Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Love, Lust and Murder -- #romance #suspense #hooker #Dominant @maszyd

Saranac Lake, the Adirondacks
Saranac Lake, the Adirondacks

By Mia Frances (Guest Blogger)

If you’re a writer searching the web trying to find what constitutes the elements of a good story, you'll probably come up with character, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. For romance writers that often translates into boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, and they both live happily ever after. Nice, but not for me. There is nothing like a little murder and mayhem to spice up a story. 

The romances I write start out normally enough. My heroines are nerdy and inexperienced. My heroes are strict, alpha males drowning in money.

In my In His Keeping series, my heroine, Sylvie, is down on her luck. She came to New York to be a rising star in the publishing industry only to find herself working as a waitress in a greasy spoon that gets shut down by the Health Department for code violations. Unemployed, she's being thrown out of her apartment and is on the verge of starvation. She needs a job, and is willing to take anything she can get. That's how she winds up being the live-in research assistant of surly best-selling author, billionaire entrepreneur Connor Hudson.

I decided to set what I thought would be a stand-alone book in the Adirondack Mts. since I came up with the idea when I happened upon the tiny Westport, NY train station there. Built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, it's a lonely place, set off by itself. The kind of place where a sad, scared, desperate person might get off a train. Riding through the mountains I saw a number of rustic log mansions that I thought might work as my hero's residence in the book. Then I spotted one on a distant bank of Saranac Lake. It was in a clearing carved out of the forest. Isolated, it could barely be seen from the road without binoculars. It was the perfect house for my reclusive billionaire writer.

I had the characters and the setting…so far so good! Now I needed a plot and some conflict. Conflict between the characters? Sure! The reappearance of an old boyfriend or girlfriend? A breakup? Maybe a stalker? No! Not dramatic enough! I knew that eventually my hero and heroine would wind up together and live happily ever after, but the devil is always in the details. How would they get their happy ending? How was their love going to be threatened and tested? That's when I decided to add a touch of murder to their making out.

I'd written about murder before, but it wasn't in a romance novel. Not unless you consider a homicidal maniac librarian who kills people to get the blood necessary to bring her demon lover to life a romance. And you think being dragged off to hell constitutes a HEA. The more I thought about it, the more intriguing the idea of a murder became. Before I knew it my story had morphed into a series; my killer had became a serial killer, who left a trail of bodies in his wake; my rich boy hero was suspected of committing the murders; and my heroine was bound and determined to solve the case. Readers tell me they really like the steamy sex scenes in my books, but what really keeps them reading and turning pages is the mystery. Everybody wants to know who dunnit.

My latest book, Little Girl Lost, was easier to write than some of my others because I knew from the beginning where I was going with it. I'd seen a news show on TV about two young girls being abducted from Ohio and coerced into prostitution. They taken to truck stops and forced to have sex with the truckers. I decided an investigation of an abduction and human trafficking would make a good basis for a romantic suspense novel. I did a lot of research on the topic before I actually sat down to write it.

I'd seen a program on what happens to foster care kids after they age out of the system and wanted to make my heroine, Ali, an ex foster care kid. There'd been an article in our local newspaper about a library in the area that started a free pre-K program for children whose parents were too poor to pay to send there children to a traditional preschool. That's when I decided to make Ali a librarian. I felt I owed it to the profession after the librarian character I'd created in Worship the Night. Ali was bounced from placement to placement as a kid, never having a permanent home. The trauma of it has stayed with her. She struggled to make a life for herself after leaving foster care, working her way through college by taking care of an irascible old lady and then living in a garage so she can save up for a home of her own, a forever home. Hard working and with a heart of gold, she becomes a youth librarian and develops programs at her library for at-risk kids.

That's where she meets up with a young foster kid named Peeky. They form a bond. Ali wants to help the girl just like she'd once been helped by a caring librarian. When the girl runs away, Ali goes after her. She winds up in Douglas, Wyoming, the last place the girl was known to have been before suddenly disappearing.

Peeky had kept in contact with Ali during her cross-country sojourn. She'd sent Ali a picture of the jackalope statue after arriving in Douglas and followed it up with two texts, but after that…nothing!

Ali's determined to find her and when the police seem unwilling to help, she takes matters into her own hands and runs afoul of county sheriff Zac McHenry. He thinks she's a hooker when he catches her sneaking around the local truck stop in a skirt that barely covers her butt. When she mistakes him for an attacker and slams him in the groin with her purse he arrests her. Zac is used to being in control and being obeyed, but he's never gone toe to toe with somebody like Ali before. She refuses to be intimidated. Zac is leery of women and lives like a monk, avoiding the opposite sex. His first wife was unfaithful and walked out on him when he was in the hospital recovering from devastating war wounds that left him scarred both physically and emotionally. Every woman he's met since then seems to be more interested in his money and the prestige and power his name brings than they are in him. He may be a county sheriff, but he comes from one of the richest families in Wyoming and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

He and Connor could be brothers. The are both dominant, demanding, and used to being in charge. They make the rules and expect absolute obedience. They find modern independent women, who speak their mind, and follow their own instincts, perplexing. In need of correction and a firm hand. But my heroines are anything but quietly complaint. They're strong, brave, determined women, who'll accept a man's love and protection as long as it doesn't interfere with them thwarting a killer or killers. Neither Sylvie nor Ali flinch in the face of danger. They're smart enough to figure out the clues and follow the evidence. You might be shocked to learn that the heroes in my books don't actually catch the bad guys…the girls do!

Even with all the killers, kidnappers, traffickers, and corpses that turn up in my novels, they're still love stories…tales filled with romance and passion. Sylvie and Ali are like modern day Cinderellas. They've risen from the cinders to find their Prince Charmings and are on their way to a happy ending. How's that for a plot?

In His Keeping: Taken

Sylvie Jenkins has fallen on hard times. She's lost her job, her apartment, and is down to her last can of peas! Desperate, she agrees to take a job with reclusive writer Connor Hudson at his isolated mountain retreat in upstate New York. Sylvie assumes he's a poser, a writer wannabe. She has no idea he's actually a bestselling author and billionaire entrepreneur. Mr. Hudson is a dour, dominant, and demanding boss. He issues orders and expects her to obey them, but Sylvie has a rebellious streak and gives him a hard time. She doesn't like playing power games, especially not with him. She bristles at his condescending attitude toward women in general and her in particular. As far as she's concerned Connor Hudson though male model handsome is a jackass.

Connor can't believe the cheek of this sassy little imp! He's used to women fawning all over him, begging to do his bidding. But his wealth and position don’t impress or intimidate her. He finds her indifference toward him intriguing. He's never known a woman who didn't welcome his advances…until Sylvie. She ignores him, when she isn’t arguing, or cursing him under her breath. This alpha male decides his feisty assistant needs taming. And he’s just the man to do it. He's determined to make her obedient, respectful, and submissive.

Sylvie eventually succumbs to his charms and against her better judgement finds herself falling in love with Connor. But something's wrong. He says he can't love her. Not now! Not ever! He’s keeping secrets. The cops think he's a serial killer. His ex girlfriends keep turning up dead! Is this strict, sexy alpha male a cold-blooded killer?

Little Girl Lost

Wyoming sheriff Zac McHenry is fit to be tied. A new "working girl" just showed up at the local truck stop, ruining his stakeout. There's been an influx of transients passing through the county lately. Bringing an epidemic of drugs, crime, and vice with them. The last thing he wants is another hooker setting up shop in town. He's determined to send her packing. He's 6' 4" and she's a little bit of a thing. How hard could it be? But getting rid of her isn't as easy as he thought.
When he barges into her motel room, she thinks he's an attacker and wallops him with her purse. He arrests her for assaulting an officer and hauls her off to jail.

Zac soon realizes things aren't what they seem. Ali is no hooker…she's actually a youth librarian from upstate New York. Much to Zac's dismay, she's also well connected. She's friends with several state and federal judges who intercede on her behalf. He's forced to let her go. Thinking she'll leave town as soon as she's released, he checks her out of her cheap motel room. But she has no intention of leaving. Ali's staking out the truck stop too. Looking for the man who picked up a 13-year-old runaway named Peeky, there a week ago. The girl attended a teen drop-in program at Ali's library and she's not leaving until she finds her.

There's a rodeo in town and her room's already been rented out. In fact, there are no rooms to be found anywhere in the area for the next several days. Ali's temporarily homeless and its all Zac's fault! There's only one thing to do…she'll just have to move in with the sheriff until she can find another place to stay. Zac thinks his houseguest is a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered hellion. She thinks he's an interfering, arrogant bully. But when they work together to investigate a case of kidnapping, human trafficking, and murder...sparks begin to fly. Is this any way to start a romance?

