Hi Lindsay and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Trapped!
Hi Sara and readers!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Marine Corps Sergeant Ali Montero had completed SEAL training and was assigned to a team in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Because she was a linguist and a sniper, she was a huge asset to the snatch-and-grab SEAL team that operated out of J-bad. Everyone welcomed her except Ram Torres, the best shooter in the group. He hated her on sight. Knowing she had to fit into the team, Ali knew she was up against a highly regarded SEAL. Would he take her down on missions? Show the team she wasn’t reliable or trustworthy? She wasn’t sure but she was damned if he was going to do it.
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
“No, there’s no room in my place.”
“There is room, Torres,” Ali shot back, her voice firm. “You’d throw this puppy away? Then why did you bring her in here?”
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
Actually, I started this out as a novella. But then, it went whizzing past 35,000 words, 40,000 words and finally, it stopped at 140,000 words!!!! These two characters gripped me and held me in thrall. Their story just kept unwinding with clashes, challenges and sparks. I ended up having to break up the original book because I couldn’t publish a paperback at over 100,000 words. So, I made TRAPPED Book 7 of my Delos series, and then the sequel (the other 40,000 words), TAKING A CHANCE. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. Which is why I like sequels because they are actually a part of the first story. Not to worry, there is an HEA at the end of TRAPPED, but a lot MORE in TAKING A CHANCE! And then, as Cara Montero, Ali’s sister appeared, I realized by the end the sequel, that I needed HER story! The reason is because Cara is a sympathetic character and she’s a fighter despite being kidnapped by Mexican drug dealers. She has a huge part in the second part of TRAPPED, and all through TAKING A CHANCE, 7B1. And I knew readers would WANT to read her story and her HEA. So, I wrote a second sequel, HIDDEN HEART, 7B2. I had not started out at all thinking there would be THREE books from these two riveting characters, but here they are! And I loved being a part of their journey with ever word and scene. I hope you do too!!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Ali Montero is a risk taker of Yaqui Indian/Mexican parents, born in Arizona. She is the oldest sister and Cara, who she fiercely protects (because she’s the opposite of Ali’s personality) and loves her. Its no surprise Ali goes into the Marine Corps to serve her country. After completing Navy SEAL training, she’s sent to Jalalabad, Afghanistan to hook up with her new SEAL team. Everyone is glad to see her except one man: Sergeant Ram Torres (American/Mexican) who hates her on sight. He comes from a rough and tumble childhood where he learned never to trust women, starting with his mother to abandoned him shortly after birth. From then on, he wanted them for sex, but with no eye toward marriage or a serious relationship with one. Ali comes from a loving two-parent household. The two are like oil and water on the team. Both are drawn powerfully to one another but the push back Ram gives them is equally powerful. I liked putting them into situations and challenges where they were FORCED to work with one another…and how each of them handled that event. When Cara is kidnapped and taken across the border to Mexico to be sold as a sex-slave, Ali and Ram team up and go after them. It is the first time Ram’s distrust is transcended with her. He’s never had a family and she is fully family-oriented. He’s not so cold-hearted as to refuse the mission with Ali to find her little sister before it’s too late. And when they are trapped, hunted down by drug soldiers, they must turn to one another and fight as one. Can they do it?
What have you learned about your own writing process/you as an author while writing this book?
Writing for 38 years, I long ago knew that sometimes (rare) two characters would grab me by the throat and not let me go until their story, their deeds, experiences were fully told. Ali and Ram are two such characters. For me, they were absolutely riveting….I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with their story and find out ‘what happened next.’ I hope it is that way for my readers!
The First kiss…
Well, let’s put it this way, readers are going to wait a long time in this book before THAT happens. And when it does? It’s a soul changing direction for both of them–catching them off guard–and neither of them in a place where they can absorb that it has happened because their lives are on the line.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
Ali hated his defensiveness. “No,” she answered calmly, “we were all worried about you, Ram.” Purposely using his first name, she saw his face grow softer for a moment. His mouth was pursed, as if he was holding back a lot of emotions he wasn’t about to share with anyone. His hand stilled over Mazzie, who licked it.
He gave her a dark look. “When did you get like this?”
She grinned. “Oh, you don’t know me at all. You think you do, but you don’t.”
“Just go away.”
She got up and went to the corner of the couch and sat back down. “I wonder,” she said, “if you were born or if someone found you under a rock one day.”
Ram’s mouth relaxed. “That’s funny.”
Ali felt not only relief, but triumph. It was the first time he’d even granted part of a smile toward her. “Look,” she whispered, opening her hands toward him, “we all care about you, Ram. I know you don’t like me and I can live with that, but I don’t dislike you. Even the guys could see something was wrong and they care.”
Wincing, Ram stared at her. “Care? Coming from a woman? That’s a joke!”
She felt as if he’d slapped her again, the words ground out, filled with derision and anger. Now, she understood this really wasn’t about her. Rapidly putting the pieces together in her mind, she asked, “Did you get news about your family?” and held his gaze.
“Do you read minds, Montero?” he snapped.
She laughed a little. “No. Why?”
“Then you’re damned good at assessing people. Like a shrink.”
“I’m a sniper. I’m trained to put small pieces of something together, like a jigsaw puzzle, and see the overall pattern. But I’m no mind reader.” She felt an ache in her heart and understood it was for Ram Torres. He was hurting badly, no matter how much he was trying to hide it from her. His usual snarling at her wasn’t chasing her away either. Well, he was going to find out she wasn’t a quitter and he couldn’t scare her away. “Do you want me to guess?”
“Did Lockwood put you up to this?”
“No,” she lied. “We’re a team and we take care of one another, whether you like it or not. The guys did talk among themselves at the chow hall as to who should approach you. I just happened to leave the chow hall first. I said I’d look in on you.” That wasn’t a lie. She just wasn’t going to drag Wyatt into it because she knew Ram would use him as a scapegoat. He was sitting tensely now, one hand curled into a fist against his thigh. Fighting. He was battling his own emotional reaction to her goading him, trying to pull out what was wrong. There was defeat in his eyes and his voice had become less and less growly, as if he were really emotionally tired.
“You aren’t going to leave me alone, are you?”
She shook her head. “No.”
Muttering a curse, he looked away for a moment. His voice softened. “Just tell the guys that my parent was in a car wreck. Wyatt called me to tell me that. He asked if I wanted to fly home to be with him. My father is in the hospital in poor condition.” His eyes grew stormy. “I told him no, I don’t want to go home. He’s had cancer the last year. He’s not long for this world.”
Now it was her turn to stare at him. “Oh,” she managed in a choked tone, “I’m so sorry to hear that.” The utter fatigue settled in on his expression and she felt as if all his ire had dissolved, leaving him hurting and vulnerable to her.
Shrugging, he growled, “That bastard can rot in hell. Last time I saw him was when I was eighteen and leaving for the Navy. I don’t ever want to see him again.”
Ali sat there, running through all the possible things she could say to him. “I’m sorry, Ram. You’re a good person. And the guys respect you so much.” She saw him straighten a little, saw her words healing some of his wounds. “I won’t tell anyone if you don’t want me to.”
He heaved a sigh, giving her a pleading look. “You can tell them. I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want anyone else coming up and asking me about it, either. It’s a closed chapter in my life. I don’t ever want to go back there again. Can you take that message to them? I just want to pretend this didn’t happen and get on with what I do here in the team. That’s all.”
“Of course, I’ll tell them.” She saw the wound now in his murky-looking eyes, saw it in the way his mouth compressed. Mazzie whined and licked his hand, as if sensing his defeat and grief. “Is there anything I can do for you?” She sought out his gaze, which was filled with so many feelings she couldn’t begin to sort them out.
“You’ve done enough,” he said, adding quietly, “thanks.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
“What the hell have you done, Montero? You didn’t take vacation. You went back to your op, dammit!”
Josh Estes’ voice was low and furious. Ali hung onto her dissolving patience—what little she’d ever had in the first place. “I did what you’d do if your sister was in Azarola’s hands, Estes, so don’t scream at me. It won’t work and you know it.”
She seriously doubted he knew she’d been wounded in the firefight—and she wasn’t about to tell him. He was one of those anal types who had been ordered to be her handler because he, too, had Hispanic blood and was originally from the Sonora region of Mexico. Worse, he’d never been a case officer out in the field, so his world revolved around his glass-enclosed office.
She had immediately disliked him. He was an arrogant perfectionist, someone who liked to control others, and took great delight in doing so. And he didn’t like being talked back to in the same condescending tone he spoke to her. Too bad.
“I’ve had it with you,” Estes snarled. “You’ve gone rogue, Montero. You were not ordered down to Azarola’s area again. You were ordered to take your mandatory two-week vacation. You came back to Langley to check in and then take two weeks off.”
She snarled back, “Well, I decided to take my vacay in Sonora. Got a problem with that, Estes?” She saw Gomez nod in her direction, a sour smile on his face as he lifted his hand to her and turned away, leaving her to argue with her boss. Avana gave her a sympathetic look and followed his captain.
