Hi Lindsay and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Sanctuary!
Hi Sara! Thank you for having me!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Kentucky girl Teren Lambert’s protective parents tried to shield her from the dangers of the world. Living such a sheltered childhood made her long for freedom. But when she finally found it, she paid a terrible price and lost everything. Working with the Delos Charity in Sudan has brought Teren out of the shadows and back into the light. But when a threat to her safety brings her into contact with her new bodyguard, can she afford to risk her heart?
Ex-Delta Force operator Nolan Steele has a job to do. Protecting the women and children at the Kitra Safe House is his number one priority. He has no time for the shy brunette with the soulful eyes. Nolan has lived through heartbreak, but he senses a kindred spirit in Teren. Can two people who have lost everything take another chance on love?
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Nolan Steele had a feeling his life was about to change and that made him damned uncomfortable. Being ex–Delta Force and thirty years old, doing mostly long-term undercover work in Africa, he’d learned a long time ago to listen to his gut. It had already saved his life more than once. He sat down in the mission planning room at Artemis in Alexandria, Virginia, the secret in-house security home for Delos Charities.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
I’ve wanted to write about Africa for the longest time, and now I get to do just that! Being an Indie AND a traditionally published author, I get the best of all worlds. Africa, to me, is truly the cradel of all our human development. I have always wanted to write about Khartoum, North Sudan. Now, I have. Africa is an amazing continent of continuing richness and surprises. I’ve tried to capture this in Sanctuary, and keep the reader on the edge of her seat!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Nolan Steele, the hero, is an ex-Delta Force operator. Life has been brutal for him and in some ways, he has closed up his emotions and buried them. And he’s been successful at this until Teren walks into his life. And then, all bets are off.
Teren Lambert escaped her suffocating family and followed her dream of living in Africa, coming to Kitra, in North Sudan and near Khartoum. All she wants to do is be of service and help the poor.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
The vehicles began to slow. Teren inched toward the rear, her heart pounding in her ears. She was shaky. The drug was wearing off, but she still wasn’t as strong as she wished. Her mind, however, was clear for the moment. Glancing over her shoulder, she felt the vehicle slow even more. She couldn’t chance a look out the rear window, because the men in the Land Rover behind them might have radios they could use to call the first vehicle if they saw her moving about, alerting the soldiers that she was conscious. Mouth dry, Teren saw all three soldiers ahead of her were ignoring her. They probably thought she was still unconscious from the drug. Let them.
The moment the Land Rover slowed to a crawl, Teren jerked at the handle and gasped. It opened!
Adrenaline shot through her. She pushed the rear door open, and it swung wide. The vehicle behind her was a good thirty feet away. Spotting the papyrus, she leaped out and landed hard on her hands and knees. Pain and burning sensations reared up her hands and into her arms, the gravel biting deeply into her flesh.
Get up! Get up!
Scrambling, terror galvanizing her, she ran and wobbled on unsteady feet, lunging toward the riverbank ahead of her. Her feet slipping on the gravel, Teren weaved and staggered toward the river’s bank. She heard a screech of brakes behind her as men started yelling.
She was suddenly enclosed in billowing yellow dust clouds as she sprinted like a wounded, winded animal toward the papyrus stands. Suddenly, bullets were being fired. The world shattered around her as she dove into the thick, heavy wall of greenery, bullets singing around her like bees angrily flying and buzzing around her head. Flailing, Teren was pushed by the knowledge that those men would come after her. Her legs were weakening. Her breath tore out of her in ragged gasps. She lunged repeatedly through the stand, boots suddenly in mud, until she was knee-deep in the brackish green water of the slow-moving Nile. She pushed onward, knowing she had to get on the other side of the stand and then work to swim downriver to get away from them.
Bullets whined all around her. They made plunging, gulping sounds as they struck the water far away from where she flailed. The goons didn’t know where she was! That sparked a surge of hope, and she dove forward again, landing on her belly, warm water splashing around her. Suddenly, Teren found herself beyond the stand of reeds. The Blue Nile, dark green, moving lazily, was a hundred feet wide and stretched in front of her. Sobbing for breath, soaked, tears streaming down her face, she threw herself into the water, striking out with strong strokes, paralleling the papyrus.
The water had Nile crocodiles in it, and Teren knew the risks only too well. She was splashing, making sounds that would draw any of those aggressive crocs in her direction. But it was either be shot and recaptured by Uzan or risk getting attacked by a thousand-pound crocodile. Both her hands were bleeding, cut open on her dive out the vehicle.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I love to travel because it opens me up to how other people in different countries live, see their world and they teach me something I didn’t know before. I hope Sanctuary shares something new to my readers that they didn’t realize.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
LONE RIDER, Book 5 of my Wind River Valley Series for Kensington/Zebra, will come out 4.1.18. The hero and heroine are ex-military, but neither of them are prepared for what happens when they are attacked by an convict. Hang on to your hats, readers!
