In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder…
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Hold Your Breath, out on April 5th, is the first full-length book in my Search and Rescue series (On His Watch, a free prequel novella, is available now). Set in the remote (and cold!) wilderness of the Colorado Rockies, this book features Louise (Lou) and Callum, members of the dive team who make a grisly discovery during ice-rescue training (hint: the discovery is minus a head). As the two join forces in an attempt to find the killer, they grow closer, and their simmering mutual interest flares to life. Someone’s after Lou, however—someone dangerous. As determined as Callum is to keep Lou safe, the mountains are filled with both four-legged and two-legged predators, and only the toughest survive in this wild place.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Jumping into a hole cut in the frozen reservoir was a stupid idea. In fact, of all the questionable decisions she’d made since abandoning civilization for her tiny mountain cabin seven months ago, this was probably the worst. At least, Lou mused wryly, it was a beautiful place in which to do a dumb thing.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- The town of Simpson is (very!) loosely based on Fairplay, Colorado, which is also known as South Park (yes, that South Park).
- Lou’s first time jumping into the (very!) cold reservoir was similar to my own experience, except for the kicking-the-dead-guy part.
- While writing Hold Your Breath, I would charge my laptop during the day while the sun was shining (thank you, PV solar panels!), and write at night until my computer ran out of juice. To conserve energy, I’d light candles rather than turning on a lamp (like Lou!).
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
The unusual setting has an authentic feel, I believe, since I was immersed in it while writing the story. In a similar vein, my work with the police department while attending cop school really gave me a sense of the camaraderie found among first responders. Also, I do try to inject some humor into my books, even though dead bodies and jokes don’t seem like they’d go together.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
With Callum’s need for order and Lou’s knack for creating chaos, their pairing could’ve been disastrous. Somehow, though, they balance each other. Lou brings joy to Callum’s life, while Cal offers Lou a rock-like security without threatening her newfound independence. They provide exactly what the other needs (and didn’t know was missing).
Since I don’t plot my books ahead of time, instead allowing my characters to drag me around by my hair (ow), they’re always doing things I don’t expect. Lou’s fierce need to take care of herself surprised me, especially when it would’ve been so easy to let Callum coddle her. As for Callum, with his control issues, I didn’t think he’d be willing to let Lou lead. He trusted her, though, and he knew she could get the job done. Although he was close by, ready to watch her back if necessary, he didn’t take over. In this way, he protected her independence, something Lou cherished.
The First kiss…
The first kiss scene in Hold Your Breath was a blast to write. I think of it as a movie—there’s the swelling romantic music, Callum sweeps in for the kiss, and then Lou’s voice rings out as the music screeches to silence: “Callum, what the hell?!” Heh. Even now, it makes me chuckle.
What scene did you have the most fun writing? Why?
Ooh, tough one. Probably the conversation between Lou and Callum as they race over slick, snowy roads on their way to rescue a dog that has fallen through the ice. I love the rhythm of their words, how easily they have two overlapping conversations while maneuvering the pickup truck through the snow.
“We should be arriving around the same time as Rescue One, as long as you keep up your speed.”
Taking that as a suggestion to take it up a notch, Lou eased her foot down on the accelerator, praying once again that they wouldn’t encounter any other vehicles on the narrow road.
“Switchback coming,” he said mildly.
“I’m impressed,” she said, feeling the antilock brakes shudder beneath her foot as they skidded on the packed snow.
“How well you’re dealing with not being in control.” She made the three-hundred-degree turn with only a minor slide to the left. “I’d be clinging to the door handle at the very least. I figured you would’ve had to drive by the time we left my driveway, even if you had to sit on my lap to do it.”
“Another switchback. And I don’t always have to control everything.”
“I see it.” The sharp turns slowed her down more than she would’ve liked, but she figured it would take them even longer to get to the reservoir if they ended up in the ditch, so it was worth the extra ten seconds it took to slow for the switchbacks. “And don’t give me that. I’ve seen your house. And your gear locker. And your truck. And the horrified look you gave my house, and my gear locker, and my truck.”
