- By Melisenda & Liam Patton
- Editions: eBook
- Published: May 26th, 2014
- Source: Review by Request
- Genre: Romantic Suspense
- In a Flutter: Sexy Action & Adventure!
Melissa’s a thief on the run – from her past and her present; from a bad relationship and a job gone desperately wrong – when she ends up in a small town in Colorado. Armed only with a duffel bag of worn clothes, a box of old photos and a broken Jimmy Choo sandal, the last thing she’s looking for is trouble – or love. But In a grocery store aisle, she meets…him. Jackson’s everything she’s running from. And everything she wants.
Jackson’s got some bad memories of his own that he’s trying to put behind him. He’s been living a quiet life in his cabin in the woods when he gets sent on an errand to pick up Melissa…and ends up in entangled both in international intrigue, and a powerful attraction to Melissa he can’t deny.
Two master thieves with everything to hide (but not much to lose) find themselves caught up in a situation beyond their control – a situation that draws them closer together than they could ever imagine. They have to travel halfway around the world, plan the perfect heist, save an endangered friend…and discover whether their damaged hearts are still capable of love.
A wonderful blend of action and adventure wrapped up in a steamy Romance.
Jackson & Melissa were complete strangers… They were keeping one hand on their concealed weapons, one eye on the other, and counting down the seconds until they could be free of each other.
Melissa is on the run and nursing a broken heart. Her ex-boyfriend almost managed to get her arrested on her last job and now she’s looking for a place to lay low… and it doesn’t get any lower than middle-of-nowhere Colorado where her friend, Sharise, has agreed to give her a safe house for a small fortune. But there’s a man at the rondevus point, an incredibly good looking man… Fight or Flight time.
Jackson has been retired from the game for a while. He doesn’t want an ounce of the trouble this gorgeous woman is obviously going to attract. His course is clear: transport Melissa to Sharise’s house, flip Sharise the bird, and go back to living his quiet life in his safe little cabin…
Fate (in the form of some very dangerous gangsters) has other plans.
As they crest the hill leading to Sharise’s house, they see it is surrounded by various forms of law enforcement… They’ve been tipped off. The two criminals have no choice but to flee together.
Turns out an old job has come back to haunt Melissa…
An object which was stolen must be stolen back…
Now they’re caught in the middle of two rival gangs. Their lives, and the life of their friend, hang in the balance. They will have to work together to pull off one last job. They’ll have to trust each other, and in their line of work, trust is hard-earned.
Their journey to pacify the gangsters will take them from rural Colorado to the seedy underbelly of Tokyo.
This book is a highly entertaining combination of:
& damn good sushi…
This is dual POV – Split between Jackson & Melissa… Made all the more interesting when one considers that this book was written by a husband and wife writing team!
If you like a little danger in your romance, and heroines who literally kick-ass, this is the book for you!
Everything I had strapped to me on the bus got thrown helter-skelter into my duffel bag when I took my clothes off earlier, before my shower and unsuccessful seduction attempt. My tired brain can’t remember where the hell I put the wallet that has ID and credit cards for this particular identity in it. I’m rummaging through my bag, looking for the wallet. All of a sudden, I can sense Jackson, standing behind me.
My hand closes on the right wallet. My eyes close. I don’t know if this is going to be a confrontation, or what, but I’m hoping he hasn’t come in here to chastise me for something.
I stand up and look at him, wallet in hand.
The look in his eyes is hard to read.
He clears his throat.
“I just want to say…” his voice trails off. “I want to tell you, I am not in any kind of relationship with Sharise. I wouldn’t have…there’s no way I would have kissed you like I did earlier, if I was. I don’t do that. I don’t believe in being unfaithful – especially when my partner’s in mortal danger.”
I just look at him.
“I understand this is a complicated situation that keeps getting more complicated,” Jackson says. “But I want to be clear about who I am, and just let you know – I’m here to help. If you’ll let me. That’s it.”
