Hi Janet and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Red Zone!
Hello! It’s lovely to be here!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Friday Barnes has four days to live, before the poison she ingested kills her. Only one man can get her to the antidote on time and to do that, he has to smuggle her out of the country and through the deadliest region on earth—all, while being hunted by every cop in the country. For his efforts, he’ll get what everyone else wants—the secrets stored inside Friday’s head. But Striker, smuggler and leader of a mysterious gang of criminals, has enough secrets of his own without adding more. Secrets that could have every genetic research company in the world after him and his team. Secrets that would mean being pinned down and dissected in order to reveal them. With so much at risk, there’s only one thing that could entice him to risk his life to save Friday’s—the woman herself.
If you like Christine Feehans’ Ghostwalker series, then you’d like Red Zone. It’s similar to that, only with a tad more humor!
Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:
This is one of my favorite interactions between Friday and Striker – the hero and heroine of the book. It happens early on in their relationship and sums up who they are – Friday, who’s geeky and socially awkward, and Striker, who’s all Cajun charm and deadly combat skills.
“Do intelligent women threaten you, Striker?”
The sultry look he cast her way made her stumble. “All the damn time, bébé, but my luck’s held out, and so far, they haven’t carried through with it.”
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
I have Nalini Singh to blame for this book! I met her at a conference in New Zealand years ago and didn’t have a clue who she was – as I didn’t read urban fantasy or paranormal romance at that time. Anyway, I made a fool of myself asking what she wrote and nodding encouragement when she told me. I commiserated over how hard it was to sell fantasy books – to a New York Times bestselling author! It wasn’t my finest moment… but after a friend told me who she was, I read her book Slaves to Sensation, and I was hooked on the genre and her fabulous writing. From there, I read everything I could get my hands on – Lora Leigh, Christine Feehan, you name it! And before you know it, I was writing my own paranormal-twist romance series – and that’s how Red Zone was born. It’s all Nalini Singh’s fault!
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Striker and Friday are opposites, and I think that’s a huge part of the appeal. Friday was abandoned as a baby and her isolation growing up, as well as her huge intellect, meant she’s become a socially awkward adult. Whereas Striker grew up in a close knit family, and now his team (all ex-Army Rangers) is his new family. He understands how to get on with people, how to love, how to be loyal, how to relax around the people he cares for – all things that Friday has longed for and doesn’t know how to do. She sees in him, someone who is passionate, emotional, expressive, strong and very physically capable. Striker oozes sex appeal and a sense of danger that fascinates her. Whereas Friday is so smart and naturally curious that she delights Striker, who feels jaded by life. For Friday everything is new and fascinating, and her attitude helps Striker to see life with fresh eyes. Although she needs rescuing, which is why she seeks him out in the first place, she’s also one of the bravest people he’s ever known, and that has a huge impact on him. They compliment each others’ characters beautifully, and their interactions and conversations can be very funny .
Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?
Oh! I can’t really answer this without giving too much away. Just lets say there was a scene in the book that had me sobbing so loudly that I woke my husband, who was worried something terrible had happened. He wasn’t too impressed that the scene I was writing was to blame! There’s also some great banter between Friday and Striker’s best friend Mace. They really don’t get on and bicker throughout the book. Some of that had me laughing hard. Because I can’t tell you about the sad scene, here’s a snippet of Friday and Mace interacting:
“Sit,” Mace ordered. “Eat.” He pointed at the nutrition bars beside her.
“I don’t like you, either,” she told him. “You were complicit in his behavior.”
“Ask me if I care.” The man-mountain sat down on a rock and started to demolish a large box of bars.
“Don’t forget to drink.” Striker sat down on a rock near to her. “Remember what happened last time. We can’t afford you getting dehydrated again.”
With her teeth clenched in frustration, she snatched the bottle of water he offered. “You want me to stay in the caves and study your genes when I get back from La Paz. That means getting in and out of the Red Zone at least twice more. Probably even more than that, as I’ll need to go get samples and equipment. Do you plan to knock me out every time I have to go through the mist?”
They exchanged a look that made it clear they thought her question was stupid.
“Well, yeah,” Striker said.
