The Hostage

Carolyn Wren
The Hostage
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Secret Cravings Publishing
Release Date
June 2013
Book 4 of The Protectors
Action/Adventure Romance, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

A covert operative so secretive, she's known only as Omega…

Kidnapped, held in chains, beaten and without hope. Wealthy businessman James ‘North' Northam believes he's a dead man. Until a daring rescue by a woman who disappears before he can thank her. North is compelled by a powerful need to track down his mysterious saviour. The truth he discovers about her is both surprising and intriguing.

Book Review by Delta (reviewer)
Oct 17, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
105 people found the following review helpful
Anytime there's a book with a woman as the badass super-spy agent, you know it's going to be a great ride! That's what we get in Ms. Wren's THE HOSTAGE, a suspenseful romantic read with lots of danger and desire that will hook you and reel you in immediately.

After James Northam is rescued by the elusive secret agent Omega, he can't stop thinking of the tiny woman who saved him from captivity. He tracks her down to a small town, but Omega doesn't want to be found. And who would believe she's Meg Pryce, part-time schoolteacher! As North shoves his way into her life, Meg is having a hard time denying his charges that she is in fact Omega. Damn the man for being one of the good guys...a hot, sexy good guy.

But Meg is suffering some PTSD and an injury from an assignment gone wrong when she was captured by the devious Aden Todd, and she still has a hard time submitting to anyone's touch. But North is patient, and he's determined that this five foot nothing woman will be his. Slowly he tears down her defenses and integrates himself into her life and she's helpless to resist his charms. But with Todd still on the loose, North worries that Meg will go off the grid to capture him. Can they compromise over her career and his love for her?

THE HOSTAGE is book 4 of The Protectors series and can be read as a standalone. North and Meg absolutely captivated me; he's so persistent to get her to admit her true identify but she takes it in stride. He's fascinated by her but can't seem to get close enough to her. She's a kick butt heroine, a sharpshooter and rescue team in and of herself. I love how she teases him constantly, playful yet determined to keep her secrets.

There are times when I think North is just a wee bit on the stalkerish side, but he's so charismatic and sincere that it's tough to feel too ooky about it. I thought the middle of the book was rather long-winded; it was more the day-to-day happenings and romanticism of this couple than any real suspense. When the suspense did happen however, it was perfectly done, both well written and suspenseful.
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BOOK INTERVIEW on November 2013
Interview by Delta

Hi Carolyn, welcome to The Romance Reviews! We can't wait to hear all about your book!

Q: THE HOSTAGE is book 4 of The Protectors series. What's the inspiration behind this series? What is the common thread among all the books?

I've always loved spy stories. I particularly love the UK TV series Spooks, and the original Canadian TV version of La Femme Nikita. When I thought about spies, or covert operatives, I wondered what it would be like to live a life where everything is a secret. I took the next step and wondered how such shadowy agents would exist if they gave up their government based jobs and started their own private agency, chose their own missions. The Protectors were born in that moment.

Jared Knight, who features in book 1 of the series, is the common thread joining the stories together. He is described in a later book as "...not really the boss, he just does the paperwork we all hate." Which is very true. I see him as the cornerstone of the books, the voice of calm and reason who pulls these dynamic, charismatic people into a team. I'm thrilled to say Jared's story, Diplomat's Daughter, recently won the 2013 RWA 'Ella' award for Novella of the year.

I'm particularly proud of THE HOSTAGE too, because it won an award before it was even published. In 2012 I entered the RWA Emerald awards for best unpublished manuscript, the very first writing contest I had ever entered. Winning it gave me the courage to submit the story to a publisher. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q: What kind of research did you have to do to write this series? How do you get your in-depth knowledge of the secretive world of undercover agents? Please share an interesting behind the scenes fact or experience. If you could work as a secret agent, what would your specialty be?

The search engines of Romantic Suspense authors are scary places. Some examples of my research included various types of guns, how many shots I could fire without needing to reload. What type of weapon is best for a woman with small hands, and how much explosive I would need to blow up a large brick building. At that point of the research, I was fully expecting to hear a knock at the door and be arrested for suspicious activity! I remember spending an entire day researching muzzle flashes in a darkened room, to see if North would really be momentarily blinded by such a flash, as used in the opening scene. The scary thing is, there are countless videos of muzzle flashes in darkened rooms available on YouTube. It made my research easier, but was mildly concerning at the same time.

