by Joyce Lamb)
Twelve romance authors have conspired to offer a 99-cent boxed set of a dozen (yes, 12!) suspense novels, available today — we'll wait here while you go to your favorite e-retailer to click on "buy" for the Dangerous Dozen boxed set. Humming Jeopardy! theme … back already? OK, then. So HEA checked in with all 12 authors (one of whom is moi) to find out what has inspired them in their writing careers. Their answers run the gamut from Emily Bronte to Nora Roberts and Alfred Hitchcock to Nancy Drew.
Charity Pineiro, author of To Catch Her Man
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. The emotion in this story of two lovers who will never be together made me want to be able to convey the same emotion and also, always have a happily-ever-after.
All the James Bond books by Ian Fleming. Action, adventure and a sexy alpha hero. I aspired to write stories filled with that much action and adventure, but with a hero who understood that the heroine was destined to be his partner.
Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I always wanted to write, but didn't realize that I wanted to write romance until I read this book. This novel set me on the path to becoming a romance novel author.
Charity's book in the set: To Catch Her Man is about a reporter, Sylvia Amenabar, who has an on again/off again relationship with undercover detective Carlos Ramirez. The relationship is way on again when Sylvia has a visit from a man who claims that Carlos is dirty and responsible for the murder of his brother, another undercover officer. It's up to Sylvia to learn to trust her heart and not only find out the truth, but keep from destroying the lives of the people she cares about.
Tina Wainscott, author of I'll Be Watching You
I've been in love with storytelling since I can remember. As a kid, I acted out screenplays that I directed. Then I dove into writing short stories before graduating to novels. The three books that influenced me in those early years were:
The Alfred Hitchcock short story collections. I loved the treachery, manipulation, and psychopathic behavior of the characters. I don't know what that says about me as a kid, but hey, there it is.
VC Andrews' first two series, the Dollangangers and the Casteels. I loved being drawn into the dark, cruel worlds in which she threw her characters, the hard choices that they made, and the joys they earned.
Tina's book in the set, I'll Be Watching You: Ten years ago, Kim testified against her rich stepfather in a local girl's murder, then left town after his acquittal. Now, her grandmother's mysterious death brings her back to her small Everglades town, where they're happy to show her how unwelcome she is.
The last thing person she'd expect to protect her is Zell MacGregor, the sexy, laid-back son of the man against whom she testified. And Zell's the last person she'd ever expect to fall for. But as they dig into the secrets of the past, their growing attraction makes their present much more dangerous …
Maureen Child, author of Bedeviled
The Proud Breed by Celeste DeBlasis. It was a family saga, and I was entranced by how the generations spilled into each other and kept the main thread alive.
Cindy and the Prince by Debbie Macomber. It was one of the first Silhouette books I ever read, and it was so short, yet so full of emotions.
The Calico Palace by Gwen Bristow. I was a kid, and this historical about the California gold rush absolutely sparked my imagination.
Maureen's book in the set: Bedeviled has its own dangerous hero, Culhane. A Fenian warrior for the Fae of Otherworld, Culhane must find and train a human woman to fight Mab, Queen of the Fae.
Maggie Donovan doesn't want to be Queen of Otherworld. But destiny has spoken and now she's being tossed into a battle that could mean her life and the lives of her family.
There can be only one Queen — and Maggie's only hope of survival hinges on being able to trust Culhane — a warrior with an agenda all his own.
Paige Tyler, author of Protective Custody
I love to read romantic suspense, so it makes sense that I love writing books that combine the two. Some of my favorite authors in the genre include Suzanne Brockmann, Cynthia Eden and Monette Michaels.
I fell in love with the first of Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters books and am always looking for the next in the series before I'm even finished with the one I'm reading! With hunky heroes and lots of danger, her books keep you turning the page just to see what happens next.
Cynthia Eden's draw you in the same way with her newest Harlequin Intrigue books. Gotta love those hunky Shadow Agents of hers! And last, but definitely not least, Monette Michaels' Security Specialist International Series are definitely an auto-buy for me. She combines romance and danger beautifully!
