Our countdown to Valentine's Day continues today with contemporary romance author Laura Breck!
Laura writes sensual romance with a touch of mystery. One of her primary writing goals is to give readers a world into which they can escape the stress of life. And a fun read for lounging on the beach or cuddling up with a blanket and a cup of tea. Another goal is to make a difference in the world. That is why each of her books sponsors a community program, and a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to that organization. She is a member of Romance Writers of America’s Speakers Bureau and enjoys leading workshops on E-publishing, Public Speaking for Writers, Group Blogging, and Marketing. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her family.
And now for a peek into Laura's debut novel, Secret Vegas Lives, which is available now from Red Rose Publishing....
Mistaken for a blackmailer, socialite Valerie Kane will do anything to keep sexy Italian crime writer Antonio Daniato from publicly exposing her, and Antonio is wickedly intent on seeing how far Valerie will go to protect her reputation.
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.
Earlier this week, our very own Cozy correspondent, Tink, sat down with Laura for 20 Questions! Take it away, Tink....
Tink: Are you the first one on the dance floor or not so much?
Laura: Always the first, and over the years, my dear husband had lost all inhibitions as well, and will actually ask me to dance when the dance floor is empty.
Tink: Do you prefer to spend the night at the theatre or at a bike show?
Laura: I love theater. Especially musicals.
Tink: Do you give relationship advice or think it’s a bad idea?
Laura: If asked, I’ll contribute, but mostly with thought-provoking questions.
Tink: Describe the ideal hero – rough and tumble highlander, titled gentleman of the ton, modern-day bad boy, or supernatural anti-hero?
Laura: The modern day bad boy fascinates me.
Tink: Would you rather tell someone you love them or show it?
Laura: I like to show it, but dear hubby likes to hear it. Go figure.
Tink: Travel to the past or into the future?
Laura: Into the past, please.
Tink: Bubble bath or hot shower?
Laura: Mmmm, a deep tub, a lot of hot water, and a good romance novel. Bubble bath!
Tink: Flats or high heels?
Laura: Flats. I’ve had too many friends undergo bunion surgery. Flats and a lot of yoga keep the tootsies healthy.
Tink: Flowers or chocolate?
Laura: My niece is a French-trained chocolatier with her own shop in Napa, California, so I’ve come to know the decadent pleasure of fine chocolate.
Tink: G-rated or unrated?
Laura: Unrated, just for fun.
Tink: Alpha or beta?
Laura: Hubby’s beta, but my books are all alpha. What does that mean?
Tink: Would you make the first move or wait it out?
Laura: I’d make the first move. Why not?
Tink: Favorite love song?
Laura: Joe Cocker’s "You Are So Beautiful"
Tink: For Valentine’s would you rather go out or stay in?
Laura: Stay in. Eating dinner scrunched into too-close tables isn’t much fun.
Tink: Karaoke: yes or no?
Laura: Oh, yes!!!
Tink: Describe your most romantic moment.
Laura: Before our wedding, my husband presented me with a beautiful pair of drop earrings. He asked me to wear them on our wedding day, and every year on our anniversary to remind me how much he loves me. He’s a keeper!
Tink: Boxers, briefs…or kilts?
Laura: Tight, red boxer-briefs.
Tink: What is your idea of a dream date?
Laura: Hubby picks me up and my packed suitcase is in the back seat. He whisks me away to some wonderful spot for a long weekend.
Tink: Valentine’s Day watch: sappy love story, romantic comedy or forgo all of the above and go with the action flick?
Laura: Romantic comedy.
Tink: And, most importantly – do you like your man clean shaven or with a five o’clock shadow?
Laura: I like the shadow. It’s more rugged.
Thank you so much, Laura, for answering Tink's instrusive questions! Readers, find out more about Laura and her books at her website! Here for you now is chapter one from Secret Vegas Lives...
“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 pickup. 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; 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.
She screamed an instinctive shriek of primal fear.
He shook her. “Shut up.” He looked at the homes surrounding the park. “Someone will call the police.”
She heaved in a huge breath to scream again, and heard Monica yelling as she ran toward them. “I’ve called the cops! And I’ve got a Taser!”
A dose of reassurance steadied her. “Let me go.” She yanked her arm, but he held tight.
The man looked from her sister to her, then back again. “Shit.” He grabbed the package from her and shoved it in his pocket, then pulled her hood off her head. He jerked her around so her face was in the moonlight. “Who are you? Why are you doing this?”
Okay, he knew she wasn’t the actress, but it didn’t take a huge I.Q. to figure out what she was doing. “You told us to pick up that envelope,” she pointed a shaking finger toward his pocket, “and deliver it with our blackmail money.” Her voice sounded weak.
“I told you?” He kept an eye on Monica’s approach. “I’m not the…” He shook his head. “Okay, just tell me where you’re delivering the money.”
“What?” Through her panic, she recognized his accent; Italian. She studied his face: well defined features, shoulder length black hair sticking out of his cap. She should be able to pick him out of a lineup.
He shook her slightly. “I asked you where. Where are you dropping off the money?”
“You should know. You wrote the instructions.”
“Don’t act innocent. I’m not the blackmailer.” He put his hand into his pocket. “You are.”
She stared at his pocket, expecting to see a gun. “No, I’m not.” Her voice went squeaky. “I’ve got a bag with money in it too.” She pointed stupidly to the car. “To be delivered–as instructed–with the money you just took from me.”
He pulled out a camera, held it close to her face and snapped. The flash blinded her.
She heard Monica’s footsteps running toward them. “Let go of her!” She sounded breathless.
A siren whirred a few blocks away.
He leaned close to her face. “This isn’t over, princess. I’ll find you.”
***GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Good news, readers! Laura has generously offered a giveaway for today! By commenting to this post before midnight EST, Friday; February 11th, you will have a chance to win a copy of Secret Vegas Lives! (Chances of winning depend on the number of entries. You must be 18 years or older to enter. One winner will be chosen by the True Random Number Generator at Random.org and announced the morning after contest closing. Please check back in to see if you have won.)