Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where, every Wednesday, readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
When reality is a web of lies and the truth endangers all you love . . .Trust No One.
Drafted into the nebulous underworld of a secret agent right out of college, MJ Thornberg survived betrayal and attempted murder at the hands of her trusted partner. Instead of returning to the deadly realm of espionage, she chose to retire to a small Texas town and work as a mechanic while raising her soon-to-be-adopted baby daughter.
Ben Walker is a man with his own secrets. An agent with MJ’s former employer, Vista Security, Ben is clawing his way out of a downward spiral from a job gone wrong when Vista sends him after MJ, with orders to use the threat of halting her baby’s adoption to ensure her cooperation in going after her sister who’s on an unsanctioned killing spree.
Furious and trusting no one, MJ intends on working the job solo until a sniper’s bullet alters her plans. With no choice but to work with Ben, MJ must confront ghosts from her past, discover truths of her present, and trust that the future she deserves is in her hands to create.
This is the blurb to my newest romantic suspense book. TRUST NO ONE is my Golden Heart® finaling book, the only time I finaled in over ten years of entering. For a long time I thought I was simply a horrible writer until financially I was able to finally enter many contests. I realized then that my writing tends to be polarizing; it’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. I’ve had a manuscript come in first place in one contest and the same manuscript come in dead last in another. I think it was lucky timing that in the year I finaled I got more people in the ‘like’ camp than in the ‘your writing sucks’ camp.
It so happens that the year I finaled was the year romantic suspense as a genre started tanking as far as editors buying them. I submitted to about 50 agents. And let me tell you, being a Golden Heart® finalist only got me rejected much faster. Again the agents seemed to be polarized, nope, not for me, sorry. Or, the other side I got, I love your writing, but I can’t sell this story, it’s too much like what’s already out there or editors aren’t buying romantic suspense right now.
Okay then. What’s the choice? I had been on the verge of quitting writing when I finaled in the Golden Heart®. I took it as a message from the universe to not quit. But if I couldn’t sell to New York, what then? Not long after, the first Ruby sister (www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com) self-published. I followed her story in awe. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. By the age 23, I not only had 3 children, but I was also running three home businesses. Still, the thought of indie-pubbing was terrifying. I started following some of the self-publishing proponents’ blogs, and as other Ruby Sisters, as well as other writing friends joined, at last I decided to take a step forward.
Even as I made my first sale to The Wild Rose Press. It ended up that I had two books out in January 2012, PIRATE’S PROPOSAL from TWRP and my indie-pub THE GOOD DAUGHTER (I went with that one first as it was the prequel to my Vista Security series). I suddenly had to learn all the promotion stuff times 2. At last I was able to take a breath and decided to follow up with TRUST NO ONE. I sent it out to my editor and started planning the cover with my DIL multi-media major cover artist. And now, I’m happy to present you with TRUST NO ONE, Book 1 in the Vista Security series. (For more on the backstory and how real-life betrayal inspired TRUST NO ONE as well as another excerpt, please read my blog post Have You Been Betrayed?: http://blog.dianalayne.com/2012/06/17/have-you-been-betrayed-trust-no-one.aspx
For fans of THE GOOD DAUGHTER, I’m including an excerpt here with Dave Armstrong, the FBI hero from THE GOOD DAUGHTER. After learning the world really isn’t black-and-white but gray where the lines cross, Dave quit the FBI and has a new job now. Working for Vista Security. (And don’t worry, both Dave AND Marisa will be back in the next book.)
THE GOOD DAUGHTER EXCERPT
“I’d like to welcome you to–”
The phone rang, interrupting Dave Armstrong’s new boss Jeff Jones, who excused himself to take the call. Dave, looking at the interior of the office of the head of Vista Security, too eerily similar to his former boss’s office at the FBI, pondered the new direction he had taken with his life. He’d turned in his resignation to the FBI the day after the fiasco with the Peruzzo crime family, with no real idea of what he’d do next. He just knew that after the rules he’d bent, all in the name of bringing Carlo down, that staying with the FBI wasn’t an option. Even if the investigation had proved him innocent of any wrongdoing, Dave knew he’d veered off the straight-and-narrow.
“Sorry for that.” Jeff apologized, disconnecting the call. “Unavoidable.”
“Trouble?” Although he’d tried not to listen, Dave had gathered from the tone that the call hadn’t made Jeff happy.
“Yes, and part of the reason I wanted to meet with you. Other than to welcome you on board, give you the new hire speech. Although with you, I’ll let you know we’re not as restrictive as what you’re used to, we have more leeway without the government constantly pinching our ass.”
