by Anni Fife
GENRE: Contemporary Erotic Romantic Suspense
Chased by her criminal kingpin father, Katya Dalca runs to New Orleans and straight into the arms of Luke Hunter. Sucked into the carnal world of the French Quarter, she succumbs to Luke’s potent sexuality. He not only steals her breath, he steals her heart and the only leverage she has against her father. She is left with no choice except to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life alone.
Undercover DEA agent Luke Hunter thought his newest assignment—recover a stolen flash drive to gain the trust of the Russian mob—was like any other. But his target brings him to his knees, and after one taste of her intoxicating beauty, he’s in too deep. Doing his job means walking away, leaving his heart behind with nothing but a promise to reunite. It’s a promise he can’t keep.
When Katya’s past reaches out and her world unravels, her only hope is the one man she is most vulnerable to—Luke.
The smell of beignets wafted up and distracted, I lifted the bag and took a deep breath. Whoosh! Fine sugar blew up out of the bag and coated me.
“Shit, honey, you look sweet all over.”
Oh, just great.
Blinking sugar out of my eyes I looked up. And up. He was tall, well over six foot. Midnight-blue eyes rimmed by a deeper blue-black smoldered lazily down at me. “You’re holding the best beignets in the world. You gonna stand there or you going to take a bite?”
“Umm.” Jeez, Katya. Say something.
“Here, let me hold that for you.” He took the coffee from my hand. “Go on, babe. Take a bite. It’ll be the best thing you’ll ever taste.”
Still struck dumb, I did what he asked and lifted a beignet out of the bag and took a big bite. Oh! It was like sinking my teeth into a sweet pillow of ambrosia.
I nodded and stared back at him. Then, without uttering a word, I stuffed the rest of the beignet into my mouth. He grinned at me, shaking his head. “Want to wash it down with this?” He held out my coffee.
My fingers brushed against his. Yikes! I couldn’t stop the slight tremor caused by his touch. I took a gulp of coffee – half rich chicory, half hot milk – and finally found my voice. “Would you like one?” I offered the bag of beignets to him.
“Would be like taking candy from a baby,” he grinned. “But don’t worry, I’ve got my own.” He dangled a packet like mine in front of me.
Then we both stood there and smiled at each other while we gorged on sugary donuts. He would reach for my coffee to free my hand. Then after I ate some fluffy yumminess, he’d hand it back to me so I could take a sip. We swallowed the last of our beignets and licked our fingers.
I didn’t even know his name, yet I was more turned on than I had ever been in my life.
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Welcome Anni Fife. Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
I grew up in the city and spent thirty years following a successful career in TV and video production. A little under two years ago, I turned my life upside down. I shut down my production company, gave up my apartment, and packed up my entire life to relocate to a small seaside village…to become an author. For the first time in my adult life, I chose to follow the beat of my heart and do what I love. I haven’t had a moment’s regret since!
Is Luke’s Redemption a single title, or part of a series?
It is the first book of my King Security Series but it’s still a standalone love story. As a reader I enjoy reading series, but each book must be a standalone in their story structure. There is nothing better than having characters you’ve grown to love continue to appear in new stories. So when I wrote Luke’s Redemption I instinctively created characters that would have longevity. It’s fun to develop characters slowly over a series, waiting for just the right time for them to put up their hand for their own story.
There are at least six novels planned for this series, perhaps more. The next up is Gray’s Promise. It’s set in New York and Denton, Texas. Grayson Walker is Luke’s best friend, and he’s a wicked charmer. Zoey Morgan is his one-and-only. Torn apart by horrific tragedy, Gray and Zoey still carry the emotional scars fourteen years later. We follow their fraught reconciliation, and the unknown evil stalking them. Their journey is filled with pain, and a heart-wrenching beauty. And, of course, sexual chemistry so scorching it still gets me in a hot sweat when I think about it. I hope to release Gray’s Promise later in the year.
How did you come up with the plot for the story?
I’ve found out that I come up with one of my lead characters first, and the plot seems to follow. Luke’s Redemption was the first book I’d ever written, or even attempted to write. I don’t know what triggered my creative muse, but a few nights before my departure from the city, I started to think about Katya Dalca. Suddenly I could hear her footsteps beating a desperate rhythm down a dark road in the early hours of the morning. It was dead quiet. New Orleans was hung over from Mardi Gras. I watched her, and realized I was looking through the scope of a sniper lens. Was I her hunter or her hero? Or both? My story unfurled at such a rapid pace I spent the next hour typing manically on my iPhone. When I turned off the light, I had the beginnings of my novel. The next time I looked at it was a month later, when I sat down to write.
Please share your setting for Luke’s Redemption. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
Luke’s Redemption starts off in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I visited there many years ago and absolutely freaking loved it. The food, the music, the people,…it all blew me away. So when my debut novel screamed for a seductive location, I had no choice but to set it in NOLA. I had a lot of fun using real restaurants and bars, which I think adds richness and interest for readers.
Most of the book plays out in New York City. I was looking for the right place to put Thane Kingsley and his Security Company. He’s sophisticated, rich, and a total mystery. I’ve visited NYC several times, and its diversity and energy is one of a kind. So is King, so NY seemed like the only place to locate him. It also offered so many wonderful locations for the different characters that make up the series. I use a mixture of real restaurants and places as well as some fictionalized ones. This keeps the reader guessing!
