Today, to celebrate the letter ‘W’, author Susanne Matthews returns with excerpts from three (yes, I said three) of her White Flower books. Lots of fun, tempting writing follows in today’s A to Z Challenge post. Enjoy!
Welcome back, Susanne! (passes the mic over to our guest)
Today’s letter is W and I would like to introduce you to my white flower books: The White Carnation, The White Lily, and The White Iris. Some of my readers have asked if I plan to write more “white flower” books, and the answer is a definite maybe. Writing a series of books where the characters continue to search for answers, while the main characters change and new characters are introduced isn’t a task to be undertaken lightly. My respect and admiration go out to J.K. Rowling who managed to do this so well in her Harry Potter series, not once but eight times.
The “white flower” books are part of the Harvester Saga. In each book, there is a self-contained romance. For The White Carnation and The White Iris, books one and three, I chose to work with second chance at love stories, both of which revolve around the issue of trust in a relationship. In The White Lily, book two, I decided to write about two broken souls who’ve suffered abuse at the hands of others and yet aren’t destroyed by it, but rise above their circumstances and find love and comfort together.
While each book is a self-contained love story, it’s also another step in the search for the serial killer known as the Harvester/Prophet, who himself undergoes a metamorphosis as the books progress. Like many megalomaniacs, the Prophet doesn’t act alone. As world events show us, there are many people who feel their beliefs are the only ones that count. Many of these groups of fanatics are led by charismatic men who can convince them to do anything. If you think back to Jim Jones, Charles Manson, or Adolph Hitler, you’ll get the idea. Unfortunately, nothing happening in today’s society shows that will change anytime soon.
The biggest challenge I faced in writing this series was ensuring that each book was as good as its predecessor. As all authors know, readers expect to be entertained when they read, and my job was to see to it there were as many shivers in The White Iris as there had been in The White Carnation and The White Lily. I introduced the concept of the Great Burning briefly in The White Carnation, expanded on it in The White Lily, but it’s not until The White Iris that the absolute horror of the plan is revealed. As I researched and learned more about the various aspects of weapons of mass destruction, the more I leaned toward biological warfare, but keeping it honest, possible and plausible was a must. I had to balance the technical aspects of the situation in such a way that the reader understood the dangers, but I couldn’t get so complicated that only a doctor would understand. There were also a number of loose ends that had to be resolved and clues planted in previous books that needed to be pulled together in the last one. To be honest, the research for this book taught me many things and I consider that a real bonus.
Because each book can be read as a stand-alone novel, I also had to make sure, the reader of book three had enough information not to find the book frustrating, but not so much information as to bore the reader who’d read the previous novels. This isn’t always an easy task, and there’s a danger of making something an info dump, an unforgivable sin as far as my editor was concerned. Giving too much information is a crime on equal par with not giving enough.
The white flower books are available individually in both e-book and paperback, but you can get a cost effective bundle for less than a US dollar.
Here are the blurbs and an excerpt from each book
The White Carnation:
The last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls.
For the past year, Rob and his team have been hunting the Harvester, a serial killer who ritualistically murders new mothers and vanishes with their infants. What Rob doesn’t need is another case, especially one involving his ex-fiancée.
Then Faye is assaulted, and Rob realizes the cases are connected. She may hold the answers he needs to find the elusive killer. But the more they investigate, the more complex the situation becomes. Can they set the past aside and work together, or will the Harvester and his followers reap another prize?
Excerpt from The White Carnation:
Twenty minutes later, the unmarked police sedan pulled up behind the black and white outside the brownstone. The paramedics were parked farther along the street, just ahead of the police car, reducing traffic to a single lane. The coroner’s van pulled up behind them. Rob got out and approached the coroner.
“Amos, I didn’t expect to see you here so soon. I called for a bus, not the meat wagon.”
“Paramedics were nearby so Logan got here quickly. He radioed in—exsanguination due to a lacerated throat. He’s still up there. Nothing he can do for the victim, but your fiancée is taking it hard.”
“The victim was like a second mother to her.”
Your fiancée—Amos’s words were true once, but never again. There was no way Rob would hitch his wagon to a woman who could believe he’d betray her like that, a woman who’d put her job so far ahead of him, he’d barely been on her radar at times. The sex had been great, but love was supposed to be more than that. Still, she’d reached out to him. He took the stairs to the brownstone two at a time, his lean, muscular body having no problem with the climb. He flashed his badge at the officer who stood guarding the door. “Anyone showing any interest?”
