Monday, April 16, 2012

Living Vicariously Through My Career

I remember having a vociferous conversation, back when I was still in college, with my then-boyfriend (now husband of nearly 20 years) about having a gun in the house. His brother, a newly minted criminal justice graduate, had bought a gun. My husband thought we should get one, too. I wasn't opposed to it on principle, but I thought it illogical. I thought basic safety procedures (keeping it unloaded and locked up) would make it fairly useless in a crisis situation.

I'm not trying to begin a debate on gun control. (PLEASE don't take this as an invitation to debate gun control! LOL) It's just that way back then, I thought I didn't like guns. I was opposed to violence in general. (That was a gigantic argument, too, about letting our kids watch violent stuff—7 years before we even had kids.)

So how the heck did I wind up writing romantic adventure? With kick-ass heroines and heroes who are very comfortable with weaponry?

The first adventure novel I wrote (never published) started out with a geologist heroine crash-landing a plane in a glade where she would meet the dragon she'd dreamed about since she was three years old. At some point she morphed into a spy, and ever since then, I've had guns, fights, and serious badassery in almost all of my books.

Is it motherhood? The fierce knowledge that I'll protect and defend my children to the death? Or am I a product of our culture? I can't imagine carrying a pistol around in my day-to-day life, and the idea of needing to use one touches a primal terror I don't even want to acknowledge exists. But fantasy worlds? Bring it. I can't wait for The Avengers to come out! I want to be Black Widow, spinning through a highly choreographed fight. Or Thor, flinging his hammer at seemingly unbeatable bad guys.

Today's release, Acceptable Risks, features a heroine a little less like Black Widow and a little more like me. Even though her father owns an internationally known security company, her aspirations have taken her in another direction. A safer one, until now. The following scene had popped into my head long before I developed the plot of this book:

“Why isn’t he answering his phone?” Lark fought to keep her voice steady. Jason rested his hand on the back of her neck, and the firm grip, the warmth and slight scrape of callus, seemed to draw tension right out of her. He wasn’t pretending to be calm, he was calm, and that, more than anything else, dissolved the panic back to a sliver.

“You tried the house?” he asked her.


He released her to look at his watch. “It’s still early.” They’d left Boston at five-thirty, Jason driving at maniac speeds but with precision that had made it feel like a Sunday drive. It was only a little after noon now, slightly before her father had expected them. But he was always there long before he was supposed to be. He could be anywhere here. Or maybe he had unexpected lunch plans. Or a meeting. Anything. She pressed her fingertips hard against her forehead. If her father had changed plans, he’d have let them know.

“We need to go home.” It came out as a demand and she half expected Jason to argue, to say her safety came first, but he only nodded.

“Can you handle a gun?”

She stood from where she’d been perched on the edge of Caitlyn’s desk. “Of course.”

Jason went back into the office and behind her father’s desk. He opened a cabinet in the credenza and worked a combination, added a thumbprint and spoke his name.The safe opened, revealing carefully placed weapons. He removed a small semi-automatic pistol and a box of clips, then reversed the process and came back out to her.

“Show me.” He handed her the weapon, butt first, and the box.

She set the box on the table. The gun already had a clip in it. She checked the safety and made sure to keep the barrel pointed away from Jason. Pulled back the slide to check the chamber, then carefully released it. Hit the clip release, checked the clip, and slammed it home.

Except she missed, and the clip clattered across the top of Caitlyn’s empty desk.

She froze. Jason didn’t move. She waited, willing the clip to come soaring back to her hand. “Uh…”

Jason cleared his throat. “Okay, you can handle a gun.”

Lark glared at him, but his amusement stayed behind his Captain Action fa├žade. Still, the moment dissipated her tension a fraction.

“Can you shoot one?” he asked.

“I have.” Not memorably, but she could aim and fire. He hesitated, and she expected him to take the weapon back. But his hand fell to his side and he said only, “All right. Let’s go.”

Lark later acquits herself well with a pitchfork, a Taser, and her fists. The kind of heroine I'd love to be, if I weren't a sedentary schmuck spending all her time in a desk chair. :)

What about you? Do you love the balletic precision of fictional fighting? Is it part of your everyday life? Or, like me, do you just fantasize about being the kick-ass characters in these books?

When security expert Jason Templeton's team is ambushed while protecting a weapons manufacturer vital to U.S. interests, he risks his life to save the man's daughter...and loses. Unbeknownst to Jason, his mentor had been funding experimental medical procedures after losing his young wife. Using the untested drugs, Jason is brought back to life, stronger and faster than before, but also vulnerable in new ways. He's determined to find the traitor in their midst, who is after the miracle drug.

That means protecting the brilliant scientist Lark Madrassa. Their attraction and compatibility are undeniable, but Jason tries to deny his growing feelings for her, thinking he is too damaged. When Lark's father is kidnapped they have to rely on each other in a dangerous plot to uncover the double agent. Before, Jason always accepted the risks--but what about when the life of the woman he loves is on the line?

You can learn more about Natalie and her books at her websiteeHarlequinGoodreadsTwitter, and Facebook. She blogs with four other obsessed, passionate Supernatural fans Supernatural Sisters, with a number of fantastic romance authors at Everybody Needs a Little Romance, and just to hear herself talk at Indulge Yourself.


  1. Thanks so much for having me here today!

  2. Hi, Natalie and congrats on the new release! I'm with you regarding guns...don't really want one in the house, but I don't mind if other people have them. Once my brother became a cop, I understood them a little more, and he even took me out shooting once. (That's a power trip, for sure!)

  3. Thanks, Anne Marie!

    I've been trying to figure out why a hero (or heroine) with a gun is so sexy. I thought maybe it was just that they're sexy in the first place, and they happen to be carrying a gun. But maybe it's also intensity—I LOOOOVEEEE intensity! I'm sure some people would say it appeals to the primitive need to be protected or whatever. :)

  4. Very happy to have you here, Natalie. Congratulations on your release day!

  5. Oh, I am studying all I can about how to write fight scenes. I find them fascinating to write.
    Congratulations on your looks interesting & it seems like you had a lot of fun writing it.




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