In a suspense novel, the bad guys always get the short straw in publicity. Why do they do what they do? What makes them tick? Today we're interviewing the antagonist pulling the strings in the romantic suspense novel, Reckless Endangerment.
Q: Who or what are you?
I'm an upstanding citizen in Denver, Colorado. I have connections that reach far and wide. I have breakfast with the governor, lunch with the mayor. I'm the kind of man every woman hopes her daughter would marry.
Q: What is your cause about?
I'm an entrepreneur. Let's face it; there are some people who don't deserve a voice. They're trash. If they're weak, then that's not my problem. My cause, as you call it, is about creating an underworld empire where those who are deserving get whatever they want, whenever they want it.
Q: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?
Two things are most important to me right now: money and teaching nosy reporters their place.
Q: What do you like or dislike about the other characters from your book?
Their goodie-two-shoes, holier than thou attitudes about the world. Some people call them heroes, but I scoff at that. Just like morality, everyone bends the term hero to fit their preconceived agendas. Maybe I'm a hero in my own world, did anyone think about that?
Q: Where do you live? Describe it: Is it messy, neat, avant-garde, sparse, etc.?
I live on an estate in a gated community to keep out the low lives.
Q: What's the worst thing someone ever did to you?
Told me 'no'. No one denies me. I always get what I want.
Q: What's the worst thing you've done to someone?
Again, this is a matter of perspective. What someone else may see as 'worst thing', I see as business. I've smuggled humans across borders and state lines, killed a few people and am currently using a six year old as a pawn. But, really, who cares? Like I said, I'm an upstanding citizen. I've got power...what else matters in the world?
Q: What type of places do you hang out in?
I hang out in the finest clubs with the most beautiful women...and in the darkest of alleys with the whores. I go where I want, do what I want. It's called privilege.
Q: What annoys you more than anything else?
Weak people and busy bodies.
Q: What would be the perfect gift for you?
I'm in the market for a new jet so that would be nice. I could use one.
An excerpt of Reckless Endangerment...
She needed to force herself to concentrate on the photographs of chained women in front of her on the granite countertop. Her day had been nothing if not nerve rattling between seeing Rourke murdered and enjoying oral sex with her estranged husband.
Damn, she craved just one thing in her life that wasn’t complicated. One thing. Was that such an impossible task?
“I made a call to the number we think may be Angel’s from our research into Rourke. I can’t help but wonder how many alarms went off when we started poking around in the guy’s background before the police were even at the crime scene this afternoon.” Devon scooped more spinach dip onto her plate before munching away on a chip.
“You worry too much.”
“You don’t worry enough.”
“Worry is a waste of creative energy.” She grinned and looked up at Devon. “Can you honestly believe the mayor of Denver would be involved in sex parties and human trafficking?”
“He’s a politician, just because he’s charming doesn’t mean he isn’t the scum of the earth.” Devon shrugged, her eyes forever observant as she stared across the counter. “Want to tell me about this Colonel you keep sneaking off to see this week? What’s up with the Marine from Monday?”
“You’ve been dying to ask me that question, haven’t you?”
“Yep, just biding my time until you seemed relaxed.”
“And I seem relaxed now?” She looked at her friend over the rim of her eyeglasses. “We’re discussing human trafficking and murder and I seem relaxed? That’s a problem, Dev.”
Outside thunder rocked the sky. Lightening lit up the room. Late autumn snowstorms came with lightening and thunder as if the atmosphere was confused. Yep, she was definitely back home in the Mile High City.
“It is what it is.” Devon shrugged. “You’re a drama-junkie so this stuff gives you a fix. Whatever. Answer my question.”
She folded the laptop closed and considered what Devon said. She didn’t want to be a drama-junkie, wondered if there was a rehab for such a thing.
“Seriously? That’s how you think of me?”
“Stop avoiding the question.” Devon closed her laptop, too. “He’s why you’re here, right? He’s the reason you moved to Denver, bought this gigantic loft? He’s the reason you keep dodging Jensen who’s been dying to get you into bed ever since your plane landed at D.I.A. C’mon. ‘Fess up.”
“Seems like you know all the answers. There is nothing left for me to confess.” She refilled her coffee, certain that her blood had illegal caffeine content.
“You want me to beg? I’m begging.” Devon folded her hands like a prayer and batted her eyes. “Tell me something juicy.”
She looked at her wedding ring and ached to blurt out the truth. What could it hurt to tell one person? “Can you keep a secret?”
“Not usually, but I’ll try.” Devon looked like an eager puppy about to get a new toy.
“We’re married. I am technically Hope Cedars.” God, she loved saying that name out loud. “Or at least it would be technically if I file the name change papers but—“
“Wait, wait, wait…” Devon put her hands out in front of her. “That’s why you asked what name the Marine asked for on Monday. How long have you been married?”
“Eleven months and two weeks.”
Devon stared at her as if blindsided. “Almost a year? You were married to him over there? Isn’t that against some rule or something? How’d you do that? How have you kept it a secret? Wasn’t that dangerous...a married Marine with his wife, and not just any wife but a war correspondent...that can’t be legal, can it?”
“Since when do you care about rules and legalities? Want to see a picture?”
“Do I want to see a picture? Hell, yeah. Are you kidding me? What? A wedding picture?” Devon stopped staring and started laughing. “You should see your face right now. You look like...well, you look happier than I’ve ever seen you. Yes, I want to see wedding pictures of you and your Marine.”
Feeling like a silly teenager, she jogged barefoot into the bedroom to retrieve her copy of the Greek pictures. Laughing, she handed them to Devon.
“Stunning,” Devon whispered as she examined the photographs. “You all look so happy. Where were you?”
“Mykonos, Greece. He had a week’s leave…we were spontaneous.” She held her left hand to show off the ring. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Devon’s mouth fell open as she looked between the ring and the photograph. “So you’re going public? Why now? After so long? I can’t believe you’re married. You have a husband. God, I’ve got to meet this guy, he must be a saint to put up with you.”
“Over there it would have been dangerous for anyone to know I was his wife—he worried about me being kidnapped or killed. And then…” her smile slipped, “…it became more complicated.”
Devon nodded, understanding in her eyes. “I hope he knows how lucky he is.”
“Yeah, well, we have a long way to go.” Feeling awkward, she sat back on the stool. “I think the note refers to him—my secret and my weakness.”
Devon's gaze locked on the wedding photo. “It’s not too secure at New Horizons. We need to wrap up this story and have a big party. A welcome home, Colonel and Mrs. Cedars party. An anniversary party. Two weeks from now, right? Let me plan it for you two.”
“Let’s take it one day at a time. Right now he doesn’t know what he wants. Maybe I don’t either. What do I know about being anyone’s wife?”
Devon's smile faded. "Don't let this story—"
"It's not just this story, Dev."
"I'd still like to meet him—I'll hold off on the party."
"Probably a good idea." She looked at her cell phone and sighed. Time to go.
Both lost in their individual thoughts, they left the loft and made their way to the street where Devon had parked her car. Wind howled, thunder clapped and snow swirled beneath street lamps. Hope shoved her hands into the pockets of her jacket and wished she’d changed from the dress into jeans.
“City Park in a snow storm complete with thunder. Spooky.” Devon maneuvered the car from the curb. “Tell me about your husband.”
“Not much to tell,” she muttered.
“Liar. C’mon. I’ve seen his picture. Yummy.” Devon smacked her lips. “You never tell me any of the juicy stories…and everyone knows there had to be juicy stories.”
She tapped her finger on her iPhone and laughed. “You do know I wasn’t on vacation over there, right?”
“Save the bullshit for someone who doesn’t know you better. Tell me. Was the sex hot with the Colonel?”
“Michael.” She smiled and relaxed against the seat. “And, yes, the sex was hot. Scorching.”
“I knew it.” Devon tossed back her head and laughed. “Tell me more.”
“He’s the sexiest man on the planet and an arrogant jerk sometimes. He has a little boy named Dalton. Very cute.”
“So you’re a stepmom, too. This keeps getting better. And how is his recovery going?”
“A conversation for another day, Dev.”
“Gotcha. I wish I knew more about what happened to you over there.” Devon gave her a sidelong glance. “You can confide in people, you know. You have more friends than you think you do. Not all of us think you’re an egotistical hot shot.”
“Gee, thanks.” She laughed and stretched her legs out in front of her. “Good to know, Dev. Really.”
“So he’s hot, huh? How hot?”
“Lava hot. Molten.”
“Mm…and why isn’t he in outpatient therapy then? I know I would want my molten, lava hot husband living with me in my gigantic loft so I could give him some rub downs after a long day of physical therapy.”
Both laughed at the direction their conversation had taken.
“Rub downs?” The idea of her hands moving over his skin again had her squirming in her seat.
“Mm…yes, rub downs.”
“Okay, let’s change the subject.” She hugged her messenger bag against her chest and tried to shake off the memory of his kiss, the feel of his hard body beneath her hands, the sight of his head between her thighs. “So what’s in City Park, do you think? And Fiddlesticks Tavern? That seems like a weird place for money to be trading places for anything except a pool game.”
“It all screams trouble to me,” Devon said as she pulled into a parking lot in City Park.
“Becky the Downer would be very satisfied to know what I’m up to at this very minute.” She looked at the quiet neighborhood surrounding the park. “The real question is who is leading us around? I don’t like the anonymity. It’s getting old.”
No other vehicles occupied the lot behind the Museum of Nature and Science where they had been told to meet. The downtown skyline illuminated sparkled through the falling snow.
She tapped her fingers on her knee and stared toward the park. Even though she couldn’t see anyone, her instincts told her to leave, chalk this one up as a waste of time.
“There.” Devon pointed to a man walking from the lake at the center of the park. “Looks like he’s coming our way. Should we—”
Two men in ski masks tapped a gun against the closed windows.