DANGEROUS, Book 10 of my Delos Series, comes out 5.14.2018. If you like intense, emotional stories, this one is for you. It is set on the Red Sea and in North Sudan. And danger lurks in many guises around the hero and heroine, so strap in!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 1 paperback of Sanctuary, signed by the author. USA only
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What is your favorite place in the world that you’d love to travel to?
Excerpt from Sanctuary:
Sanctuary by Lindsay McKenna
Delos Series, Book 8
Paperback, ebook and audio
Teren waited patiently outside the customs area at the Khartoum airport. She had her cell phone in hand, scrolling through messages from her two office assistants. Her mouth tugged at the corners as she looked up at the double doors, expecting Nolan Steele to come through them at any moment.
His color photo flashed on her screen. He had an oval face and large, hawkish marine-blue eyes that reminded her of the ocean’s depths. His mouth was something else—sensual, yet firm. He was almost painfully good-looking—far too handsome for his own good! He probably had an ego the size of Jupiter. She hoped not, because the moment the email from Wyatt Lockwood had appeared on her laptop, her whole body reacted to the stranger’s photograph. Those eyes…so full of secrets and, Teren sensed, pain. It didn’t appear on his unlined thirty-year-old face, but it was there.
She was just a year younger than him. She thought back to when she’d been an idealistic eighteen-year-old, filled with hope and the belief that the world was essentially a good place. She found out differently later that year and after her own traumatic experience, Teren had quickly revised her views about men. From that time on, they had been creatures she couldn’t understand or relate to. She’d become gun-shy around them, and now, over a decade later, she still felt that way.
But as she studied Nolan’s face, Teren felt her heart slowly begin to open, like petals on a lotus. Not wanting to feel like this, fighting it, she clicked her phone’s screen off but left the phone on, because he had her phone number in case they missed each other here at the busy, crowded airport.
A potpourri of spicy scents filled the air. Men wore either light-colored silk business suits or the traditional jalabiya, a loose-fitting garment, collarless, ankle-length, and long-sleeved. Some wore caps, others turbans. Because it was August, a season of dry, blistering heat, the jalabiyas were either white, cream, or tan, made of cotton-linen or silk, to deflect the burning rays of the sun outside this air-conditioned facility.
She nervously smoothed her tob, a head-to-toe gown of white cotton topped by a white silk hijab, the traditional scarf Muslim women wore over their heads when in public. She wasn’t Muslim, but Teren tried to fit in, not stand out. Knowing how dangerous it was to be a white, American woman in this third-world country, she didn’t want to draw attention to herself any more than necessary.
Normally, she wouldn’t have been here waiting for someone at the airport. She liked the red clay walls that surrounded Kitra, the sense of safety that was always there because Captain Ayman Taban ran his security force like the military man he’d been for twenty years.
So, where was this Steele guy, and was that even his real name or a cover one? After talking with Wyatt by sat phone, she knew he was going to be her personal bodyguard, and that he was ex-military, but Wyatt hadn’t said anything more than that. Tapping her slippered foot, Teren began to feel restless. She didn’t like being out in such a huge, bustling area with so many men and so few women. She knew she’d stand out because of her lighter skin.
In Khartoum, she dressed conservatively, the niqab, over her brow and nose, only a slit for her eyes, trying to hide her skin color. Here at the airport, her face was fully visible, the scarf draped around her head, neck, and shoulders. Steele had to be able to identify her once he came through the doors of customs. Sudan wasn’t a safe place in many areas and it was especially dangerous to a woman who stood alone without a male escort in tow. Too many terrorists were lurking around, and it always made her tense. Her nervousness this afternoon was heightened because she felt inexplicably drawn to Nolan Steele.
Teren wasn’t prepared when she spotted him at the exit doors of customs, along with several other Sudanese businessmen dressed in their robes. He was moderately built, wearing a tan T-shirt beneath a loose-fitting khaki jacket and trousers. Their eyes briefly locked upon one another, and Teren’s heart began to accelerate. He was here! Why did it feel like a homecoming instead of a first meeting? Her lips moved and then tightened, and instead, she lifted her hand.
He gave her a bare nod, his eyes narrowing, and every nerve in her body reacted to that swift, intense perusal he gave her.
And then, just as quickly, he lifted his chin, his gaze sweeping around the noisy, busy airport. She had the distinct impression he was actually a lordly leopard in disguise, calmly surveying his kingdom, not a stranger coming to a strange country. He walked like a hunter, light on his feet, avoiding any living animal in the immediate vicinity.
She watched in amazement as he threaded his way through the crowd. He moved like water flowing around rocks, disturbing nothing, gaining no one’s attention. Teren’s respect for him as a security contractor rocketed.
His shoulders were broad, squared with pride, his hand on a single bag that appeared to hold a laptop. His right hand was free. And as his gaze swept to her once again and briefly halted, Teren felt in that one, scorching moment, he had memorized her from head to toe.
It wasn’t sexual. It wasn’t lust. It was something indefinable, but just the power of it stirred up the heat simmering in her lower body. Once he was clear of the bustling crowd, his gaze locked on hers once more, and Teren felt as if she were being surrounded by such intense protectiveness, it stole her breath away.
Protection! It had been so long since she’d felt safe. So long…and he seemed to be invisibly embracing her, the sense of safety he radiated even stronger the closer he drew to her.
For once in her life, Teren found herself speechless. Their gazes clung to one another, and something passed between them that made her throat tighten. She fought back old, wounded emotions as she absorbed the look in his eyes, feeling his quiet authority and power. Now she lifted her chin and realized that, on some level, she didn’t want him to step away from her. It was the craziest, most out-of-this-world sensation she’d ever felt!
Almost dizzied by his palpable masculinity as he drew to a halt about four feet away from her, she stared up at Steele—gawked was more like it. Teren suddenly felt like an innocent eighteen-year-old who held all the hopes of the world in her heart.
Steele was a stranger. Ex-military. Black ops. So different from the world she lived in that what he was bringing with him was alien to her culture. Then his eyes warmed as he smiled down on her, and she felt heat sheeting through her, arousing her dormant body, ripping away all her fear, the sense of danger that always hovered around her. She felt a fire sparking to full life deep within her body, as if on some unknown plane of existence, she was meeting him after a long absence.
His voice was low and quiet. The vibration, though subtle, tingled through every cell within her. Teren barely nodded. “Yes.” The word came out smoky and soft, so unlike her. Nolan Steele brought out her female quality with just his mere presence.
Looking deeper into his eyes, Teren didn’t see arousal or lust. What she saw, however, was even more powerful: gentle understanding and yes, compassion burned in his eyes, aimed directly at her. How could that be?
She felt tongue-tied, scrambling inwardly to snap out of that magical cocoon he’d just woven around her. The feeling left Teren unsure of herself—normally, she exuded a quiet confidence wherever she went. Whatever magic he possessed made her feel excruciatingly female, and she gratefully absorbed it.
Steele gave her a wry smile, his eyes crinkling, the lines in the corners deepening. “Are you all right? You look a little dazed.”
Teren felt heat burnishing her cheeks. She never blushed, but she was now. She managed an apologetic, “I’m sorry…long day.” Well, that wasn’t a lie, just not the whole truth. “The heat, too.” She lifted her hand gracefully toward the automatic doors.
“Understandable,” he agreed with a nod. Holding out his hand, he said, “Nolan Steele. It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Lambert.”
His large hand engulfed her thin, narrow one, and the touch of his callused palm sliding against hers sent wild electric sensations up her lower arm. His fingers were long, strong, yet gentle, as he lightly squeezed her hand in return. Teren felt his latent strength, reminding her once more of that proud leopard who, while in repose, looked tame and nonthreatening—but he wasn’t. Skin against skin she sensed much more and couldn’t hold off images that had nothing to do with a simple “hello.”
Unsteadily, Teren pulled her hand free, her skin vibrating with his energy. “Do you have luggage?” she asked, trying to restore the impression of competence she’d brought with her.
“Yes.” He broke contact with her flawless gray eyes, which brought to mind the color of the sky just before dawn. “I’ve been here before, and baggage is that way.” He pointed in the direction of the highly polished hall that led to the right.
She blinked, her mind slowly returning online. “You have? I mean, you’ve been in Sudan before?” The way his lips parted in a grin, part boyish, part secretive, told her that Nolan wasn’t wearing his game face. He was being genuine.
Wyatt had warned her that she probably wouldn’t be able to read him or know what he was thinking or feeling. But that wasn’t true, at least not here and now. It was as if they were both standing before each other, exposing themselves boldly and fearlessly. She could almost feel his essence, and it swept her away in a glorious cloud of heat, light, and promise.
“Yes, ma’am. In fact, I’ve been here too many times,” he assured her. Nolan knew better than to cup her elbow and guide her down the massive, gleaming hallway leading to the escalator down to baggage. This was a conservative country, and a strange man could not touch a woman. Only family could touch family, and even then, it mattered which person in the family it was. Earlier, when they shook hands, any passerby would automatically think they were related and from the same family. They would think nothing of the greeting. Nolan gestured and said, “This way.”
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Shy country girl Teren Lambert is used to being in the background…and she likes it that way. After losing her innocence—Teren lives with the guilt of that fateful day. She only feels whole helping the women and children at the Delos Charity’s Kitra Safe House in Sudan. But her new bodyguard brings to life feelings within her thought long dead. He is her sanctuary.
Ex-Delta Force operator Nolan Steele knows the agony of losing someone he loves. And it’s something he never wants to relive, so he guards his heart as strongly as he guards lives. But though he fights against it, he can’t help but be drawn to Teren’s quiet beauty. While on a mission to protect her and the women at the safe house, Nolan sees a familiar pain in her soulful eyes. Can he find the strength to love again?
Meet the Author:
A U.S. Navy veteran, Lindsay McKenna was a meteorologist while serving her country. A pioneer of the military romance genre in 1993 with Captive of Fate. Her heart and focus is on honoring our military men and women. Creator of the Wind River Valley Series for Kensington Books, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories. She is also the creator of the DELOS Series, a family saga/series that is romantic suspense. Visit her online at her website for monthly newsletter, contest, and so much more www.lindsaymckenna.com.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |