Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Crisis of Identity by Denise Moncrief (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Crisis of Identity by author Denise Moncrief!








Author Guest Post


Last night, after I had spent a long day with a stubborn geriatric convalescent, I opened my work in progress and began to get back into the story. I hadn’t written anything new all day and I was in some major withdrawal. My fingers itched to tap out more riveting plot. As I sat down and opened my Mac, it smacked me right between the eyes. I still hadn’t decided who my villain was and the obvious choice had literally been right at my fingertips all along. I should have sighed with relief, but I had a big problem. I had written this character too nice. Yeah, that’s right. The villain had too many redeeming character traits. So what’s a writer to do? Of course, I had to go back and scan my manuscript looking for places where I needed to nasty him up. After that, the plot began to shine with the sparkle of suspense that had been lacking.

Don’t get me wrong. I often let my characters get by with murder. Literally. A lot of them have killed at least one person, maybe more. But I like to add a little depth to my villains. I love to give them just one redeeming quality so they aren’t so one dimensional. To make them a little more, you know, human. But this guy? He was just way too nice and understanding and helpful. Something had to give. So you know what I did? I gave him a gun. Yep. That changed him into a detestable SOB pretty fast. Once he had the weapon in his hand, he didn’t hesitate to draw it on my heroine. Ah, did the universe just realign into proper balance? I think it did.

I’m a pantser. I decide where my story begins and where it ends when I start a manuscript. But after that? I fly by the seat of my pants. Or rather sit at my makeshift desk, which is really just my coffee table pushed up close to my sofa. My “office”. Since I quit that horrid day job the living room has become my favorite place to play…um…I mean work. Anyway, I digress.

Here’s my long-winded point… In between the beginning and the end, I allow my characters to develop their own personalities and character as the story progresses. I allow the action of the plot to proceed according to what my characters would do next based on their personalities. The story feeds my characterization. My characterization feeds my story. They feed each other. A symbiotic relationship. So I let my characters get by with a lot, even murder.

Can you can imagine how a story could get all janked up if one of the characters isn’t fulfilling his or her proper role? Heroes should be heroes, albeit sometimes a wee tad flawed. Heroines should be heroines, even if they have one or two character flaws they need to work on. I love letting my characters decide how they want to act and who they want to be, but sometimes I have to smack one around and make him (or her) play nasty.

In my book, Crisis of Identity, there is a smorgasbord of villains. For some reason, these guys chose to villain up all on their own with me roughing them up. Here’s my favorite Padget-being-a-villain scene…

"I said leave.” I snarled and narrowed my eyes. He smiled at me, an appreciative, why-haven’t-I-noticed-you-sooner leer. My stomach roiled. “Let’s get something straight, mister. I don’t care if your libido just kicked in and for some strange reason you think you have the hots for me. I’m not interested in helping you take care of your sexual problem.” The smile dropped from his face, but it was clear he didn’t intend to honor my impolite refusal of his unwanted advances. Well, I had news for him. He didn’t have a choice.

“You won’t hit me.” He smirked with all the condescension of a man who thought of women as possessions and playthings. He probably thought of his first wife as the little woman. His second wife—the prize.

He advanced toward me. Closer than I wanted him to come. He dared to mock me without uttering a single word. He reached for the fireplace poker as if he believed I’d give it up without a fight. I stepped back from him. He lunged and missed the poker by a mile. His grin stretched his face into a grotesque caricature. I’d seen that particular cruel sneer on a man only once in my life. Luke captured the look when he was dying.

You know, actually, I love this scene because of the way Tess handles him. Here’s the blurb for Crisis of Identity

Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good a con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.

Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?

Want to read more? Crisis of Identity is available for purchase at the following sites…

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE
CREATESPACE
iTUNES
SMASHWORDS
5 PRINCE PUBLISHING



About The Author



Denise Moncrief wrote her first story when she was in high school—seventeen hand-written pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she read. She earned a degree in accounting, giving her some nice skills to earn a little money, but her passion has always been writing. She has written numerous short stories and more than a few full-length novels. Her favorite pastimes when she’s not writing are spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and scrapbooking. She lives in Louisiana with her husband, two children, and one very chubby dog.


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Crisis of Identity by Denise Moncrief ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours




Book Review



Crisis of Identity by Denise Moncrief
Publisher: 5 Prince Publishing
Publication Date: January 23, 2013
Format: Paperback - 254 pages / Kindle - 382 KB / Nook - 768 KB
ISBN: 193921730X
ASIN: B00B5L0I7S
Genre: Romantic Suspense 


BUY THE BOOK: Crisis of Identity


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.


