Author of the Series: The Phoenix Agency
Release Date: February 28, 2020
Publisher: Desiree Holt
Genre/Sub-Genre: Romantic Suspense
“This guy is like a phantom.”
Dan nodded. “That’s what Brian called him, although he also called him Darkman. It feels like that’s exactly what he is. He comes and goes in the darkness. No one ever sees him, and he leaves no trace. There’s no rhyme or reason for any of these deaths. And one other thing.”
Dan lifted an eyebrow. “Yeah? What’s that?”
“In each case that we know about, he took a souvenir. A piece of jewelry that a friend or family member says the victim always wore, even to bed. A watch. A ring. An identification bracelet. So it’s absence was picked up on right away by whoever made the formal identification.” He shook his head. “It prolongs the sensation of the crime, validates what he or she has done.”
“Sick.” J. T. lifted his water glass and took a healthy swallow as if washing a bitter taste from his mouth. ‘And you think there might be more?”
“I haven’t had time yet to do a search and Brian’s tied up with another disaster. Plus, his boss said he should ask Interpol to do the looking.”
“I imagine he’s not too happy with that.”
Dan shook his head. “The local police only want the FBI sticking their noses in if it can be proved this is part of a national crime spree. His boss says let Interpol come back to them with more international information before Brian starts wasting everyone’s time on unrelated events. They’re already swamped as it is.“
“So I’m guessing this is how you got involved.”
Dan nodded. “I owe him a big favor he did for one of our clients. I talked to my partners and they all agreed I should at least give it a shot. Hence, the trip to Tampa. I’m headed to meet Brian in the coroner’s office after this.”
“I’m also guessing it was a no-brainer,” J.T. said,” because no one was getting anywhere with this. It has to be a political hot potato, and that, apparently, is right up your alley.”
“True that.” Dan nodded. “And if there turns out to be more international incidents, the fact that we operate well in the dark is a big plus.” He paused. “And one more thing. This is very sensitive and actually makes me sick to think of it. Brian and the detective in Colorado think the killer may be former military. The planning of the mission, the precision of killing all speak to some military training.”
“God damn it.” J. T. smacked his hand on the desk. “What is it with the people who always want to blame the military.”
“For some, it’s an easy answer.” Dan rubbed his jaw. “In this case, they may be right. Every kill smacks of someone trained to handle a knife in combat and swiftly and cleanly kill the enemy. I think that’s another reason Phoenix was brought in. The military angle. Someone probably thought I’d recognize the technique. Or whatever.”
“Fuck.” J. T. swallowed his anger. That wouldn’t get them anywhere. “Did you manage to find anything yet as far as Cote’s death is concerned?”
Dan shook his head. “Nada. I spent the entire day yesterday going over his home office, where the body was found, as well as the house itself and his office at the foundation. I had his desktop computer and his tablet and phone shipped overnight to Andy. We’ll see if he finds anything buried in there. Then this morning I was at the morgue checking the body. I know the local cops and the FBI went over it with a microscope, but another pair of eyes never hurts. I’m telling you, J.T., it’s a big fucking mystery. As if some supernatural being blew in like smoke and drifted out again.”
J.T. lifted an eyebrow. “I know your wives all have psychic abilities, and Phoenix uses them when they fit the situation, but this is a little off-the-wall even for you.”
Dan rubbed his forehead. “No kidding. But it’s driving me nuts. This is fourteen such murders in four years. They’re all over the place, different cities, different countries. I still believe Andy can find a pattern.”
OOOH! It looks good! Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce to you the very lovely and talented, Desiree Holt. Welcome, Desiree! Let’s start out with you telling the readers a little something about yourself.
I’m a genuine senior citizen writing hot romantic suspense and I love it. I have 3 wonderful offspring who support my efforts one hundred percent.
That is fantastic! Families really do make the best support system! How did you choose your genre?
Actually it chose me. I grew up reading Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie, etc., then moved on to Mary Higgins Cark and Dell Shannon. But it was “Cry No More,” by Linda Howard that really set my path.
And what inspired this particular story?
I hadn’t written anything in The Phoenix Agency for 5 years and my readers were screaming, but I wanted a story where I could base the hero and heroine on two very important people in my life. Like a lot of other plots, it came to me as I was outlining the characters.
How do you choose the names and physical characteristics of your characters? Do you base them on real people?
I definitely base my characters on real people. They are what inspire me. Sometimes I do it as a tribute, sometimes because I meet them and they smack me right in the brain. That makes the physical characteristics easy. Choosing name? I use a wonderful web site and search until I find names that ring a bell in my mind.
I love coming up with names and threading reality with the story. Sometimes you get someone that recognizes themselves in the character. So, how much of this book is realistic?
How the hero, a former SEAL performs and the psychic ability of the heroine. Also, the setting is real. And I am privileged to be good friends with a man who was a SEAL for 20 years, and who inspired this line to the heroine:
“Don’t worry. I’m a former SEAL and we handle sixteen kinds of shit before breakfast.”
LOL! That’s great! Let’s switch gears… What’s one thing that your readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I went ziplining over Copper Canyon outside Las Vegas…and I am afraid of heights.
I did that once too, in Hawaii. I’m also terrified of heights and was shaking so bad afterward, my husband took me to do shots! What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?
Writing the first chapter!
Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
Oh, Lots! Another Rawhide book, Protecting Arizona (Defender series), Zero Hour (Heroes rising series), a new series, Galaxy, about 4 Special forces friends who leave the military and start a charter airline which is really a cover for a covert ops agency. And a few other surprises!
Holy cow! You are going to be busy! What do you do for fun, besides writing?
Watch football, play poker, spend time with family and friends.
We need another excerpt from, Unexpected Risk!
The silver sedan cut a sharp corner as it turned right, nearly hitting Janet Rodman where she stood at the curb, waiting for the traffic light to change.
“Hey!” she shouted even though she knew the driver couldn’t hear her. “Watch it, you idiot.”
Just what she needed. One more thing to deal with. As if an extended case of the flu wasn’t bad enough. It had sapped her energy and lingered until she was sure it would never end, and she still wasn’t 100 percent recovered. She’d had to use up all her sick days at work and missed the end of the school year, which disappointed her. It was especially sad since the private school where she taught was closing, and she’d missed saying goodbye to her students. The thought of looking for another job was depressing her.
She was a virtual prisoner in her apartment for weeks while she battled the flu, her sickness also affecting the shields she needed desperately to control her psychic “gift” as an intuitive empath. Gift, she thought. What a poor description. Picking up information about people simply by being around them drove her nuts. Having insight, often knowing if they were lying or telling the truth because she could sense the intentions behind their words was a burden as much as anything else. And worse, she could sense evil darkness around people, often a frightening experience.
Today the past seemed to be riding with her, damn it. She had struggled with the condition for years. To her, the label “gift” was a complete misnomer. Absorbing everything, getting into people’s minds, feeling their emotions as if they were her own was more of a curse, and often made going into public places a challenge. It wasn’t always pleasant being in the midst of people whose emotions were out of control, bombarding her like so many bullets.
Things worsened when she discovered she had tinges of other empathetic traits, something a psychic she consulted told her was not all that unusual. She found that she could sometimes tell whether people were lying or if they were telling the truth. Not always but more often than she liked. That made it even harder to be around them. People lying and cheating, the blackness in their souls surrounding her, sapped her energy.
She had spent some time studying psychic abilities when she’d first discovered hers after an accident. One thing she learned was that they are all different and no two people with the same ability are exactly alike. They can change, morph, blend, any number of things. It was bad enough, she’d thought, to have one ability, but to have it mixed with another and sometimes change gave her a headache. It often took every bit of personal discipline just to get through a day.
When she discovered she could feel other people’s emotions and thoughts not just when she was near them but also remotely, it put her in a difficult situation. A child had gone missing and there were no clues as to who had taken her or where they held her. But the thoughts and emotions of the kidnapper had bombarded her until she felt she had to do something.
The police, of course, laughed at her when she brought her information to them, but at that point they were willing to do anything to find the little girl. Despite the fact they looked at her with a healthy dose of skepticism, they brought the person in for questioning that she identified. Eventually, he broke down and confessed, in time for them to find the child still alive. After that, albeit reluctantly, she was asked to assist them now and then. She warned them that it didn’t always work but they were willing to take the chance in difficult cases.
But after that, she had done her best to build walls against remote sensations.
Being a teacher, surrounded by kids all day, of course had taken some discipline on her part. She really didn’t want to know if the kids were lying or telling the truth except in extreme situations. It colored her interaction with them and affected her teaching. but the fact that she loved teaching so much had overcome a lot of that. She had no idea what she was going to do next, what kind of situation she could handle. Not all classrooms gave her positive energy, so she had to be careful.
She’d had to work extra hard to create the barriers against an intuition she wished to hell she didn’t have. That didn’t control it completely but at least it most of the time was bearable and she could pretend she was a normal person. Still, she was left with an inherent distrust of people. What made it worse was that it didn’t always work right away. There had been times in her life when she’d trusted a person only to discover they had their own shields which blocked their ugly nature. She was still trying to figure out how to balance it all out.
It certainly made dating difficult. To say her love life was minuscule was actually exaggerating. It also made for a lot of loneliness. Friends were great, at least the ones she chose carefully, but they didn’t take the place of having that someone special in your life. And solitary sex wasn’t near what it was cracked up to be.
The current situation, however, made her take a hard look at her life, which, she had to admit with a sigh, was going nowhere. No job, no love life, no…anything. She was at a crossroads, with no idea what she wanted to do anymore, and just thinking about it exhausted her. Being an empath made it difficult to be in places where she was assaulted by other people’s emotions. She gotten better and better at insulating herself, not always being affected people like she used to, but being sick had weakened her, and…
Okay, she told herself. Enough of this.
Where can we purchase Unexpected Risk?
Favorite movie: The Hunt For Red October
Best place you’ve visited: Padre Island, Texas
Place you’d like to visit: Montana
Favorite food: pizza
Favorite drink: Jack Daniel’s
Sports team: Michigan Wolverines
Oxford comma, yes or no? Maybe!!
Pen or pencil? Pen
Favorite music? Pop rock
Coffee or tea? Tea
What does your desk look like? A mess!
What is your writing vice or must-haves? Notebook, pens, hot tea/ice water, post-its
Plotter or pantser? Pantser, definitely
Mac or PC? PC
Favorite dessert? Tiramisu
Jamie Fraser (Outlander) or Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades)? Jamie Fraser
You have a time travel machine. Where and when? The Wild West in the 1800s
Are you earth, wind, fire or water? Definitely water. I cry at parades!
Thank you so much Desiree for coming on #AuthorSpotlight. BTW, I love all your beautiful cats (one I couldn’t upload).
I am inspired daily by my three cats, who “help” me write and enrich my life, now that I am back living alone again. They are fun, adventurous (even if they are 16 years old) and do things that keep my mind active.
So sweet! Do you have any parting thoughts as we say farewell?
I love all my readers. If not for them I’d just be writing in a room by myself. I love their feedback, their generosity of spirit, the affection they show me, the influence they have on my life, the special things they do for me. They make me want to keep writing forever.
Where can we find you?
Google: https://g.co/kgs/6vgLUu www.desireeholt.com www.desiremeonly.com
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USA Today best-selling and award-winning author Desiree Holt writes everything from romantic suspense and paranormal to erotic. She has been referred to by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance and is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications.