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Friday 13 April 2018

Guest Post - Afraid To Reveal - by Charlotte Leaf [Afraid To series #1] #99cents #RomanticSuspense

Please Welcome Charlotte Leaf  

Thank you so much H K for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers. The first thing my friends and family will tell you about me is that I'm a voracious reader, consuming everything from political biographies to psychological thrillers. However, I must confess a weakness for romantic suspense novels, both reading and writing them. Give me the latest release by Sandra Brown or Melinda Leigh and I'm a happy soul.

In writing my own romantic suspense novel, I tried to create a heroine who was smart, yet not in possession of all the facts. A woman who was strong, yet vulnerable and who was open to falling in love but not dependent on a man for anything. One of my pet peeves in books are heroines who are TSTL, i.e. Too Stupid To Live. A woman who can't think for herself or doesn't know enough to stay out of danger until the hero comes along to rescue her. I wanted the heroine of my story to be someone who had the confidence and resilience to solve her own problems without having to rely on the hero. But this risks turning the hero of the story into an afterthought and his romance with the heroine into an extraneous subplot instead of being a central part of the story.

In Afraid To Reveal, I addressed this by creating a hero in Andrew Fabreci whose strengths and weaknesses complement that of my heroine, Jill Beckwith. In the story, Jill's bright future gets derailed when she wakes up in jail the night before her college graduation and is subsequently arrested and charged with a DUI. The murder of one of her college classmates leads Jill to realize there are links to her own arrest and she's compelled to seek the truth behind the circumstances behind her arrest. While Jill can do this on her own, Andrew provides integral support and insight during her investigation. In turn, Andrew has challenges from his own complicated past that Jill helps him to overcome. Jill and Andrew both have their flaws, but they find strength in their deepening relationship, even though they face danger from a desperate killer.

In my next book, Afraid To Tell, Elise Cahill is a bright law clerk for a federal judge who aspires to clerk for a Supreme Court Justice. But her chances of landing the coveted position are compromised when the man with whom she has a one night stand, Ethan Soames, is accused of murdering his ex-wife. Ethan needs Elise's assistance to clear his name but Elise is reluctant to get involved for fear of jeopardizing her potential Supreme Court clerkship. When another murder occurs, Elise finds she's now the one under suspicion and needs Ethan's help. Like with Jill and Andrew, I tried to create in Elise and Ethan a couple who need help from and can provide help to each other. I think this is the balance in creating heroines (and heroes too!) who aren't TSTL but are willing to accept help in dangerous situations while also falling in love.

What are some characteristics of some of your favorite heroines? I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can reach me at charlotteleafauthor@gmail.com or on Facebook at Charlotte Leaf. You can check out my upcoming releases at charlotteleaf.com and be sure to sign up for my newsletter while you're there!

On the verge of graduating from college as a top scholar and a recipient of a prestigious fellowship, Jill Beckwith's life is derailed the night before graduation when she wakes up in a jail cell. With no memories of what happened or how she got there, Jill's stunned when she learns she is to be arrested for a DUI. In an instant, all of her years of diligent study and hard work as well as her hopes for future are dashed.

Months later, just as Jill is on the path to regaining her footing, her newfound stability is threatened when she realizes that the recent murder of a college classmate may have links to her own troubles. While the connections between the two incidents seem tenuous, Jill is desperate to find any explanation for how her life inexplicably unraveled. She's aided in her discovery for the truth by Andrew Fabreci, a man to whom she's attracted and has a complicated past of his own. Just as their relationship begins to deepen, another murder occurs and Jill and Andrew realize their future is threatened by a killer who intends for Jill to be the next target.

