USA Today bestselling author Hallee Bridgeman recently stopped to share some about her writing life.
Why did you start writing romantic suspense novels?
I wrote my first romantic suspense between January and March 2000. I actually had a dream New Year’s Eve and woke up from that dream about 2 a.m. and started writing. The final product was A Melody for James.
What’s your go-to when you need a pick-me-up to keep writing?
My inbox. I get such amazing letters from readers that completely encourage and inspire me to keep writing. If you ever feel the urge to write an author—do it. You have no idea what it means.
What’s the weirdest way someone has died or been killed in your novels?
I skied a philandering woman, who was pregnant with her lover’s child, into a tree. I wanted to just divorce my characters, but a poll of my readers said they wouldn’t approve. Funny—I’ve never had anyone complain about killing off a pregnant adulteress.
Where do you get the inspiration for your plots? I always start with my characters. Once my characters are established, then I create the plots.
About Hallee Bridgeman Hallee is the USA Today bestselling author of several action-packed romantic suspense books and series. An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee settled with her husband in central Kentucky, where they have raised their three children. When she’s not writing, Hallee pursues her passion for cooking, coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. She’s also an accomplished speaker and active member of several writing organizations.
Honor Bound She’s trained to save lives. He’s ordered to take them. Can extreme opposites really attract?
Medical missionary Cynthia Myers is trained to save lives. Captain Rick Norton of the Special Forces A-Team is ordered to take them. When Cynthia’s past catches up to her, they must learn to put aside their differences to make it out alive from the treacherous jungles of a war-torn African country.
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” I’m talking with award-winning author Linda Wood Rondeau, who writes stories that grip the heart, inspired by her nearly 30 years of social work. When not writing or speaking, she enjoys the occasional round of golf, visiting museums, and taking walks with her best friend in life, her husband of 45 years. The couple resides in Hagerstown, Md., where both are active in their local church.
“I used the term ghosts for several reasons,” Linda explained. “My hero … calls these disturbances [in a house] ghosts because he doesn’t know what else to call them. … I choose the ghosts for the title because I think it’s important for us to understand as Christians that Satan will use any means to deter or deflect our relationship with the Lord.”
Amish Romance: The Story of Love by Beth Wiseman — With little left to tie her to her home state of Texas and yearning for a slower life, Yvonne Wilson jumps at the chance to shake things up with a move to Montgomery, Indiana. A dream job awaits her—managing an Amish bookstore for her good friends Jake and Eva. Besides the slow-paced setting and the comfort of beloved books, Yvonne hopes the change will help distract her from the emptiness she feels after the death of her fiancé. No longer a part of the Amish community but still a resident of Montgomery, Abraham Byler finds himself in over his head with his job as a police officer combined with a new but fast-moving relationship with the wealthy and aggressive New York native Brianna Stone. When Abraham realizes that his old crush Yvonne is back in town, he’s not just in over his head—he suddenly finds himself head over heels for Yvonne—and in hot water with Brianna. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))
Contemporary Romance: Christmas at Whispering Creek by Barbara Britton — All Samantha Williams wants to do is to use her teaching degree to instruct a classroom of second graders. But, after a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of twenty-three, and failed reconstruction surgery, Sam finds herself without a job and temporarily living with her parents. This isn’t the life Sam expected. When a family friend dies and leaves Sam a house and land in Whispering Creek, Tennessee, Sam must decide if leaving Wisconsin for Southern living is in her lesson plans. Nashville native, Cole Donoven, left his family’ s electrical business to write country music. When Cole’ s song-writing partner and girlfriend dumps him for a country music star, Cole abandons Nashville to hole up in Whispering Creek and compose one more song. The last thing Cole expects to find in the sleepy small town is a deceased friend, estate squabbles, and a Northern beauty. Will the chaos in Whispering Creek help create a bestselling song for Cole and possibly help him find a life-long collaborator? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican))
