Before I was Elisabeth Joye, I was a naive blogger with dreams of turning my work into a published book. I searched all over for an editor -- someone that liked my writing but also would push me to be better. I found that person in Amber Lea Easton, who is not only a wonderful editor and mentor to me, but also a prolific and inspiring romance writer herself -- and, quite honestly, the hardest working writer I have ever met.
Amber's latest book promises to be a great one. It's a little different than what she usually writes. One True Thing, which came out March 22, is a thriller/suspense romance with a political edge (perfect for an election year!) It's steamy and will keep you on the edge of your seat, too. Read on!
Power...it's a heady drug.
Vanessa Warren is America's favorite rebel. Daughter and granddaughter of US Presidents and sister to a future one, her family connections and notoriety are seen as leverage for manipulating the White House—if she's captured.
One little lie leads to a whole lot of trouble.
Reclusive international resort developer, Dominic Varga, needs a date to ward off his matchmaking parents. When he persuades the notorious Vanessa Warren to play his girlfriend for the night, he has no idea he's stepped into the crosshairs of kidnappers who will do anything—destroy everything—to get to her.
One true thing...
Trapped in a rapidly escalating international terror plot, Dominic and Vanessa's lie becomes the only real thing in the midst of betrayals, conspiracies, and murder. As their world falls apart, they suddenly only have each other to rely on against ruthless people who will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Who can they trust? Who is behind the plot—her own family, a political rival of her family's, or a terrorist organization? How far will the kidnappers go—what will they be willing to sacrifice—to control the power of the White House? Is there anywhere in the world where they can find safety?
Q: What motivated this suspense plot about the pursuit of power?
A: I have a love/hate relationship with politics. Not only am I an activist on the local level, but I find the political spectacle fascinating. How low will someone go to win office? What will it take for someone to betray a confidante? Is the ideal of the 'greater good' still relevant in today's cynical world and, if so, what exactly does that mean? Are there still genuine good guys in office—I believe there are—and what is their struggle to remain that way?
Q: That's a lot of questions. Do you deal with them all in One True Thing?
A. In a subtle way, yes. One True Thing is essentially about Vanessa Warren's struggle to have her own identity despite a very public upbringing and a larger than life lineage. When she is suddenly thrust into the role of a pawn to be used to manipulate her famous family, she is forced to embrace the power that comes with her last name whether she wants to or not. As the story develops, the concept of the greater good comes into play—and it's one she openly mocks in the beginning of the book—and she eventually realizes exactly what that means. That's all I can say without giving spoilers.
Q: But this is a love story?
A: Yes, it is definitely a love story about a man who had closed himself off to feeling much of anything about anyone. He's devoted himself to building an empire. Tragedy made him skittish about opening his heart, which is how he winds up with the most notorious woman in the world as a date to a party to deter his matchmaking parents. Their little lie has more truth to it than they initially believe and, as the story unfolds, becomes the only true thing they can trust. He sees Vanessa as a woman without an intimidating lineage and she sees him for the kind person he once was before tragedy made him a cynic.
Q: You're known for creating a vibrant cast of characters in all of your stories, but in this one—although there are obviously secondary players—the focus is keenly on the main characters, why did you construct it a bit differently?
A: In this story, Vanessa's world is shrinking as she's being hunted. Everything she has taken for granted—even friendships—is being stripped away. Layer by layer, she starts doubting the people around her, begins questioning the world she's lived in her whole life, and realizes how isolated she has become. The only person she can trust is a stranger she met named Dominic because he has no history with her, no motivation to sell her out. Hence the architecture of this book starts out broad and works into a sharp peak with Vanessa and Dominic at its center.
Q: What is the one true thing?
A: Family. Love. Strip away the power, the money, the fame, the illusion, and there is only one true thing that matters—love.
Nic dropped his hands to her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. "I wish we'd had time to wake up together."
She sighed at his softly spoken words and turned to look up at him. "Why are you so great? I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. No one is this nice."
He smoothed his hands down her silk robe and caught his lower lip between his teeth. "What can I do to prove my loyalty?"
"On your knees boy..." she whispered, her mood lightening.
"Happy to do whatever it takes." He winked, his hands pushing the robe open to touch her breasts.
She skimmed her hands over his shoulders, well-defined from the physical labor of his job. With wicked thoughts, she decided then and there that he could easily be a playgirl model between his muscle definition and...other assets.
“You told me last night that you weren't a very nice guy.” She nipped his chin with her teeth.
"You bring out another side of me.”
“Room service is on the way — can you let them in? I need a shower and need to clear my head.” Nerves jumped like lightening bugs beneath her skin. She walked away and dropped the robe as she went.
“You have a tattoo.”
“Just now noticing?” She patted the black outline of a howling wolf that rested low on the curve of her hip. “That surprises me after the thorough examination you gave my body last night.” With a wink over her shoulder, she walked to the bathroom.
Closing the door, she fisted her hands in the hair at her temple and frowned. Too much had happened in too short of a time. Her brain felt fried — as if on information overload.
“Mind if I join you?” Nic asked, sticking his head inside the door. “You okay?”
She grabbed his hand and yanked him inside the room with her. She linked her hands behind his neck and nuzzled against his face as he lifted her and walked them toward the shower.
Self-doubt had never been an issue for her. If anything, she'd been accused of over-confidence more than once. But, now, despite the heat of his body steaming up the shower, trepidation thumped beneath her skin and self-preservation undermined the moment.
She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and simply hugged him close with the water falling over them like a downpour.
"This is not my normal, Dominic, not anymore," she whispered. "Not too long ago, I lived in a rented chalet in France where I sculpted and ate dinner every night in the same restaurant with locals who joked with me about needing some romance in my life."
"Then what changed?"
She tipped her head back and squinted against the water. Here, locked in his arms, naked, completely isolated, she felt safe saying the one thing she couldn't shake, "What changed? My brother decided to campaign for president."
"You think this is related?" He frowned and framed her face between the palms of his hands.
"Every time information is leaked about me...his poll numbers rise. Even an ocean away, I'm an asset. I think someone wants to use me as leverage." She held her breath, waiting for him to dismiss her as a narcissist who thought the world revolved around her.
But he didn't.
Concern flickered in the depths of his dark eyes as he pushed his hands through the wet strands of her hair and studied her face. "Leverage for what?"
"I don't know."
"With all the government agencies involved, I'm sure this will be over soon."
She doubted it. With every passing moment, the concern in her gut grew into an angry roiling mass of darkness.
"John, head of my personal detail, doesn't trust Simon."
"He wants to talk to me alone today at the house."
He dropped his forehead against hers and grinned. "Everything is going to be fine, American Princess."
"Don't call me that. Ever." A ghost of a smile pulled at the corners of her mouth.
He kissed her, slowly, and for the first time in years, she felt like she had an ally.
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Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com. Follow her on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/MtnMoxieGirl) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston).