Sunday, May 22, 2022

Sunday Post #163


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

I skipped last weeks Sunday Post because it was a flurry of activity once again. We had some issues with the property lines of the house we're buying. We finally got everything sorted out yesterday and will be buying an additional acre (a front lot) from a neighbor along with a big chunk up alongside our house. Long story, lots of back and forth, and sleepless nights, but I'm so happy it's all turned out. Our escrow should close the 27th. We'll be in Montana then and won't be back until Memorial Day so we won't be doing anything with it until the after that.

I bought an app called PictureThis so I could identify all the trees and plants on the property. It's such a neat app! You just take a picture of the plant, leaf, bark, whole tree or flower, scan it and it identifies it, gives a bunch of information on it. I found out there's a lot of California Black Oak, a few different kinds of maples, a cherry and a dogwood at the new house. There's more but I didn't have time to get to all of them. I'm so excited I'll be getting some fall color with the maples! 

I found out this is a Norway Maple. My favorite tree on the property so far:

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

This is two weeks worth of reading so still lagging behind. I'm 4 books behind on my Goodreads Challenge! Book Lovers was my favorite read of the bunch, Beach House Summer was really good, too. The STEMinist Novellas have been fun. I guess I'm reading them out of order but that's the way the audios released from my library. I read the first next. The Last Move was thrilling! Mary Burton continues to be a win for me! Most of her books are available as "Read and Listen to for Free" with Kindle Unlimited which is a plus for me. 

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

Two new-to-me-authors and two favorites.


Recent book mail. I'm currently reading and loving Midnight Dunes. I'll be reading Strangers in Paradise next.

How was your week?

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Blog Tour Review: Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan


Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan
Publication Date: May 17th 2022 by HQN Books
Pages: 387
Source: Publisher 

My Thoughts:
Joanna divorced her famous chef husband, Cliff Whitman, over a year ago, but that hasn’t spared her from the spotlight. When he dies in a car accident and the press finds out a pregnant woman was in the car with him, the media makes her life so unbearable Joanna decides to head back to her hometown. A place she hasn’t visited since she left twenty years earlier.  She left her two best friends and seeing them won’t be easy. There’s a story behind that and why she took off in the first place.

Ashley is the girl that was in the car with Joanna’s husband and so she’s stunned when Joanna offers to give her a place to stay and hideout from the media. Ashley has her own history. She and Joanna get close while sorting through their problems.

Melanie married her high school sweetheart and never left Silver Point. Raising their daughter, Eden, in the small, beach town wasn’t how she thought she’d spend her life, but it’s been rewarding, that is until Mel and Eden started butting heads over everything.  She and Joanna used to be best friends until Joanna took off with Cliff and never looked back, but is that how it happened?  Questions come up when Joanna shows up in town again.

Beach House Summer had a few surprises. Not all is as it seemed just reading the blurb and I was happy both Joanna and Ashley each had their own romance, Joanna’s was more central, but both took a back to their problems. Joanna, Mel, and Ashley came to a point in their lives where they had to examine the past and figure out what they wanted and aim for happiness in the future. I enjoyed their journey so much! There were lots of layers and several little side stories and I was invested in all of them!

4 Stars

Book Description:

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan returns with the ultimate beach read, as one woman forges the most unlikely friendship of all, and embarks on a summer of confronting her past in order to build the future she wants...

When Joanna Whitman's ex-husband, one of California's most beloved celebrity chefs, dies in a car accident, she doesn't know what to feel. Their dysfunctional marriage held more secrets than she cares to remember, but when she discovers a young woman was with him in the crash--who's now in hospital, on her own, and pregnant --Joanna sees red. How dare he ruin yet another woman's life? More than anyone, Joanna knows the brutal spotlight this girl is going to find herself in...unless she can find a way for them both to disappear?

Ashley can't believe it when Joanna shows up in her hospital room and offers to spirit them both away for the summer to her secluded beach house on the Californian coast. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But orphaned and pregnant, Ashley can't turn Joanna down. Even though she knows that if Joanna ever discovers the real truth of why Ashley was in her ex's car, their tentative bond would never hold.

Together, they escape to the beach house, nestled high above the sleepy Californian town where Joanna grew up, and left without a backward glance. Joanna's only goal for the summer is privacy, but her return creates waves in the community, not least for the best friend she left behind. Both Joanna and Ashley are hiding secrets, but as they fall under the spell of their summer home - and draw on each other's courage - these unlikely friends realise that to seize the futures they want, they must step out of the shadows and into the sunshine.

Q&A With Sarah Morgan 

(provided by HQN)

1) I love the title and synopsis. Where did the inspiration for the book come from?

I’m fascinated by the idea of celebrity, and how it must feel to live in the spotlight. I was pondering on how much I’d hate that when I came up with the character of Joanna, who is an ‘accidental’ celebrity by virtue of her marriage to a high profile celebrity chef who both relishes and relies on media attention. Joanna didn’t just marry him, she married the lifestyle he’d chosen and she was never comfortable with it. As I was writing, I reflected a lot on how someone lives a private life, and how they keep secrets, if their every move is conducted under a spotlight. Those were some of the issues I wanted to explore. It was a fun book to write!

2) What was the best part about writing this book and why?

So many things. I enjoyed exploring the dynamics between the characters who are all quite different, and also being able to give Joanna a second chance at love (I’m a big believer in second chances!). But I confess that one of the best parts of writing this book was the setting. It takes me around six months to write a book, and during that time I’m immersed in the place as well as the people. Beach House Summer is set on the coast of California, which gave me the excuse to research beautiful beach houses. I was transported, and I hope the reader will feel that way too. 

3) What was the most difficult part about writing this book and why?

Giving my characters a hard time - in particular subjecting poor Joanna to all the media attention, which she hated and found distressing. I felt so cruel! But writers sometimes have to be cruel to their characters, it’s part of the job, and a story where the characters are all happy in their lives and have no challenges to face would end on page one. But even knowing that, it’s always difficult when you’ve grown to love the people you’ve created. I remind myself that no matter how many obstacles I throw their way, I always, always give them a happy ending. That makes the whole thing easier.

4) Who is your favourite character and why?

That’s a tough question. I love all the characters, but in particular I enjoyed exploring the way that Joanna and Ashley interact, and how they gradually support each other and change over time. I find multigenerational friendships to be intriguing and interesting to write. With Joanna and Ashley, their age difference doesn’t stop them learning from each other and that part was such fun to write.

5) I have your books Sleigh Bells in the Snow, A Wedding in December and a Christmas Escape. Do you prefer writing books set in summer or winter and why? Which is easier or more challenging and why?

I love writing books set in winter and have done so almost every year since I’ve been published, but I wouldn’t want to only write Christmas books. It takes me around six months to write a novel, and by the time I’ve finished I’m ready to move on to a new set of characters, a new set of problems, and a new season! Each comes with its own set of challenges, but I enjoy writing both. In the end, whatever the season and whatever the setting, I aim to deliver and emotional story that will keep readers turning the pages.  

6) The characters, plots and settings in your books are so memorable. What are your top tips for creating great characters, plots and settings, especially seasonal (summer, winter) settings?

The most important element is always the story itself. When you’re writing commercial fiction, you want to make your reader feel something. It’s important to create unique characters, with their own strengths and flaws, and to give them a problem or a dilemma that will keep the reader turning the pages. Sometimes you can turn the seasonal element to your advantage, and whenever possible I make sure that the season and the setting is integral to the plot. With a Christmas book, I try and give the reader all the magic of a cosy, snowy winter without any of the reality (freezing fingers and toes, scraping ice from the car etc). With my next book, Snowed in For Christmas, the season plays a big part in bringing the characters together, not just the weather but also the seasonal tradition of family gatherings. With summer books I want readers to feel as if they’ve had their own summer escape. If it’s a beach book (like Beach House Summer!) then I want them to feel the sand under their toes and the sun on their face. 

7) Can you give some advice for those writing in the same genre as you?

Write the story that you’re passionate about. If you’re excited to write it, then there’s a good chance someone will be excited to read it. Create characters you really care about and give them a conflict that will keep a reader turning the pages. If you are rooting for that character, then the chances are the reader will be too.

8) Do you have plans for any other novels? When will they be released?

My next Christmas novel is called Snowed in For Christmas, and it will be out in September in the US and Canada. I had so much fun with this book and it includes all the elements I love including in my writing - family dynamics, friendship and romance. I laughed aloud when I wrote it, and I hope it will make readers smile when they read it.


Photo Credit: Ev Sekkides

About the author:

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of contemporary romance and women's fiction. She has sold more than 21 million copies of her books and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe. Sarah lives with her family near London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office. Visit her at

Connect with Sarah Morgan:

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Audio Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry


Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 3rd 2022 by Berkley & Penguin Audio
Pages: 384
Audio Book Length: 11 hrs 23 min
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Source: Publisher &
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Librofm Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Nora Stephens, a literary agent, is known as a shark in her industry getting the best deals for her clients. She’s focused on her job and doesn’t mind that since she loves books and loves New York city where she works. However, her younger sister, Libby, has other ideas and convinces her to spend a month in Sunshine Falls, the setting of a blockbuster book Nora repped. Libby thinks Nora works too much and needs to get a life and makes a list of small-town activities sure to land Nora in her happily-ever-after story, but Nora couldn’t think of anything worse. Still, she wants to figure out the distance she’s been feeling from her sister, the most important and loved person in her life and so she reluctantly agrees to take the month “off” and go. However, Sunshine Falls isn’t shaping up to the be the cute, perfect town described in fiction, and the differences made me laugh so much.

Oh, Book Lovers was sooo good! Clever, witty, sharp humor. My favorite Emily Henry to date! I just loved Nora and Charlie’s encounters. Big Foot erotica?!! I looked like a loony-tune laughing my head off over that on my commute! I loved that Nora wasn’t the typical heroine, but was a sharp-tongued workaholic, perfect for the likes of Charlie. They both lived, loved, and breathed books and were the perfect match even though they were a bit adversarial, (in a totally fun, not mean spirited at all way) in the beginning. Loved their banter! They got each other in a profound way and their chemistry was smoking hot!

Julia Whelan did a superb job narrating all voices and her comedic timing was excellent! I listened at my usual 1.5x the normal speed.

5 Stars

Book Description:

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming....

Nora Stephens' life is books - she’s read them all - and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away - with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again - in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow - what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Review: A Wedding on Sunshine Corner by Phoebe Mills


A Wedding on Sunshine Corner (The Sunshine Corner #2) by Phoebe Mills
Publication Date: March 29th 2022 by Forever
Pages: 349
Source: Publisher
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Savannah and Noah have grown up together with Noah being close to her brothers, but they have never been friends.  Noah’s been nothing but uptight and judgmental towards Savannah and Noah regards her as spoiled, flighty, and impulsive. However, when Caleb, Savannah’s older brother, asks them to team up to help plan their wedding in Heart’s Hope Bay they must set aside their differences to work together.

Both Noah and Savannah have a lot on their plate. Savannah has just started as a teacher and coordinator at her friend Abby’s (the previous installments heroine) preschool, and Noah is juggling work while raising his four-year-old daughter alone. Savannah has a lot of self-doubt since most of her attempts at finding her career path have fizzled out.  It was obvious to me that she was a hard worker, she just hadn’t found her niche yet, and I appreciated Abby’s unwavering support. Savannah had a great bunch of female friends in her corner as well as a big loving family.

I felt for Noah since he was the primary caretaker of his daughter. It’s hard for me to believe that a woman would move states away from her young daughter for a career opportunity and give up primary custody. I found it hard to understand why he was so stubborn to accept help from others. I also had a really hard reconciling his judgmental attitude towards Savannah one minute with his attraction to her the next which made it hard to buy into their romance for me.  He had no right to go off on her the way he did with the final conflict (you know the one that comes about 75-80% in ?), especially when Savannah took care of the majority of the wedding planning even though it was supposed to be a shared burden. Noah was such a complete jerk dressing her down, feeding into her worst insecurities. I would’ve had a hard time forgiving him.  I was happy Savannah didn’t just take him back quickly when he realized how badly he screwed up, but I would’ve liked a bit more from him. More groveling for sure.

3 Stars

Book Description:

A delightful small-town romance between a daycare teacher and single dad who must overcome their differences to help plan the ultimate wedding.

They’ve driven each other crazy for years, but were they fighting each other—or the chemistry between them?

As the youngest in her loving, overprotective family, Savannah Lowe has always gone with the flow instead of going out on a limb…until now. Her new job running a preschool requires her to be all in. If only the father of one of her students wasn’t her brother’s incredibly infuriating, impossibly attractive best friend. Savannah has no clue what she ever did to make him dislike her, and now they’re stuck spending even more time together planning her brother’s wedding.

Single father Noah Adams has his hands full between his job as a paramedic and caring for his young daughter. The last thing he needs is a complication like Savannah in his life—a girl he remembers being constantly pampered by her family. But the more he gets to know her, the more he sees how kind and compassionate she really is. Now their long-ignored, off-the-charts chemistry has them on a collision course…with each other.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Review: When She Dreams by Amanda Quick


When She Dreams (Burning Cove #6) by Amanda Quick
Publication Date: May 3rd 2022 by Berkley
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Maggie Lodge hires Sam Sage, a private detective to help to find the person trying to blackmail her employer, the woman behind the Aunt Cornelia advice column. Their quest takes them to the glamorous town of Burning Cove, the hot getaway destination of the rich and famous and where Maggie runs into a dangerous man from her past. Sam and Maggie may butt heads a few times at the start of their investigation, but they quickly come to respect each other’s strengths and talents as they get to know each other, and an attraction builds between them.

As with the previous stories, there’s a bit of a paranormal element. Lucid dreaming for Maggie and Sam with his uncanny intuition.

The Burning Cove mysteries are delightfully entertaining!  The 1930s time period is vividly portrayed: art deco, dressing up for dinner, dancing and cocktails, and old Hollywood glamour. Danger, thrills, and romance made for a fast addictive story, easy to fly right through. When She Dreams is book six in the series, but each book can be read as a standalone with a unique mystery and romance.  

4 Stars

Book Description:

Return to 1930s Burning Cove, California, the glamorous seaside playground for Hollywood stars, mobsters, spies, and a host of others who find more than they bargain for in this mysterious town.

Maggie Lodge, assistant to the reclusive advice columnist known only as Dear Aunt Cornelia to her readers, hires down-but-not-quite-out private eye Sam Sage to help track down the person who is blackmailing her employer. Maggie and Sam are a mismatched pair. As far as Sam is concerned, Maggie is reckless and in over her head. She is not what he had in mind for a client, but he can’t afford to be choosy. Maggie, on the other hand, is convinced that Sam is badly in need of guidance and good advice. She does not hesitate to give him both.
In spite of the verbal fireworks between them, they are fiercely attracted to each other, but each is convinced it would be a mistake to let passion take over. They are, after all, keeping secrets from each other. Sam is haunted by his past, which includes a marriage shattered by betrayal and violence. Maggie is troubled by intense and vivid dreams—dreams that she can sometimes control. There are those who want to run experiments on her and use her for their own purposes, while others think she should be committed to an asylum.
When the pair discovers someone is impersonating Aunt Cornelia at a conference on psychic dreaming and a woman dies at the conference, the door is opened to a dangerous web of blackmail and murder. Secrets from the past are revealed, leaving Maggie and Sam in the path of a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to exact vengeance.


Photo Credit: Marc von Borstel

About the author:

Amanda Quick is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, the author, under various pen names, of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print. She is also the author of the Ladies of Lantern Street novels and the Arcane Society series.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Sunday Post #162


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

Another skipped week of Sunday Post and I'm getting this one out late on top of it. We're in Northern California but will be leaving to go to Southern California in an hour or two. I accepted the job offer for Northern California but I had a six week notice, the hospitals decision, since it's a transfer within the same organization. So I'm back and forth for the next 5 weeks. 

We are in escrow with a house (picture from the front porch down below) and I'm really excited! It's a fixer-upper so we have been making a bunch of plans for renovations to start as soon as the house closes. 

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

Didn't get a whole lot of reading done over the last two weeks, but I enjoyed all the books I read. I'm behind on my Goodreads challenge as of right now. 

Received/Purchased/Library Loan

I love Sarah Morgan so I'm looking forward to Beach House Summer! I was rejected from Netgalley for Beach Lovers even though the publisher sent me a physical copy! Crazy, right? Then I got an audio copy from so I don't have to squint to read the story. I'm almost finished with the story and it's soooo good! Unless something crazy happens it's going to be a 5 star read for me. 


The view from our new front porch. So different from our last house!

How was your week?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Giveaway: 5 Young Adult Books!

Everything has been so busy and probably will continue to be so for the next two to three months. The next six weeks I'll be going back and forth between Southern California and Northern California until my job transfer goes through. 

This was the last box of books I packed up for a giveaway before moving out of our house. All the rest are packed away in boxes at my sister's house until escrow closes on the new house. Can't wait to unpack them on my shelves again! 

At any rate, here's my newest giveaway. The Drake Chronicles is a fun YA vampire romance series!

Hearts at Stake (Drake Chronicles #1) by Alyxandra Harvey-Hardcover
Blood Feud (Drake Chronicles #2) by Alyxandra Harvey-Hardcover
Out For Blood (Drake Chronicles #3) by Alyxandra Harvey-Hardcover
Bleeding Hearts (Drake Chronicles #4) by Alyxandra Harvey-Paperback
Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia-Hardcover

The giveaway is open to US Residents only. Fill out the rafflecopter for a chance to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Blog Tour Review: The Wrong Victim by Allison Brennan


The Wrong Victim (Quinn & Costa #3) by Allison Brennan
Publication Date: April 26th 2022 by MIRA
Pages: 464
Source: Publisher 
Rating: ½

My Thoughts:
Kara Quinn and Matt Costa are investigating a bombing on a boat that killed nine people in Friday Harbor, one of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Seattle. There is no shortage of suspects: the younger wife of a wealthy businessman, an environmental group unhappy with the boating group, and someone from the pilot, a retired FBI agent who was looking into a cold case.

I’m a big fan of Kara and her methods. Her ability to read people and her gut instincts are impressive and she didn’t take unnecessary risks.  I’m rooting for her romance with the team leader, Matt Costa, but they have some hurdles to overcome for things to work out long term. This time around they have Catherine Jones, an FBI forensic psychiatrist joining them on the case. Right away Kara and Catherine clash, with Catherine judging her as reckless and full of herself and she questions Kara’s judgments and actions. I was not a fan of Catherine at all. She seemed to make it her mission to create doubt about Kara and so I was happy to see Kara proved right over and over. Since Catherine has a past with Matt being he dated her sister, Catherine also created a bit of friction between Kara and Matt. I’m happy Matt didn’t let it get out of hand.

The Wrong Victim was an engrossing mystery/crime procedural, one that hooked my attention right away, leading up to an exciting conclusion that had me zipping through the pages to find out how it all turned out! I loved the Pacific Northwest setting, it’s such a beautiful area!

This is the third in the Quinn and Costa series, but I think it would work as a standalone in a pinch. However, I’d recommend starting from the beginning to appreciate the developing relationships. That’s no hardship since every installment is excellent! It’s hard to go wrong with Allison Brennan.

4.5 Stars


A bomb explodes on a sunset charter cruise out of Friday Harbor at the height of tourist season and kills everyone on board. Now this fishing and boating community is in shock and asking who would commit such a heinous crime—the largest act of mass murder in the history of the San Juan Islands.

Was the explosion an act of domestic terrorism, or was one of the dead the primary target? That is the first question Special Agent Matt Costa, Detective Kara Quinn, and the rest of the FBI team need to answer, but they have few clues and no witnesses.

Accused of putting profits before people after leaking fuel endangered an environmentally sensitive preserve, the West End Charter company may itself have been the target. As Matt and his team get closer to answers, they find one of their own caught in the crosshairs of a determined killer.

Q&A with Allison Brennan

1.What type of research do you do when thinking of and writing your novel? The Wrong Victim uses both the FBI and local police department, do you speak with individuals who actually work in these fields?

I love research. It started long before I published my first book — I read true crime, watched true crime documentaries, read about current events. Once I was published, I found experts willing to talk to me! In 2008, I participated in the FBI Citizens Academy, and to this day the Public Information Officer (now retired) is happy to answer my questions. I’ve toured Quantico, visited the morgue (twice!) and viewed an autopsy, been on several ride-alongs with local police and sheriff, and have several people across all areas of law enforcement to ask questions. In fact, my oldest daughter is now a police officer, and she’s working on getting me a ride along in a specific precinct where I plan to set a future book. She also connected me with a K-9 officer when I was writing a short story about a retired K-9.

For THE WRONG VICTIM, I reached out to a writer friend of mine who is a retired ATF agent — he was instrumental in helping me with the explosives. 

I write fiction and take a lot of liberties with the information I learn. However, I want to be as realistic as possible. To me, as long as what I’m writing is plausible, then I’ll go with it. I write to entertain first and foremost, and sometimes too many forensic details or investigative facts can slow down a story. I’m always seeking to find the right balance.

2. How do you decide where to base your story? This book is based in the San Juan islands and I know Matt Costa’s special team travels.

The premise of the Quinn & Costa mobile response team series is that they are a well-trained group of FBI agents who travel to small, rural, and underserved communities — places where local police may not have the resources to handle a complex investigation such as a serial killer or, in the case of THE WRONG VICTIM, an explosion. So I look for places where setting fits the story. For this book, I had the idea first — a charter boat explodes, who was the intended victim? So that told me I needed a remote, water-based community and looked on a map. The San Juan Islands immediately drew me in, and after reading about the area, I quickly made the decision. I had planned to visit before I wrote the book, but alas, 2020 was not a year for travel, and so I relied on interviews and the internet for information.

3. Do you travel or visit the places you write about first?

If I can, but unfortunately, sometimes that isn’t possible. That’s when research and interviews come in handy!

One of my earlier books, I thought I had researched very well — even talking to people who lived in the region (Seattle) and looking extensively on maps. But I made a mistake about how to get from Point A to Point B and a reader pointed it out. Now I take much more care in making sure I get these details right if I’m writing about a place I don’t know well. 

I had wanted to visit the San Juan Islands before writing THE WRONG VICTIM — not just for the book, but because I’d always wanted to go there. Unfortunately, 2020 happened and that wasn’t possible. The book I recently finished writing, the currently untitled fourth Quinn & Costa book, takes place in the bayou in Louisiana. I’ve been to Louisiana many times, and my best friend lives there. While I created a fictional town, I drew upon my personal knowledge and the help of my bestie!

4. How did you come up with your idea for a loaned LA officer who cannot return due to her undercover work?

When I was writing the first Quinn & Costa book, Kara Quinn — the Los Angeles detective on leave — wasn’t going to be a series character. She was going to be a catalyst of sorts for Matt Costa, the team leader. So creating her character, I thought it would be fun to have her as an undercover detective, someone has a unique skill set that would be valuable in Matt’s current investigation.

Well, by the time I finished writing the book, I knew Kara had to return. I just loved her character and felt she had the most growth to do in the series, plus would provide a different perspective to the crimes because of her background. I didn’t know even after I finished writing the book how or why she was going to be on loan to the FBI, I had to sit on that for a few days until I worked out something that made sense to me. 

5. How do you decide which books become a series versus a stand alone story?

This is a great question!

For me, all stories — stand alone or series — start with character. Without compelling, interesting, and complex characters, the story falls flat.

In a series, the characters must be interesting enough that readers will want to revisit them and see them in different situations. This is why police procedurals and amateur sleuths truly lend themselves to series books. You like the world, the characters, how they grow over time and want to revisit them over and over and see what’s going on in that world. The same way, I think, television viewers like favorite shows. The plots are interesting and often twisty, but readers (or viewers) really return to find out what happens to the people we’ve grown to love and hate and worry about. 

So when I have an idea that is predominately character based — a team of FBI agents, for example — I focus on making those people as real and authentic as possible with an eye toward how they are going to grow and develop over multiple stories. I still want to have a strong plot — so I put them in situations or solving cases that are dangerous or interesting. By the end of the book, I want my characters to learn something about the team or themselves, to grow in some way, however small it might be. I want the series books to stand alone — so new readers can find the books in the middle of the series — while also giving regular readers a character growth arc from book to book.

For a stand alone, while characters are ALWAYS going to be important, they are there for one story only. They need to have a complete character arc from beginning to end so that the reader is fully satisfied at the story conclusion. Plot is important in both types of stories, but in a stand alone the situation/plot provides a stronger framework and backbone than in a series. There is often a universal theme that resonates, that is in some ways bigger than the story itself. Stand alones, at least for me, are about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances — so readers wouldn’t expect those characters to return in a different story.


ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over thirty novels. She has been nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets.

Connect with Allison Brennan:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads