Hi Lindsay and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Taking A Chance!
Hi Sara and readers!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
If you have read TRAPPED, 7.17.17, Delos Book 7, this is the sequel to it, Taking A Chance. Ali’s sister, Cara Montero, has been rescued from a Mexican drug lord. She has spent nearly a month in a cage deep in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Sonora, Mexico. And she has been bought by a rich Asian billionaire and is waiting to be shipped out shortly. A kindergarten teacher, Cara is not equipped to deal with this kind of shock and trauma. After her rescue, she begs Ram Torres, the leader of the unit, to stay. She’s terrified and feels safe with Ram and her sister, who assisted in her rescue. Ram reluctantly agrees. The years of dislike between himself and Ali, however, turns a page in their divisive relationship. For the first time in his life, Ram is living with a real family and it rubs off on him, allowing him to see what he missed in the first 18 years of his life. Ali begins to see Ram shed 30 years of hardness as her family enfolds him, treating him like the son they never had. Even more surprising to Ali is that all those suppressed feelings for this SEAL, surface. And Ram becomes hotly aware of Ali in a completely different light. Does Ali and Ram have the courage to transcend their past, open up, and allow their hearts to dictate, instead, a life together filled with such promise?
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Ali felt anxious and frustrated while trying to project calm to her younger sister, Cara. At age twenty-six, two years younger than herself, Cara shakily stood between their parents, trying to smile, but it was forced and brittle. She tried to look ”normal,” but that word would never apply to her again.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- I’ve been to Mexico many times because I was born in San Diego, California
- The state of Sonora is on the boundary with the USA
- There is a Nogales, Arizona and right across the Mexico border is Nogales, Mexico! Many people get this confused, thinking that Nogales is either in the USA or Mexico. The truth is, this town was cut in half during the boundary agreement between the USA and Mexico. The families living there, however, are still there despite this boundary line.
- We live in Green Valley, Arizona, about 35 miles north of the Mexican border. And often, we do our shopping in Nogales, Arizona
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 comes from a loving family. Her mother is Yaqui Indian and her father is from Sonora, Mexico. Both parents are now citizens of the USA. She and her sister, Cara, are deeply loved and the affection this family has for one another is heartwarming.
Ram Torres comes from a dysfunctional and broken family. His mother is an American citizen and his father, Mexican who remains in Nogales, Mexico. He knows the opposite.
When Ram comes to stay with the loving Montero family at Cara’s pleading request, he’s going to be assimilated into their affectionate household, awakening within him an ache to allow his love for Ali, so long held deep and secret within him, to surface.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
Ram pulled himself out of the past when he saw Ali come out of Cara’s room, her face dark with worry. Remaining in the living room, he held her gaze as she walked over to him. Reaching out, he touched her slumped shoulder.
“How are you doing?” he asked, observing that she was close to tears Ali wasn’t one to cry. In fact, he’d never seen her cry in all the years he’d worked with her. Despite his instinct to hug her, Ram forced himself to remove his hand from her shoulder. They had both agreed to try and start over with one another, to establish a new relationship—one that would be aware of their old habit of sniping at one another, and replace it with more patience and understanding.
Wiping her eyes, she gave him an apologetic look. “She’s not good. She’s a mess, Ram, just like you said she’d be. I have this awful gut feeling that more happened to her than she’s telling us. Mama’s with her right now, holding her, because she’s sobbing her heart out to her.”
“Mary is the right person to be with her right now, Ali.” Ram said. “Look, this is going to be really hard on all of you, every day. There’ll be no let-up, no relief for any of you, and no safe place you can get away from it, either.”
Ali lifted her chin, stating up at him. “You sound like you’ve seen this before, Ram.”
He wasn’t going there. Ram had never spoken of his past, his childhood, not to anyone. Not ever. “Let’s just say I’ve seen it happen before.” He cupped his hand around her elbow, drawing her over to a lavender velour couch, urging her to sit down. She did. He left a foot of space between them as he sat next to her.
“My poor parents,” she murmured, keeping her voice low. “I know they aren’t equipped to handle this right now.”
“Home is the best place for her, though.” Ram said reassuringly. “It represents safety to Cara. It’s where she’ll heal best.” Just as the closet where he had made his bed and slept at night was his safe place in that hotel. It was small, dark, enclosed and Ram felt protected in there. It was the only place he felt that way while growing up. “Cara probably feels safer in her bedroom, doesn’t she?”
“Yes, she does,” Ali said, wiping her eyes again. “She’s got a ton of stuffed animals in there. As a kid, at night, she’d love it when Mama tucked her in with her big, fuzzy bear. Cara loves that bear even to this day. The poor thing is just about hairless, it’s been held and loved so much over the years.”
“She’ll probably hole up in there for the next few days because it means safety to her, so don’t be surprised.”
“God, Ram, I know I wouldn’t react that way. I’d want to establish a fixed routine that I liked to anchor me. I couldn’t hide myself away.”
He heard the pain and confusion in her voice. Again, he fought against reaching out and holding her close. But Ram knew it would probably shock the hell out of her if he did that. Theirs had not been a warm, intimate relationship–just the opposite: contentious, challenging, and even angry and confrontational at times.
Ali was going through enough without his provoking extra stress on her. He could see how she was scrambling to deal with her sister’s psychological state and support her confused, anxious parents, ignoring her own suffering in the meantime.
Ram silently promised her that he’d be there for her. Ali had no one. Now, they had a fragile, tentative relationship budding between them after joining together on the mission to rescue Cara. Until then, they had been out of touch for three years.
“Ali, you have a lot of inner strength. Sure, you’ve been seen the underside of life in your job, but you’ve got survivor genes in your bloodstream. When you went through something hard and challenging you rose to the occasion and became stronger. Cara is different. She’s just the opposite of you.” He tried to give her a look he hoped was sympathetic. Ram wasn’t good at revealing his true emotions, but he knew Ali needed some gentleness right now.
“You’re right about that, Ram. Every time something challenged me, I took it on and I got stronger because of it.”
She sat there, resting her elbows on her knees, hands clasped between them, frowning. “Mama and Papa are not helicopter parents, Ram. They never were. It’s just,” and her voice fell to a helpless tone, “Cara never had a shell, never showed any strength, and I have no explanation for it.”
“Not everyone is born strong when they enter this world of ours, Ali. She’s one of those who didn’t. I think your parents did the best they could to strengthen her and help her stand on her own two feet. She did go to college here in Tucson, she got a degree and she’s out working in the world. That shows she’s got the basics to survive. Before this, she didn’t hide in her home, avoid getting a job and just live off your parents. In her own way, she’d doing the best she can.”
Morosely, Ali whispered, “Yes, you’re right, Ram. I guess…I want her to have the internal strength to deal with this trauma and I just don’t feel it in her.”
“She’ll gather it at her own speed and time,” Ram counseled. “I know when you get knocked down like this? It takes time to get back up.”
Ali gave him a quizzical look. “How do YOU know all of this?”
Ram could see how much anguish she carried in her, the worry for her sister. “Because I was raised in a hell no one wants to be dropped into,” he admitted heavily. “In a sense? I know what Cara is going through. I know what it takes to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when no one is there for you. At least Cara has the three of you, and you have no idea how much support that is giving her right now. You’re feeding her strength and continuity to grab at the hands you’re holding out to her. Just give her time, Ali. Give her space. Be there when she wants you, let her cry in your arms, let her talk it out. But it’s going to be on her time table, not yours. That’s what your challenge is,” and he held her tear-filled gaze. “You want her to get better faster because that way? She won’t have to suffer so much pain for such a long time. You all want to shorten her time, the duration of the pain she has to flail through.”
Sniffing, Ali studied him in the filling silence between them. “I know so little of you, Ram.”
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
That no matter how wounded you were in 18 years of life by a dysfunctional parent(s), you have a chance to reclaim love if you have the courage to step out of branding past and remake your life with someone who loves you.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
I’m preparing Cara’s story, THE HIDDEN HEART which will be released 9.14.17. She plays a vital role in Trapped and Taking A Chance. She’s a wonderfully sympathetic character. Many readers will find themselves just like Cara if such a circumstances were pushed upon them without their agreement. I wanted to pen a happily-ever-after for Cara. And readers can close the loop on her journey, as has happened for Ali and Ram.
Christmas with my Cowboy, Kensington Christmas anthology
with Diana Palmer, Lindsay McKenna and Margaret Way
“Kassie’s Cowboy” by LM, novella within the anthology
and last, but certainly no least, a powerful, intensely emotional
November 1, 2017
Wrangler’s Challenge, Wind River Valley series, KENSINGTON/Zebra, Book #4. Ebook/paperback/audio – Recorded Books. Dair Wilson and Noah Mabry.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 1 copy of TRAPPED, Book 7 and TAKING A CHANCE, 7B2, autographed. USA only
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Have you ever visited Mexico? If so, what part?
Excerpt from Taking A Chance:
Ram heard the tremble in Ali’s voice, saw sympathy come to her eyes for him. Before their truce that had happened a few days ago? He’d have walled up to not felt anything close to sympathy for his struggle. Now, he tried to change it because he desperately wanted to be emotionally available for Ali in order to help her. If he shielded himself like he usually did? She’d be rebuffed and he couldn’t help her. Knowing that humans felt nurturing and safe when another human opened themselves up emotionally to them, he tried his best to do it for Ali, right now. She deserved help in this and Ram knew he could give it to her if he had the strength, the guts, to do it.
He’d never done this for anyone. Not even himself. He’d been a harsh taskmaster with himself in order to survive. Looking into her luminous golden eyes with a sheen of tears across them, watching her struggle not to cry for her sister, it became a little easier to remain vulnerable with her right now. “In time? I hope to share more with you, Ali. But our focus has to be on Cara, being guides of a sort to her, to help her negotiate her trauma. We can’t do it for her, but we can understand it and more importantly? Feel where she’s at, find her timing and pace on her own healing journey she has to undertake to get better. To heal.”
He saw Ali lick her lower lip. It was something she did when she was grappling with something important. There was no question she fiercely loved her sister. His job, as he saw it, was to get Ali to understand the speed of how Cara was going to heal. And it wasn’t going to be on Ali’s timetable and that’s what she had to grapple with first. He could see her thinking about his words, see her responding to his remaining open to her for the first time. There was confusion in her expression, trying to reset herself to him because this was new for both of them.
She scrubbed her face. Lifting her chin, she met his placid gaze. “Thanks for sharing that with me. It helps me see Cara in a new light, a different one. You’re right about it, Ram. We all heal at a different pace.”
His mouth crooked more in a grimace. “Yeah, and it’s not a smooth, straight path, either. It’s full of twists, turns, sometimes falling back on itself and you feel like whatever steps forward that you made one day, you’re back at square one again.”
“I get that. I’ve seen it in myself.” She rubbed her hands down the thighs of her jeans. “I need to reset to Cara’s speed.”
He gave her a tender look, he hoped. “Yes. You’re the right person to do this and I know you can. Your mother and father play different roles with Cara and they’re going to struggle just as much as you are to understand their daughter’s trauma. And then, to adjust to it and finally, accept Cara’s timing on her healing journey.”
She tilted her head, her voice low with so many feelings. “I never knew until just now how wise, how good you are at assessing others, Ram. I wish….I wish I knew this side of you so long ago when we worked together.”
He shook his head. “Wrong time and place, Ali. You can’t do missions like ours and be touchy-feely about it. There’s no place for emotions out on the battlefield.”
She gave him an impatient look. “I’m talking about the times back at base. With the team. With me.”
Surprised, Ram stared at her. “And how would that have changed anything?”
“I would have realized you had a soft, compassionate side, Ram. That you do understand human beings, that you are self-aware in ways I would never have guessed before today.”
“It’s not something I do often,” he warned.
“But you are doing it for me. You said you were here for me. So now? I’m seeing another side to you, Ram. And I like it. A lot. Don’t stop being like that with me from now on? That’s the side to you I really need right now. Could you do that for me?” and she searched his eyes, her voice pleading.
Ram felt as if he’d been knocked sideways by an invisible sledge hammer. Ali had never pleaded or asked him for help on anything. Her sincerity staggered him emotionally. He felt his heart opening up even more to her than before. Ali had a gentle side to her and she’d shown it often to Afghan children in villages. How he’d fantasized that she could someday offer that side of herself to him. And she was doing it right now. Bathed in the simple honesty of her feelings, Ram found himself absorbing them like a greedy, starving thief who had just found a pile of gold. Allowing her voice to whisper through the halls of his guarded heart, his mouth softened out of that normal, hard line.
“This is all new for me, Ali. I’m not good at it. I’m trying, but it’s harder than anything I’ve ever tackled in my life. You need to know that. I’m not perfect. You know that better than most. And I make mistakes, a lot of them.” His voice grew weary. “And I’ll make them with you as I try to be there to support you through this. Don’t expect me to always have the right words, okay? I’ve just never allowed myself to do this…to open up to someone else before… I feel pretty raw and unsure about myself. I question if I’m doing it right or if I’m saying the right things to help you, not harm you.”
Ali closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she whispered unsteadily. “Because you care for me, Ram? You’ll be imperfectly perfect for me. When you care for another person and you have their heart in your hands? You’ll always try to help them. And no, it won’t ever be perfect, but you have to trust me that I know that. I won’t take the mistakes you make the wrong way. I’ll know you’re trying. That’s what’s really important here: you are trying. And for me, Ram? That’s enough. That’s more than enough.”
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Ali Montero pushed aside her pride and accepted help from arrogant Ram Torres to help rescue her sister Cara from kidnappers. Now safely back at home with her family, Cara doesn’t feel safe without Ram nearby to protect her. He agrees to stay with Ali and her family until Cara recovers, but spending time around the boisterous Montero family makes Ram yearn for the one thing he has never had—a loving family. Ram wants to explore the connection he feels with Ali. But can he convince her to take a chance on such a flawed man?
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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