Cover Artist: Brian Koch
Published: February 26th, 2015
As Chief of Police in Sweetwater, South Carolina, Will Hawbaker has seen more than his share of violent crime. But none of it has prepared him for the aftereffects of a young boy dead at the hand of his mother’s boyfriend. And when the suspected killer turns up dead himself, it raises more questions. Could this crime which has already shaken the town be even more sinister than it appears?
Camellia Abernathy has seen her own share of heartache following the violent death of the husband she only thought she knew. In returning to Sweetwater, her childhood home, Cam hopes to pick up the pieces of a shattered life for both herself and her young son. One piece of that life includes Will Hawbaker, the man who not only launched the investigation which uncovered her husband’s double life, but with whom she’s been in love since they were teens.
A rapid fire series of events turns both Cam and Will’s lives upside down, drawing them together even as they find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer.
The Secret Ingredient of a Great Romantic Suspense
Wouldn’t it be nice if there actually was a secret ingredient? Something that you could pull off of the shelf and sprinkle over your manuscript, seasoning it with just the right amount of sensuality and thrills to guarantee best seller status?
Unfortunately, that’s not something you’re likely to find sandwiched between the cinnamon and paprika in your local grocery store. And in reality, what makes a romantic suspense work for one person may not work at all for the next. Literature, like all forms of art, is completely subjective. That’s why I write books that work for me, first and foremost. If I’m enjoying my characters and the situations in which they find themselves, I feel sure that at least some readers will enjoy them also. If I’m bored as I’m writing, I figure the reader was bored three pages ago.
Since a bored reader isn’t the best way to maintain a career as a professional novelist, that’s something I actively try to avoid.
In my experience, the best way to avoid boredom – both on my part and on the part of the reader – is to allow my characters to drive the direction in which the story goes. It’s not always the direction I was expecting, which, if I’m being honest, is part of what makes this process fun. I admire authors who outline their entire plot and create character profiles from which they never deviate, but I am not one of them. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer all the way. I usually start my books with no more than a vague image of the first scene in my head and some sketchy details about the characters, the setting, and whatever mess they’ve gotten themselves into, and then go from there. Finding out the who, where and why is a discovery process that makes writing romantic suspense a bit like investigative journalism – with the promise of steamy sex and romance thrown in as a bonus.
And who wouldn’t love that?
To my mind, what makes romantic suspense so compelling as a genre is the fact that we get to see both the worst and the best of the human experience in one story. The suspense angle allows us to indulge our very natural fascination for the darker side of human nature but provides us the safety net of the romance happily ever after.
Now that I think about it, there might actually be a secret ingredient to a great romantic suspense: hope. As readers, we tolerate, even relish, the sometimes very harrowing trials of our hero and heroine because we have the assurance that things will all be okay in the end.
About the author:
One fine day in the not-too-distant past, Lisa Clark O'Neill left Wittenberg University with a BA in English, which she promptly neglected. After working as an interior designer, decorative artist, and Montessori art teacher (there may have been a BA in art as well,) she finally settled into the role of mother to two very fine children.
However, two years of doing the stay-at-home-mom brain cell melt drove her to pull out a pen and one of her old college notebooks.
That turned into six manuscripts.
Lisa spent subsequent years avoiding housework by burying her nose in just about every romance novel she could get her hands on, after completely falling in love with the genre. Her own work falls into the romantic suspense sub-genre, with strong comedic undertones.
Lisa currently lives in the Atlanta area with her family, her dog, her cat and her daughter's pet rabbit. When she isn't attempting to keep the rabbit from eating the woodwork, she's hard at work on her next novel.