Focus on Foes

Welcome to Day 6 of the  A to Z Blog Challenge, brought to you today by the letter F. Today is a beautiful, sunny day. From my window, I can see the shingles on my neighbor’s rooftop for the first time since early November. The expected high is 12 C, or 53 F for my American friends. It’s the most spring-like weather we’ve had to date.

So, what can I talk about that starts with the letter F and is bright and new under the sun? I think I’ll focus on foes. Like many of those participating in this blog hop, I write romance, but I’m all over the place when it comes to sub-genres. To date I have a historical romance, two Christmas holiday romances, two contemporary romances, a co-written sports novella, and five romance/suspense novels sold and either released or to be released shortly. On the back burner, I have a historical romance and another suspense/romance being looked at by publishers, and I’m currently working on a romance/suspense. So, of the fourteen books I’ve completed, half of them are suspense/romance and add to that both of the historicals which are also suspense based. I guess it’s safe to say suspense seems to be my preferred sub-genre. 

The hardest thing about writing suspense romance is selecting the foe. In a romance, you have the hero and heroine, attracted to one another, but unable to connect because of issues or circumstances surrounding them. In historical romance, class is often one of the problems keeping our lovers apart. In contemporary romance, it’s frequently pride and lack of communication. Sometimes it can be trust issues or miscommunication too. In suspense/romance, you have to blend the hero/heroine problem with danger. Someone is after one of the characters–usually the heroine, although in Cupid’s Arrow, a yet to be released book, the hero is the target of a person seeking revenge and the heroine tasked with protecting him and his teenaged daughter. 

I’ve been told I do an exceptional job of creating foes. The Fire Angel in the book of that name is a cruel vindictive creature bent on exacting revenge. In Lie Down With Dogs, also yet to be released, the Harvester is a serial killing monster who drugs young single women, impregnates them, and then kidnaps them once the pregnancy is established.  When the child is born, he keeps it and murders the mothers, leaving their bodies in public places where they can be easily found.What is he doing with the babies? Watch for the book to find out.  In Until It’s Over, the Butcher is a contract killer, a sociopath without a conscience who kills anyone for a price, but he’s not the worst enemy in that book–it’s the person who hired him. In Echoes of the Past, the foe is a crafty meth dealer who’ll do anything to hide his profitable venture. In Hidden Assets, the sociopath on the loose is involved with the Colombian drug cartels who will kill as many as it takes to keep his assets hidden. Watch for these books out later this year. Image


In Plain Sight,
a novel many of my reviewers consider my best, there are two foes–one dead who continues to influence my heroine’s behavior and thoughts. He’s the reason she can’t trust her attraction to the hero. The other is a force that threatens not only Misty and her daughter, but everyone around them. Misty and Debbie, in the Witness Protection program, are hiding from the Irish mob. This is their third placement, and the last thing Misty needs is to draw attention to herself. When her home catches fire–with no proof it wasn’t simply an accident–Misty needs a home in a safe place. Enter Nick, a psychosomatic blind man who will do anything to protect the woman whose voice touches his soul. The foe in this book has the money, power, and resources of the Irish mob to fuel a blood feud time and nothing but the complete obliteration of Misty and her child will satisfy. Can a blind man, even one with money and incredible resources, protect Misty and Debbie from someone with that much hatred in their soul? You’ll have to read the book to see. In Plain Sight was a challenge to write because everything that affected the hero had to be described using senses other than sight–a challenge in its own right, worthy of a blog all its own. 

Excerpt from In Plain Sight

The stranger was tall, well over six feet, with short, dark hair that curled at the neckline, attesting to the fact that it needed a trim. There was a recently healed, jagged scar along the right side of his forehead that ran from the top of his hairline to his eyebrow, but instead of marring his beauty, the mark made him seem more intriguing and reminded her of a similar scar on a young wizard from a series of books she’d loved in her teens. He was clean-shaven, with a Roman nose, and had a generous mouth with full lips currently turned down in a frown.

He wore black, brushed-denim jeans, which molded to his muscular legs like a second skin, a charcoal gray shirt, and a black, kid-leather jacket. His feet were shod in black leather loafers. Everything about him, from the way he held his head to his shoes, screamed, “Look at me! I’m somebody!” Misty shivered. Whoever he was, he didn’t seem at all pleased to be here.