Excerpt from Little Girl Lost

She had to get into her room and lock the door before he caught up with her….

"Hold up! Hold up!"

"What the hell? Her heart began thumping in her chest. A hold up? Did he mean to rob her? Or worse? Holy shit! He was right behind her! She grabbed the room key out of her pocket and lunged at the door. Hands shaking, she got the key in the lock and turned it. As soon as the door was ajar, a huge paw of a hand shoved it all the way open.

"I'm Sher…" before he could finish, Ali let out a scream, loud enough to wake the dead in the next county.

She quickly slipped the heavy bag off her shoulder and turned on him, first throwing the hot coffee in his face, then slamming the end of her satchel-style purse into his crotch. He bellowed in pain, sounding like an angry moose. The pain was so intense he paled then staggered. She hadn't stopped him, only slowed him down a little. And not for long. He was flailing his arms, one hand trying to wipe the burning coffee from his eyes, while the other reached for his testicles. Before he could move his hands to protect his balls, she swung the bag back, then forward, walloping him again, only this time harder! He groaned in agony, dropping to his knees. A few seconds later, he was howling in pain and making gagging sounds like he was gonna puke. Wanting to make sure he didn't get up again, she swung the bag and hit him upside the head. He felt like his skull was exploding. Stars and sparkles of light danced in front of him as he crumpled to the floor; sprawled on his belly across the threshold.

Ali looked down, trying to get her breathing under control. She was so scared she was hyperventilating. The last thing she needed was to pass out now. She had to get out of here before he came to. She couldn't step around him or over him. He was huge! She'd have to walk on him to make her escape out the door. That wasn't going to be easy…he was writhing on the floor like a snake! She started yelling for help at the top of her lungs.

She grabbed the doorjamb for support and stepped up on his shoulder. From there it was one step to the middle of his back, then another to his ass and then she'd be out the door, safe and home free. She was about to take the next step when she heard an enraged growl. Before she knew what was happening his body shifted, his shoulder lifting. She lost her footing and he threw her off. Ali shrieked even louder as she fell backward into the room. Landing with a thud on her butt and causing excruciating pain in her ankle. She watched in terror as he struggled to his knees. His face was red and contorted in rage, his burning eyes glaring at her with fury. She let out another bloodcurdling scream. "Help! Help! He's going to kill me!" she wailed as she scrabbled back away from him. Her right hand plunged into her purse and began searching frantically for the pepper spray and her stun gun flashlight. She pulled them out and brandished them in front of him, but that only seemed to piss him off more. She was still screaming when she heard running footsteps.

"What's going on here?" a loud, authoritative voice demanded to know. A tall dark-haired man wearing a brown Stetson and a sheriff's badge appeared outside the door.

"This man broke into my room," she choked out. "He tried to attack me!"

"Like hell I did!" He turned his head to face the man.

The officer's mouth gaped open. "Sheriff, what in God's name happened to you?"

"Sheriff?" her eyes widened in disbelief. Oh shit!

"This…this…" he struggled to find the words. "This she-devil happened to me."

About the Author

Mia Frances is the pen name of author Mary Vigliante Szydlowski. She writes across several genres using different pseudonyms. As Mia Frances, she's the author of the steamy romantic suspense novel, Little Girl Lost and the IN HIS KEEPING erotic romance, murder mystery thriller series: IN HIS KEEPING: TAKEN, IN HIS KEEPING: BANISHED, and IN HIS KEEPING: CLAIMED.

Her Science Fiction/Fantasy works include novels: The Ark (Jarl Szydlow), The Colony (Mary Vigliante), The Land (Mary Vigliante), Source of Evil (Mary Vigliante), and a novella, The Hand of My Enemy (Mary Vigliante Szydlowski)

As Mary Vigliante Szydlowski, she's also the author of dark fantasies: Dark Realm and Worship the Night, mainstream novel Silent Song, and seven children's books: Ghoul School, Millie Muldoon & the Christmas Mystery, Millie Muldoon & the Case of the Thanksgiving Turkey-napper, A Puddle for Poo, Kia's Manatee, The Duck in the Hole, and I Can't Talk, I've Got Farbles In My Mouth.

Her short stories, articles, children's stories, essays, and poems have appeared in anthologies, books, magazines, newspapers, and on the web.

She is a member of the Authors Guild, RWA (Romance Writers of America), SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), and SFWA (Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America).

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1 comment:

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thanks for being my guest, Mia!

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