Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Angels and Deceivers

For once, I'm going to tell you to judge this book by it's cover.

Let me explain. I'm an art snob. Whenever I've filled out those cover request questionairres that we have to do whenever we sell a book, I have always asked for a photorealistic cover, and usually a kind of abstract one, as I live in fear of the dreaded Poser skin cover. So when April came to me and said, "I know you prefer photorealism, but I've got this great new artist...", I waffled. But I trust April (hell, who wouldn't??), so I agreed.

Best decision I've made all year.

Look at that cover! It's beautiful, isn't it? Even before Lynne and I started talking about ideas, she already had gotten the essence of the story and had not one but two great ideas for how to do it. Fay, my heroine, looks just as beautiful and strong and vulnerable as I'd imagined, and Aaron... yummy, and without any skin! And everyone who has looked at it has said, "Wow, that really looks like an old Bogart movie poster!" Which is everything I had hoped for.

Because that's what Angels and Deceivers is, an old film noir story in print. Only so much hotter! Aaron Pierce is a detective on the hunt for a missing heiress. But he gets a bit...distracted when he meets Fay Sexton, sultry and sassy and up to no good.

The view was as spectacular as I’d imagined, and had absolutely nothing to do with the mountains or the city below.

I recognized her instantly as the mysterious woman from the bar last night. She was lounging on one of the deck chairs near the pool, all glossy black hair and long, muscular limbs. The swimsuit she wore was one of those new French two-pieces that revealed everything but her mother’s maiden name, the curves so modestly hidden by her gown last night now revealed in all their statuesque glory. The suit’s top crossed over her breasts, seemingly demure while boldly revealing the faintest curve underneath, the bottom leaving the shadow of her navel showing with the barest of skirts to disguise the junction of her thighs. The brilliant red of the fabric left me in no doubt that this was the owner of the roadster out front. A sensuous car for a sensuous owner.

Stomping down my libido, I started over to her. “Excuse me,” I said, “are you Karen Andrews?”

She lifted her head, unfazed by my unexpected appearance. Drawing the starlet sunglasses down her nose, she studied me for a minute. “Depends on who’s asking.” Her tone was challenging and playful at once.

“Aaron Pierce,” I answered, forcing myself to remain professional. “I’m a private investigator looking into the disappearance of her sister.”

“Well, isn’t that interesting.” She sat up, crossing one shapely leg over the other as she leaned forward. “I’ve never met a private dick before.”

Despite the coyness of her tone, I sensed a trace of bitterness in that last statement. “I take it you aren’t her sister.”

She rose to her feet, folding the sunglasses before offering her hand. “Fay Sexton. Best friend of the missing. Although I didn’t know she’d disappeared. Is Carter sure he didn’t just leave her behind at some party again?”

“He says she’s been missing three weeks, so I doubt it.” Her grip was strong and sure in my hand. I held on a little longer than I should have.

She didn’t try to withdraw it. “Didn’t I see you last night? At the club, right?”

“I was consulting with Mr. Brody regarding the case. That’s why I’m here.”

“Huh. Funny he didn’t mention me.”

I had to agree with her on that. “Why do you think that is?”

“Well, that’s Carter, isn’t it?” Setting the shades down on the table, she snagged a robe of Chinese silk off the back of her chair and slipped her arms into it with a lithe grace meant to fascinate. “He can’t get anything from me, so I’m not worth bothering with.”

“And that troubles you.” Somehow, the fact that it did bothered me as well.

The look she shot me was pure venom. “If what you say is true, if Tess’s been missing for three weeks, it would have been nice if he’d at least told me.”

“If the two of you are such good friends, I’m surprised you didn’t know already,” I pressed.

Her indignation weakened. “I was in San Francisco until yesterday.”

“And you always make yourself at home when there’s no one about?”

“Here? Yes.” The anger snapped again in her eyes. “This has been practically a second home for me since I was eighteen. Claire took me in when no one else wanted me. So you can keep your insinuations to yourself.”

I could tell by the vehemence of her words that there was more to this story than she was telling, but it didn’t seem appropriate to pursue it now. Instead I asked, “And Claire is ...?”

“Tess’s mother,” she ground out impatiently. “She died a couple of years ago and left Tess and Karen on their own. They had a hard time of it, so I’ve been around a lot, trying to help out. Is that a problem?”

“No, not at all,” I assured her, filing away the information she gave me. “It’s very commendable of you.”

“Gee, thanks.” She tried to remain indignant, but I could see worry crease her brow. “Do you really think Tess is in trouble?”

I had just enough chivalry left to be affected by her concern. “I don’t know. I’ve only just begun looking into it.”

Her full mouth tightened with her own internal struggle before finally she said, “If Tess is in trouble, I want to help.”

“The best way you can help is by telling me everything you know about your friend and her habits and behaviors over the last few months.”

“I don’t know anything,” she snapped, her mercurial eyes gone dark again. “I told you, I was in San Francisco for most of the last month.” Her eyes narrowed with determination. “But I can help you investigate. I know all her friends and all the places she hangs out.”

“Fine. Tell me.”

“And then what are you going to do? How much chance do you stand of getting in at the Flamingo or the Kit Kat?”

She was right, damn it. I would waste my entire retainer greasing enough palms to get into just one of those clubs. But if Fay traveled in the same circles as Tess and Brody, she would already have access like I could never get.

She must have read the resignation in my face because she smiled condescendingly. “Don’t worry, you won’t ruin my reputation. Let me get changed and I’ll go with you.”

“That won’t be necessary.” I tried to forestall her one last time. “Surely I could come back for you later.”

She paused in the doorway, one well-toned leg peeking through the hem of her robe as she leaned back. “What, and miss seeing the great detective in action? Don’t be silly. I’ll just be a minute.”


For more excerpts, head on over to Angels and Deceivers and get your own copy of this amazing cover and the book that goes with it!


Blogger LSB Author, Darragha Foster said...

Saying the cover art is beautiful is an understatment. Lynn is incredibly talented. I love her art.

Can't wait to read this book, too! I have 35 day off soon. That's one book per day...35 new books to read!

9:05 AM  
Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Man wow! that's a fabulous cover!!!!! I love the pulp fiction feel to it!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Bonnie Dee said...

Yes, I definitely got a film noir vibe from this cover. Very classy indeed. and your excerpt was intriguing.

10:23 AM  
Blogger LSB Author, Darragha Foster said...

I was reading the excerpt and I, too, love the film noir feeling. I'm going to have my step-father pick up a copy when he buys my book.


11:06 AM  
Blogger Philippa Grey-Gerou said...

Thanks, ladies! I'm a sucker for old movies, but the challenge for me in getting the tone right was the first person. Writing in the voice of a man from 1948 was a challenge, but the hardest part was remembering to use "I" instead of "he"!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Meljprincess said...

Yes, very cool. Very Pulp.

I actually have the letters s-e-x in my word verification today. Heehee..

12:35 PM  
Blogger LSB Author, Darragha Foster said...

I popped in this morning to see if my blog winner had posted anything...and looked at your cover again. WOW.

What a startling, beautiful work of art.


9:05 AM  

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