Romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, multicultural romance
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Pink Neon begins with a woman driving a vintage fire engine red GTO over the hills and curves in the Ozarks, a woman too exotic to be a native with her dark skin and corn-rowed braids. She’s brave, though, and bold as she comes to start over, to begin again in a different place in order to realize her dreams. Cecily, my heroine, revealed herself before I ever began writing but my hero, an FBI agent named Daniel Padilla strolled into my story and made it his tale, too.
When Cecily Brown roared into the vacation hotspot of Branson, Missouri, she had nothing on her mind but distancing herself from her life in Chicago after a divorce. She planned to make her long standing dreams of owning a boutique called ‘Pink Neon’ come true and forget the decade she spent trapped in a hellish marriage to millionaire jeweler Willard Bradford VI. Once she arrives, though, she finds she’s a minority among the tourists with her corn rowed braids and African-American heritage but Cecily is determined to stay.
Her cousin calls to tell her the news – her ex-husband managed to get murdered on the steps of his mansion but Cecily doesn’t care. Her old life is history and she’s eager to move forward with the grand opening of her boutique. Her first customer at Pink Neon is a man, dark and mysterious. She pegs him for a criminal or a cop but their attraction is intense. So is their first date which ends in intimacy and soon, she’s all but inseparable from Daniel Padilla. He carries his own old baggage too.
Life’s good until Padilla admits he’s an FBI agent sent to check Cecily out. She reacts with anger but as she learns she’s become the FBI’s favorite suspect, she has to trust Daniel if she can trust anyone at all. As the investigation heats up, she ends up heading south with him to Texas, as she and her FBI lover try to discover who the real killer might be. But danger lurks and it’s going to get rough before they straighten things out….if they can.
Beneath his mirrored sunglasses, his eyes burned and below his brimmed cap, Daniel Padilla endured a headache of epic proportion. Although he preferred to blame it on the drive down from Kansas City, he suspected the multiple Tequila shots he tossed down after checking into a cheap ass motel sometime after midnight might be the cause. He intended for the alcohol to help him sleep and it did but since the price turned out to include serious pain, he wished he’d stayed sober. Uneasy waves stirred in his belly but he spooned a little vanilla ice cream into his mouth anyway. It might ease the nausea and at least it’d make his cover look genuine. So far I don’t like Branson and I sure as hell never thought I’d come here again but I’m here. So far it sucks worse than I thought it might.
He watched as a woman came outside from the shop next door, a tricked up boutique with a pink neon sign above the door. Daniel studied her face and after squinting, he decided despite the corn row braids, the casual clothes it was Cecily Brown, recent ex-wife of jewelry magnate and millionaire Willard Bradford. She’s a lot prettier this way. His fingers fumbled open the manila file lying on the picnic table where he sat. Daniel studied the photos through his bleary eyes and removed the shades for a better view. The woman in the pictures wore her hair down, sleek as satin and styled. Her conservative garments whispered of both wealth and professional privilege. The muted colors, soft pastels, dowsed her beauty instead of enhancing it. Daniel snorted as he counted the rings on her well-shaped hands and noted with derision the dangling diamond earrings she wore. Rich bitch. Yet he found her attractive in person, graceful and almost beautiful. Nothing about the jeans and simple t-shirt she wore looked pretentious. But he wondered if she’d really killed her former spouse and made off with the jewels. She sure as hell doesn’t look the type but you never know. If he’d learned any lesson in his ten years with the FBI, Daniel discovered anyone could do anything.
If he hadn’t been sure, he would’ve doubted this woman could be the same one in the pictures. That woman looked elegant but empty, stilted and confined. The gal he watched sashay across the parking lot radiated heat. Pink highlighted her coloring and enhanced her looks. She paused at a vintage GTO he’d love to own and opened the door. Cecily Brown slid into the passenger seat and Daniel watched her lips tilt into a smile as she turned the key in the ignition. As the motor caught, he heard a burst of music from the CD player, the unmistakable retro sound of The Pointer Sisters. Daniel listened as Cecily sang along, her voice a rich alto, true to the tune as it blended into ‘Fire’, the classic hit.
For a moment he forgot his headache and the spoon in his hand dropped into the paper container of ice cream as he stared. Cecily Brown, he thought, was fire. His battle scarred heart lost its rhythm as Daniel watched her pull out onto the strip, her voice ringing out over the traffic sounds enough he caught snatches of the song. Provocative, evocative the lyrics touched a chord within, one he thought broken and unresponsive. Shit, the song’s older than both of us. But it retained power and heat. The music evoked feelings he thought he buried long ago. With pure instinct Daniel tossed his half-eaten ice cream and jumped in his black sedan to follow her.
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I