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About the Book
 
Title: Save Your Breath
Author: Melinda Leigh
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Publisher: Montlake
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Summary
 

When true-crime writer Olivia Cruz disappears with no signs of foul play, her new boyfriend, Lincoln Sharp, suspects the worst. He knows she didn’t leave willingly and turns to attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger to find her before it’s too late.

As they dig through Olivia’s life, they are shocked to discover a connection between her current book research on two cold murder cases and the suicide of one of Morgan’s prospective clients.

As Morgan and Lance investigate, the number of suspects grows, but time is running out to find Olivia alive. When danger comes knocking at their door, Morgan and Lance realize that they may be the killer’s next targets.

 
Author Biography
MelindaLeigh
 
#1 Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A lifelong lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity when her youngest child entered first grade. During the next few years, she joined Romance Writers of America, learned a few things about writing a novel, and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She’s also garnered Golden Leaf and Silver Falchion Awards, along with two nominations for a RITA and three Daphne du Maurier Awards. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate; teaches women’s self-defense; and lives in a messy house with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs, and two rescue cats.
 
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Author Interview: Melinda Leigh
 

1) Your newest release features two of your most popular characters, attorney Morgan Dane and P.I. Lance Kruger. While this couple has a habit of getting involved in difficult (and dangerous) criminal cases, the mystery in this book is much more personal for them. 

In Save Your Breath, Morgan and Lance aren’t working for a client. They’re looking for Sharp’s girlfriend, Olivia Cruz, who vanished from her home in the middle of the night. After Olivia goes missing, Sharp realizes his feelings for her run much deeper than he’d thought. As the investigation continues, with no trace of Olivia, the usually calm and centered PI begins to unravel. Morgan and Lance had always depended on Sharp for his insight and stability. Save Your Breath reverses these established roles.   

2) How does the personal nature of the crime affect the other characters? 

Morgan and Lance are also thrust into unaccustomed roles. In the previous five books, Sharp has been the source of stability. He is their rock. Now Morgan and Lance have to step up and help him hold it together. The book deliberately challenges the cohesiveness of the team.

3) The story starts with a terrifying scene where Olivia is kidnapped. It is raw and visceral and plays on everyone’s worst fear—being unsafe in our own home. How do you get into the mindset for crafting this kind of scene?

I close my eyes and envision the scene in my mind from beginning to end. Everyone has been woken by a strange noise in the middle of the night. We’ve all stared at the ceiling, listening for the sounds of a stranger moving through the house. Being attacked in our sleep is a basic, primal fear. That’s the vulnerable feeling I wanted to generate in the reader, so I imagined it happening to me. Basically, I’m channeling the overactive imagination that got me into so much trouble as a child. 

4) Morgan and Lance are planning a wedding and solidifying Lance’s place as a step-dad to the Dane girls, all the while dealing with terrible crimes around them. How do they disconnect from the violence around them in order to create a space just for themselves and their family?

The family demands their full attention, and in their world of chaos and crime, their home is what keeps them sane. Both Morgan and Lance operate best when they have the support and love of their family to return to at the end of the day.  

5) Can you give readers any hints of what’s next for Morgan Dane and her crew?

I wrote Save Your Breath as the final book in the Morgan Dane series, but my next project is a spin-off. The Bree Taggert Series will take place in Grey’s Hollow. Morgan and the crew will likely make appearances. 

***

 
Excerpt: 
 

Her weekly dinner with her family had distracted her earlier in the evening. Her mother had served frijoles negros, Olivia’s favorite traditional Cuban dish. Olivia had overindulged, and the minute she’d left her parents’ house in Albany to make the hour drive back to Scarlet Falls, her true crime research had flashed right back into her mind and unsettled her stomach. 

Chewing an antacid, she mulled over her stunning discovery. The implications of what she’d learned further stirred the black beans and rice in her belly. As a journalist, her job was to seek the truth, not play judge or jury. But should she choose to pursue and publish this truth, other people could pay the price for her revelation—possibly with their lives. 

