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Archive for June 10th, 2009

Tall Dark Defender

Following her divorce from her abusive husband, Annie Compton is struggling to make ends meet as a waitress at a diner. When she is attacked late one night while making a mysterious delivery for her boss, Jonah Devereaux comes to her rescue. Ex-cop Jonah has been working undercover to bust a gambling ring and money laundering operation for months, and Annie has stumbled unwittingly into the thugs line of fire. For Annie’s safety, Jonah, a sparrer and hand-to-hand combat expert, offers to teach her self-defense, but as the stakes rise, he realizes the young mother needs his full-time protection. Jonah, with his fighting skills, is the last person Annie wants in her post-abuse life. But Jonah’s gentle ways and warm touch make battling her attraction to her defender the most difficult fight of all.

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Hi everyone!  It’s great to be here on Novel Thoughts. My turn blogging here kinda snuck up on me. I’m just back from a glorious vacation at the beach, and the night we returned, when I glanced at my desk calendar…head slap…it was JUNE! June? How can it be June already? I haven’t finished everything I needed to do in May!

But, yes, it is June, which means –trumpet blast– TALL DARK DEFENDER, my newest release from Silhouette Romantic Suspense, is officially on the shelves!

TALL DARK DEFENDER was one of those had-to-write-it stories. The kind where you won’t feel there is balance in the universe until it is done. Let me explain.

Two years ago, my summer release DANGER AT HER DOOR introduced Ginny West as the heroine’s best friend and trauma counselor. Ginny was a blast to write, and I wasn’t ready to let her go. I decided to write a book for her. Ginny’s story wasn’t a have-to-write. Her book was a want-to-write. Ginny was essentially a happy person, good family, good friends, but she just hadn’t met Mr. Right. I loved her brash, gutsy, in-your-face personality and wanted to explore her in depth and just have fun writing her book. Her “fun” book (DUTY TO PROTECT) turned serious and emotional almost from the start. But once I began, I knew I had a story I needed to tell… Ginny was helping free a woman from an abusive marriage— encouraging, protecting, guiding, even when doing so put her own life at risk. Writing that book was emotionally exhausting, yet at the same time, I was proud of the story and the message it had. Abuse of any kind is wrong, and there is help available.

But as I worked my way to the end of Ginny’s book, I should have felt closure. Right?

Wrong. Big time wrong.

Annie Compton, the abused woman Ginny helped free from her abusive husband faced a tough road. Sure, her dangerous husband had been caught. We knew Annie and her kids were safe. We knew Ginny would help her heal emotionally. But… but…

What about Annie’s Happily Ever After? I started realizing more and more as I neared the end of DUTY TO PROTECT that I had one more book to write to tie up the loose ends and truly give all the characters in the “series” an HEA.

Now, I’m not the sort who thinks a woman “needs” a man to be happy. Plenty of women never marry and are perfectly content. But after all Annie had been through, after the false love her husband had shown her, I wanted–needed– to write a romance for Annie. I wanted her to have the kind of unconditional love, warmth, protection and happiness a healthy marriage provides. I couldn’t let it go. Annie’s story HAD to be written. For my own closure. For the sake the message I wanted to convey– there can be life after an abusive marriage. A good life. A happy life. A life filled with REAL love.

Luckily, my editor agreed and liked the plot I created for Annie.

But who was Annie’s perfect match? Who was the person she’d least likely want to get involved with, but wouldn’t be able to resist? Coming out of an abusive marriage, Annie would not want anything even remotely violent in her life or her children’s.

So her hero, of course, had to be a boxer or fighter of some sort. But that someone also had to know how to use his skill in a constructive way– never ever on a woman or child. And so, Jonah Devereaux, ex-cop, undercover investigator, part-time boxer, self-defense instructor was born. Quiet, kind, unassuming, and yet somewhat brooding and mysterious as well. A man with dark secrets. A tortured hero who would find his own healing in the love he shared with Annie. I instantly fell in love with Jonah and I hope you will, too!

The scenes in Annie’s home where Jonah awkwardly romances her brought tears to my eyes. The scenes where he fumbles through bedtime stories and the blunt questions only a five-year-old little girl can ask warmed my heart and made me smile. I didn’t write those scenes… not really. Jonah did. Annie did. Annie’s daughter, Haley did. The characters took over in a way writer’s can’t explain but can only trust. I was simply dictating what the characters told me. I had to stand back and let them tell their own story.

So TALL DARK DEFENDER is a labor of love. The book I had to write. A story that captured my heart and gave two tortured souls the happily ever after they deserved.

So now… let me hear from you! Have you ever read a book (romance or not) where a character’s future was left open-ended? A book with an ending that had you pulling out your hair wondering what would become of that character? Do you ever create alternate endings for characters you loved or imagine characters five years later… where they are, what they’re doing, how they’ve coped? Add your comment and I’ll draw at random one name to win a book of your choice from my backlist. (Maybe DUTY TO PROTECT where Annie is introduced??)

May all your endings be happy!

Beth Cornelison

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To learn more about Ms Cornelison’s characters, visit her website, and remember to comment here to enter the drawing.

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