“Fuck,” Devon said before her door was yanked open and she was hauled out against her will.
She froze. She couldn’t breathe.
Hands grabbed her shoulders and dragged her from the car. The butt of a gun slammed into her face. She fell only to be hauled back against the side of the car. Blood trickled into her mouth. Fat spring snowflakes fell into her eyes.
“You need to find a new job, Ms. Shane.” Hands in her hair, he twisted her neck back until she looked at him. “Mind your own business. Don’t you have a crippled husband to worry about? A stepson about to be taken from the only family he’s ever known? A few nephews who love playing in Washington Park with their babysitter? Maybe family should be your priority instead of sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.”
“You don’t scare me. No way I’m stopping now. No way.” She spit blood into his mask-covered face. “You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”
“Neither do you.” He wore sunglasses over the holes in the ski mask, gloves on his hands. All black. He pressed his knee between her legs. “I can get to you any time I want. I can do whatever I want to you.”
He held the gun to her forehead, caressed it across her face, down her neck, between her breasts, slipped it beneath the hemline of her skirt.
“Bastard,” she muttered between clenched teeth. “You don’t scare me.”
Blood trickled in front of her eyes.
“I could kill you.” Hot breath warmed her neck where he lingered. “Or rape you. Or both. I could do anything to you, Ms. Shane. Or should I say Mrs. Cedars?”
“My husband could kill you with his bare hands. Remember that.”
“Delusional and beautiful. A shame to waste all that.”
He licked the side of her face, ripped the neckline down low, and squeezed her breast until she cried out in pain.
"You like that, don't you?" Hot breath licked her ear. "Pain. I think I'd like disciplining you, teaching you some manners."
"Go. To. Hell."
He tossed her to the pavement, kicked her twice in her gut, and laughed when she cried out in agony.
Then he disappeared.
She spit blood. Every inch of her shook. With all of the will she possessed, she stumbled against the hood of the car. Squinting, she tried to see where they had gone. Empty parking lot. Snow filled the footprints.
“Devon.” She clung to the car for balance and stumbled to the driver’s side. Her friend lay in a heap, blood staining the snow beneath her head. “No, no, Devon. C’mon now.” She held her friend’s face in her lap and stroked her hair back. “You’ll be okay. You’ve got to be okay.”
She shook her head when images of Peter’s head bursting open in front of her filled her mind. She had knelt over him, too, spitting bits of his hair from her mouth, and pushing his skull together while machine gun fire had ripped into the ground at her heels.
She blinked. That was then. This was now. Devon, not Peter.
Blood ran down her face from the gash above her eyebrow. She pressed her fingers to it and fought off the bile that rose in her throat. Weak, almost as if she had no control of her limbs any longer, she crawled back into the car and fumbled for her cellphone.
Her hands shook violently. She dropped the phone twice before managing to hold it steady enough to dial 9-1-1.
Yes, they definitely had an emergency.
From the back cover...
Coming home again isn't always easy. Colonel Michael Cedars and reporter Hope Shane fell in love in a warzone, but then the world blew up and splintered their lives in two.
Sometimes heroes fall and take the ones they love down with them. A Marine accustomed to giving orders, Michael struggles to find his role in civilian life. Wounded, he faces new battles as he learns to walk again, struggles with wartime ghosts, and questions his abilities as a husband.
But theirs is a love worth fighting for—and Hope Shane doesn't surrender. An investigative reporter, she's hot on the trail of a human trafficking ring. Danger intensifies as she gets closer to the truth, but the human traffickers know her weakness.
Will Michael become her Achilles Heel? Will her reckless disregard for rules shatter the fragile bonds of their marriage once and for all? Is he still the hero she married or has he become a liability that could get them both killed?
Start reading now!
5 stars Extremely talented
Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you - like myself - want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner.
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Gritty At Times, Realistic, With An Immensely Satisfying Romance and Mystery
By J. Faltys. "Joder"
By the end of Reckless Endangerment I can sum it up by saying it's Triple-H......heartbreaking, heartwarming, and heartpounding. It's full of likable and fully fleshed-out characters, realistically depicted issues related to the aftermath of war, and it presented a fast-paced mystery surrounding human trafficking that kept me on the edge of my seat. It shows that atrocities not only occur in faraway lands but outside our front door as well. As two people deal both mentally and physically with the hand war dealt them it's only through love and acceptance that true healing can begin and a HEA can be fully achieved. (Read full review: http://www.amazon.com/Reckless-Endangerment-Amber-Lea-Easton/product-reviews/0615801617/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?showViewpoints=1)
5.0 out of 5 stars
I love this book! The author did a great job of writing a contempary novel with all the twists and turns that make it impossible for you to put the book down!! I am really impressed with the author's use of hard hitting problems facing today's society and intergrating them into the story line. This is not just another cookie cutter, predictable romance!! I highly recommend this book for all who looking for a novel with a little something extra!
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