Tag Archives: sensual romance

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 NobleRomance.com.

Watch the book trailer here http://youtu.be/ivUw0X9odFk

More about Zee Monodee at her blog http://zeemonodee.blogspot.com/

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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Guest Blog: Sarah Ballance

Hi, y’all! Since I’ve hopped the pond for this party, which Lucy has graciously agreed to host, I’d like to offer you all something a little different. For the last few Sundays I’ve featured six sentence excerpts of my new romantic suspense TIDE OF LIES, so today I’d like to put the pieces together to introduce you to the story via these snippets. Let’s kick things off with the blurb.

Tide Of LiesTIDE OF LIES |  blurb

A devastating secret. A shocking betrayal. A deadly obsession.

Haunted by three unsolved murders, Detective Holden Whitlow is stunned when his cold case takes a heated turn. Julia Cohen, his ex-lover, is back in town, and in the face of a brutal attack she’s ready to run. No matter how tightly she holds her secrets, for Holden, turning away from the woman he’s spent a decade trying to forget isn’t any more an option than walking away from his job . . .even when it threatens to cost Julia her life.

Julia is still reeling from a past she can’t bear to face. When she becomes the target of a killer, fate throws her back into Holden’s arms, but she’s yet to recover from a truth that has stripped her of everything—and everyone—she loves. Will she tell him the secret that will destroy him, or will her lie destroy them both?


Now that you’ve “met” Holden and Julia, let the snippets begin!


(1) Here, Julia and Holden have only recently met again, and he’s heavy on her mind . . . and so is her deception. What he doesn’t know is *she* knows he wasn’t exactly honest with her in the past.

The connection she felt was probably more imagined than real, but it brought to distorted light all he’d been to her. Not for the first time she wondered if she’d meant anything to him at all—or if she even could have. The air between them hung thick with things left unsaid.

“Why did you leave, Jules?”

She jumped at the question. Because we were both liars.

(2) In this next excerpt, Julia still struggles with her secrets, while Holden has no idea she is keeping anything from him.

There was a truth about the past somewhere inside her, but it burrowed a little deeper every time she looked at him. How had she never before noticed the earthen flecks of color rippling through those eyes? “I’m not who you think I am,” she blurted.

Holden leaned forward, settling with his shoulder against the back of the sofa so he faced her. Holding her—captivating her—with his gaze, he said, “Until today, I didn’t even know your name. Convincing me I knew less will be a hard sell.”

(3) This is from Holden’s POV. Things are heating up, but she was recently attacked and he’s afraid he’ll hurt her if he gets too close.

He didn’t know the extent of her injuries so he relied on body language, the grip of her thighs around his hips and the blessed sting of her fingernails under his shirt coming through loud and clear.

His world existed in brutal slow motion—passion on the verge of explosion, the desire to dive into her almost too much to bear. Ten years of pent up emotion made a hell of a mess once set free, and he was drowning in it.

He lowered his head and found her mouth. She met his kiss with a soft breath against his lips, her hands clutching him everywhere they touched. The familiarity of her beneath him didn’t make sense on any level, and the ease at which they fit together only deepened his ache.

(4) In the sentences that follow, Holden has just discovered Julia’s devastating secret. The first line of speech is hers.

“You know.”

It wasn’t even a question, and her voice might not have registered at all if not for the relief therein. Not trusting himself to speak, he looked up from the phone to see her hugging herself through one of his t-shirts. Betrayal ran through his blood, hot and brittle, and for once not a drop detoured to his groin. The only thing lingering in that particular region was remorse, the hours of lovemaking from the night before now seething inside him.

He opened his mouth to speak and snapped it shut again.


Familiar LightWant to know what the secret is? I’m afraid you’re going to have to read the book. *grins* But you don’t have to dive in with TIDE OF LIES. You can start with FAMILIAR LIGHT, which is just $1.50 from Noble Romance, to get the full story leading to the LIES. But . . . you don’t have to. TIDE OF LIES is a standalone story, and if you grab it I’d love to know what you think!



TIDE OF LIES @ NOBLE ROMANCE  https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/409/Tide-of-Lies

FAMILIAR LIGHT @ NOBLE ROMANCE https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/344/Familiar-Light

AMAZON (author link) http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003WKYEJI

BARNES & NOBLE (author link) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/sarah-ballance


Thank you so very much for allowing me to visit with you all today. I hope you enjoyed this look at TIDE OF LIES, and I’d love for you to join me at my blog for my weekly gift card giveaways. There’s a whole page of details at http://sarahballance.wordpress.com, but basically it comes to this: every week, I give away a gift card to Noble Romance, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice). To enter, all you need to do is subscribe to my blog *by email* and you’ll automatically be included in every drawing for as long as you remain a subscriber. Easy, right? Hope to see you stateside! ;c) Thanks again, and have a wonderful day!


SARAH BALLANCE | about the author

Sarah and her husband of almost fifteen what he calls “long, long” years live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep.  She often jokes that she writes to be around people who will listen to her, but her characters aren’t much better than her kids.  Fortunately, her husband is quite supportive, having generously offered to help her research “the good parts” . . .  and she’s never had to ask twice.

WEBSITE  http://www.sarahballance.com/

BLOG  http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/

AMAZON  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003WKYEJI

TWITTER  http://twitter.com/#!/SarahBallance

FACEBOOK  http://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news

Six Sentence Sunday – 18/3/12

The Cottage in the WoodsHere’s more from my brand new f/f release, The Cottage in the Woods. (I’ve re-posted this as last time I took part, my scheduled post didn’t go live so I wasn’t included on the list 🙁 )

The beautiful russet fur, big bushy tail with flecks of white – there was a fox in her garden.

Grinning, Heidi rushed to dry her hands on a tea towel and then moved across the room to flick off the light switch. She waited until her eyes became accustomed to the darkness, then made her way back to the window. She spied the fox immediately, crouched down beside the hedge surrounding her garden, as though it was hunting something. A life-long nature lover, Heidi smiled, truly appreciating the stunning beauty of the creature. But the longer Heidi watched the animal, the more confused she became.

Want to know more about Six Sentence Sunday and see all the other delicious entries? Click the logo below:

Six Sentence Sunday

Six Sentence Sunday – 26/2/12

The Cottage in the WoodsHere’s more from my brand new release, The Cottage in the Woods.

Animals were braver in the city, where they’d become used to humans. But out here, they were still timid and very wary of man. Heidi’s little cottage was practically screaming that it was occupied, with its smoking chimney and blazing lights and yet the creature – whatever it was – was almost outside the window. Heidi frowned. Something definitely wasn’t right.

Another flash of movement, and Heidi finally identified her visitor.

Want to know more about Six Sentence Sunday and see all the other delicious entries? Click the logo below:

Six Sentence Sunday

Six Sentence Sunday – 19/2/12

The Cottage in the WoodsToday I’m sharing something new. Brand new, in fact! The Cottage in the Woods comes out on Wednesday from Resplendence Publishing. I hope you’ll enjoy reading snippets from this f/f shapeshifter erotic romance.

A movement in the garden caught Heidi’s attention immediately. She peered out into the dark, her hands still immersed in the washing up bowl as she tried to catch another glimpse of whatever was lurking in the darkness outside her kitchen window. She wasn’t frightened, merely curious. She lived so far out in the wilderness that it could only be an animal, and the last time she’d checked, they couldn’t open locked doors. So she was perfectly safe.

What made her nocturnal visitor so unusual was its proximity to the house.

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Six Sentence Sunday

Six Sentence Sunday – 12/2/12

Susie White and the Right Hand ManLast piece from from fairy tale retelling Susie White and the Right Hand Man, then I’ll move onto something new next time. Happy Valentines Week! 😀

I never bothered my father with my concerns. After all, as long as she liked him, what did it matter?

While Louise and my father were just dating, things weren’t too bad. They went to restaurants, the theatre, the cinema, and so on. I didn’t see her very often, and therefore didn’t have to put up with her frosty behaviour towards me.

Naturally, everything changed when dad told me he was going to ask Louise to marry him.

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Six Sentence Sunday

Six Sentence Sunday – 29/1/12

Susie White and the Right Hand ManMore from fairy tale retelling Susie White and the Right Hand Man.

I’d been eager to get on with the woman, knowing it would please my father. “Everyone does.”

Another tight-lipped smile. I’d tried hard to make conversation with her and make her feel comfortable in our home. But I never felt like I was succeeding. At first, I put it down to her being nervous or shy, but as weeks and months passed, I still never felt as though Louise warmed to me.

Want to know more about Six Sentence Sunday and see all the other delicious entries? Click the logo below:

Six Sentence Sunday