Conrad County Marine

by Rachel Lee



From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Lee comes a story of one woman’s survival and her protector’s promise to find answers

The arrival of a single black rose signals danger to come for Kylie Brewer. Recovering from a brutal attack that claimed three years of her memory and her chance at a promising career, Kylie just wants to pick up the remaining fragments of her life. She returns to her hometown of Conard City to live with her sister but soon learns that putting the past in its place won’t be easy.

Marine sergeant Evan Cooper—a trusted family friend who agrees to help Kylie—can’t ignore his protective instincts. Or the steadily growing desire he feels for a woman who has overcome so much. He vows to help keep Kylie’s demons at bay…but someone else has plans to finish what they started.

Available from all fine bookstores and Harlequin online at: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=65934


Rachel Lee Talks about Writing “Conrad County Marine”

1 ) Where did you gather inspiration for Conard City?

Conard County had been rolling around in the back of my mind for some time until it emerged as the setting for Exile’s End. Before I knew it, I was setting a second book there (Cherokee Thunder). Interestingly, my editor called as soon as she’d finished reading the first book and asked if there would be a second. I told her I was already working on it, and that I thought of these as my Conard County books. And there it was.

Nothing in particular inspired it. The town itself, Conard City, is based on a conglomeration of small towns where I’ve lived.

2) How do you think the setting affects the story?

The setting has a huge effect on the story. Given that it is limited to one county with a low population, I can’t do just any kind of story believably. It constrains me in some ways, but those constraints can be useful creatively. It also allows me to have continuing characters which both my readers and I enjoy.

3) Is anything in your new release based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

That’s a very hard question to answer. Some emotional realities are clearly part of my life experience. Actual events, such as amnesia, are not. It is part of my job as a writer to vividly imagine myself in someone else’s experience. I need to be there, to imagine it until I feel it… and I’m sometimes quite surprised by what I discover or learn. The thing is, no matter how vivid and true my imagination is (and many have written to tell me that they’re astonished that I understand so well) I never forget that however well-realized a character is, it will not be everyone’s experience. We are all very different but in many ways all the same. It’s an interesting conundrum that never fails to intrigue me.

4) How long on average does it take you to write a book?

That depends on the book and other demands on my time. Some books are more difficult. Sometimes life needs attending as it does for everyone. I write seven days a week when I can, but I can’t always. So I will not say how long it takes. It takes however long it needs.

5) What is the biggest misconception about your genre?

That it’s pure fluff. That it’s mind candy. Or that it’s just an excuse for titillation. Many of us romance authors deal with very real human problems and situations. In fact, as I’ve said before, I think of my books as a novel with a romance.

To those who scorn the genre, I suggest you look at music. How many songs are there about love?


6) Any tips to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Write. Just write anything. Two words often lead to ten, and ten into a paragraph. It doesn’t have to be work on your book or story. But write. Soon the words will find you again.

7) How do you relax?

I am a great Cricket fan. I especially love One Day Internationals and Twenty-20s. But one of the things I enjoy is the huge international participation. I have favorite teams all over the world, and favorite players, too. Cricket has also brought me friends from around the world. Merely mention a team or a player’s name and you can converse with people from almost anywhere.

8) What is your favorite book and why?

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien had the greatest story-telling voice I’ve ever read. His words carry you along. Dive in anywhere to read a passage and you may emerge hours later. He’s hypnotic, his prose lyrical, and those books will simply sweep you away.

9) What is your current end-of-summer read?

A stack of books is waiting for me.   I venture across many genres, and I read a lot of non-fiction for ideas and information. My favorite romance authors are there, of course, (I won’t name them for fear of overlooking someone I adore) and I finished the most recent Jack Reacher novel a few weeks ago. At the moment I’m studying Practical Homicide Investigation.



