- The Wild Rose Press
- Release Date
- January 2011
Stacie Monroe's spontaneity lands her in hot water again when her best friend's little brother disappears and Stacie trails him to a nudist resort. To get inside the exclusive oasis and convince him to return home, she must blend in, a move tailor made to shock her oh-so-proper family and renew efforts to bring her in line.
That's exactly what Special Agent David Graham intends to do when she interferes in his case. Yet, the soft-hearted temptress challenges his resolve, revealing the path to a love he thought impossible. Will that love survive when he betrays her in order to unravel the final twist in his case and convict a vicious killer?
Book Review by Tiffy (reviewer)
Mar 08, 2011 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
166 people found the following review helpful
This novel has it all – changing locales, fast paced action, and quirky characters. How could you not have quirky characters with a clown in the title? The quirkiness starts with David Graham who is an uptight, by-the-book FBI agent with a stick up his butt. It continues with Stacie Monroe who is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants investigative journalist. Can you just see the sparks starting to fly?
The novel opens with Stacie searching for her friend's brother, Alan, who has impregnated the daughter of Mike Caputo, the local mob boss. Alan has disappeared along with some of the mobster's money. Stacie's first clue leads her to pose as a receptionist at the Resort to Nature in Phoenix, AZ where she believes Alan may have fled. To Stacie's chagrin, the Resort to Nature is a nudist resort. Okay, this poses some interesting problems… Where does one hide a gun?? Or anything else??? You'll have to read the novel to find out!
We discover early on in the novel that Stacie's family dynamic is a huge reason for her cavalier attitude toward life. It starts with her mother who is a lawyer, and progresses to her father who is a symphony conductor, and finishes with her sister who is labeled the "always-perfect Cynthia". Thank heavens for her grandfather who was a career police officer. Stacie needs all the knowledge that he's given her to stay alive during this novel! She's able to handle weapons, defend herself against mobsters, use hand lotion to stop windows from squeaking, and pick handcuff locks with her earring. All handy talents for a gal to have!
I found it especially interesting to watch the interplay between David and Stacie as they endeavor to solve the mystery of Alan's disappearance and the missing Caputo mob money. David's approach is very methodical and well thought out, while Stacie's approach is "if I try this, what will happen?" Stacie's approach usually lands her in hot water with David riding to the rescue!
As the novel progresses, Stacie and David start to incorporate each other's techniques into solving the mystery. David begins to loosen up and take more risks and Stacie is more aware of her actions. For instance, when Stacie and David escape from mobster Caputo's lake house in a Corvette, David states that they confiscated the car, they didn't steal it. However, always the FBI agent, David has the Corvette towed in after it is involved in an accident so that the proceeds can be used to fight crime and Caputo in particular.
The budding romance between David and Stacie is a joy to watch unfold. In the beginning of the novel, David has no intention of ever being anything but a loner. As an FBI Agent, he spends most of his time undercover and could be killed at any time. As much as he wants to have a relationship, he's afraid of risking it. Stacie, on the other hand, is ready, willing, and able to love David with all her heart. David's hard shell begins cracking about midway through the novel and by the end of the novel he emerges ready to love Stacie with all his heart.
The mystery involving Alan's disappearance and the missing money becomes more and more intriguing as the novel progresses. Just when you think that you know where the story is headed, it goes off in another direction. The novel is bittersweet in parts, hysterically funny and has a mystery that leaves you in suspense until the end! My only regret is that we never get to see the picture of David, Stacie, and Alan in full clown regalia!!
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BOOK INTERVIEW on May 2011
Interview by Ann and Laura
Sandra, Thanks for taking the time to talk with us about your latest release, CAUGHT BY A CLOWN!
Q: The title of the book, CAUGHT BY A CLOWN, is very intriguing. What made you choose this title?
When I realized the main character Stacie Monroe had a quirky tattoo, the book's title followed naturally. You see, Stacie's tat is a small clown face with corkscrew heart hair. That's right--corkscrew heart hair. Take a heart. Twist it into a corkscrew shape with the point of the heart as the point of the corkscrew. Envision that point as the hair root. The tat decorates the slope of Stacie's breast, a place sure to catch a man's attention.
But undercover agent David Graham isn't the only character CAUGHT BY A CLOWN. I think you'll want to read the book and discover the others yourself.
Q: The heroine, Stacie, is an investigative journalist. What did you do for your research in order to make depicting her job realistic?
The internet is a 24/7 resource that can pinpoint detailed information or mislead the researcher. I supplemented its vast reserve with guidance from real investigative journalists.
Q: Stacie seems to be a caring person, since she took it upon herself to rescue her friend's brother. Please tell us more about her. What events in her childhood made her the person that she is today?
She's the youngest and most imaginative in a large regimented family. Childhood bids for attention and affection often backfired, straining her relationship with her strict mother. Stacie's maternal grandfather provided the one supportive influence that saved Stacie from bitterness. Her zest for life and inquiring mind reminded him of his feisty wife and brightened his retirement. Stacie absorbed the former street cop's commitment to aid and protect others while her fertile mind conquered tricks of his trade. She realized early that following her family's service of the law as a police officer or attorney would stifle her. So, she worked her way into investigative reporting, a career that provides the freedom she craves at the same time it challenges her creativity and satisfies her compulsion to help others.
Q: What about David Graham? What makes him the perfect hero for Stacie?
David is a wounded warrior in need of some fun in his life; she can't resist teaching him to relax and enjoy the world's wonders. Yet each act of helping him exposes her to necessary lessons in control.
Q: What was the reason behind having the characters travel so frequently during the course of the novel?
As an undercover agent, David was used to operating outside his real lifestyle. It could be argued that the unusual was his usual, and his assignments ran for months, if not years, rather than days.
Stacie had traveled extensively. Her trips lasted weeks, possibly a month or more as she gathered the research her articles required.
Backgrounds like that required settings that changed frequently to keep both characters off-balance, vulnerable, and reactive.
Q: Which character was the most difficult to write? Why?
David Graham turned my hair gray! He had boxed his emotions tightly and stored them deep inside himself. Revealing them took every trick I learned during a lifetime of making new friends each time we moved and raising children far from the help of family. My struggle was well worth it. I hope CAUGHT BY A CLOWN's readers agree.
Q: What's your favorite scene in the book? Why?
I have several favorites. Their love scene in Florida is my top because it's the first time David steps outside himself for a taste of romance. But, I think for this purpose, I'd like to share a little of what happens in an empty stable at Lone Star Park, a horse race track near Dallas, Texas.
"You're bleeding." Her touch stabbed white-hot daggers through his side. He hissed air between his teeth, willing his body to relax, his mind to override the throbbing that beat in time with his heart.
"No wonder that horse wouldn't settle down." Stacie rested one knee on the ground, leaned closer, and pulled up his shirt. "I've heard they don't like the smell of blood."
David swiveled on the balls of his feet and grabbed both her hands. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Finding out why you're bleeding, of course."
"I know why I'm bleeding. You got me shot."
"That's ridiculous." She jerked free of his grasp, pushed his left arm out of her way, and yanked his shirt back up.
"Why is it ridiculous? I didn't yell or fall down?"
"Uh huh." She pressed along the edges of the furrow that followed the curve of a lower rib, and then peered up at him. "Something like that."
"You don't want to admit this whole mess is your fault," he accused.
She raised her gaze to where they'd hidden and traced their path up and down. All smooth materials. No protrusions or ragged edges existed that would harm the horses, or him.
"You act like a willful child, Stacie. You don't listen. You don't think. You simply satisfy any impulse that occurs to you."
Her face paled. Her fingers trembled against his side. She bent her head.
"You couldn't have hurt yourself like this. Not here." She gradually met his eyes. "They shot you because of me." A tear dribbled down her cheek. "I had to smart off, and you were hurt." Several more tears tracked her face.
He exhaled. "That's what I've been saying. If you'd stayed at your aunt's house, I'd have Alan instead of a gash in my side."
"I'm sorry." She swiped at her eyes. "I'd change what happened if I could."
The regret and pain reflected in her liquid eyes begged forgiveness. He wanted to give that gift. Wanted to soothe her pain and restore her smile, her excitement with life. Afraid of the consequences, he resisted the temptation. She'd think he had accepted her foolishness, and in her relief forget the lesson. Caputo and his men kill anyone in their way.
"You can't change what happened. Think of that the next time a dumb stunt crosses your mind." David stood and reached for Stacie's hand. "Come on. We need to leave. That woman and her horse will be back soon."
She stood but eluded him. "Not yet. Take off your shirt. We'll use it for a compress."
"We don't have time."
"We have to take time. Your shirt's soaked with blood. It's too noticeable."
Rather than argue with her, he slipped the one overall strap from his shoulder and peeled off his shirt. She pulled a bright pink, lace bra from under hers.
"What're you going to do with that?"
"Keep the compress in place," Stacie explained.
"I am not wearing your bra."
"Fine." She braced her fists on her hips. "Stroll through a crowd of people and security officers with a four-inch, ragged, gaping wound dripping blood down your side and see how long it takes for someone to connect you with that gunshot everyone must have heard."
Q: Great excerpt! Would you rate CAUGHT BY A CLOWN a sweet read? A hot read? Somewhere in between? What do you think makes a love scene memorable?
CAUGHT BY A CLOWN is a spicy read. IMHO, the key to memorable love scenes is emotional vulnerability. That risk arcs between the characters and sizzles in their reactions. Without it, love scenes drop to discarded or disheveled clothes.
Stacie and David harbor deep trust issues that complicate their opposing approaches to life. When their relationship reaches a point where making love consumes their thoughts and directs their actions, the risk of surrendering, of trusting, extracts a price that grows steeper with each touch, each caress.
Q: Please share a unique behind the scenes experience or fun facts you encounter while writing this book.
The first question readers ask is "What research did you do for the nudist resort?" That challenge I passed on to an outgoing, fun-loving relative who has never met a stranger. He worked for a utility company at the time and was assigned to line repairs in an area that crossed a nudist resort's property. He passed all my questions and scene drafts to the resort's manager who passed his responses back to me in the same manner. I'm forever grateful to my observant relative and the manager.
I do want to add this tidbit: After CAUGHT BY A CLOWN was published, a representative of the American Association for Nude Recreation http://www.aanr.com contacted me. He explained Stacie should have worn a beach wrap or sarong rather than underwear, which is considered exhibitionist compared to nudity. I appreciate his input and will utilize the information if that type of setting complements another story. However, I had no reason to question my resources, and I don't regret what was published.
Q: What's up for you in the coming months?
I'm finally comfortable with a few promoting techniques I've tried. I hope that will give me time to concentrate on revisions TWRP requested on my next book. It's linked with CAUGHT BY A CLOWN through David's friend and co-worker, Brad Burkholt.
Thanks for an awesome time, Sandra!
Thank you for joining me here at The Romance Reviews. I hope you liked the interview. If you have any questions, you can contact me through my website at www.sandracrowley.com or my blog Driven2Danger www.driven2danger.blogspot.com where there's a picture of Stacie's clown face tattoo.
Sandra Crowley is giving away 2 digital copies of CAUGHT BY A CLOWN!
Simply write a comment or ask a question in the comment box below to be entered into the giveaway!
Contest ends May 31.
Winners will be announced in June.
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