My guest today is Rachel Carrington, best-selling romance author. Rachel says,
“I started writing years ago, and my first attempt was a contemporary romance that will never see the light of day. I think I may even have thrown it away by now. It was absolutely horrific as I knew nothing about well…anything to do with writing. After that, I started writing fantasy romances about wizards and wizards, and once those took off, I segued to paranormal romances (hello, vampires and ghosts) and romantic suspense.”
I also write articles for various magazines, including The Writer’s Journal, Writer’s Magazine, Writer’s Weekly, Writing for Dollars, Absolute Write, Freelance Writing.com, and Funds for Writers.
I’m fortunate to make my home in historical Charleston, South Carolina. Beautiful city. Beautiful people. When I’m not writing, I love to read, watch Bones, Castle, Blue Bloods, and Hawaii Five-O, create videos, keep Target in business, play visitor in my city, and drink lots of coffee.”
Contact Rachel Carrington:
Getting Close is DangerousHe’s too close, and I start to fidget, needing to keep my hands busy so they won’t grab hold of his shirt. Because that’s what they want to do. Draw him closer. So I can Inhale his scent. Taste his skin. I didn’t run because I was in an abusive relationship; I ran because my soul was being crushed. I’d forgotten how to live, how to be happy. Running out of gas in a small town, I catch the eye of the local sheriff when the very last thing I want is to come under the scrutiny of the police. I left my boyfriend with blood on my hands, and I know as soon as the wound heals he’ll come looking for me. Adam Madison draws me to him so easily I can’t even pretend to fight. And the closer we get, the more combustible we become. I’ve never experienced such passion or power. My need is as great as his, but I’m sure he’ll walk away from me once he knows my secret. No other man would stay. I’ve had enough complications in my life. I’m not looking for more, and that’s exactly what Adam is—a sexy, magnetic complication with secrets of his own. And with my ex on the hunt, I can’t risk bringing him down with me. But he won’t leave…even when vengeance could kill us both.
I close my eyes and slowly squeeze the trigger. The shot sounds so loud I jump backwards. But the bullet hits its mark, tearing a hole through Mark’s shoulder. With a curse, he falls to the ground. I know I haven’t killed him because he’s making so much noise and trying to scramble to his feet. So I snag the keys from the hook by the back door and run.
He’ll come after me which means I don’t have much time to get a head start. The mud tries to suck my shoes off, but I clench my toes while Mark’s promise bounces around inside my head.
You’ll always be mine.
At the time, I thought it was romantic, but I was only eighteen. What the hell did I know? It didn’t take me long to learn it meant Mark doesn’t take no for an answer. In high school, his determination was a compliment. Nowadays, it would get him arrested…if we didn’t live in a town that worshipped him.
Shaking so hard, I have a hard time jabbing the key in the ignition. Relief floods through me when I can finally start the 2000 Volvo my grandmother got me when I graduated from high school seven years ago.
As I gun the engine, I see Mark’s reflection in my rearview mirror. He’s made it to his feet, and though blood is dripping down the front of his shirt, he’s running after me.
The Volvo kicks up plenty of dust and gravel when I stomp on the accelerator, showering Mark with enough pebbles to bring him to a halt. His loud curses follow me down the old, dirt road where our clapboard home sits. It’s the one his daddy built us once he knew Mark wouldn’t be leaving town anytime soon.
Staying in rural Broomtown, Kentucky definitely hadn’t been my choice. That had been all Mark. After my parents died, I wanted to get as far away as possible to start our lives fresh, but Mark, well, he figured since he was going to be trapped in a dead end job once his dreams of playing football were over, he might as well do it around family.
I keep looking in my mirror to make sure he isn’t following me, and I don’t dare relax until I make it to the highway. Even then, the trembling continues.
Ten miles down the road, I realize I left my purse on the kitchen counter, and I have no money and less than a half a tank of gas. In a car that chugs gas like this one, that isn’t going to get me very far. But anywhere is better than Broomtown with Mark.
A tear trickles down my cheek, and I swipe it away. No more tears. I have cried enough for him. When I was still young and foolish, I thought Mark and I would be together forever. I know now that forever can be a hell of a long time when the love of your life morphs into a raving lunatic.
My heart aches when I think about what we had once. We were the love story everyone dreams about. Me, the head cheerleader, and Mark, the captain of the football team. I still remember the night the Broomtown Broncs won the state championship. No one thought a team from the sticks could win such an important title. Mark had carried me on his shoulder through the cheers and the drums. Then he had to go and do something stupid for a senior prank that changed everything.
I switch on the radio to drown out the memories, but they’ve always been louder. The thump of the wheels hitting pavement releases some of the pressure in my chest, and my shoulders begin to relax. I might not be free of Mark forever, but tonight I wouldn’t have to listen to his drunken complaints.
The Volvo’s lone headlight illuminates the long, winding road ahead then bounces off the side of a white car heading in the opposite direction. I wish I could stop the person, warn them where there going. That road dead-ends in Broomtown. Hopefully, the driver doesn’t have plans to stay long. It’s the kind of place that sucks you in and while you’re there, it drains your soul a little piece at a time until you’re moving in slow motion. Just putting one foot in front of the other.
My hand smells like gun powder, and though I wipe them one at a time on my jeans, the smell won’t go away. I still see the blood, too, even though none of it got on me. There’d been a lot of it, though. If I hadn’t seen Mark get up and walk with my own two eyes, I would be worried I’d killed him.
As much as I want to get away from Mark, I couldn’t kill him. It’s certainly not that I love him anymore, but taking a human life just isn’t in me. Hell, taking any life. Mark and his best friend always made fun of me when I wanted to set the mice free from the traps rather than kill them. Mark had better be glad that’s the type of person I am.
Static replaces the low, monotonous voice of the town’s only radio broadcaster. I switch off the sound, and a flash of blue catches my eye in the rearview. I lift my gaze, and my stomach sinks. A cop is behind me, and the blue lights insist I pull over.
Damnit. With one hand, I direct the car over to the side of the road while I reach for my purse that isn’t on the passenger seat where I always drop it. Then I remember I left the house without anything but my clothes and keys. Double damn.
I hear the squawk of the cop’s radio as he approaches the side of my car. His long, black flashlight taps against the driver’s window, and I sigh, knowing the only way out of this is to tell the truth…well, some of it anyway.
Blinking rapidly against the glare of the light, I press the button to lower my window. My gaze tilts upwards and connects with hazel eyes. A sinfully handsome face causes my breath to stall in my chest. The man standing outside the window of my Volvo is a cop, and I should give him the proper respect, but finding my voice proves impossible.
The darkness doesn’t allow me much of a view, but it’s enough to make my nerves dance. I glance at his full lips and realize they’re moving. He’s talking to me, and I blink several times in an attempt to regroup. My hand fumbles on the seat next to me.
“I-I’m sorry, Officer. I left my purse at home. I do have a driver’s license and insurance, but I was in a hurry. I didn’t even think about it, honestly.” I babble on for a few more seconds until the cop interrupts in deep, throaty bass.
“Have you been drinking?” He shines the flashlight into the interior, and the beam slides over my denim-clad legs before sliding up my thin t-shirt. I hadn’t had the time to grab a coat, and as cold as it is outside, it’s no wonder my outfit looks suspicious. His gaze pierces mine again while he waits for my answer.
I attempt to swallow, but the lump in my throat is the victor. “No, I haven’t.” But I don’t blame him for asking.
“Would you step out of the car, please?” He opens the door and takes a step back to give me room.
Trembling, I follow his command, closing the door behind me so I can lean against the coldness of the steel. A gust of frigid wind lifts the hair off the nape of my neck, and the trembles segue to shivers.
The officer drags his gaze back to the interior of my car before fixing it on me again. He’s staring at me, and I don’t like it. I’ve had just about enough of me treating me like I’m a piece of meat. Of course, now isn’t the time to get defensive. Instead, I return his stare, but I have to look up, way up, to face him. “Do you mind telling me why you stopped me?” I silently congratulate myself on the composed question.
He juts his chin toward the front of the Volvo. “You have a headlight out.”
If only he could see how relieved I am…Something as simple as a headlight, I can deal with. “Oh, that. Yes, I know. I’ve been meaning to fix it, but it just keeps slipping my mind. I’m sorry.” I lift my shoulders in an apologetic manner, but the stern look on the cop’s face remains.
“What’s your name?” The look on his face dares me to lie.
“Emily. Emily Murdoch.” I accept the challenge by using my mother’s maiden name which is also my middle name.
“Where do you live, Miss Murdoch?”
Shit. The last thing I want is for him to know my real name. Living in Broomtown has taught me that cops cannot be trusted. As gorgeous as this one is, I still won’t let my guard down. I paste an easygoing smile on my face and lie again. “Juniper Springs.”
His eyebrows lift, and my heart pounds. Did I say something wrong? Can he tell I’m lying now?
I stick to my story, replying with only a stiff nod.
“You mind if I take a look inside your car?”
“Not at all.” I move away from the door and wave my hand as though granting entrance to my minions. What else am I supposed to do? If I said no, he’d have come up with a reason to arrest me. That’s what all cops do.
His concludes his search quickly and straightens to face me. “It’s too dangerous to be driving these dark roads with only one headlight, Miss Murdoch. I suggest you get it fixed first thing tomorrow morning.” He switches off the flashlight. “Drive safely.”
I watch him walk away while my legs threaten to collapse. Once back inside my car, I take in great gulps of air and lean my head back against the rest. But something tells me I shouldn’t be relieved. The cop bought my story too easily. Which probably means he didn’t just find me by accident.
