Guest Blog: Zee Monodee

Digging deep to lay the roots of Before The Morning (Corpus Brides: Book Two) by Zee Monodee

It’s a pleasure to be here today, folks – when Lucy asked me over, I was delighted to do a blog swap with her.

Until I slammed into the ‘wall’ – what topic will I address? Lucy to the rescue, asking “Was there a lot of research involved in this book?”

Was there? Boy, you don’t know the half of it! *grin*

First off, let me give you an idea what Before The Morning (Corpus Brides: Book Two) is about. It’s the story of Rayne, aka Kali, a clandestine secret agent and super-efficient killer who returns to civilian life to be with the one man she’s always loved.

The love story part, I had it down pat. I’ve been reading romances for 20+ years now, and been writing them for 7-or-so years. But the clandestine agent bit? Are you kidding me? What on earth do I, the ditzy housewife whose biggest thrill-episode was cutting class and not getting caught in high school, know about being a spy?

I have no clue why or how I even started writing a romantic suspense/espionage thriller series with the Corpus Brides. I just know that when I started Book 1, Walking The Edge, about 2.5 years ago, that the heroine’s amnesiac trek through London and Marseille led me to the workings and ramifications of a clandestine agency called the Corpus.

Still, there’s a difference between penning about ‘some’ memories of a clandestine life, and actually penning the day-to-day, minute-by-minute, clandestine life and missions.

My TV junkie status helped here – there I was downing season after season of spy/espionage fare, and learning everything I could from the lifestyle they portrayed. Nikita (the Maggie Q one, where a rogue agent takes on her former agency), La Femme Nikita (starring Peta Wilson, in which she’s a convict given a second chance, by becoming a clandestine agent), Covert Affairs (in which Piper Perabo is a green CIA cherry sent in the field before her secret agent training is over), and Burn Notice (where former, burned spy Michael Westen, played by Jeffrey Donovan, sets out to find who inside his agency burned him, and along the way, uses his spy-skills to help the down-trodden and those in need).

I gobbled these shows, watched every nuance, every aspect, every detail, of these “spies” and how they lived their life. That gave me a good shot at portraying the clandestine lifestyle, especially when on a mission. What about the rest?

Spies kill, and what do they kill with? Guns, of course! I’m lucky that I have a husband who is a trove of information on guns, and two growing boys who wield all types of firearms and know the specs of each one in their video-game junkie sprees. I’ve thus learned that a Makarov, a Russian pistol, is heavier than most commercial handguns; that a Colt Python .353 Magnum is now a collector’s weapon; that the Barrett M82A1 rifle is banned in the state of California; that James Bond used a Walther P99 with a silencer; that bullets also come as hollow-points that fragment upon impact; that .50 BMG caliber is used for anti-materiel sniping.

And whoever thinks “spy” thinks “cosmopolitan locations”. I’ve never been to mainland Europe, never set foot in Las Vegas, yet I had scenes in the story that would take place there. How do you render a proper geographical description and use the setting to your advantage, when you have no clue what the place is like really? This is where online guides and Youtube videos come in handy – a scene set in Prague takes place along the trajectory I viewed in a video guide to Prague’s city centre!

Not to mention that my hero is a London paramedic, and in the first scene of the book, is called to attend to an injury resulting from a drunken fight. I wanted him to come across as a real London paramedic would, so that involved getting in touch with actual London Ambulance Service paramedics and having them run me through protocol and checking the scene for accuracy – my endless thanks to them for their patience and willingness to assist!

I think that for almost every one of the 325 pages in this book, there’s a nugget of research involved in the writing.

My aim, though, is to provide the best, and most accurate, reading experience for my reader. I hope I have managed that with the story I have penned, and the research I undertook to make this story as true-to-life and as realistic as possible.

Take a bet on Before The Morning (Corpus Brides: Book 2), and I hope you’ll let me know what you think of the story!

Thanks again for having me over today, Lucy!

From Mauritius with love,




Before The MorningBefore The Morning

. . . is a time of great darkness. . .

A trained killer with borderline sociopathic tendencies:

Rayne Cheltham traced out her life’s path when she was twelve: she would marry her best friend and bear his children, and in the process, stifle the restless edge in her. When he vows never to marry, she gives in to the darkness and becomes a clandestine agent—until the day he walks into her world again, and her carefully fabricated façade crumbles.

A former cop burned by life and his personal demons:

When Ash Gilfoy meets a woman who reminds him of his childhood best friend, he starts upon a path that leads him down into an abyss once again. The day Rayne waltzes back into his life, he knows she is his second chance, and the one who will save him.

Each thinks the other is their redemption . . . until they discover how deep the other’s edge of darkness goes

No one knows Rayne used to be a spy and an assassin, and no one knows why Ash left the police force. The secrets between them make them sit on a keg of gunpowder with a lit fuse in their hands. Neither knows what ‘normal’ means now, especially Rayne, whose whole life is built on a lie. Truth is threatening to explode in their faces, and that is not the only menace they have to face. Someone is out to get Rayne, and she must disclose her past before it is too late.

Can Rayne and Ash survive all that’s thrown in their path? Can they hang on to the last thread of their relationship, and can they emerge, still together and still alive, in the morning after the deepest darkness?


Grab your copy of Before The Morning (Corpus Brides: Book 2) at

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More about Zee Monodee at her blog

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, as ZeeMonodee.



From the front-facing window on the second floor of the Shepherd’s Close freehold, Corpus secret agent Rayne Cheltham watched the ambulance pull away from the curb.

Shivers crept up her arms, and she hugged herself tight to ward them off.

Get a grip!

She was a professional on an assignment, an elite, trained operative from a clandestine agency that handled operations for governments and international forces as a stealthy left hand. Her agency entrusted her with the most important missions—nothing should faze her.

Before today, she would’ve said that nothing could affect her when she had her eyes on a goal.

But she wasn’t sure anymore. She’d never had her past collide with her present like a few moments ago, in the form of her childhood best friend.

Ashford Gilfoy, better known as Ash. The boy who had been there to catch her when, at six, she had slipped while climbing the chestnut tree that sat right on the border between their two houses in Hastings, two days after her family moved there from Salisbury. The boy who had taught her how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels on the long and winding, gravel-covered lane leading to her parents’ mansion. The teenager who had smashed the nose of the first lad who had broken her heart, at thirteen, during recess in the schoolyard. The young man she had left seventeen years ago on a platform at London Waterloo, on the day she bid her old life goodbye.

For the first time since that day, she was back on British soil, and kismet decided Ash should cross her path.

Why then, of all times? She was a hair’s breadth away from closing the contract on this mission. Seven months of intensive infiltration work and she was ready to achieve her aim—neutralize Nikolai Grigorievskiy’s criminal operations before she took out the man. The Corpus always sent her for the kill, but the trick was that she had to make her target’s death appear self-inflicted, at the bare minimum, or an accident, in the direst of cases. Measles, as such operations were known in their clandestine world—a planned assassination that didn’t leave any indication of the cause of death. She would then have to sanitize everything—leave no evidence, no witness, nothing that could lead back to her. Unlike her other agency counterparts, she wasn’t an out-and-out black ops assassin, but a different level of highly implicated agent provocateur.

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