When did the writing bug first bite?
I think I was around three or four when I was gifted with a pop-up book of Sleeping Beauty. I loved that book! I read it over and over until the pop-ups were in tatters. Maybe that’s where I got my love of romance and HEA’s? Seriously, I always loved making up stories in my head, but I never believed writing novels was a feasible career choice. I’d daydream about it, but my decision to follow my passion was sudden. A confluence of life events and opportunities that came together and ended with me making this life-changing decision.
Who are you favorite authors, book/series?
The most influential author in my romance writing is probably Kristen Ashley. When she releases a new book, I turn it into a day of celebration. Out come chocolates, the red wine and a comfy pillow. Then I curl up and spend the whole day alternatively laughing and weeping—and, of course, crossing my legs to contain the delicious tingles of desire. Her alpha heroes invade my dreams. Her heroines are funny and beautifully accessible. And her stories are both heartbreaking and uplifting.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, whom would you invite?
Kristen Ashley—I love most of her books.
Wally Lamb— He takes years to finish each novel and no wonder. His characters are filled with a depth and humanity I can only aspire to reach. The man is sheer brilliance on a page. Everybody has to read ‘She Comes Undone’ at least once in their lifetime.
Wilbur Smith—When he was in his prime and writing books like ‘When The Lion Feeds’.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—This Nigerian author writes like an angel. ‘Purple Hibiscus’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ are two of my all time favorite books. Her characters literally jump off the page and into your heart.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
Besides reading, walking on the beach, and hanging with friends, drinking red wine and gabbing the day away…I love to scuba dive. I’m a master diver and have dived all over the world. There’s nothing quite like floating in the big blue, and losing myself for an hour to a world I rarely have access to.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
I worked for a time in Abu Dhabi in The United Arab Emirates. The company I was contracted to employed a lot of Emirati women. The ladies bathrooms in our offices were not only very lavish, they also provided me the most extraordinary experience. In the communal lounge area the women would take the opportunity to remove their black hijab and abayas, refresh their make-up and gab with each other. The surprise was what they were wearing beneath their traditional garb. It was gobsmacking…but I’m sworn to secrecy. LOL!
What is the one thing that you would tell an aspiring writer to do?
Lord have mercy this book was dirty. I mean that in a good way, too. It’s been a while since I’ve read an erotic romantic suspense and Ms. Fife’s debut does not disappoint. I know that I normally don’t lead off a review with the sex part but DANG! Seriously, like a cold shower was needed. That said, I found that I may have skipped some of it at times. I know, right? I never skip those scenes but I felt like they needed to communicate a bit more.
You see this book covers 6 years. Yes, 6 years and it’s a long book, too. I felt like I was on a roller coaster most of the time but I loved it. Luke, at times, was too alpha for me. He broke his promises too many times to Katya and she kept coming back to him. I don’t like when the heroine has to keep forgiving the hero because he’s a dimwit. In my eyes, he’s not a douche or even an unredeemable person but I felt like Katya didn’t need to keep suffering with Luke when she had plenty of that with her father.
The setting is perfect for their story. I know, I’ve never been to NOLA but they way Ms. Fife uses the 5 senses, I really felt like I was there. In the story and most writers don’t get that. She did and I loved it. Plus…come on…New York City!!!! I’ve been there and I can’t wait to go back. I know it sounds like I didn’t like the story but I truly did. Ms. Fife’s debut knocked my panties, I mean my socks off. Sexy, provocative, suspenseful and a heroine that I demanded that she get that HEA…I was hooked from the first page. I just wish Luke wasn’t as alpha for me.
I know it sounds like I didn’t like the story but I truly did. Ms. Fife’s debut knocked my panties, I mean my socks off. Sexy, provocative, suspenseful and a heroine that I demanded that she get that HEA…I was hooked from the first page. I just wish Luke wasn’t as alpha for me. Ms. Fife’s writing is breathtaking. She takes you into the story and never let’s go. I really felt Katya’s despair and Luke’s helplessness in the book. My heart broke for both of them but at different times. No author has ever been able to do that to me. The book is fast paced, even though its long. It was over before I knew it.
I can’t wait to read Gray’s book next. Ms. Fife has a defiant winner on her hands and a great start to a series. Bravo! Plus, I must find out about Thane. *wink*
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Last year, Anni Fife closed the door on a twenty-year successful career in television production, to fulfill her lifelong passion, writing. In the space of one month, she closed her business, packed up her city life and moved to a small seaside village. ‘My writing has always been constrained by client briefs,’ Anni says. ‘Now, I finally have the opportunity to write to the beat of my own heart.’ LUKE’s Redemption is Anni’s debut novel and she hopes you enjoy it as much as she loved writing it. Anni loves to spend hours walking on the beach searching for pansy shells, more hours drinking red wine with her gal posse, and the most hours writing romance novels filled with women you can relate to and men you love to dream about. She is currently working on her second novel, GRAY’s Promise.
Anni is published by The Wild Rose Press.
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