Dave raised an eyebrow but didn’t respond. He knew what Jeff meant. Dave’s creative solution to the Peruzzo deal attracted Vista’s interest. He also didn’t bother with any niceties either, like “thanks for the welcome, or non-welcome” as it turned out. Instead, he sat patiently, waiting for Jeff to expand.
His boss came right to the point. “At this moment, you’ve joined us mid-crisis. We’ve got a rogue agent and a missing agent.”
“Two different agents?” Dave clarified, not immediately understanding Jeff’s wording.
“If the rogue agent isn’t missing, then why is he–”
“She,” Jeff corrected.
Interesting. “She,” Dave amended with a nod. “Then why is she rogue? Can’t she be brought in?”
“We’re in the process. I guess you could say she’s missing as well, but we are pulling in an agent to bring her in.”
“And this agent knows where the rogue agent is?”
Jeff picked up a pen and began twirling it between his fingers. “Maybe. This agent is retired, but I’m hoping the two are still in contact.”
That made Dave straighten his spine. “Sisters?”
“No not really. But they were raised as sisters when their families were killed in an automobile accident. Their dads both worked for the CIA. Ed took them in, then being Ed, he raised them for the business.”
Dave knew Ed founded Vista when he left the CIA, and being childless he had adopted three kids–“Wait a minute. I know who you’re talking about. One of them was injured not too long ago, a bad job in Italy? She almost died?” It had been such a big deal, even all the up-and-up ABC agencies had heard about the Italian job gone wrong.
“Yes. A little over a year ago.”
At this, Jeff stopped twirling the pen and began tapping it on the desk, which Dave found quite annoying. Fortunately, Jeff seemed to realize what he was doing and stopped.
“MJ Thornberg,” Jeff continued. “She saved our asses when her partner went bad. Our extraction team just barely got there in time to pull her out and keep her alive.”
Italy. The thought brought Marisa to mind. Dave wished it hadn’t. Such a short time together, and yet what a powerful influence she had over him. Not for the better. Still, he couldn’t get her out of his mind, couldn’t stop missing her. With a precision he was still practicing, he shut off the memory and focused on the job at hand. “It’s been a year already?”
“Time flies and all that.” Jeff waved his hand in a noncommittal way. “MJ’s retired now, but I’m trying to pull her out of retirement to find Tasha.”
MJ retired? She couldn’t even be forty yet. Maybe as young as thirty-five. But Dave supposed nearly losing your life was enough motivation to get out of the business. “Bringing her back not going so well?”
“Well enough. I’m confident we’ll soon have Tasha in custody.”
Before Dave could ask what Tasha had done, Jeff picked up a folder and passed it to Dave. “The reason I called you in here though is the missing agent. I think you can help find him.”
Dave opened the folder, knowing he’d do a little more research on his own about Tasha and MJ. He scanned the paper before him. “Nikolai Shivko?”
“You don’t think he’s with her?”
“No, I’m sure they’re not together. If you’ll look on the second page…”
Dave turned the page.
“You’ll see he’s likely in–”
“Russia,” Dave supplied. “And there’s no evidence Tasha is in Russia? It’s always possible she could go in a back way.”
“No, we have every reason to believe she’s in the states,” Jeff said, but didn’t expound further.
Making Dave even more curious, but he tucked that bit information away for when he could explore it on his own. “And you’re worried about this Nikolai because. . .”
“We didn’t send him to Russia. He took some time off and went on his own. And then he just disappeared.”
“Any contact with the Russian government?”
“No. We’ve sent out queries but no answers. I want you to follow up. Find him. Learn why he’s there.” Jeff met Dave’s gaze. “Learn if he’s still alive.”
With a grim set to his mouth, Dave determined he’d learn more than that.
Meet Diana Layne, Author….
Native small town Texan Diana Layne is a homeschooling mom of six kids who grew up riding horses and motorcycles, practicing the piano and reading every chance she could. As an only child and only grandchild she naturally made up fictional friends and entertained herself with endless adventure stories with those imaginary playmates.
Embracing both her Gemini-twin personality and a continuing variety of make-believe buddies, she writes in multiple genres from historical romances to romantic suspense to small town love stories–and always has two or three novels in progress.
For more about Diana Layne and her books.
Books (various buy links are on my website):
Romantic suspense: http://www.dianalayne.com/suspensethriller.html
Historical romance: http://www.dianalayne.com/historicalromance.html
Thanks Karen, for letting me share TRUST NO ONE with your readers.
FREE! FREE!! FREE!!!