Paige's book in the set: My contribution to the Dangerous Dozen Boxed Set is a sexy romantic suspense called Protective Custody. Someone is stalking reporter Paisley McCoy, and Gray is the only man who can protect her. While the chemistry between them is undeniable, there's no way he's going near the captain's daughter, and she has a strict rule that says she doesn't date cops. Yeah, it's complicated. Can they survive the stalker who's coming after them long enough to realize how good they are together?
Tawny Weber, author of There's a New Witch in Town
The three books that have most influenced my writing … That's so hard to narrow down. Nora Roberts' Donovans series or the Three Sisters trilogy (I always consider series/trilogies pretty much as a single book. LOL). I can't decide between those, but they were a major influence because of the beautiful writing, the way she so seamlessly wove magic into the contemporary world and, well, they rocked. Other big influences were Jennifer Crusie's Manhunting and Vicki Lewis Thompson's Nerds. The humor, the style, the pure enjoyment of these books made me want to give that same gift to readers.
Tawny's book in the set:There's a New Witch in Town is a sassy, sexy paranormal suspense.
When a nasty divorce leaves Mikaela Lansing reeling, the last thing she needs is the return or her questionable magical powers.
Gideon Ross is the heart and unspoken leader of a small town that's in danger of extinction because of a looming threat only he can fend off. And he's been doing just fine, until a New Witch shows up in town. Now the two of them have to band together against a ruthless enemy who'll stop at nothing to destroy Rossdale.
Nina Bruhns, author of In His Control
My first book would have to be the Nancy Drew series, which I devoured as a kid, along with Harriet the Spy. A girl solving mysteries? That's what I'm talking about! I don't think they even let women onto the police forces in those days ... other than as meter maids ... so the fact that Nancy and Harriet were the main characters really opened up my eyes to the possibilities of women as suspense heroines. Of course, I was only in the first or second grade, so it was all subliminal. LOL. But I think it helped establish the somewhat feminist mind-set that I still have today when it comes to storytelling. :D
The second book is probably anything by Nora Roberts. When I was just starting to write romance, I would analyze her books to see why they worked so well. I just loved her Silhouettes and especially her early single titles like Carnal Innocence. She just has a magical way of telling a story ... even though she definitely messed me up for a while with her use of POV, which was, um, not how we were taught. I'm not saying I learned all her secrets, but analyzing her writing definitely gave me insight into how to tell a super romantic story that really touches your heart.
The last book that has influenced my writing has to be Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Not only is it the best writing craft book out there, it's witty and full of insight into what we as humans find compelling in a story. I love that book!
Nina's book in the set: In His Control is a classic caper story featuring a determined cop and an even more determined art thief who end up falling hard for each other. They meet accidentally — and anonymously — at a night club, and there is instant sizzling attraction, leading to a signature Nina Bruhns chapter 2 love scene. :D The fallout from that encounter rocks both their worlds in ways they never dreamed. I love the page-turning cat-and-mouse nature of this chase story, and the wrenching emotional dilemma each character finds him/herself confronted by when forced to choose — love, money, or honor.
Virna DePaul, author of Chosen by Sin
Rhyannon Byrd's Primal Instincts Series and Larissa Ione's Demonica series for the same reasons — they are super sexy, with compelling characters, hot alphas, strong women, and fresh paranormal elements.
Also Kristen Ashley's Rock Chicks, Colorado Mountain, Chaos, and 'Burg series — she can take situations you'd never think would work and characters that shouldn't be very likable, and make readers fall in love with the plot and the romance. Her books have been generally described as "crack" because you have to keep reading the next in the series, and when you're done, you'll read the books over and over again. ;) That's what I do.
