Tell us about yourself?
I’m an incurable romantic who believes in true love, goodness of heart and that people can change if they
What inspired you to be a writer?
I’ve always been a dreamer and avid reader. My dad loved telling us stories growing up and thankfully, I inherited his imagination and creativity. I read my first Mills & Boon novel (Betty Neels) in the early eighties and from that moment on wanted to be a romance author. So I wrote my first novel (Fly Away Peta) in the back of my mathematics notebook.
How did you choose your genre?
I love romantic suspense, reading and writing it. There’s nothing sexier than a man in uniform who takes his job and protection seriously. A touch of danger, a dash of mystery, a murder or two and a whole lot of loving, that’s the way I like it.
What made you tell this story and why did you write this book?
Teenage gangs, drugs on the streets, domestic violence and homelessness are all very real challenges we face every day. I wanted to see a hero who was dedicated to rehabilitation rather than the expectation that they would re-offend, so I created Detective Mark Johnson. He’s the glue that holds the Tiny Watts Teenage Rehabilitation program together and made an appearance as early as Fly Away Peta.
In Under the Hood he assists garage owner TJ Stevens with the capture of the drug dealers behind the Tag Raiders street gang and walks away a happy man when two of the teenagers are rescued and TJ finds the love of her life, Scott Devin. TJ and Scott build a teenage refuge to honor Tiny Watts, a gang member who dies saving the lives of his friends, Marty and Luke.
In Under Cover of Dark, the story becomes personal for our Detective Mark.
When Lily Bennetti’s husband is murdered, it’s both a relief and a disaster. Gino Bennetti was a cruel man not above using violence to get his way. I wanted a heroine whose inner strength conquers all even when she is challenged with truth and lies, and a son who is one of the Tag Raiders. Meeting Detective Mark changes her life but the secrets she harbors will tear them apart before they can explore their feelings for each other. Lily Bennetti’s character deserves a happy ending and I made Detective Mark work darn hard for his. J
How did you come up with the title?
Escape Publishing and Harlequin’s marketing team came up with the great title of Under the Hood for my original title of Taming the Tiger which was a 2011 New Voices entry. The trend continued and The Tag Raiders became a series. Under Cover of Dark is book 2 and I wanted to keep the darker edginess of the series going. Under the Hood lightly suggests gang activity (in ‘Hood’) and delving deeper into the underworld activities of street gangs and the effect it has on their families. Under Cover of Dark suggests the secretive life of gang members and what goes on behind closed doors or under the cover of darkness (at night on the streets). On the other side, it tells of Lily’s battle with the darker side of her late husband’s character and the fallout and danger she has to deal with after his death, all because his business partner needs to keep their dark secrets buried. And of course, I wanted Lily to emerge from the darkness of the underworld and into the light and loving arms of Detective Mark. I was thrilled that Escape Publishing and Harlequin’s marketing team kept that title.
What is your favourite scene?
My favorite scene – always a hard choice. Probably the one where Mark and Lily go back to the house where her husband was murdered. It’s during a tense moment of action that Mark first acknowledges his feelings for Gino Bennetti’s widow have changed:
She had no choice but to accept, he mused. Where else could she go? ‘I’ll drive you up there now. We need to talk.’
Lily nodded. He held out a hand to help her down as he watched the expressions flit across her face. Sadness, defeat and hopelessness tugged her mouth. Exhaustion added to the grey of her face. She swayed and leaned into his touch.
Mark realised he was in trouble as he watched tears form on her grubby cheeks. The sight of them hurt. The thought of what had brought her to this point seared his gut. Right now, he didn’t want to ponder on why he felt that way. All he was prepared to acknowledge was that falling for Lily Bennetti right now would be a big mistake. The feel of her body against his, the rightness of it and this godforsaken need to protect her placed him way out of his league. Yet he couldn’t deny her the comfort, nor could he deny himself the pleasure of giving it.
His arm slipped around her shoulders to hug her close for a brief moment before guiding her away from the ruins of her life.
Tell us a little about your book?
Under Cover of Dark is a 2014 ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) Finalist and I’m so proud and honored it made the list. Book 1, Under the Hood was an Romance Writers of Australia RUBY Finalist, another great honor and milestone for my writing.
New Australian romantic suspense follows Under the Hood, about a Western Australian drug gang, the teenagers they recruit, and the cop who wants to bring them down.
When Mark Johnson continues his investigation into the murder of Tiny Watts and the involvement of teenage gang, the Tag Raiders with sleazy lawyer, Gino Bennetti (Under the Hood), the last thing he expects is to be interviewing Gino’s widow. And it seems she’s in a world of trouble.
When Gino Bennetti is shot and killed, Lily has her son to protect and secrets that run deeper than the scars she bears. Mark Johnson is the last person she wants uncovering those secrets, especially the truth about her son Luke’s involvement in Tiny Watts’ murder.
As the investigation continues and Lily’s scars heal, she finds the detective easy to trust and the friendship between them blossoms into more. But the secret Lily holds is placing them in very real danger. She stands to lose her son, the man she’s grown to love, her freedom and her life.
Author Site: http://juanitakees.com/
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