Monday, November 9, 2009

Special Guest: Laura Breck


Today I'm pleased to welcome a guest to The Cozy Page, author Laura Breck! Laura is a fellow blogger at The Roses of Prose and I'm really excited to learn more about her debut novel Secret Vegas Lives:

Bestselling author Antonio Daniato sets a trap to capture his blackmailers, and is surprised when well-known psychologist Valerie Kane stumbles into his arms. She swears she's not involved, but he threatens to expose her unless she reveals her accomplice. When she bares her soul to prove her innocence, Antonio is fascinated by her honesty, but shaken by the intensity of his desire for her.

Surrendering to temptation, Valerie defies her family's wishes and risks her reputation to let hot-blooded, enigmatic Antonio into her life. But she uncovers evidence that he's staging the blackmail scenes as research for his next book—and casting her as the blackmailer. When she confronts him, it's his turn to convince her of his innocence.

Their outrageous sexual attraction keeps them in each other's arms, but mutual distrust prevents them from admitting their deeper emotions. When the true blackmailer threatens to reveal Antonio's double life, Antonio yields to his guilt and chooses to let Valerie go. But Valerie discovers his secret, and will fight for Antonio against an addiction whose hold on him may be stronger than their love.

Secret Vegas Lives is a romance/mystery. This genre seems to be growing again by leaps and bounds. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it?

I lived in Las Vegas for three years, and I loved it! It’s so different from my hometown in Minnesota. People from around the world relocate there, and create a unique culture and personality that is addictive. I wrote Secret Vegas Lives based on a girlfriend’s idea after we visited Vegas for a wild bachelorette party. Woot!

Tell us more about Secret Vegas Lives.

Dr. Valerie Kane is an eminent psychologist who is at the wrong place at the right time, and is mistaken for a blackmailer by crime novelist Antonio Daniato. They both swear they’re not the blackmailer, but their suspicions keep them from exploring the intense attraction between them. When they learn to trust each other, the passion is red-hot. But there’s a reason they’re being blackmailed, and when they learn each other’s secrets, their perfect romance is torn apart.

Which is your favorite protagonist and why?

It has to be Antonio. He’s a flawed, self-indulgent man who embraces his bad-boy persona and lives it to the maximum. He doesn’t care to change, he’s happy with his one-nighters and his secret thrill addiction. Until he meets Valerie, and knows what’s been missing in his life. The love of a soul mate, the sharing a man can only have with someone he trusts completely, and the promise of a future.

You’ve sold another manuscript recently. Congratulations! What do you love most about writing?

I love my Italian series, weaving the characters from each book through the others. And weaving bits of interrelated plot within each book. Sometimes the most amazing things pop into my head, and I quickly write them. Then the next day I fire up my laptop and read what I wrote the day before, and I can only attribute the snappy prose to my muse.

According to your website, you’re a big believer in giving back to the community. Tell us about that.

Each of my books discusses an unpleasant element of society that, with our help, can be changed. That’s why I partner with a charity in the city in which each of my books is set. In Las Vegas, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Shade Tree Shelter, a shelter for women, children, and their pets. Read more about this amazing shelter on its page on my website, LauraBreck.com


You’re a member of Romance Writers of America. Please tell us more about it and if you would recommend new authors join?
I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America for years. Their local groups, Midwest Fiction Writers of Minnesota, and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, meet monthly, and other chapters, such as Elements of RWA and ESPAN, are online chapters only. Both the brick-and-mortar meetings and the online groups are extremely helpful, supportive, educational, and worth the tax-deductible membership fees.

Ok, now for the fun part! What's your zodiac and what does it tell you today?

I have given up birthdays due to their aging effect, and thus have eschewed my zodiac sign as well. But today, for me, is another 24 hours of unlimited opportunities to work toward my goals, and to make a difference in the world.

Wow, that's a great one! If you could set a story where you live, what genre would it be? Heart-pounding romantic suspense and sweet contemporary?

Gosh, Saint Paul, Minnesota is probably its very own genre of mild pleasantries and quiet cautiousness. But much closer to sweet contemporary than anything with heart-pounding intensity.

If you were a mixed drink, what would you be and why?

I'm a Hurricane. Sweet to the taste, but fortified with a kick of drive and enthusiasm that kind of sneaks up on you.

What recent read would you recommend?

I'm a big fan of Randy Wayne White, and I just read an older book of his, Captiva. It's a book I'll never forget.

