Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Secret Maneuvers Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

Today I'm hugely excited to be a part of the promotional tour for Secret Maneuvers, an adult contemporary romance by Jessie Lane. Melissa Pahl and Crystal Leo, the writing team behind Jessie Lane, are both here today to answer a few questions for me, but this tour is an epic month-long event, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for giveaway details as well as a full list of participating blogs. Welcome to Supernatural Snark Melissa and Crystal!

Please give us one or two small teasing tidbits or personality quirks for both Bobby and Belle to help us get to know them before we pick up their book.

Annabelle is a strong, sassy southern woman who refuses to trust anyone with her heart since Bobby broke it when they were eighteen. Bobby is a stubborn man who realizes he let the most important person of his life slip away from him, and it’s all his fault. The following excerpt from the end of Chapter One gives you a sneak peek into their initial dynamic after running into each other unexpectedly fifteen years after their break up.

“Belle!” She kept walking without acknowledging me. What the hell? “Belle! Wait up!” As Boyd stopped to turn at my approaching footsteps, confusion on his face, I reached out to grab Belle’s arm with my right hand to stop her. Two seconds later, a shot of pain flashed up my arm as I found my hand pulled backwards and bent at a nearly debilitating angle. Belle’s beautiful face stared back at me with bitter disdain. Anger simmered in her green eyes so fiercely, I felt the impact of it to the soles of my boots.

Boyd stepped forward to stand between us just as she released my hand and then held her other hand up to ward Boyd off from interfering. “Mr. Baker, I’ll kindly ask you not to grab me. While you’re at it, please refrain from calling me Belle. I go by Annabelle. Now, if you’ll excuse me and my partner, we have things to do before tonight’s meeting.” Belle turned away and walked confidently down the hallway while Boyd gawked at me with open curiosity. With a shake of his head, he jogged after Belle, who had turned the corner, already disappearing from sight.

Standing there, feeling a myriad of emotions—shock, anger, confusion—I watched as the only girl who had ever held my heart did her damndest to walk out of my life; acting like she didn’t give a shit as she did it. It felt like a sucker punch to the gut by a heavy-weight boxing champ. Apparently, fifteen years hadn’t calmed the obvious anger or pain she harbored from the letter that haunted me. The letter I should have never written. She didn’t even bother to give me five minutes to try and explain. To tell her that just two weeks after her receiving that letter, I’d had my parents desperately searching the entire fucking county for her, with strict instructions to tell her that I’d realized my mistake. To explain to her that I was stupid. Really, really stupid. And sorry. So fucking sorry.

A hand slapped down on my shoulder. I looked over my shoulder to see that it belonged to Declan, which meant that his brother, Riley, was the body standing on the other side of me. “I take it that’s the famous Belle? The sweet, southern angel from home that got away?” Declan asked.

With a gruff voice, I answered, “Yeah. That’s her, alright.”

Riley snorted. “Well, brother, looks as if your angel is gone in more ways than one.”

If Bobby could erase the letter he wrote Belle before he left to join the army and replace it with a single quote from a piece of fiction or a song lyric, what would this new letter say?

“You are my heart, every breath I breathe
I'm safe in your arms, you rescue me.
When I'm weak, you're strong
If you were gone I don't know where I'd be
You were made for me
This life would kill me If I didn't have you”

~ Thompson Square’s “If I Didn’t Have You”
(If you haven’t heard this song yet, it’s on the Secret Maneuvers’ Playlist on our website!)

What’s one thing you learned about the military or ATF while writing Secret Maneuvers that you didn’t know before it?

Crystal: I learned some interesting things writing this book. (Courtesy of my retired Army Dad who’s also a military history nerd) Something that comes to mind is a bit of military history Commander Jaxon briefly mentions in Secret Maneuvers about how Generals in the past (way before modern technology), maneuvered their soldiers using a flag system. Can you just imagine soldiers on the edges of a battlefield waving flags around to signal to the troops where they should go? If it had been me, I would have royally screwed that up somehow. Trust me. I’d forget if they waved their flag to the left I was supposed to flank the enemy, or if they waved the flag to the right I was supposed to engage the enemy head on. And if I was having one of my spacey moments I might even think, “Ooooo… pretty flag.”

Melissa: *laughs at Crystal* I can see you now running up and down a hill waving the flag around like it was a party streamer. And I’ll probably be right there with you. I actually learned about different weapons and strategy from my husband. Those are his forte for knowledge and cool little tidbits.

Let’s say you both are writing separate novels that feature the other as the heroine. What’s the title of each book?

Crystal’s Book: Queen of the Zombie Killers *pats self on back for knowing Mel so well*

Melissa’s Book: I would have to make a joke about Crystal and my husband’s love/hate relationship over a certain hockey team - The Capitals...lol. (Hubby said to tell you again that he hopes you stub your big toe.)

*Crystal sings back to Mel’s hubby, “Capitals RULE and you drool you big ugly fool.”* *cheeky grins* See how mature we are everyone?

What part of the writing process is the most challenging to do as a team (the actual writing, plotting, character development, etc.)?

Crystal: I personally think the writing process is easiest for us because of how we do it. One of us initially writes the book, and the other goes behind and adds to it. We agree on a general plot line before writing anything. The part where we probably butt heads the most is plotting or character development. Sometimes Melissa will see a character a certain way and I will picture them totally different. Or, for instance, recently we argued who was dying in the next book. She thought it should be one individual and I thought it should be another. Most of the time we’re on the same page so to speak though.

Melissa: I think it helps that we each see a character differently. It gives them depth, more personality and helps to provide a more well-rounded character when we write. (And Crystal, I still want that guy to live by the way, yours can die. :-))

Bobby is willing to do whatever it takes to get back into Belle’s good graces after all their time apart. If someone like Bobby were trying to make up for past mistakes with you, what’s one thing he could do that would go a long way toward achieving that goal?

Crystal: Bobby broke Belle’s trust badly by his actions. I don’t trust people easily. If the man in my life did something like that to me, I don’t know that I would ever be able to trust him again. In my case, he would have to bend over backwards to prove to me that I would be able to trust him again. Doing things like saying sweet words or buying me something will back fire on you. I’m likely to just chuck the gift at your head. (Softball throwing arm here!) Good luck hypothetical guy! You’re going to freakin’ need it!

Melissa: Same here. Actions speak so much louder than any sweet thing someone can say to me. I only trust a few people in my life, if they destroy that trust, they probably will never get close to me intimately again. I don’t forgive easily.

I have a fairly lengthy (okay, absurdly lengthy) list of book boyfriends, and I have a feeling it will be even longer once I meet Bobby. What three fictional men would top both your lists?

Crystal’s Boyfriends:
    •    Bones from Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress Series (Let’s SHAG baby! :D)
    •    Vance Crowe from Rock Chick Renegade by Kristen Ashley
    •    Clint “Iceman” McIntire from Dangerous Games by Lora Leigh

Melissa’s Boyfriends:
    •    Kane “Tack” Allen from Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley
    •    Jude Jamison from Jude’s Law by Lori Foster
    •    Mitch Shaw from The Mane Attraction by Shelly Laurenston (Yay! I get to be Sissy Mae!)

• • • • • • • • • •


Some mistakes from the past haunt us forever...

One 'dear John' letter haunts Bobby Baker's every living moment. It’s the letter he stupidly wrote to his high school sweetheart, Belle, right after he left to join the Army. The letter that he told her that he wasn't so sure if they were ready for forever yet. But before he can let her know that the letter, and his second thoughts, are nothing but a mistake, she up and disappears from the small Georgia town they were both raised in.

unless fate steps in with a second chance.

Fifteen years later, Belle unknowingly walks back into Bobby's life when her job as an ATF Agent forces her to work with a group of men secretly headed by the CIA to help her track down whoever is involved in funneling black market weapons to a drug cartel in Mexico.

Bobby will use this mission to try and soothe Belle's hurt feelings while proving to her that their love is still meant for forever. He'll use every dirty trick he's learned since he joined the Army to maneuver her back into his life for the long haul. But Belle's not making it easy as she keeps him at arm's length in the hopes that mistakes of her own never come to light.

• • • • • • • • • •


Jessie Lane is the writing team of Crystal Leo and Melissa Pahl. The two sisters-in-law share a passionate love of naughty romance, cliff hanging suspense, and out-of-this-world characters that demand your attention, or threaten to slap you around until you do pay attention to them. Because really, it is ALL about the characters. (They're kind of megalomaniacs - but don't tell them that we said that.)

Their first YA novel, The Burning Star, was released in May 2012. Big Bad Bite is their second novel, but their first adult paranormal romance, and was released in January 2013. Their third book, Secret Maneuvers, releases on June 15, 2013, and will be the start of a new adult contemporary romance series (Ex Ops Series). They are now working on their next three novels, Walk On The Striped Side (Big Bad Bite Series #2), Stripping Her Defenses (Ex Ops Series #2), and The Frozen Star (YA Star Series #2).

With these projects underway, they are looking forward to showing the rest of the world their crazy stories, heroes and heroines that often plague their minds until written, and hope you will join them on their journey!

• • • • • • • • • • 


Prize pack includes:

• Secret Maneuvers ebook
• Custom designed bag
• Custom designed dog tags
• $50 Gift Card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble
• REV IT UP by Julie Ann Walker
• IN THE AIR TONIGHT by Stephanie Tyler
• FREE FALL by Catherine Mann
• Catherine Mann bookmark

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. What a fun interview! It seems like it would be super hard to team write a book. I loved reading about how they handle the writing process.

    1. I think it would be a challenge as well, but also so much fun. I would love having someone else to bounce all my ideas off of and see how differently they interpret certain characters:)

  2. I have to admit I like a man in uniform as well! I can't think of anyone off the top of my head who I love in uniform, how sad is that?
    I have to say though, I loved the interview and if that wasn't reason enough to try this one, then the cover certainly is! :)

  3. As usual, I love your interviews and they make me so often wish to read the book! I must say that I am a little confused by the cover as it looks like a Urban Fantasy Romance cover?

    1. I'm not sure why he's green, it does give a paranormal vibe to the book, but I think he's just ex-military. Army green I guess:)

    2. Think night vision goggles. ;D

  4. I love my man in uniform haha yes, I actually get to say that. BAM! I win. I digress...anyhoo, great interview, as per usual, and there's nothing wrong with having many (MANY) book boyfriends. I swear my list is longer than it should be. Oops?

    1. You so do win. Stupid Kevin for not having a uniform. WTH? Well, he does have to wear a suit everyday, so that's something. I'll take it ;-)

  5. I am just going to say it! Green man is totally Top of Tuesday worthy LOL :)

    Loved the interview :) It made me giggle!

  6. Loved the interview, Jenny! They seem to get along so well. I'm fascinated with how people write a book together, so I'm glad I got some insight from your interview. I'll be sure to check this one out, when I'm in the mood for some adult books!
    Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

    1. Yay! So glad you enjoyed it Nick. I've definitely got this one on my list for when I'm in an adult mood too ;-)

  7. I love second chance romances too:) And based on that excerpt, it seems like Bobby has quite a bit of work to do!

  8. Darn it! I love these kind of stories! *drools on the cover* You are a master of interviews, sweetie, I can't get tired of saying that. I agree with Nick, I totally picked up the vibe that they seem to get together well. I don't trust people who've hurt me either, but I think Bobby might be worth an exeption ;-) Thehehehee... Kristen Ashley seems to be popular among people, I should really get on reading one of her books soon. Lovely interview, Jenny! My tbr pile is getting really, really heavy (not that it wasn't before ;-))

  9. Fantastic interview, and I loved the character information and teaser quotes and did someone say Bones?!? LOL I have heard lovely things about this novel, thanks for sharing Jenny:)

  10. LOL- I thought maybe that dude was the Hulk....:D

    1. That's what Melissa's mom said when I showed her the cover for the first time, lol. ;D

  11. Thanks for sharing that excerpt. I totally want to read this now.

  12. Oh wow, that flag system sounds really intense I would be so scared that I would screw it up too! I love that Annabelle is a strong southern woman, they usually have a lot of sass! Thanks for sharing!

  13. I so don't think I could ever co-author a book with someone! I imagine there'd be a lot more disagreements about who should die and who should live if I was on board. ;) I always admire authors who can make it work so seamlessly. And thanks for sharing the quick excerpt! I really enjoyed reading it. :)

  14. I love books featuring stubborn Southern Women. Loved the playlist just checked out the song that lyrics were quoted from, loved it! Ahh Bones... let's shag baby. Love it!

  15. Ha! These two sound like fun together. Plus, one has a really awesomesauce name! As for the questions... I prefer them out of uniform... *giggles* Okay, old joke, but I said it! I do love Lori Foster's kind of romantic suspense. I see they do as well.

    Btw, Avs rule. :D

    1. You meant that I'm the one with the awesomesauce name, right? hehehe

    2. Sorry Hoss that would me! →Melissa= awesomesauce. But I love you anyways sis.

    3. Sorry Hoss that would me! →Melissa= awesomesauce. But I love you anyways sis.

  16. Great interview as always :)
    And nice bag

  17. My favorite fictional character in uniform would have to be from an officer and a gentlemen.
    In real life my fav mil uniform is my hubby <3

  18. This is such a fun interview! I love their choice in book boyfriends. I have a feeling I'm also going to be adding Bobby to my personal list. :-) I've already been ogling this cover on a few other blogs, so he's on his way to book boyfriend territory.

  19. I've never heard of this one before, but you've definitely piqued my interest. Thanks for sharing, Jenny!

  20. So, did you read this one? It's on my wish list after finding it for Top Off Tuesday (hulk coloring aside). It's got to be challenging but fun to write with your sister-in-law!