Author Lisa Marie Rice wraps up her Protectors trilogy with this month's Nightfire. The series finale focuses on the last of three smoldering foster brothers who all have military training — and heroines they will do anything to shield from danger. Nightfire's hero, former Marine Mike, is no exception. When he meets his foster brother's long-lost sister, Chloe it is love at first sight, but things don't go smoothly for these two: there are dangerous Russian mobsters who want Chloe out of the picture. Get a special look at Mike, Chloe and their roadblocks to romance in today's author interview with Lisa Marie Rice.
Nightfire centers around two very different characters. Mike, a former marine, sniper and now successful security expert, commands a room. Chloe on the other hand is master at blending after surviving a very painful childhood. When writing their story, was it ever difficult for you to imagine them as a couple?
Actually, it wasn’t hard at all, because the extreme aspects of their characters were artificially induced by great trauma in their pasts. They would have been different people — they would have been themselves — if they hadn’t known tragedy at such a young age. Mike is angry as hell at the loss of his family to violence and has been since he was a kid. That anger was never dealt with and thus never dissipated.
Chloe was brutalized twice while very vulnerable and hasn’t quite realized that she’s not vulnerable any more.
Both of them need each other in so many ways, but particularly, each lances the wounds left by trauma and tragedy and each completes the other.
Mike’s huge anger at the loss of his family is partly dictated by the fact that nothing ever took its place. Now he has a family of his own to love, which he desperately needed. His anger is gone and he is whole.
Chloe has not only become physically stronger, thanks to Mike, but spiritually stronger as well. All her life she felt as if she were on the sidelines, watching other people lives their lives. She felt alone and alienated. But not now. Now she is strong and loved and happy.
It’s really great to find someone who completes you.
They are both better people now that they have found each other. They actually make a great couple!
Mike and his partners at RBK Security Inc. are dedicated to helping “The Lost Ones,” which is the name they give to abused women and children. Chloe has definitely been through her share of pain, but Mike doesn’t see her as broken. What is it about Chloe that has him thinking about her not as a client, but as a lover?
First of all, Chloe’s story drew her to him. It is a story of victimhood in the past but she is not a victim now. Like many survivors of trauma, she found herself a mentor, Sister Mary Michael, and she found herself a cause — helping other victims. Everything she could do by herself to heal herself, she’s done, and that is clear right from the start. From the moment Mike hears her story he realizes that she suffered tragedy but that tragedy does not in any way define her. She is quite a woman and that shines through and he recognizes her worth.
It must also be said that in the past year, Mike has spent a lot of time with two women of great worth. He loves and respects his sisters-in-law. He’s changed a lot, he just hasn’t realized it yet.
He is primed to see Chloe — see her worth, see her bravery and kindness of heart. She’s a very attractive woman and he feels desire, of course. Strong, hot desire. That’s something he’s familiar with. What knocks him over is that the desire is laced with admiration, the first time those two elements come together for him. It is a deadly combination in terms of his perpetual bachelorhood. Actually, he’s a goner the instant he sees her.
Mike is a man of action, however, in order to allow Chloe to get comfortable around him and also for him to prepare to have a real relationship, they take things slow, like six months of not touching slow. What did each of your characters learn about themselves during this break?
Both Chloe and Mike grow enormously in those six months of enforced chastity. First of all, it is the first time since his early teens that Mike has done without sex for six months. He’d never have thought himself capable of it before, but now it just seems natural. He only wants Chloe but she’s out of his reach so … well, he just tucks it back into his pants, so to speak. Because no one else will do.
For Chloe it’s her chance to get close to a man. To men. She was snatched from her big brother by the violence of her step father. She was nearly raped by her adoptive father.
She was sent to a school run by nuns and her avocation was as a teacher and counselor to troubled women. Men were this enormous, mysterious continent where wild wolves roamed.
Living with three very strong men who are fully capable of violence but who wouldn’t dream of using is against the weak teaches her trust. If she and Mike had fallen into bed immediately, everything would have been clouded by sex. In those six months, she learns that sex does not automatically mean violence.
Both of them are forced to step back while getting to know each other well. It did them both good. They were both very damaged and not ready for sex with each other. But when they finally get together — whoa. Watch out!
The Russian mob enforcers that pop up to harass Chloe are certainly an unexpected addition to the story, but this really ratchets up the story's danger. What made you think to include these nasty villains that don’t have any trouble hurting people to get what they want?
You don’t get the measure of a man or a woman in good times. You get their worth in bad times. Romantic suspense is such a powerful genre because you contrast the good guys with the bad guys. The more powerfully bad and the more viciously dangerous the bad guys, the better the contrast. And in Nightfire the bad guys are truly terrible.
Finding family has been a key theme throughout your Protectors series especially for your heroes Sam, Harry and now Mike. These three connected as brothers a long time ago, but this was not easy since they meet when they were very young in the foster care system. When writing the series, how did you imagine this friendship blossoming?
They were in a foster home run by a violent and cruel man. They banded together instinctively because otherwise they wouldn’t have survived the home. But over and above the help they gave each other, they loved each other like brothers. All the adults around them were highly dysfunctional but Sam, Harry and Mike created their own, highly functional family. They had each others’ back as kids and they will look out for each other and their families to their dying day. By any measure, that’s the definition of a family. To look out for each other.
Nightfire is the third book in your Protectors series and it has the last of the partners in RBK Security Inc. getting his story. However, readers have been introduced to other characters in these books that are heroic. Any thoughts of continuing the series?
Well, I did toy with the idea of Barney and Consuelo [from Nightfire]. But Consuelo told me in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t ready yet, so we’ll let her be for the moment. Let her catch her breath and heal. But Barney never forgets her and you know …maybe someday …