Ruby Debut: An Affair of Vengeance
Posted by Laura Navarre Nov 7 2012, 12:01 am
REVIEW BY DOUBLE AGENT NIKKI NAVARRE
SUBJECT: Award-winning debut novel An Affair of Vengeance by Jamie Michele.
SUMMARY: In this sleek, sexy romantic suspense, glamorously set in the South of France, CIA agent Evangeline Quill goes deep undercover as a barmaid in posh nightclub Le Banque, where her mission is to uncover the Mafia don running guns and missiles to arm the world’s terrorists. For British agent Oliver McCrea, the target is the same—but his highly effective cover as a Scottish gunrunner puts him squarely in the enemy camp for Evangeline. Her goal is to bug him, track him, subvert him—whatever it takes to get close to the mysterious figure who masterminds the entire dirty operation. Seduction isn’t part of the mission plan, either for Evangeline or McCrea. But since their first heated encounter, neither one of them seems able to think about anything else.
To penetrate the gun lord’s maximum security villa, the two rivals become reluctant partners. When their mission demands they pose as lovers, making their liaison seem convincingly real is no problem. But keeping their cover story intact while denying their growing emotional and physical connection makes the game more dangerous for both of them. Because learning to trust in each other and the power of love has become a matter not only of the heart, but of their very survival.
NIKKI’S ANALYSIS: I really dug this smart, sexy, fast-moving romantic suspense. The dangerously capable heroine reminded me why I loved the old Silhouette Bombshells—a fabulous line of adventure romance that featured action heroines and the alpha heroes who loved them. The pacing is whipcord tight, the plot twists and turns fast enough to cause vertigo, the setting is fun and glamorous, and the sexual chemistry is red hot. This was a five-star read for this demanding reader. I’d fearlessly recommend An Affair of Vengeance or anything else by Jamie Michele to fans who love sleek, sexy romantic suspense. This one is a keeper!
SUBJECT: Jamie Michele
BACKGROUND: Award-winning romance writer and former zookeeper Jamie Michele has wrestled a giant python, hand-captured a rogue vulture, and brushed the teeth of an alligator, but when she decided to write a novel, she did the unexpected: she didn’t write about animals. Instead, she indulged her long fascination with international espionage, merging it with her deep knowledge of the trials of love to produce An Affair of Vengeance, a 6 November 2012 release from Montlake Romance.
(NIKKI NAVARRE) I loved the sleek, sexy South of France setting where CIA agent Evangeline and British operative McCrea first meet. How did you do your research for this fab setting? Was any of it on location?
(JAMIE MICHELE) I’ve had the good fortune to visit not only the south of France, but also several other European countries that figure in future novels. Ironically, I haven’t spent much time in Marseilles, where much of the action of An Affair of Vengeance takes place.
In one scene, the heroine, Evangeline, ferrets out a surveillance vehicle following her to a clandestine meeting, and then she shakes it off and then employs some of her acrobatic parkour skills to evade any chance of further pursuit. The whole chase through the streets of central Marseilles was choreographed via Google Maps and is 100% accurate. Feel free to retrace her steps, but you’ll have to be able to swing through the branches of an obliging tree to complete your escape.
(NN) You did a great job showing us the pulse-pounding energy of the Mafia-owned nightclub Le Banque, where Evangeline is working undercover as a cocktail waitress. Did you have a “model” club somewhere in mind when you wrote the book? How about the gun running supervillain’s Mediterranean villa? I want to know where I can find these places in real life!
(JM) I had to think about that for a second, but no, they’re entirely manufactured. But in general, I did place them on particular streets or in particular locations amid the wind-swept hills of the craggy French Les Alpilles. For example, I installed Avarice, the soaring and sexy nightclub in which McCrea and Evangeline share a passionate dance, into an actual abandoned warehouse at 41 Rue Jobin. I think that the location occasionally serves as an art exhibition space, and the parking lot walls are covered in graffiti. It struck me as an intriguingly gritty and vibrant setting for Marseilles’ most exclusive club.
(NN) An Affair of Vengeance had adventures of its own on the twisty, hairpin-curve highway to publication. How did you find a home-sweet-home for your debut release?
(JM) It’s a bit of an unusual saga, true! This novel is my first. I began writing it in 2007 on a dare to myself: could I write a whole book? Turns out I could. The book was short–then barely more than 40,000 words!–so I initially sent it to Harlequin Intrigue. I was such a newbie that I actually called Harlequin’s offices in New York when I didn’t hear anything from them within three months. I imagined that I’d connect with an administrator who’d look for my manuscript in a database and inform me of its current status, but nope. I was put through to a friendly and enthusiastic assistant editor with Silhouette Romantic Suspense, who let me know that the Intrigue editor had given her my manuscript, it not being quite right for that more suspenseful line, and that she’d just written me a letter asking for revisions.
Hand of God, I received her revise-and-resubmit letter the same day I made that call. Had I checked my mailbox before picking up the phone, I’d never have phoned, and I’d never have spoken to the Silhouette editor. But thank goodness I did, because the conversation gave me tremendous encouragement to press onward. She remembered my book! She knew who I was! She even knew what she wanted me to do to it! I was thunderstruck and became determined to sell a book to her.
I revised to her specs, but alas, it wasn’t quite enough to make that sale. Although I was also hard at work on a sequel, I kept revising the first book and entered it into the 2009 Golden Heart contest. As chance would have it, that same Silhouette editor was the final-round judge for that contest. Not only did she place me first in my category, making An Affair of Vengeance a Golden Heart winner under the name Romance or Retribution, but she also requested the full manuscript–a neat slice of luck for me, for since she’d turned down my last revision, I’d otherwise have had no way of getting the newer version to her.
I soon signed with my agent, Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. We engaged in a couple of revisions with Silhouette, but in the end, I couldn’t make it fit what Silhouette wanted to publish. Although I’d long since bumped up the word count, it was still category-length, and at that time, few publishers were willing to publish such a short book. Stern lectures from my friends in the Maryland Romance Writers (including regular Ruby commenter and Carina Press author Christi Barth) convinced me to finally take my agent’s advice to submit to non-traditional publishers, and am I glad that I listened! Within a few weeks of submission, we had a two-book offer from former Kimani Press editor Kelli Martin, now senior editor with Amazon’s phenomenally successful Montlake Romance.
(NN) Oliver McCrea has to be, hands down, one of the smartest, sexiest British spies in recent memory. If a blockbuster movie producer approaches you about shooting the film, which actor would be your Number 1 choice to play McCrea, and why? How about the perfect actress for Evangeline?
(JM) My favorite question! McCrea is a taller and beefier version of Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine. Not his oddly high-pitched voice (McCrea has a sensual Scottish burr), but in his brooding manner and darkly good looks. Evangeline is based on haunting French beauty Eva Green (who was, not coincidentally, Bond girl Vesper Lynd in the fantastic Daniel Craig film Casino Royale).
(NN) I have access to top secret intelligence that Book 2 in your series, An Affair of Deceit, is coming in spring 2013. What’s the story? Do any of the characters from Book 1 have a role in this sequel? Tell me we can look forward to another hot, James Bond-style hero to make us sweat!
(JM) Indeed. An Affair of Deceit releases April 6, 2013, and this second book proves that things are not as settled as they seem at the end of An Affair of Vengeance!
In this sexy romantic suspense, the hard-headed and long-estranged daughter of CIA spymaster Peter Mason (a secondary but pivotal character in An Affair of Vengeance) doggedly pursues answers to the twenty-year-old mystery of her father’s disappearance from her life, with the dubious aid of suave CIA interrogator James Riley, who hunts the elder Mason who is now suspected of treason.
…and now for Jamie’s question for YOU:
What is your favorite espionage-related movie? (Here’s a list of great films that might help jog your memory!)
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