When she took a deep breath, ready to shout some more, he held up a hand to stop her. “You can’t be trusted in the mist. Your mind wanders too much. You show me you can stop thinking, then you can walk through the mist.”
“That’s the condition. You comply, or hello, Mr. Sandman.”
“What does that even mean?” She threw up her hands in frustration.
“That’s what I miss most,” Mace said around a mouthful of nutrition bar. “Nobody ever gets our cultural references. I feel like my sparkling wit is lost on the people of this new world.”
“You have wit?” She glared at him.
“Can we knock her out again?” Mace asked his team leader.
Readers should read this book….
…because it’s different! It doesn’t quite sit in any one genre, so you will get everything in this story. There’s action, adventure, hot romance, humor, sci-fi elements, paranormal elements – all wrapped up in a story about a group of men and women who only have each other to rely on, in a world where everyone else is a threat. To me, the focus of this book – this series – isn’t the sci-fi elements, or the paranormal stuff, it’s the relationships between the team members who have become a family to each other. And it’s about the couple at the center of each story, finding their way towards love when the odds are stacked against them.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?
Right now, I’m knee deep in edits for Red Zone book two – Red Awakening, which is scheduled for release in October. This one is about Mace, the best friend that drives Friday nuts in Red Zone. I had a blast writing Red Awakening. It’s my tribute to Die Hard!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: An ebook copy of Red Zone! (Open Internationally.)
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: In Red Zone, Friday takes poison because it will stop people from tracking her through the implanted chips in her body. If she doesn’t get the antidote in four days, she’ll die. If you had just four days to live, what would you do with the time?
Excerpt from Red Zone:
After she showered, a barefoot Friday followed Sandi back into the main cave area. The smell of food hit her hard and her stomach growled in response. There were more people in the room now. Several men sat around a dining table, laughing and talking while they ate. Without exception, they were huge, muscled, and armed to the teeth.
The conversation died as she entered the cavern, and she found it hard not to shuffle in place. She wished she were dressed in her regulation jumpsuit. The jumpsuit was like armor; it deflected interest. Instead, she wore combat pants, rolled up to stop her tripping over them, and the soft cotton T-shirt that hung to her knees. She felt like a child in a room full of adults.
“Chère!” Striker’s voice had her head whipping around to see him come out of the training room. “Let’s get you something to eat.”
He gave her attire a look of approval before wrapping an arm around her waist and tugging her toward the kitchen area. She recognized the man on kitchen duty—Mace, the guy who didn’t know how to work a scanner.
“I only make one thing,” he told her. “Chili. If you don’t like it, you go without.”
He picked up a bowl, ladled a steaming serving of chili into it, and handed it to her. He nodded his head toward the table against the wall. “Bread and utensils are over there.”
She looked down at the bowl then back up to the overgrown man. “Is this safe? Are you better at working a food unit than you are a scanner?”
Striker barked out a laugh as Mace narrowed his eyes at her. “Just because you threw yourself into the red to save the boss doesn’t mean I trust you. Or think you’re worth the hassle.”
“Now I really want to eat your food.”
“Come on.” Striker wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “You need to eat. Don’t worry about Mace none; he don’t know a thing about poisons. The food is safe.”
“I’m completely reassured.”
That earned another chuckle. They grabbed forks and freshly baked bread from the table before Striker led her over to the dining area. He pulled out a seat in the middle of the table and gestured for her to sit. She kept her eyes on the food as she did so, and not on the half dozen men who were staring at her like she’d arrived from Mars. Striker sat beside her, poured a glass of ice water from the jug on the table, and placed it in front of her.
“Keep up your fluids,” he ordered.
She rolled her eyes at his bossiness as she hesitantly tasted the chili. She’d grown up with the food. Versions of it were a street staple in the areas around CommTECH. It was considered too lower class for most of the residents in the Territories, but to her the food meant home. And this one was good. She groaned her delight, closing her eyes at the bite of rich pepper and cumin, savoring the heavy amount of garlic.
When she opened her eyes, everyone was staring at her, and she felt her cheeks heat.
“Good chili, huh?” Striker sounded hoarse.
“Better than meal replacement bars.”
He snorted his agreement. “Eating dirt is better than meal replacement bars.”
