Hi Karen and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Monster in the Closet!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
What’s your favorite line from the book?
Clay Maynard to Taylor Dawson, his daughter: “The love a parent gives a child is free, Taylor. Free. Nothing owed. No paybacks required.”
Is there certain trait or je ne sais quoi that you find all your heroes have? Why do you think that is?
They are all loyal and underneath their (sometimes very rough) exteriors they are kind. Loyalty, kindness, and the ability to love wholeheartedly are qualities that define good men.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Readers have met many of the characters in Monster in previous books – Clay Maynard, Ford Elkhart, among others. The new characters are Taylor Dawson, Jasmine Jarvis, and the villain.
- Clay is a PI who, for more than twenty years, has been searching for his daughter, stolen away by his lying ex-wife before the baby’s birth. He’s almost given up hope.
- Ford is a recent university grad who was viciously betrayed by his former girlfriend (she set him up to be kidnapped) and has been afraid to love. That changes when he meets Taylor.
- Taylor is the heroine of this story and is brave enough to confront the monster in her closet – the father her mother told her to fear for her entire life. When Taylor realizes her mother had been lying, she makes a plan to cross the country to meet her biological father. She’s tough—her stepfather has taught her self-defense—but she’s also vulnerable and tentative as she’s lived in relative hiding for the past ten years. She’s never had a date, never fallen in love, so her attraction to Ford is exciting and new. I so enjoyed watching her bloom!
- Jasmine is an eleven-year-old girl who comes home from school to discover the brutally beaten body of her mother. She must hide from the murderer—her father, Gage Jarvis. She’s a smart little girl but a speech impediment has made her quiet. The trauma of what she’s seen and the fear that she’ll be next makes her silent. She is the bravest of all the characters, daring to trust when she feels so helpless and afraid.
- Gage Jarvis is a highly intelligent but brutal man, unconcerned for his family. I wondered as I wrote this story how far he’d be willing to go to protect himself.
- The character that stuck out the most in my mind was Clay. As a parent myself, I could only imagine the pain of those lost years during which he and his daughter were separated. I cried when I wrote his scenes, cried when I revised and edited, and again when I went to find my favorite line for this interview.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Ford is intrigued by her skill in dealing with the Jarvis girls. No one’s been able to get them to open up. He’s attracted physically (of course) but Taylor is brave, loyal, and compassionate—nothing like the girlfriend who betrayed him in the past. Taylor sees a solid rock in Ford. He’s respectful and kind and makes her heart beat faster. Importantly, she feels safe with him and she hasn’t felt safe very often in her life.
As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Clay’s capacity to forgive blew me away. I’m not sure I could have forgiven as he did. He’s come a very long way since his introduction in NOTHING TO FEAR (2004, my fourth book).
Did any scene make you scared while you were writing it?
The scene when Jasmine tries to escape the villain’s clutches. I wasn’t sure what the villain would do, how far he was willing to go to permanently silence an eleven-year-old.
“No,” Gage said. “I’ve got leverage. You’re a liability.”
Leverage? Halfway down the stairs, Jasmine froze, her hand clutching the banister. That’s us. We’re the
leverage. He’ll be mad. So mad. And Jasmine knew what he could do when he was mad. “Hurry, Janie,” she urged, half lifting her sister so that they could run down the remaining stairs.
He’d discover they were gone any minute. Think, think. He would catch them. He was faster. He would come down the stairs.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. But it’ll turn out okay in the end … for most of you, anyway.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
I’ve just finished the fourth Cincinnati book, EDGE OF DARKNESS—Adam Kimble and Meredith Fallon’s story! And now I’m starting Thorne’s book—a follow-up to MONSTER IN THE CLOSET.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Print copy of MONSTER IN THE CLOSET (The Baltimore Series) by Karen Rose
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What would you do if you suddenly found out that something you’d accepted as a hideous truth for your whole life was actually a hideous lie? Would you right the wrong, even if it might be dangerous or personally painful?
Excerpt from Monster in the Closet:
Hunt Valley, Maryland
Saturday, August 22, 1:10 p.m.