“No, Detective. According to the concierge, the people in number five are in Europe, and I don’t think the rest of the residents are home from work yet. Looks like a robbery—the place has been tossed pretty good—and there’s no damage to the door, so she must have let them in. Logan says her throat’s been slit from behind.”
“Where’s Ms. Lewis?”
“In the living room with Logan. He wanted to take her to the ER—claims she’s in shock. I told him she had to stay put until you arrived. He’s pissed at me. Says I’m interfering with his job. He seems pretty friendly with her. I heard she’s some big shot investigative reporter.” He chuckled. “Some crime reporter—she’s puked a couple of times already.” He continued to laugh. Rob’s face must have reflected the anger moving to the surface because the guard choked it off.
“Rick Logan is one of the best paramedics we have. For the record, McMillan,” Rob read the nameplate on the policeman’s uniform, “the next time he says someone has to go the ER, you’d better damn well listen to him. And as for Ms. Lewis, the victim was a personal friend. It’s different when the victim’s someone you know.” His voice was clipped, his displeasure obvious.
Rob turned and entered the apartment. He’d learned the need to remain objective in order to do the job properly, but as he’d told the young officer, it was different when it was personal. Not only had the victim been an acquaintance, Faye was in there. He swallowed and tried to find the emotional distance he needed.
The place was a mess, just as the officer had said. He looked around quickly, his trained eye taking in everything in an instant—the wallet on the table, money on the floor mixed with the victim’s blood, the take-out bag, Faye’s purse and its scattered contents. Whatever this had been, it hadn’t been a routine robbery. Someone had been looking for something other than the usual snatch and grab items, so what were they after? What could Mrs. Green have that was worth dying for?
The White Lily
The Harvester is out there…watching, waiting, biding his time.
FBI cult specialist Lilith Munroe lives in dread that one day the man who tortured her when a case went bad will find her again. So leaving her sanctuary in Quantico to join the Harvester Task Force in Boston is her version of hell. But the Harvester is kidnapping babies, and Lilith’s profiling skills may mean the difference between life and death for the most innocent in society.
Australian millionaire and former member of the New Horizon commune Jacob Andrews returns to the United States searching for his sister. Instead of the happy reunion he expects, he discovers she is dead and his twin brother may be responsible. He agrees to lend his law enforcement skills to help find his former cult leader before the man can implement his plan to kill millions.
Now uneasy partners, Jacob and Lilith must learn to trust each other even as they fight their growing attraction. But when Lilith’s greatest fears materialize, will Jacob be able to set aside his anger and save the woman he loves?
Excerpt from The White Lily:
“For God’s sake, Halliday, slow down. My legs aren’t as long as yours. Where’s the fire?” Lilith said as she headed down the stairs. “And why the hell couldn’t we take the elevator?” Since Rob was a good foot taller than she was, she was running to keep up, and with the four-inch heels she’d chosen to wear this morning, she was apt to fall and kill herself.
So this is why they call it breakneck speed.
“And please don’t call me Lily. I prefer Lilith or Munroe.”
He slowed slightly. “Sorry, Lilith. I’ll try to remember that. As for the elevator, it would be awkward considering my behavior toward Mr. Andrews this morning,” he said, and she could see the embarrassed flush on his face.
“It’s okay. He isn’t going to press charges. He’s actually been quite nice about the whole thing. So, where are we off to in such a rush?”
“We’ve got a multiple homicide on Lawrence. Tom left early—it’s his wife’s birthday. His daughter has been planning this surprise party for weeks. The murder falls under Boston PD jurisdiction, but since the rule of two applies, Trevor said I could take you with me—as an observer, so keep your hands to yourself. That being said, if you have any profiling thoughts while you’re there, feel free to share.”
Standard operational procedure dictated that two people handle any calls that came in. This was for their protection as well as for that of the victims. Her father, a career cop, had drilled that concept into her. His partner had chosen not to wait for him and had walked in alone on a domestic. The man had gone out in a body bag.
“Besides, I figured you’d want to come along. You’re still trying to make sense of the Richardson case. The 9-1-1 caller was almost incoherent, but she did mention that there’s a child or children missing. I want you to focus on similarities between those crime scene photos you memorized and this one.”
“Will do, but you do realize I’ve never actually been to an active crime scene, don’t you?” she asked, hoping her nervousness didn’t show.
“I figured as much, but you’ve got to lose your cherry sometime. You’re a field agent now, and that means you visit the crime scenes yourself. Just remember, if you’re going to vomit, try not to contaminate anything.”
Great. Just great.
The White Iris
Time’s running out for Special Agent Trevor Clark and his FBI task force. They’re no closer to uncovering the identity of the Prophet, a dangerous serial killer who has been murdering new mothers and vanishing with their infants. If Trevor can’t unlock the clues, the killer’s threats to unleash what the FBI suspects is biological warfare could mean death for all of them. His only recourse is to swallow his pride and reach out to his former fiancée, the CDC’s renowned virologist, Dr. Julie Swift.
Two years ago, Julie ended their engagement after Trevor abandoned her when she needed him most. Now, faced with the possibility of the greatest epidemic since the Spanish flu, she has to put her faith and her safety, as well as that of countless others, into the hands of a man she doesn’t trust. Can they set aside their differences to stop the Prophet, and in doing so, will they find the love they lost?
From the streets of Boston to the wilds of Alaska, this thrilling conclusion to the Harvester Series takes several turns you won’t see coming!
Excerpt from The White Iris:
Shutting down the computer, she got up, twisted her hair back into a chignon, and fastened it with her clip. Pulling open her bottom drawer, she removed the makeup bag there and took out the compact and lip gloss. As soon as she’d done what she could to make herself look fresher, she grabbed her lab coat and put it on to hide the overly casual outfit. Satisfied this was as good as she’d get, she headed up the two flights of stairs to the director’s office. She might not be ready for the cover of Vogue, but she could probably manage Science World.
Knocking on the door, she opened it. “Sorry I’m late…”
Her throat closed, preventing her from saying anything else, her pride coming to the rescue and keeping her from falling flat on her face. No. This wasn’t happening, not to her, not today. The man standing next to Brad was Trevor Clark. This was a storm alright, one worse than any Colorado blizzard might be.
I’m going to kill Ellie.
“Julie,” Brad said, coming forward, buying her a few precious moments to get herself under control. “Thanks for helping out like this. Dr. E.J. Swift, meet Special Agent Trevor Clark.”
“We’ve met,” Trevor said, his voice husky, but he didn’t look surprised. His shadowed, deep blue eyes bored into hers as if he was searching for something.
She gritted her teeth, wishing the floor would open up and swallow her. Her thumb rubbed the base of her ring finger as if the band she hadn’t worn in two years was there again, only this time it pained her. Whatever Trevor was looking for, she’d be damned if he’d find it. She pulled herself together, refusing to allow even a muscle twitch to show seeing him again upset her.
The man responsible for so many tears and sleepless nights stood there, stone-like, his face not betraying a thing. He’d always been good at hiding his feelings, and now it seemed he’d perfected the ability. The only sign that he might not be as relaxed as he pretended to be was his clenched jaw.
He’s uncomfortable—the son of a bitch should be in abject pain and agony.
As always, Trevor was impeccably dressed in a pale gray suit with a coordinating shirt and a blue, gray, and silver silk tie. His light brown hair, as thick as ever, was cut short, and he wasn’t wearing his glasses. He looked tired, but when he was working a case he rarely got more than a few hours’ sleep each night. He was clean-shaven, and the faint scent of the woodsy aftershave he always wore tickled her nose.
People have asked me what the hardest part of writing a trilogy like this was. The answer is simple. Keeping track of all the story threads and making sure that all of them were neatly tied together by the end of Book Three. Many of those who’ve read the Harvester Saga ask me when I’m going to write the next white flower book. Some even provide titles, such as The White Rose, The White Poinsettia, or The White Lilac. It’s tempting to reunite the team and solve more crimes. I do have an idea in mind, but time will tell.
About the author:
Amazon bestselling author Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She is of French-Canadian descent. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but with a penchant for happily ever after romances. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.
Not content with one subgenre, Susanne writes romance that ranges from contemporary to sci-fi and everything in between. She is a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, or traveling to interesting places she can use as settings in her future books. In summer, she enjoys camping with her grandchildren and attending various outdoor concerts and fairs. In winter, she likes to cuddle by the fire and watch television.