“Just because I’m neat doesn’t mean I’m a control freak. There’s a steep hill coming, and you’ll turn left at the bottom.”
“Thanks.” The hill presented no problems, and the regular turn felt easy after the two switchbacks. “And yes, you are a control freak. It’s not a bad thing, especially as our dive-team leader. You keep everyone safe that way.”
“Keep following this road. It’ll take us around to the east side of the reservoir. Does the control thing put you off?”
“Put me off? Of you, you mean?” She looked at him in surprise.
“Watch the road.”
“Sorry.” Her head whipped back around to face the snow-rutted path they were following. She saw emergency lights in the distance, approaching from the opposite direction. “There’s Wilt and Derek.”
“I see them. So, does it?”
“Not at all. It does make me want to scatter a handful of paperclips in front of you, though.” A thought occurred to her. “Isn’t this road to the reservoir covered in ice? Wasn’t that the reason you moved ice-rescue training to Mission Reservoir?”
“Yeah. Just get down as best you can. Try to stop before going onto the reservoir. We’ll worry about getting back up the hill once the dog is out of the water.” He paused. “And what the hell’s up with the paperclip thing? I’m organized, not Rain Man.”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I just want to add a little chaos to your life…”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
The scene in which Lou and Callum are at Levi’s for their first “non-date date” would be perfect, since their relationship is evolving from friendship to something more at that point.
“Mmm,” she hummed around a bite. “Besides, there’s another reason I can’t go. I have stuff to do.”
“What stuff?” For a guy who was ready to leave before getting his crumble, he was packing away the dessert at an impressively rapid rate.
“Peeper prevention,” she explained after swallowing another mouthful. “I picked up some window shades at the hardware store before going to the library today.”
For some reason, maybe because it was a reminder of how he was stuck sleeping on her uncomfortable couch for an undetermined amount of time, this didn’t seem to make him any happier. “Wait until I get there, and I’ll help you hang the shades.”
Her spoon clanked against the glass bowl as she set it down firmly. “Are you saying that I’m incapable of hanging shades on my own?”
“No.” He obviously saw the warning signs of an imminent explosion and was hurrying to backtrack. “I was just offering to help.”
“Uh-huh,” she said, eyeing him suspiciously as she picked up her spoon again.
He was quiet for a moment before asking, “Do you need to borrow my drill?”
“I have my own drill, thanks.”
“How about some drywall screws?”
“I have a level in the truck you can use.”
“Why would I need that to hang shades?” At his aghast look, she laughed. “Kidding, of course. I have a level. I am fully stocked with tools, despite being in possession of a vagina.”
His mouth opened and then closed again as his cheekbones darkened with a flush. Lou was a little proud she’d managed to embarrass him. Getting him to smile was the best, but she’d settle for ruffling his feathers.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
My main hope is that readers are entertained and enjoy Callum and Lou’s story.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?
The next three books in the Search and Rescue series—Fan the Flames, Gone Too Deep, and In Safe Hands—will be released in June, August and October, so readers won’t need to wait too long to find out what happens next. I’m currently writing the first book in a new series about a police K-9 unit, which should be released in 2017.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Print copy of Hold Your Breath (Search and Rescue) by Katie Ruggle
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Since I’ve been small, one of my biggest fears has been to be trapped under ice (that, and ticks. Ugh). What are you afraid of?
Excerpt from Hold Your Breath:
“Sparks!” Callum bellowed. “You’re up!”
She sighed, relinquishing her spot on the rope where she’d been helping to pull the “victims” and their rescuers out of the water and across the ice. It was like a lopsided game of tug-of-war—all brute strength and teamwork—and she’d actually been getting to like that part of training, despite the hard work. But now that she wasn’t pulling, she noticed her eyelashes had frosted over, and her neck and the top of her chest were clammy from the water that had leaked into the suit after her full-body plunge.
Trudging over to Callum, she lifted her arms so he could wrap the end of the rope around her middle. Although she’d watched three of the guys perform an in-water rescue, she was still nervous. The ice-rescue veterans had made it look easy, but she had a feeling her first time wouldn’t go so smoothly.
