Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Heroes and Heroines from Checkmate by Jean Hackensmith

I was thrilled when I heard romance author Jean Hackensmith was returning to Pump Up Your Book Promotion for another virtual book tour. After reading and loving The Ultimate Passage, the final book of the "Passage" saga that she co-wrote with Kathe Birch, I knew I wanted to bring Jean back to The Book Connection to talk about her latest novel, a romantic thriller.

Caryn Deaver survived a nightmare.

A victim of spousal abuse, Caryn’s ex-husband bound her and their children hand and foot, locked them in the bathroom, and set the house on fire. They managed to escape with their lives, and Dan Hamilton was sentenced to eighteen years in prison for the crime. He’s out now, though, and the rules in his sadistic game allow Caryn only twelve “moves” before she dies.

Zach Riker, Cheyenne’s Fire Chief, was the first paramedic on the scene eighteen years ago. He saved Caryn’s life. Now she is his life and he’ll stop at nothing to protect the woman he has come to love.

Here Jean talks about the hero and heroine from Checkmate and even a bit about the villian.

When Cheryl from Pump Up Your Book Promotion asked me to write this guest post telling about the hero and heroine in “Checkmate,” it was like…yes! This one will be easy. Caryn and Zach are like members of my family. I know them better than I sometimes know myself. Well, I was wrong. It wasn’t so easy. I know them both intimately, of course, but describing just who these two complex characters are—and doing them justice—is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I’ll give it a shot.

Caryn is a second grade teacher. Zach is the Fire Chief in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They’re both in their forties. The initial review I received on “Checkmate” commented on that fact. The reviewer said it was “refreshing” to see an older couple as the main characters in a romance. While the actual “romance” may take a back seat to suspense in “Checkmate,” it in no way lessens Zach and Caryn’s commitment to one another. In fact, if anything, they are more committed than the average couple because they’ve both been “around the block.” In other words, they’ve both been married before. They both have grown children. Caryn even has two grandchildren. In some ways, though, their individual histories hamper their relationship. Caryn’s ex-husband was controlling, possessive and abusive. Consequently, she was single for sixteen years and, even now, is hesitant to commit herself legally to another man. In Caryn’s mind, it’s all about power. Dan Hamilton exerted his authority over her from the moment she signed the marriage certificate, and she’s not sure she wants to give another man that kind of control. Zach faces a different dilemma. His wife cheated on him repeatedly during the course of their marriage, leaving him distrustful and bitter. Though he did date other women in the interim, none were able to crack the protective shell he had encased himself in—until Caryn.

Caryn and Zach had been together for two years by the time Dan Hamilton was released from prison. He’s Caryn’s ex. He tried to kill her and their children eighteen years earlier. Now he’s stalking her, and the ensuing reign of terror will test their commitment to one another like nothing before ever has. Their children will be threatened, too—they each have two—and so will Brian Koski, Zach’s best friend. Brian’s a cop. It’s his job to get involved. When it soon becomes apparent that Dan’s sadistic game of cat and mouse could lead to murder, however, even Brian gets scared and goes above and beyond the call of duty to protect his friends.

The last “main character” in the book is Mika. She’s a protection dog. A black German Shepard. She will give her life to save her masters and is trained to attack on command. I worked extensively with Chris Byrne from Stone Hill Kennel in Connecticut to make sure Mika’s abilities were portrayed correctly. He even agreed to become a character in the book. Mika is a sweetheart. She can also be deadly. In Chris’ words, she’s “a good man’s best friend, and a bad man’s worst enemy.”

The characters in “Checkmate” are more down-to-earth than any I’ve ever created before. They have flaws. They’re vulnerable. They make mistakes. In short, they are real.

The CHECKMATE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on May 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Jean's tour in progress, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in May. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour! One lucky winner will be announced on this tour page on May 30!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

1 comment:

JM said...

I always love hearing more about the characters from the authors because who knows the characters better? Thank you for this post.