. . . . . When Police Chief Caleb Wellington returned to his hometown, he had his own reasons for increasing the town’s security. Now, he sees the town for what it is: a prison. His relationship with Grace opens feelings he hasn’t had in a while. The last thing he wants to do is say goodbye. But he made a promise to get her home and he is a man of his word.
Wild Women Authors is thrilled to welcome back Gina Leuci and Grace Adams Wellington from Captive Hearts, book two in Gina's A Well of Lies series. This one's a beauty and we can't wait to chat with Grace.
Where are you from? I was born and raised in Vermont. My parents own a restaurant so my life has pretty much revolved around food.
Tell us a bit about Captive Hearts, book two in A Well of Lies series. The book takes place immediately following the conclusion of Caged Souls. I am trapped in Wellington, a small, secluded town in Pennsylvania, run by the Wellington family. They brought several college students to their town under the guise of a summer intern program working on their farms, but in reality, their intent was to find spouses for their children. At the end of Caged Souls, Caleb agreed to help me leave Wellington, but… well, as you’ll discover, the members of the Town Council have other plans for us.
What did you think the first time you saw Caleb Wellington? The very first time? At the start of Caged Souls, I thought he was emotionless. A stone wall. What I thought of him at the start of Captive Hearts was completely different. Of course, I woke lying in his arms after a night seeking shelter from a storm. For a brief, wonderful moment, I thought he was my ally, my protector. That changed quickly.
As we've read the book, we couldn't agree more, and for several excellent reasons. What was your second thought? Caleb is a ball of contradictions. I always found him hard to read. He has a way of shutting down his emotions. When he does, it pushes my buttons and I tend to mouth off a bit.
Yes, you do that, often for good reason. Did you feel it was love at first sight? Hell, no. Caleb was the bane of my existence. He was in charge of keeping me in Wellington against my will. He is a rules follower and I like to push the limits. We butted heads a few times.
What do you like most about him? The more I got to know Caleb, the more I realized how wrong I was about him being a stone wall. Caleb is very protective about those he cares most about. As Police Chief he is extremely fair while also being strict. It’s a fine line, but one that I find quite admirable.
How would you describe him? He sees the world as black and white – rules must be followed. But then when I see him with his children – he has three, by the way – he is relaxed and fun. He is also Gorgeous – I mean, HELLO!!! All I have to do is look at all those muscles and I want to faint.
Agreed. Right down to the body to die for. How would he describe you? Besides being a pain in his ass? Yeah, that’s how he would describe me. I frustrate the hell out of him. But my antics also amuse him. He might not admit it out loud, but I’ve seen the smirks he tries to hide.
What made you choose business management for a career focus? I’m a college student between my junior and senior years. My focus, though, is Business Management, as I figure I’ll continue to run the back side of my parent’s restaurant. I’ve been helping out there for a while and have a knack for it. Plus, it keeps me away from the customers.
What is your biggest fear? At this time, stuck in Wellington, my biggest fear is never going back home to Vermont to see my parents and sister.
How do you relax? Baseball. I love the sport. At times though, it helps me get out my aggression. Also, baking. While my parents taught me how to cook, I have the most fun when I bake. A lot of nights, while my parents were next door working, I would bake desserts for my sister.
Who is your favorite fictional character? Scarlet O’Hara. Despite everything, she was a survivor. I like that.
We couldn't agree more with your choice. What is the best piece of advice you ever received? I’m not sure I have advice, exactly, but my sister has Downs Syndrome and she is the happiest, most loving person I know. She is basically the opposite of me, but she is also an inspiration. She doesn’t let anything get in her way.
Grace, this has been terrific. Thanks for taking time to chat with us. Now it's Gina's turn at bat.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? I love reading and not just any one genre. I love stories with happy endings, which is why I write romance. I also like a good mystery. I admire authors who write entire series, weaving characters throughout and setting a plot thread in one book that follows through several books later. I think it is quite the gift to be that organized.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? Back when I was in college, I started a story called: Last Stop, Wellington, which never got completed. A couple years ago, I was watching the show Arrow with my son. Stephen Amell portrays the main character and something about his intensity made me bring that long-forgotten story back. Originally, Caleb was to be the antagonist, but after bringing my re-imagined plot ideas to my critique group, they convinced me Caleb had to be the hero. Obviously, they were right.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? I am with The Wild Rose Press. I was almost finished writing my second novel, The Devil’s Invention, when my first publishing house closed. I’d always heard great things about The Wild Rose Press and they were the first ones I submitted to when the manuscript was done. They picked it up and it was published in 2015. Now, with Caged Souls and Captive Hearts, I have three books with TWRP. They are wonderful and extremely easy to work with.
What book[s] currently rest on your TBR pile? I have a couple of Kristan Higgins' books ready to read. Kristan’s books are kind of a “reward” book. But I know when I start, I need time to read, because I can’t put them down. Also, Midnight Girl from Nora LeDuc – a fellow NHRWA chapter member who writes Romantic Suspense. Peggy Jaeger, another TWRP author has three books coming out soon. To tell you the truth, there are too many to list.
Lastly, what's up next and when can we expect to see it on the shelves? I am in the very beginning stages researching a new book idea. It centers on a child abduction cold case. I am not a fast writer, so, unfortunately, it will be a while before it will see the light of day.
Gina brought along an excerpt for us:
Caleb looked down at me. “Okay?”
No. I wanted to scream the word. I wanted to turn tail and run. “I feel hypocritical, celebrating a day of independence with a town that has taken away my rights.”
The distant look he gave wasn’t him closing off this time. No, I spotted the hint of pain in the blue flecks before his shoulders squared. “Think of it more of you taking the first step to secure your freedom again.”
I rubbed my clammy palms against my shorts. “Do you think it will work? Do you think we can fool them?”
His answer was to hold his hand out. “If we show a united front, yes.”
I took it. Not for the first time, I noticed the difference in size as his fingers folded between mine. Today, at this moment, our age difference seemed massive, but part of me knew it was due to his confidence. My own fears of my future had me wishing to be a little girl back in the safety of my parents’ home.
I needed to stop my self-pity. I was twenty, not a child. It was time to put on my big girl panties and show the world I’m a fighter. I squeezed his hand. “Let’s do this.”
Then we turned the corner and came face to face with Leland, A.J., Tim, and Phillip. My new-found determination came to a screeching halt.
CAGED SOULS and CAPTIVE HEARTS can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through my publisher: www.thewildrosepress.com
I can be reached via my website: www.ginaleuci.com