Thursday, December 18, 2014

In Safe Keeping

                Thank you so much for the opportunity to appear today on Just Romantic Suspense.

At some point in most people’s lives, they are likely to encounter an emotional manipulator. Whether this person be a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or sibling, these people are skilled at manipulating and controlling your emotions in an attempt to get what they want.
                Laila Richards, the heroine in my latest romantic suspense novel, ‘In Safe Keeping’, has suffered emotional manipulation in the past, at the hands of her controlling parents. She vows she will never fall victim to that kind of behaviour again. Laila’s strong. She left home at eighteen, married her childhood sweetheart who was joining the army, and got out of town.
Now a widow, and a lawyer, she is struggling to get ahead in a tough business, in a competitive city and without any family support.
‘In Safe Keeping’ is book #3 in my loosely linked romantic suspense ‘In Safe’ series. Like ‘In Safe Hands’ and ‘In Safe Arms’, ‘In Safe Keeping’ is a taut, gritty, urban set series involving the Australian military, the Australian legal system, the New South Wales police and two local biker gangs.
If you’d like to take a peek at my trailer, here is the link.

It was only supposed to be a casual affair, a stress-relieving night time romp, a secret just between the two of them. But when divorce lawyer Laila Richards ends up on the opposite side of the bench to high powered lawyer, Evan Barclay, in a very public, very high profile divorce, she knows their fling will jeopardize the case of her career, and breaks off their relationship. Stunned by Laila’s decision, Evan vows to make the beautiful lawyer deal with him, both in and out of the courtroom. But when suspicious activity begins to emerge, and Laila’s safety is threatened, Evan fears his client — his best friend, the son of the only family Evan has ever known, may be involved. Bound by client confidentiality and battling a massive conflict of interest, Laila and Evan fight to win, fight for justice, and fight for a chance at a relationship that’s anything but casual.

I watched Laila Richards.
Had been for a while now.
She was a creature of habit, one of those disciplined types you could set your watch by.
I liked that.
Made my job easy.
Every morning she was out the door by six, except Sunday, when she’d emerge at ten. She liked to walk, and she always took the same route, along the beach then up through the cemetery on the cliff.
As a lawyer, you’d think she’d be smart enough to vary her walking route—so it must be laziness that she didn’t.
Last Sunday, she’d looked my way, but my eyes were shielded by dark glasses. I’d joined a group of mourners at a graveside funeral, staying on the fringes and clutching my peonies. It was easy to blend in, standing among the others, head bowed, eyes fixed to a spot on the ground.
 After she’d passed by, I’d broken away from the group and followed her, slipping between the large Victorian headstones topped with archangels and crosses. I read the names as I went, tossing the pink peonies onto a grave when I found a name I liked better than my own.
After her walk, she always went to the same cafe, sitting at a corner table and reading the Sunday papers.
Yes, Sunday was the best day to watch.
But not today.
She’d skipped her exercise this morning, and the bounce was missing from her step.
I knew why.
From my spot on the park bench, I gazed up at the glowing fluorescents in her fourth floor office.
 The newspaper shook between my fingers.

In Safe Keeping is available for purchase from the following retailers:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Giveaway Alert!

It’s my first time here on Just Romantic Suspense and I’m so excited! I’m a new author – 2014 was my first time being published and it has been a thrill! My debut novel PRIMAL INSTINCT was a Top Pick by RT (Romantic Times) Magazine in April.

My new 4-book OMEGA SECTOR series for Intrigue begins this month. The books are based around the Branson siblings – three brothers and a sister – who find their lives and hearts in peril. They are all connected to Omega Sector: a covert, interagency task force, made up of the most elite agents our country has to offer. 

Book 1 INFILTRATION is available now, the novel critics have called “insanely intense” with “passion that leaps right off the pages.” (RT Magazine, January 2015). Book 2 COUNTERMEASURES will be available in January. 


