July 10, 2017 by Valerie Ullmer
Book Spotlight and Character Interview – Risking Her Heart by Laura Haley-McNeil
by Laura Haley-McNeil
A novel of suspense, revenge and a love so deep that it can only be released through forgiveness.
Hollywood producer Trent Parker has one goal – to own the film option for the breakout novel Sunset in Maui. His problem? Actress turned producer Charisse Whitloch. She’ll do anything to produce the film. Trent can stop her, but not without getting close to her, a bond he can’t risk.
Charisse has found the film project that will prove she’s her own woman – not her father’s daughter. One person stands in her way – Trent Parker. She’s faced opposition before, but she isn’t prepared for Trent. Her charisma has softened Hollywood’s hardest hearts, but is she a match for Trent’s heart of stone?
Trent’s defenses against Charisse crumble – loving her will heal the darkness in his soul and open the door to a secret he buried long ago. When Charisse is threatened, she and Trent face her adversaries. They piece together a plot more sinister than any Hollywood movie, but the key to their survival lies in Trent’s past – the key that will lead to Trent’s destruction.
Other Books in the Series
Guarding Her Heart is the 1st book in the Crystal Creek Series
Want more romantic suspense? Download a free short story: laurahaleymcneil.com.
If you want romance and suspense, download a sample or buy Crystal Creek Christmas now.
“Maybe I’m not normal.” His voice rumbled through his chest and into her head.
His fingers massaged the dip in her lower back. His touch felt secure, comforting. He tipped her head back. His gaze skimmed hers then his mouth descended.
His lips were so hot, they nearly burned her skin.
The taste of him.
The feel of him.
His kiss was tender. Urgency burst through. It felt so natural, right, as if his kisses had always been part of her life.
“Charisse.” He breathed her name against her lips. He pushed his fingers through her hair.
The heat of his touch permeated her, intoxicated her. It wasn’t the frantic demand she felt when Dino touched her. She’d have felt exhausted and drained if Dino had skimmed a finger across her cheek. He was always taking.
With Trent, she felt revived, as if the power from his body infused hers. She wanted more.
He pulled away. His hands dropped to his side. Pacing away, he dragged his fingers through his hair.
She stared after him, confused and breathless. Her face burned from his beard. “I don’t under –”
He held up a hand to stop her. “It’s late. We’re both tired. We’ve seen more devastation than most people see in a lifetime. I’ll take you home.”
What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?
People don’t know me, which is the way it should be. Not my stepmother, not my sisters, not the ranch hands. They don’t know what happened. It’s better that way. I look just like a ranch hand with the worn shirt and shiny jeans. And my accent? I don’t have one anymore. I’ve been well-known. All right, I was famous. Once. I know what it’s like to have people stare at me, follow me around, think I’m their friend, ask for an autograph. I turned my back on that life. It was the only way I could ever find peace, but peace is hard find.
How about after they’ve known you for a while?
No one will ever know me like they used to. I can walk into a bar, sit on a stool, drink a beer and leave. Some of the locals say hey. I’ll give them a nod. People don’t talk much around here. They’re busy living their lives, running their ranches. They think I’m like them. I’m nothing like them. They’ll never know why. All that matters now is that I can move freely through this little town, act like a ranch hand. When the time comes, I’ll pull up stakes and move on.
What is your profession?
Now I’m a ranch hand, but I didn’t used to be. My life before everything changed? Pretty cushy. The parties, the women, the travel. My support staff used to get calls and emails all the time from people who wanted to interview me. They could find me if they wanted to, but I do nothing for the ratings so they won’t look. Where haven’t I been? What haven’t I done? I used to sleep all day. Party all night. Sounds like a great life, doesn’t it? Then why when I lived that life, did I feel so empty? I feel empty now, but I hide it better. You learn things.
Tell me about your best friend.
There won’t be any. There’s no need. People aren’t what they seem. They have secrets. They learn how to angle that smile, how to talk like there’s nothing hiding in the darkness of their souls. Yes, the ranch hands talk when they’re training the horses, when they’re checking the cattle. They have dreams. They have hopes. I hope I can continue to blend in. I hope I can remain a grubby ranch hand that people think, “Too bad he couldn’t have done something better with his life.
Describe your ideal mate.
No friends and no mate. That was the plan, until that night at the bar when she and her band did that impromptu performance. I should have walked out then. I had blocked out that part of my life, but she opened the door and let in that light of memory. My past hadn’t been all bad. Just that one night. That one night when everything changed. That one night when I couldn’t close the door on that part of my life fast enough.
What are you most afraid of?
Every time I close my eyes. There’s no peace in sleep. Sleep opens the door to the memory I can pretend I’ve forgotten when I’m awake. Sleep is different. My mind won’t let me forget. I can see those lifeless eyes staring at me from the bottom of the pool. And I can’t remember. I can’t remember what happened before that. I didn’t know her, but now I can’t forget her. I never knew her name. The police came. And my best friend? He conveniently disappeared. At least I thought he had. Funny how he just showed up out of the blue. About the same time she walked into my life. Coincidence? I pray to God –yes. I’m kind of thinking – no.
Laura Haley-McNeil is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and women’s fiction in novel length and in short stories. Her work has been featured in several women’s magazines. She has studied piano and ballet and has been a board member for two community orchestras. She and her husband reside in Colorado. When she isn’t writing, she jogs, bicycles and crochets.