Shannon here: Kelly Irvin shares insight into her characters’ romance with an excerpt of their first meeting. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy of her latest Romantic Suspense, Her Every Move. Deadline: March 6th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Kelly:
When opposites attract by Kelly Irvin
I’ve read a few of the reviews for Her Every Move and more than one reader has suggested Jackie Santoro and Detective Avery Wick are an unlikely couple. So unlikely as to make their romance awkward or unrealistic. That observation makes me smile to myself. It’s no secret that opposites attract. If they didn’t, my husband and I would never have married. We did so after knowing each other for three months and we’ve been married 33 years as of February 14.
My husband likes action-adventure movies. I like deep, impactful films. He’s a hardcore classic rock afficionado. I favor country music and my favorite radio station is KLOVE, the Christian music station. I love reading fiction and have a TBR pile that overflows. Tim never reads fiction. In fact, the only reading he does is computer manuals and tutorials when needed. Tim is a social butterfly who loves to hang out with friends, socialize, and he’s the life of the party. I’m an introvert who prefers solitude and tries to avoid parties whenever possible.
Yet we’ve been happily married all these years. He still makes me laugh. He cooks for me. He takes care of me as I fight cancer and a motor neuron disease and mend after a fall that resulted in a fractured hip. We find programs and movies we both like and enjoy kicking back in the evening to watch them together. We both love the ocean and visiting our grandchildren. He likes to cook. I like to eat. It works for us.
Which brings me back to Jackie and Avery. Jackie is a librarian. She loves books. She loves reading. She adores libraries. Avery doesn’t even have a library card. He’s ten years older than she is, divorced, and a fast-food aficionado. He has rescue dogs. She has cats. He’s a homicide detective with reason to believe Jackie may be a suspect in a bombing that killed five people. She’s determined to find the person who killed her best friend and make him pay.
Yet, there’s a spark that can’t be denied. And it isn’t just chemistry. Because we all know that chemistry can fade over time. There has to be something deeper, something stronger, that binds two people together for life.
In the midst of surviving bomb blasts and trying to catch a killer before he murders more innocent people, Jackie and Avery haven’t had a chance to find out if they can forge that deeper relationship. But there’s a sense that walking away without trying would be a travesty. They both love basketball. They love their families. They love their jobs and believe in giving 110 percent to them. They love animals.
So they take a chance. They play basketball together. And it’s as romantic as dinner at a five-star restaurant. Jackie gives Avery a gift. I won’t share what it is because that would spoil it. But it shows how much she values him. Not that she wants to change him, but that she wants to share the things she loves with him.
So, yes, they’re different. But that can be a good thing. A very good thing.
Excerpt from Her Every Move by Kelly Irvin:
When Jackie and Avery meet for the first time:
Finding a cop was no problem. Getting him to stop long enough to listen proved more challenging. Jackie approached the uniformed officer standing guard outside the command center. He had his spiel down. “Wait. They’re interviewing everyone. They’ll get to you as soon as they can, ma’am.”
“I may have important information—”
“Everyone is anxious to get out of here, ma’am. Have a seat. They’ll get to you as soon as they can. They’ve got more than eight hundred witnesses to process. Have a cup of coffee. The Red Cross is bringing in sandwiches.”
He was trying so hard to be kind. Jackie stuffed a sock in her impatience. First responders and law enforcement saw the worst of the worst—just as she had this day.
She trudged toward the chairs again. A lanky, scruffy-looking man in street clothes and a Windbreaker emblazoned with SAPD across the back brushed past her, headed the same direction. “Excuse me, are you interviewing witnesses?”
He glanced back and stopped. The irritated expression faded. “If you’ve been triaged, ma’am, you can wait in the area set up by Victim Assistance. We’ll get to you as soon as we can.”
“I know that. Please listen to me.” Jackie fought to bring her voice down a notch. He didn’t need a hysterical witness right now. “I have information that might be important to give to you now rather than later.”
“Who are you?”
“Jackie Santoro, the adult collections coordinator at the Central Library. I helped plan this event.”
“You don’t look like a librarian.”
Jackie got that a lot. She didn’t understand it. Librarians came in all shapes and sizes. “Sorry I don’t meet your expectations.”
“Don’t apologize. It’s been a day for everyone.”
His assessment of the day was spot-on, even if he didn’t catch her sarcasm. “Do you want to take my statement or not? Officer—”
“It’s detective. Detective Avery Wick. SAPD Homicide Unit. I’d be happy to take your statement.” He glanced around, then took her arm.
Surprise washed through Jackie, followed by sudden warmth. He had a steely grip—one a person could count on—and he hadn’t hesitated to reach out. It had been a long time since someone did that for her.
He guided her to the curb. “Someone who volunteers to share information is either innocent or trying to look that way.”
So much for warmth. Detective Avery’s prickly pear persona reasserted itself.
Anger could be a tonic under the right circumstances. Jackie’s bubbled up. She tugged her arm free. “I was one of a team of people who planned this event. One of my best friends died in there.” She pointed to the Tobin Center. “What possible motive would I have to set off a bomb in the middle of my event?”
“Sit down, please.” Detective Wick’s assessing gaze ran over Jackie from head to toe and back. A shiver ran through her that had nothing to do with the cold. It felt as he could see through her. He smiled—a grim, sardonic half smile. “Give me a minute. I’m sure I can come up with a motive.”
