Open House on Murder: a romantic suspense story & interview

My good friend Lavada Dee has re-released her book Open House on Murder (originally titled Open House on Love) and I thought I’d ask her a few questions about it because I don’t read much romantic suspense and I was curious about a few things.Open House on Murder by Lavada Dee

First, I’d like to say this book totally held my interest. In fact, I read it in a weekend, unusual for me. With a hero named Quin, I’m in from the beginning. I love that name. Add in that this is a reunion story and that the way they were torn apart feels different and innovative and I kept turning the pages. With a killer targeting people in Aimee’s line of work, she and Quin have no choice but to get up close and personal. There’s a bit of a paranormal thing in it, but since that’s not listed in the blurb, I’ll just say it felt realistic to me. I bought into the story, the romance, and the world Lavada created.

The interview:

Laurie:  I love the name Quin, and Quin and Aimee has a great ring to it. How do you name your characters? Do they name themselves or do you hunt around for the perfect choice?

Lavada:  A good question, but not a definitive answer.  With Open House On Murder I had the names in mind right from the beginning but this isn’t always the case.  A lot of times I search for a perfect name by googling baby names.  And I’ve even changed a name midway through writing the story.  Sometime the name just doesn’t fit as the character develops.

Laurie:  Googling baby names works great, doesn’t it? And I love that the characters sometimes tell you they need a different name! I’ve never written a suspense story. Do you find it difficult to pepper in just enough clues to entice, but not enough to completely give it away?

Lavada: Again, the mechanics of writing Open House was different than anything else I’ve written.  I’m what they call a ‘seat of the pants’ author.  Meaning, I just for the most part sit down and write without plotting or characterization.  And forget about work sheets!  With Open House I diligently did all the steps of plotting.  The result was that I wrote this book faster than any other I’ve ever written and… I hated it.  I didn’t even want to have a critique.  I knew it would only tell me what I already knew.  This story was boring.  So… I put it under the bed and wrote the next one which I loved.  Then, since I hate waste, I dug Open House back out and revised the heck out of  the characters as that was what was wrong.  The plot was almost perfect, but the characters were like cardboard figures.

Laurie:  Well, your revisions worked, because the story is great. Including the setting. In fact, there’s an old armoire in this story that almost felt like a character in the story. It’s richly described and I’m wondering where you came up with the vision of it?

Lavada:  Strictly my imagination on the armoire.  I love old houses and the furniture when it’s in them and not in my house.  I needed something to point to that old mansion and the armoire was the perfect thing to do it.

Laurie:  It worked. I could see that armoire so well. Okay, only a couple more questions. Reunion stories can be hard to write, showing the love and attraction, but holding out on the ultimate happy ending until the right time. You’ve managed to do that and I’m wondering if it came easily to you or if the characters had their own ideas about why they were struggling.

Lavada:  It did come easy.  Maybe too easy as I had to work so that it wouldn’t seem like a tired  and well used cliche. In this case it help endear Quin to me and from what I hear readers.

Laurie:  I already mentioned that I think the way they were torn apart seems anything but cliché, so well done. Do you have any other romantic suspense stories in the pipeline? We’d love to hear a little bit about them.

Lavada:  I think the next novel I will write will be a western historical. I do have another romantic suspense that is out of print right now and I want to get it re-released before starting something new.  It’s titled Forever Love because the publisher wanted the word ‘Love’ in the title but I’m thinking of renaming it Escape To Die for as it fits the story better.  The story is about a serial killer targeting women that are residents or associated with a safe house.  I love Mary Higgins Clark and how she puts in all the twists and turns that make it hard to know who did it.  I tried to do that with this story.  I’m hoping readers will let me know if I successfully accomplished it.

Laurie: Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today. I’m happy I had a chance to showcase another awesome story. For anyone who’d like to read more about this, here’s what the story’s about and links:

Aimee Forrester has returned to the small town of her high school dreams. When her longtime friend offered her a partnership in her real estate company Aimee leaped at the chance to restart her life in the place she left her heart nineteen years earlier. Now with a new home, and a job she loves, she pushes away memories that still fill her nights with dreams.

