You don’t have to be an established book reviewer; you just need to have an opinion! I would like YOU to help me create the perfect suspense romance novel.

The working title is Who Are You? The novel will be a stand alone sequel to Hearts On the Run and will focus around Max, an assistant district attorney who is seduced by his dream woman – who then disappears on him without a trace. When he finally discovers who she is, he’s in for another surprise. It seems someone else is after her as well, and will use any means necessary to get her. Even if that means killing Max to get him out of the way.

Intrigued? There's more: I’ll even publish your name at the end of the book under a section titled, “My Opinion Mattered.” (You may stay anonymous if you would like.) If this sounds like fun, then this is how you can critique the novel every step of the way:

Every couple of days, I will post a small section of the book. After reading it, comment on what you liked, what you didn't like, how the dialogue flowed, character traits, how well edited the section was, and whatever else you can think of while reading. I will then revise the section based on your suggestions. Names published under the "My Opinion Mattered" section will be listed in order of number of comments contributed, so comment often! For those just joining us, please check out the blog archives to start the book from the beginning.

There is also an area to vote on how well you think the novel is progressing. You will be able to change your vote as the novel progresses to best reflect how you feel at any given time along the journey to a completed novel.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Part 5 of Who Are You?

Chapter 4

“Thanks for switching breakfast to brunch,” Lauren said as she opened the door to David at eleven.  Trying to stifle a yawn, she added, “Come on in, I just need to grab my jacket.”
            “Is that David?” her grandmother called from the kitchen.
            “Yes, Lydia, and how is the most beautiful woman I know?” David called out.  Lauren rolled her eyes.  He was always sucking up to Grandma.
            Her grandmother came into the room.  “I’m just fine,” she said as she turned her cheek for him to kiss it.
            “I love the hair.  Did you do something new to it?” he asked.
            Her grandmother tittered as she patted her perfectly coifed snow white hair, “Oh no, I just ran a brush through it this morning.”  Lauren looked at her pointedly.  She knew darn well her grandmother had spent a good twenty minutes in the bathroom brushing and curling and patting her hair down. 
            “Okay, if you two are done flirting, I’d like to get some food,” Lauren said, maybe a little more testily than she had meant to say it.
            David raised his eyebrows.  “Someone get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?”
            “If someone hadn’t come in at four thirty in the morning maybe she wouldn’t be so crabby,” her grandmother tattled and Lauren glared at her.  Her grandmother pretended not to notice.
            “Well,” David said with a tight smile, “you’ll have to tell me all about your night over brunch.”
            Great, now she had to deal with David’s jealousy.  She wondered for the thousandth time if staying friends with him was good for either one of them.  She and David had dated when they were both at U of M; she was a freshman and he was a grad student.  Young and smitten, Lauren had loved him dearly and he was the first man she had made love with, but most importantly, he was her best friend.  They dated for three years and Lauren finally broke it off when he started talking about moving things to the next level.  Meaning marriage and kids.  She was about to start law school and it was hard enough without throwing a husband and a baby into the mix.  She also knew in her heart that he was not her forever man.  Something that David had yet to come to terms with.
Despite the breakup, Lauren and David remained good friends over the years.  But unfortunately, no matter how many conversations they had to the contrary, David still held out hope that they would be together romantically again.  Needless to say, he hated it when she dated other men.  Well, too bad for him, she thought as she slipped her arms into her jacket.  Her sour mood was only getting worse as she regretted making plans with him this morning. Saying good bye to her grandmother, she reluctantly followed David outside.  What she really wanted to do was go back to bed for a few hours and then watch the Red Wings play later. 
 “So,” David said as soon as they were in his beige Camry.  “Who kept you out until four thirty in the morning?”
Sighing, Lauren said, “David, please don’t start.  You promised you wouldn’t ask me questions like that anymore.”
He forced a smile onto his face and held up his hand.  “You’re right, you’re right, it’s none of my business.  I am firmly back in friend mode now.”