Destination Christmas by Cathe Swanson, et. al. — This Christmas, pack your bags for a holiday away from home. Join the Christmas Lights Collection authors as we travel to Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and New Cheltenham for warm and wonderful stories of love and Christmas cheer. Destination Christmas offers a stress-free travel experience without traffic, delayed flights, or forgotten toothpaste. Instead, you’ll enjoy wonderful destinations, delightful new friends, and a heartwarming experience! (Contemporary Romance from Havilah Press) Keeping Christmas by Cathe Swansona — In castles far and near, long ago and yesterday, find happily-ever-afters wrapped in love and tied with Christmas joy. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)
To Believe in You by Emily Conrad — Can she trust her heart to a man who can’t trust himself? Since his dismissal from the rock band Awestruck, former bassist and addict Matt Visser has been transformed by faith and a year of sobriety. If he can repay his parents for one last major debt from his years of irresponsible living, he can move into the future with a clear conscience. Now if only his latest stunt hadn’t gotten him fired from the family business. After Lina Abbey’s fiancé gambled away their wedding savings, she surrendered her hopes of a family of her own—what man could she trust enough to marry—and moved for a fresh start in Wisconsin. She busies herself with her jobs managing Awestruck’s social media and directing Key of Hope, a non-profit funded by the band to teach music lessons to kids from low-income families. She would never hire a man with Matt’s track record as a bass guitar instructor, but Awestruck’s manager, Tim, forces her hand. In need of a job and eager to clear his debts, Matt begins work. Unable to resist a challenge, he soon adds the goal of winning the trust of his beautiful but cautious coworker. Lina is impressed that Matt resists Tim’s ongoing efforts to reconnect him with Awestruck, but when a new truth about Matt’s past reveals a wrong he can never right, he and Lina both need something more trustworthy than Matt to believe in. Otherwise, history will repeat itself in all the worst ways (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published) Lost in Winter’s Wonderland by Sandra Ardoin — Sometimes getting lost takes you right where you belong. Seeking a peaceful week before the annual Callahan Christmas migration, Kelsey Callahan retreats to her mountain cabin in Tennessee. When a snowstorm dumps a lost love on her doorstep, Kelsey must choose between trusting in Justin’s appeal for a second chance at romance or giving in to fear and losing him forever. A humiliating mistake steered Justin Strong away from the woman his teenaged-self had planned to marry and onto the path of business success. Years later, after being rescued by her, those old feelings reawaken, and he questions his past decision. But with the lure of a long-sought client, Justin is torn between redeeming his youthful blunder and proving he’s a man Kelsey can rely on. How much will each of them sacrifice to build a future together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published) The Misadventures of Itchy Izzy by N Y. Dunlap — Life has imploded for Isabelle Chavalier, MBA, knocking the silver spoon from her mouth. Her cushioned inheritance can buy her anything, almost anything. She desperately desires another moment with her mother. Now, a family feud has threatened to rip apart the little sanity Isabelle has left. And with it, all she ever believed in . . . hope. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Historical Romance: Restoring Miss Hastings by Edwina Kiernan — Harriet Hastings has nowhere left to turn: after losing both her parents within a few months of each other, she is penniless and alone. So when a distant relative makes arrangements for her future, Harriet faces another loss — leaving the place she calls home to go and live with strangers. (Historical Romance, from Moliant Publishing) A Hope and a Prayer by Julie Lessman — She’s in love with her best friend. He’s in love with her cousin. But when the war reveals a gift so rare, will they be saved by a hope and prayer? As Head Nurse at 2d Hospital in Nancy, France, Lieutenant Hope Dennehy is known for her healing touch, especially when it comes to mending the wounds and spirit of her best friend, Lieutenant Bren O’Neill. When Hope’s cousin breaks Bren’s heart, Hope is always there, helping to heal him with a friendship so anointed and deep, it threatens to break her heart too. Flying high as a daredevil aeromedical evac pilot in the European Theatre, “Lieutenant Love” O’Neill crashes and burns when the woman he loves falls for another. Depending on the support and prayers of Nurse Hope Dennehy to save him, Bren re-evaluates his free-wheeling lifestyle when he witnesses the heinous atrocities of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Suddenly nothing in life is as important as taking care of those he loves … or is it? Battling demons from his past, Bren learns that only one thing can truly save him from himself. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Freedom’s Flight by Penny Zeller — When she discovers the handsome Reverend Matthias Sorenson assisting runaway slaves, can Annalise VanHouten convince him to allow her to help? Or will mistrust prove fatal for all involved? (Historical Romance from Maplebrook Publishing)
