With: Marissa Garner
When I heard those words last week, it was one of the biggest shocks of my life! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend the RWA Kiss of Death awards ceremony in Denver, but I was watching the live video on my computer at home. Actually, maybe it’s a good thing I wasn’t there because my husband said I had the same look on my face as I do in our photo taken during the Disneyland Space Mountain ride. In other words, I looked like I was having a heart attack.
For Risky Redemption to win the mainstream category of the 2018 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense is truly an honor. My editor had concerns about this story being too nontraditional with its two timelines, CIA-assassin hero, and rape-victim heroine. But I had faith in romantic suspense readers because I know (since I am one) they can handle books that are edgy and different.
Even before this award, Risky Redemption held a special place in my heart, and now I really want to share it with everyone. So here’s a blurb, an excerpt, and my favorite quote graphics to introduce you to my Daphne du Maurier winner. I hope you’ll read it and discover why the judges loved it.
Four years ago, a brutal attack destroyed Angela Reardon’s trust in men. Now the fiercely independent interior decorator has built a successful business and a new life without love or sex. Haunted by her inability to identify her assailant, Angela wants only to be left alone—until a shadowy stranger reignites dormant desires. But their time together may be brief…because someone wants her dead.
CIA assassin Jake Stone’s targets deserved to die. Until now. Until he falls in love with the innocent woman he’s been hired to kill. Can he save Angela and redeem himself by uncovering who wants her dead? When the trail leads him into the carnal underbelly of L.A., the truth is more shocking than even he could ever imagine.
“Good try, Jake, but you’re not sneaking away from the topic. Why did you break up with Bonnie and all the others?” Angela asked.
“All the others? What is this, an inquisition?”
She leaned over him, her face inches from his. “Answer me, Mr. Stone.”
Jake pushed her aside, swung his feet to the floor, and sat up with his back to her. “This sucks. But okay. Here’s the ammunition you want. Yeah, I dated Tanya, Bonnie, and all the others. I screwed them. A lot. But if they’re honest, they’ll tell you they had a really good time. We had fun; we had sex. It never got any more serious than that.”
“Why did I screw them?” He twisted around and shot her a lecherous smirk. “I like to f**k, that’s why.”
“Stop it, Jake. I’m not going to let you hide behind your vulgar vocabulary. I know you use it to put me off balance. It’s not going to work this time.”
“Well, aren’t you clever, Miss Shrink.”
She inhaled slowly, held the breath a moment, and then blew it out through pursed lips. “I’m asking why you never have serious relationships with women.”
Jake tunneled his fingers through his hair and scratched his scalp, obviously stalling. “It’s simple, Angela. They were superficial relationships that didn’t have anything meaningful to grow on. Why would a woman want a long-term, serious relationship with me anyway? Even you called me a playboy.”
“Maybe you always escaped before they had a chance to grow.”
“Sure. Whatever you say, Miss Shrink.”
“Okay, this is what I say. I think you cut and run because you’re afraid one of these ‘superficial relationships’ might get serious. Deep down inside, you want it, but you’re afraid of it, too. So you hide. You’ve hidden the real Jake from Tanya, Bonnie, et al. And now, you’re hiding from me.”
Steel shutters closed behind his eyes. Cold, hard, emotionless gray stared back at her. “Believe me, you wouldn’t like the ‘real Jake.’ I don’t even like him.”