Today I welcome fellow Michigan author and member of the MidMichigan Chapter of Romance Writers of America Maris Soule to my blog. Like me, Maris loves suspense in her stories, and today she’ll talk about a perfect tale for this time of the year. Welcome, Maris!
Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Elizabeth.
Since this is the month for haunted houses and things that go bump in the night, I’d like to tell your readers about HAUNTED, a romantic suspense I recently released as an ebook. HAUNTED was originally published as a Bantam Loveswept back in 1995 under the title Dark Temptation. That was the year Loveswept’s marketing department decided to put flowers on all of the covers—not their wisest move since after the first month the similar covers started confusing readers, who wondered if they’d already bought/read the story. Although my sales for Dark Temptation were comparable to the other Loveswepts published during those “flowery” cover months, I never felt the book had a chance to reach all of the readers who might like a story that brought together an Oscar-winning, special effects hero (who might be a killer), and a heroine who needed his help even though the idea of working with him had her shaking in her boots.
I love the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the gold country area, so it seemed the perfect setting for HAUNTED. In the story, Jason McLain moves from Hollywood to the small town of Slaterville, nestled in the Sierra Nevada, to escape the media hype that follows the death of his wife. A jury may have acquitted Jason of the murder, but the question still remains: Who else but a special effects expert could have rigged the gun that went off when she opened the safe?
Valerie Wiggins is not only Slaterville’s local eye doctor, she’s an active member of WIN—Women in Need—a nonprofit organization that helps abused women. Every year they’ve depended on a haunted house as their main money-making project, but lately it seems as though every town and community in the Sierras is doing something similar. “If we want people to come to ours,” she tells Jason, “it needs to be different. Special.”
He understands. She wants him to create some special effects.
Jason’s initial response is to say no. Although he finds Val attractive, he fears those feelings could put her in danger. People he cares about have accidents. Die.
Here’s a scene from the first time Val takes Jason to see the house that WIN uses for their haunted house. Some of the floor boards in one room are missing, but Jason thinks he can use the cellar area below for his wiring and is checking it out when Val comes up beside him. He turns and his elbow hits her side. Val and their one working flashlight drop through the hole. Jason gropes in the darkness for a floor joist, finds one, and swings down to go to her side.
"I didn't push you." She had to believe that. "I didn't realize you were there."
She caught his hand, her fingers feeling so small and slender. "I know you didn't."
"I turned . . . you were . . ." He couldn't explain what had happened.
"I'm fine, really," she insisted, more conviction to her words.
She started to rise, but he stopped her. "Take a minute," he said, and then chuckled. "So I can catch my breath."
"You all right?"
Her concern for him seemed ironic. Here he could have killed her, and she was worried about him. "I'm fine. It's you who could have broken your neck."
"But I didn't."
He drew her to a seated position, cradling her against his chest, and Val pressed her cheek to the smooth leather of his jacket. His breathing seemed normal, but not his heart rate. Touched by his concern, she snuggled closer. All around her was darkness, yet she wasn't afraid. "I've got to remember not to come up beside you near any cliffs."
He didn't laugh.
"Jason, it was my fault. Forget it even happened."
"Forget?" He made a sound that resembled a laugh, but it held no mirth. "Why is it accidents always happen around me?"
She had no answer for that.
"Maybe I forget too much." He took in a deep breath. "Val, do you think a man can do something and not remember that he's done it?"
She wasn't sure what he was getting at. "Like?"
He hesitated a moment, then said. "Like rig a gun in a wall safe or tamper with a brake line?"
Again she didn't answer. What he was suggesting was insane.
"My mother says I can block things out if I want," he said. "She insists that she knows the truth. According to her, I'm a bad seed. The Devil's child."
"And what do you think?"
"I didn't believe her at first, but then when Karen was killed—" His arm tightened around her. "How do I know I'm not some sort of Jekyll and Hyde? That I don't black out or something when I get jealous? Perhaps in a fit of rage, I did tamper with those brakes and rig that gun in the safe."
HAUNTED is available at:
About the author:
Maris Soule has been writing for over 30 years and has had two mysteries, 25 category romances, and 2 short stories published. She’s a two time RITA finalist, as well as a winner and finalist in many other contests. She’ll have two more mystery/suspense novels released in 2015: A KILLER PAST (published by Robert Hale Ltd., hardcover in March/ebook in April) and EAT CROW AND DIE (published by FiveStar/Gale/Cengage, hardcover in June/ebook in July)
Born and raised in California, Ms. Soule was working on a master’s degree at U.C. Santa Barbara when she was swept off her feet by a red-head with blue eyes. The Soules have two grown children and two granddaughters. They live in Michigan in the summer and Florida in the winter.
Visit Maris at:
Her blog: http://blog.marissoule.com/blog/
Her website: http://www.marissoule.com