“You know, I have a real problem with one of my people ignoring one of my orders! I’m tired of you disobeying me, Montero. We don’t need rogue operators in the Company, and you’re one of them by your own choice. I’m sending a notice of termination to you as of today. You’re done working for the Company. The papers will be waiting for you when you get back to your apartment in Alexandria. You’re out of a job as of this moment.”
“Suits me, you asshole.” Staring at the sat phone, Ali cursed softly and clicked it off. Her mind whirled. She wasn’t rogue. The bastard hadn’t said where to take her two weeks of vacation. He hadn’t said, “Don’t do Sonora, Mexico.”
Cara . . .
Oh, Lady, what am I going to do? Who can I get help from? I’ve GOT to stay here and be José’s eyes and ears so we can rescue her.
Readers should read this book….
If they want to read about two more mis-matched people who you would think could never like each other, much less fall in love with one another!
What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?
TAKING A CHANCE, 7B1, is the sequel to TRAPPED. It is the next step in Ali and Ram’s lives and how love finds them, after all. It will be released on 9.14.2017. Then, Cara Montero’s story, HIDDEN HEART, 7B2, comes out 9.14.2017. Readers will fall in love with Ali’s gentle, younger sister. And ex-SEAL Tyler Hutton, who is her bodyguard, falls in love with her too for all the wrong reasons. But he can’t help himself.
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Excerpt from Trapped:
Ali scrambled to her hands and knees, panting. No more gunfire.
“RAM!” She called into her radio mic. “Ram!”
No! NO! Ali got to her feet, hating the heavy pack weighing her down. She quickly unstrapped it, dropping it where it was, digging the toes of her boots into the wet, muddy ground. She had to find Ram! Was he dead? Wounded? Were there drug soldiers still in the area he didn’t kill?
Quickly, she placed the NVGs over her eyes, flipping them on, the world becoming a grainy green once more. Rushing down the path, she said, “Coming your way! Don’t shoot!” in case he was conscious, but down.
She took a slight turn on the path and found five men lying dead on it.
“Ram! Where are you!” she called urgently, watching to see if any of the drug soldiers who were down, moved. If they did, she’d put a bullet in their heads. She’d fought drug smugglers too long and knew they’d do the same if she was in their position. The Geneva Convention definitely didn’t exist out here.
She heard a sound, between a mumbled word and a groan. Ram! Running hard, leaping off the path and looking for him, she saw him slowly trying to roll on his side, arm flailing weakly. Terror shot though Ali as she raced to his side.
“Ram, it’s me! Lie still. Where are you hurt?” She kept looking around, one hand on his shoulder, her gaze raking in the vicinity. There could be other soldiers on their way here. Her fingers dug into his heavy canvas vest across his shoulder as she anchored him in place. She saw he’d gotten rid of his pack, which lay nearby. Anxiously, she swallowed, her breath ragged and hard from the run. The rain began to ease off even more.
She cupped her hand beneath his armpit and helped him sit up. “Talk to me!” she urged. “Ram? Where the hell are you wounded?”
Lifting his hand, he touched the side of his Kevlar helmet. “Took bullet to the head,” he muttered, sitting up, his fingers fumbling with the chin strap, releasing it.
In the dark of night, the blood looked shiny and black. Ali saw it dripping down along the right side of Ram’s temple. She also saw where a bullet had creased the area of his helmet, but his protective Kevlar had saved his life. Relief shot through her. “Can you get up? Walk?” Warily, she stood up next to him, her leg against his back, bracing him so he could sit upright. She watched for more enemies coming their way. Ram was groggy and dazed. Ali was sure the bullet had knocked him unconscious for a while. That was probably why he hadn’t answered her initial radio call.
“Dizzy,” he muttered. “Call Barnett on our headset?”
“Roger.” Ali switched to another frequency, calling Dave, giving him a sit rep, situational report, of what had just happened.
“Roger that,” Barnett said, worry in his tone. “We’ve got the Black Hawks on the ground. Hostages on board. We’ll wait for you.”
“No!” Ali rasped. “Take off with them. We have no idea how many more drug soldiers are coming our way, or even if they are. We’re a mile from you. Torres is groggy, head wound, and he’s slurring his words. I can’t carry him. Right now I’m going to pull back. There’s a nearby cave I know about. I’ll give you the GPS once I get him in there and we’re safe for the moment. It’s imperative you leave. Get the hostages out of here! Over.”