He reached for his fork, and his arm brushed against hers, making her whole body tingle. He was far too close. Their shoulders rubbed, their thighs pressed together— it was intensely distracting, and she couldn’t afford to be distracted in a room full of strangers. She shuffled her chair away from him and relaxed. For a second. Because, without hesitating in his conversation with the man facing them, he grabbed the seat of her chair and yanked her back—even closer than before. She scowled up at him and wondered how he’d like a bowl of steaming hot chili in his lap. As though reading her mind, he grinned at her. Infuriating man. He was amusing himself. Again. She’d never met someone with his sense of humor, and she wondered if she’d ever get the jokes.
“You need to watch that one,” a man across the table said. “She’s plotting your demise.”
Friday turned her frown on the blond stranger. His eyes crinkled with amusement.
“I take it back. She’s plotting against all of us.”
There was nothing to say to that—he was completely right.
When they were finished, the men cleared the table, and she expected them to disappear, going back to whatever they did in their cave. Instead, they helped themselves to mugs of coffee and sat back down. All eyes on her.
She elbowed Striker and whispered, “What have I done now?”
“Nothin’ Chère, unless you count those wicked thoughts you’ve been having about the two of us.” Of course, he made it sound like her wicked thoughts were sexual instead of her trying to come up with ways to maim him.
“I don’t like being the center of attention.” It made her want to run, but seeing as she didn’t know where she was, or where she’d run to, there wasn’t much point.
“Don’t panic. We just got some things we need to tell you.”
That was not reassuring. And it didn’t ease her mind any that the people gathered were serious and intense. There weren’t any smiles. No teasing looks. Shoulders were tense. Eyes were dark. Whatever they were going to tell her, she wasn’t going to like.
“It’s about our deal, bébé.” He toyed with her hair. “It’s about what I expect you to do to pay off your debt.”
And just like that, she felt the color drain from her face. She swayed, her mind going places she really didn’t want it to go. Her fingers clenched tightly together in her lap and her mouth was suddenly dry.
Striker’s eye sparkled as he leaned into her. He whispered against her ear, “You’re thinking about sex again. Bébé, you got to get your mind out of the gutter. This has nothing to do with that. If that happens, it will just be between me and you.”
“Okay.” She didn’t believe a word of it. Not when there was obviously something going on that she didn’t understand. She swallowed hard as he sat back in his chair, giving her an indulgent smile that said he found her amusing.
Striker shared a look with Mace, then took a deep breath. “We need a scientist.” He ran a hand over his face. “We want you to work in the lab with Doc during your year here.”
Okay, she wasn’t expecting that. “But…I thought you wanted my body.”
He threw back his head, his laughter echoing through the cave, and her cheeks burned. Well, this was humiliating. Apparently, wanting her was a laughing matter. She couldn’t believe she had an audience for this.
When he’d calmed down, Striker ran his knuckles down one of her burning cheeks. “I do want your body. But I also want your mind. Your body was never part of our bargain. I just couldn’t tell you what the bargain was, exactly, out there in the world.”
She glanced at the men, who were amused by her exchange with their leader. They weren’t anything like the men she was used to, and she didn’t quite know how to deal with them without feeling foolish.
“What do you want my mind to do?” She tried to sound as detached and professional as possible.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Welcome to the new world. Things have changed just a bit. Big Brother’s not only monitoring important things like what toilet paper you buy—it now has direct access to everything you see thanks to the mandatory implant you get at birth. And Friday Jones has seen something she wishes she hadn’t.
Now she has all kinds of undesirables after her—some to straight up kill her and others who want to steal what’s locked in her head. So, she’ll need the help of a ruthless mercenary, Striker, if she has any chance at survival. That he’s a jerk, who she wants to punch in the face, well…a dying woman sometimes has to make tough choices.
Striker’s special abilities have kept him in the shadows for a reason. He has no interest in getting mixed up with the smart-mouthed, hard-headed women no matter how his body reacts. But then he discovers what’s in her head and all bets are off.
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Meet the Author:
Janet is a Scot who moved to New Zealand, she now writes full-time and is working on her 18th book. When she isn’t living in her head, she raises two kids, one husband, and several random animals. She survives on chocolate and caffeine.
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