Wilds of the Bayou Series Book Two
By Susannah Sandlin
Genre: Romantic Suspense
The mysterious deaths aren’t her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena’s investigation leads her to Cole Ryan—a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history—who knows more than he’s willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other…before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.
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His fists clenched and unclenched. Again. Again. The press and release of tension filtered out some of the stiffness from his arms and shoulders. The woman was striking, her wistful expression had resonated with him, and he had wanted to look at her. He’d looked long and hard enough that she’d caught him standing in the doorway like an idiot. Otherwise, he could’ve pretended to be gone and not answered his door. Now, hiding wasn’t an option.
The last thing he needed in his life was a woman. Especially a woman with a badge and a gun.
Though expected, the sharp knock made his shoulders jerk upward, and his fingers clenched again into fists. Weapons his body provided to protect itself, to protect him, to keep everyone away.
“Sir, I know you’re in there. I’m Agent Sinclair of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.” Her voice was clear and no-nonsense. He tried to place her accent—she wasn’t from Terrebonne Parish but didn’t have a typical Southern accent either. “I want to talk to you about the gator in front of your neighbor Doris’s house. It’ll only take a minute or two.”
Damn. Now that he knew his neighbor’s real name, the Wicked Witch was dead. Now she was Doris.
He took a deep breath, turned, and opened the door an inch. Maybe two inches.
A hazel eye, heavy on the green, and the bill of a dark-green baseball cap came into view, peering through the crack. A strand of hair that trailed over her forehead from beneath the cap shone like pure molten fire.
“You can open it all the way, you know. I don’t bite. I’d like to come inside for a few minutes and talk, or you can come out on the porch. Having a conversation isn’t optional, but where we have it is. For now.”
Damn it. Cole had to admit he was stuck and it was his own damned fault for standing in the doorway and watching her for so long. He opened the door wide, dread giving way to curiosity when he finally saw her face up close. She was beautiful but lightly scarred, more on her cheeks than her forehead, so she’d probably been hit by flying glass rather than having her head go through a windshield. Fairly recent too. The spots were still pink, but they were scars and not wounds. Five or six months old, he’d say. Eventually, they’d fade and, with her fair skin, would easily cover with makeup. If she hadn’t been so close—not to mention his fixation on her face—he wouldn’t have noticed them even now.
“Are you going to let me come inside, or are you coming outside, or do I need to make it an official order?”
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My Top 10: Confessions of an Eclectic Reader
Every once in a while, I make a list of my ten favorite books because I’m a glutton for punishment, and because I have this OCD attraction to list-making, and because, if I’ve waited long enough, the answers will change.
And so it was this week as I decided to make a new list and focus not so much on the ten most entertaining reads but on my most influential reads. They might have influenced my life, my state of mind, or my own writing…or maybe all three.
In no order—that would be SERIOUSLY too hard…..
ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’, by Rick Bragg. I had to think about whether to list this book or Rick’s memoir of his grandparents, AVA’S MAN. AVA is a more engrossing read in some ways, but when I first read SHOUTING, I felt as if I were reading my own life or at least the life of people I knew. The language is lyrical and the story of growing up in rural Alabama brutally honest. My own family was neither as poor or as troubled, but so much of it resonated. It changed my whole view of what a nonfiction book could be and influenced my fiction writing as well.
THE STAND, by Stephen King. This one always makes my list because it was my first obsession book. I still read it every once in a while and its topics of good versus evil, the dangers of the modern age, and how easily we could slip our mantles of civilization—well, they’re all pretty relevant. This also taught me a lot about alternating points of view and emotionally rich storytelling.
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, by JK Rowling. I’ve heard a lot of arguments about which of the Potter books was “best,” but this one’s my favorite because the kids began growing up and the themes grew darker. And damn but these books are well written.
WHEEL OF FORTUNE, by Susan Howatch. I grew up on Howatch’s mashups of gothic family sagas, history, and romance. This one, set on Wales’ Gower Peninsula, is all about testing social conventions during times of great upheaval. This is one of those books that taught me how to look at big-picture topics brought down into the story of a single family. Think of it as a really long cousin of “Downton Abbey”!
AGENTS OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS, by Simon R. Green. This is the second book in Green’s Nightside urban fantasy series. It made my head explode. When I put the pieces back together I decided I needed to write a novel. That happens sometimes!
IRON KISSED, by Patricia Briggs. I read this, the third book in the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series, not long after writing my second novel, and it made me cry. That was a big turning point for me as a writer, learning how much richer a novel could be with gut-wrenching emotion, even if it was painful to write—and to read.
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, by John Kennedy Toole. I read this long before I moved to New Orleans, and then re-read it after living in NOLA for a few years. If the psyche of a city could be wrapped in paper filled with words, that’s what Toole managed to do. The fact that my house was not far from the one occupied by lead character Ignatius was not lost on me.
ONE DEAD IN ATTIC, by Chris Rose. Anyone who wants to know what it was like to live in New Orleans in the months immediately after Hurricane Katrina drowned my adopted hometown should read this book. Rose, then a columnist for the NOLA newspaper, wrote column after column from a broken city as his own life slowly fell apart. It’s chilling, riveting, heartbreaking.
SELECTED POEMS OF KENNETH PATCHEN, by Kenneth Patchen. “Ah, God, we can walk so easily, bed with women, do every business that houses and roads are for, scratch our shanks and lug candles through these caves. But, God, we can’t believe. We can’t believe in anything. Because nothing is pure enough. Because nothing will ever happen to make us good in our own sight. Because nothing is evil enough.” Except maybe it was, Ken. Evocative, thought-provoking stuff.
ONE FOR THE MONEY, by Janet Evanovich. I eventually gave up on Stephanie Plum but I remember reading this one for the first time and having to re-read passage after passage because it made me guffaw. Books might make me smile but not that many make me stop reading so I can laugh. This one did.
So that’s my eclectic list of books…for this week, anyway. What are some of the books that have inspired you?