Hi Charlee and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Dangerous Water!
Thank you for having me! It is always a pleasure to visit HJ.
To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:
Dangerous Water is the final book in the Cape Cod Shore from Tule Publishing. Readers will meet Elle Devereaux, a woman who may not be who she thinks she is, and private investigator Gabe Sandoval.
Following her parents’ deaths, Elle’s world crumbles. With their company bankrupt and under Federal investigation, Elle is forced to pack up a few personal mementos from her happy childhood home and discovers something that triggers a disturbing memory. Research leads her to a Facebook plea from a woman looking for her long ago abducted sister, and Elle’s door to the past cracks open. She needs answers, but will the strong, serious and far too sexy PI who takes her case lead her to her sister or to heartbreak?
Police detective turned private investigator Gabe is skeptical when a woman claiming to possibly be his partner’s abducted sister arrives at their firm. He’s protective of his partner, who’s about to be married, and has run interference with imposters too many times to count. His years as a big city cop bathed him in cynicism, but Elle is filled with a light that he lost long ago. As they search for answers, Gabe worries he may lose more than he finds. And the case takes a dangerous turn.
Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:
“I could spend hours just kissing you. You taste so good, feel so good on me.” And while what they were doing might be wrong, he just couldn’t bring himself to walk away.
What inspired this book?
I love writing about family ties, whether they’re biological or created from the heart. This series is about the healing power of love and the families we create from the people who make us whole.
How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?
The heroes and heroines of this series have faced significant obstacles to grasp their happy-ever-after moments and find a place among this tight-knit family formed of close friends. Elle has this very put together, beautiful façade, but behind closed doors, she’s kind of a disaster. Sometimes, she can’t seem to get out of her own way, and her spaces are always cluttered despite her outward neatness.
What was your favorite scene to write?
My favorite scene to write was in Chapter Seven. After receiving some news that dredges up painful, conflicting emotions, Gabe senses Elle’s distress and asks her to walk along a New England beach at dusk. This scene shows a more tender side of Gabe beneath his rough exterior. It’s hard not to fall for a man who is tough, maybe even a bit broken, but just melts in subtle ways for their woman.
Elle stumbled along, feet getting swallowed in the dips and rivets of the shore.
“Let me.” His voice was so low, so thick the tone might’ve been mistaken for desire if he hadn’t refused her minutes ago. “Wrap your arms around my neck,” he demanded, as he slid his arms under her and lifted. She was too numb to be embarrassed and too exhausted to protest. Gabe cradled her in his arms and began to walk. She was nestled so tightly against him, she could detect a faint scent of aftershave—something masculine and forbidden, just like the rest of him.
What was the most difficult scene to write?
Gabe has been through some deep personal challenges, and he has to make choices every day to continue to shape the man he aspires to be. Elle is still discovering who she is and her place in the world, and I admire her bravery as she navigates fears that have been a constant in her life, but that she’s never understood. These characters see each other, flaw after beautiful flaw, and love the other person more because of those experiences and challenges.
He waited for her to walk away, but she leaned in closer. Who in their right mind would want someone with so many demons?
“Those are smart things, good things. You haven’t said anything that makes me think less of you. Nothing that’s calming down these insane butterflies.” Her breath caressed his ears, and tingles swarmed down his spine. Before he could stop himself, he gripped her hips, then froze in place. Her eyes swam with emotion, and the intensity of her gaze was more intimate than if they were both stripped bare.
“Elle, I’m no one’s hero.” He could tell himself that he wanted to push her away, make her see how damaged he was before she did something she’d regret, but it was a lie. He was so scared of the shifting in his heart, of the emotions churning around inside him.
“I’ve never needed one.” Her voice was raw and honest. For the first time, someone was seeing him and accepting him for what he was. It was a powerful sensation, to be wanted after laying out all your flaws and deepest regrets. She might be as lovely as any fairytale princess, but she wasn’t spreading her hands over the chest of a white knight, it was him. On a groan, he drew her in. Their lips hovered inches from one another, the tension brewing like a storm, and when they finally crashed together, his body quaked with need.
Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?
