Today, I’m extremely excited to welcome Lena Diaz to the blog. She was kind enough to answer a couple of questions about the first book in her new romantic suspense series plus more! And check out the smolder on that cover — and a bit of an Antonio Banderas vibe, too. *fans self*
(Romantic suspense, paperback, 384 pages; published June 30, 2014; publisher: Avon, source: publisher)
Lena Diaz launches her thrilling new series featuring the undercover vigilantes of EXIT Inc. with a skilled operative putting his life—and his heart—on the line for a woman in trouble…
When Sabrina Hightower awakens to the sound of an intruder, she figures he’s there to rob her, murder her— or worse. She doesn’t expect to be carried off by a muscle-bound stud with male-model good looks . . . or that he came to rescue her.
Mason Hunt became an enforcer with EXIT Inc. to eliminate the bad guys—terrorists, militia groups, all those who would do America harm. But his latest target is innocent. If EXIT could lie about sultry, strong-willed Sabrina, what darker truths might they be concealing?
Going rogue in the rugged North Carolina mountains, Mason risks everything to keep Sabrina close, especially now that EXIT’s lethal assassins are chasing them down. The heat is on . . . but it’s nothing compared to the slow burn of seduction.
Q: In EXIT Strategy, Sabrina is basically kidnapped by Mason (better than killing her, as he was assigned to do!) and she does not react well, to say the least. What would your response be if you were carried off in the middle of the night by Mr. Darkly Dangerous?
A: I wish I could say I’d be brave and fight back, or cunning and figure out a way to escape. But I’m a wimp. I’m pretty sure I’d be frozen with fear. [I’m right there with you, girl. Wimps unite!]
Q: In the EXIT series, the hero, Mason, works for a covert group that does a lot of wet work, assassinating the bad guys (and gals). He’s a very deadly alpha male who does what he thinks is right. How do you keep your very alpha hero from becoming the dreaded “alphahole” (aka, asshole)?
A: It’s definitely a challenge with any alpha hero. Hopefully readers will agree that Mason didn’t cross that line. I tried to sprinkle in little things to show that he was a good person inside, and that he was only “alpha” when he had to be. Kidnapping the heroine in the beginning was necessary in his view, to protect her. But later, when the immediate danger was over, he didn’t force her to go along with him. He let her make her own choices. The only time he stepped in was when she was in danger. Those little acts of kindness and respect add up (hopefully) to paint him as a complex man who follows a strict moral code and truly cares about protecting the innocent, even at great cost to himself. [Oh, yeah. Mason avoided the alphahole hole. (heh) Well, except for that kidnapping bit. If I were Sabrina, I would have had to kick him in painful places. But then I would have forgiven him because he is an excellent alpha!]
Q: So, you were a Navy brat growing up. Out of all the places you lived, what was your favorite and why?
A: Most of my growing up years were spent between Florida and my home state of Kentucky. So both are very dear to my heart. But with most of my family in Florida, and having lived most of my life here (that’s where I live today), it’s the place that feels most like home. Surprisingly, though, I’m not a fan of the beach. I rarely go there even though it’s just a few minutes away. My favorite place to visit is anywhere with mountains.
Q: Describe your writing space (or a picture! Pictures are good, too), where you’re most productive and/or spend most of your writing time.
A: I have a big, wonderful office with everything I need–bookcases, a large desk, a big window, even a couch to relax on. So where do I write? Usually in the family room in a recliner with my laptop. Go figure.
Q: You write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. How does your writing/research process differ when writing in these romance categories?
A: I write short romantic suspense novels, called category romance, for Harlequin Intrigue. And I write long romantic suspense novels, called single titles, for Avon Books. Both have an integral romance and mystery/thriller element woven together. What truly sets them apart is that the shorter books are constrained to have very few sub-plots. There isn’t a lot of room in them to develop secondary story lines or even secondary characters. The focus is almost exclusively on the romantic couple. The longer books allow much more freedom to include a larger cast and even a secondary romance. Both have unique challenges and are extremely rewarding to write.
Lena, thank you SO much for stopping by! Everybody needs to check out your new series — filled with alpha goodness!
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