Message From The Author
Romance's First Female Vice President
Vicki Hinze raises the bar for fictional females while delivering an empowering book for women.
By Janice Wagner
"She is confident, purposeful yet not overbearing." As the first female vice president of the United States, this blond, blue-eyed woman lives up to her code name, LADY LIBERTY.
In her first Bantam release, award-winning author Vicki Hinze unleashes Sybil Stone, a woman for whom conviction always wins out, despite her personal scars and demons. As the vice-president of
the United States, Sybil places humanity and Americans before politics and she's prepared to sacrifice her life to spare the president, other world leaders, and her fellow U.S. citizens in a time of crisis. Ballast, one of the most feared international terrorist groups; PUSH, another terrorist group operating in Western Europe and North Africa; and a cunning enemy hidden among the U.S. allies all have their own agendas. Watching Sybil's back is Agent Jonathan Westford.
Though there's no doubt Vicki Hinze packs page-turning drama and high-flying entertainment into her books, LADY LIBERTY was inspired by real-life events. Vicki tuned in to Fox channel's "Fox & Friends" one morning to find herself listening to a group of "experts" acknowledging that corruption in politics was normal and expected, and that while it irritated everyone, no one saw change on the horizon. "I thought, we need to raise the bar on our public servants. We need to expect more, demand more respect as the people they are serving. We need to shout that this corruption is not okay. LADY LIBERTY was inspired by the need for people in elected positions we can admire and respect—
ones who 'say what they mean and mean what they say.'"
Vicki "raises the bar" on politicians by placing her characters in positions where they have to choose: to do the right thing, regardless of the personal costs, or do the wrong thing. Or they must risk doing the wrong thing but for the right reason.
Nobody said politics was easy.
"It's easy to do the right thing when it costs you nothing," she says. "But when it costs you a lot, then it's harder to make the choice. That's where character comes in. Only when put to the test can you know the true character
of your leaders—or, for that matter, of yourself. Recently, a friend said that maybe the greatest tragedy in life is to know no tragedy. I think she might be right. We discover ourselves and the nature of others during times of tragedy. Then we know who has earned our respect, and when we have earned our own."
LADY LIBERTY is not the first novel in which Vicki spins socio-political statements into entertaining romantic suspense. This trademark theme first developed in 1995 after she overheard a young airman and his wife debating in a grocery store whether to buy a can of tuna or a jar of peanut butter; it became painfully obvious to her that their food budget wouldn't allow both.
"My emotional reaction was one of outrage. Here this guy puts his life on the line for us, and his family make the sacrifices that go with it, and they can't afford to eat."
That incident sparked a new writing direction, away from series and historical paranormal romances. "I switched to military novels that focus on the people—to hopefully make others aware of their gifts to us and what it costs them to give us those gifts. Shades of Gray reflects an awareness that I felt we, the public, needed on biological warfare. Duplicity was on chemical warfare; Acts of Honor on psychological warfare. All Due Respect concerned our need for a missile defense system."
So far, the feedback on LADY LIBERTY has been amazing. Vicki has been thanked by Special Ops officers for showing what life is like for them and their families, by Intel officers for saying what they wish they could say but can't, due to security constraints. "The Intel officers even told me I was a lot closer than I thought on psych-ops suppositions," she adds. JAG officers said that she wrote like an insider because Vicki knew that Air Force legal officers still consider themselves JAG (Judge Advocate General) though that's a Naval term.
Reader response has been just as positive. "I can't tell you how amazing it is to have people affirm your hope for your work in letters. It is inspiring and humbling," Vicki says.
Vicki wrote 15 novels before selling her first book, Mind Reader,
to Silhouette under the pen name Victoria Cole. She blames her slow start on her ignorance of writing as a "business"; her early manuscripts didn't fit into a distinct category on bookstore shelves. "That makes selling to a publisher tough," she says. "When I really wanted to sell,
I wrote a book I loved that fit into a specific genre. It sold in two weeks. What a blessing!"
Since that first publication in 1993, Vicki has published one non-fiction book and 11 novels. It is easy to see the diversity in Ms. Hinze's fictional topics—everything interests this author. "I love people and figuring out what makes them tick and motivates them to act. I have little patience with those who utter 'you can't' and a deep respect for those who say, 'you can.' Science, medicine, the law—both legal and universal—fascinates me. Psychology is probably my most favorite area of study, so long as it's infused with a strong dose of common sense."
Next, readers can look forward to reading more about Sybil Stone's best friend in LADY JUSTICE, Gabby Kincaid. "She's a Special Detail Unit covert operative with a background in military Special Operations who requests the highest risk missions, is a bit of a rogue, and has no idea how unique or admirable or brave she truly is!
I think I love that about her the most. It's not false modesty. In
her own eyes, she's just average. In mine, she's magnificent, worthy
of being LADY JUSTICE."
Surely, one could say the same for this talented author committed to making a difference.
Readers can share their own thoughts of justice with Vicki by visiting her website, which also contains articles for aspiring
Janice Wagner is a freelance writer and booklover who also writes for escapetoromance.com.
An Abridged excerpt
A Code One. Urgent. His heartrate kicked up another notch. In
all his years at the agency, Jonathan Westford had gotten four Code Ones. All of them had been notifications of disasters.
Minutes later, Liberty emerged. Far more rigid and formal than before she had taken the call, she dropped her voice, "We're going home immediately. Notify the plane and have my things packed. I"ll meet you at the concierge's desk in ten minutes."
Ten minutes later, he stood beside Liberty as she addressed the concierge.
"I understand you have a case for me."
"Yes, ma'am." She reached down then
lifted a new black briefcase to the desktop. A silver bracelet cuff dangled from its handle.
Liberty reached for it at the same moment Jonathan saw the device. "No!"
She blocked him. "It's okay. I know it's wired."
"No, ma'am." He shifted his body, positioning himself between her and the case. "It's not okay."
Liberty looked him right in the eye and spoke softly. "Mission necessity. Presidential orders."
"Yes, ma'am." He notified Home Base, the staff, and then Captain Ken Dean, who was already on the plane.
Soon they were in the limo and Liberty sat staring at the briefcase. More than a little regret burned in the depths of her eyes. Jonathan could tell that whatever had created the Code One crisis disappointed and frightened her. She did not utter a word on the twenty-minute ride to the airport.
When she crossed the threshold and entered the plane, her confidence returned. She scanned the group of twenty already boarded. "No press or non-essential staff. Skeleton crew only." She looked back at Jonathan. "Get them off fast and get the staff and press separated." Worry clouded her eyes, again turning her irises midnight blue. "Try to delay their return to the States until Monday."
Monday? But it was only Wednesday. "Staff and press?"
She nodded. "If at all possible. We have less than seventy-two hours, and we're going to need every minute, 'Hail Mary,' and scrap of luck we can scrounge up to make it."
"I'll have to bring in the CIA," he reminded her, an accompanying chill slithering up his back. Liberty wasn't prone to exaggeration, and only once, during a crisis in the Middle East that had threatened to rip open barely healed wounds, had he heard her resort to a verbal Hail Mary pass. "The press will scream bloody murder."
"I look forward to hearing it."
That baffled him. "Ma'am?"
"They're lucky they'll be alive to scream."
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