imagined…

 

BUY LINKS: (Please don’t forget to help a debut author out by leaving a review!)

Amazon 

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iBooks

 

Carey, Lena, Diana, Sharon, Gwen, Sarah in NYC, 2015

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

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Diana, Rachel and Sharon

Rachel, Diana, Gwen, Sharon and Sarah

Sharon, Gwen, and Sarah before the 2013 GH/RITA Awards in Atlanta.

Running Blind release day

Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) is out today!

A bit of trivia… Did you know that each of the the four Men of Steele books was released while I lived in a different city? This one was by far the most hectic because during edits and launch prep, I was living in a temporary rental, house hunting, and unpacking in a new home. Oh, and my college kids were with us for winter break.

Honestly, I’m a little bit amazed this book launched on time, LOL. But, yay! Kurt and Caitlyn finally get their story. I hope you love it!

Running Blind book cover

Charter pilot Caitlyn Brevard’s sister disappeared while working undercover to expose human traffickers in the Caribbean. Four months later, Caitlyn has finally found her, but to infiltrate the captor’s inner circle and rescue Rose, she must appear at the man’s gala event with a fiancé she concocted to keep his lecherous son at bay. Can she convince Kurt Steele to forgive a past betrayal and play the doting groom-to-be?

Former special operator and wounded warrior Kurt can’t say no to a friend in need, especially not Caitlyn, who he can’t forget, no matter how hard he tries. But playing ardent fiancé to the woman who broke his heart—and still attracts him like no other—might just be more than he can bear. When their mission turns deadly, he and Caitlyn must risk everything to save Rose and get a second chance at a love worth dying for.

Rita Finalist, Sarah Andre, releases CAPTURING THE QUEEN

Your wait is over! Sarah Andre’s newest release is here. Introducing…

CAPTURING THE QUEEN!

Amazon

Restoration artist Sean Quinn is perfectly content spending his downtime devouring classical literature, while keeping his OCD and fourth-degree black belt under wraps. But when his FBI agent brother coerces him into investigating stolen artifacts, Sean becomes the target of a ruthless smuggling ring that funds terrorists.

Gretch Allen, a beautiful man-magnet, hides a world of hurt under her icy exterior. When Sean rescues her from a stalker, she discovers her co-worker has an alpha-hot fire burning beneath his geeky exterior. As barriers between them begin crumbling, however, she accidentally places herself in much more extremist danger.

Unable to stop the unraveling events from turning deadly, Sean must conjure his inner hero to save his city and capture the heart of the queen.

CONGRATULATIONS, Sarah, from your KaT family! Happy book birthday!

You can learn more about Sarah and her award-winning books here: Sarah Andre

New Release – Tennessee SWAT Continues with SECRET STALKER!

A SWAT officer loves a suspected murderess. What could possibly go wrong?

secret-stalker Lena Diaz

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Ten years ago, Bexley Kane and Max Remington were high-school sweethearts hoping to get married and start their future together. But a stalker, and his death, ended their hopes and dreams and sent Bex fleeing town under suspicion of murder.

Now she’s back, and the past has caught up to her. But will SWAT officer Max Remington learn to trust and love her again? Or will Bex’s secrets destroy them both?

In 2014, award winning book TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN introduced readers to the sexy SWAT team of Destiny, Tennessee. This year readers get to experience more stories about the wonderful men and women in the TENNESSEE SWAT series, beginning with MOUNTAIN WITNESS. The newest release is out now, SECRET STALKER. And there will be more stories after that.

Below is an excerpt from SECRET STALKER. Enjoy!

CHAPTER ONE

The whispers started thirty seconds after Bexley Kane walked down aisle three in the Piggly Wiggly on Magnolia Street. Not that there was a Piggly Wiggly on any other street in the tiny town of Destiny, Tennessee. With a population the size of a large high school in other parts of the state, this town could only support one grocery store. And one movie theater. And one Waffle House. But, oddly enough, there were four Starbucks. Too bad not one of them was anywhere close to Magnolia Street. Bex sure could use a venti caramel macchiato right now.

Head high, shoulders back, she began filling her cart as quickly as possible while pretending not to notice the other shoppers talking behind their hands as she passed. But, come on, did they really believe that she didn’t know they were gossiping about her? She could well imagine what they were saying.

Is that who I think it is? What’s it been, ten years? Why is she back in town?

You didn’t hear? Her mama done passed away. I heard she died of a broken heart, on account of her daughter didn’t visit even once after she got run out of town.

You think Chief Thornton will arrest her this time?

Is there a statute of limitations on murder?

