Have you heard that expression? It’s kind of in vogue right now to say something is “in your wheelhouse.” I use the phrase a lot, but admit to being clueless as to origin of the idiom. Is “my wheelhouse” some kind of mill that where I could grind up my favorite stuff into Happy Dust? A place where I could hang onto the ferris wheel of life and ride for free? A store room full of rubber tires made for the express purpose of jumping for joy?
Turns out “the wheelhouse” is a baseball term, and it refers to a pitch that lands in the batter’s sweet spot where he can almost assuredly make solid contact with the ball. When something’s “in your wheelhouse” it is, quite literally, in the comfort zone with a high possibility for a homerun.
So imagine my joy when I started writing Pick Your Poison, my novella that opens up the recently released Gus and Roses anthology, and knew in about ten pages that I was most definitely in my romantic suspense wheelhouse. A delicious and satisfying sense of comfort and familiarity settled over me almost as soon as this story started to take shape.
Maybe it was because I was back in the Bullet Catchers world with my team of elite security specialists, kicking off the story with a classic Lucy Sharpe scene that introduces the professional and emotional problems plaguing my uber-alpha bodyguard. Maybe it was because I just hadn’t written any romantic suspense in almost a year (I’ve been writing contemporaries and young adult) and this genre, my first, comes rather easily to me. Maybe it was because I’d set up my favorite kind of adventure: one with high personal stakes, tons of sexual chemistry, and an assignment that appears simple but just keeps getting more and more complicated, dangerous, and sensual.
Whatever the reason, Pick Your Poison was pure pleasure to write. The freedom of the ebook format allowed me to write a lengthier story than I’d first anticipated…with plenty of room for everything I love in my wheelhouse: a fearless hero on a difficult mission forced to team up with a spirited woman who drives him crazy. Throw in some relentless baddies, unexpected twists, the occasional forced proximity (locked in a freezer this time), electrifying sexual chemistry, a show of brains, brawn, and bravery…and I’m a happy writer (and reader, for that matter).
So what’s your writing/reading wheelhouse? What premise, plot, or story trope hits it out of the park for you? The reluctant hero? Kick ass assassin? Opposites attract? Vigilante on the loose? Guess what…you’ll find all those and more in Guns and Roses! One commenter will win a $25 Amazon or BN.com gift card, allowing you to buy this book and several others that are right in the sweet spot of your reading wheelhouse!
Here’s an excerpt from Pick Your Poison, the story of Bullet Catcher Benjamin Youngblood and Callie Parrish, the fiery flower farmer who can help him thwart an assassination. When these opposites attract, things get hot enough to melt ice. Literally. But first they meet when Callie finds Ben breaking, entering, and stealing all her sanity…
Callie brushed more dirt off her hands and face and grabbed the rusted handle of the storefront door, opening her mouth to call out a greeting—the breath instantly trapped in her throat.
Her mouth stayed open, hanging in shock at the sight of a man behind the sales counter digging through her coffee can of receipts like it was a cookie jar and he was starving.
Another dang thief?
“Can I help you?” she demanded, her hand still on the door in case she had to bolt to the house and get her rifle.
“Jesus Christ.” He flipped a yellow slip of paper, tossing it aside without looking up.
“Last I checked He wasn’t in there.” Wow, this was a big guy. Six two, and an easy hundred and ninety. She hovered in the doorway, ready to run, but oddly mesmerized by his audacity and size.
“These are the shittiest files I’ve ever seen.” He smashed a bunch of her handwritten receipts on the counter and dug for more. “It’s the twenty-first century. Who keeps records like this?” He finally lifted his head.
“I do.” It was a small miracle the words even came out at all because in the span of one second and one good look, every cell in her head darn near flatlined. Shock and dismay at the intrusion would have been enough to throw her, but… that… face. He was like no man she’d ever seen. Certainly not in the rural stretch of agricultural purgatory known as Madison County, Florida.
His hair, black as midnight, fell around his face like handfuls of sin. His eyes, blacker still and fringed with coal-colored lashes, bore a hole right through to her soul. Harsh, unforgiving, angular features were dusted with a day or two’s worth of whiskers and slashed by a mouth that surely wasn’t put on this earth to do anything but… some really bad things.
He drew thick, sinister brows together, his gaze dropping over her and lingering a moment too long on her threadbare cutoff overalls, the sweat-stained tank top, and, of course, manure-splattered boots.
“You own this farm?” Impatience tinged his question, which took some nerve from a man breaking and entering and rooting through receipts.
“Yes and do you mind telling me what on God’s green earth you think you’re doing?”
“I need information,” he said, shaking back some of that hair and sending a blast of something low and warm and female all over her body. “And don’t even think about not giving it to me.”
The threat was all she needed to lift her chin and force him to meet her gaze. “If you don’t want me to get my .22 and shoot your face off, get your cotton-pickin’ hands out of my receipt can.”
He smiled, and, of course, the devil had dimples. “You’re cute, Daisy Duke. But, just for the record, you’re the one who stuffs ‘confidential information’ in a coffee can and leaves it on top of an unattended counter in an unlocked place of business with no proprietor in sight.”
“Still doesn’t make rifling through my stuff legal or right.” She crossed her arms as if that could offer some protection against him. “Who are you?”
He went back to the receipts. “Government.”
Government? A tax man? Shoot. Did she owe some stupid export duty on that batch of orchids she sent to that lady in Mexico? “Show me an ID badge.”
Without even glancing up, he flipped the hem of his black T-shirt, just enough to reveal a leather holster and something that made her rifle look like a BB gun. That would be… enough ID badge for her.