Omega Sector agent Cameron Branson is on the most important case of his career – recovery of highly-classified code-breaking software that has fallen into the worst possible hands.  After months of undercover work, he’s on the verge of recovering the software and finally putting to rest the demons that haunt him.

Until graphic artist Sophia Reardon – a familiar face from his past – happens to show up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Knowing that with a word she could expose him, Cameron is forced to hurl this innocent beauty into his world of deception and terror.

And as it all begins to unravel, Cameron must choose – finish the mission that could protect so many or save the one woman he’s never been able to forget.
Cameron knew he had to think fast. A single word from Sophia, any sort of gesture that she knew him, would mean both their lives. In a split second, Cameron made a decision.

But he knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.

He stormed up to Marco and grabbed Sophia out of his grasp. “What the hell, Marco? Is this a cop?”

Cameron pushed Sophia, probably a little rougher than necessary, face-first up against the warehouse wall. He heard her indrawn breath, but steeled himself against any thought of her pain or fear.

It was going to get much worse.

Cameron kept his hand pressed against Sophia’s back, keeping her forced against the wall. Behind him he heard Fin and the other guys draw their weapons.

He willed Sophia to keep quiet.

Marco, a little shocked by Cameron’s aggressive behavior, stuttered, “I just found her inside. She said she was an artist and was taking pictures of the warehouse.”

“Did you check to see if she was wearing a wire or anything?” Cameron demanded.
Marco looked sheepish and shook his head. Cameron made a big show of running his hands all over Sophia’s body, as if looking for surveillance equipment. Behind him the guys made a couple of catcalls. Sophia shuddered.

When his body search led to her hands, he could feel Sophia press some sort of card into his palm—he wasn’t sure what. He moved so he more clearly blocked her from Fin and the men’s view, and palmed whatever she had given him without looking at it. As he turned, he slipped it into the pocket of his jeans.

“She’s clean,” Cameron said as he spun her around. Sophia attempted to straighten the clothes Cameron had lifted and moved during his search, her face burning.

“Listen…” Sophia began.

Cameron backhanded her.

Oh, God. He pulled the slap as much as he could without making it obvious, but he knew it still had to hurt. Her head flew to the side. He watched as a bit of blood began to ooze from a split in her lip. Cameron thought he might vomit.

But if she had said his name, they would both be dead, or at the very least his undercover work would be blown. He couldn’t take the chance.

He stuck his finger in her face. “You shut the hell up unless I ask you a specific question, got it?”

Cameron prayed like he had never prayed before that Sophia would keep quiet. He felt a bit of relief when she nodded slowly, staring at the ground.

“Whoa, Cam. I didn’t think you had that in you.” Fin chuckled.

About the Author
Janie Crouch’s debut novel PRIMAL INSTINCT has been nominated for a 2014 RT (Romantic Times) Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Harlequin Intrigue.  Janie lives with her hubby and four kids in Virginia, but will soon be relocating to Germany for a few years. She loves travelling, adventure racing, and movies of all kinds.

Check out Janie’s website at or hang out with her on Facebook at

Janie is giving away a set of the first two Omega Sector books INFILTRATION and COUNTERMEASURES (U.S. readers – print or ebook; International readers – ebook only). Leave a comment for a chance to win: What is your favorite action movie? 

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST December 17th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Letting Go of a Series

With: Nancy C. Weeks

Congratulations to "Bn100", the winner in Nancy's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

Hi Everyone!

I’m so thrilled to be back on JRS to tell you about my new release, In the Shadow of Vengeance. To be perfectly honest, this release is bitter sweet. On December 22nd, the last McNeil brother, my hard-headed, sexy-as-heck detective Noah McNeil’s story will hit the stores and I’m going to have to find a way to let this series go. 

The seed that spouted the In the Shadow series came from a common, but powerful adage: love conquers all. In the real world, our lives are constantly shadowed by adversity. It’s the people that love us that help us through difficult times. From In the Shadow of Evil to In the Shadow of Vengeance, I surrounded my heroes and heroines with a large family of secondary characters who gave their all to help my couples reach their well deserved happy-ever-after. And I couldn’t allow those wonderful secondary characters to just disappear. Instead, I gave them their own book, their own happy-ever-after. 