“Miss Kane, nice to see you today.” Mr. Dawson gave Bex a genuine, welcoming smile from behind the deli counter. “I was hoping I’d see your lovely face at least one more time before you left Destiny. You here for lunch? We’ve got a brand-new batch of pickled pigs’ feet.” He proudly thumped a large jar on top of the display case that looked like a science experiment gone horribly wrong.

Bex very nearly lost her breakfast. She averted her gaze from the nauseating sight and smiled at one of the few people in Destiny who hadn’t treated her like a pariah in the week that she’d been back.

“Hello, Mr. Dawson. I called in an order for some lunch meats and grilled chicken. Could you see whether it’s ready, please?”

“Gladys must have taken that order. I’ll check the cooler. Won’t take but a minute.” He opened the massive walk-in refrigerator behind him and headed inside.

Bex checked her grocery list. The only thing left to get was mustard, one of several things she’d forgotten the first time she’d been in the store. After today’s shopping trip, she should have enough to tide her over for several more days, until she finished taking care of all of the details of her mother’s estate. Then she could hop into her car and leave Destiny in the dust. Again. And this time, she’d never come back.

If she remembered correctly, Mr. Dawson kept the condiments across the aisle from the meat case. Since little else had changed in this town, she doubted that had, either. She turned around—and locked gazes with the one person she’d hoped to avoid.

Max Remington.

His golden-brown eyes stared at her in shock for all of three seconds. Then they filled with anger. His jaw clamped tight and, without a word, he circled around her and headed to the sandwich counter at the other end of the deli.

Gladys miraculously appeared as if from thin air, eager to take Max’s order. Bex couldn’t help noticing that he was all smiles and yes, ma’ams, no, ma’ams when speaking to the older woman. But he couldn’t even spare a hello for his former lover.

His curt dismissal shouldn’t hurt. After all, she was the one who’d left him. But he’d been her first love. And she’d built him up in her mind over the years as her handsome hero, dreaming of what life could have been, should have been, if she’d said yes that night.

And if Bobby Caldwell hadn’t died.

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Mountain Witness - Lena Diaz

TennesseeTakedown

 

FINAL EXIT – The Explosive Conclusion to the EXIT Trilogy

It’s here! The last book in the EXIT Inc. trilogy, FINAL EXIT!

FinalExit-HighRez

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FINAL EXIT is the story of washed-up FBI agent, Kade Quinn, trying to redeem himself and rehabilitate his career after a personal tragedy sent him on a downward spiral into addiction. Rounding up all of the Enforcers who used to work for EXIT, so they can be re-trained and sent back out into society without the controls and oversight of their former agency, seems like “the right thing” to do. And Kade is proud to be a part of this mission. Until he meets Enforcer Bailey Stark. Her resistance to being taken, and her repeated assertions that the government is killing Enforcers instead of retraining them, is met with denial and then shock as Kade begins to suspect she might be right.

While Kade and Bailey work together to bring down the evil forces behind EXIT Inc. once and for all, they fall in love along the way. Of course! This is, after all, a romance. It’s full of action, like all of my stories. But I’m particularly pleased with the romantic arc of these two very damaged people. And if you’re a fan of the enemies to lovers trope, I really think you’re going to enjoy this one.

As with all of the EXIT books, there’s a host of sexy alpha-male secondary characters from earlier books, including the Buchanans from my Deadly Games series. The below flowchart is something I put together to show the connections between the characters in the DG series. (Yes, I’m a nerd, who loves flowcharts and spreadsheets.) You might have to click on the chart to enlarge it and see it better.

Lena Diaz Buchanan-family-tree

Did I mention that I love flowcharts? Here’s another one, showing an overview of the EXIT series. (Click on the chart to enlarge it and see it better.)

 

Lena Diaz exit-series-family-tree

So how are these series linked? The picture below is a BIG hint. Devlin (Devil) Buchanan is one of the brother’s from the Deadly Games series. Unbeknownst to his family, he’s also an Enforcer for EXIT Inc. In TAKE THE KEY AND LOCK HER UP, Devlin’s two world’s collide and he fights to protect both the woman he’s starting to love and his family from the employer he’s trusted his entire adult life. The aftermath of that struggle is the creation of the Equalizers, a group of former EXIT Enforcers and others who join together to fight against what EXIT has become. That struggle continues throughout the EXIT series, beginning with EXIT Strategy and ending in an explosive climax in FINAL EXIT.

Lena Diaz series-for-katLena Diaz Website Books Page with Buy Links

It was so much fun bringing in the Buchanan’s and even Logan Richards (a friend of the Buchanan’s from HE KILLS ME, HE KILLS ME NOT) as secondary, but extremely important, characters throughout the EXIT series.