When Rachel Lee was 9 years old, her mother would tell her to go out and play, but, instead, she hid in the basement reading and writing stories. Now, four decades later, Rachel would like to go out and play in the Florida sunshine, but her editors force her to hide in her office and write.
That may be the only straight line in Rachel Lee’s life. From anthropology to computer science, from UFOs to Atlantis theories, from egrets and herons on graceful wing to Siberian Huskies pouncing around the living room, there’s little that has not or might not attract her inquisitive attention.
Despite varied interests, Rachel is, above all, a student and observer of people. How they stand, whether in couples or casual groups. Facial expressions. Strides. Gestures. And, when talking with people, the question she most commonly asks is, “Why?”
Rachel’s wide range of interests, particularly that in people, infuse her books with variety, detail, and a depth of human emotion that draws readers into her imagination and brings her characters to life.


Dark Whispers

by Debra Webb


A chilling new spin-off series from USA TODAY bestselling author Debra Webb sure to keep you up all night…

Former homicide detective Clint Hayes has his first client as a private investigator: a fragile beauty he isn’t sure he can trust. An injury has left Natalie Drummond with gaps in her memory, and she sees and hears things that aren’t there. But she’s sure she shot an intruder in her Birmingham mansion. So where’s the body, the gun, the evidence? When it’s clear someone is trying to kill his vulnerable client, Clint appoints himself her protector, working overtime not to fall for her. But someone is dead set that Natalie never regains her memories—or makes new ones with Clint.

Available at all fine booksellers and at Harlequin online here: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=67318

[Let’s take a peek into Debra’s writing space. It’s quite impressive but look at what she says about it…]

“Right now I’m in the midst of building a new house with a bigger office, but for now, this is where I work!”






At the age of nine, Debra began writing stories for the characters who lived in her too-vivid imagination. By 18 she had turned wife, mother, and career woman, leaving her writing behind. But those imaginary characters just wouldn’t go away.
For the next 18 years she did everything from managing a Captain D’s seafood restaurant to holding an executive secretarial position at NASA, while the characters and their stories continued to traipse around inside her head. Eventually they just had to come out and Debra began the journey that would take her to where her heart had been all along—writing romance.
Debra was born in Alabama, but now lives in Tennessee. Her journey, however, wasn’t a simple trek northward to the Volunteer state. First, Debra, her husband, and oldest daughter did a little traipsing of their own. From Texas to Berlin, Germany, Debra followed her husband’s military assignments. Finally landing in Tennessee, they had their second daughter and settled for the rest of their lives in a small community they fell in love with on sight.
Write Debra with your comments at P.O. Box 64, Huntland, Tennessee 37345.


Sunrise Crossing

by Jodi Thomas


Return to peaceful Crossroads, Texas, where community comes first and love thrives in the unlikeliest places…
Yancy Grey is slowly putting his life back together after serving time for petty theft. As he rebuilds an old house, he finally has a sense of stability, but he can’t stop thinking of himself as just an ex-con. Until one night, he finds a mysterious dark-haired beauty hiding in his loft. But who is she, and what secret is she protecting?
The art gallery Parker Lacey manages is her life—she has no time for friends, and certainly not lovers. But when her star artist begs Parker for help, she finds herself in a pickup truck, headed for the sleepy town of Crossroads. A truck driven by a strong, silent cowboy…
Gabe Snow has been a drifter since he left Crossroads at seventeen after a violent incident. When he accepts a job in his hometown, he’ll have to decide whether he can put the worst night of his life behind him and build a future in the community that raised him.



Community is very important in all your books. How are you involved with your community in Texas?

I often feel like I live in two towns. My home is in the historical part of Amarillo where I grew up and taught school. Fifteen years ago I accepted an appointment as Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M in Canyon, 15 miles from my home. Now, I very much feel like I live in both towns. I’ve volunteered in the schools, churches, museums and art galleries. I’m a member of library boards, book clubs and historical societies.

But, the most fun thing I do is work with beginning writers in both communities. Last month I spoke to the writing rally at a grade school and the same week I gave a talk on writing memories for grandchildren. My office doors are always open to students who are writing and we often fill a table at the local coffee house as we talk writing.

“Sunrise Crossing” is the fifth book in the Ransom Canyon series, how does that feel?

It feels great. I couldn’t wait to get started on this book. The characters had been dancing in my mind waiting for their turn. Sunrise Crossing has one of the most tender love stories I’ve ever written plus a layered mystery that will keep readers awake. Yancy stepped into the series in the first book and readers couldn’t help but love him. In this story, he gets his chance at love.

