On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” I’m talking with Laura Conway, who grew up in the suburbs of Pennsylvania as an avid reader and writer while making every adventure a mystery to solve like Nancy Drew. As a former school librarian, she’s always on the hunt for the next best read but now spends her time creating stories that leave readers on the edge of their seat with a healthy dose of suspense and happily ever-afters. When she’s not typing away or inhaling sweet potato fries to motivate writing, Laura spends her time playing violin and guitar and sharing about the Greatest Story ever written.
“I was a middle school librarian for a while. It was a pleasure to interact with kids of that age, … middle school has a special place in my heart,” Laura says. “I feel like I read the whole gamut with [genres] … but there’s something about romantic suspense that just keeps the story moving. It’s almost like this race against the clock—I can never put down a suspense book. I have to stay up and finish to find out who did it and what’s happening.”
I recently took a trip down memory lane by revisiting some of my earlier writings from my childhood and teen years. Most of it is pretty typical young writer stuff (very silly plots and characters!), but I’ve always liked this short piece, which I wrote for a high school English assignment. It’s kind of my riff on The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde. Enjoy!
The sunlight streamed through the open window. The brightness of it practically blinded the old woman’s eyes—eyes that had once been as blue as the sky and now were lifeless, clear as glass. Out in the garden beyond the window, her granddaughter sat on the stone bench sewing a dress while her two-year-old daughter played quietly nearby. The grandmother watched as the sunlight danced off her golden hair, wishing she was the one sitting out there sewing instead of lying in bed.
She got up and staggered over to the full-length mirror. A small, stooped, and shapeless form greeted her sad eyes. Silver hair hung in twisted locks about her hunched shoulders. Her hands, once capable of sewing the finest clothes in the county, now could barely hold a cane as gnarled and twisted as they were. Her once beautiful face was shriveled and contorted with pain.
“Oh, to be young again!” she cried, smashing the mirror with her fist. It cracked and the pieces fell to the floor. She withdrew her hand, startled, and saw the blood on her youthful flesh. AS she wiped it away, it dawned on her what had happened.
“I’m young again!” She glanced in the mirror and gasped in astonishment. The mirror was unbroken!
Running to the window, she looked out over the gardens, bright and beautiful with the vibrance of spring. She fingered her golden curls and stretched forth her hands, admiring the slender, coordinated fingers. Her countenance glowed and her skin was smooth. She spun around the room, laughing in youthful exuberance. Round and round she went till her outstretched hand caught the upright mirror, sending it crashing to the ground…
The sun was setting, lighting the sky in a gorgeous array of colors but the old woman stood amidst the shattered glass, oblivious to the beauty of the world around her.
A Louisiana Christmas to Remember by Morgan Tapley Smith, Betsy St. Amant, Lenora Worth — Three heartwarming, interconnected stories of faith, love, and restoration, brought to you by three Louisiana-native authors. Will a rare snowy Louisiana Christmas bring restoration and hope to the hometown and hearts of three women from the town’s founding family? In A Louisiana Snow by Morgan Tarpley Smith, meet Mattie: A passionate visionary who learns to forgive and finds love in unexpected places… In Restoring Christmas by Betsy St. Amant, meet Jolene: An artist and prodigal daughter who discovers love exists in the very place she once called home…
In A Christmas Reunion by Lenora Worth, meet Adale: A beautiful widow who finally dares to love again… (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Redeeming the Cowboy by Lisa Jordan — Five years ago, bull rider Bear Stone lost everything. His best friend. His fiancée. His career. And Piper Healy, his best friend’s wife, never forgave him for the rodeo accident that killed her husband. Now they’re working together to save his family’s ranch. But can this cowboy choose between his last chance at the rodeo…and the woman he’s falling for? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)
Where Love is Planted by Dawn Kinzer — A beautiful horticultural therapist.A handsome social worker in a woman’s prison. Will their loyalty to others cost them their own happiness? Or will something beautiful grow where love is planted? (Contemporary Romance from Morningview Publishing)
A Counterfeit Betrothal by Denise Weimer — A frontier scout, a healing widow, and a desperate fight for peace. At the farthest Georgia outpost this side of hostile Creek Territory in 1813, Jared Lockridge serves his country as a scout to redeem his father’s botched heritage. If he can help secure peace against Indians allied to the British, he can bring his betrothed to the home he’s building and open his cabinetry shop. Then he comes across a burning cabin and a traumatized woman just widowed by a fatal shot. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Francine’s Foibles by Linda Shenton Matchett — World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood? Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family? Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
The Legacy of Longdale Manor by Carrie Turansky — In 2012, art historian Gwen Morris travels to England’s Lake District to appraise the paintings and antiques of an old family friend, hoping to prove herself to her prestigious grandfather. When Gwen stumbles upon a one-hundred-year-old journal and an intricately carved shepherd’s staff similar to one in a photo of her parents, she’s left searching for answers. In 1912, after her father’s death, Charlotte Harper uncovers a painful family secret she can only confess to her journal. As Charlotte grows closer to shepherd Ian Storey and rebuilds her shattered faith, she must decide whether she will ever trust in love again. (Historical Romance from Bethany House)
Wooing Gertrude by Jodie Wolfe — Enoch Valentine has given up finding peace for his past mistakes. He throws everything he has into being the new part-time deputy in Burrton Springs, Kansas while maintaining the foreman position at a local horse ranch. But when trouble stirs on the ranch, he questions whether he’ s the right man for either job. Peace has been elusive for most of Gertrude Miller’s life, especially under the oppressiveness of an overbearing mother. She takes matters into her own hands and sends for a potential husband, while also opening her own dress shop. Gertrude hopes to build a future where she’ ll find peace and happiness. Will either of them ever be able to find peace? (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing)
The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass by Katie Powner — After years of drifting, fifty-year-old Pete Ryman has settled down with his potbellied pig, Pearl, in the small Montana town of Sleeping Grass–a place he never expected to see again. It’s not the life he dreamed of, but there aren’t many prospects for a high-school dropout like him. Elderly widow Wilma Jacobsen carries a burden of guilt over her part in events that led to Pete leaving Sleeping Grass decades ago. Now that he’s back, she’s been praying for the chance to make things right, but she never expected God’s answer to leave her flat on her face–literally–and up to her ears in meddling. (Literary/Contemporary from Bethany House)
Fall Back and Find Me by Sarah Hanks — Two resilient women separated by over 150 years are linked forever by their challenges, values, and determination. (Split Time from SonFlower Books)
Facing the Enemy by DiAnn Mills — When the long-awaited reunion between Risa and her brother, Trenton, ends in tragedy, Risa is riddled with guilt, unable to cope with the responsibility she feels over his death. On leave from the FBI, Risa returns to her former career as an English teacher at a local college, only to see her past and present collide when one of her students, Carson Mercury, turns in an assignment that reads like an eyewitness account of her brother’s murder, with details never revealed publicly. Alarmed by Carson’s inside knowledge of Trenton’s death, Risa reaches out to her former partner at the FBI. Special Agent Gage Patterson has been working a string of baby kidnappings, but he agrees to help look into Carson’s background. Risa and Gage soon discover their cases might be connected as a string of high-value thefts have occurred at properties where security systems were installed by Carson’s stepfather and children have gone missing. There’s a far more sinister plot at play than they ever imagined, and innocent lives are in danger. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Tyndale House)
Seeking Justice by Sharee Stover An agent and her K-9 partner risk their lives in the ultimate mission.
With her partner gravely injured in the line of duty, FBI agent Tiandra Daugherty has one shot to complete her mission. She’ll have to convince her partner’s twin brother, Officer Elijah Kenyon, to take his place undercover in a deadly drug ring. Together they must find justice for his brother and dismantle the gang. But the target is now on them, and the mission could prove fatal. (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Love Inspired/Harlequin)
The Text by Julane Fisher — In 2048, 25 years after a pandemic killed one-third of the world’s population, America is flourishing under the department of Safety Threats and Reinforcement (STaR). STaR keeps citizens safe and healthy STaR’s social media app, Allicio, boasts two billion users. The a power outage shuts down STaR’s health monitors and disables millions of mobile phones. Sixteen-year-old Rami Carlton earned a starting spot on the varsity volleyball team. For fun, she races tech-genius Finley Drake to decipher the online identities of their techie friends. The game is harmless. So they thought. Rami receives a chilling text message that she’s being watched. That night, her mother disappears. Despite thousands of city-wide monitors, STaR’s Reinforcement Division cannot locate Rami’s mom. And Rami’s stalker threatens to kill her brother if she talks to Reinforcement Officers. When Finley hacks the nation’s cellular provider, Connect Mobile, he discovers STaR has a secret. STAR isn’t just watching. They’re manipulating Allicio. And Rami is their next target. (Young Adult from Infinite Teen)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
The Last Laird of Sapelo by T.M. Brown — Based on the tragic story of Randolph Spalding, the youngest son of Georgia’s most well-known antebellum-era coastal planter and influential political figure, Thomas Spalding. (General Historical)
During this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense” podcast, you’ll hear from five authors about their romantic suspense books available this month. Here’s the list of authors and books for September 2023, with the book’s release date if not available now.
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” I’m talking with Linore Rose Burkard, a serious watcher of period films, a fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and a hopeless romantic. An award-winning author best known for inspirational regency romance, her first book (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre of hristian Regency to the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary romance and YA suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L. R. Burkard). Raised in New York, Linore earned an English literature magna cum laude degree from CUNY while taking herself far too seriously. A mother of five, she and her family now reside in Ohio, where she turns her youthful angst into heartwarming stories with happily-ever-after endings.
“When my kids were little, I was more intentional about carving out time to write. My first book was written after my husband was home from work,” Linore says. “But every book is different, and now [with my kids grown] it seems more challenging to have more uninterrupted time, especially since my husband recently retired.”