As a reader and writer of historical romance, I had never planned on writing romantic suspense. That was my agent’s idea.
We were talking one evening about my progress on my second historical when I mentioned that I’d gotten a phone call from a state official who was afraid for my safety. I was in the middle of investigating a cement plant on allegations that it was violating clean air laws, and the state official, one of my sources, had overheard men at the plant talking about the “lady journalist” and how they were afraid they were going to lose their jobs if I didn’t back off.
“They’re not going to write you a letter to the editor,” the state official said. “They’re going to beat the sh*t out of you with baseball bats.”
This wasn’t the first time my work had put me in potential danger. Over my 20 years as an investigative reporter, I had a gun held on me twice, received numerous death threats, and had two stalkers, one of whom drew the attention of the FBI, and was attacked by two men with switchblades in my own home.
Who knew that investigative journalism was a contact sport?
My agent listened to me talk about my day, and then got very quiet. “You ought to write romantic suspense because you live it.”
To which I replied, “Yeah—except for the romantic part.”
I’m glad I took her advice because the I-Team series has gained a level of popularity that I hadn’t imagined when I wrote that first book.
Striking Distance, the sixth book in my I-Team series, was just released this month, earning rave reviews from fiction publications. It tells the love story of Laura Nilsson, a broadcast journalist, and Javier “Cobra” Cobray, the active-duty Navy SEAL who rescues her from an Al-Qaeda compound.
The prologue, in which Javier rescues Laura, with whom he’d once had a weekend fling, fell into my head in a single chunk. The rest of the story took me 15 long months to write. Some of the background elements of the story—Laura’s reportage on the abuse and mistreatment of women in some parts of the Middle East, her PTSD, her struggles as a survivor of sexual assault—was drawn from my own work as reporter and my own personal past. But the rest of the story involved a lot of research.
I was fortunate in that I was able to connect with an active-duty Navy SEAL, who provided his expertise between deployments, helping me to make the military aspect of the story and Javier’s character authentic. I would send him a section of the story to read or perhaps ask questions. Sometimes he would get back to me right away. Other times, weeks would go by, sometimes even months, and I would know that duty had called him away. But he always got back to me, answering my questions with a humbleness that I found deeply touching.
I dedicated the book to him.
Striking Distance is a very special book to me, in part because of the unique interaction I was able to have with a special operator. I hope you enjoy the results!
Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:
Her past is a secret—even to her.
Discovering it will be the most dangerous move of her life.
TV reporter Laura Nilsson, known as the “Baghdad Babe,” spent eighteen months in an Al-Qaeda compound after being kidnapped live on the air. Two years later, she’s still wondering why.
No mission in Javier Corbray’s fourteen years as a Navy SEAL affected him the way Laura’s rescue did. No woman had stirred his protective instincts the way she did. And he wants her more than he’s ever wanted anyone.
As Laura and Javier’s passion ignites, so does Laura’s need to discover the mystery of her past. Especially when she learns that her abduction was not random—and that she’s still a target for a killer with an impenetrable motive. Now Javier will have to rely on his skills to keep the woman he loves from being struck down before she dares uncover the truth.
Here are what some reviewers had to say about the story:
“This sixth I-Team installment sees Clare at her very best, combining scorching desire with a gripping, often painful, exploration of healing and redemption. The plot’s mystery and suspense elements are exceptionally well researched and expertly plotted, but the real achievement lies in her beautifully crafted main couple. Her heroine’s ordeal is unspeakably painful, but her strength never wavers. The chemistry with her steadfast hero never lacks for sizzle, but the emotional bond they share allows them to go beyond the physical to a profound, unforgettable love.”
—RT Book Reviews, 4.5-stars Top Pick
“Easily one of the best romantic suspense stories of the year!”
Striking Distance was also chosen as a Recommended Read for the month of November by Dear Author.
You can read the prologue on my website.
Also, be sure to check out First Strike, the erotic prequel to Striking Distance. It tells the story of the crazy no-strings-attached weekend Laura and Javier share in Dubai, where they first meet.
I hope you enjoy the stories!
Have you ever found yourself taking an unexpected turn in life, or doing something scary that you felt you just had to do? One person who comments will win a signed copy of Striking Distance, and everyone who comments will win a digital copy of First Strike.