He looks down and turns to walk away. I cross the distance between us, and reach out for his hand. I bring it to my mouth, slowly. His eyes meet mine.
Everything – Sharise, Adrian, the gangsters, the statue, the fact that we’re going to have to fly halfway around the world tomorrow – falls away.
I turn his palm to my lips and kiss it, slowly, still looking into his eyes. His hand moves from my mouth, across my cheek, to the back of my head. He caresses my hair. I step in closer, closer. I can smell him. I want to taste him. Every part of him.
He seems happy to oblige.
His lips meet mine and the kiss starts slowly, at first, but gets more heated and frenzied quickly, faster than I could have imagined. We go from just barely touching, to pressed together, hard, in what feels like an instant. His hands are all over me – my back, my sides, my breasts, my ass, my thighs, like he wants to touch every part of me at once. My hands go over his chest, down his sides, across his back, down to the crotch of his jeans, again. I marvel – for the third time today – at the hot hardness on the other side of his zipper. Meanwhile, we are kissing like it’s going to be outlawed tomorrow – nibbling each other’s lips, flicking at each other’s tongues, exploring each other’s mouths with hot breaths mingled.
He reaches for the hem of my sweater and swiftly – barely breaking our kiss – pulls it off, over my head. The bra I have on is older, and fairly uninspired, but he doesn’t seem to care. He caresses my shoulders, and my back, before slowly moving one hand onto my left breast, and gently rubbing my nipple with his thumb. My nipple immediately stiffens. I moan, and I can feel him smile against my mouth.
Turnabout’s fair play, so I reach for the hem of his shirt and pull it off. He has great pecs, covered with just the right amount of chest hair. I move my mouth down his neck, and hear him gasp softly. Aaah. I’ve found one of his “spots.” I halt the progression of my mouth downward, and run my lips over his neck, flicking my tongue, nipping with my teeth, sucking gently in places. His breathing gets ragged.
Suddenly, I feel myself being pushed backwards. The bed is right behind me. I fall onto it, catching myself with my elbows, and look up at him.
He smiles at me, and reaches for the button on my jeans, undoing the button and the zipper quickly. He pulls the jeans, and my socks, off, bringing my feet to his chest. He plants soft kisses on my right ankle, while slowly running his hands up my legs. I bring my knees apart, slightly, invitingly.
He parts my legs farther and I can see him looking for something. He remembered. I might as well make it easy for him.
I move my right leg out further and brush my fingers against my right pussy lip. He leans in, gently pulling the elastic of my panties aside. I can see his eyes searching…and then he grins.
“I like this one,” he says. “And I do feel lucky to have gotten another chance to find it.”
“Good,” I say, smiling at him.
“What’s the story with this? I know there has to be one.” His finger gently strokes the tattoo – a tiny heart, high on my right labia.
I cover my eyes with one hand. “Honestly? A souvenir of a drunken night out with a bunch of friends. Everyone else was getting nipple or genital piercings – I wasn’t really feeling that, if you know what I mean. I decided on this instead. A guy I dated around that time, and dumped, told me my black heart was so tiny it almost couldn’t be found – I decided to take that idea, and run with it.”
“Tiny black heart, huh? What was his problem? Were you really that cruel to him, or was he just a drama queen?” Jackson’s brushing his fingers across my pussy in a way that’s making it very hard to concentrate.
“He was a poet, what can I say?” I gasp, as his fingertips brush my clit. Jackson brings my legs down, and gently pushes me towards the head of the bed.
He climbs over me as I move backwards on the bed, trailing kisses up my stomach to my breasts. He spends a long time – or what feels like a long time – kissing and caressing and nuzzling my breasts through my bra, before reaching behind me and undoing my bra strap in one motion, with one hand. He pulls the bra off, and stares for a minute. I giggle.
“You’re making me self-conscious,” I tell him.
“You shouldn’t be self-conscious,” Jackson says. “Your breasts are amazingly beautiful. I love looking at you, and at them.” With his fingertip, he traces gently around the perimeter of one breast, spiraling his fingertip to the nipple. I moan as he uses his fingertips – and just his fingertips – to play lazily with the nipple, watching it harden. Just as I feel that I can’t stand it much longer, he lowers his head and pulls the nipple into his mouth. His other hand goes to the other breast, flicking and rubbing and lightly pinching my other nipple. It feels amazing. He switches between breasts – sucking and licking and teasing first one nipple, then the other. His leg, still clad in jeans, is between my legs, and I realize I’m rubbing my pussy frantically against his thigh. The heat is building, and as he switches again, I realize I am really close to coming.
He raises his head and looks into my eyes. “You’re breathing so fast. Are you okay?”
“Yes,” I say. “I just…I need…”
He smiles, and rolls until he’s lying on his side, next to me. He slowly runs his hand down my abdomen, brushing his fingers over the front of my panties a couple of times, before slowly sliding two fingers into the elastic, and downward.
Q&A with Melisenda & Liam Patton
If you were to describe your book in only one word, what would it be?
What would you say inspired you to write it?
We are big readers, and have enjoyed reading the same books together over the years. We started talking about writing something together and from there, decided to write a story that contained elements of the kinds of books we always want to read – books where there is a real connection between two characters, lots of action and adventure, and – of course – some romance 🙂
What made you two decide to collaborate on this project?
We work in very different jobs in very different specialties – I work as a management consultant, and Liam is a computer programmer. Sometimes, we have a hard time talking to each other about our jobs – there’s not a lot of commonality of language, or the types of problems we solve, etc. We realized that writing a book together would be a fun and engaging project that would help us spend more time together and have something to talk about besides work!
Can you give us an idea of the division of labor?
It was pretty equal…I did some developmental and line editing as we went along, but we developed the story in tandem. We traded off writing different sections. Liam would critique my sections, and I would critique his.
What was your source of inspiration for Melissa? What about Jackson?
I was directly inspired by characters in romance and erotica novels I have read, who are obviously smart women, but often lacked independence, drive, and a certain amount of street smarts. I had always thought – what if you took this intelligent, beautiful woman and put her in a situation where, instead of becoming dependent on a love interest, she was the one calling the shots and driving a story forward? What if, instead of being a helpless, naïve flower without much life experience, the female protagonist was someone with a past – one that is informing her present, but isn’t dragging her backwards? I hope I was able to evoke that in Melissa. Liam says Jackson was inspired by the classic “strong, silent type” – the kind of guy you saw in old Clint Eastwood movies. But with an inner life and a great sense of humor.
How much research did you have to do on organized crime syndicates?
Liam wrote most of the material relating to the Triad gangsters in the book. He reads a lot of crime fiction and nonfiction and so already had some background knowledge we could tap into. Liam and I actually had traveled to Tokyo in 2005 on a joint business/personal trip, and so learned quite a bit about the Yakuza (Japanese gangsters) through that experience. 🙂
What was your first Erotica reading experience?
Mel – My aunt slipped me her old Harlequin romance novels when I was in high school – she favored historical romances, but would read anything. She was a ridiculously voracious reader and could finish five or more books in a week, so I was the happy recipient of a LOT of books – she’d give me tote bags full, when I would visit her.
Liam – Liam’s first experience was reading The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, by Anne Rice. Some previous tenants of a house he moved into in college had left it behind, and he picked it up more because he had read some other Anne Rice books, than because of the erotic content. But he enjoyed it and has continued to read (and write) erotica since then.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
Liam is a much more disciplined writer than I am – he tries to write daily. He says when he hits writer’s block, he just takes the day off and picks it up the next day, and it flows for him after he takes a break.
I hit MAJOR writer’s block in writing Steal Her Heart about three-quarters of the way through the book. I could not figure out how to advance the story. I worked for about a week – deleting thousands of words in every attempt – to try to work through it. Finally, Liam and I sat down and talked through a few scenarios and I was able to get a breakthrough.
