Wilds of the Bayou, #2
by Susannah Sandlin
Date of Publication: October 18th 2016
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Cover Artist: Michael Rehder
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Hot, stick, moist heat of the Bayou lays backdrop to the latest drama and mysterious thrill seeking refuge to this Louisiana parish. The wildlife agent this time was Jena Sinclair. She has her hands full with working to investigate the new drug on the sense that was causing strange, yet terrifying side effects its users. The Bayou was home to many strange things including this latest mystery.
Jena had been shot, attempted suicide and was now faced with a new crazed drug flooding her community. This officer had her hands full. Now add to her a reclusive man, Cole. He has what she needs, information. He also has a past about as dark and illusive as her own. The two work together and find more than just a killer.
Sandlin has given another thrilling mysterious adventure in the bayou. The turns are steep the chase fast. This was just what the doctor ordered when intense drama, morbid action, and thrilling mystery was prescribed.
**This ARC was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Wilds of the Bayou series:
Wild Man’s Curse – Wilds of the Bayou, #1 SEE REVIEW
Black Diamond – Wilds of the Bayou, #2
For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. For Louisiana wildlife agent Jena Sinclair, it’s a place of refuge—one where she can almost forget the tragedy that scarred both her skin and her soul. But when the remains of yet another fisherman turn up, Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe for her…or anyone else.
The mysterious deaths aren’t her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena’s investigation leads her to Cole Ryan—a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history—who knows more than he’s willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other…before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.
eBook 1, Wild Man’s Curse, on Sale Through the End of October
for $1.99 at Amazon
Cole stood inside the door, knowing she’d be there any second. She would knock, probably with a firm rap to remind him who had the authority here, and it wasn’t him. She would expect to come inside, and while he could deny her entrance without a warrant, he wouldn’t. It would raise too much suspicion.
His fists clenched and unclenched. Again. Again. The press and release of tension filtered out some of the stiffness from his arms and shoulders. The woman was striking, her wistful expression had resonated with him, and he had wanted to look at her. He’d looked long and hard enough that she’d caught him standing in the doorway like an idiot. Otherwise, he could’ve pretended to be gone and not answered his door. Now, hiding wasn’t an option.
The last thing he needed in his life was a woman. Especially a woman with a badge and a gun.
Though expected, the sharp knock made his shoulders jerk upward, and his fingers clenched again into fists. Weapons his body provided to protect itself, to protect him, to keep everyone away.
“Sir, I know you’re in there. I’m Agent Sinclair of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.” Her voice was clear and no-nonsense. He tried to place her accent—she wasn’t from Terrebonne Parish but didn’t have a typical Southern accent either. “I want to talk to you about the gator in front of your neighbor Doris’s house. It’ll only take a minute or two.”
Damn. Now that he knew his neighbor’s real name, the Wicked Witch was dead. Now she was Doris.
He took a deep breath, turned, and opened the door an inch. Maybe two inches.
A hazel eye, heavy on the green, and the bill of a dark-green baseball cap came into view, peering through the crack. A strand of hair that trailed over her forehead from beneath the cap shone like pure molten fire.
“You can open it all the way, you know. I don’t bite. I’d like to come inside for a few minutes and talk, or you can come out on the porch. Having a conversation isn’t optional, but where we have it is. For now.”
Damn it. Cole had to admit he was stuck and it was his own damned fault for standing in the doorway and watching her for so long. He opened the door wide, dread giving way to curiosity when he finally saw her face up close. She was beautiful but lightly scarred, more on her cheeks than her forehead, so she’d probably been hit by flying glass rather than having her head go through a windshield. Fairly recent too. The spots were still pink, but they were scars and not wounds. Five or six months old, he’d say. Eventually, they’d fade and, with her fair skin, would easily cover with makeup. If she hadn’t been so close—not to mention his fixation on her face—he wouldn’t have noticed them even now.
“Are you going to let me come inside, or are you coming outside, or do I need to make it an official order?”
eBook 1, Wild Man’s Curse, on Sale Through the End of October
for $1.99 at Amazon
MY INTERVIEW WITH SUSANNAH SANDLIN
How would you describe you style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
Fast and easy read. I come from a journalism background, so I like short paragraphs and fast pacing. And my writing voice has humor in it, with often very damaged characters who still are able to see the irony in their lives and situations. Romance tends to build slowly and in ways that make sense for the characters—not every character will fall for “insta-love.”
What mindset or routine do you feel the need to set when preparing to write (in general whether you are working on a project or just free writing)?
I am a plotter—I think you almost have to be if you want to write multiple books a year and also hold down a “day job.” So before I start writing on a new project (and I get so immersed that I can only work on one book at a time), I spend some time figuring out who my characters are, what drives them, where they need to go, and how they need to get there. I don’t plan in such detail that they can’t still surprise me during the writing, though.
Do you take your character prep to heart? Do you nurture the growth of each character all the way through to the page? Do you people watch to help with development? Or do you build upon your character during story creation?
I want to fall in love with my characters; unless I can fall in love with them, I can’t make my readers fall in love with them. So I do spend a lot of time just thinking about my characters and making them as three-dimensional in my head as I can. I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who said that characters were like icebergs—only a fraction of the character is seen at the story/surface level, but there’s a lot of backstory/”ice” below the surface that only the author knows. You need that deep backstory to bring your characters to life, even if you never use all of it in the book. I do people-watch, especially how people interact with each other.
Have you found yourself bonding with any particular character? If so which one(s)?
I always bond with at least one character from every single book. If I don’t, I know that I need to go back and do some more character work. In the new book, BLACK DIAMOND, I expected the hero, Cole, to be the one I fell for—and I did—but I really bonded with the heroine, Jena. I gave her some of my own experiences, which might be why I bonded with her. She’s struggling to regain trust in her own judgment, and she’s trying to figure out why she holds herself back sometimes instead of fully committing. Those are things I can identify with.
Do you have a character that you have been working on that you can't wait to put to paper? Yes! Although the Wilds of the Bayou series books can stand alone, they do have recurring characters. I had planned for the first book (WILD MAN’S CURSE) to be senior wildlife agent Gentry Broussard’s story and book two (BLACK DIAMOND) would be his partner, agent Jena Sinclair’s, story. I had planned for the third book to focus on the wildlife agent team’s youngest member, Mac Griffin, but another character, senior agent Paul Billiot, captivated me from book one. I haven’t done all the work on Paul, who is Native American, but he’s talking to me, telling me his secrets, and I can’t wait to write his book. So that will have to be the next one. It’s not just me—readers are asking for Paul’s book too!
Have you ever felt that there was something inside of you that you couldn't control? If so what? If no what spurs you to reach for the unexperienced?
I’m more than a little bit of a control freak, and I am not happy in situations in which I have no control. So book publishing is really pushing the envelope for me. Novels are very personal things in a lot of ways, and you’re putting them out there to be critiqued and judged—not to mention trying to sell your books. Sales are another thing over which you have virtually no control. But being a novelist is emotionally fulfilling and it lets me do things that I’d be reluctant to do in real life--like catch alligators or chase down drug dealers or cavort with vampires and undead pirates or dive into the North Atlantic to find a lost relic of the Knights Templar. I let my characters do those things for me!
Suzanne Johnson writing as Susannah Sandlin is the author of the award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, including the 2013 Holt Medallion Award-winning Absolution and Omega and Allegiance, which were nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award in 2014 and 2015, respectively. She also wrote The Collectors romantic suspense duology, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, 2015 Holt Medallion winner and 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner. Her new suspense series Wilds of the Bayou started in 2016 with the release of Wild Man’s Curse and continues with Black Diamond. Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Susannah loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.