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Former marine biologist Toni Anderson's DARK WATERS with giveaways

Dark-Waters

How do you go from marine biologist to author and do you ever miss it and the travel?

The bridge between marine biologist and author was motherhood, and writing kept me sane. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being home with my babies, but my brain started to atrophy and digging into writing gave me an outlet for my mind that didn’t involve diapers or teletubbies. I started writing when I was still a marine biologist, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant that I had time to dedicate myself to learning everything I could about the process. After my daughter was born, I wrote when she slept.

I’m lucky to be married to another (shark) biologist and so I’m still surrounded by that world and by garrulous hard-working, hard-partying scientists (that would be the biology department—any biology department!). Our family regularly travels to marine stations around the world (hence both DANGEROUS WATERS and DARK WATERS being set in Bamfield, near the Bamfield Marine Science Center).
Is there a genre, other than romantic suspense, you’d like to try?

I once tried to write a straight contemporary romance and really struggled with not killing anyone. RS is my favorite genre to read and to write, so not really. However that could always change. Everyone changes. Never say never, but I’d have to absolutely love the story idea to try anything else.

What are the hardest and easiest parts of writing for you?

Hardest part… Seriously? Honestly? The pay. If I earned a 100K tomorrow I’ve still average less than 8K a year over the last 13 years. And, no, I don’t have a 100K paycheck in the mail :). The pay makes it hard to stick at writing. I’m lucky I have a supportive partner and a friendly banker 🙂

The easiest part… There are no easy parts. I love managing my own time, I love being my own boss (aside from editors). I love the camaraderie of writers and the joy of meeting readers who enjoy my work. I love the process of writing, even the pulling-your-hair-out days. But I really don’t think it’s easy. Does it beat working in a factory? Definitely. But there’s no way it is easy.

If you get the urge to write then go for it. There is nothing more satisfying or more addictive. And who knows—maybe you’ll find it easy:

Thanks so much for having me today!

 

It may be summer, but schoolteacher Anna Silver’s trip to the coastal town of Bamfield is anything but a vacation. She’s on the run, desperate to stay one step ahead of her father’s murderer and determined to track down the one man she’s been told to trust: her father’s old cell mate, Brent Carver. But when she finds him, she discovers not a kind, elderly artist but a dangerously hot alpha male with blood on his hands.

Loyal to the core, Brent would never turn away his friend’s daughter when she comes seeking help. He can’t deny Anna his protection…just as he can’t deny the instantaneous attraction he struggles to keep in check. But as their passion blazes out of control, a sadistic killer is on the hunt to stop Anna from uncovering his dark secrets.

Amazon             Amazon.ca     Amazon.co.uk      Amazon.de      Amazon.fr      BAM!      McNally Robinson     Chapters Indigo        B&N

 

In addition to the Amazon gift card below Toni is giving one commenter a digital from her backlist, their choice.

Are you a fan of the ocean, lakes etc or do you prefer a pool? 

Giveaway ends @12am est 8-23-13.  Time’s short on this one so don’t miss your chance.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Brent Carver lay in bed listening to the surf outside his open window. The rhythmic pounding pulse helped calm the ragged unset­tled feeling that clawed inside him. Sometimes it even let him sleep. Not tonight.

He shifted restlessly, sweat damp on his skin. The west coast was getting a blistering-hot summer that had him thanking God he wasn’t stuck in that shithole prison, sweating it out with a few hundred of his least best friends. He sat up in bed and swiped irritably at his too long hair.

Gina had liked it long.

Damn.

He’d spent the past year trying not to think about Gina, or her murder, and yet memories snuck past his guard all the time. Her smile, her giving nature, her unwavering dedication to his undeserving ass. When he’d broken things off with her, he’d hoped she’d finally move on. Find herself a man she could marry and have babies she could spoil. But things hadn’t worked out that way, and no one regretted it more than he did.

He whipped back the covers and padded naked to the open window that faced the Pacific. It took a moment for his heartbeat to stop hammering. A moment for the burn in his chest to ease. At nearly forty years old, he’d spent half his life in prison and would never get enough of breathing in the fresh clean air of freedom.

The dark water before him stretched like a smooth satin sheet all the way to the horizon. But the calm tranquility was an illusion that disguised deceptive currents and gigantic swells, cold depths and wicked storm surges.

That ocean called to him—it always had. This sliver of coast was what he’d missed locked up in his cell for so many years. Not peace. Not serenity. Not pissing in a private bathroom. Huge rollers crashing home. Elements clashing like titans in his backyard. The abandon. The wildness. The energy. Prison had squeezed the need for that energy into a tiny corner of his mind and tortured him with it in his dreams. When he’d gotten out, he’d spent two days just staring at the ocean. This was where he belonged. This was where he needed to be. And no one was ever going to take it from him again. Being caged, being imprisoned, had almost wiped him out of existence, and the worst thing was—it was his own damn fault. He’d taken a life and gotten what he deserved.

He’d been out four years now, but the smells, the memories, the sense of watching his back, was ingrained, tattooed on his brain like most cons wore ink. He’d found his salvation in a tal­ent for painting, enough of a talent that he could afford a kick-ass mansion anywhere in the world. But he’d returned here, to the small remote strip of land on the western edge of Vancouver Island. The scene of the crime and the only home he’d ever known.

Maybe he should buy a yacht, learn to sail. But that sort of aimless wandering didn’t appeal and his parole officer probably wouldn’t approve either. He rubbed his aching neck muscles and headed downstairs for a drink. He’d finish that last piece for the exhibition.

Exhibition.

He shook his head in disbelief. Some fancy-schmancy museum in New York was giving him an exhibition. He opened the fridge and pulled out a beer and popped the top. His agent had worked some serious magic, wrangling that mother. Only trouble was the gallery wanted the elusive and mysterious B.C. Wilkinson to turn up in person to the opening. His agent had even taken care of a passport and special visa requirements.

Yeah, right. He snorted. No fucking way. Still, Brent had learned years ago that it was easier to do what he wanted and beg forgiveness later. Not that he dealt much in forgiveness. Gina’s image smiled sweetly inside his head, but she was dead—stabbed to death by a homicidal maniac last year—and thinking about her wouldn’t bring her back.

His fist tightened around the neck of the bottle and he resisted the urge to hurl it at the wall. Prison had taught him iron control—he just hadn’t realized how much he’d need it on the outside. He headed onto his back porch, buck naked and glad of the fresh ocean breeze that cooled his overheated body. His nearest neighbor lived a quarter of a mile away, out of sight, over the bluff. This region was too remote for passersby and anyone with a boat would moor it in a sheltered cove, not at the mercy of Barkley Sound’s treacherous grasp. The moon was cloaked behind restless clouds that billowed like smoke across the sky. He was just about to sit his ass down when he saw a shadow flitter near the woods.

He had visitors?

No fucking way.

In prison he’d received enough death threats to take serious precautions with his safety. When some of the local thugs had been arrested last year, he’d let down his guard and thought the danger was over. He’d obviously thought wrong. What if it was his brother, Finn? Or the cops? He pressed his lips together. Finn knew better than to spook him and the cops had no reason to be sniffing around.

Something was going on.

No one made social calls on Brent Carver—no one without a death wish. He lived on a peninsula that, due to the rugged terrain, was only accessible by boat. There were about thirty locals living on this side of the inlet, but they were more likely to hand-feed rabid wolves than drop in for a beer.

Did his visitor know he was out here?

Leaving the bottle on the deck, he carefully slipped over the side of the porch and melted into the night. It was pitch-black in the woods, but he’d grown up here and knew every tree and hol­low. He made his way along the side of the shed and ducked into the forest. Over the last year, he’d gradually stopped listening to the scanner for signs of trouble, stopped keeping firearms in the house. He’d gotten soft, but not stupid. Silently he dropped to his knees beside a massive Sitka spruce that was technically on his neighbor’s property. If she found out about his little cache, she’d be pissed. He swept dirt and dead needles off the top of a waterproof box he’d sunk into the ground, and removed his SIG Sauer. He replaced the lid and covered it as best he could in the dark. He got his bearings, and found the tree where he’d hidden his ammo. He grabbed a magazine and headed up to the road, circling around. He inched down an old trail and came up behind where the shadow had been.

Darkness cloaked the clearing where his house sat but his night vision was sharp. And damned if the woman—put a man in prison long enough and he could spot a female blindfolded at twenty paces—wasn’t climbing his porch steps shining her flashlight around the place like a laser show. Maybe she was a thief? Maybe someone had figured out Brent Carver was B.C. Wilkinson and sitting on a shedload of very expensive artwork? Then she knocked on his back door.

What the…?

He rubbed his hand over his brow. He was stark naked except for his gun, and now some woman was standing on his deck? He hoped to hell she wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness because she was about to have a come-to-Jesus moment.

But she could still be armed and dangerous. He’d pissed off enough bad guys in the joint to be wary of anyone turning up in the middle of the night. Hell, no one visited here, period.

“Hello?” She pressed her ear to his door. “Mr. Carver?” she said louder. Her shoulders sagged when no one answered.

He didn’t recognize her voice. He moved fast and silent across the clearing, padded up the stairs just as she reached for the doorknob.

“You’re trespassing.”

She jolted, her hand going to her heart as she spun to face him. “Oh, my God. You scared me.”

Never admit fear.

“I don’t like visitors, lady.”

Her flashlight dipped and then shot back to his face, almost blinding him. She swallowed, taking in his lack of clothes and keeping her eyes north of the hot spots. “You’re naked.”

“I was in bed.” He didn’t know why he needed to explain himself.

Her voice came out like gravel. “I’m looking for Brent Carver.”

“I’m looking for peace and quiet. Looks like we’re both screwed.”

“You’re Brent?” Her free hand slipped into her bag and he grabbed her wrist and pinned her against his door before she could get the drop on him. She went ballistic and tried to whack him with the flashlight. He jerked it out of her fingers and threw it behind them. She felt tiny and delicate, crushed between him and that solid piece of oak, although her lungs were in full working order.

Shit, his ears hurt.

“No one will hear you, so you might as well stow it.” She jammed one hand against his chin, squirming like an eel, then went for gold by trying to knee him in the nuts. He deflected the attack and pressed her tighter against the door, wedging her there with his body. She barely came up to his chin but fought like a wild thing. “Want to tell me who you are and why you’re knock­ing on my door in the middle of the night?” He concentrated on making sure he didn’t injure her while he tried to check out what she was going for in her purse.

She scratched sharp fingernails down his arm, drew in a breath to scream even louder. Her breasts pushed against his chest, which would have worked for him in a big way if she wasn’t so goddamn terrified. Sonofa-fucking-bitch.

Why me?

He had nowhere to stick his gun so he removed the pocketbook from her fingers and stepped back, keeping a wary eye on her bloodthirsty knee. She stood there stunned, trembling, and breathing heavily. He didn’t think it had anything to do with his dazzling good looks.

“You bastard.” Her chin snapped up. “You aren’t Brent Carver.”

He cocked a brow. “What makes you say that?” He searched her bag, more by touch than sight in the darkness. A cell phone, wallet, keys, tampons, tissues. No gun or shank.

“He’s a respectable painter. He’s not some nutcase who runs about in the middle of the night, waving around a gun, among other things,” she muttered darkly. “Attacking innocent, defenseless women.”

The scratches on his arm stung enough for him to snort out a laugh at that. Her eyes narrowed. He watched moonlight flow over her features, fine boned and delicate, except for the tight clench of her jaw.

There was no obvious threat in her pocketbook, but it didn’t mean he should let his guard down. He needed clothes. For some crazy reason, he was getting a little turned on by Miss Prim and Proper telling him who and what he was. It was probably being naked and within a hundred yards of anything two legged and female, but he didn’t want to scare her any more than he had already. He wasn’t a hound. Nor was he under any illusion about what she thought might happen when he grabbed her. Someone had jumped him in the shower once and lost their eye for the trouble. Hell, most people thought he was evil incarnate and that was the way he liked it. He reached past her and opened the door. “Inside. Now.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.” She tried to dodge aside.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her across his threshold. “You want to meet Brent? I’ll take you to him.” Her eyes were so huge with fear she looked like she’d been electrocuted. But she’d come to him, she had to play by his rules.

My thoughts on DARK WATERS

While working late Davis Silver discovers millions of dollars being moved using his access code.  Having already served time for a crime he didn’t commit Davis gets all the info he can and quickly hides the money until he can reach the FBI.  He mails the info as added protection but never makes it to the FBI.   Moments before his death he makes a frantic warning call to his daughter, Anna, telling her the only one she can trust is Brent Carver, his cell mate for five years.  When police come to tell Anna her father is dead she takes her dad’s advice and hightails it to Brent.

Brent is reclusive and doesn’t particularly care for people.  When Anna shows up unexpectedly on his door step he has no choice. Davis was like a father and one of the few friends Brent ever had.  A man of his word, Brent will do what’s necessary to protect Anna.

Davis Silver, ex-con and convicted embezzler. Davis has always claimed his innocence.  He’s Anna’s dad, Brent’s former cell mate and ex-husband to Katherine. Davis was given an accounting job at a charitable foundation for veterans in Chicago formed and run by a former general.  Even in his absence Davis impacts the characters and events.  His desperate actions set everything in motion.

Brent Carver, lifer for murder and celebrated artist.  Brent may no longer be in prison but he’s still a lifer.  He has to report to his parole officer regularly for life.  The smallest infraction can have him returned to prison.  Brent is proof that justice is often blind in the worst possible way. Davis was like a father to Brent while he in turn protected Davis in prison.  Brent came to know Anna via her letters to Davis.  Brent is handsome, loyal, and possesses a moral integrity most law abiding citizens would envy.  His guilt-o-meter also works overtime. I admired and liked Brent for so many reasons.  He’s a wonderful hero.

Flinn, Brent’s little brother and former soldier.

Holly, police officer and Flinn’s fiancée.  Holly’s father is highly placed in the force.

Anna Silver,Davis’ daughter and our heroine.  Anna is a school teacher in Washington State.  Anna has deep seated issues stemming from events that occurred on her prom night.  Anna always wrote to Davis in prison and has seen him since his release and move to Chicago; however I didn’t really like Anna. By the end she was tolerable but I never completely warmed to her.  She believed in her dad enough to run to Brent, a complete stranger, but never in his innocence.  She never gave him the benefit of the doubt yet she made excuses for her mother’s failure to be there at one of her darkest moments.  Nor did I care for the way she judged and behaved toward Brent in the beginning despite the fact that she went to him.  There was also at least one incident she teetered on the edge of TSTL for me.

Katherine Silver Plantain, former wife to Davis, current wife to Ed and Anna’s mother.  In spite of how much she claimed to love Davis she never supported or believed him.  Then she commits the ultimate betrayal.   She grows a spine but for me it was too little too late.

Ed Plantain, Katherine’s current husband.

Barbara and Harvey, a couple Ed and Katherine meet on their cruise.

The main bad guys:

Petrie, tech and computer whiz.  I wasn’t impressed with Petrie’s skill. He was a bit slow on the intel and electronic trail. For their organization to be so accomplished they came off a bit inept.

Rand, lead mercenary and killer. Rand has cold-blooded meanness down pat. He ruthless, unfeeling, enjoys causing pain, and would just as soon kill you as look at you.  He’s “attracted” to Anna.  Having Rand desire you isn’t a good thing.  I actually felt for Anna on this point.

Other readers may not feel the same but obviously Anna and Katherine’s lack of faith in Davis bothered me.  There was no justification for them to doubt his word.  He wasn’t a bad father or husband, abusive or a habitual liar.  Though I did have a few issues there was a lot about DARK WATER I enjoyed.  The characters were relatable and interesting.  The suspense, action and love scenes were well done.  I really got into the exciting climactic confrontation near the end.  There are several characters that, for grins and giggles, I’d like to see how and where they wind up in the future.  Who knows, there’s always the chance Anna and Katherine will grow into characters I could consider liking.

3.5 stars

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