New and Debut: Layla Reyne00:00
This week's New and Debut post presents Layla Reyne and it's part of the blog tour for her debut mm romantic suspense, Single Malt, which release on Feb 28. Read on for the usual author interview, plus some teasers and an excerpt from the book. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a special gift set!
1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance author?
Most of the “romance author” credit goes to my grandmothers. One was an English professor and the other, who kept me after school, was a Southern storyteller and soap opera addict. Every afternoon, we watched her “programs” together. As a result, I was always drawn to the romance thread in books, movies and television shows. That lead me down the road to ’Shipper Fandom—a fan who pulls hard for a certain fictional couple to develop a romantic relationship. Mulder and Scully were my first big one, to the point I started writing fanfiction, not really realizing that I was writing romance. I got diverted a bit with my other career, but fandom eventually captured my interest once more—The Vampire Diaries, Arrow, Castle, Suits, to name a few—and I started writing fanfiction again. Around the same time, a fandom friend recommended I read Kristen Ashley. From there, it was all over. I became a ravenous romance reader, began working on my own original stories, and here I am a few years later with my first published romance. Can’t seem to shake those FBI agents (or redheads) though!
2. Can you share some of your favorite books and authors?
I read widely across romance subgenres. The only thing I don’t read much of is historical, but put a KJ Charles romance in front of me and I’ll devour it. Kristen Ashley is a favorite, especially her Colorado Mountain and ‘Burg series with their overarching mystery and town plots. Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series was probably the one I inhaled fastest. Living in the Bay Area, I especially love her reimagined San Francisco. I started reading male/male romance first in slash fanfiction years ago, then more recently after falling in love with Lord John from the Outlander series. About the same time, I saw Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban’s Cut & Run series on a list of Must-Read Romantic Suspense. I emerged from the Ty/Zane fog a week later a total fan of the genre. HelenKay Dimon’s Tough Love series is another m/m romantic suspense favorite. In contemporary m/m romance, Santino Hassell, Alexis Hall, Megan Erickson and Annabeth Albert are auto-buys for me. And finally, in SFF, Jensen & Burke’s Chaos Station series, C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince Trilogy, and Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series.
3. Who/what do you consider your writing inspiration?
My romance and suspense leanings definitely draw from my television fandom background. In addition to the above-mentioned soaps, Hills Street Blues and every airplane fighter pilot movie ever were often played in our house. The other major influence is my experience living on both coasts. I was raised in North Carolina, but have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for ten-plus years now. As a result, my characters are often from one state or the other—Jamie’s from a North Carolina town not far from where I grew up and Aidan’s family, after immigrating from Ireland, settled one town over from where I live now. Some of my favorite locations and foods also inspire the same—the Tavern, Jamie and Aidan’s shared Blue Bottle coffee addiction, Jamie’s penchant for fried chicken, something almost every North Carolinian shares, and in AIW2, Aidan and Jamie travel to North Carolina for their case, the location and case borne out of my love for college basketball. I’m a UNC alum after all! Then in AIW3, some of Silicon Valley’s most notable places and themes are featured.
4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you?
Adrenaline-fueled romance—that’s my tagline and that’s what readers are going to get. In my romantic suspense, I aim for a balance of plot and romance that keeps readers flipping pages into the wee hours. *Shares all the coffee* And in my contemporary romance, I think readers will see adrenaline, of one sort or another, fuels my characters and keeps the plot steam-rolling ahead.
5. Can you introduce your upcoming release?
Agents Irish and Whiskey is about widowed FBI agent and Irish ex-pat, Aidan Talley, falling hard for handsome, younger Cyber agent, Jameson “Whiskey” Walker, as they investigate cybercrimes and the murder of Aidan’s late husband. In Single Malt, Irish and Whiskey investigate a series of hacks at a biocontainment facility as they work to stop a potentially deadly terrorist attack. Aidan and Jamie are also trying (and failing) to stop their growing romantic attraction, a distraction they don’t need if they’re going to solve the case and save their hearts and lives in time.
Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he's not—Jamie is off-limits.
