These are the last two tales in my upcoming print collection. Both feature professions with which I have a little familiarity and a lot of interest. I have huge respect for cops and firefighters because they are out there on the front lines doing their best to take care of us all. Day in and day out, they can confront deadly danger at any moment. They are mostly well trained but there is no way any training can prepare you for every possible thing that can suddenly go wrong!
My late husband was in law enforcement and investigation in various capacities for much of his adult life. When he was alive he was my main tech adviser and first critique for everything I wrote. He would probably raise an eyebrow at some of the things that happen in Guilty By Innocence but I can only say this is fiction, not reality and sometimes a plot seems to require that one bend the rules a bit here and there. This story came first as a title--the dichotomy and enigma there. How can one be guilty by innocence? Then I got the first scene where Gabriel wakes up in a chamber of horrors with a big hole where his memory should be. I wrote it gritty, hard. Short choppy sentences and stark images. Then suddenly Jax appeared, a somewhat cynical and jaded detective who struggled grimly on because he felt he must. He had to honor the apparent facts but the youth at whom the fingers pointed tugged at something within him. So he had a quandary.
I am somewhat familiar with El Paso and other cities and towns along the border where so much of the horror and violence of the drug wars spills across onto this side of the line. The law enforcement people have a very unenviable task there and danger equal to any war zone. I tried to offer some tribute to the courage and determination of these people in this story.
Smoke and ...Spots was written for an Amber PAX collection featuring pets as a key feature in the romance. The firehouse dogs were a breed I had not covered in prior Canine Cupids tales but I just saw a young wiggly bundle of energy polka-dotted with black on a white coat and was captivated at once. Now where would this pup fit into a story?
When my husband, kids and I lived at Falcon, Colorado in the mid 1970s, we were affiliated with a rural volunteer fire department that formed in that community. I saw first hand the challenges the fire fighters faced, and like my fictional department, there were women, old folks and a variety of people involved. They did have a professional chief who was an officer in the Colorado Springs department rather than a paid pro like Grady is in Spots. There were conflicts and politics and the issues that arise whenever a group of people have to cooperate and work as a team. Before I left Colorado after my second sojourn there, another little town out east of the city went through some anguish with a chief being relieved and a major kerfuffle in the department and I recently saw a similar tale here in New Mexico take shape. It happens. Sully really wanted to be chief but the town hired a stranger. The new guy was a very appealing stranger but he got the job Sully wanted...and the plot was born. With that background, I built Smoke and Spots. It was a new challenge as this was the first time I had a gay romance with a child involved; I hope I handled that well. I really came to like young Jamie and as for the pup, well he was special too. I hope readers enjoy both of these special stories that have a lot of my heart woven into them!