But that doesn’t mean I make it easy for them. One of my most important questions is: why is the hero the worst possible person for her to love? And then, when I know why these two people should not be together, I can start my story. So, yes, my books are about characters and conflict.
I wrote a version of Rayder’s Appeal sometime ago, but I was told by more than one editor and other writers, that having a con man as a hero wasn’t possible. AND, worse, he’d conned the heroine – making her look like a fool. And a foolish heroine was not done. Not ever.
But I couldn’t let him go. I absolutely love Rayder Cole. He might be my favorite hero although please don’t tell the others. They’re all great…but he’s the only con man in the bunch.
So how to make this story work? They were very young when they first met and fell in love and he did the unimaginable wrong. Before they can forgive each other for what happened, Rayder and Ellie must forgive themselves for their youthful choices.
And there, right there is the conflict between them. I think I’ve created memorable characters who wrestle with their inner turmoil while racing the clock to save themselves from slander, scandal, and even prison.
Rayder’s Appeal is a fast-paced, witty, sometimes touching story about two people who damaged each other finding their way back…
And if you’re old enough to remember Remington Steele…you’ll really appreciate Rayder Cole the way I do.
Rayder’s Appeal is the latest entry (number 4!) in my series called The Brantons. He’s from the other side of the Branton family: the darker, more dangerous side. The series ranges from sexy to steamy and Rayder is definitely a romantic suspense. It is also a full-length novel, because Rayder deserved the full rich depth of the longer form, although it can be read as a standalone.
Eleanor Macklin’s footsteps echoed in the cavern-like stillness of her underground parking garage. She wanted to ignore the flickering shadows and crackling buzz of dying fluorescent lights overhead, but she couldn’t. She clutched her keys in tight fingers and picked up her pace. Finally reaching her car, she unlocked the door and slid behind the wheel. She released a soft exhale of relief.
She needed coffee and longed for her first cup of the day. Hoping her make-up hid her exhaustion she checked her reflection in the rear-view mirror.
That’s when she saw him.
A man watched from the long-fingered shadows of the pillar directly across from her.
She told herself she was imagining the man. She was tired from stress and lack of sleep. That’s all it was, she thought as she studied the still darkness by the pillar. Nothing stirred in the shadows, just in her mind. This was a secure building with twenty-four-hour security. No one could get in who didn’t belong. There couldn’t be a man watching her. Not at this time of the morning. Not on a day like any other. Not today.
But, still, she locked her door, the click loud and reassuring in the emptiness.
She checked her mirror again. And shivered when she saw movement. There was a man.
He stepped out into the weak light and strode quickly toward her car. His full-length leather coat swayed as he moved with sure strides. She gasped in fright. The edges of the open coat lifted and reminded her of raven’s wings. He was over six feet, and the thunder in his expression made her think of righteousness personified. Hardly the attitude of a street mugger, but more dangerous.
She kept her eyes trained on him in the mirror, prepared for anything. She fumbled with her keys, trying to insert the correct one into the ignition without looking for the keyhole.
There was something familiar about his walk, the cut of his jaw, and his hair.
Long hair with a blackbird sheen. Oh, God, not him.
Black, so black. All but his eyes. Please, God, not him.
Eyes so crystalline blue they could laser through a woman at thirty yards. Except the distance between them was only ten feet.
And ten long years.
She inserted the key and turned it, gunning the engine, and wished for the nerve to run him down. He slowed but continued toward her. Fear battered her ribs and threatened to beat its way out.
Panic rose. Breathe! Breathe! She’d wondered how she’d react if faced with him again. Pride came to her rescue. She forced the panic down and replaced it with full seething anger.
She opened her window. “What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded.
Surely, she was wrong. Her exhausted brain had tricked her into thinking an innocent man was Rayder Cole. But everything about the man was right: his eyes, nose, high cheekbones, even the small puckered scar on his upper lip. Every detail of his face was indelibly etched in her memory and stood in full living color before her eyes. She blinked but he was still there, only a foot away from her car window.
“You ripped me off and you’re surprised to see me?” His voice was hot and dark with anger.
“Answer my question. What are you doing here? You’ve already stolen what you could from me.” Her money. Her trust. Her heart.
His jaw twitched. “Don’t play stupid, Ellie, it’s not your style,” he said. “I know about the forgery. I know you ripped me off.” He leaned closer. “I know.
“I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,” she said. “You’re the one who ripped me off, remember?” She heaved in a breath, startled by the release of pent up anger and humiliation. “Ten years ago? Five grand in cash?” She refused to admit the deeper hurt, how he’d taken her virginity while his belongings were in the trunk of his getaway car. How’d she’d woken to find him gone.
“Oh, I remember,” he said, soft as lake mist. “And that’s why you’ve taken your revenge,” he said, his tone sharper.
His hands gripped her car door, tempting her to close the window on his fingers. She ignored the temptation and focused on what, exactly, he’d said.
“Revenge?” She furrowed her brow and tapped her chin with the tip of her middle finger. “I don’t think so, no, I can’t recall cooking up a revenge plot.” She kept up the pretense of intent consideration. “In fact, I don’t remember as much as thinking about you in the last decade,” she lied.
His eyes narrowed.
She liked that. It felt good to pull off a quick, nasty jab to his ego.
His intent gaze roved across her features and settled on her hair. His intensity brought up a blend of memories and emotions. She was glad she’d braided her hair, so it was tight and safe.
He’d never again comb his fingers through it, lift it to his face and pretend to love the feel of it.
Rayder gave her an insolent smile and stretched the moment for maximum effect, infuriating her. When he leaned down to the car window, an incredible vibrancy enveloped her. His. Again.
Eleanor wasn’t up to this sparring today: she wasn’t awake, she wasn’t sharp, and she wasn’t prepared. And, he knew it, which is why he’d chosen this moment to approach her. He’d always sought the advantage.
He leaned even farther into the open window, bringing in cold air, exhaust fumes and menace.
“Ellie,” he said, his eyes warming as he used the name from long ago, when she believed he loved her. His face came close enough to kiss her, to slip his hand behind her head and tug her to his mouth. The flare in his eyes told her he knew it, too, but she didn’t retreat; didn’t flinch.
Rayder’s Appeal The Brantons Book 4 can be purchased on major ebook retailers! For a limited time this new release is offered for only 99 cents.
Eleanor Macklin has overcome her past and repaired the damage done by her first, and only, love. She has all she’s ever wanted, her family’s art gallery. If she’s not as spontaneous, or giving, or loving as she once was, well… that’s a life lesson she learned the hard way from a master of deceit. And trust is a thing of the past…
Rayder Cole has stumbled on a plot to forge stolen art that could ruin Ellie Macklin’s art gallery. He must get the forgery back before Ellie’s life is in ruins. He’s done enough damage to the only woman he’s ever loved, and now, he’s back to save what Ellie’s worked hard to build.
If Eleanor doesn’t take a chance on Rayder, she’ll lose everything. But trust lost is almost impossible to regain.
While the race is on to find the forger, Rayder’s appeal begins to work its magic again and Eleanor hates that she still finds him sexy.
Rayder’s determined to reclaim the woman who stole his heart before he even knew he had one…
Author Bonnie Edwards lives with her husband and pets on the rainy coast of British Columbia. She has written novels, novellas, and short stories for Kensington Books, Harlequin Books, Carina Press, and Robinson (UK) although now she publishes her work herself.
With four ongoing romance series: Tales of Perdition, The Brantons, The Christmas Collection, and Return to Welcome, she rarely spends a day without writing. Learn about more exciting releases by subscribing to her newsletter Bonnie’s Newsy Bits.