Marsha Canham's Blog

September 18, 2011

Sample Sunday, guest blogger Darlene Gardner

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 4:48 am

I don’t know about anyone else, but this is sort of nifty getting to peek at different genres, different writers, different styles. A lot of these ladies and gents I’ve met through the BacklistEBook group and if you follow that link, it takes you to the spiffy new website. It’s still under construction, but you can see what it’s all about.

And before I start rambling, on to today’s guest, Darlene Gardner *s* She even sent along a picture so you could see who’s talking.

You’ve probably heard the saying that you are what you eat.

I think I am what I write.

For much of the summer, I revamped three single-title romantic comedies from my backlist. I discovered not only can I make myself laugh, but laughing puts me in a very good mood.

I’m currently writing an angst-filled book for Harlequin Superromance about a woman who thinks she might have been snatched from her family when she was a child, but the happy feelings persists. That’s because the three comedies are now available for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers.

The Misconception is about a misunderstanding of biological proportions. The sperm donor an evolutionary biology professor hired is AWOL, so who’s the man in her bed?

In Bait & Switch, a cop’s identical twin persuades him to change places to catch a criminal but doesn’t mention his girlfriend.

And, finally, Snoops in the City features an amateur PI who wonders what she should do when she falls for the man she’s investigating.

Here’s an excerpt from Snoops in the City, which is selling for 99 cents for a limited time:

Tori spent the drive to Mayor Honoria Black’s house trying to dream up a legitimate excuse for following Grady Palmer. She came up with a big blank.

Okay, then. An excuse might not be the way to go. Outright denial sounded like a better strategy.

“Me, follow you?” She placed her hand on her breastbone and affected a fluttering laugh. “You’re sadly mistaken, sir.”

Like that would work, she thought with a roll of her eyes.

She hadn’t come up with anything better when cars parked on the street and in the circular driveway of a sprawling contemporary alerted her they’d arrived at their destination.

Located in a pricey enclave of homes that hugged the Intracoastal Waterway, the Mediterranean-style house had a multi-level stucco exterior in pale coral and a barrel-tile roof in a slightly darker shade.

Dramatic ground-level spotlights highlighted the forty-foot-tall palm trees in the front yard and shone on the covered, double-door entry. Every arched window was illuminated from within, attesting to a party going on.

Tori had heard homeowners in this part of Seahaven acquired older waterfront houses, demolished them and replaced them with pricier versions.

Although she thought it a shame to tear down history, she couldn’t help admiring the dynamic, resourceful, self-made mayor.

A recent profile in the Seahaven Gazette told of the killing the mayor had made investing commissions she earned as a Realtor into property she later resold at a substantial profit.

If private investigation didn’t work out, Tori thought as she parked behind Grady’s SUV, maybe she should consider a career in real estate.

She wiped her damp palms on her slacks. She needed to stop this nonsense about taking up an alternative career and concentrate on convincing Grady he had it wrong.

She might even manage to turn a negative into a positive. Taking a man’s measure had to be easier face to face instead of in the shadows observing from afar.

Besides, by process of elimination, she had to be good at something. Why not PI work?

“You’re full of surprises,” he said when she joined him in front of the house. He’d jammed his hands in the pockets of his khakis, lending him a deceptively casual air. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

Not coming had been an option? She’d been so rattled that hadn’t occurred to her. But fleeing would only have made him more suspicious.

“I’m not exactly dressed for a party.” Her slacks and blouse were of good quality but were both brown. She would have worn the more correct black, the better to blend into the surroundings, but the color caused her to look washed out.

“You look great to me.” His eyes skimmed over her, and her pulse skittered. “That’s not what I meant. I wasn’t sure you’d come now that I know you’ve been following me.”

Her time of reckoning had arrived.

“I need to set you straight about that.” She only had to tilt her head back slightly to meet his eyes, which surprised her. He seemed larger than life but probably fell just shy of six feet. “I wasn’t following you.”

“Is that why you took off at the golf course when you saw me coming?”

Oh, no. She’d thought the floppy hat and sunglasses had kept him from recognizing her. Start bluffing, a shrill voice inside her head screamed. Now.

“That had nothing to do with you.” She airily waved a hand. “I left because the event was almost over.”

He didn’t reply. She nervously chewed her bottom lip, thinking she should elaborate to make her story more believable.

“There wasn’t much more to see,” she said.

Still no response.

“And I remembered something else I had to do.”

Was that suspicion she saw in his beautiful eyes?

“Something vitally important,” she clarified. There. That should allay his distrust. Except he still looked puzzled. “I needed. . . to feed my cat.”

Oh, great. Had she really said that?

“She gets hungry if she’s home alone too long.”

He tilted his head quizzically. “Why don’t you leave food out for her?”

“Because. . . I don’t want her to stuff herself. You know what they say about a number of small meals a day being healthier than one large meal.”

“I thought cats stopped eating when they were full.”

“Not this cat.” She spread her hands wide. “This is one fat cat.”

“As interesting as all this is,” he said slowly, “we were talking about you following me.”

Adrenaline rushed through her like river water after a storm, and she recognized it as the fight or flight instinct. Flee, her mind screamed.

She nodded toward the etched glass front door. The muffled laughter and music behind it sounded like salvation. “We should go inside so we don’t miss out on the fun.”

“Not until we straighten this out,” he said, and she looked wildly about for help. A car door slammed somewhere down the block, but they were alone on the front lawn. “I want to know why I’ve seen you four times in the past few days.”

“You couldn’t have,” she cried. She’d adhered to the instructions in the paperback to a T, donning dark glasses, being careful not to get within twenty yards of him, sticking to the shadows.

“Let’s count them.” He held up one hand, then raised his thumb before unfolding his fingers one by one. “At the post office, across the street from Palmer Construction, at the golf course and in my neighborhood. How do you explain that?”

“It sounds like a coincidence,” she ventured.

He snorted. “You obviously don’t watch crime shows on TV.”

“Why’s that?”

“The cops never believe in coincidence.”

“That’s silly,” Tori said. “If there were no such thing as coincidence, there wouldn’t be a word for it, now would there?”

“If this is all a big coincidence,” he said, taking a step toward her, “why are you so nervous?”

Her sweating palms, fast-beating heart and shallow breathing made denying it pointless. She’d never perfected the art of lying anyway. She doubted she could convince a three-year-old there was a Santa Claus.

“You might as well admit it,” he pressed. “You were following me.”

“Okay,” she snapped. “You win. I was following you.”

“I knew it.” His baby blues narrowed and his luscious lips thinned. He could challenge Arnold Schwarzeneggar for the starring role if they ever made a movie called The Intimidator. “What I want to know is why.”

She resisted the urge to bury her face in her hands. She’d had such high hopes that she could excel at private detective work. Yet here she was on the brink of failing not only herself but Eddie and Ms. M as well. The thought of it made her feel like weeping.

“There’s a simple explanation,” Tori hedged as she desperately cast about for one.

He crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m waiting.”

One of the artificial spotlights shone down on him, adding light to his captivating features. Her eyes widened, the way they had the first time she’d seen his likeness. That’s it, she thought. The perfect explanation.

“The truth is,” she said and took a breath for courage, “I think you’re hot.”

**************

Check out more about Darlene’s books on her website:  www.darlenegardner.com

Snoops in the City: http://tinyurl.com/3ed95xy

Bait & Switch: http://tinyurl.com/3ew5rza

The Misconception: http://tinyurl.com/3m4y3nl

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