Friday, September 7, 2012

Riptide by Amber Lea Easton (Guest Post+Promo)

Title: Riptide
Author: Amber Lea Easton
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Length: 98,000 words
Genres: Contemporary Romantic Suspense (Adventure)
Heat Level: Steamy
Book Trailer



One violent night shatters Lauren Biltmore’s life. As an anchorwoman, she's accustomed to reporting the news rather than being the lead story. She escapes the spotlight by fleeing to her brother's home in the Cayman Islands. Haunted by nightmares, all she wants is a distraction from reality.

Distraction arrives via sexy screenwriter, Noah Reynolds. His take-me-to-bed looks mask a past ripe with scandal. He knows he should stay away from Lauren, especially when the worst night of her life unlocks his writer's block and while he's dealing with a stalker of his own, but ethics are his weakness.

Attraction sizzles beneath Caribbean sunshine. As their relationship grows, Noah's stalker intensifies her torment. Lauren wonders if her paranoia is justified or a carryover from her past. What's real? What's imagined? Tentative trust is tested as their love is swept up against a riptide of deceit, murder, and revenge.

Excerpt 1

His two days on board the Angelfish with Larry had been good for him. Larry had convinced him of the absurdity of his theory that Alicia still walked the earth and assured him that he’d help find out who was bringing up the past. Sometimes there was nothing better than an old friend, even one who tended to piss him off more often than not.

He toweled himself off, his thoughts centered around Lauren and their last date. It hadn’t exactly gone as planned given the dead guy face down amidst the fish. Not that he’d helped the situation with his not-so-smooth-moves-on-the-beach later. The past two days had given him perspective. He wanted her. Right or wrong, mistake or not, he needed to see where this could go. He couldn’t get her out of his mind. Maybe tonight he’d get another chance if he could track her down.

“Noah.” Lauren cleared her throat from where she stood outside the open bathroom door. She leaned against the wall in a Caribbean blue tank dress that hugged her body in all the right places, legs exposed from midthigh down, ankles crossed, long hair glistening over lightly tanned shoulders, gaze averted to the floor and smile playing across lips he desperately wanted against his skin. “Sorry to barge in. You left the deck door wide open.”

“No problem.” He cinched the towel around his waist and wondered exactly how long she’d been standing there. The thought of her watching him shower and dry off did crazy things to his nervous system. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Erin told me.” She leaned her head back against the wall and dragged her gaze from his toes upward. “Heard you were on private charter for the past few days.”

He leaned his shoulder against the doorframe and let her gaze soak him up. He liked the way she looked at him as if he were dessert.

“About the other night...I’m sorry. Can I make it up to you? Dinner tonight? Etcetera?” he asked.

She caught her lower lip between her teeth, gaze lingering on his chest. “Are you sure this time? No running away when things get hot?”

Electricity zapped in the three feet separating them.

Damn, the woman did insane things to his rational thinking. He’d decided on the boat that he needed to see her, make things right, take it slow, get tangled up in some strings. Seeing her live and in person threw common sense out the window.

“I can’t decide if you’re hotter when wet or dry...I’m thinking it might be a tie,” she said.

Oh, what the hell. With an opener like that, how could a man resist? He crossed the space between them, slipped his hand behind her neck, and kissed her on that mouth he’d been fantasizing about all week.

Her hands slid over his damp chest while her mouth moved slowly beneath his, her teeth lightly catching his lower lip. Eyes open, they smiled against each other’s mouths.

“Miss me?” he asked.

“It would be very uncool of me to answer that.” She slid her hands over his abdomen and lingered on the towel. “Are you still wanting to back off, or have you come to your senses?”

He braced his hands over her head. The only thing he wanted to do was kiss her slowly and make her beg for more. He looked into her eyes. “You’re making me forget all of the reasons this is a mistake.”

“A sexy mistake.” Her fingers touched his chest in a featherlike caress. She licked her lips.

“Good point.” He smiled. “We’re headed into the danger zone.”

“You have no idea how dangerous.” She tugged on the towel, a wicked grin in her eyes.

Oh, he had an idea about the level of danger. He’d thought of nothing else for the past forty-eight hours and ranked this situation a solid Level Red. Despite that, all he could think about was how good it would feel to have her long legs wrapped around his hips while her nails clawed against his back. He needed to pull the emergency brake. Slow, he reminded himself. Slow.

He leaned against her, enjoying the way her body arched toward his like a magnetic pull. He tangled his fingers in the hair at the back of her neck. “What do you want, Lauren? After the other night, you know I’m more complicated than I seem.”

Her gaze flicked up to his. “I know what I’m doing.”

“You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”

“Show me. Let’s make some mistakes together. We’re both consenting adults. What the hell?” she whispered, her teeth pulling at his lower lip.

“You’re reckless.”

“Does that scare you?” she asked.

He paused a fraction over her lips and looked into her eyes. Yeah, she was scary reckless, but that turned him on more than he could say. So what if she wanted to use him for a distraction from her own demons? He knew that had something to do with it—the woman oozed intensity.

Her mouth widened, taking his like a woman starving for the taste of him. Ravenous. Her fingers fisted in the back of his hair. Her bare foot slid up the outside of his leg. Tongues clashed in a passionate dance that left no doubt about mutual desire.

He pressed her against the wall, uncaring about the slipping of the towel down his hips. This woman made him want more than he had dared want in years. His hands roamed up her sides, thumbs caressing the outline of her breasts. Closer. He couldn’t get close enough.

She pressed her hips against his. “Five days ago I didn’t think I’d feel any emotion ever again. Now here I am making out with you. Insane.”

“A little bit of crazy is good for a person.” He wrapped his hands in her hair, holding her face close to him. “What do you feel now?”

“You. I feel you.”

“You say all the right things,” he said against her mouth. His skin rippled beneath her touch. He couldn’t explain his reaction to her...he felt like an addict in desperate need of a fix.

The Balance of Romantic Suspense

Ah...the romance novel, full of spice and sass with some scintillating sex scenes along the way.  One of my favorite things about writing romantic suspense is the build up--both of the suspense and the sensual tension.  Balancing the two can be tricky, but that’s what makes writing romantic suspense so much fun.

Constructing the parallels of both is challenging, but that’s why I enjoy it.  With the romance element being the lead in a romantic suspense, it’s important that I work to set that up in the beginning with some flirtation. The trick with having your characters flirt is making it seem natural rather than forced, interesting rather than trite.  Below is a tidbit from Riptide where Lauren meets Noah for the first time.  She’s not exactly in dating mode, but Noah is...shall we say...HOT.

Once again the idea of him as a pirate flitted into her ongoing fantasy. “Hmm…you’re not fitting the stereotype I have about screenwriters.”
He leaned his elbow on the bar and propped his chin up with his fist. The sun hit his sunglasses just right, giving her a glimpse of his eyes watching her through the lenses.
“If you didn’t know what I did for a living, what stereotype would I fit?” he asked.
Male stripper. Movie star. Construction worker. Greek God. She peered over the rim of her glass without answering.
“C’mon. Tell me. I’m dying to know.”
“You’ll have to live with the disappointment,” she said.
Sea salt had dried on the expanse of his neck where it met the material of his shirt. She twisted on the stool at the idea of tasting him there, lips against his flesh, licking, nibbling…
God, help me, I’ve finally gone crazy.

Flirtation is all part of building the romance, but the sexual tension is creating the inner conflict that keeps them apart.  Believe it or not, one the best things for me as an author is keeping my characters unhappy.  Yes, you heard it right.  Keeping the tension high, throwing in roadblocks, adding a serial killer or two, is the highlight of my day. 

Speaking of killers, that’s where, as a romantic suspense author, it’s important for me to give equal importance to the suspense plot.  From the very beginning, I’m setting up catastrophe for my characters.  It’s always introduced or at least hinted at in the first chapter.  Look at this example of Noah’s soon to be train wreck of a life where it’s merely hinted at in the first chapter--it doesn’t give it away, but it clearly gives you a clue that life on Grand Cayman isn’t exactly paradise for Noah Reynolds.

Restlessness gnawed at him, nibbling at his nervous system to move, to act, to do something...else. Anything else. The fact that some quack had decided to taunt him with his past sure as hell didn’t help his mood. The articles that had been taped to his door this morning had set him off—headlines of a past he tried to forget on a minute-by-minute basis kept showing up in the oddest places lately. His front door, the boat, the all made him more distrustful than usual.
He raked sandy fingers through his hair and watched the breakers crashing against the reef off shore. Months of writers’ block had finally given way to a flood of words about a stalker’s decent into madness. Every word flowed perfectly onto the page. What should be a good thing felt like a bad thing because he wondered how his inspiration would handle her story fueling his creative juices.
This week sucked, no question. Between the creep harassing him, maniac tourists and guilt over his newfound writing mojo, he couldn’t catch a break.

Romantic suspense is a balancing act, but it’s truly all about tension.  One of the best tips I was ever given as an author was to make sure there was tension on every page. When I revise, I purposely cut anything that isn’t adding to the tension of the story. 

I want my characters to find their happy ending, but I love making them work for it.  For me, the journey is the best part of any story.  As an author, I want my readers to cheer for my characters, hate the bad guys, squirm in their seats wondering what could possibly happen next and smile when they turn that last page.  If I’ve managed to do that, then I’ve done my job. 


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. For twenty years, she's worked in the fields of journalism and advertising with a brief detour into the financial industry.  Although she holds a BA in Communications & Journalism, she is a perpetual student of life who enjoys taking post-graduate courses on a wide variety of subjects when time allows.  Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges, but who ultimately persevere.

Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she's writing, she considers herself to be simply "a lucky lady liv'n the dream."

Visit Amber at:
Twitter - @MtnMoxieGirl