Crisis of Identity was such a fun book to write. I wrote Tess' character bold and daring, giving her spunk and sass. Heather at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews said, "The absolute, best thing about Crisis of Identity was Tess. She was awesome! There is no better word to sum up her personality. She was funny, brave, and completely ready to kick some butt if need be. She was my kind of heroine. She didn’t need a man to take care of her, she did it on her own, and did it with style. By far, hands down, my new favorite female character."
Since its release, I've had several readers (and reviewers) bemoan the fact the story seemed...um...unresolved. One reviewer went so far as to say if I intended to write a sequel she didn't intend to read it. Boo on her. Her loss, I say. Others have hoped for a sequel, and those readers gave me the encouragement to resolve the issues left dangling in Crisis #1.
I can understand why readers would want more. Really, I do. Tess is a hard character to say goodbye to and I gave her a happy for now ending when she deserved a happily ever after. And at the risk of giving up spoilers ****SPOILER ALERT**** I don't think Trevor was the guy to give her the happily ever after her heart craved, despite his ultra-charming, testosterone-laden hotness. I mean, who can resist a bad boy in a cowboy hat.
Well...as it turns out... No, I'm not going to tell you the how and the why. You'll have to read the sequel and find out for yourself.
So I knew if I was going to write a sequel about the further adventures of Tess, I would have to get back into her character, and I realized that might not be the easiest thing to do considering Crisis of Identity was released over a year ago. I started writing and stalled out. Picked up the story again a few months later and couldn't get very far. I needed Tess to be the same, spunky kick butt character, but...with a little more maturity.
You see, the trouble was I had learned a few things about writing romantic suspense between then and now. Romantic suspense is a fine balancing act between the romance plot line and the suspense plot line. Veer too sharply one way or the other and readers of the genre get kind of...testy. Suspense is generally a plot-driven genre. Scene after scene of tense, edge of the seat action, one heart stuttering moment after another. Romance on the other hand is very much character-driven. Romance readers want the writer to wallow their characters in emotion and feelings, analyzing their every mood and sentiment toward the object of their affections...or lust. Can you see how diametrically opposed those two concepts could be?
So the romantic suspense writer not only strives for balance between romance and suspense, but must also be acutely aware that her plot-driven suspense must be supported by in-depth characterization typical of character-driven romances. Deep point of view. A tricky balancing act.
So...dear readers, I worked hard to bring you a sequel to Crisis of Identity (Crisis #1). The sequel is entitled Crisis of Serenity (Crisis #2) and I expect its release sometime in 2014. Right now, it's with my beta readers. Once I do some more editing, then I'll submit it to my publisher. More news on its upcoming release as it becomes available.
Here's the blurb....
Tess Copeland lives a quiet life in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thanks to the government’s witness protection program, she enjoys the freedom of never having to glance over her shoulder to see if someone is following her. Life has become safe, serene...and boring. Her heart longs for something more than just existing...until a ghost from her past shatters her serenity.
Once upon a time, Tess was stuck between the FBI and the men the feds were trying to take down. Jake Coleman is the U.S. Marshal who extracted her from the jam she was in with the FBI, a man she could have fallen for...hard...if she had let herself. It’s been a year since she last saw Jake, and in all the months that have passed, he’s never tried to find her. The longer he keeps his distance, the more she wonders why his absence hurts so much.
When a stranger comes to town searching for her, all of Tess’ old fears are resurrected. Asking Jake for help with her current crisis might lure him into a dangerous trap involving murder, kidnapping, and revenge. When Jake and Tess come face-to-face with the past, they will have to use all their wits to survive.
Ooops, yeah, I let a plot twist slip in that blurb, didn't I? No mention of cowboy Trevor. Wonder what that means, huh?
So here's a little excerpt, just to tease you. Enjoy.
My stomach contracted in a spasm of anxiety. Iverson knew where I worked. It wouldn’t take much digging to figure out where I lived. When would he show up at my front door? Would he break into my apartment and hide out there, laying in wait for me like the criminal that he was? He should have never been released from custody. The Colorado cops should have held him until they found all the evidence they needed. Surely they could have arraigned him on some trumped up charge. He had blood all over his hands—maybe not literally but figuratively.
By the time I dodged traffic crossing the street, trudged across the parking lot, and inserted the key into the lock of my apartment door, I was convinced Iverson had found out where I lived and he’d pounce on me as soon as I entered. I slammed the door open and put my hand on Joyce’s head to protect her from whatever was about to happen, but nothing had disturbed the apartment’s serenity since I left early that morning. Even my neighbor’s usual bass-heavy music didn’t penetrate the thin walls.
Joyce tugged at my ear. “Hungy,” she whined.
“Shhh, sweetie. I’ll fix you something in a minute. Aunt Tess has to change her clothes and get out of these shoes.” I sighed. “Actually, Aunt Tess needs… I need to sit down for a minute.” The tension coiling in the back of my head made me dizzy.
I dropped my bag on the small dinette table, sat Joyce in her high chair, plopped onto the worn sofa, and put my head in my hands. My life seemed so pathetic—me and my sister’s child, squashed together into one room and a bath with a worn dinette set, a ramshackle portable crib, a used hide-a-bed, and a 19” TV. The furnace rumbled as if to punctuate the dismal nature of our pitiful existence.
The phone rang, shattering my pity party into a billion pieces. I counted my pennies, so I wasn’t able to hide behind the shelter of Caller ID. Even that little extra would have made a dent in my limited disposable income. I wanted to yell at the anonymous caller. No, my car warranty hadn’t expired. I had no car. No, I didn’t have $6,000 of credit card debt. I had no credit card. And no, I didn’t want to contribute to a worthy cause. I needed charity—although I would never accept it. Since I had sworn off ever running a con again, I swallowed my pride and enrolled Joyce in the WIC program, but I refused to take anything from anybody for myself.
I let the blasted beast ring. There was nothing I wanted from anyone, except to be left alone.
My hand slid beneath the sofa cushion and latched onto a more certain means of security than witness protection. The texture of the gun’s grip should have felt like cold comfort, but it didn’t. I wasn’t supposed to own one. It was part of my immunity deal with the feds. They didn’t know me. They didn’t live my life. The day after I moved to Gatlinburg, I bought the gun anyway. Iverson’s presence in Gatlinburg meant I needed to start carrying it with me wherever I went.