Where do you draw inspiration for Crossroads, Texas?

I wanted to use a very small town that most people simply drive through. If readers stop, they’ll step into lives and loves that are deep and fascinating. I also saw the town as a crossroads for people where their lives could go in more than one direction. We all face those times thinking that we’ll turn down another road for a while without ever realizing that we’ll never pass that crossroad again.

Parker Lacey manages an art gallery. Do you have a personal favorite?

The first time I went to the MET in New York I was lost to the real world for hours. When I saw Mona’s Lilies at MMOA I cried they were so beautiful. No matter how many times I go I will never have enough time to see the wonder of it all.I went to Paris last spring and didn’t get to see the Louvre. I’ve got to go back!

What would you say is your one writing quirk?

I like to write in total silence. No music. Then I can hear my characters talking to me. All other times I listen to music.

Do you write every day?

Yes. I think a part of my brain is always writing. Like a pack rat picking up bits of stories, phrases I hear, dreams that linger. I may not have a notepad or computer in sight, but I’m cobbling together stories in my mind.

What’s one question that you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.

Why do you put so many twins in books?

I often put twins in books because I have twin sisters two years younger than me. To me, the average family has twins. My sisters are identical. Our father couldn’t tell them apart. I’ve said I am against cloning because look what happened when the egg split with them. I had two great years of childhood and from then on my job seemed to be watching over them.—I’m still doing it.

What are you working on next?

I’m putting the finishing touches on book five in the series WILD HORSE SPRINGS. It’s going to have a few surprises for Crossroads.

As soon as I finish I’m heading to New Mexico. We have a place on the Red River where I’ll take some time to think about Book 6. “See you on the Red.”




JODI THOMAS has published over 30 books in both the historical romance and contemporary genres, the majority of which are set in her home state of Texas. Publishers Weekly calls her novels “Distinctive…Memorable,” and that in her stories’ “[tension] rides high, mixed with humor and kisses more passionate than most full-on love scenes.” In 2006, Romance Writers of America (RITA) inducted Thomas into the RWA Hall of Fame for winning her third RITA for THE TEXAN’S REWARD. She also received the National Readers’ Choice Award in 2009 for TWISTED CREEK (2008) and TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN (2008). While continuing to work as a novelist, Thomas also functions as Writer in Residence at the West Texas A&M University campus, where she inspires students and alumni in their own writing pursuits.



Six-Gun Showdown

by Delores Fossen



“I’m not dead.”

The voice mail rocks deputy sheriff Jax Crockett to his core. A year ago, Paige was murdered by the Moonlight Strangler. Yet his ex-wife just showed up at his ranch—out of options and out of time. There are only two reasons Paige would come back to Texas with a killer hot on her heels: Jax and their toddler son. Faking her death was the only way to keep them alive. But now it’s Jax who’s risking everything to protect his family. The cowboy lawman is also reawakening a powder keg of desire. A desire that’s primed and ready to explode. Giving in will up the ante, igniting the embers of a love they may not live to claim.

Available from all fine booksellers and directly from Harlequin: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=65483

Black Pepper Popcorn

Black Pepper Popcorn

It’s so simple and so good. You can make this in a popcorn popper or in a pot on the stovetop. I make it in the microwave by using a sturdy paper plate. On the plate, I pour in a small amount of oil, the popcorn kernels, and then I sprinkle it with black pepper. I cover it with a thick plastic bowl that’s about the same size as the plate and cook it on high in the microwave until it all pops. I invert the plate so the popcorn is all in the bowl, add some salt and enjoy. There’s minimal clean-up.


About Delores Fossen

USA TODAY bestselling author, Delores Fossen, has sold over eighty novels with millions of copies of her books in print worldwide. She’s received the Booksellers’ Best Award for romantic suspense, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Rita®. In addition, she’s had nearly a hundred short stories and articles published in national magazines.