Callum handed her the victim’s harness, which looked like a skinny pool noodle. It was attached to her rope with about six feet of line. That way, the victim would be first out of the water, and she’d be behind him, in a position to help lift him onto the ice.
“When you get to the victim, carabineer should be in your right hand,” Callum instructed. “The other end goes in your left. Get control of your suit before trying to save anybody. Approach the victim from the side or back, talk to him, harness him up, signal the guys to start pulling, and lift your knee to help boost him onto the ice with your thigh. Once you get your hands on him, do not let go of your patient. Got it?”
“Yes.” Her voice sounded a little uncertain, so she firmed her jaw and tried again. “Yes.”
Callum’s mouth quirked up on one side. If it had been anyone but Callum, Lou would’ve thought he was holding back a smile.
Okay. Okay, she could do this.
She approached the edge of the ice, crawling when she was ten feet out and then moving to her belly and sliding across the last yard. Swinging her legs around, she dropped feetfirst into the water, careful to keep her face above the surface this time. She looked back at where Callum stood on the ice. He bumped his closed fist on the top of his head, the signal for Are you okay? She answered in the affirmative with a matching fist-to-head bump before heading toward her “victim.”
Holding her face out of the water, she swam toward Phil, who clung to the ice on the other side of the opening with melodramatic panic. Lou had to bite back a groan when she saw how he was putting every ounce of community-theater experience into his role of drowning victim.
Coming up next to him, she tried to get her legs underneath her as she spoke. “Hang on, sir. I’m Louise Sparks with the Field County Dive Team. We’re going to get you out of here.”
Phil’s pretend struggles increased, and his thrashing hand slapped the water, splashing it into her face. Air left her lungs again at the breath-stealing cold, and her legs floated up behind her. Damn it. When she could move her body again, she drew her knees up and pushed her feet straight down, glaring at her grinning victim.
“Oops,” Phil said. “Sorry, Lou.”
“Uh-huh,” she muttered as she moved around behind him. “I’m hooking this harness around you, sir, so the team on shore can pull you out.”
She struggled to reach around Phil’s wide girth, wishing she’d gotten skinny Wilt as her victim instead. The dry-suit gloves made her fingers thick and unwieldy, and she fumbled with the carabineer. To make matters even more silent swear worthy, Phil had resumed his melodramatic struggling.
“Don’t make me drown you,” she snarled, jerking her head back so his flapping elbow didn’t connect with her eye.
“Where’s your compassion, Lou? I’m a panicked, hypothermic tourist here.” The bastard sounded as if he were about to laugh.
“I’ll show you compassion,” she muttered through gritted teeth. “And if you’re hypothermic, shouldn’t you be getting tired and sluggish?”
“That sounds threatening.” Phil was definitely laughing, the ass. “As soon as you save me and I get out of the hospital, I’m going to file a complaint with your superior.”
“That’s where you’re wrong—there is no one superior to me,” she said, letting out a relieved grunt when she finally succeeded in hooking the carabineer through the metal loop of the harness.
Phil laughed and then wiggled several feet sideways, pulling his slick, neoprene-covered body free of her grip.
“Never let go of your patient!” Callum yelled. “Once you put your hands on him, you do not let go until he is being lifted into the ambulance, understand?”
With a heavy sigh, Lou tried to maneuver behind Phil again, but he was surprisingly agile for such a big guy. Plus, the training had been tiring, and she still had to help hoist Phil’s bulk out of the water. Clenching her jaw, she lunged toward him, managing to latch her arms around his waist.
“Got you!” she crowed, but her satisfaction was quickly overruled by irritation as her legs floated up behind her again, curving her spine into an awkward partial backbend. With Phil’s body in the way, she couldn’t pull her knees up very easily. After several unsuccessful attempts at getting her legs underneath her, she kicked out in frustration. But instead of passing through unresisting water, her booted foot hit hard against something.