All five books, In the Shadow of Greed, In the Shadow of Evil, In the Shadow of Malice, In the Shadow of Pride, and In the Shadow of Vengeance shared a similar premise. As law enforcement officers, the five brothers’ lives constantly intersect with the worst that mankind has to offer. While each brother feels his world is too dangerous to share with that one special woman, fate butts in and gives an extra hard push. But falling in love for any one of the McNeil brothers isn’t your typical fall-in-love. It changes their understanding of the world and there is no turning back.

I saved Noah’s story for the last book because I knew the villain I planned to stand in the way of his happiness with amazing single mother, Elizabeth Merlot wasn’t going to be easy to take down. It’s going to take all five brothers working together to help Noah and Elizabeth come together. 

Here is a brief blurb of In the Shadow of Vengeance

Detective Noah McNeil has his cases under control, but the same can't be said for his personal life in Fells Point, Maryland. Elizabeth Merlot, the mother of a troubled teen Noah is mentoring, is freezing him out of the family's lives - especially criminal given how hot this single mom is.

Elizabeth Merlot can't afford to let the handsome detective close to her son lest he discover she's in the witness protection program. Until the day, that is, when the teen tries to fend off a gang attack and her entire world of secrets begins to crumble - and Noah may be the only one who can save their lives. Don't miss this exciting conclusion to the McNeil family saga! 

Conflict is crucial in a good romance. I have left you a little taste of Noah’s early relationship with Elizabeth. My sinister villain wasn’t the only thing keeping these two apart. 

 Excerpt of In the Shadow of Vengeance . Enjoy!

“What other man hurt you?”

This time Elizabeth was the one who stepped back. Shit. Of course Noah would pick up on that. Her life was a lie, and she hated how it turned her into a quick-thinking liar. 

 “There isn’t another man. I don’t know what Danny is talking about. Unless it’s Mendoza—”
 “Elías Mendoza will die in the hole we put him in.” Noah’s voice went deep as every muscle in his body tensed. 

Elizabeth swallowed. Everything about the man’s demeanor changed in that instant. And her instincts might have been defective when it came to relationships, but they were spot on in other areas. Detective Noah McNeil could be charming; fun-loving, even; but underneath all that charisma was a dangerous man. She needed to remember this moment.

She walked toward the door, almost surprised her knees didn’t tremble out from under her, and pulled it open. “I’ll get you that name.”

Noah moved into the small foyer, clutching the paper bag. His dark blue irises bored into hers with a mixture of irritation, confusion, and something she almost didn’t recognize: desire. 

He took a step into her personal space. She held herself perfectly still. When he finally spoke, his deep baritone voice oozed sex and a slight hint of malice. 

“I get you don’t like me. I can even understand why you don’t want any McNeil near Danny.”
“I don’t blame you for what happened to Danny.”

He slowly moved his hand up to her face and brushed a strand of hair back behind her ear. The simple touch sent an electric jolt through her, but she held her stance. Damn. She needed to stop staring at his mouth and wondering what those full lips felt like—tasted like.

“Yeah, you do. Don’t lie to me, Elizabeth. I don’t deserve that.”

“I’m not lying—”

Noah’s fingers pressed gently over her lips. “My superpower is I’m a human lie detector. I don’t care if you don’t like me or trust me. Don’t lie to me.”

She knocked his hand from her face. She had to pin her arms to her side to keep from shoving the damn stubborn man down her steps. “You’re right. I don’t trust you and I don’t want you near my son. And that has nothing to do with what happened. I just don’t like you.”
Noah let out a forced laugh and then reached for his wallet. Pulling out a card, he pressed it in her hand. “That was honest, and for the record, the feeling is mutual. But I do like your kids.”

He eased past her. On the first step, he turned and placed his hand flat on the door, keeping it from closing. “This isn’t going away. If you don’t want my help, then reach out to someone.”

