Hi Readers - Tammie here with Rita Herron. Rita's current release is "All the Beautiful Brides" (Romantic Suspense). Rita, what's your book about?
ALL THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDES, book one in my new series GRAVEYARD FALLS, is a dark romantic suspense thriller set in the foothills of the Tennessee mountains in a fictitious small town called Graveyard Falls.
I grew up in the South and spent summers camping in the mountains which are filled with thick forests, wildlife, waterfalls and sharp ridges and cliffs. While it is beautiful, some areas are so isolated that they make great places for predators to hide.
As a storyteller, I’ve always been drawn to small towns with folk legends, ghost stories and strange or quirky names, so I incorporate those into my books.
The town of Graveyard Falls was named after a waterfalls where three girls were murdered years before, each left with a rose stem jammed down her throat. Still haunted by the crimes and the man they called The Thorn Ripper, locals claim that you can hear the dead girls’ cries echoing off the mountain, and that sometimes their tears turn red and look like blood flowing down the mountain into the falls.
As the story begins, another murder occurs, one that is eerily similar to the Thorn Ripper case, yet this killer leaves his victims dressed in a wedding gown.
Special Agent Cal Coulter is called in to investigate and determine if this is a copycat crime or if the wrong man was imprisoned for the previous murders. Mona Monroe, the only woman he ever loved, and the woman who married his best friend, lives in the town. A widow now, he is just as drawn to her as he was before.
Only there are secrets he’s kept from her, secrets about her husband/his friend, that he can never share.
Worse, the killer, who the press dubs The Bride Killer, seems to have a connection with Mona. Cal will protect her with his life – but he also had to guard his heart.
For even if he saves her from the madman tormenting the town, the past may tear them apart.
Your hero Cal Coulter is an FBI agent. What are his strengths? What about his weaknesses?
Like most characters who have strong beliefs, their biggest strengths can also become their weakness.
Cal is an honorable man, a friend to death, and one who believes in justice and doing what’s right. He also felt indebted to his best friend Brent for protecting him in foster care and would do anything to pay him back.
That strength becomes his weakness when, although he was attracted to Mona, he walked away from her because Brent wanted her.
So he never gotten the chance to act on his attraction!?!?
Cal hasn’t acted on his feelings out of devotion to his best friend who virtually saved his life in a foster home. He’s always seen Brent as the hero.
After Mona and Brent married, Cal realized Brent wasn’t the man he thought. Brent deceived both him and Mona with his lies. But telling Mona the truth will hurt her, and Cal can’t bear to do that, so he has remained silent.
He has no idea that Mona was originally attracted to him, but when he didn’t express interest, she turned to his friend.
What finally brings them close?
As a counselor, Mona gives advice on relationships via a radio talk show. Although truth be known, she sensed that her own relationship with her deceased husband had problems.
When the serial killer phones her for advice on finding the perfect wife, she turns to Cal for protection. Cal has tried to avoid Mona for fear of revealing his feelings, but knowing she might be in danger drives him insane with worry. He won’t let anyone hurt Mona, not as long as he’s alive.
As the body count rises, Mona is compelled to help bring in the serial killer – and hopefully save other women’s lives.
Close quarters and danger intensify the passion and need simmering between her and Cal until neither can deny their hunger for the other.
But the killer is still searching for his bride, and he has decided that Mona might just be the perfect wife…
There is some very real danger in your book. How do you balance the suspense with romance?
Intertwining the mystery and romance is key, so I try to create characters the reader can care about, characters with flaws, and characters who are both connected to the mystery/suspense in some way.
The danger pushes the characters into close quarters and forces them to rely on each other and confront their fears and internal conflict to solve the crime and stay alive. That danger ignites their passion and also heightens their senses and emotions, making them realize what is really important in their lives.
Are there any other books coming from Graveyard Falls soon?
Yes, there are two more in the series. The 2nd book ALL THE PRETTY FACES will be out in May! That story features Josie DuKane and Special Agent Dane Hamrick who you meet in ALL THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDES. They team up to catch a serial killer who leaves his victims with the markings of a bird of prey’s talons carved on their cheeks.
I’m currently working on book three -- ALL THE DEAD GIRLS!
Bestselling author Rita Herron has more than sixty romance novels to her name, including the popular and critically acclaimed Slaughter Creek titles. She is known for her dark, suspenseful style, and for setting a number of her works in small Southern towns. In 2011, she received the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for her work in Series Romantic Suspense. A native of rural Georgia, a former teacher, and a mother and grandmother, she lives outside of Atlanta.