Guest Author: Gina Robinson & Giveaway!

The lovely and talented Gina Robinson is back on the blog today, with her special brand of humorous contemporary novels full of suspense and romance.  Let’s turn the blog over to Gina, so she can tell us about the latest book in her acclaimed Agent Ex Series, just out from St. Martin’s Press.

Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies.

–from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Readers often wonder where writers get the ideas for their stories. The short answer is everywhere. My latest release is the second book of my Agent Ex spy romances, Diamonds Are Truly Forever. The title Agent Ex refers to secret agents and their ex, or nearly ex, spouses. So Diamonds Are Truly Forever had to be a reunion romance.

I set up the hero, Drew Fields, as the sidekick of the hero, Ty Miller, in the first book of the series, The Spy Who Left Me. I knew something about Drew, which made writing his book easier in some ways than starting from scratch. I knew he had a marriage that was on the rocks. He hinted at it in the first book. Now I needed a heroine for him, a perfect match, but one who would provide lots of romantic and story tension. And I needed a plot, preferably one that would supply some humor because I write lighthearted, hopefully funny, books.

Before I began the series, I brainstormed a long list of all the downsides of being married to a spy like James Bond, Jack Ryan, Chuck, Michael Westen, or even Max Smart. I also made a list of spy archetypes using everything from the classic The Art of War to former CIA agent memoirs to contemporary fictional spies to humorous sources like Get Smart. For each book, I pick a spy archetype and one of those downsides and run with it to create a story.

For Diamonds, I chose the downside of your husband being a professional liar. Could you ever trust what he said? What secrets could he be hiding from you? The perfect opposite, and hence estranged wife for my purposes, for a professional liar would be someone who couldn’t lie to save her life or his. And so Drew’s wife Staci Fields was born, or created, if you will. As for the plot, wouldn’t it be funny, I thought, if Drew had to go undercover as himself? From there, I just kept spinning the story as I wrote it. Many writers plot out their stories ahead of time, but I generally have an idea of where the story is going, but discover it and more about the characters as I write.

If you were a spy, would you like to be undercover as yourself? Or as someone different? What would you want your cover to be?

Diamonds Are Truly Forever

SHE CANNOT TELL A LIE

Staci Fields loves her gorgeous husband—and that’s the honest truth. Unfortunately, her inability to lie is a major liability for the wife of a CIA agent. During a previous mission, her loose lips nearly got her husband killed. So now Staci’s filing for divorce to keep him out of danger—no matter how much her lips still crave his kiss…

HE CANNOT HIDE HIS LOVE

Drew Fields knows that his wife doesn’t want to play the spy game anymore. But when he learns that Staci may be a pawn in her stepfather’s secret dealings with terrorists, he has no choice but to step back into her life. This time, the stakes are higher than ever. The closer he gets to Staci, the deadlier the odds. And the more he loves his ex, the more he has to lose…

Vanessa, here.  Gina’s latest book sounds great, doesn’t it?  Be sure to visit her website to get all the details about Diamonds Are Truly Forever, and all her other books.  You can also follow Gina on Twitter and facebook.

For my readers today, Gina will be giving away a copy of The Spy Who Left Me.  Just answer her question above for the chance to win her book! 

Guest Author: Cate Lord & Giveaway!

I’m so pleased to have contemporary romance author Cate Lord guest blogging today.  Some of you may already know Cate under another name – as Catherine Kean, she writes award-winning Medieval romance.  But Cate’s with us today in her other guise, talking about her latest book, Lucky Girl.  Take it away, Cate!

A few years ago, my family and I set ourselves a project: to watch all of the James Bond movies in chronological order. While I can’t remember all of the plots now, the films were entertaining, and it was fun to recognize the different actors who played the suave, handy-with-a-gun secret agent James Bond. Of course, every movie featured a model-beautiful, sexy, sophisticated woman—the “Bond girl.” Gosh, how many of us secretly dreamed of being one of those?

When I wrote my contemporary romantic comedy Lucky Girl, I couldn’t resist a literary nod to those films. I gave my British hero Nick Mondinello the nickname Spy Man. He looks like a younger version of Pierce Brosnan, who played Agent 007 in four movies. Nick’s also intelligent, charming, lusted after by women everywhere, and resourceful (gosh golly, does he know his way around a kitchen).

The story’s heroine, Jessica Devlin, is an American beauty editor for the Orlando-based magazine O Tart. The book is written entirely in her point of view, and from her musings, it’s clear she’s everything a Bond Girl is not. Her blah brown hair is rarely right (not like that of the perfectly coiffed Bond heroines) and she dreads wearing sexy high heels because she’s likely to trip and fall on her face. Her figure is far from slim—thanks to her fiancé who betrayed her months before their wedding and caused her to drown her sorrows in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Due to that heartbreak, her self-confidence is non-existent, and so is her love life.

Overdue for a vacation, Jess takes two weeks off and flies to England to be maid-of-honor in her cousin’s wedding. Jess is anxious about the trip, and not just because her cousin’s getting the happily-ever-after Jess wanted. There’s also the embarrassing incident that took place two years ago after Jess’s grandfather’s funeral; it involved an English pub, too many drinks, an overflowing of grief for her grandfather, and a handsome stranger who comforted her while she bawled. That man was Nick.

Jess assures herself there’s no chance of running into Nick again. She sets herself a vacation mission: to have as much fun as possible for a gal who’s twenty-nine and single. Then, she steps into the English church on the wedding day and finds that the best man is Nick.

Yikes!

Jess resolves to avoid him, but she can’t ignore that he’s one gorgeous, intriguing Brit. Moreover, fate keeps throwing them together in ways that challenge her perceptions not only of Nick, but of herself.

Writing Lucky Girl was a fun, exciting adventure for me as a writer. I lived every quirky, humorous, crazy moment with Jess. I giggled with her, held my breath when she flirted with Nick, and got a little teary-eyed when the plot knocked her on her butt. It was an adventure for Jess, too—and I don’t mean adventure in the car-chasing, boat-exploding, secret-agent espionage kind of way. I mean as a journey of personal growth, because Jess isn’t the same woman at the end of the book as she was in the beginning. As I wrote her story, I wanted her to become a Bond girl. She deserved to be confident, beautiful, happy, and desired.

Thanks to Nick, who is a far more complex and noble character than she ever imagined, she finds true love. In the end, she’s not just a Bond girl. She’s one lucky girl.

If you could be a heroine from a movie, who would you be? Leave a comment and you might win one of two eBook copies of Lucky Girl. Vanessa is also giving away a digital copy of her contemporary romance Hardball. Good luck!

Vanessa, here.  Great post, Cate!  And you heard the lady – just answer Cate’s question for a chance to win a copy of Lucky Girl and Hardball.  And be sure to stop by Cate’s website, for all the info on her books.