Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Allison Brennan Needs a Happy Ending

(from usatoday.com
by Joyce Lamb)

(Photo: Minotaur Photos)

Notorious author Allison Brennan (see what I did there? She and her new book are both notorious!) joins HEA to explore her need for a happy ending and why her Max Revere series might take awhile to get there.

Allison: I love writing romantic suspense. Being able to have a romantic suspense series, where Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan can grow over multiple books, is my dream. No surprise there — J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas and Roarke are among my very favorite books.

I've read crime novels and watched crime shows since I was a kid. I devoured Trixie Belden at age 8, Agatha Christie at 11, watched Hill Street Blues when I was 13, and my first dream job was to be a forensic pathologist because I loved Jack Klugman in Quincy. Today, I watch Bones and SVU, read true crime, and my research shelf boasts dozens of crime-related books.

I recognized that I loved romantic suspense when I discovered the genre in the late '90s. I devoured Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Andersen, Catherine Coulter, and more. But it wasn't until I read two books — Lisa Gardner's The Third Victim and Iris Johansen's The Search that I found my niche. The perfect-for-me blend of suspense with a happy ending.

I need a happy ending in my books. That means the girl gets the guy and the bad guy gets a cage.

Lucy and Sean are coming up on their eighth book (Dead Heat, June 2014), and they are living together and clearly in love. Their life won't be a bed of roses, but because this series is a romantic suspense at its core, they will overcome all obstacles to be together through each story. Each book is a stepping stone toward their happily-ever-after. I can't tell you how many people e-mail me to make sure that Sean and Lucy are going to stay together. They can handle anything, as long as they know that Sean and Lucy survive, together. For me, that's the story promise, and I'm excited to go with them on the journey.

When I was creating my new series, I knew it wasn't going to be a romantic suspense. Maxine Revere is an investigative reporter and the protagonist. She's the driving force of the series. Naturally curious, driven by her experience and her past, Max seeks justice through exposing the truth. She specializes in cold cases — unsolved crimes that have been shelved inactive by the police for lack of evidence or lack of manpower.

In Notorious, Max returns to her hometown for the funeral of an old friend who had once been accused of a horrible crime — the rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend, Lindy Ames — Max's best friend. While he wasn't convicted — the jury was hung — Kevin couldn't shake the stigma of the trial. When Max comes home, she has no intention of looking into Lindy's death, but as events unfold she finds that she has no choice but to get involved.

Max is wealthy, independent, and intelligent. Her career is No. 1 for her. She wants nothing more than to do what she does — solve cold cases to give families of victims closure. Reveal the truth when others will do anything — even kill — to hide behind lies. But Max is also passionate. Not just about her vocation, but her life. So it makes sense that she has a love interest … or two.

I need to know that Max has someone she loves who loves her back.

FBI Agent Marco Lopez has known Max for nine years. He investigated the disappearance of her college roommate during spring break — an event that changed Max's life. Marco is all fire — he and Max are volatile. They have an on-again, off-again relationship that is decidedly off when Notorious begins.

Max meets Detective Nick Santini while investigating Lindy's murder and another cold case from her hometown that may or may not be connected to Lindy. Nick is cool, calm and collected. He's the slow-burn type, hardly interested in a relationship with an aggressive reporter who takes risks he believes are better reserved to those with police training. Plus, he has his own baggage — a difficult ex-wife and a son he adores. But the one thing he admires about Max is her compassion for victims and her inner compass for justice.

Though Marco is off-page in Notorious, he and Nick are both involved in book No. 2, Compulsion. For me, it's going to be very interesting to see how they interact and what that means to Max.

The Max Revere series isn't a romantic suspense so I can focus more on the mystery and how the mysteries impact Max. Also, I have room to explore these two men fully … until Max comes to the conclusion that one is better for her than the other … or neither. Eventually, it will be clear, and that will start a whole new level of conflict. When career is vocation for both hero and heroine, when what they do matters to both them and others, will sacrifice turn into resentment? I don't know, but I can hardly wait to find out.

Because, at the end of the day, I still need my happily-ever-after.

Find out more about Allison and her books at www.allisonbrennan.com.

Allison Brennan, author of "Notorious."(Photo: Allison Brennan)