“What the hell?” she mumbled, looking over her shoulder. She couldn’t see whatever it was through the murky water. It had felt fairly firm, although it had moved with her kick. She was tempted to thump it with her boot again, but reconsidered.
“What?” Phil had finally realized she was ignoring him. He quit his fake struggling, twisting his head around to follow her gaze.
“I kicked something.” She kept staring at the water, as if she’d suddenly develop X-ray vision. Her arms were still locked around Phil’s middle. No need to get yelled at for making the same mistake twice.
“The Mission Reservoir Monster?” he asked in his best spooky voice.
“What’s taking you so long?” Callum called from the ice. “For Christ’s sake, Sparks, your victim would be dead by now. Just complete the recovery, and let’s get his body out of the water so we can notify his next of kin.”
“You gave up on me so quick, Cal,” Phil whined. “Aren’t you even going to start CPR?”
“No way,” Derek yelled back. “He knows where those lips have been.”
“What’s the problem?” Callum didn’t sound amused. He did sound annoyed.
“There’s something under the water. I kicked it.”
“Shark?” Chad suggested.
“Seriously?” Derek scoffed. “In a freshwater reservoir?”
“Maybe,” Chad muttered with a shrug.
“Well, it didn’t bite me, so hopefully that rules out both the Reservoir Monster and all woman-eating fish.”
Moving a few feet closer, Derek peered at the water. “If it’s anything valuable, I call dibs.”
“No way!” Lou protested. “I’m the one who kicked it. Finders keepers!”
Callum expelled an impatient sigh loud enough for Lou to hear, even across the twenty feet that separated them. He moved to the edge of the ice and slid gracefully into the water. As he swam toward them, Lou turned back to scan for the unidentified object.
At first she thought she was imagining it, but she could definitely see something down there, and it was getting larger and more distinct with each second. She wondered if her kick had knocked whatever it was loose, allowing it to float to the top. As she stared, holding her breath, the faint shape got closer and closer, until a large, gray mass bobbed to the surface. Lou gave a muffled shout, her arms tightening around Phil. A part of her knew what it was as soon as it surfaced, but a larger portion refused to accept it.
No. No way. No way.
“Is that a body?” Derek yelled from the ice.
“Yep, that’s a dead guy,” Phil said, his voice as casual as if it were a beer can floating next to them and not the waxy gray back of a corpse.
“Huh.” Derek didn’t sound too freaked out about it, either. “Lou, I’m good with finders keepers, then. You can have it.”
She couldn’t respond. For once, no words would leave her mouth. All she could do was cling to Phil’s middle and try to breathe. It wasn’t working.
As he pulled up next to them, Callum looked at the peacefully bobbing mass of flesh. “Fuck.”
Lou’s lungs had locked up again, and she felt as if her face had been dunked back into the frigid water. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the bloated body.
“Hey, Cal?” Phil still sounded much too calm. “Where’s the head?”
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
As the captain of Field County’s ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook is driven to perfection. But when he meets new diver Louise “Lou” Sparks, all that hard-won order is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he’s never felt more alive…even if keeping her safe may just kill him.
Lou’s new to the Rockies, intent on escaping her controlling ex, and she’s determined to make it on her own terms…no matter how tempting Callum may be. But when a routine training exercise unearths a body, Lou and Callum find themselves thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who will stop at nothing to silence Lou—and prove that not even her new Search and Rescue family can keep her safe forever.
Buy Links: http://books.sourcebooks.com/katieruggle/
Meet the Author:
A fan of the old adage “write what you know”, Katie Ruggle lived in an off-grid, solar- and wind-powered house in the Rocky Mountains until her family lured her back to Minnesota. When she’s not writing, Katie rides horses, shoots guns (not while riding, although that would be awesome), cross-country skis (badly) and travels to warm places where she can scuba dive. A graduate of the police academy, Katie received her ice-rescue certification and can attest that the reservoirs in the Colorado mountains really are that cold. A fan of anything that makes her feel like a bad-ass, she has trained in Krav Maga, boxing and gymnastics.
Katie’s Website: http://katieruggle.com/