Ali waited and she knew Barnett was weighing everything. He came back and said, “Roger that. Lifting off. Ram has the sat phone. Call us at the Marine base frequency when you have your cave and GPS position. Over.”
“Roger that. Out.” Ali put it back to the private frequency between her and Ram. He was still sitting, his head in his hands, leaning forward, hunched over. She was sure he was dazed, his brain scrambled but good. Luckily, although there was plenty of blood on his temple—head wounds were always heavy bleeders—she didn’t see his scalp peeled back from his skull. Nor did she see where the skull was fractured or caved in. Both were good news.
She knelt down, urgency in her tone as she placed her hand beneath his jaw, lifting it to take off his NVGs. He still had them on and she couldn’t assess his eyes. “Ram? Can you stand? I have to get you out of here.”
Nodding, he sat up a little more. “Yeah, where to?”
“Nearby cave. I don’t think anyone knows about it. I found it two years ago. It’s pretty well hidden, has a small drip of water in the back of it, so we’ll be able to stay hydrated.” She looked around, the rain now soft, the wind little more than a strong breeze around them every now and again.
Helping him up, he leaned on her heavily, disoriented. His arm went around her shoulders and she slid one arm around his waist, the other holding her M4 ready. As soon as she got him to the cave, she’d run back here and pick up both packs, erasing all the evidence of them being in this vicinity so they couldn’t be discovered by a tracker.
It took fifteen minutes to get Ram to the slit opening of the cave, the narrow mouth covered with thick brush. He was less bumbling, more alert, and less dizzy by the time she got him inside it. The place was pear-shaped, the rocks jagged along the walls. The soil was dry to sit on, and she helped him get situated near the entrance. She’d left his rifle with his pack. “Here,” she said, placing her weapon across his lap, guiding his hands to it, “take this. I’m going to retrieve our gear and your rifle. I’ll be right back.”
Ali saw him nod, his mouth tight with tension. He probably had one helluva headache coming on about now. Turning, she slipped out of the slit, through the heavy, ten-foot-tall brush wall, crouched on the other side, freezing and listening.
The rain had stopped. It was suddenly silent in the forest, with hardly a whisper of breeze. Taking her time, Ali knew this was the most dangerous part because she was alone, with only her .45 on her. She’d kept her ammo vest on, but had shed the heavy Kevlar vest, leaving it behind on the cave floor.
She ran silently and quickly, weaving like a ghost in and around the trees toward the objective. She knew Azarola could have sent more men after them. She was sure that if he’d sent these ten out after them, sooner or later they would be found by a second party searching for them. If they had radio communications—and she was sure they did—then the drug lord knew that none of his initial party was answering him. He’d know something had happened and would send out another group of soldiers. And then they’d spread out, looking for her team after seeing ten of their men killed along the trail.
Finally, she made it to the area. She slid into her pack, and then went to where she’d left Ram’s rifle and slung it across her chest. There was no way she could heft one-hundred pounds right now, so she hid his pack from view, and would come back for it later.
When she reached Ram, he was leaning against the wall, head tipped back, his NVGs off, eyes closed. His head snapped up, his gaze locked on her as he reached for the rifle in his lap.
“It’s me,” she said, breathing heavily, unloading the pack and setting his rifle next to where he sat. “How are you doing?”
“Feeling like shit.”
She grinned. “You’ll live then, Ram.” Ali suddenly realized that she’d been calling him by his first name. His eyes were dull and dazed. “Can I get you anything before I leave? I need to get your pack in here.”
“No . . . I’m okay.”
“Spoken like a true SEAL,” she deadpanned. Crouching down at his side, she placed her hands on his head so she could see if the bleeding had slowed. It had. And it had clotted. “I think the bullet creased your flesh and bounced off your thick skull, Torres,” she joked, giving him a slight smile of relief. She saw his eyes narrow on her, more alert, focused.
“I liked it better when you called me Ram.”
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Aliyana Montero will do anything to rescue her sister from the ruthless kidnappers who took her from outside the school where she works. Even if that means accepting help from Ram Torres, the most infuriating—and sexy—man Ali has ever met. She and Ram first met on a mission in Afghanistan and they clashed instantly. Ram accused her of being hotheaded and impulsive. She thought he was cold and arrogant. Both refused to acknowledge the heat that flared between them. Now, as her sister’s life hangs in the balance, Ali will have to swallow her pride and once again work with the man who has secretly haunted her dreams.
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 Delos series and Wind River Valley Series for Kensington Books, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories. Visit her online at her website www.lindsaymckenna.com
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