Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Story in my DNA and How it Led to Murder & Mistletoe

Today, November 17, would’ve been my maternal grandmother, Jeannette Marion’s birthday. We are all part of those who’ve come before us.

How many times have you seen those commercials on television or posts on Facebook discussing the benefits of having your DNA tested to determine your ancestry?

I particularly like the one we see on occasion in Canada where the elderly father has always believed himself to be Scottish and serves his grandchildren haggis for dinner. The son questions his father’s assertions, and lo and behold, he does an ancestry search and discovers the family isn’t Scottish at all, but Italian.

I’ve always believed I knew exactly who I was and where I came from. I was French-Canadian, and one of my cousins had actually traced our ancestry on my father’s side, all the way back to Paris in 1660. I wasn’t as certain about where and when my mother’s side had come to Canada, but since they were even more French than my Dad’s family, it was a given, I was French.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see if I could narrow that down a bit by having my DNA tested, just to prove to myself that I knew what was what. I ordered the kit online, spit into the small container, and sent it off to be tested. When the results came back, I was stunned. They weren’t at all what I was expecting, very broad in range and scope, but recently, the testing program has been updated and the revised DNA results were exactly what I’d expected, with a surprise or two thrown in.

My DNA indicated I was indeed French—96% so—but the stunner was that I was 3% Great Britain and 1% Basque. The other thing the test showed was that my family had come to Canada and arrived in two different places—along the St. Lawrence River as settlers as I knew, but what had to have been my mother’s family settled in the Maritimes and were among the original Acadians, the people deported to Louisiana in the mid-seventeen hundreds.

There was another surprise in there for me when I mentioned this to my mother. She said something to the effect of “I knew that. We came from the States, South Carolina, I think through the colonel. Well, it seems I had an ancestor who may have fought for Washington’s Revolutionary Army. Was he the 1% Basque or the 3% Great Britain, or could he have been one of the Huguenots in France, fleeing religious persecution? Those secrets are yet to be discovered. What secrets may be hiding in your DNA?

So, what does this all have to do with a Christmas romantic suspense novel? Think of that 3% because it could have a huge impact on someone who didn’t know it existed.

The idea for Murder & Mistletoe came from that DNA test and events that have made the news in the last year or so about people still ready to fight the Civil War 160 years later. Imagine a powerful family divided over it, with one son fighting for the North while the rest of the family supported the South. Now, after decades of being apart, a missing heir who happens to have 3% Senegambian blood is discovered. Not everyone will be ready to accept her into the family, especially not the cousin with ties to a white supremacy group, who’s been searching for the family founder’s missing treasure. When you combine greed and lost pirate treasure, you have a sure fire recipe for murder.

Murder & Mistletoe

Going home for Christmas can be deadly.

Candy Kayne agrees to go to Black Oaks, the Georgia plantation her ancestor reluctantly left after the Civil War, to meet the family she’s never known and help Steve set a trap for his wife’s killer. Even the wildest tales have a kernel of truth in them and as she learns more about the family’s history, she realizes that coming here may have been the biggest mistake of her life.

Losing Amy almost destroyed Steve Anderson, but when Candy steps into his life, her sweetness chases the dark gloom away. But when he realizes the man who murdered his wife may have set his sights on Candy, he’ll do whatever he has to in order to keep her safe.

Murder & Mistletoe is available for pre-order. The book will be released November 21, 2018.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Inspiration Comes from All Around Us

Congratulations to "Patty", the winner in Angi's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize.

As a writer you never know where inspiration is going to come from. A vacation, a drive, a new article, celebrations, tragedies, or even a true story told by your aunt…

Recent flooding in the Hill Country of Texas brought back memories of my aunt's lake house and the flooding they experienced (not on this year's scale). Rain and flooding from 2000 to 2002 inspired many scenes in my first published Intrigue: HILL COUNTY HOLDUP. I loved the theme of rain and how it impacted the storyline.

I've driven over this bridge many times. Or should I say former bridge? I've also ridden jet skis (and a Sea Doo) under it. During the flooding, neighbors "rescued" many floating devices and would keep them safe until their owners returned.  I love the jet ski scene in Hill Country. To me, it's pretty unique and one of my favorites.