Book Description:

Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.

Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?


Book Excerpt:


Crisis of Identity

Chapter One

The room had already filled five times with sea-soaked bodies. The dead lay head-to-foot, column-by-column, row-by-row, ten by twenty. Victim 973 had scrawled her Social Security number down her left arm just as she’d been instructed. I noted the number on my log and moved on, trying hard not to think about the person, concentrating only on the morbid job some pushy cop forced on me. Across the high school gymnasium, a man worked the other end of the column. As his stealthy glances trailed me around the gym, the acid in my overwrought stomach churned every time our eyes met.

“Want to take a break?” His sudden question reverberated throughout the cavernous space.

I curled one tendril of hair around my left ear. “Sure.”

I followed him into the locker room, grabbing a foam cup and filling it with tepid coffee. The man did the same from another urn. The burnt brew left traces of bitterness in my mouth. I rubbed my teeth over my tongue in a vain attempt to remove the acrid leftovers.

My mind turned off for a few precious moments as I ignored the makeshift morgue on the other side of the wall. The man’s strong, masculine bass invaded my mental hideaway. “They’re starting to smell ripe.” He gulped down another ounce of artificial stimulant, staring at me over the rim of his cup.

My insides flipped. “It’s been four days.”

He nodded. “Most of these don’t have numbers.”

“Makes it harder to identify them.”

He leaned against a locker. “This group must have thought they were invincible.”

“Doesn’t everyone?” I tossed my cup into the overflowing trash. “Think they’re invincible, I mean."

“Certain death. How do you interpret that? I think it means, ‘I stay. I die.’ Must not have sunk in until it was too late.” His sarcastic attitude unsettled me, made me want to defend the dead.

“They’ve been warned before and nothing happened.” When the locals ordered an evacuation two years before, it proved to be a false alarm. The residents of the Texas Gulf coast weren’t so easy to convince this time. It seemed no one learned a lesson from Hurricane Katrina. “And…we’re not dead.” Our eyes locked.

Someone’s presence warmed my back. The site supervisor stood over my shoulder and repeated his prerecorded rant for the millionth time. “Mandatory is mandatory. The dead ignored the warning to their own peril. If they wanted to stay put, the least they could do is write their soc number on their arms...just like they were told to do. How many times did the news people make that announcement? Write your number on your arm if you plan to stay. How hard is that?”

I shifted away from him. I didn’t dare write my number on my arm.

“Suppose the two of you take a few. You look wasted, and these guys…” He waved his hand toward the gym. “Aren’t going anywhere.”

***

I dropped onto the cot at the far end of the locker room, struggling to remove the stained smock the state so generously provided. Forget about sleep; it wouldn’t come. I had too many memories that begged to become nightmares. I closed my eyes anyway.

The springs in the cot next to mine creaked. “I’m Jake.” Why had it taken him so long to introduce himself?

I released an internal sigh. “Tess.” I told the truth, because I had to say something and I was out of lies.

“Tough job.”

“Yeah.” I wanted him to shut up and leave me alone.

“Why would someone like you volunteer for this?”

I opened one eye and glared at him. “I didn’t volunteer. I was strongly encouraged to help. Why are you here?”

He hesitated. “I’m a U.S. Marshal. It’s my job. Part of the oath and all that.”

I opened the other eye and assessed him. “Why would you move here—” He smiled, cutting off my question. “I can tell from your accent you’re not from Texas.”

“I followed a fugitive here from Illinois.” He leaned forward, his knees not quite brushing mine. “She’s accused of murder.”

“Murder?”

“Stabbed her boyfriend…in the back…in cold blood.”

My reaction gushed from my mouth. “How can you be sure it was cold blood?” I sucked back a gasp at my gaffe. My question probably seemed strangely timed and oddly constructed. “I mean…it could have been self defense.”

He offered me a cold, hard stare with unblinking eyes. “I just know.”

“That’s…awful."

“I guess I followed my lead at the wrong time. I got trapped riding out the storm…just like you.”

“What makes you think I got trapped?”

“If you’d had any choice, you would have left.”

My brother Tony forced me to stay, but he left me. A storm surge so strong it pulled the house out from under us knocked him into the sea. The Gulf of Mexico spit me back onto the beach as if the ocean didn’t like the way I tasted.

I survived, but I had no time to grieve. The realization impaled my heart.

Jake stretched out on his cot. “There’s a boat out of here tomorrow. It’s taking volunteers back to the mainland.” Galveston was in ruins. The thin strips of concrete that once connected the island to civilization lay scattered on the beach looking somewhat like a child's building blocks.

“There is?” I tried not to appear too interested.

“You didn’t know?” A different question danced in his eyes—a challenge of sorts. “So how long have you lived in Galveston?”

“Not long. My brother found a job. So I moved here a few months ago to be with him.”

“Where’s your brother now?”

I blinked at him. “He’s gone.”

His stern countenance wavered, but before I could embrace his presumed compassion, his expression settled into severity once again. “Now you’ll have to start your life over…again.” His eyes captured mine. A shiver of dread slithered down my spine. It was as if he knew me, even though he didn’t seem to know me. “Are you going to sleep?” He nodded toward my pillow as if he didn’t think my conscience would allow rest.

“I never sleep.”

Within minutes, he emitted soft puffs of breath, in and out, obviously lacking any guilt to keep him awake.

The shadows lengthened and receded over the locker room, drifting in and out of the grimy, shattered windows as if the world was still revolving around its axis on schedule. But I was sure it had stopped turning. I was the fugitive he sought.


My Book Review:

Crisis of Identity is a fast paced romantic suspense thriller that grabs the reader's attention from the start and doesn't let go until the last page has been read. Written in the first person narrative, fugitive Tess Copeland takes the reader on a wild roller coaster ride as her life on the run takes a wrong turn when she assumes the identity of a deceased woman, Shelby Coleman, who also has people looking for her. It's not easy for Tess to fly low under the radar and establish a new life when her assumed identity has people who want her dead! With a hunky US Marshall named Jake, who has been tailing her since she fled Chicago, and a sexy cowboy Private Investigator / Bounty Hunter named Trevor Smith, who is searching for the real Shelby, what's Tess/Shelby to do when all three meet up at an Aspen ski resort? When both men offer to help her, can she trust either man with her life and with her heart?

Author Denise Moncrief does a great job of weaving an intriguing tale that keeps the reader on their toes as Tess and Shelby's stories unfold. Crisis of Identity is an intense, action packed, and multi-layered story that has a lot of suspenseful twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing what will happen next. Throw in a subtle romantic twist between Tess and Trevor, and the complexity of the storyline gets jacked up another notch. And just when you think that the story will have a satisfying conclusion, the author teases the reader with an unresolved and open-ended conclusion that makes me wonder if this book will be the first in a series. Even with all the unresolved issues, I have to say that I did enjoy the first person narrative, I thought Tess was an intriguing and strong woman. I loved the richly detailed and descriptive settings, it felt like I was transported to Texas, Colorado and Illinois. I also enjoyed trying to figure out the characters and the storyline, but I would have loved it if the storyline had more closure, and I also wished that the romantic relationship between Tess and Trevor had been more developed.

If the author's intention with Crisis of Identity was to whet the reader's appetite for more from Tess and company, then I think she has succeeded, I want more please!


RATING: 4 STARS ****



Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: July 16 - Aug 5, 2013



Everyone who leaves a comment on Crisis of Identity by Denise Moncrief ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Crisis of Identity before August 5 and sends their receipt to Samantha@ChickLitPlus.com, will get five bonus entries.



Virtual Book Tour Schedule



Tour Schedule:

July 16 – A Blue Million Books – Q&A & Excerpt
July 17 – Musings About the Writing Life – Q&A
July 18 – Free eBooks Daily – Q&A
July 19 – Ai Love Books – Excerpt
July 22 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Q&A & Excerpt 
July 22 - A Passion for Romance - Review
July 24 – Brooke Blogs – Excerpt
July 24 – Keri Neal – Guest Post & Excerpt
July 25 – AJ’s Tattered Pages – Guest Post & Excerpt 
July 26 – Escape Into a Book – Review & Excerpt
July 31 – Scribbler’s Sojourn – Guest Post
August 1 – Curling Up With a Good Book – Q&A
August 2 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
August 5 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review
August 5 - Defining Women's Evolution in Discovery Blog - Q&A & Excerpt



6 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting me today and for the wonderful review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Denise! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. I look forward to reading more of your books.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event.

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  3. That was an interesting post to read :)

    MinDaf @ aol.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Crystal! Thanks for stopping by! This was an interesting story to read, it leaves the reader wanting more. :)

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