What's your favorite smell and what makes it significant?

Coffee in the morning. We're coffee snobs. We fresh-grind our beans, and use purified water. I love getting up early, sitting at my computer with a cup of coffee, and writing for an hour before anyone else is awake. Oh, and don't even get me started on Saturday mornings...

And last but not least, if you found the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, what would you see in it? (Note: If you aren't an HP junkie like me, the Mirror of Erised is a magical object that is inscribed “I show not your face, but your heart’s desire.” Orphaned Harry sees his parents, his friend Ron sees himself distinguished as Head Boy and Quidditch Captain, and Albus Dumbledore supposedly sees himself with a pair of socks.)

I've watched the movies, but never read the books. I admire your dedication to the author's subtexts, Amber! For me, the mirror would show a schoolgirl at heart.

Can we please have a little teaser from Secret Vegas Lives?

My pleasure!

Chapter One

“Don’t move your lips when you talk,” her sister said from under the blanket in the back seat. “They might be watching you.”

Valerie Kane’s grip on the steering wheel tightened as she turned into the dog park’s empty lot. Through stiff lips, she answered, “We’re here.” She pulled into a spot as far from a light as possible, shifted into park, and killed the engine. “I’m a little nervous.”

“Is your hood up?” Monica asked.

She looked out the windshield. “Hood?”

Her sister heaved a sigh. “On you, not the car.”

Oh, crap, she needed to focus. She tugged the drawstrings of her hooded sweatshirt. “Yeah, it’s up.” She looked around to be sure they were still alone and caught a glimpse of the lights of the Las Vegas strip twinkling blissfully in the distance. A tingle of anxiety ran through her.

“Are we doing the right thing?”
Her sister reached between the seats and gripped her arm. “We don’t have to do this, Val. If you have any doubt, just start the car and let’s go.”
Taking a deep breath, she zipped up her hoodie. “No. We promised. I can do this.” She pressed the unlock button on the doors then glanced back. Monica was well hidden and was lying on the bag containing their cousin’s blackmail payment.
Her sister whispered, “Just go really fast and get back here. Wait, first roll down the windows, so I can hear you if you scream.”
Scream? There was no reason to scream. No one was here. This was just a package pick-up. Her sister was being overcautious.
She pressed the four window buttons. “Here I go.”
Opening the door, she jumped out quickly. If they were watching, she didn’t want the interior light to give away her identity. Tonight she was a body double for their cousin, an Academy Award winning actress.
The blackmailers specified they wanted the actress to make the pick-up and delivery, but Valerie and her older sister, Monica, let their cousin talk them into doing it. Would the blackmailers be fooled? She and her cousin did look similar, with long, straight black hair and light skin, although she was twenty years younger than the actress.
She jogged across the grass, her shaky legs slowing her. The park measured a half-mile square, and, though the sun was down, the temperature had to be in the eighties. Dressed in layers to look heavier, her body heated quickly.
At regular intervals, she slowed and scanned the area. She saw no one, and her jitters eased.

Then a surge of adrenaline pumped through her. She was doing something risky, finally, in her too-safe, over-protected life. And it felt as invigorating as a ride on a roller coaster.
It took a few minutes to reach the middle of the park, where a water fountain stood next to a couple trees.
She stopped a yard short and looked around, hearing only crickets chirruping and her heart whumping. She walked up to the fountain and squatted, reaching under the lower bowl set at dog’s height. She felt it, a package taped to the bottom, and tore it loose. It was heavy. How much cash was in it?

Above her, branches rustled, and a large bulk dropped from the tree, three feet from her. A man, all in black, a foot taller than her and at least a hundred fifty pounds heavier, grabbed her arm, looming over her.
Where can we find out more about your writing?
Stop by my website, LauraBreck.com, to read an excerpt and watch a video trailer of Secret Vegas Lives (available now from RedRosePublishing.com) I’ve also posted an excerpt from the second book in the series, Scandalous L.A. Desires (coming in 2010.)

Do you have a couple of contests for us?

Check out my monthly website drawing, where I give away a heart-shaped carabiner and lipstick USB drive. And today, one random commenter will win a goodie bag of my promotional items.

Thank you so much, Amber, for hosting me on The Cozy Page today. I’ll be around to answer any questions, and to read comments.

Wishing you tons of sales, Laura! Readers, it's your turn to drill Laura! Sound off!

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