“I don’t need—”

“It’s not a dream, Elizabeth. It’s a warning. Listen to Danny.”

I have loved every minute of creating the stories for Jared, Jason, Adam, Mac and Noah McNeil. Working through each book has given me a great respect for those who work tirelessly to keep the world I live in safe. For a peek at the first four books in the In the Shadow series, please visit my website and enjoy the first three chapters of each book free. Thank you again for allowing me to be here today. I leave you with a question to your readers. 

Do you prefer single titles or series? Anyone who leaves a comment today will be entered into a drawing to win a digital copy of In the Shadow of Vengeance. 

Click on the links below to buy individual books in print and digital from most online retailers. 

In the Shadow of Evil  
In the Shadow of Greed
In the Shadow of Malice 
In the Shadow of Pride
In the Shadow of Vengeance 

Nancy C. Weeks lives in suburban Maryland with her husband of more than thirty years. With her two grown children out of the nest, she loves spending her days on her deck writing as the local bird population keeps her company.

Find Nancy at:
Twitter: @NancyCWeeks

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST December 15th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.US Postal addresses only.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Women Hating Women, or Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

Congratulations to "Amy P.", the winner in Tiffany's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

Women are mean. I mean, not all the time, but any woman over the age of twenty-five has by that time realized that way too often in our society, women are downright mean. Not to everyone, of course. Women are mean to each other. Competitive and judgy, most often the very worst stereotypes of our sex we direct at each other, and this extends to how we view female characters in our romance fiction.

The traditional publisher, looking to appeal to the widest possible range of readers, will tell you the best heroine—the one you must write—must be attractive…but not overly so. Smart, but again, not too smart. Funny, nice, opinionated—but nothing that might offend anyone. No sharp edges that would cause even a twinge in the reader.


I’ve read heroines like that. A lot of them. I’ve written heroines like that. And yes, it works. Female readers like to read a “Sandra Bullock,” whom I’ve always called a “female movie star for women.” Epitomizing the girl-next-door with her unselfconscious beauty, humor, and relatability, she’s universally loved by women and men alike.

Women are much less enthusiastic and are fans in far fewer number for, let’s say, Angelina Jolie. Why? She’s talented and has often been cast in the same sort of strong female roles that women profess to want to watch, so why don’t we like her? 

Because she’s too pretty. 

Angelina Jolie is not a woman that other women like. Remember that Pantene commercial where the model appears and says, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Yes, those marketing folk knew women all right.

Beautiful people surround us and permeate our popular culture. We revere beauty, strive to attain it, abhor losing it as we age. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, I think we all can agree on that. But few possess that elusive perfection of symmetrical beauty epitomized by women such as Angelina Jolie, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelley, Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Zeta Jones…well, you get the idea. In The Tangled Ivy Trilogy, I created a heroine some readers won’t like…because she’s beautiful. And even worse, she knows it. Two cardinal sins in creating a heroine.

Why do this? Why create a heroine that some readers are going to immediately dislike simply because she’s pretty? Because those people really do exist and life is different for them. A culture profoundly affected by first impressions and what we see, we react to people’s appearance. In particular, men react to a beautiful woman and are drawn to them. One only needs to sit in a bar on a Friday night and observe to see that.

With the character of Ivy in IN HIS SHADOW, I wanted to explore what it might be like for such a woman, is her beauty a blessing or a curse? As an integral part of who she is, how does she use it affect her life and those around her?  What must it be like to go through life as an exceptionally beautiful woman?

A traditional oh-am-I-gorgeous-I-didn’t-even-realize-it heroine? No. Unconventional and risky? Absolutely. Come meet Ivy and step into her world for a little while…even if she’s beautiful. 


Ivy Mason is hiding—from her past, from herself, and from anyone who could love her. The only kind of love she’s ever known hurts, leaving scars on her body and soul. Now, her world may be boring and predictable, but that’s exactly what she wants. Until Devon Clay walks into her life.