A sick feeling settles in the pit of my stomach. Mark is already on the hunt.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful small town princess. She was head cheerleader, and of course her prince was the captain of the football team. But somewhere between the team winning the state championship and the happily-ever-after, she kissed the prince and he turned into a frog. One of those really scary poisonous ones.
Poor Emily is having a really bad day. On page one she shoots her abusive boyfriend and escapes in her old Volvo, only to realize she’s left behind her purse with all her money and ID. She can’t go back because his family owns their little town and she has a feeling they won’t be happy to see her again after she left a bullet in their golden boy. Her own relatives have died in mysterious accidents, so she has nobody to turn to. Nobody, that is, until sexy Sheriff Adam Madison pulls her over. Or until a friendly waitress at Baby’s Diner senses she’s in trouble and comes to her rescue. As Emily starts to rebuild her life and her confidence, she realizes that Adam might be her real prince after all. Telling her secrets might cost Emily her new friendships and end her romance. Keeping them might cost her freedom or even her life.
From its first lines—“I close my eyes and slowly squeeze the trigger. The shot sounds so loud I jump backwards.”—it’s clear that Connecting Strangers is going to be an action packed thriller. And in fact, the twists and turns are almost nonstop. I enjoyed the goodwill and banter between Emily and her new friends. The romance with Sheriff Adam is predictably hot and lots of fun.
I suppose in any fairy tale, even one as fractured as this, it’s petty to complain about details, but there were some things that I did find hard to swallow. Emily is escaping seven years of abusive relationship, but within one day she’s not only lip-locked with Adam, but she’s turned on when he gives her orders. “He might intend it as a suggestion, but it comes out as a command. And this time there’s no denying what I want. “Okay.”
There are a number of other details that don’t ring true as well. For example, there is a long riff involving a warrant—which obviously, would have her name—but Adam is still in the dark regarding her true identity. Emily suffers for seven years, but about a minute later she has a new bestie and a hot lover who can’t wait to shower a total stranger with food, lodging, clothing, a job, friendship, and protection. But most confusing of all, there are several deaths and murders which don’t really get explained, and which seem to lack any significant motivation. I realize the cliff-hanger is designed to get us to Book 2 of the series, but it’s really not playing fair with the reader to leave so many loose ends.
Balancing these issues against the strengths of the writing, with its fast pace and breezy dialog, I would give Connecting Strangers three and a half stars. If you’re looking for a quick and entertaining read and you don’t mind a few inconsistencies and happy-for-now in place of a happy-ever-after, then Rachel Carrington’s Discovering Emily series might be a good choice.
**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Thursday: Giveaway — click this link! a Rafflecopter giveaway
THIS! CLICK ON RAFFLECOPTER LINK BELOW AND WIN GREAT PRIZES !!!
Link to a Rafflecopter giveaway
Rachel would like to thank all of her sponsors for contributing prizes to her blog tour for Connecting Strangers.
For a complete list of participating authors and how to connect with them socially, please visit: http://www.rachelcarrington.com/blog/huge-shout-out-to-these-fabulous-authors
- $25 Amazon Card
- E-copy of Dare to Love by Carly Phillips
- $15.00 Target gift card
- E-copy of The Memory Child by Steena Holmes
- Paris bath set from Bath and Body Works by Lisa Renee Jones
- Winner’s choice of ebook from Mari Carr’s backlist
- Prize pack of all of Violet Duke’s books (Nice Girl trilogy, Nice Guy spin-off, and Love, Chocolate and Beer)
- $15 Amazon Gift Card and Hands on with the CEO by Cathryn Fox
- $25 Amazon Card and e-copy of Crazy Love by Melanie Shawn
- $15 gift card by Rachel Van Dyken
- 10 copies of Entice by Rachel Van Dyken
- 1 ecopy of Falling Into Forever by Elena Aitken
- 1 ebook of Winter’s Burn by Elena Aitken
- $20 gift card to Starbucks by Elena Aitken
- An audio book of Unexpected Gifts by Elena Aitken
- 2 signed ARCs of Linger which releases in September by Lauren Hawkeye
- 2 signed copies of Surrender to Temptation by Lauren Hawkeye
- 3 ebooks from C.J. Carmichael’s Fox & Fisher Detective Agency trilogy
- Original print by a Charleston, SC artist
- 1 ebook of In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda
- 1 ebook of All the Difference by Kaira Rouda
- 1 ebook of Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda
- Moonpie General Store Moonpies and Candle
- E-copy of Cria by Suzanne Rock
- Nina Lane’s trilogy and $10 Amazon card.
- Nina Lane’s trilogy and $10 Amazon card
- Print copy of Forever Wicked by Shayla Black
- $10 iTunes Gift Card by Cari Quinn and a signed print copy of Seduced (US Only)
- Ebook copy of Seduced by Cari Quinn for international winner
- One Copy of Something True by Malia Mallory
- One Copy of His Need, Her Desire by Malia Mallory
- $10 Amazon gift certificate and an ebook copy of The Marriage Diaries by Erika Wilde
To enter, click on the link below: