Our question this week comes from Kim. She asks:

So Always Trust is your romantic suspense? Do you have a summary description for it already?

Thanks for the question, Kim. It made me start thinking about a good summary. It may still change, but here is the tentative back cover blurb for ALWAYS TRUST.

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Melissa Smith doesn’t ask for much. Children to teach, friends and family to rely on, and a quiet life to enjoy are all she needs. Unfortunately, finding that is harder than it seems. After stumbling onto a drug deal gone badly, Melissa becomes the target of one of Texas’ most notorious criminal. He will do anything to get her, including using her students as leverage. Soon, she realizes she only has one choice if she wants to survive – to trust the one man who let her down when she needed him the most.

Life never goes as planned; Detective Mark Hill knows that better than most. He never planned to be a cop. He never planned to be a single father. And he never planned to run into Melissa again. But now that their paths have crossed, he plans to do everything possible to keep the one who got away.

She was his first love and the first to break his heart. He was the one who destroyed her trust in love. Second chances can be a blessing but they aren’t as easy as they seem. Amidst the chaos and danger, can Mark and Melissa finally learn that when you love, you ALWAYS TRUST.

 
 
Here is our 2nd Fan Friday post. Remember - you can submit any type of question to me at any time. So, send them in!

Our question today comes from Amy. She asks:
What made you decide to write clean romances?


I'd love your thoughts - leave them here or on my Facebook page but let me know what you think!
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I’ve had several people ask me why, in the days post Fifty Shades, I would even attempt to write clean romances. According to them, people do not want to read about heartfelt romances. They do not want to read about meaningful connections and the trials couples can go through on the way to building a solid relationship. I disagreed and argued that is what life, what love, is about. They may eventually agree, but only with the huge caveat that reading about romance is only interesting with the sex.

To that, I say absolutely not.

Sex is a vital part of any healthy marriage. It is exciting, passionate, and necessary – and it was designed to be that way. I will not deny that, nor will most other people. But, I also think there is more to every relationship than sex and I firmly believe people can get lost in a love story without needing the intimate details.

But the unnecessary description of sex is not the only reason I chose to write clean romances. In fact, it’s not even the primary reason. No – that reason is sitting in the other room at the moment, cuddled up on her bed with a book. For nine years, this precious little girl has graced my life. I watch in awe as she experiences the world, learns to navigate friendships, and understands trust. My heart breaks as I realize how fast she is growing up and I anxiously and hesitantly wait to see what kind of woman she will become.

She is the reason I write clean romances. I want her to be able to talk freely about what Mama does, to be able to tell people about Mama’s books and never have to be worried. More importantly though, I want her know that while sex is beautiful, wonderful and even fun, it does not have to define her relationships. I want her to know that trust, love, commitment, friendship, and respect are just as equally important in a relationship. One day, my daughter will delve into the pages of my books just like she gets lost in the pages of Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and the Dork Diaries. When I write, I think about the basic truths I want her to know about romance and love and try to incorporate those into my books. It is part of my legacy to her.

Writing clean romance was never a lifelong goal I had. I’m not opposed to sex. In fact, if you look at my book list on Goodreads, you will see I have a pretty eclectic reading list, including many traditional romances that have varied scenes. But I have been gifted with the responsibility of raising a precious young lady and I want the words I write to mirror the conversations I have with her and the hopes I have for what she will learn as she grows.

Every author has to write what they feel and what they think is best; nothing is necessarily ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. This variety is what makes the literary world so fantastically beautiful. This is just my contribution to that world. 

 
 
Recently, I decided to start Fan Fridays - an opportunity for anyone to ask any burning question...techniques, characters, projects, what type of gum I chew, anything. So, if you have any questions, post them in the comments, leave a message on Facebook, or even send me an email. I hope ya'll enjoy this 'ongoing interview' as much as I will. 
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Our first question comes from Kim. She asks, 
'Does Is Love Enough and Running Towards Love have a series name?'

The short answer is no. The right answer should be yes. 

When I first started writing IS LOVE ENOUGH, I always intended it to be a standalone book. I truly felt as if Jason and Rebekah's story was complete and there was no reason to plan another story. After I released the book though, I started receiving comments and questions about Danny and Nikki. Readers wanted to know their back story...how did they meet, why were they so important to Jason, what did their future hold. 

Thus, RUNNING TOWARDS LOVE was born. This novella allowed me the opportunity to answer some of those burning questions about Danny and Nikki while giving readers a glimpse of Jason and Rebekah in the future. Along the way, I explored so much of Danny and Nikki and really enjoyed telling their story. In fact, they keep nudging me and letting me know their story isn't quite complete. Maybe we'll have to explore that in the future. 

