But Chernov's heir, Grigory Dmitriev, has returned, bitter and determined. He wants his kingdom back, and he's more than willing to leverage Ty's new family to get it.
First he targets Conner, Ty's brooding nineteen-year-old stepson, manipulating the boy into a vortex of sex, drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Then he turns his sights on Hannah. At eight months pregnant, she's the ultimate bargaining chip. With both their lives in jeopardy, as well as his unborn child, Ty has little choice and must do as Grigory commands.
But Tyler swore he'd never kill again. He buried that monster four years ago and means to keep it that way. Grigory, however, makes that vow impossible to keep.
With his new family on the line, Ty will cross further into the dark side than he ever has before, challenging everything he believes about himself, and forcing him to face the ghosts of his past. Only then will Ty discover if he has the strength to do the unspeakable, to sacrifice his last chance at redemption and save the lives of those he loves most.
The discomfort, as bothersome as it was, couldn’t chase away the unease that flittered through my stomach like butterflies. That feeling had become a permanent fixture in my core as of late, like there was all this extra room inside me now. I felt incomplete, half of me missing, and what remained couldn’t function on its own. It wasn’t an unfamiliar sensation. I’d been here before, and all the old habits and cravings associated with that came into sharp focus, while everything else pushed to the periphery and blurred.
I kept a small collection of liquor in the corner of my construction trailer, for those times when the client came by to celebrate the completion of a project or the granting of a long-embattled permit. I kept one bottle half-filled with water, my own little secret. No one ever questioned it. They all assumed it was vodka. But tonight, it stood empty, while the others danced temptingly before me like harem girls beckoning me to peek beneath their veils.
Come to me. I’ll help you forget. You know I can. I’ve done it so many times before. It doesn’t have to hurt anymore. Just take a drink, one small sip...
That voice clamored so loud, I couldn’t even remember pulling the stop from the decanter, or pouring the tequila into the stubby lowball glass. But there it was, my old friend, the amber devil, staring me in the eye after all this time.
How many times had I heeded its call, had I given in to the temptation to simply not feel? Because that was it, really, what brought me to this point, that pain, that loneliness, that undeniable knowledge that I had destroyed everything most precious in my life.
I feared that knowledge and ached to reject it in the quickest way possible. The amber devil had always granted me that wish, and oh, how I wanted it to yet again. For just one moment, just an hour, just this single evening. I wanted that drink. I needed that drink.
I peered down into the devil’s face and saw my past reflected back at me, all the weeks and months I’d spent drunk, scheming my vengeance, releasing my wrath against an innocent woman—Hannah. And then there was Nick, my troublesome little brother, who’d kept everything a secret in order to protect me. He’d sacrificed his life in our father’s name so that I might live.
And that pretty much summed it all up. I was half a man without Jill. I was half a man without Nick. And now, half a man without Hannah. What did that make me but a speck of humanity?
I tried to reconcile that with the man I once was, before I ever married Jill or Hannah. I relished my independence back then, which was why I’d tried so hard to disengage my brother from my life. I’d wanted to find out what it was like to be just me, on my own, with no one else to shape the boundaries of who or what I was. But over time, Nick and Jill had become enduring components in my life, and most certainly maneuvered the tools that cut and contoured the man I’d become.
After dealing with the crap that had consumed my world following their deaths, I thought I’d finally pulled myself together, and with Hannah a daily reminder of both my failings and my resurrection, I believed I’d come full circle. But no, I hadn’t. I was living, breathing proof you could never truly leave your past behind. It clung like a shadow, at times unseen, but never farther than my reach, always dark, forever uncontainable.
That’s what looked back up at me from that glass—that shadow.
stop today for Thompson’s Romantic Thriller, Leverage,
Book 2 in The Mistaken Series!
I didn’t even write The Mistaken thinking it would ever be a published book, so no, nothing was ever planned. Once I signed with my publisher for The Mistaken, I was inspired to continue the story in Leverage. I knew basically what I wanted the story to be about, but the ending didn’t reveal itself to me until I was right there, ready to commit it to paper, so to speak.
How long did it take you to write both stories and was there any particular research or experiences that played into their development?
The Mistaken took less than three months to write the first draft, with an additional year or so for revisions. I had a lot to learn about the craft. Leverage took me a year to write the first draft since I was bogged down in marketing for The Mistaken, but since I already knew so much more about the craft, it took far less to revise and polish. As for research, I did have to learn about the Russian Mafia, or Bratva as it’s called. I’d had a minor run-in years earlier with someone allied with the Bratva in San Francisco, and I never forgot how scared that left me, so I thought they’d make the perfect villain, but there was a lot I had to learn about them to make it believable.
Tell us a little bit about your characters Tyler and Hannah.
Tyler is a mix of my two favorite nationalities—English and Aussie. He’s always played by the rules and stayed within the lines, so when his life first goes haywire in The Mistaken, he’s shocked at how far he steps over into the dark side to gain the vengeance his heart craves. He later vows to never repeat it, but in Leverage, he’s pushed right back into the darkness and must choose redemption or to keep his family safe. He can’t have both.