Jamie's lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco's top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie's skills invaluable.
Jamie's talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security bio-containment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They'll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.
Excerpt from SINGLE MALT
Aidan came to slowly. The acrid smell of smoke stung his nostrils, something wet dripped down the side of his face, and his head throbbed like someone had taken a hammer to it. Eyes closed, shattered glass tinkled all around as he lifted a hand to his temple. Massaging the point of pain, his fingers came away sticky and wet.
His aching brain was slow to catch on. One by one, it put together the pieces, and the terrible familiarity of his situation came into focus, knotting his gut and tearing at his chest.
Engine smoke and airbag fumes.
Not one but two SUVs barreling toward them.
Present events collided with past memories of a similar, horrible night eight months ago.
Tom clutching the dashboard with one hand and the handle above the Tesla’s passenger door with the other, bracing for impact, his face aghast in the oncoming high beams of the vehicle speeding toward them.
Gabe’s frightened black eyes meeting his own in the rearview mirror, a second before his body was thrown sideways in the back seat, the crash of his skull against the window louder in Aidan’s mind than the grinding metal and splintering glass.
Aidan’s insides tossing and turning with each flip of the car, free fall at its most terrifying. The scrape of asphalt against his arm, metal piercing skin, twisting and turning, as death pinned him in its grip.
A weak gurgling cough yanked Aidan back to the present.
Eyes popping open, he squinted against the bright morning light and gasped at the pain piercing his head and radiating down his right side. Fighting the blackness encroaching on the edges of his vision, he turned his head left, searching for his partner.
His partner who’d driven the Rover with stunt-worthy precision out of the way of two oncoming SUVs, through a barrier, and down a cliff into a ravine.
The hard landing had knocked Aidan out, but he’d woken upright and in one piece, relatively. Walker, just coming to, was held back against the driver’s seat by the taut seatbelt. He had his left hand up by his hairline, and when it fell limply into his lap, his fingertips were covered in blood. The strained belt snapped, and he began to crumple forward.
“Whiskey.” Swatting the deflated airbags out of the way, Aidan reached over to hold Walker upright, pressing him back into the seat. “Stay with me.”
Groaning, Walker rotated his head, his lashes dark against colorless cheeks. Bright red blood seeped from a gash at his hairline.
Ignoring the pain in his side and the anvil in his head, Aidan unbuckled his seatbelt and stretched across the console to hold Walker’s face in his hand, giving his unshaven cheek a firm but careful pat.
“Come on, Jamie. Open those beautiful blue eyes for me.”
Walker’s forehead wrinkled and his eyelids fluttered open, the gaze beneath them hazy and unfocused. “Irish?”
Pure relief and blinding need propelled Aidan across the console. Fingers digging into Walker’s neck, he slammed their mouths together and tasted the precious life flowing from his partner’s lips. Aidan had wanted this the past three weeks, but he’d denied the attraction between them. Because they were partners. Because he was still grieving. But in the aftermath of this latest accident, too much like the one that’d stolen the last man he’d loved, Aidan needed to know the man beside him, the man he could but couldn’t love, was alive.
Walker gave a surprised jerk, then, catching on, angled his head and parted his lips, his warm breath rushing into Aidan’s mouth. Granted entrance, Walker’s slow kiss was no match for Aidan’s desperation.
For the fear that laced each swipe of his tongue.
For the longing that shook his fingers and caused him to groan.
For the darkness that grew closer with each stolen breath.
“You’ll be okay, Whiskey,” he whispered against his lips.
Relief for Walker’s safety, for his life, made Aidan’s slide into darkness smooth, not the tossing and turning of his nightmarish memories.
“Irish, hold on,” was the last thing he heard before falling forward into Walker’s big body and letting oblivion take him.
Coming May 1, 2017 - CASK STRENGTH (Agents Irish & Whiskey):
Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.
Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer's radar. They're assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie's home state, where Jamie's past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.
As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner's world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.
Author Bio and Links
2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina but now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. You can find her online at http://www.laylareyne.com/.