When Karin Harlow asked me to read an early copy of Enemy Lover, I hesitated—I’m not a huge fan of vampire stories. But after only one chapter I was hooked. Harlow’s characters are so compelling, the action exquisitely written, the dialogue sharp and realistic, I forgot I wasn’t supposed to like a vampire story. Jax and Marcus are two of the most gripping characters I’ve read in a long time. When I recommend to new writers that they not be afraid to torture and torment their characters, from now on I’ll simply refer them to Harlow.
One reviewer said, “Marcus Cross gives whole new meaning to Alpha male. Jax Cassidy put the kick-ass in the word ‘heroine.'” . . . I couldn’t have said it better myself. I love strong heroines who don’t need a man—but realize they are a better, more complete person, with passion and love in their lives. That’s Jax.
Fresh Fiction called Enemy Lover, “Black Ops meets the paranormal” which I think sums up this original story perfectly.
So now it’s time for you to meet the incomparable Karin Harlow! Read on because you’ll have the chance to win a signed copy of Enemy Lover and a limited edition L.O.S.T. mug!
AB: Thank you so much for being here with us at Murder She Writes! We are all thrilled to have you. (applause, applause, hoot, woot!) Please give us a brief synopsis of ENEMY LOVER, book one in the L.O.S.T. series.
HARLOW: Thank you Allison for taking the time to chat with me and have me as your guest at Murder She Writes, and double thank you for all of that lovely praise!
It’s Jax Cassidy’s first mission for L.O.S.T.—one that will give the former cop who went rogue a chance to prove herself. Her assignment: gain the trust of assassin Marcus Cross . . . eliminate him . . . then take down Marcus’s mentor, Joseph Lazarus, a man with a bold eye on the White House. But the woman who’s known by her team for being a femme fatale succumbs to passion, only to discover Cross’s deadly secret. He’s a vampire, and Joseph Lazarus is his creator.
Left for dead by his platoon in the violent hills of Afghanistan, special ops sniper Marcus Cross was given a second chance at life. His newly heightened skills make him the perfect killing machine, and as Lazarus’s right hand man, he’s quickly rising to the top of his dark empire, purging enemies with speed and precision. Only when dangerous beauty Jax Cassidy is sent to bring him in does he begin to question Lazarus’s motives and his own actions. But when Jax’s life is threatened by the one thing that can destroy them both, Marcus must make a bitter choice—her death or his.
AB: Is this a series? A trilogy? Stand-alone?
HARLOW: ENEMY LOVER is a stand alone book, but it is also book one in the L.O.S.T., Last Option Special Team, series. I hope for a long long run!
AB: Tortured heroes. Tortured heroines. Bad, bad, bad villains. Talk a little bit about your characters and how you made them come so alive in this book.
HARLOW: I’m a people observer. I’m always fascinated with people’s issues. What makes them tick. Why does one woman curl up and hide from the world when something bad happens to her while another woman will roll up her sleeves and kick some ass? I’m hooked on the show Intervention and anything Dr Drew is involved in. It’s a wonderful window to real peoples’ very real issues, in that, I give my characters real depth. They can and will do bad things, sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes not, but there is a valid reason other than being stupid or just plain old mean. That goes double for the bag guy. In ENEMY LOVER, while Marcus is an assassin and believes in what he does, his boss who also happens to be his creator, Joseph Lazarus, wants to control the White House. Not because he’s power hungry, though that is part of his motivation, but more than that, what drives him is the fact that he’s a hardcore patriot and will use the White House to eliminate any threat to his country. However, he sees fit. It’s the, however he sees fit, that’s the problem.
AB: In some ways, ENEMY LOVER is a political thriller. In others, a romantic suspense. And of course, there are vampires–though very original and thoughtfully created, while still holding to the basic vampire mythology. In fact, one might call it a paranormal romantic suspense with political thriller overtones. (bawahahaha!) How did the plot come together for you? It’s quite complex–did you plot it out ahead of time? Did your characters take over?
HARLOW: ENEMY LOVER has been called all of the above plus action-adventure! I love it all, because ENEMY LOVER is all of the above! Ok, so here’s the deal: When you have no other alternative, then you call in L.O.S.T. Because with L.O.S.T. it’s do or die.
L.O.S.T. doesn’t take on small missions, these guys and gals take on the big stuff. Like the guy who has his eye on the White House and his right arm, uber stealth assassin vampire, Marcus Cross. These guys are untouchable and not willing to take no for an answer. For L.O.S.T., it’s go big or call the local cops. What’s bigger than our national security via an unauthorized take over of the White House?
Like you, I’m a pantser. But before I begin a story, I have to know three things about my h/h and the bad guy: What do they want? Why do they want it? And how far are they willing to go to get it? I have a general idea of the story but it doesn’t evolve until it goes from my brain to my fingers to the computer screen.
And, yes, my characters took over long before I started the story. I really was consumed by them.
AB: One of the things I greatly admired in this book was your dialogue. It’s fast, it flows, and is very natural. What’s your secret? Do you read it out loud? Act out the scenes?
HARLOW: Thank you! I love dialogue and equate it to action scenes. I don’t have a secret, it’s one of those play to your strengths kind of things. I have snappy repartee going on all around me in my home life, so I write what I know. 😉 I don’t usually read out loud, mostly because I forget to! I’m not much for acting out scenes either, but with this book since there is so much high-octane action, I found myself walking through many of the scenes with my husband. He was a great help.
AB: ENEMY LOVER is as sexy as it is suspenseful. Your characters live large in everything they do. What are your thoughts on writing larger-than-life characters who love—and fight—passionately, without making them caricatures?
HARLOW: I have a big emotional family. We love hard, play hard, get pissed off hard, and we are loyal to a fault, it all comes out in my characters. I write them true to themselves. I know some people who live so large they are a caricature, but I think they are caricatures because they don’t show the emotional sides of themselves. With my characters, you may not see it in their actions right off the bat, but you will immediately feel it from their insides out.
AB: Do you have anything else you want to share with MSW? Like maybe, what’s up next?
HARLOW: I’m working on L.O.S.T. book two, working title LOST SOULS. It features L.O.S.T operative Nikko Cruz, who has good reason to despise manipulative women, pitted against the mistress of manipulation, half daemon, half elf, Selena de la Roja posing as a sexy Cubana club owner in sultry south beach, who uses her club, LOST SOULS, to lure daemons in, then makes hash out of them. She has her reasons. She’s an amazing woman. Amazing. Though passing herself off as a human to blend into their world, Selena has no interest in humans except to use as bait to lure daemons from hell. Unfortunately, she needs Cruz to save her mother from her daemonic father and Cruz needs her to locate three hijacked centrifuge-laden semis spinning uranium-235. Not a good thing in the hands of the wrong government.
AB: And now the fun stuff! Here’s some questions I asked Ms. Harlow:
Sun Sign: I’m a Leo of course!
(Of course? Is there something I don’t understand here?)
Do for fun: Wine tasting!
(I’ve made a new friend!)
Dumbest thing you’ve ever done: Let’s not go there…
(Shoot, you’re no fun! How much wine do I have to ply you with to get you to spill your guts???)
Smartest thing you’ve ever done: Threw caution to the wind, packed up my car and moved to California with my boyfriend who I married.
(Smartest or craziest!)
One thing you want to do, but doubt you will: Take two months and travel Europe.
(I want to live for a year in Ireland.)
One thing you want to do, and know you will: Rent a nice motor home (the kind with indoor everything!) and travel across this great country of ours.
(My grandparents did that . . . you’re not that old!)
Favorite TV show: Castle. I know, frivolous escapism.
(We all need frivolous escapism!!)
Favorite movie: ugh so many. Zeferelli’s Romeo and Juliet
(Very cultured of you!)
If you could marry anyone (other than your husband!) who would it be? If that hunk on my cover has half a brain, him!
(No comment! LOL)
Enemy Lover goes on sale next Tuesday. Five days. Would you like a copy? Then comment below—or ask Karin a question–and one very lucky winner will win a signed copy of this breakout book. And she’s also giving away one of these cool custom L.O.S.T mugs! (It is a REALLY cool mug!) And if you want to learn more about our special guest, visit her website!