This book showcases the writing style that I enjoy the most. Ordinary people who face extraordinary challenges on their road to happiness and fulfillment. Everyday heroes in the community who find themselves in the middle of their very own love story.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
The main takeaways I hope readers embrace are that it’s never too late to rediscover yourself, heal, or overcome an obstacle. To allow yourself and others grace, because everyone faces their own personal battles. Ones that are not always visible.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
• I’m currently anticipating the release of Home Sweet Christmas, a sweet holiday novel from Tule Publishing on November 5, 2020.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: $25 Amazon Digital Gift Card. Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I love animals, so they tend to be a natural part of my books. There are several fur friends in this series who play important roles in the lives of the main characters. Who is your favorite animal pal, or who would you love to have as a fur/feathered/scaly friend?
I’ll go first! My pups Elsa and Geppetto, feline Fin, blue tongue skink Simba, bearded dragon Pinocchio, and a small herd of tortoises make up my family’s animal pack. We love them!.
Excerpt from Dangerous Water:
Movement on the grand staircase caught his eye, and he looked up to see Elle walking down the stairs, one yellow ballet flat at a time. The plain gray dress she wore was conservative to say the least, but on her it was magic. It was impossible to breathe, never mind look away, not when the fabric lined the dips and curves of her voluptuous body, outlining every magnificent feature. He clenched his hands briefly, then released. He wasn’t the type of person to get tongue-tied around attractive women, but then again, he couldn’t remember the last time someone had caught his eye. Swallowing down the lump in his throat, he moved forward with long, purposeful strides. He had a job to do. One that wouldn’t be sidetracked by miles of pale curls.
“Were you waiting long?” She reached the bottom step and looked up at him with those innocent eyes framed by a thick sweep of lashes.
“Just got here.” His voice was like gravel, and he made an internal oath to get his shit together.
“There’s a lounge down the hall. It’s quiet and discreet. We could talk there.” She motioned past the grand piano to a room decorated with velvet upholstery and glossy mahogany furniture. Everything looked antique. He gave her a curt nod, and they walked side by side down the hall. Growing up, his mother had tended a trio of lilac bushes in their backyard. That’s what Elle smelled like—the heady, sweet scent of lilacs in full bloom. His shoes sank into the lounge’s plush, oriental rug. It was like stepping into a bygone era when women dined in formal dresses and men retreated for a post-meal cigar and brandy. Elle led him to a corner nook lit by a table lamp, and he slid into the curved bench next to her, keeping as much distance between them as possible. He’d been married once. It hadn’t worked out—mainly because of him—but he didn’t plan on repeating his past mistakes. Sure, he’d hook up with a woman every now and then—no strings attached—but as far as relationships went, the other sex was better off without him in the dating pool.
“Why now?” He glued his eyes to her, assessing every movement. Words could be twisted, but the truth could often be found in body language. A sense of relief settled over him now that he was able to confront her. When he was questioning someone, he was in charge, and that’s where he liked to stay.
Elle met his stare head-on, surprising him. She wasn’t meek like he’d originally thought. “That’s one way to cut right to the chase,” she said and turned to smile at the approaching server.
“May I bring you a drink?” The man looked only at Elle, and who in their right mind wouldn’t? There was a burn in his gut at the easy way she laughed at something the guy said. He forced his muscles to relax. He’d never been the jealous type, but the woman beside him was eliciting irrational emotions he didn’t have the time or the need for. She ordered a cabernet, and the waiter gave him a quick pass over before finally asking his drink of preference. He ordered a club soda and turned his attention back to Elle.
“To answer your question,” she started before he could speak. “It wasn’t until I saw the interview that I started having flashbacks and nightmares.”
“Tell me something the half a dozen women before you haven’t.” He rested his forearms on the table and leaned in. “What makes you any different?”
He’d asked the same question to the other women who claimed to be Alex’s sister, and it was always met with outrage, sometimes watery eyes and pleading looks, but never with the inquisitive stare Elle was giving him now. The waiter discreetly left their drinks on the table, and he took a sip of the flavorless carbonated beverage. It wasn’t an ice-cold beer, and never would be, but he’d gotten used to it. Elle lifted her wine glass, then paused, and after a few moments, she simply nodded.
“I’ve always had some fears that seem silly for a twenty-eight-year-old to have. And, well, they’ve been getting much worse recently.” She sighed and fiddled with the tip of one of her curls with her free hand. “So I went into the attic of my parents’ house to look for answers.”
