Smoke and Ashes
Montana Heroes Series, Book One
by Danica Winters
Genre: Romantic Suspense * Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Date of Publication: May 1, 2016
Number of pages: 224 * Word Count: 50-55k
Cover Artist: Harlequin Intrigue
Montana's bravest…and hottest
With a mysterious arsonist on the loose in Missoula, fire inspector Kevin Jensen saves more than Heather Sampson's house. The sexy single father rescues her from an abusive marriage—and discovers his own past failures don't have to rule his life. Especially when sparks between him and Heather ignite irresistible desire.
But who's the arsonist? Why target Heather? What's his shocking motive? When Heather faces off with him in a brutal attack, she needs her "white knight" as much as he needs her. Both have looked into their souls and risked their broken hearts for each other. Now Kevin will have to risk his life and his heart.
Talking with author Danica Winters!
When did you decide to become a writer? Why?
When I was young I, like so many people, found solace in reading. When things were hard, I could always turn to a book.
Books have influenced my life in so many ways that it seemed like a natural progression to turn my love of reading and imagining other worlds into writing and creating a safe place where readers could go to find their escape—and to always walk away with a feeling of hope.
What are some of your favorite authors/books?
That’s a tough question. That’s like picking a favorite kind of chocolate, but I always love Jodi Picoult’s books. Her writing is poignant and deep, and it always touches on the moral ambiguity of real life.
I also love B.J. Daniels’ work. She is not only a wonderful writer, but a beautiful person.
Have you written a book where the ending surprised you?
The endings always surprise me. I have become a plotter over the years, and even though I know how I want to end the books, how things play out is completely up to the characters. So often I feel like I’m simply writing down what my characters want me to put on the page. I’m simply the scribe and they are the muse.
Can readers find you at any Author/Reader conventions in the near future?
I just back from the RT Convention in Las Vegas. I’m going to be at Emerald City Writers Conference, the Montana Book Festival, and next year I will be attending the RWA Conference in Walt Disney World and possibly the RT Convention in Denver.
I love talking to fans and book lovers, so if you are going to be at one of these events please make sure to stop by and visit. J I’m a chatty cowgirl/nerd… so be prepared!
If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
I am DYING to go to Ireland. I went to school for archeology, and have a love of history. I would love to see the mounds and do a hiking tour of the numerous archeological sites of the Emerald Isle.
What is your favorite scene in your new release?
I love the beginning of the book (and the lawyer’s office scene). Here’s the prologue (I hope you can tell why I love it so much!):
He looked down at Heather Sampson as he pulled the matchbox from his pocket. The box dropped from his hand, spilling matches on her bedroom floor in a heap of deadly promise. Crouching down, he scooped them back into the container, careful to move quietly, afraid that at any second she would awaken and find him standing over her.
Her eyes were closed and her lips slightly parted, as if she waited for a kiss from her Prince Charming. She should have known better. There was no such thing as Prince Charming. There were only toads and a precious few men like him—men who worked to make everything just.
The sad truth was that there was no justice in marriage—at least not in any of the marriages he had witnessed. No. Marriage was one lie after another. One hurt feeling masked with a fake smile, only to have another lie strip it away. It was an endless cycle of pain.
What was the point? What was it all for?
As far as he could tell, it was for nothing more than ego and some idealistic hope that if they acted happy, if they faked it well enough, maybe they could finally believe it themselves.
He was here to make her a martyr, not that she would understand, but this was his chance to show her and the world what her marriage truly was—nothing more than smoke and ashes. A fire that had yet to burn itself out. But at last the time had come. The hour was here for him to stoke the flames and let them consume every crumb of her failing marriage.
The inferno could have it all.
He walked out of her bedroom and made his way downstairs, where the glorious scent of gasoline filled the space. Unlike the others, Heather’s house would go up in a flash. In one giant fireball the whole charade would be over—the secrets, the lies, the fake smiles and hurt feelings. It would all be gone, and all her pain could be for a higher purpose.
The night air blew into the house, diluting the gas’s perfume. He made sure to leave the door open as he stepped out and walked toward the garage. A puddle of gas sat on the sidewalk, just waiting for him.
He struck the match.
It was so much easier this way.
The fire’s smoke curled skyward, creating a trail that led to the heavens. If he had his way, life would be better and she would be free.
What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?
I’m currently working on a variety of projects (as the books are in varying stages of the publishing process), but I most recently worked on two of the Montana Heroes series. It’s called Dust Up With the Detective and it’s being published by Harlequin Intrigue mid-September. It is a mass market paperback (and e-book) therefore it will be available through all major booksellers and online. (SO EXCITED!)
Dust Up With the Detective is about Jeremy Lawrence (the detective in Smoke and Ashes).
Here’s a peek at the “unofficial” blurb:
One bad decision can cost you your life…
When she was young, Blake West had been in a rush to escape the a mining town in Montana where she’d been born and raised; instead, a single decision left her with a child and dreams that are now nothing more than a distant memory.
To support her daughter, Blake has taken a job as a Sherriff’s Deputy. Her days are filled with little more than automobile accidents and drunken brawls until the day Detective Jeremy Lawrence’s brother goes missing.
Together Blake and Detective Lawrence must uncover the clues about his brother’s possible demise, all while keeping a safe distance from the feelings that surface between them. As the mystery unfolds, only one thing becomes clear—not everything is as it seems and sometimes, even in rural Montana, the bad guy wins.
Danica Winters is an Amazon bestselling author who has won multiple awards for writing books that grip readers with their ability to drive emotion through suspense and occasionally a touch of magic. Most recently, Danica was the winner of the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Paranormal Romantic Suspense Book of the Year Award and Chanticleer Media’s Paranormal Book of the Year for her novel Montana Mustangs. She is currently the finalist for the Chatelaine Award.
When she’s not working, she can be found in the wilds of Montana testing her patience while she tries to understand the allure of various crafts (quilting, pottery, and painting are not her thing). She always believes the cup is neither half full nor half empty, but it better be filled with wine.
Danica Winters is represented by Nicole Resciniti and Lane Heymont of the Seymour Agency.
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