Sarah Andre: Tall, Dark, & Damaged

Tall, Dark & Damaged, Sarah Andre’s second romantic suspense novel (after Locked, Loaded, & Lying) is even better than her first. Her damaged hero, Devon Ashby, has returned to Chicago for the first time in twelve years, since he ran from his wealthy but highly dysfunctional family to build his own life—and his own successful real estate development firm—in New York City. He expects to sign for the trust fund left him by his long dead mother and return to his wealthy and socially active fiancee in short order.

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Tall Dark and DamagedHe doesn’t expect the shocking surprise his vengeful father has for him, which may spell the destruction of everything Devon has worked for.

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When Devon left Chicago, he left his high school sweetheart, Hannah Moore, behind, never quite understanding why she refused to go with him, cutting himself off from her as well as from his family, even dropping his father’s name, Wickham, for his mother’s, Ashby. Running into Hannah, now the owner of an art restoration firm, in his father’s house working to repair damage down by an unexplained fire, is as big a shock, and as disturbing, as anything his father has threatened.

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Tall, Dark & Damaged weaves the never-quite-forgotten relationship between Devon and Hannah with complicated business dealings and long buried family secrets. As Hannah fights to hold on to her business and provide a home for her aged and ailing aunt, Devon struggles to understand the feelings and reactions of Hannah, his siblings, and his father, both of them caught in a web of emotions anchored far in the past.

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Andre does a fine job of painting characters for whom the tragedies of the past and the struggles of the present combine to force them into situations that seem to have no solutions. Love may conquer all, but it has quite a fight to get there in Tall, Dark & Damaged.

Sarah Andre: Locked, Loaded, & Lying

Sarah Andre’s debut novel, Locked, Loaded, & Lying is a fast-paced, page-turning tale of romantic suspense.

Locked Loaded LyingLock Roane, known on the professional ski circuit for his Bad Boy persona Lock and Load, doesn’t remember if he killed his girlfriend, Tiffany van der Kellen, almost a year ago. He knows he was found, covered in blood, with her body, and he knows he’ll be standing trial for her murder in a few days, but there’s an essential blank in that terrible evening he hasn’t been able to fill in. Even his lawyer believes he did it, and Lock is afraid it’s true.

Jordan Sinclair is a free-lance reporter searching for Lock, who has been successfully hiding from the public and press since making bail (under questionable circumstances) after the murder. A tabloid paper is offering a huge reward for a photo and article on the skier’s whereabouts, and Jordan desperately needs the money to pay off a dangerous blackmailer from her past.

 Lock and Jordan collide when she runs off the road while searching for the cabin where she suspects he is hiding, and he rescues her from a snow bank. Once safe in the cabin Lock shares with his brother Leo, Jordan claims she’s a private investigator out to prove his innocence.

Both Lock and Jordan are running from the past, Lock from guilt, Jordan from fear. Solving the mystery of Tiffany’s murder may be the only way for either of them to reclaim their lives—but will Jordan ruin Lock’s in the process?

The mystery central to Locked, Loaded, & Lying is deep and complicated, and Andre handles it beautifully. Sparks fly between Lock and Jordan from the moment she wakes up in his cabin, and burst into flame even as they try to hide their personal truths from each other. Will they discover the truth behind the murder before the past overtakes them? You won’t put the book down until you find out.

At RWA 2013 – Saturday

RWA 2013 wrapped up on Saturday, July 20, with attendees looking increasingly bleary-eyed as we stumbled from workshop to workshop.  In the morning I had a chance to visit with a number of friends, and even met someone from New Zealand who had read my Golden Heart entry–that was a thrill!

I went to a workshop on Key Writing Skills, giving by agent Jill Marsal and Starcatcher (and now multi-published author) Robin Perini.  This was an excellent hour; I have a whole page of notes.  Four main areas: Develop Great Characters (characterization means observable traits, while character is true nature revealed under pressure; goal and motivation always important); Create a Compelling Story (braiding plot and character, internal versus external conflicts); Focus on Story and Pacing (show character changes in every scene, while turning points change the story’s direction); and Revise and Polish (watch out for backstory, telling rather than showing, overwriting, etc.).

The rehearsal for the awards ceremony, a precaution against someone falling off the stage, accompanied by a plea not to drink beforehand, only took about half an hour.  Then I caught a sandwich with fellow Firebird and Lucky 13 Oberon Wonch and her roomie.

I went to two more workshops on Saturday afternoon, “Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts,” by Margie Lawson (I’ve been to Margie’s workshops in the past, but she’s always interesting), and a really terrific presentation of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! methodology by Jessica Brody.  I’m reading Snyder’s book now, and I’m going to see if that helps me plot the new novel I haven’t been making much progress on.

The last event of the conference, on Saturday evening, was the Awards ceremony for the Golden Heart and RITA winners.  Cheryl Bolen, my long-time friend and conference roomie, and I went downstairs about 7 PM and had a glass of champagne (in spite of that warning) while we waited for the VIP door to open.  We made out way to our table near the front and found it full of West Houston RWA folks:  Lark Howard and I as Golden Heart finalists (both in the paranormal category), Sophie Jordan as a RITA finalist (novella), and Sarah Andre standing in for a finalist friend, Krista Hall (romantic suspense) who was unable to attend the conference.  Cheryl, Susan Breeden, Tera Childs, and Sophie’s husband were our guests.  As it happened, the only one of us to accept an award was Sarah, reading a thank you from the absent Krista.  Rounding out the West Houston participation were Colleen Thompson presenting a RITA and Christie Craig, the evening’s emcee (entertaining the audience with her usual humor and standing on a box to reach the microphone).  Winners, finalists and audience all had a wonderful time.

Kay and Cheryl at the Awards Ceremony

Kay and Cheryl at the Awards Ceremony

Sunday, and time to go home, came all too soon.  Somehow I managed to stuff all the free books I’d picked up (yeah, I need more books.  But, she added virtuously, some were for my neighbor who looks after Nutmeg when I’m away) into my suitcase.  Cheryl, Colleen Thompson, and I caught the shuttle to the airport, where a Skycap who had clearly been dealing with ladies from RWA all morning, cheerfully told Colleen that if she could pull “one hardback and one paperback” out of her suitcase, it would slip through under the fifty-pound weight limit.  He was right.

Even with a stop at the grocery store, I was home in time for dinner.  Nutmeg the cat was glad to see me (and the roast chicken I’d picked up on the way home) and I was glad to sleep in my own bed.  But I’m still processing all I learned at the conference, getting in touch with new friends, and catching up in general.

And definitely looking forward to RWA 2014 next summer in San Antonio!

 

 

Catching Up

Actually, I feel like I’ve been trying to catch up ever since I got back from California, and that was that was seven weeks ago!  But I’ve had a lot going on since then.  Let’s face it, life never really slows down, does it?  And would we really want it to?  All that busy stuff keeps us up and moving.  I haven’t been bored, I’ll say that much.

Last week I had a birthday–let’s not worry about which one it was–and Jo Anne, Sarah Andre, Lark Howard and I celebrated by driving out to Katy Budget Books for a launch party for our friend Shana Galen’s latest book, When You Give a Duke a Diamond.  It says a lot about Houston traffic that it took us about an hour and twenty minutes to get out to Katy at rush hour and about twenty-five minutes to get back two hours later.  But the time navigating through traffic (Jo Anne was driving, but she got a lot of advice from the back seat) was well spent.  At dinner later we realized that without our writing connections, the four of us would probably never have met, and that would have been a loss.  Lark gave us her take on the evening last week at Reading, Writing and Rambling, the blog she shares with our friend Pat O’Dea Rosen.

Later in the week I had a second birthday dinner with my next-door neighbor and her daughter, a lovely meal at a charmingly old-fashioned Italian restaurant, Antonio’s in LaPorte, Texas.  Seafood fettuccini with lemon garlic sauce, yum.  LaRue gave me this charming little porcelain kitten box.  It’s less than three inches long, so I’m not sure what it’s meant to hold, but for the moment it’s sitting on my monitor stand, after becoming yet another victim of my attempts at photography.

Books:  not much reading this week.  I did finish Tera Lynn Childs’ Just for Fins, the third book in her Young Adult mermaid trilogy.  I don’t read a lot of YA fiction, but I’ve enjoyed this series, a light paranormal tale set in Florida (and underwater, of course).  I started Cheryl Bolen’s Marriage of Inconvenience, which I am enjoying.  I have an early copy; the book will be released October 2.

TV:  This afternoon I finally watched last week’s SYTYCD, a pure performance episode.  I don’t know, or really care, who’s going to win the titles Tuesday evening (and I’ll have to record that one, too–I have a meeting that night), but all four of the remaining dancers are amazing.  Who would have thought a few weeks ago that Cyrus the Animator would be in the final four?

This evening, of course, I watched Hell on Wheels.  Another bloodbath.  This is the most violent show I watch–I was going to say the only one, but Major Crimes last week ran up a pretty substantial body count–and I remain completely hooked.  By the characters, and the background, not the bloodshed.

This week I’m looking forward to the return of Bones, the premier of Revolution and the season finale (alas) of White CollarWarehouse 13 has three more episodes to run, and Castle will be back next week.  There is no standard TV season these days, is there?  But there are always new stories to enjoy, and, I hope, to learn from.