Secrets and Lies

by Shirlee McCoy




Attacked in her classroom, widowed teacher Ariel Martin’s only thought is for her unborn child. When her student’s brother, rookie K-9 officer Tristan McKeller, and his faithful dog save her life, she can’t thank him enough. She knows Tristan won’t rest until she’s safe, but she doesn’t want him or his police colleagues digging into her dangerous past. After all, the only person who would want to hurt her is dead…or is he? With her and her child’s life on the line, she’ll have to trust Tristan with her secrets if she wants to finally get the fresh start she’s been desperately seeking.

Available from all fine booksellers and directly from Harlequin: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=65556



Whoopie Pies


1 cup sugar

½ cup shortening

2 egg yolks

2 cups sifted flour

5 tbls cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup milk


2 egg whites

½ shortening

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift flour, sift again with cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Cream sugar and shortening. Add egg yolks and beat well. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

Beat together filling ingredients until light and fluffy.

When cookies are done, remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack. When cool, make cookie sandwiches by spreading filling between two cookies.


About Shirlee McCoy

Shirlee McCoy has always loved making up stories. As a child she daydreamed elaborate tales in which she was the heroine — gutsy, strong and invincible. Though she soon grew out of her superhero fantasies, her love for storytelling never diminished.
Shirlee knew early that she wanted to write inspirational fiction and began writing her first novel when she was a teenager. Still, it wasn’t until her third son was born that she truly began pursuing her dream of being published. Three years later she sold her first book.
Now a busy mother of four, Shirlee is a homeschool mom by day and an inspirational author by night. She and her husband and children live in Maryland and share their home with a dog and a guinea pig.


Beauty and the Bodyguard

by Lisa Childs



Can this bachelor bodyguard save his true love from mortal danger…on her wedding day?

Bride-to-be Megan Lynch has just learned her ex, presumed dead marine Gage Huxton, is alive after surviving enemy captivity. But before she can break up with her fiancé, gunmen storm her wedding and take hostages! Megan will do anything to stay alive—for herself and a second chance with Gage. But there’s more terror to endure before she can say yes to the dress—and her dream groom!

What do the gunmen want? Gage works double time to unravel the mystery and save the beauty who still holds his heart. As the wedding crashers open fire, Gage puts his life on the line to protect Megan and convince her of his love.

Available from all fine booksellers and directly from Harlequin: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=65567


Mexican wedding cookies (Because most of the book takes place during a wedding)


½ cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped or ground almonds or pecans

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup powdered sugar


  1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and water. Add the flour and almonds, mix until blended. …
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Shape dough into balls or crescents. Place on an unprepared cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
  4. Roll in powdered sugar when cool.

About Lisa Childs

Lisa has been writing since she could first form sentences and transfer them to paper with crayon. Born soft-spoken into a big, boisterous family where only he who speaks loudest is heard, she learned early to express herself through the written word.
Her first books revolved around the antics of the family dog until she discovered Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Then writing mysteries became second nature for the author who arrived in the world on a dark, stormy Halloween night. When she was 11, the local paper interviewed her for a book she had written involving a kidnapping plot.
During the day Lisa is a part-time insurance agent and full-time wife and mother. She has two beautiful daughters who share her love of the written word and a husband who provides loving support with praise and extra housecleaning duty.
When night falls and fog from their 15-acre swamp wraps around their house, Lisa becomes the focused writer, spinning stories she hopes her readers will enjoy.
Readers are welcome to contact Lisa at PO Box 139, Marne, MI 49435.



by Cate Holahan

Ana Bacon, a young housewife, tumbles off a cruise ship into the dark and deadly waters, but did she take her secrets with her?

Investigator Ryan Monahan is a numbers man. So when his company sends him the Bacon case, which could net a ten million dollar payout, Monahan doubts that her death is just a tragic accident. But the husband has a substantial alibi and a number of witnesses claim to have seen Ana fall. So the official ruling seems to be substantiated.

Still, the more Monahan uncovers about Ana’s life, the more he realizes how many people would kill to keep her secrets hidden. And the closer he gets to the truth, the greater the odds grow that he, too, will take a fatal fall.

Cate Holahan looks at the dark underbelly of a marriage from the perspectives of the detective and the victim in her tense and enthralling page-turner, The Widower’s Wife.

Available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.



1.) What inspired you to write The Widower’s Wife?