Before Jackie could introduce herself, he walked away, leaving her with her mouth open and her entire body shaking.
He returned a minute later with a blanket and a cup of coffee. Jackie wrapped the blanket around her hunched shoulders automatically. It wouldn’t help, but his offer was so unexpected in light of his last words, she couldn’t refuse.
“Here, drink this.” He held out a Styrofoam cup filled with steaming liquid. “You look frozen.”
Did this man have multiple personalities? “Bless you.” Her words came out in a croak. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Thank you.”
Her hands shook so hard the hot liquid spilled over the edges, burning her fingers. “Ouch. Sorry.”
“Stop apologizing.” Detective Wick cupped his hands around hers and steadied them. Again, with the touch. “You’re in shock. Why weren’t you transported to Baptist or one of the other downtown hospitals?”
“I’m not hurt, not physically.” Her voice didn’t quiver. For that small victory she was grateful. “I refused to be transported. Or treated.”
She wasn’t leaving until Estrella did.
“Not hurt. They’re overwhelmed as it is.”
“We’re doing preliminary interviews . . .”
His big hands covered Jackie’s completely. She closed her eyes, concentrating on how real and firm they were. He had a callus on his thumb. His fingers were strong. Finally, the shaking stopped.
“You’re not going to pass out on me, are you?”
She opened her eyes to find him leaning so close his scent of cinnamon gum and citrusy aftershave filled her nose. After the stench of blood, excrement, and burned rubber, it was comforting. So was his angular face filled with a mixture of concern at war with barely tethered impatience.
Jackie leaned away from his space. “Absolutely not. I’ve got it—the coffee, I mean.”
His hands dropped. The warmth dissipated. She swallowed against sobs. No more tears. Estrella would not want tears. She would want action. She deserved action. “Did they find the remnants of the explosive device? Do they know how it was triggered?”
Detective Wick looked up from the narrow notebook he’d tugged from the hip pocket of his Dockers. “You said you had important information. Let’s start with that.”
Once she told him about the bag, her opportunity to get information from the detective would be gone. “Were there any unexploded devices found?”
Impatience spread across his face, his effort to muzzle it obvious. “The bomb squad cleared the hall before search and recovery began. Let me ask the questions, if you don’t mind.”
Everyone knew that. The other first responders wouldn’t have been allowed in otherwise. Search and recovery. “One of the victims is—was—my best friend Estrella Diaz.”
Detective Wick’s pale-blue eyes studied her so intently, he squinted. “I’m sorry about your friend. This has to be the worst day of your life. The faster we get all the facts, the faster we can track down the monster who did this. Okay?”
Another day came close, but Detective Wick didn’t need to know that. They were on the same page, even if he chose not to share information with her. “Won’t the ATF and the FBI have jurisdiction? How does SAPD figure in?”
“You ask a lot of questions.” The crow’s feet around his eyes and the lines around his mouth deepened. He sucked in a long breath and let it out. “Contrary to what you see on TV, the Feds don’t come in and take over. They assist. There’ll be a joint task force. But you can be sure we’ll be leading the charge with one of our own dead. Chief Little—”
“Chief of Police Little is dead?” Confirmation of the city manager’s words. Body bag number five. The chief, dressed in street clothes, had been sitting near the front with his wife—right behind the city manager and his spouse. The Littles had four kids, all still young enough to live at home. “I’m so sorry for your loss. Did his wife survive?”
“Yes, but she’s in critical condition. We want the monster who did this for the sakes of all the victims, but this one is personal.”
Estrella would be relegated to the also killed paragraph of every news story written about this incident. After the biographies and quotes collected from the peers of Councilman Sandoval, Chief Little, and Milton Schaeffer. That was fine if it meant law enforcement went after the killer with every resource available to them because of the intense public scrutiny that came with their lofty status in the community.
“You said you had something important to tell me.”
She held the coffee close, concentrating on its warmth. “There was a backpack left on the front row. I found it.”
Any hint of cordiality disappeared from his rugged face. “You found it? When?”
About Kelly: Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of 28 books, including romantic suspense and Amish romance. Publishers Weekly called Closer Than She Knows “a briskly written thriller.” The Library Journal said of her novel Tell Her No Lies, “a complex web with enough twists and turns to keep even the most savvy romantic suspense readers guessing until the end.” The two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband professional photographer Tim Irvin in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.
About the book – Her Every Move:
He’s a cop trying to stop a serial bomber. And she’ll stop at nothing to clear her own name.
When a deadly bomb goes off during a climate change debate, librarian and event coordinator Jackie Santoro becomes the prime suspect. Her motive, according to Detective Avery Wick: to avenge the suicide of her prominent father, who was accused of crimes by a city councilman attending the event.
Though Avery has doubts about Jackie’s guilt, he can’t exonerate her even after an extremist group takes responsibility for the bombing and continues to attack San Antonio’s treasured public spaces.
As Jackie tries to hold her shattered family together, she has no choice but to proceed with plans for the Caterina Ball, the library system’s biggest annual fundraiser. But she also fears the event provides the perfect opportunity for the bomber to strike again.
Despite their mistrust, Jackie and Avery join forces to unmask the truth—before the death toll mounts even higher.
Bestseller Kelly Irvin is back with a nail-biting romantic suspense where nothing is certain until the very last page.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Get your copy now!
Question for Readers: Are the important people in your life opposite or similar to you?
Come back March 2nd for Susan Page Davis!