Trapped in a set-up that could have him in jail or dead by Monday, Jonathan Alexander trusts no one in his inner circle. It’s Saturday. His only hope is Grace Dupont, the best forensic accountant in Miami. But there’s a glitch with that idea. She’s also his ex-girlfriend who’d rather watch him drown than throw him a life vest. Going to her feels desperate…because he is.
Grace enjoys seeing Jonathan squirm. On your knees boy, she thinks as he pitches for her help. Always a sucker for the dark-haired-blue-eyed boys, she risks her precariously balanced life of secrets to help him. Helping him slaps a target on her back–she’s the key to proving his innocence and that’s a bad, bad thing.
Tangled up in a whirlwind of conspiracy, murder, million dollar money trails and diamond smuggling, Jonathan and Grace flee to the sea to stall for time to prove his innocence. Romance sizzles beneath Florida Keys’ sunshine. Both scoff at happy endings. Both doubt justice. Both know each kiss could be their last.
Everyone, give a warm welcome to Amber Lea Easton. She’s stopped by for a little bit today to answer some questions and share her new book with us. Make sure to check out the excerpts and book trailer below!
Q. How long have you been writing?
A. Fiction writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first completed manuscript when I was 9 years old. It was a horror novel, 80 pages long, filled with blood and gore where no one survived. I still have it on my desk in its red binder. Puberty hit and I started writing romance novels in tablets. I’d pass them around on the school bus and during study hall. I majored in Communications/Journalism and worked as a journalist until I quit to stay home after my youngest child was born. That’s when I decided to turn my passion into a reality.
Q. How do story ideas come to you?
A. The characters come to me first. I get an idea for a character, see them in my mind’s eye, know what they’re about, understand their motivations and write a character sketch. Once I have the two main characters clear in my mind, the story clicks into place naturally.
Q. Do you outline the plot?
A. No, I simply begin writing and allow the story to unfold. Sometimes that strategy takes me on twists and turns I don’t anticipate, but that’s part of the fun of being an author. Revisions are key for me as far as making sure the plot’s pacing is well-done and that all story lines are wrapped up.
Q. What inspires you as an author?
A. People inspire me. I am a perpetual student of humanity. I enjoy meeting new people, listening to their stories, watching social interactions and being open to new points of view.
Q. What’s your typical writing day like?
A. The only thing disciplined about my day is that I write a minimum of 4 hours every day, but usually it ends up being around 6 hours. Whether I’m splitting that up between 10AM to 2PM and then going back to it from 11PM to 1AM or working straight from 9AM to 3PM, depends on what my day looks like. As a widowed mom of two active teens, freedom to be fluid around my life is the biggest advantage to being a writer.
Q. Outside of writing, what do you do for fun?
A. Well, my new hobby is belly dancing. I started a class in February and am loving it. It’s teaching me to appreciate my body for what it is, not some fantasy ideal of what I’d like it to be. Outside of that, I like just about anything that gets me out of the house, whether it’s going to the movies, socializing with friends, heading out to a rock concert, watching my kids play sports, attending a play or cheering at a hockey game. I’m also passionate about traveling, with and without the kids.
Q. Who were the biggest influences on you as a writer?
A. I had great teachers growing up who recognized my natural passion and pushed me to challenge myself. From my high school teachers to my college professors, I consistently learned to go outside my comfort zone and never settle for mediocre. I’ll forever be grateful to them. I hope I’m passing on those lessons to my own children.
Q. Who are some of your favorite authors, both fiction and non-fiction?
A. I respect and admire Jennifer Cruise, Heather Graham, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Anne Tyler, David Sedaris, Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield a
nd Jill Bolte Taylor…just to name a few.
Q. Do you do a lot of reading for pleasure or does it feel more like work these days?
A. Yes and no–just to be confusing in my answer. I go through phases where all I do is read, one book right after another. Then there are times when I just want to give my brain a break from my own work so I seek out a good movie. I also think movies are great examples of pacing and dialogue–so I guess i’m still ‘sort of’ working when I’m there.
He was beyond pissed at this guy’s audacity. His perpetual shadow leaned against the front of a closed dress shop, Panama hat pulled over his eyes, arms folded across his chest, and watched the office door without trying to hide in any way. “Look at him standing there, not even bothering to hide.”
“He’s been skulking around here all day. I think he’s harmless.”
“He’s following you now? That can’t be good.” He pulled her closer to his chest and into the shadow of the entrance.
When she sighed, her breasts heaved against his arm. He cursed every inappropriate thought that rushed through his mind. No time for sex with an ex. This situation didn’t exactly scream romance.
“You weren’t kidding about being trapped in some B movie, were you?” She twisted against him in an attempt to break free of his hold.
“Stop it.” All of her gyrating distracted him from Panama Hat Man.
He broke off his words when she bent his wrist backward until he thought it would break. Cursing under his breath, he released her and rubbed the pain in his left hand.
She stalked across the street toward the man, slippers slapping against the pavement, hips swaying beneath the thin cotton dress that skimmed her thighs, and hair bouncing against her bare back.
He would have chased her even if she weren’t potentially following a psychopath.
Panama Hat Man walked toward the beach, his stride quickening with their approach.
“Wait. Stop. I need to talk to you.” She disappeared down the path leading between the buildings to the beach.
“Grace, come back here.” He jogged toward the path, panic just a breath away from consuming him. He glanced over his shoulder as he ran, conscious of the unlocked building but concerned about Grace’s safety.
Night slowly overtook twilight. Lights from the sidewalk cafes and bars illuminated the street at their backs. Only a handful of people strolled the beach at the waterline in the distance. He watched her jog over the sand, getting further away from the streetlights.
Panama Hat Man disappeared.
“This is a bad idea, Grace,” he said when he caught up to her.
“This whole thing is a bad idea. I don’t need this drama.” She shouted the words over her shoulder as she paused to yank the slippers from her feet. “I quit. Done. Finito.”
“And you think I do?” He grabbed her elbow. “I don’t want you to quit, just stop following this guy. You could be walking into a trap. Maybe he wants you to follow him, ever think of that?”
Of all the qualities she had to retain as an adult, it had to be recklessness. So much for the sophisticated, calm, I-have-it-all-together façade.
A piercing pop sliced through the air. Sand exploded at their feet. Another shot—definitely gunfire.
He pressed her to the ground as another shot went off. His hands covered her head while his body shielded hers. A brief scan of the horizon showed nothing except sand, strangers running in the opposite direction of the shoreline, and the blackness of the ocean.
“He’s shooting at us?” she asked against his neck, hands fisted in the material of his shirt.
“Still think I’m paranoid?” he asked against her forehead.
“I quit, I really do quit.” Her nails sank into his shoulder as she clung to him.
Another pop sliced the air. Strangers screamed. Someone yelled for the police.
Searing pain ripped through his left shoulder. Rolling from her, he half crawled, half pulled her further into the darkness and in the opposite direction of the Panama Hat Man.
He kept his head down and tugged her away from the lights.
“You think you’re being followed so you drag me into it, thanks a lot.” She stumbled in the sand next to him, bringing him down with her. “Brilliant plan.”
In one move, he hauled her to his side and ran until they stood in the shadows beneath a lifeguard tower. Chest heaving, he shoved his hands through her hair.
“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” he asked, gaze scanning her for any sign of injury.
“Stop touching me.” She slapped his hands away, eyes snapping with fire. “My life was complicated enough, Jon Ryan. I didn’t need you making it worse. Damn you.”
“You had to follow the guy, didn’t you?” Rage at the situation at large zeroed in on her. “For being a so-called genius, that was an idiot move.”
She punched him in the shoulder. “Who is this guy? Why is he shooting at us?
Pain ripped through his left arm and burned down his back. Sharp, burning pain. “If I knew the guy, I’d kick his ass. Stop hitting me.”
She held her fist up to her face and studied the blood that stained her fingers. “You’ve been shot,” she repeated several times before lifting her gaze to his. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me you were shot?”
“I didn’t know.” He rested the back of his head against the stilt in the shadows of the lifeguard stand. He needed clarity. This entire situation had escalated far beyond his scope of comprehension. None of it made sense.
“How do you not know that you’ve been shot?” She rub
bed the blood from her hand over the front of his shirt while looking down the beach and toward the shadows with extra-wide eyes. “I lost my slippers. They’ll look weird on the beach, won’t they? Not many people live on this block, especially not so close. The police will make the connection.” Eyes overly wide and chest heaving beneath the thin cotton material, she pressed her hand against his arm and stared up at him. “Jonathan, we’re out of time.”
Coldness seeped through his bones. Someone had shot him, but he knew instinctively that Grace had been the target. She had the ability to prove his innocence. Someone wanted her out of the picture.
“You have blood on your dress.” He fingered the strap in question that had slipped off her shoulder. “You should probably take it off.”
“Careful. We can’t go there.” Sand clung to her neck and stuck to the tangles in her hair. The light from the bedside lamp shadowed her face.
“I meant change out of it, not…well, maybe I meant take it off. But then we’d be crossing lines that you don’t want to cross.” He let his fingers trail down her arm. “That would be wrong. Terribly wrong.”
“You are nothing but trouble.”
“You always liked trouble.” He rested his right palm against the bed, supporting his weight on his healthy arm.
“Listen carefully to me.” She pressed her finger against his lips. “I’m high on adrenaline, we’re alone, no witnesses, no regrets. One kiss won’t hurt anyone.”
“No witnesses, no regrets…” Heat flooded his veins. “Adrenaline…”
“If I don’t do this now, I’ll hate myself in the morning.”
“You mean you’ll regret it when they lock me up in the morning and throw away the key because you didn’t kiss me one last time?”
“Exactly.” She straddled his lap.
“You weren’t supposed to agree.” He smiled despite the circumstances.
“Shut up, sailor boy. Kiss me.”
She kissed him as if savoring the taste. Her hair fell forward, locking them in a caramel-colored veil of intimacy. Eyes open, they stared at each other as their lips moved against each other’s.
His hands slid up her long thighs, over her panties and pressed against the smoothness of her back. Every stroke of her lips against his awakened pure need in his veins. He no longer cared about what was right or wrong. All he wanted was her mouth on his, his hands on her body and her skin against his.
With a quick yank, she pulled her dress over her head. Breasts bared, she pressed him down on the bed and laughed against his mouth. “This is crossing all kinds of boundaries and breaking every rule I can think of.”
“Just like the old days.” He smiled against her lips. His hands moved over her bared breasts. The pain in his shoulder failed to slow him down. He didn’t know who groaned or if they both did, but the sensation of her flesh filling his palms trumped common sense.
Her bare foot slid over his leg, hands curled into his hair, and body flattened against his. All the anger, the terror and confusion poured from him as he deepened the kiss with an urgency that bordered on desperation. The silky warmth of her mouth erased his pain. Kissing her felt like coming home from an exhausting, lonely journey.
“A kiss…that’s all I wanted,” she muttered against his chin. A shiver quaked through her body when she sighed.
“I want more.”
“Impossible. We can’t.”
“We can do whatever the hell we want, Grace.” Despite the burning pain in his left shoulder, he maneuvered so that his body covered hers. He wanted more than a kiss. He wanted more heat.
Amber Lea Easton grew up in Hartford, South Dakota, where she spent her time daydreaming of big adventures over the horizon under a giant blue South Dakota sky. Now living in Colorado, she is an avid traveler who incorporates her real life travels into her novels as much as possible (minus the illegal activities her characters become immersed in–she swears). To her, setting is another character in the novel and often serves as an inspiration. Although she is a romantic suspense author, she’s an avid reader of all genres or "whatever turns her on in the moment". Love is her motivation for all things–whether it be writing, traveling, playing with her dogs or hanging with her two teenagers–if it’s not done with love, then what’s the point?
To stay up to date with Amber Lea Easton’s new releases and events, check out her website at http://www.amberleaeaston.com, subscribe to her author blog at http://amberleaeaston.blogspot.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter as @MtnMoxieGirl or on Facebook.
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Apr 3: Kacey’s Konnections (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 4: Natalie-Nicole Bates (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 5: Book Bags and Cat Naps (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 6: The Romance Writers Reads (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 7: House Millar (Interview/Book Feature)
Apr 8: Cocktails and Books (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 9: Carly Fall – Where Fantasy Meets Romance (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 10: Jersey Girl Book Reviews (Guest Post/Review)
Apr 11: She Who Blogs Behind the Rows (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 12: Bookin’ It Reviews (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 13: Coffee Beans & Love Scenes (Interview/Book Feature)
Apr 14: Full Moon Bites (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 15: Book Junkie Mom (Interview/Book Feature)
Apr 16: My Devotional Thoughts (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 17: Harlie’s Books (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 18: Theresa Stillwagon (Book Feature)
Apr 19: Good Family Reads (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 20: Storm Goddess Book Reviews & More (Guest Post/Book Feature)
Apr 21: The Readers Roundtable Smokin’ Gun (Guest Post/Book Feature)