Virna's book in the set: In Chosen by Sin, Dex Hunt is the motorcycle-riding, lone wolf member of the Para-Ops team. He's focused on revenge and keeping his emotional distance from his team members when he meets a female vampire, Jesmina Martin. They give in to their passion for one night and Jes returns to France. When Dex is sent to France on a mission, he tracks Jes down. Turns out Jes has been keeping a secret from him, one that's about to change his entire world. First, however, they must stop a group of rebel shape-shifters hoping to unleash every demon in hell.
Karen Fenech, author of Imposter
Writing novels is what I have wanted to do since I was 10 years old and undertook writing a book based on my beloved Nancy Drew mysteries. For me, it all started with Nancy Drew. As I grew older, I continued to read mysteries, but I found that as much as I enjoyed attempting to solve the puzzle, I became enthralled whenever a new development occurred in the romantic relationships of the characters. When I wanted to write a book of my own, I knew it would have to be a romance.
Of course, my love of mystery and suspense meant that while my characters were finding love, they would also face life-threatening danger. :) That's how I came to read and write romantic suspense that blends both.
For me, the romantic suspense can be either historical or contemporary. Though not called romantic suspense, there are wonderful elements of suspense and danger in Kathleen Woodiwiss' historical romance Shanna. I loved that story with the dynamics between the main characters and the danger they face that elevate the stakes to life or death. Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts was another book that drew me in and never let go. I was hooked on romantic suspense after that.
Though it's been many years since I picked up these first books, Nancy Drew, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Nora Roberts inspired my love of writing, and what I write, even to this day. :)
Karen's book in the set: Imposter is the first book in my romantic suspense series The Protectors. The Protectors are men in law enforcement, government intelligence, and the military who do what others cannot to serve, defend and protect. In Imposter, we're introduced to CIA Operative John Burke. Burke heads up a covert team that specializes in chemical weapons terrorism. His hunt to stop a newly developed chemical weapon from being used brings him to chemist Dr. Eve Collins. Burke's intel points to Eve as being one of the terrorists, but something is wrong ... Burke will put everything on the line to save Eve — including his life.
Kristin Miller, author of Dark Tide Rising
There have been many books that have inspired my writing over the years. It's so difficult to narrow the list down to three! If I must, here we go …
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. It's the only book I've reread … ever. And I've read it five times. I know it's a murder mystery, I know there's a massive trial at the end and we never learn the heroine's first name. That doesn't matter. For me, it's a romance. The focus is on the fledgling marriage of Mr. and Mrs. DeWinter amidst scandal, when the odds are stacked against them. Second to the romance between the two leads, is the journey of the new Mrs. DeWinter to find and love herself. She starts the book as an insecure girl and transforms into a confident, self-assured woman ready to start her life with the man of her dreams. The story comes full circle, in every way.
Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward. Not only is Rhage one of my favorite literary heroes, but the Warden showed me that heroes can be written Alpha to the extreme, rough around the edges, and highly protective. (Which is the kind of leading man I love best.)
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. This book inspired me to start writing. Before Twilight, I couldn't picture myself as an author. I knew I couldn't write like Keats or Bronte or Hemingway, but neither did Stephenie Meyer. She found success with her own style and her own spin on paranormal lore. As I got lost in the Twilight series, I realized I didn't have to write like anyone. I could write like me ... and somewhere, someone, someday, might want to read my work. That was all the push I needed.
Kristin's book in the set: Dark Tide Rising is about a heroine who has a vision of her death before it happens. Working with a brooding police sergeant (who is sexy as hell in his uniform), Emily McAllister must find a killer before he finds her while fighting the undeniable chemistry with the officer at her side.
Joyce Lamb, author of Found Wanting
My very first influence was Sidney Sheldon. Yes, this was back in the '80s. I got my first urge to write a book after finishing Rage of Angels. It did NOT have a happy ending, and I was not happy about it. I vowed then to write a book that WOULD have a happy ending. So take that, Mr. Sheldon. : )
Dean Koontz has also been a huge influence. His character development and dialogue especially have inspired me. My favorite Dean Koontz book is Lightning. I can read that book over and over again. Love the heroine who bounces back repeatedly and the theme that destiny always struggles to reassert itself. Chills.