Taylor accompanied a silent Janie into the barn so that she could put away her riding helmet and wash her hands and face. Jazzie was waiting outside and took Janie’s hand firmly, leading her to the main house. Neither girl
said a word.
Until they walked inside. Taylor took a moment to let the A/C wash over her, trying not to groan about how
good it felt to get out of the heat.
“Miss T-Taylor?” The words had come from Jazzie’s mouth, tentatively uttered. It was the first time Taylor
had heard Jazzie’s voice.
Trying to hide her shock and maintain her cool, Taylor hunched down a little so that she could look Jazzie
in the eye. At five-nine she tended to tower over the children. “Yes, Jazzie?”
Jazzie’s eyes were stark, her swallow audible. She glanced at her sister, then back at Taylor. “Th-th-thank
you,” she whispered.
Moved, Taylor had to remind herself to exhale. Her lungs had momentarily frozen.
“You’re welcome,” she whispered back. Then she followed her gut and put her arms around Jazzie’s thin
shoulders. “I lost my mom, too, not so long ago and it hurt. It hurt so much.”
Which was the gospel truth, because even though Donna Dawson had lied to her for her entire life, Taylor
had loved her. “I miss her every day. I miss her voice and her smell and the way she’d smile and especially the way she told me she loved me. Sometimes I miss her so much that it feels like a giant’s sitting on my chest, squashing all the breath out of me. Like I’ll never breathe right again.” She considered her next words and again went with her gut, saying what she wished someone had said to her. “And sometimes I kind of wish the giant would squash harder because then I could see my mom again.”
A sudden stiffening of Jazzie’s shoulders told Taylor that she’d hit a nerve. A heartbeat passed, then two, then Jazzie’s arms were around Taylor’s back, squeezing tight. She buried her face in Taylor’s shoulder, her little body shaking with sobs that cracked Taylor’s heart in two.
Taylor went down on one knee for balance and rocked the child, stroking her hair. “Go ahead. Cry all you want to. It’s totally okay.”
After a few minutes Jazzie’s sobs quieted but she didn’t pull away. Taylor kept on stroking her hair, remembering how much she herself had needed a gentle touch after her mother died. How grateful she’d been when her dad had put his own grief to the side to comfort her.
“I know you hurt,” she murmured in Jazzie’s ear. “I know Janie hurts. It is okay to hurt. Do you hear me?” She waited until Jazzie nodded. “Good, because that is important. It is okay to hurt. But I’m still really glad that Janie finally had some fun today. It means the giant sitting on her chest got off for a minute and let her breathe. Maybe you got to breathe a little, too, watching her. But later, if the giant comes back, don’t you worry. It doesn’t mean either of you did anything wrong. It doesn’t mean that today didn’t count, that it wasn’t important. The giant will come and go, but eventually he’ll stay away a little longer before coming back. And then you’ll be able to breathe again. And then it won’t hurt so bad.”
Jazzie nodded again before pulling away. She took a step back, her eyes down, clearly embarrassed by her
outburst. Taylor gently nudged her little chin up so that Jazzie met her eyes.
“I cried a lot when my mom died.” Taylor swiped her thumbs gently over Jazzie’s cheeks. “And I was twenty-two.” And my mother wasn’t brutally beaten to death. I had a chance to say good-bye. Jazzie and Janie hadn’t gotten that chance. “So don’t you be embarrassed about crying, okay?”
Jazzie nodded, sniffling, her dark eyes rimmed with red. Taylor pulled one of her business cards from her pocket. “It’s a little bent up, but it’s got my number and my e-mail on it. You can text me if you or Janie need anything, okay?”
Jazzie put the card in her pocket, then turned and walked to where Janie and their aunt waited. Lilah pressed her palm to her heart, her face as wet as Jazzie’s had been. “Thank you,” she said, giving Taylor a shaky smile before taking her nieces by the hand and leading them out.
Alone in the quiet, Taylor slowly straightened, her heart in her throat. I helped. A little. It felt way too good. So even if my whole convoluted plan goes to hell in a handbasket, I’ll have this moment.
A footstep behind her shattered the moment. She had a split second to detect the sensation of body heat at her back before twelve years of personal defense training kicked in, her father’s voice taking over her conscious thought.
One to the solar plexus. She drove back with her elbow, coming into contact with something solid. Hearing a grunt, she whirled, fists clenched, her eyes registering the tall man as her right fist took an upward swing. Two to the jaw.
Ignoring the pain exploding in her knuckles when they encountered the granite of the man’s jaw, she followed through as she’d been taught. Three to the chest. She pushed forward, palms flat, striking a hard set of pecs.
A vicious curse uttered in a deep, unfamiliar voice filled her ears as pain burned up her arm to her shoulder.
Four, run like hell.
A scream frozen in her throat, she started to turn, to flee, but was stopped short by the solid thump that vibrated the floor under her feet. The man had landed squarely on his ass, his palms held out in a gesture of surrender even as he blinked up at her in stunned disbelief.
The fear retreated slowly as she stood there, not taking her eyes off him, the adrenaline steadily leaking out
of her like air from a tire puncture. Her conscious brain began to kick back in, coolly logical. You’re safe. You’re here. At the farm. You’re at the farm.
A new, different kind of panic swept over her. Oh my God. What did I just . . . ? Who did I just . . . ? A whimper rose in her throat, fortunately blocked by the scream that was still stuck there, so all that came out was the sound of her own heavy breathing.
The man lumbered to his feet, rubbing his jaw and watching her like one would watch an injured animal. Taylor supposed that was fair enough. He was tall, taller than she was by a good six inches. His shoulders were broad, his blond hair cut short. He appeared to be about her age, but his eyes looked far older. He had the face of a model, all chiseled and handsome and . . .
And she’d hit him. Oh my God. She realized that her mouth was hanging open, and she snapped it shut. This time the scream let the whimper slide past and she covered her mouth to stifle the sound.
“Whoa, there,” he said quietly. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m very sorry.”
Wait. Taylor frowned. Had he really told her to “whoa”? Horror morphed into irritation. Really? It wasn’t just the word that was so irritating. It was the deep voice he’d used to deliver it. It was the voice she herself used to quiet skittish horses.
I’m not a horse, buddy, she wanted to snap. But he had apologized and she had come to this farm for a reason and meeting the locals was part of the plan. So don’t screw this up. She lowered her hands to her sides, shaking out her still-throbbing fingers.
She looked up with an attempt at a smile and found herself staring up into eyes that were the prettiest shade of blue she’d ever seen. Just like—
Holy shit. She was back to horrified as she realized exactly who she was staring at. His pretty blue eyes were the same color as those of her employer. This was Daphne Montgomery’s son, Ford Elkhart.
I hit the boss’s son. I am so fired. But cutting into the horror was the knowledge that Ford had just returned from the week-long camping trip that had served as a bachelor party for Dillon, one of the farm’s stable hands. It was what she’d been waiting for.
The travelers had returned. All of them. Her gut did a queasy flip. It’s showtime.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The New York Times bestselling author of Every Dark Corner returns to Baltimore, where a father-daughter reunion puts innocent victims in the sights of a stone-cold killer…
Baltimore PI Clay Maynard routinely locates missing children for clients, but his own daughter—stolen by his ex-wife—has eluded him for years. Until she turns up right under his nose…
Since she was a child, Taylor Dawson believed the lie her mother told her: that her father was a monster. But now she has a chance to get to know the real Clay while doing real work as an equine therapist, which includes helping two girls whose mother was brutally murdered. She might even find something deeper with her boss’s handsome son, Ford Elkhart, whose eyes are so haunted. But just as Taylor feels her life opening up to new family, work, and friends, a danger lurks in the darkness—one that will show Taylor the face of true evil…
Meet the Author:
Karen Rose is a #1-internationally bestselling author, her books appearing on the New York Times, London Sunday Times, and Germany’s Der Spiegel bestseller lists. A two-time RITA® winner, five of Karen’s other titles have been RITA® finalists.
Her nineteenth novel, MONSTER IN THE CLOSET, will be released in August, 2017. Her books have been translated into twenty-four languages.
A former chemical engineer and high school teacher, Karen lives in Florida with her family, including two dogs, Loki and Freya, and a cat, Bella. (Short for Belladonna, of course.)
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