Message From The Author

Diana Palmer

Book Title: DESPERADO
Genre: General Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Romance

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Author's Message

The Queen of Hearts and her DESPERADO

By Angela Martenez

Adventure! Intrigue! Romance!

Get swept away by DIANA PALMER's dazzling, death-defying exploits—both on the page and off. The beloved author tells all about her latest fictional and true-life adventures.

The tale at the heart of Diana Palmer's latest mainstream novel, DESPERADO (Mira), tracks some familiar and cherished territory for longtime readers of the author's popular adventure stories. A successful and well-regarded working woman travels to Chicago for business involving high-profile media interviews and networking with top industry professionals. Suddenly she experiences intense abdominal pain for which she can find no relief. Too many canapes and white wine spritzers? Maybe. Soon, though, our heroine finds herself laying in the hospital getting prepped for emergency surgery to remove a severely inflamed appendix which could threaten her life. As she anxiously awaits surgery, surrounded by comforting friends and hospital staff, she wonders if this might, after many close calls, be the final curtain, bringing an end to a life of adventure and romance. Without her romantic hero by her side, our protagonist bravely decides to undergo a risky surgery. The story, true to the spirit of romantic fiction, ultimately finds its happy ending as well as a joyous reunion of the hero and heroine. Only in this case, this tale is the precursor to, not the narrative of, DESPERADO. And fortunately for readers, Palmer used every heart-pounding moment of her real-life experience with an emergency appendectomy to infuse the book with all the excitement and passion that legions of loyal fans have come to relish.

As she lay waiting for surgery that fateful night in Chicago, where she was doing a television tour and celebrating Silhouette's 20th anniversary, Palmer expanded her original draft for DESPERADO surrounded by the drips of IV bags. An old friend and two editors from Harlequin skipped the fancy champagne bash to keep her company and helped hash out plot and location ideas. "They gave up a very elegant supper at a fine restaurant to munch potato chips and drink sodas in the emergency room, in fact. I work for wonderful people," she exclaims.

While the experience was not Palmer's first with life-or-death situations, it was unique in that she almost went back to her hotel after tests found no conclusive reasons for her stomach pain. Yet
at the insistence of a young resident whom she credits with her survival, Palmer got a CAT scan that led to the crucial diagnosis.
"It has always been my habit to live one day at a time and wring the most out of it that I can. The surgery only intensified those feelings," explains the Georgia native. And it is this intensity which she sought to bring to the adventures of her heroine and hero, Maggie and Cord, as they struggled against the force of their long-standing, but stubbornly elusive, love for one another, without allowing it to become a treacherous villain's trump card.

A gripping tale of intrigue and nail-biting adventure, DESPERADO scoops readers up and carries them away on a ride through exotic foreign lands—from Houston to Spain to Morocco and finally Amsterdam—interweaving dastardly plots where the unexpected and deadly lurk around every corner. Maggie Barton and Cord Romero (previously seen in Palmer's Lord of the Desert) journey across the globe to shut down a nefarious child slavery ring run by Cord's arch enemy who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to succeed.

Along the way, DESPERADO—Palmer's first mainstream hardcover—introduces readers to issues of corruption and exploitation that are
de rigeur in many parts of the world, even in our own backyard, yet which remain invisible to the naked eye as they primarily involve the marginalized and helpless. It was Palmer's background as a newspaper reporter in the '70s and '80s that first exposed her to such issues and brought her into contact with characters from both sides of the law, everyone from professional soldiers and detectives to smugglers and even undercover agents.

"The world is a neat laboratory for expanding on the study of mankind," she observes. The author makes the most of this vast classroom by traveling as often as she can for her research. "It brings life and color to my writing, and makes it possible for me to teach as well as entertain when I write (I hope!). A book should contain something educational in order to make it memorable. Life is all lessons." Palmer certainly practices what she preaches, as the
irrepressible author went back to college at the age of 45, graduating summa cum laude with a history degree. She's currently working on her master's degree, also in history.

Surely, Palmer will continue to mine the world for source material as this award-winning author of both contemporary and historical series romance aims to bring readers to thrilling new heights of excitement involving rich cultural landscapes (doubtless owing no small debt to her minor in anthropology). An elaborate cast of characters and contemporary real-world issues also provide a fresh appreciation of the world around us, as well as adventure, humor and passion—all from the comfort of one's own home. (Think the Discovery Channel with a dose of romance thrown in for good measure.) In fact, don't be surprised if you recognize elements in one of her future novels.

"I was interviewing the doctors and anesthetist all the way into the surgical suite, garnering tidbits for future books."
A doctor and a nurse trading glances across the operating table—we can see it now…G

In conjunction with the July release of DESPERADO, Diana is having a contest from May to July in which grand prize winners receive a copy of the book and three runners-up receive DESPERADO T-shirts. For more information on the contest, Diana's upcoming releases, or to send her e-mail, visit her website www.dianapalmer.com.

Readers can also contact Diana via snail mail c/o Susan Kyle, P.O. Box 844, Cornelia, GA, 30531.

DESPERADO AN EXCERPT

The bedroom Cord gave Maggie at his ranch outside Houston was done in pinks and blues and had a canopied bed. The furniture was French Provengal, her favorite, and he knew it. "Who decorated it?" she asked.

"I did."

Her heart jumped. "But…why would you decorate a room for me?"

"Temporary insanity," he muttered.

She couldn't stop looking at him. "You really did this—for me?"

He took her gently by the shoulders. "I assumed you'd come here one day. It's hard for me to let people close," he confessed reluctantly and he wouldn't meet her eyes. "I lost both parents, my wife, Amy…I don't have a good track record with…affection."

He was going to say "love," but he couldn't get the word past his lips. She could understand. She'd been betrayed herself, by the people who should have put her welfare first. Trust didn't come easily to either of them.

She searched his eyes slowly, seeing the deep lines between his elegant eyebrows, the lines of stress between his nose and his mouth, the hard set of his lean face with its olive complexion.

"I know how that feels," she said slowly. "Except that people have left you because of circumstances they couldn't control, even Pat, your wife. In my life, the people who were closest to me have betrayed me."

"Who betrayed you?" he asked softly.

"Just about everybody." Her eyes closed and opened.

"Can't you tell me what happened?" he persisted.

She searched his eyes slowly. "It would be cruel," she said absently.

The allusion went right past him. He sighed. "I'm thirty-four," he said. "I've been a sort of desperado. I've lived fast, I've done things I'm not proud of. But this thing has changed me. If I had a child, of eight or nine, and had to see it become nothing more than a slave in a cocoa field, or down a mine, or in a sweatshop and I could do nothing to save it because I had no money at all…"

"Little children?" she asked, aghast.

He nodded. "Some are sold for as little as eleven or twelve dollars, because their parents can't provide for them and hope they'll find a better life working for some big corporation in another country. The corporation gives them a little money for their trouble, pretending that the child will make a lot more money, and will send some of it back home to them. They expect the child will return after a few months. But what happens is that Gruber and his cronies take the children away for their own profit. They're worked up to eighteen hours a day in mines or cocoa fields, and never given a dime. Some are taken to brothels in other countries. And their parents have no idea at all what's really happened to them. They trust people who tell them they only want to help their children get a better life. Then they take the children away, and the parents never see them again."

"Gruber should be stopped," she said.

"I agree," he said solemnly. "And I'm going to stop him. No matter what it takes."


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