Monday, February 18, 2013
And then there are ghosts. For me, ghosts have a pretty straight-forward effect. They’re all about fear. If you think about classic ghost stories, the old-dark-house-in-a-thunderstorm type, it’s all about what happens on the periphery. The feeling of being watched, of sharing space with something or someone you can’t really see. Until, of course, you turn the corner and…gotcha!
I’ve always been fascinated by ghost stories, and I toyed with the idea of doing one of my own for a long time before I finally got around to it with Medium Well, coming from Berkley InterMix February 19. My setting is the King William District of San Antonio, one of the most historic parts of the city. If a ghost is going to hang out anywhere in the San Antonio area, I’d say King William is the most likely spot.
My hero is a real estate whiz, Danny Ramos, who has a real knack for selling historic houses. But Danny doesn’t realize he’s actually the descendant of a long line of mediums—his sales ability stems from his empathy for the remnants of the people who lived in the houses over the years. This cozy relationship with the past comes to a screeching halt when Danny is assigned to sell a carriage house in King William that turns out to be haunted in a very different way.
Once I had the fear factor set up, I had to figure out how to work in the romance part of things. My heroine, Biddy Gunter, is Danny’s assistant. Like Danny she can feel the creepy ambiance at the carriage house, and she becomes his accomplice in finding out what happened there. Sharing a secret is sexy, as it turns out—at least in this case. Doing a ghost romance was a lot of fun, sort of alternating between both senses of gotcha. But it’s also tricky because both of those senses have to be there—you can’t lose the scary for the romance and you can’t lose the romance for the scary. Still, I enjoyed myself a lot while I was writing, and I hope you’ll enjoy Medium Well too.
Here's the blurb:
Love At Second Sight
Real estate agent Danny Ramos has always had a knack for selling homes, but when his boss saddles him with a neglected carriage house, Danny discovers that his abilities are more than simple intuition...
On his first visit to the house, Danny is confronted with visions of a violent murder. His assistant, Biddy Gunter, doesn’t seem affected, and Danny starts to think he’s going crazy—until he gets a visit from his mother, who suggests that Danny’s uncanny talent to sell old houses may stem from his family inheritance: psychic empathy.
When Biddy reveals to Danny her own strange dream about the carriage house ghosts, they team up to investigate and discover both the house’s dark history and their own unexpected attraction. But as the hauntings turn from unsettling to downright dangerous, Danny and Biddy need to figure out how to rid the house of its ghostly inhabitants, before their budding romance meets an untimely end…
Amazon | Barnes and Noble
And here's a taste of one sense of gotcha (for the other sense, you can read a scarier excerpt here):
He gave himself a quick mental kick. At this point he was supposed to be wise, sophisticated, urbane, all that stuff. Unfortunately, his urbanity seemed to be taking the night off. He felt like a sixteen-year-old coming home from the junior prom, hoping he’d get to first base at least.
Danny closed his eyes. He was a lunatic. That much had been clearly established by the events at the carriage house. But he wasn’t a stupid lunatic. He was not—repeat, not—going to put any moves on Biddy Gunter.
“Danny?” Her voice sounded anxious. “Are you okay?”
“Super.” He managed to come up with a smile that seemed halfway authentic, although he’d never used the word super before, outside of the McDonald’s drive-through line.
“Well . . .” She didn’t sound entirely convinced, but she produced a slightly shaky smile of her own.
And then he did something absolutely boneheaded—he leaned close enough to smell her faint scent of performance sweat and gardenias, the mixture of sweetness and musk, the essence of woman that clung to her skin. Immediately, he was a goner. Almost before he knew what had happened, he leaned further and pressed his lips to hers.
Her mouth was warm and soft and faintly startled. Or maybe it was her eyes that were startled. He tried his best to pull back, not to lose it completely. But pulling back suddenly didn’t seem to be an option.
His logical half screamed at him. Get the hell back. Make it quick. Say something clever and move on. Do not—do not—get involved with Biddy Gunter. Your assistant. The manager’s sister. The one who’s watched you becoming a first-class nutcase day by ghastly day.
And then Biddy’s arms looped shyly around his neck, almost as if this was her first kiss, yet when her mouth moved against his, he knew it was far from her first. He pressed his hands along her sides and gently pulled her closer, feeling the warmth and softness of her breasts pressed against him. His logical half shrugged its metaphorical shoulders and took a hike, while other parts of his body began to clamor for attention.
For a few moments, he let himself feel the heat, the clenching in his chest, the rush of need in his groin, and then he pulled back, slowly, to rest his forehead against hers. “Holy crap, Biddy,” he whispered. “What was that? What just happened here?”
A millisecond later he wished mightily that he’d confined himself to a simple Wow.
She stared up, her forehead furrowed.
“That was . . .” He fumbled through the meager stock of adjectives his numb brain could supply. “. . . very terrific. Very, very terrific.”
Okay, the results were official. He was both a lunatic and a moron.
Her brow had furrowed even more. Of course it had. He was obviously certifiable and an idiot to boot.
“Terrific,” she said, slowly. “Very, very terrific.”
Her lips trembled, and, for one agonizing moment, he thought she might cry. Then he realized she was more likely to giggle.
He closed his eyes again. Once upon a time, he’d been able to handle a simple kiss without making his partner crack up. Of course, it hadn’t been exactly simple, had it?
Posted by Meg Benjamin at 4:30 AM