Based on his austere clothing and the scowl on his face, Misty decided he must be a serious-minded individual, and from his glare, she’d bet he was no more impressed with her costume than she was. Then again, it might have been her tactless comment that had soured his disposition. For all she knew, if he was the money behind this particular staging of Jesus Christ Superstar, she might have struck a nerve. He might even have chosen the color and the fabric with economy in mind. She knew Martha had bought up all the remnants she could find in town.

It was her turn to frown. Fabulous guys like this were either gay or married. Hell, Martha, the wardrobe director, might even be his wife. Hadn’t Amber said Martha’s husband was a trust-fund hottie? Well, this man was most definitely hot, and the clothes he wore so well shrieked money. The unexpected shot to her libido momentarily had her forgetting who and what she was. Reality quickly reasserted itself.

Misty had been living in Pine Falls for eight months now, and she really didn’t want to move again. She and her daughter, Debbie, were happy here. This man was a stranger, and strangers spelled danger. For more than four years, she’d run from relationships and people, including confident, powerful men like this one, avoiding friendships and commitment. She’d kept to herself, believing that if she did, she’d be safe. It hadn’t worked, and good people had died. What made her think stepping outside the box to become a member of this community and make friends here would be a wise thing to do? At the moment, it looked as if she might have made a colossal error.

Her mind focused on the present and the gorgeous stranger who reminded her of a sleek black cat, whose stormy, gray-blue eyes seemed to look right through her. She shuddered. This man was dangerous. He walked with the grace and ease of a panther on the prowl, wary of everything and everyone in the room. He might look like he could purr under the right circumstances, but at the moment, it was more likely he’d rip your throat out if he got the chance.

Micah walked over to the center of the room with the stranger following close behind him. She wanted to look away, but she couldn’t seem to get her eyes to cooperate with her brain. She was like a moth drawn to the flame, unable to escape its destiny.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Micah said as he and the newcomer approached the center of the room, capturing the attention of the female cast and the men who’d filed into the dressing room. “I have some good news and some bad news for you tonight.” The cast gave a group groan. It seemed as if this musical was cursed; they’d been practicing since September, and every time they thought they had some glitch worked out, something else went wrong. In fact, it had been one of those minor disasters that had resulted in Misty’s joining the company.

In September, Amos, the agent who’d brought them to Pine Falls, had helped her purchase a small, two-story house just down the street from his. With his help, she’d established a solid cover story, and she and her daughter had fallen in love with their new home, the first real one they’d had since she’d made the fateful decision to testify against the Irish mob. Amos had put in a good word and helped her get a job as secretary at the local elementary school.

She’d been talked into joining the theater group after Amber had heard her sing karaoke the night of the school’s Christmas party. Her rendition of “I Love Rock and Roll” had brought the room to its feet. Since the theater group’s best soprano had been transferred to Oregon, they hadn’t been able to find a replacement. Misty’s voice was just what they needed to fill the void.

Although Misty had wanted the role, she’d declined because she hadn’t felt right asking Beryl, Amos’s wife, to babysit. When she’d mentioned it to Charlotte, her widowed neighbor who had a four-year-old of her own, she’d offered to babysit for Misty.

After more than four years of running, hiding, working, and looking after Debbie, Misty had needed some “me” time and had finally agreed. She enjoyed being part of the theater group and had even been persuaded to go on a couple of dates, but no one had pushed her buttons.

She shook her head and tried to focus on what Micah was saying because the man beside him worried her. Who was he? What did he want? Why was he here? The fear she’d cultivated all these years ate at her.

Check out my website for buy links to In Plain Sight.

Don’t forget to check out the other great blogs in the  A to Z Blog Challenge

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About mhsusannematthews

Finally retired after more than 30 years as a teacher! Now, I get to spend my time gardening, enjoying my grandchildren, and writing. I finally completed the number one item in my bucket list and Crimson Romance published my first novel, Fire Angel, in April 2013. Since then I have sold 24 other manuscripts to date and don't plan to quit writing for a long time yet.
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