Whee! Today’s guest is fellow Canadian writer Toni Anderson. Oh, all right, so she may not have been born on Canadian soil, but she’s adopted us, so now we claim her as our own. Toni’s first release from Carina Press is her Sea of Suspicion (isn’t that a great title?) So, Toni, tell me a little about yourself.
Toni: Thanks for letting me be here, Leah. I’m a former marine biologist who conducted my Ph.D. at the Gatty Marine Laboratory in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. I was born and raised in the U.K., but now live in Canada with my husband and two children. I set my stories in the stunning locations where I’ve been lucky enough to live and work—the blustery east coast of Scotland, the remote isolated mining communities of Northern Labrador, the rugged landscapes of the U.S. and the Red Center of Australia. I escape the long brutal Canadian winters by writing Romantic Mystery and Suspense stories.
Leah: Man, I’m jealous of all that traveling. Scotland’s on top of my list of next places I want to visit. And that lovely Moraine Lake beyond you is up there too (I’ve been there, have a very similar picture even, but I wanna go again!) Oops, sorry, back to you… With all the travels you’ve done, what’s the most interesting/unusual thing you’ve done for the sake of research?
Toni: I’ve used a lot of real life experiences in my stories. The most unusual was working on a telemetry study in Northern Labrador and staying onboard a boat with 60 sailors one summer. I’ve also requested tours of local police stations in the UK and visited the US State Department & US Postal Inspectors HQ in Washington, D.C. Oh, and one major thing I’ve done that was very exciting was visit The White House last summer. As a Brit it was a real honor to be let inside where myself and a group of other RS writers grilled all the Secret Service personnel within talking distance.
Leah: Ah, man, I really wanted to go on that trip too. *beats back the green-eyed monster with a stick. Not sure who won that battle though.* Do you have any writing rituals?
Toni: When I’m home and the kids are in school I write all day between dropping them off and picking them up. Right now I’m on the move and I just write whenever I get the chance. I do make soundtracks for each story I work on and as I’m a slow writer I can get a bit fed-up of hearing the same tune a billion times over
Leah: If your latest release were made into a movie, who would you cast as the hero and heroine?
Toni: Sean Bean would be the hero—perhaps a few years younger if we could turn back the magic time clock, and Laura Linney would play the heroine. I love both those actors.
Leah: What is something unusual that you do or have done that people normally don’t know or would be surprised to know about you?
Toni: I used to be a scubadiver. As I’m a poor swimmer and general coward most people would be surprised. I gave it up when I developed an even greater fear of dive cylinders. Actually, dive cylinders feature in the final scene of SEA OF SUSPICION.
Leah: I like snorkeling but I’ve never had an opportunity to scuba. But if there was somewhere I’d love to scuba dive it would be in the Caribbean. Man, the snorkeling there is fabulous. I doubt you’d get the same pretty fish off the coast of Newfoundland. So, tell us, when you’re not scubadiving or meeting with real life Secret Service men, do you have a favorite book (someone else has written) that you keep as a ‘comfort read’?
Toni: I reread Susan Elisabeth Phillips books for comfort. I think her characters are fantastic and I love the way she reduces them to emotional rubble before she gives them their happy endings.
Leah: SEP’s Heaven Texas is up there on my top ten favourite reads. (yes, I used the U in favourite. It’s spelled right up here in Canada, and since Toni is Canadian/Brit, I’m going with OUR way, LOL) Ooops, got off track again there. Here’s your last question — Sweet or Spicy?
Toni: Despite being a chocoholic, I’m ‘spicy’. Even now I’m salivating thinking about chilli garlic prawns. As for books it just depends on the story. I’m so easygoing.
Marine biologist Susie Cooper traded her life in America for a dream job on the rugged Scottish coast. Now all she lacks is the right man to start a family with. After their first meeting, she knows sexy Detective Inspector Nick Archer isn’t what she’s looking for. He’s the type of guy whose idea of commitment is staying the whole night.
Nick has returned to St. Andrews for one reason only—to fulfill his vow to find his wife’s killer. Relentless in his twelve-year quest for justice, he has no problem using Susie to get close to his primary suspect: her boss. But the passion between them smolders, and as it ignites, Nick finds himself torn between his past and his present—with Susie.
When one of her boss’s students is murdered, Nick’s investigation draws Susie into a web of madness and betrayal. They will have to learn to trust each other if they’re going to catch a killer…and come out of this alive.