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Her new book proposal was overdue, but Olivia’s predicament felt like a no-win situation. Ignoring the truth went against all her principles. Then again, so did putting other people in danger. 

But how much risk was involved? Could she live with being responsible for even a single innocent person’s death? 

Obsessing about her book research had translated into three consecutive nights of insomnia. Enough was enough. Olivia didn’t need to make this decision alone. What she needed was outside perspective. She brought the antacids with her into the bedroom, picked up her phone from the nightstand, and checked the time. Eleven o’clock. She sent a CALL ME IF UR UP text message to Lincoln Sharp, her . . .

The word boyfriend seemed silly at their ages. She was forty-eight. Lincoln was fifty-three. They’d been dating for several months, and they spent the night together once or twice a week. She assumed their relationship was exclusive, although they hadn’t specifically discussed it. 

Labels weren’t important to either of them, but when she saw him or he called unexpectedly, the stirrings of excitement and joy in her blood made her feel like a teenager. Beyond her attraction to him, she respected him both personally and professionally. 

So why had she been stewing over her decision instead of asking for his opinion? 

Lincoln owned and operated a private investigation firm. As a retired police detective, his practical experience with the legal system—and his knowledge of criminal behavior—exceeded hers. She valued his insight and trusted him to keep her research confidential. If she decided to pursue the story, she would hire his firm to help with the investigative legwork anyway. She may as well bring him on board now. 

She burped. Her indigestion began to burn its way up her esophagus. She chewed a second antacid, the chalky taste coating her mouth. She reached for the glass of water on her nightstand and sipped. 

A few seconds later, her phone rang, and she pressed “Answer.” 

“Is everything OK?” Lincoln asked in a worried tone. Her late-night text was unusual. 

“Yes,” Olivia assured him. 

“I’m sorry I missed dinner with your parents again,” he said. “I wrapped up my case tonight. I should be able to make dinner next week.” 

He didn’t talk much about work, which was fine. She understood his professionalism and appreciated his need to maintain client confidentiality. But he had mentioned the case had involved a great deal of evening surveillance. 

“They understand,” she said. “I called because I’m stuck in my research, and I’d like your opinion. Are you free sometime tomorrow afternoon? I can come to your office.” 

“Sure.” Interest brightened his voice. “How much time do you want me to block out?” 

“An hour should do.” She considered his associates. Lincoln’s business partner, PI Lance Kruger, and Lance’s fiancée, defense attorney Morgan Dane, could also provide useful insight on Olivia’s dilemma. Morgan’s legal advice might be particularly helpful. “I’d like Morgan’s and Lance’s thoughts as well. Could you see if they’re available?” 

“Hold on. Let me check their digital calendars.” The line went quiet for a few breaths. “Lance should be here in the afternoon. Morgan has a client meeting at nine a.m. Her calendar is clear the rest of the day. How about I put you in the one p.m. spot?”

“Perfect.” Olivia lowered the phone and made a note in the calendar app. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.” 

“You know, when you texted”—Sharp’s voice deepened—“I had hoped this was a booty call.” 

A little thrill rushed through her, followed by another burp. Olivia rubbed the fire behind her breastbone. “Tonight isn’t a good night. I ate way too much of my mother’s food.” 

He snorted. “That happens. She’s an incredible cook. Get some rest and feel better.” 

“Good night.” Olivia lowered the phone. 

Satisfied he would help her make her decision, she slid into bed and picked up a book. At midnight, she still wasn’t sleepy. She set down the book and redirected her mind. Lincoln was teaching her to meditate. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on her breaths. She conjured a mental image of the beach in her mind and synced her breathing to the ebb and flow of the imaginary waves. At first she had trouble concentrating, but eventually her body felt heavy. 

Olivia jolted, her heartbeat quickening, sweat dampening her T-shirt. 

What was that? 

