by Michelle Monkou)
Join me every week as I share a few shout-outs on romance author goings-on, related events and recommended reads.
A Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey
What it's about (courtesy of Dutton):
She is a woman of a thousand faces, an assassin who could be anyone, anywhere.
The Trinidad contract was supposed to be simple: to make a living man become a dead man. When the job goes bad under the watchful eye of a bank security camera, there is nowhere for agent MX-401, known as Reaper, to hide from the fearsome local warlords, the Laventille Killers.
Her employers, the Barbarians, send her to Barbados, the next island over, barely two hundred miles away, with the LK's in hot pursuit of the woman who took many of their own. With the scant protection of a dank safe house, no passport, and no access to funds, an island paradise becomes her prison.
While she trawls for low-profile assignments to keep her skills sharp and a few dollars in her pocket, Reaper discovers that family ties run deep, on both sides of the fight. Will the woman everyone wants, who has lived countless lives in the service of others, finally discover who she really is?
Why you should read it: Hollywood, wake up! The next action-packed thriller is artfully compacted in A Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey. For the big screen, you have a solid story of betrayal and retribution. A heroine who is tough and lethal, through and through, but yet, you can't help rooting for her daring and brilliance. The backdrop of Trinidad and Barbados — don't let the mayhem daunt you, the settings are wonderfully effective and instrumental to this live-wired existence. Imagine a little soca, calypso and reggae for the soundtrack. Suggestions already provided in the pages of this story. And then there is the perfect setup for a sequel — the magical element for any big-screen adaptation.
And, Hollywood, when you do make the move, let me in on the casting brainstorm session. You've got to get this female assassin right.
True Colors by K.R. Raye
What it's about (courtesy of J-pad Publishing):
They are supposed to be there through thick and thin. However, when tragedy strikes, can you depend on your friends?
Imani Cabrette, strong and proud, never asks for help. But when an accident changes her world forever, can she overcome her stubborn pride?
Sweet, dependable Melody Wilkins owes her life to Imani. Now that the tables are turned will she step up to the plate?
The last time Lance Dunn saw Imani, she chose another man over him. Can he forget their convoluted past and help her when she needs him the most?
Through it all, life eventually shows your…True Colors.
Why you should read it: The Colors trilogy is wrapped up with K.R. Raye's True Colors. From the start of the college life and finding independence to graduation and first careers — this is the essence of The Colors series. In a soap operaesque style, we've journeyed with these characters' successes and failures, lessons learned and lessons abandoned along the way.
Raye certainly didn't spare the painful lessons and sometimes consequences as we got increasingly invested in Lance's, Imani's and Melody's fates. In the final installment, the problems loomed larger. Their trials tested the bonds of friendship like no other time. Stepping fully into adulthood wasn't supposed to be so difficult. Without using a heavy hand, Raye brings her characters alive and off the pages with solid realism. Momentum pushed along as they developed and "grew up."
Always, there was a message about the special love that bonded these three friends. In some cases, that love was stronger and more unique than the love that bound them to their family or the love between them and their lovers and spouses. K.R. Raye definitely captured the flavor of the New Adult genre and has solidly planted her worthy contribution in the field.
Blue Butterfly by Marian L. Thomas
What it's about (courtesy of L.B. Publishing):
Precious Blue Johnson, young, country and naive, from Lutts County, Georgia, is traveling to the energizing city of New York to search for her birth father and perhaps make history by becoming the first black ballerina.
Her simple mocha skin and thick lips will put her in the center of a movement, expose secrets and unlock the past as she steps onto the stage as the Blue Butterfly.
She will be guided by the vivacious and wise Ms. Ann and fall in love with the alluring Ray Silvers.
Ray brings the whole package. Enchanting eyes, a bright future as a doctor, and a willingness to love completely. To Precious, he is perfect. Except Ray's package includes his deadly past.
Will their love survive the one person who could end it all—his drug-addicted mother?