I think at this point, I should probably combine the two books into a series, especially if Danny and Nikki have their way and a third book is created. The official name of the series will be THE LOVE SERIES.
 
 
Here's the first teaser from ALWAYS TRUST - Book 1 of the series Teaching the Heart. Hope you enjoy!

Turning on her heel, Melissa headed out of the club through the back entrance. The alley she stepped into was darker than she anticipated, and she was surprised to find herself shiver in the heat of the Houston August night. Hugging her arms to herself, she vowed to stand there for just a moment, grab a few breaths of fresh air, and head back inside. She’d had enough unwanted moments in dark places to last her a lifetime and she certainly did not desire another.

However, as she began to turn around, Melissa heard the unmistakable whimper of a young woman. Torn between the safety of the club and the unknown of the dark alley, Melissa headed towards the sound. She certainly refused to help someone if they were in need.

Cautiously, she approached the sound, noting as she did that the whimper was getting louder, as were other voices that surrounded it.

“This is the best there is, sir. I assure you.” She heard a voice laced with a thick Spanish accent.

“It better be,” a second voice chimed in. This voice, she noted, sounded American, possibly Texan. “If I’m going to be working with your boss, he’d better understand that I want the best, only the best, and that I always get what I want.”

“Si, senor. He knows. I assure you.”

Stepping lightly, Melissa placed her back against a wall so she could inch closer and get a better look. She knew it was stupid; but she believed she didn’t have a choice. She could still hear the small, choked out mysterious sounds and felt a pull to help the woman making them.

Peering around the corner suddenly brought the scene into full view. A black Chevy Suburban with deeply tinted windows was backed into the alley, blocking the entrance, its back doors open and a case of money resting in plain view in the back. An intimidating, large man stood to the left of the vehicle, arms folded across his chest, eyes scanning the alley. The moment Melissa saw him, she forced herself even closer to the wall, if that were even possible.

“What the hell is that sound?” the man with the Texas accent demanded. As the men surrounding him drew their guns and prepared to search the alley, Melissa stifled an intake of breath as she took in his appearance. Dark, chin length hair framed his face and in the moonlight she could see the outline of a tattoo climbing his neck, drawing even more attention to the scar running from his left eye to his chin.

“You assured me this was a safe location!” Instantly, he pulled out what Melissa could only surmise was a handgun, and forced it to the trembling man’s temple. She shut her eyes in haste wanting to block out every possible image of what she feared was coming.

“Si, senor. It is. We meet…” but the sentence was never finished as the sound of a silenced shot rang through the alley, followed by thud of what she could only assume was of the man falling to the ground; the entire incident seeming to take only seconds and at the same time, seeming to last forever.

Immediately, weapons were drawn from all men in the alley, no one knowing quite where to point.

“Man, what the hell is your problem?” Another Hispanic man screamed as he looked at the conniving white man in front of him. “There was no sound and there was no need to kill him.”

“I told you before,” he replied. “I am not a man who enjoys being made a fool of. You mess with my business, or with me, and I guarantee you will not live to tell about it.”

Guns still drawn, the white man stepped menacingly closer to the one who dared to question him. “What do you think you are going to do to me, ese?” he asked, purposely mispronouncing the Spanish word. “Are you going to shoot me? Do you think your friend here would do that for you if he were in your place?”

He glanced down the alley, satisfied for the moment. “Put your guns away and let’s leave,” he ordered the men around him.

At that very moment, the woman whom Melissa had initially been drawn to help whimpered once again. Quickly, Melissa reached her, crouched behind the dumpster and slammed her hand over the woman’s mouth, forcing her to be quiet. “That’s got to be Karen,” one of the other men whispered to the scarred man.

“She shouldn't be alive and she shouldn't be here! Do I need to finish your job before I finish you?”

“No sir.” He turned in the direction of Melissa and the woman but didn't make it two steps before all hell broke loose. Melissa wasn't sure where the shooting started, she only knew the chaos in the alley allowed her to stand and pull the woman with her back towards the club.

Immediately though, her green eyes met the coldest black eyes she had ever seen. For a moment, they stared at each other, memorizing the other’s face and in that brief second, Melissa felt her efforts were to be in vain. ‘Part of me died in the darkness before,’ she thought to herself, ‘and the rest of me is about to die now.’ But instantly, a glorious sound edged into her mind as she heard sirens in the distance.

“I will find you, I promise you that!” He shouted, pointing at Melissa before grabbing the bag of money. “Grab the stuff,” he yelled to his men, getting in the backseat of the suburban. Staring at the other men in the alley, he continued. “Tell Montez he will get no money from me until he can find healthier places to conduct business.”

The sirens grew louder as the unmarked vehicles drove away and Melissa turned her attention to the woman she joined on the ground.

 

 
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