Although the four-book Deadly Games series and the three book spin-off EXIT series are incredibly fun to read in order, each story contains a unique and fulfilling love story and can be enjoyed as a stand-alone book. You’ll understand what’s going on even without reading the earlier stories.

I hope you’ll give FINAL EXIT a try. And let me know what you think! Shoot me an email through my website. And please join my newsletter list if you’d like to receive notifications of future releases or giveaways. Sometimes I do giveaways ONLY to my subscribers, like last week when I gave away ten books to randomly drawn names from my newsletter list.

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Birth of a Series! The Sexy SWAT team of Destiny, Tennessee!

Mountain Witness - Lena Diaz

In 2014, TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN introduced readers to the fictional town of Destiny, Tennessee and the sexy, funny SWAT team of five alpha men and one kick-butt woman. Readers loved it. TT won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. And to this day, it’s still my best-selling Harlequin Intrigue.

But why am I talking about a book that released three years ago?

Because, in response to reader emails asking for more of the sexy heroes of the Destiny, Tennessee SWAT team, I’ve created a new Tennessee SWAT series. And the first book, taking up where TT left off, is MOUNTAIN WITNESS!

MOUNTAIN WITNESS – Print releases January 17. eBook releases February 1st!

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A woman in hiding and a man on a mission in the Smoky Mountains

Detective and part-time SWAT officer, Chris Downing, doesn’t know much about his neighbor. In the rural town of Destiny, Tennessee, Julie Webb lives a life of seclusion, rarely even offering a smile or wave. Only when Chris hears her frantic screams one night does he gain a glimpse into the life of a woman in hiding, and in saving her life, he is forced to kill her attacker. But Julie’s troubles are only beginning to unravel. When Chris learns the identity of Julie’s attacker, questions of trust are raised and suspicions run high. Together they will uncover the motives of a killer…and the undeniable attraction between them.

TennesseeTakedown

MOUNTAIN WITNESS begins one year after TT ended. All of the SWAT characters from TT make appearances in MW. And readers get a very special glimpse into the lives of the hero and heroine from TT and what has happened to them since that book ended.

I had a blast writing this book, and have three more to go to finish out the series–including SECRET STALKER, which comes out next month!

secret-stalker Lena DiazSo far the feedback from readers about MOUNTAIN WITNESS has been wonderful. I’m looking forward to hearing from readers of TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN as well, and how they’re receiving the continuation of that world in these new books. I hope everyone loves the fabulous alpha-heroes, and heroines, of Destiny, Tennessee!

To celebrate the release of MOUNTAIN WITNESS, I’m giving away a print copy of both MOUNTAIN WITNESS and SECRET STALKER to a random commenter on this post. So, tell me readers, what makes a SWAT hero sexy? What makes any hero sexy?

The randomly drawn winner of the two print books will be announced in the comments of THIS post on Tuesday, January 24th, so be sure to check back to see if you won.

Learn about these and other books by Lena Diaz by visiting her website.

A Series Finale, Saying Goodbye to Mystic Glades

Hostage Negotiation Cover

HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION – Pre-order now for August 23, 2016 (paperback) or September 1, 2016 (eBook).

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It’s with mixed feelings that I announce the upcoming end of the MARSHLAND JUSTICE mini-series. On August 23rd, the fourth and final book, HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION, makes its way into the world.  While I’m extremely excited for readers to experience this incredibly emotional story, I’m sad to see my time in the town of Mystic Glades come to an end. It’s been a blast, one of the quirkiest, most unique series that I’ve written. And readers have been equally enthusiastic. The first book, MISSING IN THE GLADES, won the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in mystery and suspense. The second book, ARRESTING DEVELOPMENTS, was a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best Award. I’m crossing my fingers that the last two books, DEEP COVER DETECTIVE and HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION, will also garner some award recognition.

Here’s a full description of the story in HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION…

Many women went missing outside Mystic Glades. She escaped.

When he took the job, Zack Scott heard about the horrors waiting in the swamp. So when Kaylee Brighton dashed into the road like the devil was on her tail, the new police chief gave her a safe place to recover. Imprisoned for months, Kaylee could lead Zack to her captor. Though Zack swore to protect her, only Kaylee knew the darkness that awaited them if she returned. She couldn’t begin to understand what drove Zack, but she knew the importance of having him by her side. Because it wasn’t enough for Kaylee to have escaped. Now it was time to take back her life.

I hope you’ll give the MARSHLAND JUSTICE mini-series a try, including this last installment, HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION. You can see the whole series, and all of my books, highlighted on the BOOKS page of my website.

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