Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blog Tour: In Harm's Way (Review & Interview)

Irene Hannon jokes that she's loved romantic suspense novels from an early age - in fact, Nancy Drew novels were what first drew her to mysteries.

While she won't let anyone read her first romantic suspense novella - saying "it's now buried in the deepest, darkest corner of my closest, where it will remain forever," Hannon is happy to introduce readers to the law enforcement characters who inhabit her "Heroes of Quantico" series.

Hannon decided to develop the series after being introduced to Dee Henderson's work in the O'Malley series.

"One book in particular—The Guardian—inspired me to try my hand at suspense again," she said. "I wanted to focus on a law enforcement group that hadn’t received a lot of publicity, and my research led me to the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team. What an amazing group of guys! True hero material. And so the series was born."
Originally, Hannon planned to write one book, but when the hero of her second book appeared in the first book, and then Nick - the hero of book three - made his entrance, she knew each of her "guys" needed a book of their own.

"The Heroes of Quantico books are edge-of-the-seat, ticking bomb stories filled with action, adventure and romance," Hannon said. "The final book in the series, In Harm’s Way, also contains some very unusual subject matter that I think will engage and intrigue readers. It seems to have paranormal elements—seems being the operative word."

In the latest novel, In Harm's Way, the plot swirls around Nick, an FBI agent, Rachel, an unsuspecting music teacher, and a child abduction with a twist.

"I think people are intrigued by some of the phenomenon I talk about, and there is anecdotal evidence for one thing in particular—but to say more would be a spoiler!" Hannon said. "As for the child abduction angle—that crime is very traumatic for everyone involved and emotions run high. Situations like that add to the intensity of a suspense novel."

One event in the novel has the main female character, Rachel, having a possible psychic connection with a doll she finds in an icy parking lot.

"There are people who believe in psychometry—that is, the ability to read the history of an object and its owner by holding it—but I’m not one of them," Hannon said. "Neither is Rachel. I think Emily, the psychologist heroine of book two, explained it best when she theorized that the doll triggered a traumatic, subconscious memory from Rachel’s past."

More About Her Novels
Hannon hopes that any reader, male or female, who loves suspense or romance will enjoy her novels.

"Prior to this suspense series, my focus was on contemporary romance, where I drew a largely female audience," she said. "But I’ve had great response from men to this series, especially book one, Against All Odds."

Hannon said her goal for all of her novels remain the same. First and foremost, she hopes the books will entertain people who read them.

"People need wholesome ways to unwind in today’s stressful, fast-paced world, and I do my best to write books that help them put aside their cares for a few hours," she said. "[Also] I want to leave people with hope; with a belief that no matter how tough life gets, a happy ending is always possible.

"I want people to close the last page with a better appreciation for the tremendous power of love—both human and divine—to change lives."

With her latest work, Hannon admits, its hard to chose a favorite character.

"I like both the hero, Nick, and the heroine, Rachel. I can’t pick one over the other. They both have many characteristics I can identify with," she said. 

Hannon's journey into romantic suspense came full circle when Henderson provided Hannon with a "great" endorsement for her first novel.

"She said, 'I found someone who writes romantic suspense better than I do,'" Hannon said. "That blew me away!"

Hannon said God has taught her several lessons as she created In Harm's Way and the other books in the Heroes of Quantico series.

"Determination pays off and dreams can come true," Hannon said. "When I set out to write this series, I did it entirely on spec. I’ve been writing romance for years, but this was a departure and I had no idea if any publisher would bite on it. But I wrote the whole thing, trusting that God was leading me in the direction he wanted me to go. And I guess he was, because not only did the series find a home, but the first two books became bestsellers!"

So What's Next?
Hannon's next novel, Fatal Judgment will appear on bookshelves in January 2011. It is the first book in the Guardians of Justice series, which focuses on three siblings - two brothers and a sister - who are involved in justice-related professions.

In the first novel, one of the brothers - a U.S. Marshal - is assigned to protect a federal judge whose life is threatened. Hannon said the pair have an "interesting history" which adds emotion to the story.

Notable Notes Since it's release, "In Harm's Way" has been named to the latest CBA bestseller list.

It joines her second novel,  An Eye For An Eye, as an award winning book. An Eye for An Eye has been named a finalist for the RITA award - the “Oscar” of romantic fiction.

"Book one, Against All Odds, has won a national award that has yet to be announced, so I can’t say more than that!" Hannon said.

What I Thought
I'll admit it. I fell in love with this series with the first book. I found the first book, Against All Odds, during a "wandering" trip through the local bookstore. The book cover caught my eye, along with an endorsement by Dee Henderson - author of the O'Malley series.

Since I LOVE most books by Henderson, an endorsement by her carried a lot of weight. So I shelled out the cash and bought the book.

Let's just say, I didn't sleep much that weekend. My experience was repeated when I found book two, An Eye For An Eye, on the shelves.

So when I was given a chance to read and review book three, In Harm's Way, and interview the author, I jumped at the chance.

I think, if you like romantic suspense, and enjoy reading books that highlight federal agents, I truly think you will enjoy this book and the series.

In terms of characters, Hannon has created a trio of guys - Coop, Mark and Nick - along with their female counterparts, that you'll fall in love with.You may even find yourself unable to put the book(s) down.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I rank these books at least a 4 to a 4.5. This book (along with the other two in the series) are definitely in my "read more than once" pile...along with books by Dee Henderson! Who knows, Hannon's series might find its way into your "keep" pile as well.

Get To Know Irene Hannon
Irene Hannon said it's tough to sum up a person's life in 50 words or less.... "That’s why I like being a novelist—I have LOTS of words to work with," she jokes.

But here are the basics: Hannon has B.A. in psychology and a master’s in journalism. She worked for a Fortune 500 company for 20+ years, writing fiction on the side. Five years ago she left my executive position to become a full-time novelist.

Her books have been honored with a number of awards, including the RITA (I’m also a four-time finalist), a Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT BOOKreviews magazine and a HOLT medallion.

She said she's married to her very own romantic hero, and they celebrated 20 years this past September! Want to know more? Check out Hannon's web site: www.irenehannon.com.

In Harm's Way Online Resources
Read an excerpt
Download a set of discussion questions

Purchase In Harm's Way Online
or a local bookstore.

Book 1: Against All Odds
Her life is in danger--and so is his heart.

For FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Evan Cooper and his partner, dignitary protection duty should have been a piece of cake. Unfortunately, beautiful but determined Monica Callahan isn't making it easy. Estranged from her diplomat father--who is involved in a sensitive hostage situation in the Middle East--she refuses to be intimidated by a related terrorist threat back in the States. That is, until a chilling warning convinces her that the danger is very real--and escalating.

As Coop and his partner do their best to keep her safe, the threat against Monica is rising. And with every second that ticks by, Coop knows that the odds of saving the only woman who has ever breached the walls around his heart are dropping. After all, terrorists aren't known for their patience--or their mercy.

Against All Odds: Online Resources
Read an excerpt
Download a set of discussion questions
For a limited time, book one is available free for Kindle. Click here for details.

Book 2: An Eye For An Eye
After an accidental shooting during a tense standoff, FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Mark Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent and get his bearings while the bad press settles. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico, Mark has a chance encounter with his first love, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he strikes again. But what is his motive--and who was his intended target? Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a relationship at the same time?

A fast-paced tale of romance, suspense, and intrigue, An Eye for an Eye is the exciting second book in the Heroes of Quantico series.

An Eye For An Eye: Online Resources
Read an excerpt
Download a set of discussion questions

More About The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

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