Detective Rissa Marten sacrificed her only chance for a normal life to put a drug lord behind bars. Now, her life in the shadows has to be brought to life to save the man she has secretly loved for years. With a price on her head can she risk letting him know?
Detective Jerah Qassem has built his career as an undercover agent in the dangerous world of drug cartels. But when a ghost from his past is resurrected can he overcome his bitterness in time to save her life?
CMR: Hi, Karen! It’s great to have you here today. How long have you been writing?
Karen: About 6 years
CMR: What do you enjoy most about writing?
Karen: I love bringing characters to life and giving readers an adventure.
CMR: I see you write both Western Historical Romance and Contemporary Romantic Suspense. What draws you to those genres?
CMR: What, if any, differences between these two genres do you write into your heroes?
Karen: There isn’t much difference because I strive to make the hero worthy and those traits work in any genre or time period. The main difference would be the morals of the day and what is and isn’t accepted.
CMR: How about your heroines?
Karen: There is more of a difference here because of the laws and perceptions of women in historical times so I must be careful to not make my historical heroines too modern in their thinking and I try to avoid any preachiness about those issues. It was what it was so I work within those parameters.
CMR: Tell us a bit about your newest book, Splintered Lies.
Karen: It is a story about a woman who has had to live under the threat of assignation from a drug cartel she gave witness against. She must learn that not everyone is out to get her and not everyone will betray her. With some intense action and a man who refuses to give her up it is fast paced and a little steamy.
CMR: Sounds intriguing! What was your inspiration for this story?
Karen: Living only four hours from the boarder of Mexico we are very aware of the drug smuggling issues and the violence that accompanies it. But my main inspiration hit me with the hero’s name (Jerah). He just fit the profile of what I wanted and the rest came easily.
CMR: What kind of research did you have to do for this contemporary romantic suspense?
Karen: I had to learn about drugs, the smuggling of drugs, and looked into drug cartels. I did some research into police procedures and some medical situations. I also did research into some towns in Mexico and the weather patterns for the seasons.
CMR: How did you decide on the setting? Have you ever been there?
Yes I have been to San Diego a few times.
CMR: Which character was the easiest to write? Why?
Karen: Jerah. I always seem to find it easier to write the hero.
CMR: What surprises did you uncover as these characters and story developed?
Karen: I don’t really have surprises, because I get to know my characters quite well before I start a story and generally I know which direction the story will go in.
CMR: In Splintered Lies, we have a hero who believes the woman he once loved is dead, and a heroine who must expose her hidden life to save the man she secretly fell in love with years ago. It sounds like they may have a hard time working together. Let’s read an excerpt:
Feet aching and jaw cramped from the effort to keep her teeth from chattering, Rissa shuffled down the dark street on the outskirts of Ensenada. Rain pummeled the ground and debris bumped into her ankles as the water rushed along the road. Afraid to look down at what swirled at their feet, she sloshed beside Jerah.
“See a bridge yet?”
“No. But one of these streets has to have one.”
The next street did have one and they hurried across as the normally dry creek bed swelled with roiling, muddy water, various sizes of tree limbs, and a good amount of trash. Shivers shook her. Not even the little warmth of Jerah’s arm around her shoulders helped. It was probably a good thing she could no longer feel how sore and raw her feet were.
A few blocks over, they came to the tourist section of town and jogged the last bit to the closest hotel. Rissa shoved drenched tresses from her face and shook water from her shaking hands. A puddle pooled at her feet and made the tile floor slick as she struggled to unwind the tattered remains of material from her feet.
Jerah trotted over with a key. “Come on, let’s get warmed up.” Mischief gleamed in his eyes in spite of his blue lips.
“Then we find some food.” She hurried down the hall as water dribbled down her legs and shivers rattled her bones.
“Already done. I bribed the desk clerk to send up some food.” He pushed the door open and waved her inside.
Rissa dashed to the bathroom and turned the hot water on full force. With a sigh, she stepped in the tub and let the warm water flow over her. Jerah followed.
“What are you doing?”
“Hey, I’m just as frozen as you.” He stripped his soaked shirt off and tossed it over the rod. Next came his slacks and shoes. “This feels good.”
Not much imagination needed now. Dark hair clung to his chest as water coursed over him. His maroon briefs hugged his hips. She jerked her gaze up and turned to face the white tiled wall. The old rejection he delivered all those years ago slammed into her and Rissa shivered.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to hog the water.” He stepped to the side.
The steamy water didn’t come close to warming her soul.
“Want me to help you out of that dress?”
“No.” Fingers fisted, she glared at her toes. Keep it together girl. She blew out a breath and straightened her shoulders. All she had to do was get back to San Diego, finger the perp, and disappear. Shove her rekindled desire for Jerah aside. Rissa slapped the wall.
“It’ll be okay, babe.” Feather light kisses caressed her shoulder as Jerah ran his hands up and down her arms.
A groan worked its way up her throat. His touch electrified her. Teased her. Tormented her.
She shrugged his hands off. “I agreed to play in public, not private.”
“Yeah, I know.” Weariness loaded his tone. “You did a great job. I only meant to comfort you.”
Uncurling her fingers, Rissa knew she had to push Jerah away or she’d succumb to his seductive touch. Everyone she had ever dared to love was dead. She only had to express interest in a man and he’d soon be residing in a coffin. Watching Jerah die was not an option. “Just keep your hands to yourself. Carl isn’t here.”
“You can have the damn shower to yourself.” With a jerk on the curtain and a waft of cool air, Jerah exited the tub.
* * *
CMR: Karen, is there anything you’d like to add?
Karen: I want to thank you for hosting me today on your wonderful blog.
CMR: It was wonderful having you here, today. Thanks so much for the chat! It has been a lot of fun getting to know you. Best of luck with your books!