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I've always loved the south, so when my editor asked me to develop a miniseries for Intrigue, I immediately knew where I would build my fictional cafe, The Rose Tattoo. Charleston was the perfect place-my parents live on Kiawah Island, just south of the Historic District. Using Charleston gave me a few added benefits. First, I had the perfect excuse to go visit my family whenever I wanted and second, my family was thrilled to be asked to act as my research team whenever I needed any information checked.
Since I'm an Elvis fan myself, Rose Porter, one of the owners of The Rose Tattoo, was one of the most endearing characters I've ever written. In each of the four stories I've done, she's threatened to steal the spotlight every time.
In the first book, UNSPOKEN CONFESSIONS, Rose tried to help her business partner, Shelby Hunnicutt, through the horror of having her baby kidnapped. In the second book, UNLAWFULLY WEDDED, a new look at the marriage of convenience plot, Rose is the parent with the problem when her son J.D. breezes into town. In the third book, UNDYING LAUGHTER, Rose's youngest son, Wesley, tries to save a stand-up comic from a very threatening stalker.
Throughout these stories, Rose tries to play matchmaker in an attempt to fulfill her longtime dream of becoming a grandmother. Unfortunately, no one sticks around long after they find true love, much to Rose's displeasure.
My Christmas edition of The Rose Tattoo, HANDSOME AS SIN, is the Dangerous Man entry for the month. In this book, Rose must sit back while a very dear friend is accused of murdering one of her employees. The only thing that keeps Rose sane through all these trying situations is her passion for Elvis. Rose is a real fan-so much so that she keeps a rather bizarre collection of Elvis memorabilia at her restaurant/bar.
In UNSPOKEN CONFESSIONS, Shelby is devastated when her infant son is kidnapped. To make matters worse, she has to depend on Dylan Tanner, her former lover, to get her baby back. Dylan does everything to calm her fears, but how can he keep her safe from this?
The shrill chirp of the phone sent her digging through her purse. She had the handset to her ear in record time:
"I'm here," she said in a whisper.
"Good job, Shelby."
"I'm sorry about last night. They've been listening to my calls and I couldn't-"
"Shut up!" came the terse command.
She was instantly silent.
"I told you no cops."
His voice was so angry, so full of menace that Shelby felt tears well in her eyes. "No cops this time," she assured him. "How's my baby? Please tell me he's still all right."
"He's fine," he answered. "So far."
"Please," she begged. "Please don't hurt him."
"Give me one reason why I shouldn't."
"He's a baby!" she wailed, gripping the phone with both hands. "I'll do whatever you say. Just please, please don't hurt him."
"How do I know you'll follow instructions, Shelby?"
"I will," she promised. "I'll keep the police out of it." The ensuing pause was so long that Shelby feared he might have hung up. "Are you still there?"
"I'm thinking," he growled.
"Just tell me when and where to meet you. I'll bring you the money."
"It won't be that easy."
"You have to be punished," he taunted.
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