Interview by Suzanne
Suz: Jo, welcome back to the Bandit Lair. It’s been a few months since we last looked into the lives of the Station Five fire fighters.
Jo: Hi, Suz and the rest of the Bandits! It’s great to be back!
Suz: HIDDEN FIRE is the third in the series and features one of my favorite crewmembers, Julian Salvatore. Who is the lucky woman to win the heart of this Latin lover?
Jo: When Julian met cool attorney Grace McKenna, Kat’s sister, sparks flew! I couldn’t wait to get these two together.
Suz: We met Grace in TRIAL BY FIRE. Why has it taken so long for Grace and Julian to hook up? What is her reaction to seeing him after all this time?
Jo: Grace wants sexy Julian badly—but she doesn’t want a man she has to “fix.” He’s got a reputation as a ladies’ man who won’t settle down and she doesn’t need that in her life. Still, there’s a vulnerability in him that calls to her and she knows there’s more to him than meets the eye. He’s like a drug she can’t resist…
Grace McKenna, after months of turning down Julian Salvatore for a date, has just decided to accept when she learns he was injured on the job and hurries over to see him…
Grace turned into Julian’s complex and located the correct building with little difficulty. The buildings were set back in the trees, older and not as fancy as her own, but very well-sculpted, trimmed and neat. Parking a couple of spots down from his lower-level unit, she hoped she wasn’t taking up anyone’s assigned space. Maybe she should move.
“Quit stalling,” she muttered to herself, grabbing her purse. What’s the worst he could do, shut the door in her face? Wasn’t as though it hadn’t happened before, though with clients and witnesses, never with friends or lovers.
What am I doing here? They had nothing at all in common.
Save for one lovely kiss on a beautiful fall night, months ago.
Even so, she found herself knocking on his door, fidgeting with her purse strap, breathless with anticipation like a silly fifteen-year-old girl. The seconds crawled, became a minute and more as she bounced between concern and the urge to flee. Glancing at the cars parked in the closest spots, she realized she didn’t know what he drove. Had he made it home yet? What if he was inside, sick or unconscious because he’d left the hospital too soon—
Then the lock scraped and the door opened to reveal Julian standing on the threshold, gaping at her, scratched, bruised, rumpled.
The man was just over six glorious feet of taut, tanned skin stretched over cords of lean muscle. Her gaze slid down his strong throat to the beautiful gold cross resting on his smooth chest, to the dark, pebbled male nipples, to the impressive ridges of his abdomen, south to the drawstring cotton sleep pants hanging way low--holy shit, no underwear--on slim hips that she’d bet her life savings could make a woman scream when in full Elvis rotation.
“You want to talk to me, my face is up here, querida,” he said in amusement, his accented voice husky, smooth as hot butter. “Unless it’s not conversation you have in mind?”
Suz: WOW! Like I said, Jules is one of my favorite heroes in this series. So how does he react to getting a second chance with Grace?
Jo: Once she shows the slightest inclination toward giving in to his seduction, the gloves are off. Julian will stop at nothing to win her permanently. The trick is to convince her that he’s serious and doesn’t see her as another notch on his bedpost and show her he can be a real partner. One who will help her achieve her dreams and not hold her back.
Julian turns up the heat, then proves he’s a complete gentleman…
“Wasn’t that good for you?”
She blinked into his earnest eyes, covering her confused thoughts. “Are you kidding? I think I disintegrated.”
“Ah,” he said, a satisfied grin curing his lips. “Success, then.”
“Oh, yes.” She smiled, smoothing his hair out of his face. “In spades. But what about you? I’d like to return the favor.”
An odd expression flickered across his face, and was gone. “I’m good, bella. That was for you,” he said softly. “Because I wanted to, not because I expected anything in return.”
“Shh, no worries.” Reaching down, he fished around for something, then handed over her shirt.
She took it from him and pulled it on, more confused than ever. Since when did a lover not expect his attentions to be reciprocated? The idea caused a warm flutter in her middle.
Why did Julian have to be so damned gallant?
Nothing about the man was what she’d expected so far. Quite the contrary. She’d never felt so off-balance around a man, and wasn’t sure she liked it.
She pulled on her jeans as well, at a loss as to what to do or say next. My God, what a fabulous orgasm! More coffee?
“Thank you.” Feeling ridiculous, she crossed her arms, watching as he stood, smiling.
“For you, anything.”
“You really mean that, don’t you?”
His smile softened, his dark eyes warm as he laid his palms on her shoulders. “I never say anything I don’t mean.”
“No man has ever put my wishes first,” she said, and felt a blush stain her face. What on earth made her admit that to him?
“I’ll always put you first, Grace. No matter where our relationship goes.”
Suz: Fanning myself here. Uhm…where were we…oh yeah, In the Station Five Firefighter series, you always give us a suspenseful, as well as sexy, plot line. Can you tell us a bit about the suspense plot and how you came up with the idea?
Jo: From the beginning of the series, I knew Julian harbored a terrible and shameful (to him) secret. While researching serial killers, I read in one of my research books that it’s not uncommon for serial killers to work as a team. I thought of the countless victims in history of our most infamous killers and thought to myself, “What if very early on, one victim got away? What if he never realized how close he came to death?” I knew then I had my suspense story.
Suz: Can you give us any hints about what else happens in HIDDEN FIRE?
Jo: Hmm, shall I tease you a bit? In this book, Julian reveals that his narcotics officer brother, Tonio, would like to move to Sugarland and join the police department. Readers might recall a mention of Tonio from TRIAL BY FIRE. Also, look for a town favorite to play a bigger role in HIDDEN FIRE and even bigger role yet in LINE OF FIRE coming out on May 4, 2010. Could this favorite hottie spin us into a new series? We’ll see…
Suz: What’s next for the Station Five A team?
Jo: HIDDEN FIRE marks a turning point in Captain Sean Tanner’s battle against alcohol and consuming grief that will carry over into LINE OF FIRE and result in disastrous consequences for one of the A-shift team. Each of their lives will be altered irrevocably. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!
*Read Michelle Buonfiglio’s Feature Review of HIDDEN FIRE at BarnesandNoble.com. http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Heart-to-Heart/Playing-with-Fire/ba-p/412846
***Suddenly the door to the bar opens. And what do my wondering and rather lusty-filled eyes see? Oh yeah, the sexy latin lover in jeans and tight black t-shirt, strutting right over to the booth Jo and I are sharing. With a quick kiss to each of our cheeks, he slides in beside Jo (I am SOOO jealouse!) and asks if we're talking with the Banditas again. When we answer yes, that devilish look fills his eyes and he leans closer to talk into the mike...***
Julian Salvatore: Lovely ladies, are you having a good time? I’d like to ask…what is your idea of the perfect way to win a woman’s heart? I need some help in this area and I’d love to know!
Jo is also starting a 3-book erotica suspense story in the spring for those of you interested in pre-orders. This is a trilogy involving a super secret spy organization that officially doesn't exist, but fights homeland terrorists. The first book is titled, I SPY A WICKED SIN. No firefighters, dear readers, but oh is it hot!!
And Jo is giving away a signed copy of HIDDEN FIRE to one lucky commentor.