If I was a secret agent, I would love to be Omega, with all her amazing abilities. Except for night missions. I have dreadful night blindness and would be stumbling around helplessly, probably tripping over furniture and getting in everyone's way. There is one thing we have in common. I'm only 5ft tall.

Q: Please tell us more about Meg Pryce, aka secret agent Omega. She's an awesome heroine. What makes her the woman she is? What is your favorite characteristic of this kick-butt secret agent?

Apart from her cool, deadly calm under pressure, I love Meg's humor and her sense of mischief. The very first time we meet Omega is in The Protectors book 1. She appears soundlessly behind another agent, scaring him half to death. As soon as I wrote that scene, I knew Omega would end up with her own book. I see Meg as a true Protector. Someone who has a burning need to stamp out injustice and stand up for the weak.

Q: Why did you decide to make her alter ego a schoolteacher?

I guess that relates to the question above. Meg needs to protect. Her past experiences have left her with a soul-deep understanding of what it's like to be helpless. Therefore, I think she would see children as someone she needs to defend, to look after. As Meg says in the book,

"Children are so important. I know it sounds cliche, I feel like they really are the future. It's imperative they be nurtured and taught. The world isn't always a safe place. When they're with me, I try to make them feel like it is."

Q: James "North" Northam was charming and funny. Please tell us more about him. Who do you see playing him in the movie version of THE HOSTAGE?

A very easy question. Joe Manganiello. He's the right height, build, age. Even his eyes are the right color. I didn't write the book with him in mind, but as soon as I saw him on TV, I knew he was perfect for North. Friends tell me we have about five years to get the movie made, before Joe slips out of the correct age bracket!

North's character came about because I'd read a few Romantic Suspense books where the large muscular hero saves the small defenceless heroine. I wanted to turn the story on its head, to put my own twist on it. I see North as a ruthless businessman in the boardroom, because that's his work, his profession. That same dogged determination is what drives him to track Omega down in the first place. His true personality, the one people rarely see, is someone with a great capacity for love and a mile wide romantic streak. It's an enticing combination. I think most of us would love a 'North' in our lives.

Q: Very true! So, what's the most romantic moment between these two?

When North sits outside Omega's front door, not even knowing for sure if she's inside, and relates the story of his capture, and why he was so obsessed with finding her because she haunted his dreams and pulled him back from the edge when his memories became too much. It isn't a traditional romantic scene, but it's the first time he shows his vulnerability and lets his guard down. His frank admission breaks down some of Omega's walls, and she allows herself to truly feel. I think it's a real turning point in their relationship.

Q: What's your favorite scene?

The opening scene will always be my favorite. For people who have read the other books in the series it's an 'aha, this is Omega!' moment. For standalone readers, it's designed to throw them directly into the action. To set the scene in a chilling, almost disconcerting way in order to encourage them to keep reading. I also like it because despite the real danger of their original meeting, they're both very aware of each other. The chemistry is there from the start even before they see each other clearly, or speak a word.

These are Omega's first thoughts about North:

"He was kneeling. Although the word seems to signify submission, there was nothing submissive in the pose. His knees were spread apart to balance his weight, his body bent backwards to equal out the pressure on his spine the awkward position created.

Strong muscular calves and knees borne the brunt of the unforgiving gravel floor with spots of darkness staining the ground that appeared to be blood. His torso was equally powerful. Highly developed stomach muscles, tattooed by grime, were defined by the upraised position of his arms."

These are North's thoughts about Omega:

"North tried to open his eyes. Am I still dreaming? No, surely dreams didn't come with this amount of pain. He'd smelt something, the fresh scent of clean skin. Not perfume, just the fragrance of a woman, a hint of warmth all men had evolved to detect since the caves. Then a voice, a low whisper in his ear, warm breath touched him, hot in the cold room. She'd spoken to him, the sound only a husky whisper more designed for the bedroom than this hellish place. He'd actually felt his body respond before his mind absorbed her words. He would have laughed if he'd had the energy. Tortured and about to die, a woman whispers in his ear and his first reaction is arousal. I'm clearly insane, but I'll die happy."

Q: I like that your characters in THE HOSTAGE really pushed themselves to confront and conquer their fears and misgivings. Is that a situation that you've found yourself having to do over the years? What is your typical method of attack when you find yourself faced with one of your fears?

Because the characters in the book are both so strong willed and stubborn, it was important to me that they confront their fears together. I saw both of them as viewing surrender and admitting their fears and insecurities as a weakness, instead of a healing process. They were the only people who could understand what the other had been through. From a personal viewpoint, I was in a car accident as a young child and ran down the middle of the deserted country road in the pitch dark at midnight looking for help while my family lay on the ground unconscious. I was six years old at the time. Let's just say I have always faced my fears head on!

Q: What difficulty did you face in writing this book? Or this series? How did you resolve it?

The entire series flowed from my fingers like water. The draft versions of all 7 books were completed in 6 months. I don't think I'll ever have that experience again and I consider it a gift.

Q: Wow. Were you always interested in books and writing your own stories, or did you catch the writing bug after a particular life experience?

I can honestly say I never wrote a word of fiction until four years ago. My profession is in finance, my passion is mathematics. I truly believe my writing was born after my parents passed away. I nursed my mother through a cancer battle until she died and then nursed my father for eight more years. He had Alzheimer's and his final two years were very painful for everyone. Less than three months after his passing, I was lying in bed unable to sleep in the early hours of the morning and a scene popped into my head of a man dressed in a tuxedo holding a woman dressed in a ball gown, clearly protecting her, while moonlight spilled across the bed. I got up at dawn, sat down at the computer and started to write. That very scene still exists in The Protectors book 1. I wonder to this day if my mind, finally freed from a decade of intense stressful parental care, needed solace and focus. If so, it found it. In stories. Not a day passes now when I don't write.

Q: What do you do to keep your inner muse happy?

Chocolate! And music. I need peace and quiet when I'm actually writing, but when I need a break, or my poor little muse is feeling under stress, I get up, put on some music and dance around the living room like a lunatic. My poor husband must think I'm crazy. I can recommend it to anyone. It's highly therapeutic.

Q: What's up next in this series? Please give us a sneak peek.

Book 5 in the Protectors Series also features Meg in a co-starring role. Seriously, did anyone really think Omega could stay out of trouble? The book is called The Widower's Child and is the story of junior covert operative Jane Preston, who also features in The Hostage, and her mission to protect a small child after a kidnap attempt. Here is Jane confronting the little girl's father, the very moody, very grumpy, Paul Foster.

"Miss Preston, may I talk to you, please." The easily recognizable voice came from a doorway to her left.

"Of course, Mr. Foster."

He leaned back from the polished desk where he sat. It put him slightly in shadow. Jane wondered if the action was intended. He talked without any of the usual polite social niceties. "This morning I was dealing with a difficult situation. I may have come across as--"

"Extremely rude?"

He scowled. "I was going to say my words could have been misinterpreted as a personal insult. This was not my intent."

"It certainly sounded like your intent."

The scowl deepened, pulling his arched brows downwards. "Miss Preston, I am attempting to apologize."

"Actually, Mr. Foster, you are attempting to justify your actions, and you are hoping I will interpret that as an apology. Which, by the way, I do not."

Q: What's up next for you?

Six books in The Protector Series are now released. The final and 7th book, The Secret Family, just went to my editor. For something completely different I have a sexy Christmas story, The Ghosts of Grace Cottage, coming out some time in December, and I am polishing up a full length paranormal story featuring people with empathic abilities.

You've certainly been busy! Thanks for being here to talk to us about THE HOSTAGE. It's a pleasure to have you with us!

Heads up!
Check out the review for THE HOSTAGE!
from Delta!


I was born in England. My parents loved to travel as my dad spent many years in the navy. By the time I reached the age of 12 we had traveled pretty much around the world on cruise ships. This sounds fun and exciting unless like me you can get sea sick sitting in a bathtub. Let's just say boats do not feature highly in my books.

I still love to travel, but I use planes. All of my life I have written stories in my head. I would rewrite and add characters to TV shows, edit and change novels I was reading, invent scenarios and scenes to amuse myself on long journeys. But strangely I never wrote any of them down. About three years ago I woke up with a scene so clear in my head I knew I had to put it down on paper. Now, what should I do with this one page of prose? I know, I will email it to some friends. The friends approved, in fact they asked what book it was from. I shyly admitted it was my own work and the reaction was immediate...please write the next bit! I did and I have not stopped writing since.



The Protectors Book 1, Diplomat's Daughter

The Protectors Book 2, The Scientist

The Protectors Book 3, The Actress

The Protectors Book 5,
The Widower's Child

The Protectors Book 6,
The Undercover Agent


Carolyn is giving away 2 copies of THE HOSTAGE (winner's choice of ebook or print)! Thank you, Carolyn!


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Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh
The Hostage by Carolyn Wren
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Claiming Tara by Laurie Fitzgerald
Cast Off by KC Burn
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