The Lady’s Mission by Mary Davis — Will Cordelia abandon her calling, for love? Cordelia Armstrong wants nothing more than to escape the social norms for her station in society that require her to look pretty and do as she is told. However, unless she can skillfully maneuver her father into giving up control of her trust fund, she might have to concede defeat—as well as her freedom—and marry. To ward off potential suitors, she puts on a giggly persona. Every time Lamar Kesner finds a fascinating lady, her heart belongs to another. He doesn’t merely want a beautiful wife. He wants an intriguing partner with intelligence and wit. Is he asking too much of any woman? When a vapid socialite is offered up as a prospective bride, he contemplates flying off in his hot air balloon instead. Is Lamar the one to finally break the determination of Cordelia’s parents to marry her off? Or will this charming bachelor fly away with her heart? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)
The Lost Melody by Joanna Davidson Politano — When concert pianist Vivienne Mourdant’s father dies, he leaves to her the care of an adult ward she knew nothing about. The woman is supposedly a patient at Hurstwell Asylum. The woman’s portrait is shockingly familiar to Vivienne, so when the asylum claims she was never a patient there, Vivienne is compelled to discover what happened to the figure she remembers from childhood dreams. The longer she lingers in the deep shadows and forgotten towers at Hurstwell, the fuzzier the line between sanity and madness becomes. She hears music no one else does, receives strange missives with rose petals between the pages, and untangles far more than is safe for her to know. But can she uncover the truth about the mysterious woman she seeks? And is there anyone at Hurstwell she can trust with her suspicions?. (Historical Romance, from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
A Nanny for the Rancher’s Twins by Heidi Main — Returning to small-town Texas was her fresh start. She never expected a ready-made family. What could be better than running a rustic wedding venue? Event planner Laney Taylor has it all laid out…except for the serious renovations her inherited property needs. Rancher Ethan McCaw will help—but only if she’ll nanny his toddler twins. Laney’s all about planning weddings for others and shielding her own heart, but Ethan, Zoe and Tori might be just the ones to change her mind. (Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Keeping Christmas, Vol. 2 by Tabitha Bouldin, et. al. — The King’s Promise: In a world of airships and kings, a prince makes a promise that tears him away from his love. An ordinary baker’s daughter finds herself caught in the middle of a game where the winner earns the queen’s crown. They both want what they can’t have as they struggle toward a seemingly impossible happily ever after. Plus, five other stories! (Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)
Uncharted Christmas by Keely Brooke Keith — As Dr. Lydia Bradshaw makes her rounds in the village of Good Springs this Christmas season, each family she visits seems to be blessed in ways she is not. All the homes are beautifully decorated for the holiday, and every woman is expecting another baby. Every woman but her, that is. While the haze from the volcanic ash cloud outside the Land looms on the horizon, calls for the doctor force Lydia to work around the clock. Torn between fighting for the home life she craves and the career that defines her, Lydia needs a Christmas miracle. Meanwhile, at Falls Creek…Philip Roberts spends his lonely nights in the parsonage next to the humble chapel. Pastoring the church across from the Land’s only inn means encouraging many a road-worn traveler to carry on, whatever their journey might be. Philip also watches the ever-changing rotation of guests for the one person he prays will stay at Falls Creek forever. Only he doesn’t know her name. (Romance, Independently Published)
General Contemporary: Where the Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner — When confident and handsome Eric Larson is sent to a rural Montana town to work in the local branch of his uncle’s financial company, he’s determined to exceed everyone’s expectations, earn a promotion, and be back in Seattle by the end of summer. Yet nothing could prepare him for the lessons this small town has in store. At forty-six years old, eccentric and outspoken Eunice Parker has come to accept her terminal illness and has given herself one final goal: seek forgiveness from everyone on her bucket list before her time runs out. But it will take more courage than she can muster on her own. After an accident pushes Eric and Eunice together, the unlikely pair is forced to spend more time with each other than either would like, which challenges their deepest prejudices and beliefs. As summer draws to a close, neither Eric nor Eunice is where they thought they would be, but they both wrestle with the same important question: What matters most when the end is near? (General Contemporary from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Mary by Shannon McNear — Worlds Collide Along the Shores of the Outer Banks. Immerse yourself in the “what if” questions related to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. What if an English boy and a native girl met in the wilderness? The push-and-pull between two very different worlds begins as one seeks simple friendship and the other struggles to trust. And can it–dare they–allow it to be more? Sparks fly between Mushaniq, free-spirited daughter of Manteo, and Georgie Howe, whose father was brutally murdered by undiscovered native warriors before they’d been on Roanoac Island a full week. As Georgie struggles to make sense of his life and to accept that not all they call “savage” are guilty of his father’s death, Mushaniq grapples with her own questions about who Manteo has become. As tentative friendship becomes more, forged in the fire of calamity and attack upon their community, both must decide whether the One True God is indeed who He claims to be and whether He is worthy of their trust. (General Historical from Barbour Publishing)
Mystery – Cozy:
The Merchant’s Curse by Antony B. Kolenc — When a merchant appears to be cursed by a witch, a peasant boy in medieval England races against time to save the man’s life while avoiding capture as a suspected traitor to the king. (Mystery, from Loyola Press)
FIVE DAYS LOST by Luana Ehrlich — Mylas agrees to investigate a bizarre incident from a prominent senator’s past, but as he tries to untangle the clues from a dead woman’s diary, he’s faced with an unexpected threat. Is it related to his investigation or is it something far more dangerous? (Crime Mystery, ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published))
Dog Days of Summer by Kathleen Y’Barbo — Mishaps Abound as Second Chance Ranch Struggles to Get Its Start. Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Then there’s the handsome man from her past who just might convince her not to go back to Nashville. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening. (Mystery – Cozy, from Barbour Publishing)
The Plot Thickens by Susan Page Davis — Jillian only wants to redecorate one room at the Novel Inn—but first she has to deal with murder. Murder strikes Skirmish Cove during the coastal town’s winter carnival. Jillian Tunney, part owner of the nearby Novel Inn, discovers the body of a clerk at her favorite bookstore. With her sister Kate and brother, Officer Rick Gage, she tries to find out who killed him. Meanwhile, Jillian is immersed in redecorating one of the themed rooms, but Kate is annoyed when a mysterious guest at the inn doesn’t want to leave his room. The innkeepers find they have way too many secrets to solve.. (Mystery – Cozy from Scrivenings Press)
Speculative Fiction/Fantasy: Dream of Kings by Sharon Hinck — The Future Never Sleeps. In the glacial nation of Norgard, Jolan the Dream Teller serves every seeker, whether peasant or high lord. Though she loves using her gift, she struggles to navigate the corrupt and dangerous court and the jealousies of the Guildagard. When an old man’s nightmare imparts a dire warning, Jolan realizes her entire nation is in danger. But before she can sound the alarm, she is betrayed by the guilds and sold into slavery in a rival kingdom far to the south. As a slave in a foreign land, at first Jolan can’t see beyond her singular focus: return home to warn Norgard of the coming calamity. After facing new dangers, making new friends, and forgiving old wrongs, she must fulfill the purposes the Provider has set before her. Only then can she face a decision that could cost her the man she loves, her calling, and her freedom—all to save a people who abandoned her. (Speculative Fiction/Fantasy from Enclave Publishing)