“Thank you.” Lauren appreciated his effort even if she didn’t believe him.  She wished he would move on and find someone who wanted the same things he did.  He was a great looking guy and women flirted with him all the time, so it wasn’t like he didn’t have other options.  He was tall, around six feet four inches, with broad shoulders and a stocky build that he worked hard to keep fit.  He had sandy brown hair, a chiseled jaw and pale green eyes that sparkled when he laughed.  Her physical attraction to him had never been the problem and more than once over the years since they broke up, she had seriously considered climbing back into bed with him.  She was smart enough to never act on it.
Changing the subject, she asked, “Where are we going to eat?”
“I thought we’d go to that place you love downtown.  The one with omelets made out of ten different types of goat cheese and that green stuff I can’t pronounce.”
Lauren laughed.  “Not ten types, just two, and you know perfectly well how to say arugula.”
Taking his eyes from the road to look over at her, he said, “You’re beautiful when you laugh, you should do it more often.”  Before she had a chance to respond with a frustrated retort, he changed the subject again.  “Have you thought any more about teaching that class for the kids on Saturdays?”
David ran a ranch just outside of town.  A halfway house of sorts for teenagers who were teetering on the edge of either being law abiding citizens or criminals.  They were boys and girls who experienced their first run in with the law and instead of going to juvenile detention or jail, they came to David.  He had his PhD in child psychology and had done his thesis on the rehabilitation of teens in crisis.
David, like many in his field, believed these were all good kids who were being led down the wrong path as a byproduct of their environment.  Most of them came from downtrodden, lower economic areas where gangs ran rampant.  After a referral from the courts and a careful screening process, David took them out of their environment and gave them the opportunity to better themselves.  The kids worked the ranch, and with ten horses and a hundred acres of farmland where they grew hay, corn, and blueberries, they didn’t have time to get into any more trouble.  They sold their harvest and each of them received a percentage of the profits that was put into a special trust fund towards college.  The kids stayed in the program until they were eighteen and completed their GED, which was a requirement for release. 
The kids were home schooled by a wonderful retired teacher David had hired.  Unfortunately, a foreign language was not in the woman’s repertoire of knowledge.  So, he wanted Lauren to teach a Spanish class for the kids on Saturday afternoons.  She had double majored as an undergrad with both pre-law and Spanish, which she spoke fluently.  She groaned inwardly as she thought about the time commitment on top of her already busy schedule with the court system.
David gave her a sideways glance when she didn’t answer right away.  “I know you’re busy but it would be a huge help if you could do this for me.  Learning a second language will better round out their education.”
Lauren knew he would be relentless in his begging until she finally agreed to do it.  “Fine,” she said trying hard not to sound annoyed.  “One class, for two hours, on Saturday afternoons.  But no more than that.”
“Thanks, you’re a life saver,” David grinned as he reached over and squeezed her hand. 
Gently removing her hand from his, she said, “I received more flowers this week.”
David frowned.  “I’m getting worried about that.  You have no idea who’s sending them?”
Lauren shook her head.  “No.”  A beautiful bouquet of flowers had arrived at her door once a week for the past four weeks, and she had no idea who was sending them.  Each one had the same message – ‘It’s almost time for you to be mine.’  At first, she had thought David was sending them; but his concern seemed too real for it to be him.  “It’s a different florist every time.  When I call to ask who sent them, they say an envelope had been taped to their door with the typed note inside and the cash for the flowers.  They all assumed it was someone stopping on their way to work or something and had found the store closed.”
“Lauren, I really think you should go to the police with this.”
She snorted.  “And tell them what, a secret admirer is sending me flowers?  It’s not like I’m being sent a dead rat or something.  They’re just flowers.  And since I’m the one who defends the people they arrest, I’m not exactly on good terms with most of the officers on the force.”
“I still think you should file a report.  Whoever is sending them obviously knows where you live.  What if it’s one of the criminals you’ve defended?  Maybe if a police officer questioned one of the florists, he’d get more information,” David pushed.
“I don’t think so.  I’m just going to ignore it for now and hope whoever is sending them gets tired of wasting their money.”
David shook his head in frustration.  “That seems like a really bad plan.”
Lauren agreed but she couldn’t come up with a better one.