And Nora Roberts, of course. It wasn't until I read Hot Ice that I realized that what I was writing myself was romantic suspense. LOVED that book and consumed every book I could get my hands on after that to study how she does it. Amazingly, of course.
Joyce's book in the set: Found Wanting features private detective Mitch Kane, who's hired to hunt down accused kidnapper Alaina Chancellor. His employer has played on Mitch's personal demons to make sure he's good and ticked off once he catches up with Alaina. But she's no shrinking violet, and when these two face off, sparks — and fists — fly.
Gennita Low, author of Big Bad Wolf
I like lush settings and unconventional stories. I also love to read books that explore other cultures and provide some kind of history to the different outlooks in life. So the three books I've chosen have influenced me in bringing my characters to life.
Golden Paradise by Susan Johnson. Yes, a historical. I love the old epic historicals by Susan Johnson, and her heroes and heroines are never conventional. They are lush, sensuous and yet, strangely timeless. I love the military scenes and historical background, and Ms. Johnson has instilled in me a love of research for strange little historical nuggets to put into my books. And yeah, my heroes have that Johnsonian sensuality ;).
Moonrise by Anne Stuart. This book breaks all the rules when it comes to what a hero is. An assassin, a bad boy who crosses the line. Ms. Stuart can really deliver a male character who crosses the line. I live to read her first "dark" heroes over and over again. Moonrise and the two other Onyx books that went with it gave me the courage to write that edgy and dangerous hero I wanted to all along, who breaks the rules and loves his woman in only the way he could.
Bad to the Bone by Debra Dixon. She wrote about a female assassin long before it was acceptable in romance! And the heroine really did her job. None of that last second "someone else did it" cop-out. I love this book. I have the first edition and one day, I'll get it signed by Ms. Dixon! She inspired me to start calling my heroines BTTB heroines. Kick-ass babes who know how to take care of themselves, who can get their men (and protect them, too!) and who enjoy sex, love, and humor without guilt.
I have more, but these three are among my top 10 ;).
Gennita's book in the set: Big Bad Wolf is about a dangerous man who has to appear not dangerous at all, heh heh. After being targeted by unknown enemies, Nick Langley decides to go "dark" and work as a roofer in construction. His boss happens to be my heroine, Jaymee Barrows, who, from past experience, recognizes TROUBLE when she sees one walking her way. The thing about dangerous men, though — when they want something, they find ways to get it, and Nick Langley really, really wants Jaymee. Can a spy hiding in the shadows live in Jaymee's world of sunshine?
Maureen Miller, author of High Tide
My first taste of romantic suspense was Elizabeth Lowell's Tell Me No Lies. At the time, I was young and happily feasting on horror books. The gold dragon on the cover caught my eye. I think I grew up the moment I finished that novel. I thought, what an amazing concept ... romance and suspense ... in one book ... how awesome is that? :)
Before my life was altered by Elizabeth Lowell, Emily Bronte got her claws in me. The first time I read Wuthering Heights I was about 12 years old. I was so determined to make it through that book. I consulted a dictionary every five words. To this day, I still remember looking up the word "vexed."
Nowadays I immerse myself in a bevy of romantic suspense authors, and each "complete me."
Maureen's book in the set: My inclusion in the Dangerous Dozen boxed set is called High Tide. The Windward shores of Oahu are disturbed by strange anomalies — erratic tidal patterns and dead fish washing up on shore. Hunky geologist Nick McCord is positive that the new land development project, Manale Palms, is responsible. He confronts the contractor, Briana Holt, a woman who lives and works by the ocean but fears the water. Nick and Briana's mutual curiosity makes them allies, and their mutual attraction makes them lovers. When they are captured by the very source of the mystery, they find themselves in a battle to save the coast and their lives.
Find out more about the Dangerous Dozen boxed set, the authors and other fun events and giveaways on the Dangerous Dozen Facebook page. Be sure to stop in at DD's release day party on Facebook, too, for lots of shots at some awesome prizes!