Someone recently asked me why I wrote romantic thrillers. At the time, I explained that when I sent my first novel to an agent, she had told me I needed to add romance or it would never sell. Which was true as far as it went. But as I thought about it later, it occurred to me that romance itself is probably one of the most difficult things to get right, both in fiction and in real life. If you do it right, romance can be beautiful, thrilling, and unforgettable. Of course, if you’re like me, it’s more often a comedy of errors. Oh, my brushes with romance have definitely been unforgettable, but not for the reasons you might think.

I’ll never forget the time I went out with a foreign diplomat. He was from Germany and he took me to an embassy party. We had a very nice time at the party. I met a lot of interesting people and heard a lot of interesting stories. The food was delicious and the alcohol flowed like water. Now I have never been much of a drinker—that stuff is fattening, after all—but my date had no such inhibitions. He drank like a fish. When it was time to leave, he was in no condition to drive.

“But I have diplomatiisssh immuniteesse,” he proclaimed.
“That’s great,” I replied. “But diplomatic immunity won’t keep you from smashing into a tree.”

I finally convinced him to let me drive, but as I had never been to his apartment and had no clue where he lived, he had to give me directions. If you have ever gotten directions from someone who is extremely inebriated, you can sympathize. If you haven’t, don’t try it. Needless to say, it wasn’t long until I was pulled over by a cop, who thought I was driving erratically because I had been drinking. “No,” I assured him. “I’m just getting directions from someone who has been drinking.” All the while, my date is hollering from the passenger seat about his diplomatic immunity, which of course, didn’t apply to me at all, and since I was driving…

Luckily for me, the cop was understanding. Not only did he not give me a ticket, he gave me directions I could actually follow. But the time I got my date home, up to his apartment, and onto his couch, where he promptly passed out, I still had the problem of getting myself home. And now it was three a.m. As you can imagine, the next time this guy called and invited me to an embassy party, I conveniently had other plans.

Then there was the time a guy invited me to go for a boat ride with him. It was a beautiful night—a full moon, soft cool breezes. Romantic, right? Well, it could have been if the boat hadn’t been a rubber Zodiac with too much horsepower in the outboard motor, or if my date had known how to handle the boat without capsizing it. Trust me, when you are soaked from head to toe, your clothes are plastered to your skin, your hair is plastered to your head, and the cool breezes just make you shiver, it takes all the romance right out of moonlight boat rides.

So when I added romance to my latest novel, Black Ops Chronicles: Dead Men Don’t, I had to rely a lot on my imagination, as I didn’t think most of my own experiences would suffice. I got some help from my female friends, but never try asking a man about romance. All you’ll get are hmmms, ahs, and cleared throats. Do you think their experiences could have been similar to mine?

Pepper O'Neal Bio:

Award-winning author, Pepper O’Neal is a researcher, a writer, and an adrenalin junkie. She has a doctorate in education and spent several years in Mexico and the Caribbean working as researcher for an educational resource firm based out of Mexico City. During that time, she met and befriended many adventurers like herself, including former CIA officers and members of organized crime. Her fiction is heavily influenced by the stories they shared with her, as well her own experiences abroad. When she’s not at her computer, O’Neal spends her time taking long walks in the forests near her home or playing with her three cats. And of course, planning the next adventure. http://www.pepperoneal.com
Facebook URL:                                    https://www.facebook.com/pepper.oneal
Twitter:                                   https://twitter.com/pepperoneal

ISBN-13: 9781626941533
Black Opal Books
Trade paper, 304 pgs.
June 2014, $11.99

A strange man has come to save her...but is he friend or foe? Anderson Merritt’s been kidnapped, but when a stranger comes to rescue her, she isn’t sure he is who he says he is. He claims to work her father’s boss. But someone close to Andi set her up, and now she doesn’t know who to trust. Every man she’s ever known has seen her only as a tool to get to her father or his money, so why should this one be any different?

As the sparks between them ignite, and the danger escalates, Andi has to choose—go off on her own, or trust that some men really are what they seem. He doesn’t want to hurt her…but he may have to if she doesn’t come willingly. Ex-CIA black ops specialist Levi Komakov doesn’t believe in hurting women, but when the place is set to blow and Andi won’t cooperate, he has no choice to but toss her over his shoulder and carry her out of danger, determined to keep her safe in spite of herself. But the beautiful little spitfire doesn’t make it easy for him. With her abductors seemingly always one step ahead of him, Levi suspects there’s a rat in the woodpile, but who? Could it be someone close to Andi’s father, someone in the FBI, or someone in the family Levi works for? When a new threat appears, and even the CIA can’t help him keep Andi safe, Levi puts everything on the line—but will it be enough?

Other Books by Pepper O'Neal

Love Potion No.; 2-14; 2/11/2011; ebook: 9781937329877; print: 9781937329884; large print: 9781626940376; $1.99; $7.99; $10.99

Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny; 5/3/2011; ebook: 9780983268154; print: 9780983268161; large print: 9781626941564; $2.99; $11.99; $15.99

Blood Fest: Cursing Fate; 12/1/2011; ebook: 9781937 329235; print: 9781937329242; large print: 9781626940390; audio: 9781626940208; $2.99; $11.99; $28.50; $15.99

Black Ops Chronicles: Dead Run; 8/25/2012; ebook: 9781937329600; print: 9781937329617; $2.99; $11.99

Blood Fest: Running Scared, coming out early in 2015, Black Opal Books (coming in 2015)


Thonie Hevron said…
What a cute take on romance! Now I know I'm not the only one. I think she should include one of her experiences in a book--but it may defy the suspension of disbelief!

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