Hannah is the hapless victim of mistaken identity who, in The Mistaken, refuses to go quietly, but comes to understand what drives Tyler and even chooses to help him. In Leverage, while she’s used against him, she believes so strongly in Tyler’s inherent goodness, she refuses to allow him to sacrifice himself on her behalf. Ty and Hannah would each give their lives to save the other.
Your characters go through some harrowing ordeals in both The Mistaken and Leverage. Did you find any scene or character difficult to write for either book? If so, how did you get through it?
The Mistaken was really tough in the most pivotal scene about a third of the way in. There’s a lot of me in that very violent scene, and that made it hard to write, but in the end, just writing it proved very cathartic and I was finally able to let my demons go. In Leverage, there’s a scene toward the end where Tyler tries to sever all ties with Hannah so he can do what he must to save his new family. I cried like a baby when I wrote that scene, because how do you say goodbye forever to the person you love most in the world?
Why romantic thrillers? Do you think you’ll ever write in a different genre?
I love romance, but there’s just not enough plot to most romance novels. In addition to a love story, I need a chase, a ticking clock, a threat to everything the characters most value. But I’m a bit different than most thriller writers. I don’t so mysteries or detective or police stories, and political conspiracies seem so far-fetched, so I stick to regular everyday people who are caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I need to think that anyone could find themselves in such a predicament. That’s what keeps it believable. No billionaires or bad-boy rock stars. Just an average guy and his girl stuck within an impossible situation. But I will say, I think I’m going to try to tackle a romance next, though, of course, it will have a lot of intrigue and danger. I just can’t not put my characters at risk.
Is there anything particular you want readers to take away from your books?
You mean besides a rip-roaring rollercoaster ride of thrills and emotional upheaval and turmoil? Well, sure! The Mistaken has a clear message or theme—forgiveness and accepting people for who and what they are, not what we want them to be. And for Leverage, that’s a bit tougher. It’s really about putting those you love above yourself, risking your own redemption to ensure the safety of loved ones.
How do you balance your writing time with family, editing, design job, etc.?
I work for myself on all three jobs. I have my own design company and edit mostly for friends, so I can set my own schedule, though it does often take some juggling. As for family, my husband is very supportive of my writing career and just wants me to be happy and hopefully bring in a little extra spending money. My son is nineteen now, works full-time, and will graduate college this December. He pretty much has his own life and isn’t around much anyway. But we do make time to travel to see family and go to baseball games together.
What’s your writing process like?
I’m a plotter, so I write a complete outline first, which really is more of a handwritten first draft without setting or dialogue, a roadmap, if you will. Once that’s done, I sit down with it in front of me and just type away, go crazy adding in layers and details. Afterwards, I often read my own words and wonder how I came up with that. I sometimes don’t even remember writing it. Go figure!
Are there any books or authors that have influenced you in your writing? What are you reading right now?
I love John Hart. He’s won two Edgar Awards because his suspense novels are so full of rich, dramatic setting that read like characters in his stories. Lisa Regan is not just my best friend, she’s my idol and mentor. We met as critique partners and quickly became writing soul mates. Her debut, Finding Claire Fletcher, is one of my all-time favorite books. Ever. At the moment, I’m reading Malavita by another friend, Dana Delamar, who I met online via Facebook then in person at a meeting for the Eastside Romance Writers, a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America.
Why Indie publish?
The Mistaken was picked up by Sapphire Star Publishing, but the economy has been tough, and, while they remain in business, they closed to submissions. And since Leverage is the second in the series, it was unlikely any other publisher would want to take it on if they didn’t have the rights to The Mistaken, so I decided to self-publish Leverage. I figured, why not? I was doing all the marketing for my debut myself anyway. What’s one more?
Do you have a favorite/least favorite step in the indie publishing process?
Yes, marketing and promoting. I hate, hate, hate it. I am not into self-promotion at all. I feel unqualified and feel weird tooting my own horn.
What can readers look forward to next?
I’m waffling over two very different ideas. One is on the provocative side and deals with an author who pens sexually explicit and somewhat irresponsible BDSM novels. She finds herself the object of a madman’s obsession, a man who thinks the women who write and read these novels actually invite violent sexual encounters. The other is more of straight romance, the story of a woman from the age of sixteen to thirty, and the three men who shape her heart and life—one her first love, the next a man who hurt her, and the last the love of her life. All three lives intersect in one volatile moment of love and hate, of jealousy and rage, of life and everlasting devotion.
1. Cats or dogs?
I love both, but I’ll have to pick dogs over cats. Much more loyal.
2. Are you a homebody or adventurer?
Definitely an adventurer. I like to feel my heart pounding.
3. If you had to be one of your characters from your books–who would you choose? Why?
This might seem weird since he’s a guy, but I’d choose Tyler. He is such a damaged, conflicted soul, but he loves and lives fully.
4. Favorite TV or book character growing up?
I didn’t watch much TV as a kid, so I’d have to say it’s a toss-up between Ponyboy and Sodapop Curtis from SE Hinton’s novels, The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now.
5. Favorite hobby that isn’t reading or writing?
If we’re talking everyday hobby, I’d say cooking and baking. I love to experiment and create new recipes. But if you mean every once in a while, I’d have to say either snow skiing or white water rafting. I love a good adrenaline rush!
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