Circle of Vengeance by Ramona Richards — Twenty-five years ago, a body was discovered in the Turney family barn–and folks around town were all too ready to believe that killing blood ran through all the Turney’s veins. Every member of the family came under suspicion, their reputations crumbled to pieces, and with no convictions, no one could be cleared. Daughter Jill, now a Chicago lawyer, is ready for this case to be solved and for her broken family to be repaired at last. Who better to find the answers than cold-case P.I. Star Cavanaugh? But as Star begins to dig into generations-old secrets, the killer resurfaces to make sure none of those skeletons leave the closet–no matter what the cost. As the danger mounts, Star again joins forces with police chief, Mike Luinetti, and begins to uncover truths that the whole town has kept hidden. But becoming the target of the determined killer isn’t the way Star wants to find the answers. It’s a race to solve the case before it becomes a matter of her life or death. (Thriller/Suspence/Crime from Kregel Publications)
Thriller/Suspense/Romance: Concrete Evidence by DiAnn Mills — On the family’s Brazos River Ranch in Texas, Avery Elliott helps run her grandfather’s commercial construction business. Raised by Senator Elliott, Avery has never doubted her grandfather is the man of integrity and faith she’s always believed him to be . . . until the day she finds him standing with a gun over the body of a dead man. To make matters worse, Avery’s just discovered a billing discrepancy for materials supposedly purchased for construction of the Lago de Cobre Dam. Desperate for answers, Avery contacts FBI Special Agent Marc Wilkins for help. As Marc works to identify the dead man Avery saw, threats toward Avery create a fresh sense of urgency to pinpoint why someone wants to silence her. With a hurricane approaching the Texas coast and the structural integrity of the Lago de Cobre Dam called into question, time is running out to get to the bottom of a sinister plot that could be endangering the lives of not only Avery and her loved ones but the entire community. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Tyndale House)
Defending Honor by Kelly Underwood — Laila Rabbinowitz is all business. Tough and stoic, she was the perfect Mossad agent…until a terrible betrayal led to her worst nightmare. Being a bodyguard with the Elite Guardians allows her to keep her heart safe-she’ll never let anyone close enough to betray her again. And she’s certainly not going to trust anyone who doesn’t earn it. Billionaire and former playboy Preston Whittaker walked away from his famous family after a terrible event, but then his father and brother are killed in a suspicious boating accident. Since he’s next in line to helm the family business, now someone wants him dead. Preston needs someone by his side 24/7, and the only solution is a fake marriage. In order to keep him safe, Laila will have to convince everyone that she and Preston are in love. She’s used to putting her life on the line for a client. But what will this case cost her heart? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Sunrise Publishing)
Explosive Christmas Showdown by Darlene L. Turner — A bomber brings terror to Christmas as the presents go tick…tick…boom. With criminal investigative analyst Olive Wells at the center of a bomber’s dangerous game, she’ll do anything to catch the culprit—even work with her ex-fiancé and his K-9 detector dog. But with the Christmas rampage drawing ever closer, Zac Turner’s convinced the attacks are personal. Can they piece together their ties to the bomber…before another gift explodes? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Wreathed in Disgrace by Robin Patchen — When she discovers the handsome Reverend Matthias Sorenson assisting runaway slaves, can Annalise VanHouten convince him to allow her to help? Or will mistrust prove fatal for all involved? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Western Romance: A Model of Devotion by Mary Conneally — She’s finally claimed her independence . . . how far will she go to keep it? A brilliant engineer, Jilly Stiles has been educated since childhood to help run her father’s lumber dynasty. With the company safe from her stepfather after the marriages of her two sisters, Jilly can now focus on her dream of building a mountaintop railroad–and never marry. Nick Ryder came into Jilly’s life when he saved her mother from her no-good stepfather, and he’s prepared to protect Jilly from anything that threatens to harm her–as long as he keeps his heart from getting involved. But when a cruel and powerful man goes to dangerous lengths to make Jilly his own, she must make a decision between her safety and her hard-won independence. (Western Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
The Choices She Made by Felicia Ferguson — In 1997, seventeen-year-old Madeline Williams is torn between continuing her family ranching legacy and accepting her Army-bound boyfriend’s marriage proposal. But when an assault by John David Billings, the son of a wealthy rancher, leaves her pregnant, Madeline sacrifices both options, choosing to leave town and raise the child alone. It’s been several years, and when she returns to her hometown to meet with her father, rumors circulate about John David’s trial–for assaulting other women. Madeline struggles with the secret she’s kept from her daughter–and everyone but her father–all of these years. If she testifies, John David could be put away for good. It doesn’t help that he’s hired a killer lawyer, and it would take a testimony like hers just to put him behind bars. But if she unveils her past, that could have some dangerous repercussions for her daughter.She has trusted God throughout her entire life, but can she trust him to carry her through this trial? (Women’s Fiction from End Game Press)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
The Brightest Star by Patti Jo Moore, When she volunteered to head up the children’s Christmas program at her church, Macy Crawford never expected to become so attached to a shy, orphaned girl in the program. (Contemporary Romance)
The Dark Atonement by Sarah Hamaker, As their lives intersect, the pair find themselves in a race to discover the whereabouts of her grandfather—and whoever wants to silence him—before the past catches up with the present. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance)
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” my guests are Lori Altebaumer and Wendy Wilson Spooner. Among other topics, we discussed how the past has implications for the present and future.
“The repeat pattern of my [book] themes is taking a woman who has been broken … and walking her through the steps of forgiveness, things like that, to show her that her past doesn’t take away her future,” Lori said.
“My books are dual timeline,” Wendy said. “This is a wonderful, rags-to-riches immigration story that has God woven through all of it and how he carries us through so many things.”
Multi-published author Lori describes herself as a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart. Her tagline of head in the clouds, boots on the ground, and heart in His hands isn’t just a catchy phrase, but sums up the way she lives her life. Lori has enjoyed both traditional and independent publishing. Her debut novel, A Firm Place to Stand, has been recognized as 2020 AWSA Golden Scrolls Awards winner as well as being selected as a finalist for multiple Selah Awards and the BRMCWC Director’s Choice Awards in 2021. Her work has been included in multiple compilations including Arise to Peace published by Right to the Heart and The Power to Make a Difference published by Lighthouse Bible Studies. Lori enjoys engaging with all facets of the writing industry and people who are passionate about the craft of writing. A life-long Texas, she loves her Southern roots, things that make her laugh, and the company of family and friends.
Wendy, Lic. G., LCoT, is a genetic genealogist by day, a writer by night, and an artist in between. Her love of what we can learn from history compels her to write the true stories she unearths during her research because she has found that truth is indeed, much more exciting and inspiring than fiction. She’s a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogist, The Association of Professional Genealogists, Romance Writers of America, and The American Night Writer’s Association. As an award-winning author of professional articles and poems, she’s turned to novel writing to share what she has learned with a greater audience. When not writing or researching, Wendy paints, hikes, binges on Bollywood movies, and spends time with her greatest loves—her family.
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” I’m chatting with Cathy McDavid. Since 2006, New York Times bestselling author Cathy McDavid has been happily penning contemporary Westerns for Harlequin. Every day, she gets to write about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting broncs, and sweeping gals off their feet — oops, no. Make that winning the hearts of feisty, independent women who give the cowboys a run for their money. With more than 55 titles in print, Cathy is blessed to share her Arizona home with her own real-life sweetheart. Her grown twins have left to embark on lives of their own, and she couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments.
She got started writing about wildfires because of a personal encounter with one. “A wildfire came [close to our cabin in Arizona] and we were watching it from our front porch,” Cathy said. “That gave me the original idea for the first book I did … about hotshots. … That was a subject that was personal for me.”