Afraid To Reveal is a 60,000+ word romantic suspense novel


The First Chapter

Jill Beckwith didn’t know which was worse, the insistent painful pounding between her temples or the horrible, rancid taste lingering in her mouth.
Ugh, I must be coming down with the flu, she thought. Except that with the flu, she usually felt achy all over her body. For now, the pain was localized in her head, an unsteady an unwelcome drumbeat to consciousness.
As gross as she felt, Jill decided to give in to the urge to roll over and try to catch a few more minutes of sleep. However, two things stopped her. First, a violent roiling in her stomach let her know she needed to find the nearest toilet, not the other side of the bed. Second, she was not in her bed. In fact, she wasn’t in her room or even in her apartment.
The sudden awareness caused Jill to jerk upright, a move she instantly regretted because the sudden motion made her headache and nausea even worse. She placed her hands palm down on either side of her and tried to gather her bearings, Jill noticed the metal bars for the first time.
What the hell? That’s when she noticed, too, that her bed was actually a cot attached to a seeming block wall. And that the room she was in was actually a windowless self-contained cramped space, six feet by eight feet if she had to guess.
This is a cell, Jill thought, I’m in jail.
Her first instinct was to deny the possibility. There was no way she could be in jail. Graduation ceremonies were due to kick off tomorrow and she was scheduled to give an address as one of her class’s top scholars. And in a few short weeks, she would be in she would be at the London School of Economics studying as part of the prestigious Cronin Fellowship she’d won. There was no way she was in jail right now. There had to be some mistake, some terrible mix-up. Jill even pitched yourself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming but the flash of pain told her this situation was all too real.
Okay, so how did I get here? Jill desperately tried to recall something, anything that would explain how she wine wound up behind bars. Her last memories were of going to the Blue Dolphin to celebrate college graduation. The popular off campus bar wasn’t her usual scene but her ex-boyfriend, Owen, insisted that taking part in the Blue Dolphin shindig was a rite of passage no graduating senior could ignore.
Despite her initial hesitation, Jill gave in, something she remembered regretting shortly after arriving at the bar. Owen thought her accepting his invitation meant she wanted to get back together. After she repeated her belief they should just be friends, Owen stormed off, disappearing into the horde of people crowded in the bar.
Had she gone after him? Jill didn’t know because that’s where her memories ended. But a spat with Owen wouldn’t have landed her in jail. She tried to force her brain into providing an explanation but she kept drawing a blank.
“So Snow White finally decided to rejoin the land of the living?”
The nasally, sarcasm inflicted voice interrupted Jill’s thoughts. “Huh? Snow White?”
A female officer in a white and navy uniform shot Jill a look of barely concealed disdain. “Is it Snow White the one who was dead to the world until the prince came along and work with woke her up? Or is that Sleeping Beauty? Well, no matter, you’re awake now so we can process and book you.”
“Process and book me for what? Why am I here?”
The officer rolled her eyes and said with exaggerated patience, “We found you in your car passed out on the side of a service road a few miles from here with the keys still in the ignition. You were brought here to sleep it off but that doesn’t mean you won’t be charged.”
“Charged?” Jill’s heart began to pop in a rapid rhythm that almost matched the pounding in her head. “Charged with what? I don’t understand what’s going on.”
“Driving under the influence, young lady. You’re lucky you didn’t hurt yourself or worse, someone else. Your student ID was among your belongings. I’m guessing you were celebrating graduation and let things get out of hand.”
The officer shook her head and her eyes briefly softened was something that looked like pity. “I have to say you’re not off to the best start in the real world, but it could’ve been much worse. As soon as we get you booked and processed, you can call someone to come bail you out.”
The officer unlocked the door and slid the bars back but Jill remained seated on the cot, dumbfounded by what she’d just been told. DUI? Passed out on the side of the road? Bail?
“Um, wait… There must be some mistake. I would never drink and drive. There’s too much at stake for me to take such a risk.”
The officer rolled her eyes again and gestured with her fingers for Jill to stand up. “Save it for your lawyer and the judge, honey. Now, come on and let’s get you booked, I don’t have all day.”
            Jill stood and went with the officer, still confused by accusations but knowing she needed to follow orders for the time being. This has to be a mistake, she told herself. I’ll get booked and then get bailed out and set everything right. Too much is riding on my future for me to have an arrest record. This is all a mistake that will be fixed shortly.

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