Chapter 5

“I’m a good looking guy, right?” Max said as he slumped down in the chair across from Jack’s desk late Friday afternoon.
            “Sure,” Jack said never looking up from the case file he was reviewing.
            “I’m charming, well educated, successful, right?” Max continued as he stretched his legs out in front of him.
            Jack finally looked up.  “Are you planning out your internet dating profile or are you trying to convince me to date you, because I have to tell you, you’re really not my type.”
            Max ignored him.  “Most of the women I know would be thrilled to go out with me.”
            “Go ahead and add modest to that list of yours.”
            “So why the hell hasn’t she tried to contact me?”
            Jack leaned back in his chair and chuckled.  “This woman really has you tied up in knots, doesn’t she?”
            “Did you ask everyone form the party?  Someone has to know who she is.”
            Jack shrugged.  “Sorry, but Abby and I have asked everyone and you seem to be the only one who saw this Bat Girl.  I’m still not convinced you didn’t imagine the whole thing.”
            Max glared at him.  “I have a great imagination but even I couldn’t have imagined sex that good.  And then she doesn’t even have the decency to call me.”
            Jack’s eyebrows shot up towards his hair line.  “Really?  You’re going to tell me that out of all the women you’ve slept with that this woman was that good?  No wonder you’ve been acting like a hurt puppy all week.  Now you know how all those women in college felt,” Jack chided.
            “I always called them the next day,” Max mumbled embarrassed now that he had let slip how bothered he really was.  He was starting to sound a little pathetic even to his own ears.
            “Yeah, you called them, but more often than not, it was to tell them that you didn’t want to see them again.”
            “Yeah, and she didn’t even bother to do that.”
            Jack pursed his lips in thought.  “Maybe she’s married.”
            Max closed his eyes and groaned.  He hadn’t even thought about that.  That would explain the mystery and lack of communication since.  Maybe he had been some lonely housewife’s fling.  Though, she hadn’t really struck him as the housewife type.  “Okay, then where was her husband when she was leaving the party with me?”
            Jack shrugged.  “I don’t know.  As far as I know, all the spouses left together.  Maybe she crashed the party?”
            “Who was she then?  A lonely neighbor of yours who just happened to have a drop dead gorgeous costume hanging in her closet?”  Then another thought struck him.  “Hey, were there any single women you invited who you thought didn’t show?”
            Jack stared up at the ceiling as he thought about it.  “Hmm, I don’t remember Judy Postma from legal aid being there.  Abby’s cousin Nancy Wright was a no show.  I don’t remember seeing Lauren Stevens, either.”
            Max snorted.  “Yeah, we can rule out The Shrew.  No way would she have been caught dead in something that showed any leg above the knees let alone wearing vinyl.”
            “You never know, sometimes putting a mask on frees a person,” Jack said with a smirk.
            The idea of having spent the night with The Shrew made Max laugh out loud.  “Yeah, maybe in a parallel universe but not this one.”  Getting up from his chair, he said, “Speaking of The Shrew, I have a meeting with her in twenty minutes.  I need to mentally prepare for the agony.”
            Jack shook his head.  “The man doth protest too much, methinks.”
            Max narrowed his eyes.  “It was the lady protesting and Shakespeare was a idiot.”  Jack was still chuckling as Max walked out of his office.


  1. I like it! I especially like the ending where Max is like, there's no way it's the shrew! It's really good so far!

  2. Thanks, Jessica! I posted another section, can't wait to hear what you think of it.