What is your all time favorite book?
Liam – Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Mel – The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood.
What made you pick that one above all others?
Liam – It’s a fun story, filled with action, but there’s also a great deal of philosophy in that book. It entertains, but it also makes you think.
Mel – Margaret Atwood has this unbelievable way of using language that just stays with you, long after you finish reading. She was able to create, in The Robber Bride, three very different characters as narrators, that each have a very unique viewpoint. She also created (what I think) is one of literature’s most classic villains. That book is incredibly real, and incredibly raw, and extremely relatable. It’s gotten more relevant and relatable for me as I’ve gotten older. That doesn’t happen with a lot of books.
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
This is our longest writing project so far – it took six months, from concept, through editing, to publishing. Liam’s other projects usually don’t take him longer than a month or so. I am great at starting projects, but not so great at finishing them. So…as a FINISHED project, this is the longest, for me. But I have many, many bits of things and ideas that have been sitting on the back burner for years!
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Liam – I definitely look at writing differently – editing errors are a lot more obvious, and I pay more attention to things like sentence structure, and organization of a story. The story and the way that it’s written have become two separate variables, for me.
Mel – I am starting to see stories in everything. I’ll see something happen, or meet someone with a particular character trait, and think about how I can integrate that into my next story or novel. (Liam says he does the same thing!)
Was there ever a time, during your work for the book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Liam says no. 🙂 When I hit that writer’s block I referenced earlier, I went into kind of a spiral where I started thinking – maybe the problem is that the whole story is wrong, and we need to scrap everything and start over. I went back to the beginning of the book and tried to reread – without editing – with as much of a dispassionate eye as I could summon, and saw where there were some threads I could pick up to bring the story back on track. And then Liam helped me flesh out what could happen next.
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
Work. A lot. Too much, actually. Liam and I have jobs where we are never really “off duty.” Part of the reason why we wanted to write something together is to be able to spend more time together NOT working, or talking about work.
When not working, or writing – we love to cook and play with our two dogs, and we love to watch movies and great TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
As I tell my clients at times: the truth will set you free, but first it will really make you mad 🙂 I think that in a lot of bad reviews or acidic criticism, there is a nugget of truth you can pull out and use to improve your writing or storytelling. Take what you can as a learning experience. Use the nugget of truth to make yourself a better writer. Then discard the rest. Liam adds that not all stories are going to appeal to all people. If someone didn’t like your story, it’s probably not personal – it just wasn’t the right story for them. Develop a thick skin and learn how to smile, nod and then do what you were going to do anyway. 🙂
Do you have any intention of making Steal Her Heart into a series?
Yes! We are actually starting to work on the story outline for the second book right now, and hope to start writing soon. I see it as a three-book series, but we’ll see what happens. 🙂
What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
We really want to continue Jackson and Melissa’s story, and so our first priority is going to be writing the second book. But – Liam has written some short erotic stories, and I would love to work on a series of those, written from two (or maybe more?) points of view, incorporating different characters and scenarios.
What made you decide to become an Indie Author?
I know a little bit about the publishing business – I worked with a client in that business for a time – and so I know how hard it is to get published by a traditional publisher these days. I knew that even if we ended up with a great book and somehow did get it picked up by a publisher, we would be doing the majority of the promotion and publicity work ourselves. Along with enduring one-sided publishing contracts, working with people at a publisher who may or may not “get us” as authors or like our book, and giving up both revenue and rights to the book. Along with waiting for possibly years to get the book sold, and the published. So I figured – let’s just cut out the middleman and do what we want, and get the story out there. I am tremendously grateful there are book blogs like The Smutsonian, with dedicated, book-loving reviewers who will read indie authors and give us a voice, and showcase our work to readers.
What would you say was the toughest part?