Many of my thriller ideas come from things I am afraid of in my own life.

Before starting The Widower’s Wife, my husband and I bought our first house. We have a mortgage that is heavily dependent on his salary. I worried what would happen to our family if my spouse ever lost his job and, simultaneously, our house lost value—a position that so many families found themselves in during the recent recession. Jokingly, I told my husband that we might have to rely on my life insurance policy. Once I’d verbalized the idea, I realized it would make a compelling story. 

2.) What kind of research went into this book?

For this novel, I studied the insurance industry. What are the rules for life insurance policies? What kind of odds are considered when pricing policies? I learned a ton of statistics about various insurable interests: lives, cars, marriages, etc. Some of these facts were worked into my main investigator character.

 3.) Can you tell us about some of the creepy things you had to Google while writing The Widower’s Wife?

I really hope Google knows that I am a writer. Otherwise, there’s definitely someone at the FBI looking into my web searches. I did a lot of research into how drugs and people are smuggled into the U.S. from the Caribbean. Revealing anymore would spoil elements of the plot.

 4.) Did you speak with any experts in the fields of statistics, insurance policies, etc during your research?

I am fortunate to know several people in the insurance industry who let me pick their brains on what kinds of considerations go into issuing policies. I also think being a business reporter for years allowed me to parse some of the statistical data myself.

 5.) Investigator Ryan Monahan is an incredible character with a statistics driven brain. What was it like getting inside the mind of this character?

I loved thinking like Ryan. I tend to be a more passionate, emotionally driven person so I enjoyed trying to see the world with his analytical gaze. He’s a skeptic who distrusts most of the information he is given and is always weighing it against his own database of stats and odds. He’s constantly asking: is this assumption likely? What are the chances this isn’t true?

Personally, I could use a bit more Ryan in my life. Despite writing thrillers, my default assumption is that everyone that I meet is fundamentally honest, keeps their word, means what they say and has other people’s best interests at heart as well as their own. I still think this is primarily true. But, I am learning that in certain circumstances my world view can be a bit naïve.

6.) Would you consider writing another book with Ryan as investigator?

I would love to write another book with both Ryan and Ana. I think Ryan is a great character that seems to have resonated with a bunch of people. Jeff Ayers wrote for RT Book Reviews that he was “so intriguing that readers will be anxious to read about his further adventures.” I think he could have other insurance crime based cases. I also think that Ana’s position at the end of the book would be interesting to explore. I’d really love to continue the series.

 7.) Ana’s parents back story adds a great layer to the tale. Did you decide to

bring them into the story early on or was this a later development?

I always wanted Ana to be the American born child of deported immigrants. The struggle to fit in without a support system and the pain of not having her family around for her formative years is central to who she is and, I think, what makes her a compelling character. It’s why she is so self-sacrificing for her family. Also, having her parents removed when she was a pre-teen, made her a survivalist in some respects. That kind of I-just-have-to-make-it-through attitude can lead to questionable moral choices, which makes her more complex. And she pays dearly for some of those choices.

8.) Do you have any writing rituals?

I write everyday from 9a.m. until 2:30 p.m., stopping midday for 20 minutes to walk the dog. I edit after everyone in my house goes to sleep, including my husband. Usually from 11 p.m. on…

9.) Are you attending any writer’s conferences this year?

I am attending Bouchercon (September 15-18), and I will be on a panel Saturday at 4:30 p.m. about pacing. The lineup is great. I am excited to meet Sara Blaedel and Suzanne Chazin, among others.

10.) What are you working on next?

I am working on a novel about a writer with a shady past who explores the whole art imitates life vs. life imitates art battle. It’s a taut, creepy mystery, and I am definitely excited about it.





About Cate Holahan

CATHERINE “CATE” HOLAHAN is an award-winning journalist and former television producer. Holahan’s articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record and on web sites for CBS, MSN Money, NorthJersey.com, BusinessWeek.com, and CNBC. Her short fiction won first place in the 19th annual Calliope competition, a magazine published by the writer’s group of American Mensa.

She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, ages 6 and 4, and dog.

The Widower’s Wife is her second novel, published by Crooked Lane Books. Dark Turns was her first.’