Missing the Crown Jewels
– Book blurb –
After a devastating divorce, Peyton Crown is finally surfacing from a dark hole of despair. She finds herself hoping for a new life with Mason ‘Storm’ Starr, her brother’s best friend.
Storm’s intent is simple: hide in the quiet confines of his best friend’s family horse ranch in Kentucky. The perfect place to sort out his life after walking away from the Army, and fight his internal demons. His solitude is interrupted by his buddy’s little sister. The chemistry between them is off the charts, and he willing surrenders the battle.
The Crown family begins receiving threats, just weeks before the Kentucky Derby. The overprotective men in Peyton’s life vow to keep 24/7 tabs on her and the family’s prize horse—Prince Bourbonville—a hopeful for the next Triple Crown. Circumstances arise that threaten to keep Peyton and Prince away from the derby, but Storm and her brother Coach are determined they’ll attend, no matter the sacrifice.
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Publisher: VJC Books
eBook Price: $2.99
Storm sat at the end of the bar near the kitchen door. His usual spot. It had the best vantage point. Both the front and back doors were in perfect view allowing him the advantage of seeing trouble the second it walked through the entrance.
At this moment, the spot also served as the prime location to keep an eye on things—on her, Peyton Crown, his best friend’s little sister. The woman who’d infiltrated his dreams more times this past year than he could count.
On the rare occasion she’d actually talked to him, she hardly ever looked him in the eye, but when she did, he’d lose himself in those dark irises—so dark they were almost black. In the beginning, it bothered him to no end that she never made eye contact with him when they spoke. He couldn’t help but wonder why. But as time went on, he’d come to realize she didn’t make eye contact with any man except her dad and brothers. Storm’s hands fisted on top of the bar. He’d like to ring the neck of that jackass of an ex-husband of hers for shooting this bright, beautiful woman’s self-esteem all to hell. He never met the guy but heard enough from her brother to know the guy was a real piece of work.
Peyton didn’t see him when she walked in with her friends, but he saw her immediately even through the crowd of regular, Friday night patrons. In the small town of Bourbonville, there wasn’t much for entertainment. The three bars on Main Street were about it, so they were always busy, especially on the weekends.
The front door swung open, drawing Storm’s attention from Peyton. Warner stepped through with another man—a stranger. Maybe it was Brittiany’s boyfriend. She went through them pretty quickly.
Lauren waved the men over to their table. Being a lawyer, Warner was a pretty good dresser, and the stranger’s suit looked like one Warner might wear—expensive. Why would a guy be wearing a suit like that in the Bourbonville Pub on a Friday night? It’s not like they were at a country club or anything.
Warner stepped up to Lauren and gave her a peck on the cheek then he turned and gestured between Peyton and the stranger as if introducing them to one another. Peyton flashed a soft smile and shook the man’s hand. The guy returned her smile. Between his perfectly aligned white teeth, beach blond hair, and expensive suit, the man looked like he came off the cover of a magazine. Most of the females in the immediate area had their gazes glued to him.
Brittiany slid down a stool, and the stranger took her vacated spot next to Peyton. So, Brittiany and Lauren set her up on this date.
The way this guy carried himself, walked in with confidence and soaked up the gazes of the opposite sex, irritated Storm. He looked shifty, kind of slithered when he moved.
Storm took a long pull from his bottle of beer and set it back on the bar just as someone smacked him on his shoulder blade.
“Well, I know I don’t have to worry about her whenever you’re around, that’s for sure,” Peyton’s brother Coach said as he leaned over the bar to get the bartender’s attention.
Though Coach’s statement was true, he hated getting razzed about it. Even though Storm never admitted it verbally, his friend seemed to know he had it bad for Peyton. Coach was intuitive that way, always was. His intuitiveness came in handy when they were in the Army and on missions. But right now, his awareness was a pain in Storm’s side.
Coach took a slug of his beer but kept his gaze on his sister. “Who’s that slimeball talking to my sister?”
“I don’t know. He just walked in with Warner.”
“Well, I don’t like him.”
Congrats on your new release, Valerie!
Can you tell us a little bit about where you are from?
I grew up in a small farming community in Wisconsin and went to a rural high school. After I graduated, I moved to a nearby big city–population 7,700 at the time. The population is now just over 9,000. LOL–Real big city, right? Anyhow, my hometown is the heart of Door County Wisconsin. You may have heard of it because Door County is a major tourist destination. We get over 2 million tourists a year in our beautiful little county.
What does your writing desk look like? What would we find on it right this minute?
My writing area is kind of tiny and usually tidy. I can’t work in clutter. Right now you will find on the surface of the desk a cup of coffee and about six post-it notes detailing the things I need to get done this week. Also, right now, you will find a bag of Tostitos, well, now it’s a half full bag of Tostitos. I’d better get it off my desk before it’s an empty bag.