A lonely man in a deadly profession, Devon works as an agent for an underground British agency known only as the Shadow. Nothing about him is safe or ordinary. The danger that consumes his life turns into an addiction Ivy can’t resist…even if it proves fatal.

As Ivy’s past begins to catch up with her, she wonders if love really is the twisted thing she’s always thought it was. Maybe it could be more with this man, who’s shown her that she doesn’t need to protect herself from everyone. Is what she feels for Devon worth the risk? He may save her heart or break it, if she manages to stay alive.

Available on AMAZON

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top 3 Questions I Get Asked

Giveaway Alert!

I suspect that in any genre, there are questions writers get asked all the time. There are standards—Why did you become a writer? Don’t you want to write this story I have the idea for and split the profits with me? Have I heard of you? (And how would I know whether they’ve heard of me, anyway? What kind of question is that?)—but the top three I have gotten since I started writing romantic suspense are:

3) “Where do you get your ideas?” 
I know, this is a common question, but I don’t remember hearing it nearly as much when I was writing traditional mysteries. The answer for me, as it is for many other writers, I assume, is that I have ten ideas before lunch but they don’t all get fleshed out and written down. I sat on a jury last summer that gave me enough fodder to write for the rest of my life (there were three separate defendants, so three separate defense attorneys and three separate Assistant US Attorneys…so many stories)! But I also subscribe to several FBI mailing lists and the subject lines alone give me plenty of fodder for books! Last time I was sitting on an airplane checking my mail (thanks for the onboard wifi, Jet Blue!), the guy in the seat gave me a couple of decidedly peculiar looks. Then I realized that half my mailbox was filled with notes that had FBI in the “from” field and official seals on the links I went to. I thought about explaining, then decided not to—let him have a story to tell his friends when he got home! If you want FBI updates, you can sign up at

2) “What kind of research do you do?” 
Now, when women ask me this, they’re usually talking about the legal stuff. When men ask, they’re talking about sex. Wait, I take that back. When it’s men or my mother they mean sex. After my last book came out, my mother asked me “how do you know all that sex stuff?” Seriously. Not “how do you know the effects of heroin on the human brain” or “why did you decide to write about a killer cult”, but “how do you know all that sex stuff?” But honestly, research is one of my favorite things about being a writer is the research. I get to talk to all kinds of people in all walks of life. Echoes, which comes out in March, is set in the French West Indies, so I got to poke into things like French inheritance law…and, of course, I looked at pictures of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Nothing wrong with that!

1) And the number one question I get when I say I write romantic suspense is… “What’s that?” 
If you’re here reading this, you know that the answer is complex because romantic suspense can be mean a number things, but no one wants to hear a treatise on the many and varied types of romantic suspense. It’s like when someone says “how are you?” They don’t actually want to know that you’ve had the same, miserable cold for three weeks or that your gout is acting up.

No, they want a soundbite. Something they can tell friends. So what I usually say is “Lots of dead bodies and a happily ever after.” But I’m actively looking for any other suggestions of how to describe it. So if you read a lot of romantic suspense (and if you’re here, I know you do!), help me out!


Tara Jean Dobbs was a Texas police officer until her friend Lucy Caldwell almost died on her watch. She’s since left the force, left Dobbs Hollow, and vowed to never let a loved one down again. So when her best friend Andrea joins a seemingly harmless spiritual cult—only to disappear without a trace—Tara decides to find out what happened by becoming one of the Chosen herself.

Five months later, no one’s heard from Tara, and FBI Agent Jacob Nolan is going after her. Taking a false identity, Jacob finds it surprisingly easy to play the part of Tara’s boyfriend. But as they uncover the inner workings of the Chosen, they realize how much danger they’re in. Because Andrea isn’t the first follower to conveniently disappear—and they may be next.

I am giving away a copy of any of my books from the e-tailer of your choice. Twisted and Lost are romantic suspense, Toying With His Affections is contemporary romance. Enter below to win!

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