A glance at the clock on her nightstand told her hours had passed. It felt as if she’d just closed her eyes, but she must have fallen asleep. She scanned the darkness of her bedroom. Her gaze passed over her dresser and chair. Had she heard something real, or had it been a dream? 

She concentrated, listening hard to the sounds of her house, but she heard nothing unusual. A thunk and hum signaled the heater switching on. Hot air blew out of the floor vent and moved the sheers that hung over her windows. 

The alarm hadn’t sounded. She reached for her cell phone. It was far too early to rise for the day. She double-checked the security system app on her phone. The house was secure. She needed to go back to sleep. 

She shifted her legs under the covers, closed her eyes, and tried to get comfortable. 

Something whooshed. Her eyes snapped open. A large shape rushed toward her. A heavy body landed on top of her, pinning her to the mattress. The weight and size of her attacker felt male. She flailed and tried to push him off, but her arms and legs were trapped as he straddled her. She was cocooned in her comforter like a swaddled baby. Her throat constricted. She couldn’t scream. 

Panic sprinted through her bloodstream as she stared up at the dark assailant looming over her. His face seemed distorted, his features brighter and flatter than normal. He was wearing a mask. 

With a bolt of gut-twisting horror, she recognized the character as Michael Myers from the movie Halloween. 

A flash of terror shot up her spine. She inhaled, preparing to force a scream out of her tight throat. 

He slapped her across the face. Pain, bright and sharp, sang through her cheekbone but faded in seconds as her adrenaline surged. The scream died in her chest.


***
 
 

Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh are co-writing a new series is always a reading pleasure. Widow’s Island Series is compilation of short novellas featuring childhood friends FBI Agent Cate Wilde and local Deputy Tessa Black as they unravel the mysteries of their remote island home.

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“Close To The Bone” is the first in the series penned by Kendra Elliot as Cate Wilde returns home to recuperate from an injury. But instead of resting, skeletal remains found on the island drew her into a crime that brings the past and present to an end. And the new resident Doctor Henry Powers weighs in with his skills to help the case and his charm to woo Cate Wilde.

A short and with a very tight narrative, “Close To The Bone” delivers another enthralling read. Kendra Elliot has always been so good with her thrillers, characterizations and subtle romantic nuances, be it a longer story or a short novella.

Received an ARC from Montlake Romance via NetGalley for an honest review.

What Would These Romantic Suspense Heroines Do With Lisa Renee Jones, Melinda Leigh, and Elisabeth Naughton

This month bestselling authors Lisa Renee Jones, Elisabeth Naughton, and Melinda Leigh are each releasing thrilling romantic suspense novels. But while they write in the same genre, you can expect very different stories.

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Lisa kicks off her new Lilah Love series with a bang in Murder Notes”. When copycat murders plague her hometown, FBI profiler Lilah Love is sent to investigate. But she returns to find hidden secrets from her past aren’t staying hidden and the danger swirling around her is just beginning.

 

Elisabeth continues her RITA award Deadly Secrets series with “Protected”Fashion designer Kelsey McClane rolls her eyes when her overprotective brothers saddle her with a bodyguard while she is on a press tour, however, she’s more than thankful to have former Army Ranger Hunter O’Donnell on her side when a deadly explosion hits too close to home.

Morgan Dane is back in Melinda Leigh’s unforgettable new story “Bone’s Don’t Lie”. In this outing Morgan stands by her man as Lance attempts to unearth the secrets of his father’s decades old murder. Morgan quickly realizes that just because the case is cold, doesn’t mean the original killer isn’t out for more blood.

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Interested in learning more about these books? Continue reading as Lisa, Elisabeth, and Melinda play a not-always-nice game of “What Would Your Heroine Do?” that will give you an inside look at their characters and enter the giveaway to win copies of the authors’ full series.
***
 

What would your heroine do if she feels like someone is following her, yet she can’t prove it?