Promotion, for sure. Without guidance from a publisher, it was up to us to find appropriate review blogs that would be interested in the book, set up social media accounts, make pitches, follow up, etc. Although, as I said, a lot of that would have fallen to us anyway. But trying to work and do our book promotion also – yeah, that’s been tough! 🙂
Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
We did not. I have edited documents and books for a living, previously, and Liam has a background in graphic design. We felt like we had the chops to do what needed to get done. I especially love the book cover Liam put together – it looks exactly like the kind of book I would pick up and buy!
How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to self-pub to when you hit ‘Publish’?
Six months – we edited as we went along, rather than waiting until we finished writing the end and then going back to the beginning to start editing. (Although Liam and I each did one big, long, continuous final edit right before we published.) One advantage to being a writing team – you’re not doing everything yourself. Liam was working on the book cover while I was finishing the final edit, for example.
Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
We’re everywhere you want to be, just like Visa in the eighties 🙂 We’re on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and iBooks. Working on getting on Kobo.
If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
Liam says he would have started trying to market it sooner, and I agree. Although part of that was unfortunate timing – we ended up publishing the book right before I went into an unexpected crazy time at work, that is actually still continuing. If we had waited until this fall, we would have been able to do a big publicity push in conjunction with the publishing date…live and learn. 🙂
If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
Liam says a Bugatti Veyron.
I always say if I had one wish, it would be an end to world hunger…but if this is about a material object and not a big humanitarian social change – I would want a house on the beach in Barbados. Liam and I visited there a few years ago, and it is my favorite place we’ve been.
If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
That’s tough…part of me wants to be snarky and say a book on how to build a seagoing raft 🙂 and Liam says it would be the U.S. Army Field Guide to Survival 🙂 but I’m going to go with A Night at the Opera, which is a huge book about opera. It would probably keep me entertained and I would end up knowing everything there is to know about opera. Something I want to learn more about, but never seem to find the time to explore. (There’s a similar book about cheese!)
Name your favorite fruit.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, for both of us…although I will confess a certain weakness for Earl Grey tea made with milk and vanilla syrup. 🙂
Fall, for both of us.
How about favorite time of the day?
Liam is an early riser, so he says the very early mornings, like 5 a.m.
I love dusk, right before the sun has completely set – especially in the summer.
Were you a boyscout/girlscout?
Liam was a Cub Scout.
I wasn’t much into group activities as a kid.
Favorite food for breakfast?
Liam: coffee, although he also loves breakfast burritos.
Mel: I love eggs scrambled soft, and very crispy hash browns.
Latest book you’ve bought and read?
Liam: Rhesus Chart by Charles Strauss.
Mel: Lean Analytics, by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz. I told you I was busy at work. 🙂
Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
Liam used to collect watches, but has stopped.
I collect board games, although am lacking space to add any more at the moment.
Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Liam: Navy blue.
Mel: Chocolate brown or brick red.
Drama or comedy?
Comedy, for both of us. Real life is dramatic enough, every day.
Have a fav quote or personal motto?
Liam says no.
Mine is “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Cats or dogs?
Dogs, definitely. Our experiences owning cats were not very positive, unfortunately!
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Dinner by candlelight, definitely, for both of us! It’s how we’re still married after 15 years.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Liam loves the band Night Ranger.
Before I had to stop eating gluten last year, I had a terrible weakness for Little Debbie Snack Cakes. Even after I fully understood how terrible they are for you.
Favorite Swear Word?
FUCK. For both of us. It’s a noun! It’s a verb! It’s an adjective! It’s anything you want it to be!
About the Authors
Melisenda Patton started reading romance and erotica when her aunt shared her Harlequin Romance novels with her in high school. She lives in the Southwest and enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with her husband, Liam. This is her second completed novel.
Liam Patton is a part time author, full time programmer and all around nice guy. At least he likes to think so, anyway. He enjoys cooking, reading, Karate, and spending time with his wife, Melisenda.
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