Welcome to a late edition of Books, Chocolate and Wine. The computer gods were not with us this week. I’m happy to host Kim McMahill. We had some questions for her and wanted to hear about her April release, A Taste of Tragedy.
Tell us about your latest release.
A Taste of Tragedy is my latest release and the second novel in the Risky Research Series. In the first novel, A Dose of Danger, a researcher and her team believe they had discovered a miracle weight loss pill, which makes them the targets of a deadly group intent on controlling the multi-billion dollar-a-year diet product industry. In A Taste of Tragedy, a company uses and promotes a potentially deadly sweetener in its Healthy and Delicious Foods line. The product turns the company into a global powerhouse, but when their newest vice president uncovers evidence that the healthy foods she’s been hired to promote may be dangerous, she is forced to reevaluate her priorities. As questions mount and the body count rises, she finds herself caught in the crosshairs of an organization that will stop at nothing to hide its secrets and protect its profits.
What are you working on now?
I’ve drafted the basic plot for the third novel in the Risky Research series, A Foundation of Fear. In this book we really get to know the villains on a personal level and learn that even the most deadly assassin may have something to fear.
Are you a plotter or a pantser and why did you choose that method?
I’m a little of both, and the degree of each depends on the story. Shrouded In Secrets had so many complex scenarios to keep track of that I had note cards and maps pinned to a cork board and a fairly detailed chapter-by-chapter outline. I always keep a running chapter-by-chapter cheat sheet at a minimum, but if the story is flowing, I just let it go and see where I end up.
What is your favorite movie and why?
One of my all-time favorite movies has to be Sahara. It is based on a Clive Cussler novel of the same name. It is an entertaining adventure where the characters are trying to stop an ecological disaster of epic proportions, yet somehow Cussler always weaves in a few things that make you laugh or at least smile. I’m also quite fond of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Everyone always dreams of a little adventure, but it takes strength to go outside your comfort zone and grab it.
Someone just gave you the best compliment ever. What was it?
“I stayed up until two in the morning, because I just couldn’t put your book down until I finished it.” Whenever I hear that I feel like I really accomplished something with my writing. I write to entertain and take the reader on outrageous adventures.
Name something that is guaranteed to make you laugh and something that will always make you cry.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation always makes me laugh even though I watch it at least once every holiday season. I’m an easy crier. Pretty much everything makes me cry, which is why I read, write and watch action adventure and suspense. If I hear a book or movie is a “feel good” story, I generally avoid it because I know it will make me cry.
You get a month off from your regular personal life and writing routine to travel. Where will you go?
I would take a very long exotic cruise. I love to see new places, so I wouldn’t really care where I go as long as it’s someplace new. I don’t have a bucket list. I am a self-proclaimed travel junkie and anywhere I haven’t been is someplace I want to go. I would choose a cruise so I could see a lot of different places and only unpack once.
Tell us about a hidden talent you have that most people don’t know about.
I can grow tomatoes, even when nothing else grows. No matter where I’ve lived or what variety I plant, I usually produce plenty to eat fresh all summer, give away to friends and neighbors, and freeze enough to get me through the entire winter. I’ve even taken up making my own homemade spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce to use up more at any given time.
What’s your favorite comfort food?
My husband makes killer homemade baked macaroni and cheese. If you’ve only had mac and cheese out of a box, you have no idea what you’re missing.
What one piece of advice would you like to pass on to an up and coming author?
Keep your expectations realistic. No matter how good your work may be, the competition is tough and getting noticed takes as much work and skill as writing that great novel.
Her dream job has turned into a nightmare…
Back Cover Copy for A Taste of Tragedy:
Morgan Hunter sacrificed everything for her career. She had yet to encounter anything she wasn’t willing to do to succeed...until now. When she uncovers evidence that the healthy foods she’s been hired to promote may be dangerous, she must reevaluate her priorities. As questions mount and the body count rises she finds herself caught in the crosshairs of an organization that will stop at nothing to hide its secrets and protect its profits. With no one else to trust, Morgan is forced to seek help from the man she drove away, but whom she never stopped loving.
Reviews for A Taste of Tragedy:
“The fast paced story is hard to put down and the time and effort put into the development of the characters kept this reader pushing on to the end. Great job, great read. Keep them coming Ms. McMahill! “
“If you love romantic suspense, you’ve got to read this book! I highly recommend it! I can’t wait to read the next installment in the Risky Research series!!!”
2 of the 11 (averaging 4.6 stars) Amazon reviews
Excerpt from A Taste of Tragedy:
Jiggling the mouse, Morgan brought her sleeping computer screen to life. A quick check of her e-mail verified there was nothing new that couldn’t wait until Monday. She opened her calendar for the next week and nearly groaned. Her second week on the job, and she had the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) coming in for routine inspections, and a meeting with the sales and marketing team. On top of that, her new boss and president of the company, Preston Hoyle, wanted a report by week’s end on her observations and initial plan of attack for increasing profits and returning the line to its highest level of sales.
“You’re here late.”
Speak of the devil. Morgan looked up at Preston and smiled. “I’m just wrapping up a few things and wanted to take one last peek at next week’s schedule to make sure Aaron didn’t add anything new since the last time I checked.”
“He’ll definitely keep you organized, and don’t hesitate to utilize his skills. He’s a sharp young man.”
Morgan stood, feeling small and somewhat intimidated by the tall, handsome man towering over her. Even with heels on, she couldn’t quite look him in his pale blue eyes and had to tilt her chin up. He was closer than she had realized, invading her personal space. His gaze seemed fixed on her lips, so she took a quick step back and reached for Aaron’s resume to insert some distance without seeming too obvious.
“I gathered that from his resume, and I can’t help but wonder how long I’ll have him with his education and experience. He seems a bit overqualified for the job.”
“Don’t worry about Aaron. He isn’t going anywhere, but you should. It’s Friday night. You’re new on the job and new in town, and you’ve put in more hours than I expect, especially during your first week. I feel a little guilty about the lack of assistance with your transition, but hopefully, Aaron has ensured you have everything you need. If my in-laws weren’t in town, I’d love to take you to dinner and show you what our fine city has to offer.”
The only way Morgan could describe the smile that followed his last statement was “lecherous,” and warning bells resounded in her head.
“I appreciate the sentiment, Mr. Hoyle, but it has been a long week, and as soon as I can close up here, I’m heading up to Sedona to our family vacation home. I plan to relax with a glass of wine and one of the Healthy and Delicious Foods entrees I haven’t tried yet before I tackle a year’s worth of dust and cobwebs tomorrow.”
“Now that’s dedication, but don’t get too carried away with these products. Your figure is just fine the way it is,” he said, letting his eyes linger too long on her breasts. “And please, call me Preston. I’m sure we’ll be working very closely together, including plenty of late nights, so no need to be so formal.”
Morgan didn’t know how to respond to his last comment so returned her focus to an innocuous topic. “According to the promotional material supplied by the advertising team, the Healthy and Delicious Foods line isn’t just for weight loss. I must admit, I’m very impressed with the data on GCF’s revolutionary natural sweetener, MFHG3, derived primarily from the monk fruit and hoodia gordonii. Not only does it sweeten foods, but the steroidal glycosides found in the Hoodia plant are reported to curb the appetite. It sounds almost too good to be true.”
“Yes, MFHG3 took this company from a small local manufacturer to a national powerhouse, catering to the thin-obsessed and health-crazed society. MFHG3 has changed the playing field and has all the other companies scrambling to catch up, but enough shoptalk. You need to get out of here, and if I miss my dinner reservation, my mother-in-law will yap about it all weekend. I would like to hear more about this place in Sedona soon. Sounds like a perfect weekend getaway from the heat, the city, and the stress of the job. Maybe you’ll even give me a tour one of these days.”
Not in this lifetime. She bit her lip and didn’t respond.
The smile he flashed at Morgan as he departed her office made her shudder. He seemed perfectly professional during the interview process. She hadn’t been alone with him in the same room all week, but this brief exchange warned her to avoid one-on-one time with her boss as much as possible, especially after hours in an empty and dark building.
Morgan dropped into her desk chair, powered down her computer, and stowed the lightweight laptop in her briefcase along with several files she had procured from accounting. Grasping the knob on the lower side drawer of her desk to retrieve her purse, she was reminded of one more thing she had forgotten to do this week.
She had intended to have Aaron submit a work order to have someone fix the drawer. Since it didn’t completely close, she wasn’t able to lock up her purse when she was down in the ground floor factory—not that anyone could get into her office with the tenacious Aaron sitting just outside her door. Mostly, it was simply annoying. The drawer shut enough that she didn’t catch a shin, so she forgot about it until she was stowing or retrieving her purse.
“I can’t believe this little gap is bugging me so much. I must be turning into my ex,” Morgan huffed as she sat down on the floor and scooted under her desk with the small flashlight from her key chain, hoping her boss didn’t return and catch her with her skirt hiked up.
She ran her fingers along the track and felt something at the very back. Wriggling even further under the desk, she shined the small light in the area where she detected the obstruction. The item was affixed with tape, but it took little effort to pry it free.
Crawling back out into the light, Morgan examined the small item. No larger than a paperclip, its identity was clear. She held a tiny flash drive between her fingers.
Hmm, curious place to keep data. She pondered the matter while looking closely at her find. “Wish I wouldn’t have already powered down my computer,” Morgan muttered as she dropped the small device into her purse, flipped off the lights, and headed for the elevator.
Author the Author:
Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming, which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. Kim started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense. Along with writing adventure novels Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel anthology and cookbook. Kim currently resides in Colorado, and when not writing, she enjoys gardening, traveling, hiking, and spending time with family.
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