Hi Tee and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Above ‘N’ Beyond!
Thank you so much for the invitation! It’s a pleasure to be here at HJ.
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Donnie Brasco Meets Romeo & Juliet…
An undercover cop falls in love with his target’s niece. When she discovers his true identity, will she dime him out or work with him to bring down her family’s criminal organization?
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Five months. Two weeks. Three days.
Port Authority K-9 Sergeant Jamie Pataglio, aka Jimmy Santoro, aka inmate number 22A5140, had counted off every godforsaken day he’d been here—inside the walls of Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
Getting locked up had been easy. All it had taken was an anonymous call to the police that he’d been carrying a concealed, unlicensed handgun. If things went as planned today, he’d be walking out through the gates in two weeks.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- The opening chapter of the book takes place in Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY. Sing Sing is what Batman was referring to in the old TV show with Adam West, when he told Penguin, the Joker, and the other bad guys he and Robin busted, “Up the river with you!”
- The puppy cams used in this story are based on actual mini-cameras I got to keep an eye on my puppies, Loki & Kyrie. I still use them to this day.
- I fashioned two of the side characters after two of my very best friends. Even their backstories are the same. They got such a kick out that.
- Later in the book, Bella confides to Jamie about something that happened to her on a date. What happened to her actually happened to another friend of mine. It’s hysterical! Even though this is a romantic suspense, I can’t help interjecting a little humor here and there.
- The underlying plot for this book is based on a super-intriguing article I found online about the Mafia in Italy. No spoilers here, so if you want to know more, youse guys gotta read da book!
What first attracts your main characters to each other?
Bella thinks Jamie reminds her of the devil, Satan himself, in a totally hot way. There’s something about him that’s different from other mobsters in her “family.” But she doesn’t “do” mobsters, so he’s 100% off limits.
Jamie is intrigued by Bella’s snarky, spitfire personality. She’s beautiful, just like the FBI photos indicated. But she’s not at all like the FBI report said she was. The report didn’t come close to capturing her spirit.
Using just 5 words, how would you describe your main characters”love affair?
Above all else…complicated!
The First Kiss…
This scene takes place long before Bella knows who Jamie is. At this point, she only knows him by his undercover name: Jimmy Santoro.
His gaze dipped to her mouth. Involuntarily, she licked her lips, then parted them because she could no longer draw in enough oxygen through her nose. All the oxygen seemed to have been sucked from the room.
In painstakingly slow increments, Jimmy lowered his head. Their mouths were so close all it would take was a scant lift of her chin, and their lips would touch.
Heat rolled off him in delicious, spice-scented waves she breathed in, expanding her chest until her breasts pressed against his pecs. Kissing Jimmy Santoro would be a supremely bad idea. So why wasn’t she stopping him?
Because I don’t want to.
Hard, firm lips grazed hers. The contact was slight, like being tickled by a feather. But the blast of heat that shot through her was undeniable. Like someone had turned on a furnace and angled it directly at her face.
With a deep groan, Jimmy kissed her more deeply, breathing into her mouth. She answered with a throaty moan of her own, sliding her hand to the back of his neck, pulling him closer.
The kiss was delicious, licking at her like flames, igniting a fire in her soul and in her core. Jimmy shifted, easing her backward so her neck rested in the crook of his arm. His hand slid up the side of her rib cage, his long fingers skimming her breast. Instantly, her nipples pebbled. If his mouth hadn’t been fused to hers, his tongue sweeping in deep, fluid strokes, she would have wanted those masculine lips wrapped around her painfully tight nipples.
Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?
I actually have quite a few scenes in this book that I think turned out really well. It’s hard to choose just one. One of my highest rated books on Goodreads is Serve ’N’ Protect in the Federal K-9 series. Readers said they loved the banter between Markus and Cassidy. This scene in Above ’N’ Beyond echoes that banter and takes place after Bella is forced to take in Jamie as her new tenant, though she’s forbidden to accept rent money she sorely needs. As you might expect, she’s not happy about having him thrust (ahem, pardon the pun) on her. And this is just the start of their rocky road to love.
“I guess we’ll take it,” Jamie said. “Shake on the deal, Jax.”
Jax stepped close to Bella, then sat and lifted his paw in the air. Again, Bella smiled. Again, not for Jamie. But if Jax’s canine charm helped ingratiate him with Bella, he’d let his dog schmooze her all day.
She shook Jax’s paw, then lifted her gaze to Jamie’s and narrowed her eyes. “There’s one other rule.”
“You’re big on rules.”
“I like rules. They keep order.”
“What’s the other rule?”
“I live on the top level.” She flicked her gaze to the ceiling. “I don’t want you bringing trouble into my house.”
“Why would you assume I’d bring trouble here?”
She pressed her lips together and gave him a duh look. “If you have business dealings, you don’t conduct them here. I know who you are.” He seriously doubted that. “I know what you are.” He seriously doubted that, too.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?
Without question, the scene absolutely to the movie would be the one where Bella learns that Jimmy Santoro is really an undercover cop…
“Is he here?” Marco snarled, his gaze sharpening as he searched the living room.
She closed the door. Judging by his demeanor, she wasn’t entirely sure at this point she’d done the right thing by letting him in. “Is who here?”
“Santoro.” He peered down the hall toward her bedroom.
“That’s not your business, and unless there’s something wrong, I’d like you to leave.” She reached for the knob, about to insist on it.
“There’s something wrong all right.” He leaned in, giving her a whiff of his alcohol-laden breath. “I told you Jimmy Santoro isn’t who he says he is.”
Jax hugged Bella’s side, uttering another warning growl, louder this time.
“Fine.” She hugged Gnocchi tighter to her chest. “Tell me who he is, then leave.”
The look on Marco’s face turned to one of joy. Evil, malevolent, twisted joy. “I don’t know his real name, but it’s not Jimmy Santoro. What I can tell you is that he’s a cop.”
“That’s ridiculous,” she snapped. As Jimmy had warned her, Marco had to be out of his mind with jealousy. “He was in prison with Tony. He saved Tony’s life.”
“Don’t take my word for it.” He snorted, then looked over her shoulder. “Ask him.”
Jimmy had put on his slacks but nothing else. Despite his gentleness with her, she’d always assumed there was a dark, dangerous side to him. Now she saw it in all its deadly glory. Every muscle in his upper body was taut. His eyes had narrowed to slits, and his jaw clenched repeatedly.
“Jimmy? What in the world is he talking about? You’re not a cop. You can’t be.” Still, he didn’t look at her, didn’t say a word as he kept his focus locked on to Marco. The deadliness of his expression only deepened.
Her stomach somersaulted with nausea. The ramifications were too awful to contemplate, and her head spun. Dear God. Was Marco telling the truth? Was Jimmy a cop? That would mean—
Readers should read this book …
Well, first there are the basic reasons: If you like reading about steamy romance frought with difficulties from the get-go, trust me, this one takes the cake. If you love reading a story and not knowing when the proverbial sh!t is about to fly. If you enjoy seeing characters grow and change throughout a story and make difficult decisions that impact not only their own futures but their future as a couple. If you love a good K-9 romantic suspense with hunky heroes, sassy heroines, and courageous doggos. But here’s the best reason to read this book…
I must have dropped in some juicy and intriguing tidbits about Jamie that really resonated with readers, because while this is the seventh and final book in the Federal K-9 series, this is, by far, THE most requested story of them all!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m currently writing Ultimate Justice, the third book in the K-9 Special Ops series. This is FBI Special Agent Evan McGarry’s and his German shepherd K-9 Blue’s, story. Here’s a couple of lines to whet your appetite:
“The thrills continue in this bestselling series when an FBI agent and his trusted K-9 team up with a child therapist to unearth a cult targeting youths.”
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: One print copy of Above ‘N’ Beyond
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: This question goes to the crux of the relationship in Above ’N’ Beyond…If you met someone, fell head over heels in love—to the point where you knew beyond a shadow of doubt this was the one person you were meant to be with—then you discovered that, out of necessity, they lied to you about their true identity… Could you ever forgive them and still be with them?
Excerpt from Above ‘N’ Beyond:
The man who’d just walked into the Bistro—Satan— stood a few inches behind her. She’d never really thought of brown eyes as having a piercing effect. His not only did, but they radiated a lethal intensity, like he was itching for a fight. Waves of power mingled with obvious irritation, judging by the firm set of his jaw and the way his nostrils flared, poured from his huge body. And yeah, it was huge.
Bella had thought that sleazeball, Sean, towered over her, but this stranger had several inches on him and about thirty pounds more muscle straining against the fabric of his black, short-sleeve Henley. She’d never seen such bulging biceps and forearms before. And what was that cologne? Mmm. Whatever it was, she could take a bath in it, it smelled so darned good.
“Everything okay here, cuz?” Tony had sauntered over with one of his men, Marco Ianetti, backing him up.
“You know this is Paola Mancuso’s place,” a woman at one of the adjacent tables whispered to her date. “They call her The Godmother.”
Bella fisted her hands, resisting the urge to scream at the moniker thrown around the Bistro at least once a week. It always made her feel as if people came here because of Paola, not for the great food, friendly service, and warm atmosphere.
“Well?” the deep voice said from behind her. “What’s it gonna be, fellas?”
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Deep secrets. Deadly truths.
Getting locked up had been easy. But for K-9 Sergeant Jamie Pataglio, going undercover at a maximum-security prison—and infiltrating the Mancusco crime family—was the hard part. Now, six months later, Jamie’s been accepted as one of the mob’s own, and he’s walking out of the gates as a free man…and stepping into the criminal underworld. There’s only one small, gorgeous problem: Bella Bianco.
The Italian bistro used to be Bella’s pride and joy. Now it’s become a nightmare, where her violent family uses her restaurant as its criminal home base. Guilty by association. She needs to find a way out, and fast. The last thing Bella needs is an attraction to their newest “associate”—even if every moment alone with him leaves her breathless. It’s almost enough to make her reconsider her “no mobsters” policy…
They can’t trust each other. But if either of them ever wants to break free of their circumstances, they don’t have a choice. They’ll have to take down her family. And if anyone finds out they’re working together…they’re both dead.
Book Links: Goodreads
Meet the Author:
Tee O’Fallon is the best-selling, award-winning author of the K-9 Special Ops, Federal K-9, and NYPD Blue & Gold series. Tee spent twenty-three years as a federal agent conducting complex, long- and short-term criminal investigations, especially undercover operations, across many agencies at the federal level, and multi-state investigations as a police investigator. It felt only natural to combine her hands-on experience in the field with her love of romantic suspense. She has lived in New York State most of her life with a five-year stop in Colorado. When not writing, she enjoys cooking, gardening, chocolate, lychee martinis, and kicking back with her Belgian Sheepdogs, Loki and Kyrie.
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