Today I’m happy to welcome a frequent guest, Melanie Atkins, long-term romantic suspense author. Melanie will be around this morning but traveling in the afternoon. She’ll try to check in late in the afternoon for comments. Until then, you’ll have to make do with me! 🙂 Take it away, Melanie!
January isn’t the most exciting month of the year. At least, it never has been for me. I live in the Deep South, and most January days seem to be damp, chilly, and often wet. We don’t get much snow, just rain, and that makes the low clouds and gloomy conditions downright depressing. I can certainly understand how someone might suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I want to see the sun!
Thank goodness for reading. Picking up a book, especially a romance, during such a depressing season can chase those clouds away and take the reader away to parts unknown. You might think you know what’s going to happen when you turn the next page, but you never really know for sure. The author will surprise you… and bring you gasps of delight along the way. That’s what makes those clouds scatter and brings back the sun!
I tried to do that in QUEST FOR JUSTICE, the third book in my Keller County Cops series. My latest e-book came out January 1 at Desert Breeze Publishing, and I’m thrilled. Writing this story was a real struggle at first… but by the time I finished, I was truly satisfied. Abby and C.J. had an adventure, complete with their requisite happy ending, and locked the bad guys away. What more can you ask from a fast moving romantic suspense?
Here is a sneak peek inside the book:
Blurb: Abby Ryals goes behind the sheriff’s back to accept an undercover assignment with another agency to avenge fellow detective C.J. Bowman’s death, and is stunned to learn he’s very much alive when he leaves witness protection and follows her undercover to help keep her safe. Together, they must race the clock to defeat a notorious drug lord before he can discover their true identities.
Abby showed up at Melba’s Corner Café bright and early Friday morning. The call she’d received from DEA Agent Dave LeHane late last night had intrigued her, even though she didn’t know what to think about his contacting her off the record. He hadn’t given her a clue as to what he wanted, except to say he needed to meet with her away from the sheriff’s office. She’d mentioned Melba’s, and he’d jumped at the chance to buy her breakfast.
“If that jerk hits on me, he won’t see another day,” she murmured to herself, finding a booth in the far front corner of the revamped 60s diner. She’d needed to get out, to step away from the memories, if only for a little while. Yet she didn’t need the kind of distraction a philandering man might offer. She’d done her homework on Dave the minute she hung up the phone. He wasn’t married but supposedly had a steady girlfriend.
“May I get you some coffee?” A perky waitress slapped a menu on the table before Abby slid all the way into the booth.
She nodded. “Yes, please.”
“Coming right up.” The waitress turned and scurried behind the counter.
The bell on the door jingled, and Abby glanced up. Two girls sidled inside, followed by Dave. The girls chose a table up front, while the DEA agent glanced around and spotted her before ambling in her direction. He wasn’t exactly handsome, but his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips, and his piercing dark eyes glinted with mischief.
“Hello, Abby,” he said, sliding into the opposite side of the booth. The biting scent of citrus wafted over the table. “Have you ordered yet?”
“Well, get some food.” He fired her a weary half-grin. “Breakfast’s on me.”
“What’s going on, Dave? Why the need for secrecy? This is my day off, and I need to visit my grandfather.”
“That can wait. I have a proposition for you, and I didn’t want the sheriff or any of your fellow detectives to hear what I have to say. This is for your ears only.”
“What kind of proposition?” She eyed him warily. He wasn’t looking at her as if he wanted to eat her up, so she doubted his reason was personal. Was this about the case against the cartel? About C.J.’s murder? Months had passed, but she knew the DEA hadn’t dropped their quest to bring down Salvador Salazar. A tingle ran though her.
He propped his elbows on the table and nodded at the waitress, who plunked not one, but two cups of steaming black coffee onto the table. Once the woman took their orders, she vanished into the kitchen.
“Now… where were we?” he asked.
Abby stirred a packet of artificial sweetener into her cup of dark brew. “I don’t know. You tell me. I’m here because you asked me to meet you, not because I know what’s going on.”
“Right.” He sipped from his mug, glanced around the diner, and clammed up.
Unnerved by the ominous silence, she squirmed. “Damn it, Dave–“
“Take it easy, Abby. It’s about Sal-Sal, okay?”
“What about him?” she asked, even though she automatically recoiled at the alliteration of the drug kingpin’s nickname. Then she got mad. “That bastard had C.J. killed”
“I know. I wish he hadn’t, but he did. And I know you want revenge.”
“Oh, yeah.” She swirled the coffee around in her cup and imagined one of the scenarios she’d come up with while tossing and turning over the past seven months. Sal-Sal on his knees in front of her, begging for mercy before she put a bullet through his heart — pretty much what his hired assassin had done to C.J. “He paid that scumbag to murder my best friend.”
“I heard C.J. was more than that to you.”
“He was, at one time.” Pain sliced though her heart. Pain she still couldn’t fight off, and she squeezed the ceramic mug so hard she was surprised it didn’t shatter. “Look, I can’t–“
“Sorry.” He took another swig of coffee. The waitress reappeared, this time carrying Abby’s toast and eggs and Dave’s ham and cheese omelet, and the DEA agent set down his mug.
Coming here had been a mistake. Abby unwrapped her silverware and focused on her plate as the waitress walked away. Maybe if she ignored Dave, he’d forget what he was going to say next. Then maybe she could get her mind off C.J. for one damned minute and focus on Grandpa Mike. She had to go see him soon.
Dave tore the paper off his knife and fork and cut into his omelet. “Do you speak Spanish?”
“I work as a cop in south Mississippi, Dave. So I sort of have to.”
“Figured you did, but it’s good to know. That knowledge will come in handy for you,” he said, meeting her eyes, “’cause I want you to go undercover and get Sal-Sal.”
Hope you’ll check it out! It’s available at Desert Breeze via this link:
Happy New Year!
So tell me…in this blah time of the year, what do you grab to chase away the SAD clouds?