. . . For thirteen years, Penny Sparks has managed to hide from the political powers who murdered her family. When she unwittingly exposes her true identity, not only is she marked for death, but the people closest to her risk meeting the same fate.
. . . Jake Winters is out of rehab and coming to grips with his demons. When he meets his sister’s roommate, Jake believes Penny might be that someone who can help him find life after rock star status…until her secrets blow up his world.
. . . With a government agent turned hit man closing in on her, Penny and Jake race to expose the presidential contender behind the murders of her family. Even if they win the race with death, the murder that stands between them could end their hope for a new life.
Wild Women Authors is pleased to welcome back author Brenda Whiteside and
Penny Sparks AKA Jianna Ricci from Brenda's latest romantic suspense, The Power of Love and Murder, an upcoming release from the Wild Rose Press. First up is Penny.
Where are you from? Originally, Red Rock, Nevada but I make my home in Flagstaff, Arizona now.
Tell us a bit about The Power of Love and Murder. The story really began thirteen years ago, when my parents and brother were murdered. My name then was Jianna Ricci. I believe an FBI agent working for a politician now aspiring to be president is the killer. I’ve been in hiding for all of these years as Penny Sparks, but a careless moment leads them to me. I’ve just reconnected with Jake Winters, and both of our lives are in danger.
What did you think the first time you saw Jake Winters? The first time was six years ago. I was as gaga about him as most healthy females in the U.S. were. He’s my best friend’s brother, and she got us back stage at his rock concert. Alone with him in his dressing room, stoned out of his head, he’d made quite an impression. The kiss that led to grabbing my ass and rude remarks—oh yes, the memory lived on. He’s back and seeing him again, a rehabbing ex-rocker with a beard and no money…let’s say the quivers are still there, in spite of my anger over that night six years ago.
What was your second thought? Let’s talk about my second thought with his return. Since he’s jobless and getting back on his feet, Mandy has invited him to move in. I have to find some way to call a truce and make him a friend. No easy matter!
Did you feel it was love at first sight? It was lust at first sight six years ago. At this point? What do I know of love? He still stirs the lust.
What do you like most about him? Jake the ex-rocker is a genuine nice guy. Family is important to him. Since I’ve lost all of my family, that touches me deeply.
How would you describe Jake? He’s not real tall at 5’10”, but I’m so tiny he’s tall enough. He’s not quite forty, long legs, and with what I call a runner’s butt. Can I say that? I always notice that on a guy. His dark auburn hair and close cropped beard make him ruggedly handsome. His smoky gray eyes…smoke me!
How would Jake describe you? My nickname of the past is the Black Fairy because of a Goth phase I went through. He mentioned once he’d like to see me with my natural hair color instead of the black I keep it dyed. He’d call me reserved, I think, and maybe a little sad. It’s December, everyone is festive for Christmas, but this is the time of year my family was murdered. Of course, he doesn’t know that, which is why I seem closed off. He thinks of me as a pixie of a woman.
What made you choose hotel management for a career? When I ran from the people who murdered my family, I was only seventeen passing as twenty. I waited tables for a while, but a job in the hotel opened. I stuck with it and am now the evening manager. It’s a good job, and I like it.
What is your biggest fear? The murderer and the politician will find me. They could not only kill me, but also Jake who won’t leave my side.
How do you relax? I used to read, but relaxing isn’t part of my life right now. My future is so uncertain.
Who is your favorite fictional character? Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I could use a trip over the rainbow.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? My father told me to stay hidden and stay safe. It worked for thirteen years.
You are incredibly brave, Penny/Jianna. Your story touched us. Now we'd like to chat with Brenda.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? The first book I can remember having a great impact was Wuthering Heights. I don’t write that era, but I would love to evoke the depth of emotion and mystery I experienced when I read it. Maeve Binchy books were also a great influence for her characterizations.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? This is a funny story. There is a scene where Jake, the hero, has a really awful night in a cheap motel. It’s a true story. Happened to my brother. I think the scene tells a great deal about Jake’s character, and it gave me an opportunity to give some back story.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? I’m not sure how I heard about them, maybe through Romance Writers of America. The first book I wrote was an historical romance, and my goal was to get an agent. While going through the process of submitting and getting rejected, I wrote a second book, Sleeping with the Lights On. It’s a contemporary, light-hearted romantic suspense. Instead of also submitting it to agents, I ‘got a hair’ and sent it off to The Wild Rose Press. They published it, and I’ve been with them ever since.
Brenda brought along an excerpt from The Power of Love and Murder:
Jake nodded, but all he could concentrate on were
Penny’s last words before the officer appeared. When
they were alone again, he threw up his hands. “What do
you mean, go back to Phoenix? Why the hell would I
She turned her back on him, went to the open door
of the bathroom, and lifted her clothes from the hook.
Beneath the thin, hospital gown her spine was straight,
her movements tight, as if coiled and ready to spring.
“Penny, I know how much she meant to you.” How
much she meant to both of them. He wanted to hold
her, share their loss. “I’m not leaving you.”
Untying the gown, she let it drop around her feet,
and sidestepped out of the heap. She pulled the dark
gray sweater over her head then stepped into black
velvet jeans, refusing to make eye contact or speak as
she sat on the green plastic chair.
This was killing him. The need to hold her, help
her with her pain—his pain—rushed through him.
Haltingly, he made his way to her, touched her head,
and waited while she zipped her boots. “Penny.” She
resisted, but he tipped her chin, forcing her to look up.
“Come on, baby. You don’t have to worry about me
“When I tell you the truth, you will.”
Tell our visitors where they can find your books:
My Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Brenda-Whiteside/e/B003V15WF8/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
What project[s] are you working on now? I’m currently writing book five in the Love and Murder Series, The Deep Well of Love and Murder. I also blog on my personal blog, Discover Yourself, about my current life in an RV, as well as my writing projects: http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/
Thanks, Brenda. We wish you much luck with this book and the next to come.
Kat and Veronica