When and why did you begin writing?
The ‘want’ to write came to me about nine years ago. I had just finished the course work for my Master of Business Administration degree and found I had a boatload of time on my hands. I always held a full-time and part-time job while attending college at night, and suddenly I found I had nothing to do at night. I was bored.
An avid reading friend of mine handed me a Janet Evanovich book and I promptly said, “No thanks.” The last thing I wanted to do was read anything. I’d read enough text books to last me a lifetime, and up to this point in my life I had never read for pleasure. She pushed the book toward me and urged me to read it. I read that book in two days, and then I read every book Evanovich penned. When I was done with her I moved on to JA Konrath and Leanne Banks. I logged over 50 books read in the first year. They were much easier reading than text books I was accustom to. Anyhow, one night I dreamt up Detective Nick Spinelli and I thought to myself that he would be an awesome character for Evanovich to write. After more thought, I figured I should just do it myself, and did.
At what point did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was when I received that first contract offer for the first novella in my Nick Spinelli romance mystery series.
Do you have a specific writing style? In other words, are you a plotter or a pantser?
I guess I’m more of a panster. I always know how I want the book to start and end, but the middle takes me on an unknown adventure.
How did you come up with the titles to your book(s)?
I’ve only actually named two of my books, Family Forever being one of them. My friends and BETA readers have named the rest.
How much of your book(s) have a bit of you in the characters?
I didn’t think any, but recently, a friend of mine told me that Detective Spinelli’s sarcasm seems similar to my own. I took this as a compliment. I didn’t know I was that witty.
Do you write about things similar to your own life experiences?
Definitely. Pieces of my life’s experiences show up here and there in every book.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Virginia McCullough. When I began submitting my first book to agents and publishers I didn’t understand why my book was being rejected, and I was on the verge of giving up when this this awesome lady, Virginia, from my writers group offered to take a look at it. She critiqued the first few chapters and provided lengthy feedback in regard to POV, dialogue tags, pacing, etc. Not only did I read her comments numerous times, I studied the corrections and suggestions she made in the document itself, and then I re-wrote the book based on her feedback. I dare say, the re-write took twice as long as writing the book in the first place, but it was worth every painful minute once I saw that contract offer pop up in my email.
What are you currently working on? Can you give us a sneak peek?
Here’s a peek at the war travel book that I’m working on. The main character has just been wounded in a Civil War battle.
Her soft, comforting gaze mesmerized him for the briefest of moments before the doctor twisted his arm sending a stabbing sensation through his nervous system. Blake gritted his teeth as the doctor’s fingers probed into him. A splash of alcohol followed. His flesh pricked with the intensity of being stung by a thousand wasps. As the sensation lightened, little picks and pulls to his skin took over. That, he could tolerate after the stabbing and severe stinging. The pick and pull continued as the doctor stitched him up. The stench of blood and rot permeated his nostrils.
The woman loosed her grip on him, dampened a cloth in a container next to the cot and rung it out, before pressing the cool material to his forehead. She repeated the process.
Without word the doctor rose to his feet and moved on to the next wounded soldier.
Blake stared into the caring woman’s eyes. He swallowed a couple times to moisten his itchy throat. “What is your name?” His voice not much more than a whisper.
A perfect name for a guardian angel. At the moment, that was what he felt about her, she’d saved his life.
Ariel patted his forehead again with a refreshed, cool cloth.
“Can you tell me what in the hell is going on now?”
She nodded. “Your dad didn’t tell you, prepare you, did he?”
“Prepare me about what?”
Ariel drew in a breath and let it out. “There’s no easy way to say this so here goes. You’re a time traveler. It’s a power that was passed onto you when your father died. He obtained it from his father, and so on.”
Blake pushed her hand away, and thrust himself into seated position. Pain ripped through his arm. Sweat dripped from his forehead and stung his eyes. “That’s crazy.”
Ariel lifted her hand, and palm up swung it around. “Is it? Take a look around you. You’re in the middle of a Civil War battle. In what year were you born?”
Blake glanced around the makeshift hospital, then returned his gaze to Ariel. “1967.”
Do you have any advice to offer other writers?
Write what you want. Write from your heart. Stick with it!
Valerie Clarizio lives in romantic Door County Wisconsin with her husband and two extremely spoiled cats. She loves to read, write, and spend time at her cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
She’s lived her life surrounded by men, three brothers, a husband, and a male Siamese cat who required his own instruction manual. Keeping up with all the men in her life has turned her into an outdoors enthusiast, of which her favorite activity is hiking in national parks. While out on the trails, she has plenty of time to conjure up irresistible characters and unique storylines for her next romantic suspense or sweet contemporary romance novel.
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