They turned into her drive and a security light flooded the gravel yard, revealing the beautiful old stone cottage flanked by patches of heather and herbs.
Home. Thank God.
Grabbing her purse, she shoved open the door before they’d stopped. Dormant wheat fields stretched behind the cottage, which bordered a golf course. Emily and Lily’s cottage topped a low rise three hundred yards away, tall hedges giving both houses seclusion and privacy.
Nick stood beside the car door, one foot on the sill, hands on the roof, looking delicious. His eyes darkened as they met hers. “Still want me to call a taxi?”
The air between them crackled with possibility, but Susie nodded. She wasn’t some easy lay for a stranger. She needed to believe she was worth more than that.
“Can I at least walk you to your door?”
Susie looked over to the French doors twenty yards away up three uneven stone slabs. Nick’s request was a baited trap, but he wasn’t that irresistible. She nodded.
Fog billowed along the lilac hedge that marked her property, enfolding them in a soft mystical silence. He fell into step beside her and handed her the key fob. She moved ahead up the steps, brushing an old lavender bush that released its fragrance through the night air. Fumbling, she dropped her keys and Nick bent to retrieve them before she had chance.
“Nice place,” he commented. “Secluded. Wouldn’t have to worry about upsetting the neighbors with loud music or screaming sex.”
Her skin sizzled and every sense felt electrified as if someone had plugged her in and flipped a switch. Her eyes widened, her chest tightened. This was dangerous. She was too aware of him, too interested in the idea of screaming sex, and too damn drunk to run as fast as she should.
And he knew it.
She pressed back against her door, her shoulder blades drawn up tight together. Nick slipped the key into the lock and took a step forward, bringing him close enough to touch if she so much as took a breath. So she didn’t. The lock clicked and he took a step back with a grave expression on his face.
“I’d kiss you goodnight if you didn’t look so scared,” he said softly.
“I’m not scared.”
“Good.” His eyes sparkled as he lowered his mouth to hers.
Mistake! Her mind screamed but it was too late. The breath whooshed out of her as he pressed the gentlest kiss to her lips—as fine a sensation as the stroke of a feather across sensitive skin. And the world stopped. Then every sense climbed to high alert as he took a half step closer, the bulk of his shoulders blocking the wind, and heat coming off his body like rays from the sun. He smelled spicy and male, the leather of his jacket creaking as he shifted his stance. He took her by surprise as he slipped one hand beneath her coat, resting it possessively on her hipbone. Startled, she opened her eyes.
But he kissed her again, this time less gently. Sliding his hand to the base of her spine, the burning impression of each finger pressing through the cotton of her T-shirt, brushing bare skin. His lips were teasing and coaxing, not what she expected from a man who screamed danger. Her palms braced against the muscles in his chest, but they weren’t exactly beating him off. He eased her toward him, enticed a trembling response from her body, but all of a sudden he jerked away and stuck his hand in his pocket.
“Bloody hell.” He pulled out a cell phone, adjusting it to read the display in the poor light. Swearing, he looked at her with an apology in his eyes. And regret. Because she was a sure thing. “I’ve got to go.”
“You’re on call?” Susie couldn’t believe the disappointment in her voice. Go! Please go.
His smile was a slash of white. “Criminals always know when I have a night off.”
His eyes slid to her car. “Can I borrow your Mini?” He gripped the back of his neck, looking up at her from under heavy brows. “I’ll get it back to you before morning.”
“Take it.” Susie wouldn’t be accused of getting in the way of law and order, plus it would get him away from her faster. Next time she saw him she’d be sober and prepared. “I’m not planning on going anywhere tomorrow so there’s no rush to drop it off.”
She opened the front door, pulled the keys out of the lock and twisted off the ignition key from her octopus key fob.
“Here.” She threw it to him, not surprised when he snatched it out of the air without even moving his gaze. His intensity was unsettling.
She dashed inside and closed the door. Locked it. He could have her car, no problem. But he couldn’t have her. She wanted a relationship, a future, a family. Nick Archer was a lousy bet for anything except orgasms and heartbreak, and not even the orgasms were guaranteed.
My first Romantic Suspense, HER SANCTUARY, was released in 2009 to some great reviews. I write about my travels on my blog and update on Twitter. Readers can sign up for my newsletter on my website, or friend me on Facebook. I’ve also set up a fan page for SEA OF SUSPICION with location photographs and anecdotes.