“Why wouldn’t you just ask them?” he grunted. There was a flash of pain in her eyes, then something more profound, more devastating. Her spine stiffened, and she cast her gaze to the floor. Shit. He hated the look of despair on her face, and instantly wanted to soothe her. Instead, he grabbed his club soda, took a sip to wet his dry throat, and placed the glass back on the table.
“They’re dead.” Her voice didn’t waver, but she tensed. Whether her body language was practiced or genuine, he hadn’t decided. “Nearly a month ago now.”
“And what about the rest of your family? Did you ask them about your childhood?” He leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest.
“There’s no one else.” Again, she lowered her lashes, then drew in a breath and lifted her chin. She was trying so hard to be brave, but he wasn’t sure he bought it—yet.
It was more than convenient that this woman suddenly lost her parents and had no other family members to lean on. “What was in the attic?”
“I looked through about a million boxes, sorting out photo albums and things, before I stumbled on to the plastic bag. There was a stuffed pink elephant stained with something—coffee, blood, I’m not sure. And an old dress, but I don’t remember either of them. Then I knew something was terribly wrong. That I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.” She bit her full bottom lip between her teeth as his vision clouded.
“And where are those items now?” He thoroughly expected her to tell him she’d left them in the trunk or they’d somehow gotten lost, or—
“My suitcase. Up in the hotel room.” Her hair seemed to shimmer in the glow of the table lamp as she bent toward him.
That was the last thing he’d been expecting her to say. Even if Alex hadn’t mentioned the stuffed elephant on national television, a quick search of missing children’s cases would’ve shared that detail, but actually having one? His heart began to pump faster. Of course, it could some random stuffed animal she’d purchased, but it was a detail none of the other women had when they approached Alex.
“Would you be willing to hand the items over so they could be sent to a private crime lab?” His palm iced as he clutched his drink.
“Yes, of course.” She took a sip of the wine, then put it back down on the table and cleared her throat.
“And a DNA test?” He leveled his gaze with hers as she twirled the stem of her wine glass slowly between her thumb and pointer finger. The red wine had stained her lips, turning them from a natural peachy-pink to raspberry. He’d bet a mortgage payment that they tasted sweeter than the fruit.
“How else would we be sure?” she asked.
He eyed her for a few more seconds, searching her face. Elle wasn’t giving him the canned answers he’d come to expect from those who had come forward, and for the first time, a seed of doubt bloomed in his chest. “Come on,” he said, taking a few bills out of his wallet. “I’ll walk you back to your room. You can give me the evidence.”
She emptied her wine glass with a final sip, and the delicate bob of her neck made his throat tight. Elle was trouble, all right.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
She may not be who she thinks she is…
Following her parents’ deaths, Elle Devereaux’s world crumbles. With their company bankrupt and under Federal investigation, Elle is forced to pack up a few personal mementos from her happy childhood home and discovers something that triggers a disturbing memory. Research leads her to a Facebook plea from a woman looking for her long ago abducted sister, and Elle’s door to the past cracks open. She needs answers, but will the strong, serious and far too sexy PI who takes her case lead her to her sister or to heartbreak?
Police detective turned private investigator Gabe Sandoval is skeptical when a woman claiming to possibly be his partner’s abducted sister arrives at their firm. He’s protective of his partner, who’s about to be married, and has run interference with imposters too many times to count. His years as a big city cop bathed him in cynicism, but Elle is filled with a light that he lost long ago. As they search for answers, Gabe worries he may lose more than he finds. And the case takes a dangerous turn.
Can they find the answers before the past steals their happily ever after?
Meet the Author:
Contemporary Romance Author Charlee James was introduced to a life-long love of reading listening to her parents recite nightly stories to her and her older sister. Inspired by the incredible imaginations of authors like Bill Peet, Charlee could often be found crafting her own tales. As a teenager, she got her hands on a romance novel and was instantly hooked by the genre. After graduating from Johnson & Wales University, her early career as a wedding planner gave her first-hand experience with couples who had gone the distance for love. Always fascinated by family dynamics, Charlee began writing heartwarming novels with happily-ever-afters.
Charlee is a New England native who lives with her husband, daughters, two rambunctious dogs, a cat, and numerous reptiles. When she’s not spending time with her tight-knit family, she enjoys curling up with a book, practicing yoga, and collecting Boston Terrier knick-knacks.
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