Lisa: Well funnily enough in the first book of my Lilah Love series, Murder Notes, Lilah is being followed, but she can prove it as her stalker is quite blatant and goading with their practices. However, if Lilah couldn’t prove it, she would probably cuss a blue streak, as she’s prone to do, and make herself bait in order to lure her stalker out. She’s definitely not afraid of any danger, she is an FBI agent after all, and she loves nothing more than to best someone at their own game.

Elisabeth: This actually happens in Protected! I don’t want to give too much away, but Kelsey would definitely turn to someone she trusts for help. In this case…Hunter O’Donnell…the hero of Protected.

Melinda: The first thing Morgan would do is determine if she was actually being followed. She’d make some turns then see if the car was still behind her. If it was, she would never drive home and lead a potential stalker to her family. Instead, she’d head somewhere public and call PI Lance Kruger. Together, they’d try to trap whoever was following her.

What would your heroine do if the man in her life was injured and in the hospital?

Elisabeth: Freak out. LOL Actually I think her reaction is dependent on how and when he was injured and whether she thinks she’s somehow responsible.

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Lisa: Lilah’s man, Kane, is forbidden fruit. He brings out her dark side. He’s on the wrong side of the law. He helped her do something very bad and she wants to blame him, but really blames herself. She can’t really be with him but she loves him. If he were hurt, she’d try to play it cool. She would put on a strong face at first, but she would go to Kane and the minute he catches her showing that she cares, he’d point it out. He’d make her admit it. She’d, in turn, deny her feelings and tell him in no uncertain terms that he’s screwed with her schedule and he better not f-ing do it again. She’d tell him she hates him for making her worry but that means she loves him, and he knows it, too. She’d try to go after his enemy, and Kane, would go after her.

Melinda: Since, Lance frequently gets himself into trouble, Morgan has some experience with this. She is protective and loyal and always wants to be by his side.

What would your heroine do if she receives an anonymous text accusing her of committing a heinous crime?

Elisabeth: Kelsey would be shocked first. Then become angry and want to track down the sender of the text.

Melinda: Having been stalked in the past, Morgan takes threats seriously. She would want to find out who sent her this text. She would try to trace the phone number, enlisting the help of experienced investigator Lincoln Sharp or computer whiz Jenny Kruger if necessary. In the meantime, she’d be extra vigilant — and so would Lance.

Lisa: In the opening Duet that launches the Lilah Love Series, Lilah isn’t getting text messages, but rather notes, left for her. They are very “I Know What You Did Last Summer” since she really did something bad. She isn’t one to be played with though, so Lilah goes on the attack, seeking out her note writer.

What would your heroine do if she wins a surprise trip to a faraway tropical island?

Melinda: Single mom Morgan has not had a vacation in ages. She’d talk her sister into babysitting her three kids and pack her bags! Or… could she save the trip as a potential future honeymoon?

Lisa: I don’t think I can picture Lilah on a vacation, she’s such a workaholic! But as far as her response to winning it, she’d probably say she has far too many dead bodies to deal with and then handoff the winnings to someone else.

Elisabeth: Kelsey is skeptical of everything so I’m pretty sure she’d assume the surprise trip was a scam.

What would your heroine do if she has the choice to confront someone threatening her?

Elisabeth: The answer to this really depends on whether this confrontation happens at the before Protected or after. Kelsey’s journey through the book is really one of empowerment. At the start of Protected I don’t see her being confrontational with someone threatening her, but by the end she really comes into her own. She’s never going to be a kick-ass heroine like some of my other heroines, but she can definitely take care of herself.

Melinda: Morgan comes from a law enforcement family. Her father and grandfather, both former cops, taught her to defend herself when she was young. She would rather not get into a physical altercation unless it was absolutely unavoidable. She prefers to talk her way out of trouble. That said, she carries a gun and knows how to use it.

Lisa: Lilah does this on a daily, if not hourly basis. She sometimes even provokes the threat, so her response would be colorful, as are all of her responses, with a hint of condescending humor and her own threat in return.

***

About the Authors

Before topping multiple bestseller lists—including those of the New York TimesUSA Today, and the Wall Street JournalElisabeth Naughton taught middle school science. A voracious reader, she soon discovered she had a knack for creating stories with a chemistry of their own. The spark turned into a flame, and Naughton now writes full-time. Her books have been nominated for some of the industry’s most prestigious awards, such as the RITA and Golden Heart Awards from Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Readers Award, and the Golden Leaf Award. When not dreaming up new stories, Naughton can be found spending time with her husband and three children in their western Oregon home. Protected is the third book in her Deadly Secrets series, following Gone and Repressed, which was a 2017 RITA winner in romantic suspense. Learn more about Elisabeth at www.ElisabethNaughton.com.

Lisa Renee Jones is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the highly acclaimed Inside Out series; the Dirty Money series; the White Lies duet; the Tall, Dark, and Deadly series; and The Secret Life of Amy Benson series. Murder Notes is the first book in the Lilah Love series. Visit her at www.lisareneejones.com.

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A lifelong lover of books, she started writing as a way to pre­serve her sanity when her youngest child entered first grade. During the next few years, she joined Romance Writers of America, learned a few things about writing a novel, and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She’s also garnered Golden Leaf and Silver Falchion awards, along with nominations for a RITA and three Daphne du Maurier Awards. Her other novels include She Can Tell, She She Can Scream, Midnight Exposure, Midnight Sacrifice, Midnight Betrayal, Midnight Obsession, Hour of Need, Minutes to Kill, Seconds to Live, Say You’re Sorry, and Her Last Goodbye. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate; teaches women’s self-defense; and lives in a messy house with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs, and two rescue cats. You can learn more about the author at http://melindaleigh.com.

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Continuing with the Rogue Justice novellas, Kendra Elliot brings closer to the unsolved and “Twisted Truth” (Melinda Leigh) in the final book “Truth Be Told”. Stevie and Zane are brought into the crosshairs of the case when the little boy and his uncle disappear and two FBI agents are killed.

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“Truth Be Told” is the ending and the final book of the Rogue Series co-written by Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh. It is always a treat to read more of the couples that have caught our attention in this gripping and intriguing blend of Rogue stories. Along with keeping the justice upright, getting to see the progression of Stevie and Zane’s relationship as a couple is always worth the reading.

The Rogue Series is a great start for any reading buffs wanting to test new authors. Two authors who have honed their writing skills to amazing heights of intriguing plots, twisted villains and courageous characters.

Received an ARC from Montlake Romance via Net Galley for an honest review.

It’s wonderful to re-visit the little town of Solitude, and visit with Seth Harding and his wife Carly, but then death and evil never rest and so neither does Seth and his team and Carly.

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Responding to a double homicide and finding a child chained in the basement is not something Seth was looking forward to. More than ever, bringing Carly in to help with the child is just as painful, with Carly recovering from a trauma. But justice never rests, and where a child is involved, Carly will move heaven and earth to protect the child and get to the bottom of the deaths of two who are not even the child’s parents. As the case becomes complex, so does the danger surrounding their family and team. With death shooting bullets at them, Seth and Carly have to work together to outwit death and save their family.

Another adrenaline pumping short novella, entwining an intriguing plots along with Seth and Carly’s new life, their daughter, mother and their farm. It’s nice to see the after of Seth’s and Carly’s fragile relationship and the inroads they have made after reconciling, and reading about the supporting casts, always makes it extra special.

“Twisted Truth” is book one of the Rogue Justice Novellas, and co-written by Melinda Leigh (Book #1) and Book #2 will follow written by Kendra Elliot. Brilliant at what she does best, writing romantic suspense keeping her readers enthralled, Melinda Leigh pens another thrilling story around Seth and Carly.

Received an ARC from Montlake Romance via Net Galley for an honest review.

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