Debris, trash, beach toys, a Styrofoam cooler, and lots of tree limbs made it not only disgusting but very dangerous to swim through.
            “Steve!” Was he crazy?
            Then she saw the rope tied to the corner post of the porch. Her heart slowed just a bit from its rapid beat. With her eyes, she followed the rope toward the floating boat dock and prayed Steve had enough sense to tie the other end around himself.
            “I’m okay, Jane.” He waved and swam further away. He was crazy. “Wait there.”
            Another lightning flash, with an almost immediate crack of thunder, helped enough with the horrible visibility to see Steve swimming back with a Jet Ski in tow. Jane went to the rope and pulled the loose end from the water, tossing it to him when he got close.
            “Grab my pack and shove my boots inside,” he shouted through the rain. “They’re in the laundry.”
            Without arguing or letting him have a piece of her mind for scaring her half to death, she ran through the house and found his boots. She shoved one worn shoe inside the bag, but something prevented the other from fitting. Rearranging things, she jumped when her hand connected with the cold metal of Steve’s gun handle.
            Calm down. He’s FBI. He wouldn’t go anywhere without this thing. Shoving the second boot inside, she tugged the too-big sweatpants up as she ran back to the porch.
            Steve finished a couple of hitches around a post and turned his back on the Jet Ski. “Okay, I’m ready.”
            “So am I.”
            “Oh no you’re not,” he shouted sternly, placing his fists on his hips. “You’re staying here.”
            “This is our only way out.”
            “It’s too dangerous. I couldn’t get to the life vests. The rain’s coming down so hard I can’t see twenty feet in front of me. The evacuation point will have rescue boats. I’ll come back for you after I’ve gotten across to the south side.”
            “No.” She shook her head, running a hand across her eyes only to have the rain replace the water as fast as she’d removed it. “We go together.”
            “Don’t be so dang stubborn.” Creases between his eyes emphasized how much he believed he was right.
            “Me?” All the fright she’d experienced in the past three days surfaced faster than she could control. Words tumbled from her heart that she’d wanted to say for over four years. “You are the biggest, most stubborn, hardheaded, jackass of a man I’ve ever met.”
            “Oh yeah? This Jet Ski is twelve years old. This hard head of mine might just survive getting across ten miles of lake on my own. The seat might just be big enough for my stubborn ass, but there’s no way two of us can make it in this weather. Hell, it’s probably going to run out of gas anyway.”
            “You can’t leave me behind.”
            “Yes, I can. It’s too dangerous. Now hand over my pack.”
            Although she’d experienced it only once, Jane knew that tough look he threw her way. He’d used the same one when he’d told her she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work for Johns Hopkins. But she wouldn’t let him make decisions for her.
            Not again.
            Never taking her eyes from Steve’s, she slipped one arm through a strap, then the other.
            “Aw, man,” he moaned as lightning splintered across the sky. The storm wasn’t backing off. It was getting worse. He stomped barefoot across the porch and angrily grabbed her shoulders. “Dammit, Jane, you aren’t a strong enough swimmer for this. No one’s a strong enough swimmer for this.”
            “I’m going. Rory’s depending on me.” Stubborn? He only thought he’d seen stubborn before. Jutting her chin out, she gritted her teeth and prepared to fight him if necessary. He could stay here. She’d take the Jet Ski. Her mind raced to a far mental shelf where she stored a self-defense book.
            Pictures flooded her mind. Steve’s tall lanky frame would topple if she had the right move, but she didn’t want to hurt him on the slick porch.
            Then he freed her, pushed his hair out of his eyes and released a long sigh. “Damn it to hell. Get on.”

My aunt’s lake house in 2006

“I love reading the Intrigue books and was curious about this one as the cover was a different format, with a man and a little boy. With that and that this is a new author (I love reading something new and fresh!), I just had to get. The intro doesn't do the story between the covers justice. Angi Morgan does a great job of fleshing out her characters; Jane is a quirky heroine, as smart (genius really) as she is good looking and you could feel the tension within Steve between trying to win his old girlfriend back and just doing his job. The pacing is good and I never felt like I was in one place too long. As I'm a Texas girl, I loved reading about places I've been and seen. The ending has a twist you wouldn't believe, so I won't tell you! This book didn't take me long at all to read as it was too hard to put it down. Hope Harlequin brings more from Angi Morgan!!!” ~Amazon Reviewer

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USA Today Bestselling author ANGI MORGAN writes Intrigues where honor and danger collide with love. Her work is a multiple contest finalist and Publishers Weekly best-seller. She drags her dogs –and husband– around Texas for research road trips so she can write off her camera. They now have a map with highlighted roads they’ve traveled. Every detour somehow makes it into a book.

Website   Facebook   FB Fan Page   Twitter @AngiMorganAuthr     
Check out my newsletter or follow me on Amazon or BookBub

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by leaving a comment for the $5.00 gift card.
Giveaway on JRS ends at midnight November 16th.  Contestants enter drawing by leaving a comment on Just Romantic Suspense. Don’t forget to check back to see who won!

Do you like it when nature plays a role in books?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Birth of a Book

Congratulations to "Linda S.", the winner in Margo's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize.

Did you ever wonder how some books are born? Here’s a look at the way my latest series, Brothers In Blue, came to be…

Flouncing into the living room from my home office down the hall, I plopped on the couch, arms crossed over my chest in true body language style, to protect myself and shut down any argument. “Nothing is working for me anymore. I quit.”

Across the room in his favorite recliner, my husband glanced up. “You know you don't mean that.”

Obviously, he hadn't received the body language interpretation memo.

“This time I do.” I held myself tighter.

He didn't seem to notice. “Really?”

“Yes. Really.”

“Okay, I'll bite. Why?”

“Nothing's working.” I hate when I have to repeat myself with him. “My contemporary romance series about women millionaires is going nowhere. I'm not excited about it.”

For the next few moments he sat there, quietly letting me fume. Then... “How about this? I see a woman in her apartment, alone and confused. She's just lost her job and doesn't know what to do next. Enter an undercover cop who needs to run surveillance on a resident across the street, and her place is the perfect vantage point.”

That was all I needed to hear...

Because I already had something else going on. What had started as a short story about an old, abandoned colonial house had morphed into a full-length romantic suspense novel, which I’d recently put aside. Fleshing that one out, I got the idea for a four book Brothers In Blue series, four heroes who met at the police academy to become life-long friends.

Brothers In Blue Book 1, ON THE SURFACE features a police officer turned bounty hunter hero and an unsuspecting and wrongly accused ex-con heroine out on probation. My hero had a friend still on the force, who helped him out now and then with ‘inside’ information. This guy was just itching for a book of his own.

From there, I went on to the unemployed heroine and undercover officer idea from my dear husband and Brothers In Blue Book 2, ON THE FORCE was born.

Here’s a peek at the blurb along with an excerpt.

Losing her job and reputation is nothing compared to the prospect of losing her life

Top notch CFO Sydney Raines is devastated when her coveted job working for a high-profile conglomerate is yanked out from under her. Determined to restore a mangled reputation, she finds her second chance when the owner of an upscale art gallery hires her as his personal assistant. Straight arrow cop Vince Miller is assigned to crack an international art theft ring. Working undercover, he never counted on meeting Sydney Raines, let alone falling in love with her. Then an unexpected twist in the case reveals the identity of a serial killer, along with the shattering realization that Sydney could be the psycho’s next victim.


Before she could get her bearings, tape squealed from the roll he ripped free to wrap around her ankles, then he pushed off on her as he stood. Grabbing her up, he propelled her over to the car and into the driver’s seat. The bottom of the dash raked against her knees. She twisted and fought in vain as more tape squealed and her hands were bound to the steering wheel.
“We don’t need this anymore.” He grabbed one edge of the tape over her mouth and yanked. “It’ll probably do you good to scream some.”
Hot pain tingled over her lips, as the adhesive tore at her skin, but she refused to make any utterance of protest. She gingerly moved her jaw from side to side to make sure it was still working as he wadded the tape he’d removed in his fist. Then he shut the door and left. Footsteps crunched and rustled as he walked away.
Silence followed.
After a moment the rustling returned. With her head twisted to one side, she caught sight of Randall piling dried twigs, branches, and other debris against the car. Jaw tight with effort, she yanked and pulled against the bindings until her wrists throbbed. If she had to, she’d sacrifice a limb to avoid dying like this. Frenzied physical effort pushed her closer and closer to exhaustion as one scream after the other burst from her lips. Blood surged to pound in her temples, while tears of frustration blurred her vision. She ignored a dry, raw aching throat as she continued to shriek. Someone, somewhere had to hear her. They had to. Please let Vince somehow know I’ll always love him. She sent the message into the universe then closed both eyes tight, thrust her head back, and screamed some more.

He sought vengeance only to discover love.

Reader’s Choice Giveaway: I’m pleased to offer one commenter a format of choice, e-book or print copy, of Brothers In Blue Book 1, ON THE SURFACE. Please share what has inspired you to buy, or even write, a book?

FaceBook     Twitter     Goodreads     Amazon Author Page

Bio: Award winning author Margo Hoornstra writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense, always providing that happily ever after for her characters. Wife to one, mother to four and grandmother to four so far, Margo is a Detroit native who couldn’t be happier now living in rural Mid-Michigan.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST November 9th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. US residents only for print.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Why Romantic Suspense?

Congratulations to "Ada H.", the winner in Maureen's giveaway!

Howdy all! We had a cancellation, so I'm popping in to say hi to everyone, and to offer a small giveaway so you can download a great romantic suspense book this week from any of your favorite authors!

For those of you who might not know me, I am the woman behind the green curtain here at JRS

Yes, there are other JUST sites. JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE and JUST PARANORMAL ROMANCE, but JRS is where it all began. Why? Because I love romantic suspense. Yes, I write it, but it's not all I write. It is, however, my go-to read. There are many reasons I'm drawn towards romantic suspense, but I'd like to hear what brings you to this genre. Which do you favor, the suspense, the romance, or is the blend of the two just too toe-tingling tempting to deny?

Let's check and see if you're a romantic suspense fan. Which description would entice you more?

Mary took a Sunday excursion to the pumpkin farm with her Corgi, named Lt. Dan. There she ran into an old schoolmate who had a crush on her in the seventh grade. Now, in his thirties, there was no trace of the awkward tweenager. This man towered over her, gazing down with intense blue eyes that made her fingers quiver.

Mary took a Sunday excursion to the pumpkin farm with her Corgi, named Lt. Dan. As she ambled down an alley of enormous, misshapen squash a tall stranger stepped into her path. Dark eyes drilled into her as he warned in a husky voice, "You're in danger here." Strong fingers wrapped around her hand, yanking her and Lt. Dan into the cornstalks just before an arrow screamed by and pierced a nearby fleshy pumpkin.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Exclusive Excerpt

Giveaway Alert!

It’s release week for my new steamy romantic suspense EAGLE!

Finn Bollinger. Military codename: EAGLE.
A single dad, a warrior, a hero.

For Charlotte Devereux he's also the man whose heart she broke years before. And now, he's her only chance for survival.

When former Special Forces soldier Finn Bollinger is asked to help with an undercover mission, he's up for the task. His job teaching survival skills to civilians at Linear Tactical keeps him sharp, and he can still handle himself in the field. 

But the Army damn well didn't teach Finn how to handle Charlotte Devereux. She's back and she's all sorts of bad news. 

Charlotte can't change the past. Can't change the choices she made or the fact that they cost her everything. All she can do is endure the fallout. Even if that means putting her future in the hands of Finn, the man who has every right to want to destroy her.

And can in so many more ways than he thinks.

When Finn's undercover mission goes impossibly wrong, he'll have to depend on Charlotte's strength in order to survive. But everyone has a breaking point.

He's fighting for what's right.
She's fighting just to survive... 

Here’s a teaser graphic and excerpt for JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE readers:

The man who had betrayed them all shook his head on the video call as he pulled out the weapon that would end Charlotte’s life slowly and painfully. “I don’t want to do this, Finn. It doesn’t have to be this way. Explain to her it’s okay for her to tell me the code. I promise you she will not die in any pain, if she tells me.”

Finn knew they were less than one minute away from helping Charlotte. 

It wouldn’t have mattered if they were an hour away. He still would’ve said the same thing.

“Princess, look at me.”

She cracked one eye open with a moan of pain.

“You’ve done your part. Now it’s time to let someone else take over this fight.”

“I don’t want to tell him,” she whispered.

He rubbed his fingers across the screen, as if he could touch her skin. Comfort her in some way. “I know you don’t. But you’re not in this fight by yourself anymore, okay? Any of it. You and I are in this together.”

This soldier would go to war for her.

Buy EAGLE here:
“Less Steamy” Version

JANIE’S DISCUSSION QUESTION: Do you prefer heroes with military background or don’t care either way?

Janie has a huge giveaway going on here in her FB reader group and all JRS readers are welcome to join and participate:

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