Why you should read it: From the first page, Marian L. Thomas grabs your wrist to have a seat and listen to a story. Blue Butterfly has a wonderful quality within its prose that enables you to hear the words, the dialogue, the ballet movement and music powerfully told in the story. A literary style that reminds me of Sue Monk Kidd's.
The story is rich with history and romance told to entertain and educate with a layered approach. Page after page, chapter after chapter, you go deeper into these lives where hope for them stirs. Once you've met them, you can't let them go until the end. And maybe not then. Definite book club recommend.
LET'S MEET A GOLDEN HEART FINALIST
Through the next few months until RWA's award ceremony in July, I will introduce you to several Golden Heart finalists from Romance Writers of America's contest for unpublished writers.
Introducing … Sarah Andre
Sarah Andre lives in Houston with her husband and two very naughty Pomeranians. In 2006, she began writing romantic suspense and is represented by a literary agent who is "shopping" her manuscripts in an ever-changing marketplace. Sarah is a member of Romance Writers of America, West Houston RWA, Northwest Houston RWA, Washington Romance Writers and Kiss of Death. She is a 2014 and 2011 RWA Golden Heart finalist in Romantic Suspense, for Secrets That Kill.
Michelle: How would you describe your brand of romantic suspense?
Sarah: I write contemporary stand-alone stories where the hottie bad boy who has everything suddenly finds his life turned upside down. In trying to fix his crumbling world he reluctantly accepts help from the heroine. Now of course he'll save her with his physical strength, she's the one with the quick wit and devious plans. I have no idea why this continues to be my premise. :)
Michelle: Share a couple of "amazing experiences" that you've had.
Sarah: What immediately comes to mind is tandem skydiving. I did it on a dare and believe me, the ride up felt like forever! As I watched that ground recede and fields and barn roofs turn to specs, I shook with fear and totally planned not to go through with it. But I dug deep and when the instructor hooked me to him with four (measly) fasteners and we hung out that open doorway, he shouted, "Do you want to roll and flip?" I figured if you're gonna die you may as well go out splendidly, so I shouted back, "Sure!" And the freefall and acrobatic maneuvers were the best part ... I was actually sorry when he pulled the rip cord. Since then, when I face tough situations, I think: "If you can jump out of a plane, you can do this."
On a completely different, but just as amazing note: receiving my friend Krista Hall's Golden Heart award for Broken Places at RWA last year. Think about it — it isn't for you, the acceptance speech isn't your words, so there are no sick butterflies or crying/stammering in front of people. All you experience is the excitement of hearing her name called, walking to the podium to cheers and giving her thank yous to 2,000 writers amid blinding lights! The experience was probably less than two minutes, but as I spoke I kept thinking: "One day I'll be back up here for ME."
Michelle: If I'm new to romantic suspense, who are two to three must-read authors to get me going?
Sarah: Like any romance genre, there are many types of RS. So to get you going I would recommend trying three kinds:
Police/FBI/forensic procedurals: Laura Griffin or Allison Brennan.
Contemporary stand-alones with sexual tension that will reduce you to a puddle: (the goddesses) Linda Howard and Sandra Brown.
Unusual suspense with a paranormal twist: Darynda Jones and Amanda Stevens. (Both have "graveyard" series, one snarky-funny, one darkly haunting.)
Michelle: Your advice to those who want to break into the writing business?
Sarah: I am so glad you asked me this! When I designed my website a few years ago I had pages to fill and nothing to say about myself. Yikes! I distinctly recall how confused I was as a newbie, learning jargon and craft in meetings, workshops and contests. Therefore I designed my site exclusively for new writers. One page is jargon/lingo definitions, one page has links that will take you to writing groups or contests, etc. To anyone out there who's in the beginning stages, please utilize it: www.SarahAndre.com.
Michelle Monkou celebrates her Evernight urban fantasy digital release, Into the Pride . Her website is michellemonkou.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook.