by: Rhea Rhodan
Genre: Romantic Suspense w/ a Fantasy twist
Release Date: March 4, 2016
Publisher: Rhea Rhodan
When fantasy and reality collide, only love can be believed.
Shattered by a brutal attack and forced to flee, painfully withdrawn Dr. Prudence Marsh buries her emotions under numbing logic. For years, her escapes to a fantasy world created to survive her hellish past have been nothing more than a guilty pleasure. But when the host of the safe house turns out to be a dead ringer for her dream warrior, she fears she’s lost her precious mind along with everything else.
Ex-SEAL Max Delaney has been known to dabble in a hot, delicious mess—or two, or three. He has no idea how to handle a cold, sour one. Blackmailed into babysitting Dr. Marsh in his hidden bunker while she finishes a top-secret project sucks. Until he falls for her. Then it blows. Every clue Max unravels buys him more questions. Every step forward lands him two steps back, flat on his ass.
Demons past, present, and future haunt Max and Prudence as they stumble along the twisting path to love. Merciless enemies and shifting alliances drive both to desperate measures, tumbling them over the border between shadow and substance—where each must choose what, and whom, to believe.
He whispered praise in her ear, “That’s it. Now don’t you feel better?”
She shivered in response, though her hands at his back had warmed. He smiled into the fresh scent of her hair and wrapped her more tightly in his arms. She was his now; even if she didn’t know it yet.
With firm, subtle pressure, he brought her head to rest on his shoulder. Her hands tightened around him, then, finally, her body relaxed fully into his.
Her sigh was what did him in, what scrambled his brain and sent the jolt to his heart, then racing lower, hotter. He swallowed hard. Patience was suddenly a whole lot scarcer than it had been a minute ago.
The Balconies. Any one of the half dozen private patios facing the ocean would do. Each of the double doors was chaperoned by a broad back discreetly turned from the couples enjoying the seclusion they offered. It was one of the unique and best features of the club.
With experienced ease, he guided his plunder across the dance floor to the nearest unoccupied one. “You’re a bit flushed. Would you like some ocean air? The view is great.”
She blushed and murmured something indistinct he chose to take as assent. Another covert tip and nod to the bouncer—the same one who’d been at the VIP gate, still wearing the frown—and their path was clear.
The moon cast a diamond-strewn path across the water and glimmered in her depths of her eyes. He wanted to climb into that fire and stay there until Judgment Day.
After a few gulps of the salty night air, she said, “Thank you, Mr. Delane. I’m afraid the effects of the alcohol may have—”
“It’s Delaney." He squeezed her hand. “Calling me Max would solve the problem, you know."
“I’m still not certain I’m comfortable—”
“We can’t have that. I want you very comfortable.” He kept his voice low and soothing, ran his hands up her tantalizingly bare arms to cup her face. She gasped at his touch, her eyes widened and her lips parted.
He’d meant the kiss to be subdued, a simple brushing of mouths, and that’s how it started. But he couldn’t stop what followed. Couldn’t keep his hand from gripping the back of her head; holding it at the best angle for his access; from tracing her lips with his tongue and gently opening her mouth to accept it; prevent his other hand from roaming between the cool satin of her hair and the warm silk of her dress to the swell of her sweet, tight ass; squeezing it, and pulling her close. Close enough for her to feel the rock hard extent of his hunger. Close enough for him to feel the moist heat of hers—God help him with what control he had left.
Her arms circled his waist, her delicate, surprisingly strong hands pressed into his back, stroked, pulled at him in helpless, inexperienced little tugs that made him want to push up her dress and set her on the railing, wrap those long legs around his waist, and—
“Please, Delane.” The desperate ache in her plea squeezed him like a fist and echoed all the way to his toes. He shook with the effort to clamp down on his lust.
“‘Max.’ Say it, Prue. Say it and I’ll take you to paradise, sweetheart. C’mon,” he whispered it into her ear, then nipped it tenderly. Understanding why he needed that particular surrender wasn’t important, winning it was.
He slipped the hand on her ass under her dress, ran his finger under the lace of her panties, reached to stroke the hot velvet, teasing her, driving himself to the knife edge of desire.
A warning rush of overused air boxed his ears a few seconds before a shrill voice pierced them. “There you are, Max, darling! I thought this was our balcony. Remember? A couple of weeks ago we…”
Bam. Just like that, Prue froze in his arms. He opened his eyes and saw the shutters slam over hers, dousing the lighthouse, leaving him at sea in empty darkness.
Hi, Rhea. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
Hi, Kim. Delighted to be here, thank you.
You’re welcome. Your latest book, Melting Shadows, features a damaged heroine who loses herself into a fantasy world and a hero who’s a disillusioned womanizer. When I read the blurb, I kept wondering how this was going to work. What can you tell me about the book, which isn’t in the blurb?
Prudence has turned her fantasies into a series of books. She’s writing the latest during the course of the story. How that ties into the plot, readers will discover along the way. I will say that Max’s resemblance to Prince Delane, her fantasy lover, works against him at the outset.
Hmm. That sounds interesting. What can you tell me about Dr. Prudence Marsh?
I’m glad you asked, rather than attempting to interview her. (smile) Prudence is a complex and difficult character. Intensely introverted—whether by nature or nurture—she uses logic to create order in a life she had little control over up until six years before the start of the book. Inexperience with social situations and an utter lack of self-esteem make her seem prickly to Max. That she’s still in shock when she meets him only aggravates the situation.
Tell me about Ex-SEAL Max Delaney. What is he disillusioned about and why does he feel the need to have a hidden bunker?
The bunker is a feature of the house Max enjoys, a really cool “man cave.”
Max got booted from the Navy after being nearly gutted in a rogue op rescuing civilians. Dividing his time between women and side jobs as a forensic hacker for the admiral has kept him busy, if not—as he admits to himself the first time we meet him—content. During the same conversation, he’s struck by the admiral’s blatant manipulation and callousness.
I did not see that description of Max coming at all. I’m fascinated by the idea of Dr. Marsh losing herself to a fantasy world she’s created, only to find the man in her fantasy is real. Since she’s already withdrawn does this discovery make her more or less withdrawn?
Definitely more. She almost faints the first time she sees him. And the harder she’s forced to question her sanity, the more she draws on logic as a defense.
How or why did you decide to take your romantic suspense and add a little fantasy to it?
I write because I tell myself stories, which I’ve done since before I could read. All of them contain an element of fantasy or paranormal, some with suspense or mystery. So it’s no surprise my books do too.
Finding Grace, my debut novel, is a contemporary romance with a paranormal aspect (the heroine gets visions and ends up working for a security outfit). My second book, The Legacy of Buchanan’s Crossing, is a contemporary fantasy (the heroine is a witch, the hero in full denial of it). My two works-in-progress are a fantasy with a strong romantic element and a time-travel romance.
PNR authors usually say they love writing PNR because they have the ability to create a whole other world. In Melting Shadows you created Dr. Marsh’s fantasy world, but you also had to deal with the “real” world. Did you face any challenges keeping the two world on an even path, until it was time to merge them?
The issue was more with pace and timing, when to interrupt the real world with a tidbit of fantasy. The stories fed each other as they came to me, so no plotting problems arose. I did have fun with secondary character names, and some trouble keeping them straight.
I’m an author who respects the imagination of my readers and therefore resists the urge to over-describe settings. I’d rather hold their attention with more complex plots and character development. Even in fantasy books, I only build worlds far enough to support the characters, plot, and maintain continuity.
What about this book surprised you and had you thinking to yourself, “I didn’t see that coming.”?
Lots of little things cropped up along the way, like the ending, lol. But seriously, when I began the original rough draft, I had no idea Blackridge Security would make an appearance, much less offer a secondary characters. I often write scenes, even large chunks, of a manuscript out of sequence. So it truly did surprise me when the old crew decided they wanted a piece of the action.
You have amazing reviews for this book. One reviewer noted horrific scenarios and gory elements. Is this a book not for the faint at heart?
Thank you! I’d love more, of course. (smile) Honest reviews are a tremendous boon to authors and readers.
As for the gore-factor, I’ve certainly read romantic suspense with more graphic violence, but Melting Shadows is definitely not a cozy mystery. The very first chapter, which introduces us to Prudence and why she had to flee (and is short), should give readers an idea of the worst they can expect. The first two-plus chapters are available free on my website here: http://www.rhearhodan.com/melting-shadows-excerpt.html.
I urge your readers, especially those sensitive to violence, to invest five minutes to check them out before hitting the Buy button. What all authors want most is for their baby to find its audience, the last is to attract readers who will be disappointed.
I read the chapters. They definitely have piqued my interest. How does Finding Grace tie into Melting Shadows?
I hadn’t planned on writing a sequel to Finding Grace, and I still don’t consider Melting Shadows one. Neither Max nor Prudence appeared in it and Melting Shadows isn’t about Blackridge. However, fans of Finding Grace will get to see the heroine and hero, Dagger and Thorne, in a couple of chapters, and even more of Farley and Mills, two other members of the Blackridge crew. For those who missed Finding Grace, Melting Shadows offers an opportunity to meet them.
Okay, Rhea. I’m going to stop my questions here. If I don’t, I will go on and on. Thank you so much of for the interview.
Thank you, Kim, for your excellent interview questions! I truly appreciate you taking the time to develop them specifically for this book. You really made me work for this one. (smile) I hope your readers have a better idea now what to expect from Melting Shadows.
I definitely do. Thank you again.
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Award-winning author Rhea Rhodan resides in Minnetonka, Minnesota. She’s been telling herself stories since long before she learned to write. She attended the University of Minnesota with a focus on Journalism, then Brown Institute for Broadcast Journalism. After many adventures, misadventures, and a couple of short marriages, she found the love of her life in Regensburg, Germany, and has been living happily ever after since.
She journaled those adventures extensively (some might say rabidly) beginning in middle school, but didn't combine her writing and story-telling until several years ago, when one of the stories grabbed her by the throat and shook her like a rag doll until she gave in and wrote it. Having tasted freedom, her muse refuses to return to the confines of her head, and has successfully turned the tables, keeping her at the keyboard to appease it.
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