Working with an elite serial killer work force Detective Quin Martina finds himself in his own back yard investigating a string of murders. The killer is targeting real estate agents conducting open houses. Bad enough, but worse when an agent in the reality office Aimee Forrester owns a partnership in, is a victim.

The investigation forces Aimee and Quin together and their past attraction to each other flares to a new passionate emotion that both fight to deny. With the killer spiraling more and more out of control Aimee is drawn in and gets his attention. The violence and fear ramp already stretched emotions.

Quin knows they have to bring this killer down fast before more lives are lost and before Aimee becomes a target.


Show Me now available!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]I’m thrilled to announce the release of my newest story. Show Me, about a woman’s journey through the ups and downs of cancer treatment, is my first story outside of the romance genre. I began this story to help myself mourn the loss of a good friend to an aggressive form of lung cancer. However, it was a long time before I had the emotional strength to finish it and in a lot of ways, this story has been a journey for me as well as for my character. Now, I have the privilege of sharing Show Me with you.

The Story

Cancer. It’s one of the scariest words in the world and one that no one wants to hear. Show Me is one woman’s poignant journey through hope and fear, learning to cope, dealing with disappointment, and defining relationships during the most traumatic experience of her life.

The words ovarian cancer infiltrate Celia Milbourne’s brain and send chills down her spine, settling in her heart like a mound of icy stones. She must dig deep for the strength to fight this medical beast and still maintain some measure of normalcy for her young daughter.

Aided by family and friends—and an empathic ghost named Seth—Celia embarks on a path riddled with challenges, filled with anguish and joy, and bolstered by an enduring hope sustained  by love.

Available now at these etailers:




And coming soon in print…

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Family Memories

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Originally posted on Over The Backyard Fence:
Happy day after Mother’s Day! I hope all the mother’s who read this had a day full of smiles and pampering. Most of you know that my mother moved in with us in…

Holiday Stories

I belong to a writer’s group, Olympia RWA, that is filled with some of the awesomest, most amazing women I have ever known. So, having written a holiday story myself, I thought I’d take a moment to showcase all the holiday stories written by my chapter-mates. There are all sorts of romance sub-genres so I’ll try to note them for you. Here they are in author alphabetical order. Have fun! And just click on the book image if you want to read more about a particular story.


Four years ago on Christmas Eve, NHL hockey player Blake Daniels lost his entire family in a float plane crash. Every Christmas Eve he mourns his losses by returning to the family vacation home in Sunset Harbor, Washington, his family’s destination that fateful night. Only this year he’s also mourning the loss of his hockey career and wondering what’s left to live for. When he finds a kitten starving and half frozen in a foot of snow, he rushes the tiny thing to the local animal hospital.

Still reeling from the unexpected loss of her father on Christmas Eve two years ago, Dr. Sarah Whitney opens the door to her clinic and finds a rough and tough professional athlete holding a minuscule kitten in his big hands. Only a miracle can save the frozen creature and only a miracle can heal the devastating losses suffered by both Sarah and Blake.

But Christmas is the time for healing and miracles if only you believe and give love a chance.


Lady Sabine escapes an arranged marriage by traveling from her native France to the Scottish Highlands to be a lady-in-waiting, yet when she arrives a few days before Christmas, she finds she is no longer needed. She cannot remain an unwed lass in a Highland castle so she is given the choice between returning home, joining a convent, or a hasty marriage of convenience. Even worse, Sabine finds that Highlanders do not celebrate her cherished Christmas customs. Sir Braden is the Master at Arms for the MacLaren clan and is assigned to guard Lady Sabine until her situation is resolved. Despite his intention never to marry, Lady Sabine shows him the joy of Christmas and his icy heart starts to melt.


After a gentleman rescues her from a winter storm, Miss Selene Banning finds herself snowbound with Sir Jared Kendrick, who is not precisely who he claims to be…

A Duke for Midwinter is a sweet (kisses only) Christmas-themed romance of approximately 80 pages.




Head to the majestic Northwest where logging history comes to life in four Christmas romances. Insecurity brings a logger and a young woman together, but will a “perfect” sister tear them apart? Will the dangers of the woods derail a young couple’s hopes and their chance at love? Amid town gossip, can a work-focused sawmiller win the heart of a prim-and-proper heiress? Will second thoughts have a sentimental girl and a hardhearted carpenter losing love? Find the answers in this heartwarming holiday collection.


Lily’s well-honed sense for trouble tells her no healer is safe in London while gangs roam the city looking for witches to burn. In the dead of night, she escapes on a northbound ship, intending to return after Christmas celebrations calm the city’s witch fever. But when Lily lands in the wilds of Scotland, her skills for surviving in the city can’t save her.

Roderick MacDonald is on a secret mission for his chieftain when he finds a lass near death on a barren hillside and is forced to take her with him. Though this mysterious Sassenach may have The Gift his clan needs—and he burns with passion for her—he’s determined to resist the enchantment she weaves on his scarred heart.

When love blooms amidst the harsh winter beauty of the Highlands, will these two obstinate souls from different worlds accept the Yuletide gift?


Always read the fine print!

Tycoon Vincenzo Tomasi needs a new nanny for his niece and nephew by Christmas. And the million-dollar salary on offer will be more tempting than anything in Santa’s sack! Audrey Miller already works for Enzo and loves children, and stepping into his family would dramatically help her own.

What Audrey doesn’t know is that Enzo expects the right candidate to become his wife—and high on the requirements list is sexual compatibility. While she’s lusted after her enigmatic boss for years, will innocent Audrey risk everything to explore her irresistible attraction in the most unlikely interview process ever?


Washington Territory, the frontier, 1825. Gentle Fawn and her beloved husband Hawk Catcher’s desperate hopes for a baby plummet until that magical Christmas Eve when their deepest prayers are answered… by two bumbling trappers and a goat.




Written in a darker style than Miss Sheridan’s usual frothy tales, in this short story a lonely widow journeys from heartbreak to hope with the help of three Christmas ghosts.





Derrick Fox only wants one gift beneath his Christmas tree–his best friend, Mia. When her latest moron walks out on her, Derrick finally sees his chance to break through the wall of friendship and claim Mia for his own. Forever. But when she propositions him instead, it leaves him reeling.

Insecure, image challenged and dumped–again–twenty-five-year-old Mia Patterson is sick to death of being a virgin. With her knight in shining armor nowhere to be found, naturally she turns to her BFF, the insanely sexy Derrick Fox, to help her out. The problem? Derrick wants far more than the body she’s ready to give. He wants her heart.

As the most magical time of year approaches, Derrick and Mia struggle to create some Christmas magic of their own–the sort that happens once in a lifetime, when two hearts finally come together in trust. And love. Unwrapped.

Last, but not least…


Priceless Love
“For Richer, For Poorer.”
Taylor Hamilton, dissatisfied with a life designed by her parents, attends a friend’s fall wedding and finds small town life agrees with her. The problem is, her wealth doesn’t agree with the man she falls for. Is their love strong enough to find a bridge of trust where money isn’t an issue?

Healing Love
“In Sickness and in Health.”
Nicole Milbourne’s single-minded focus on a medical research career is thrown for a loop when charismatic Dr. Damien Reed shows her there’s more to life than studying diseases. Will an unexpected Christmas fill Nicole’s lonely heart and show her the healing power of love?

ENJOY! And have a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!

Laurie Ryan

Triathlon? Me? Am I crazy?

Maybe I AM crazy, but I did it. And I blogged about it on Over The Backyard Fence. Check out how my mini-triathlon went here.

Laurie Ryan

Tropical Persuasions – Hold Onto that Summer Warmth!

Hi, everyone. As we wind our way toward the end of August, I’m hoping you all have had a summer filled with fond memories and fun times…and good weather. Is it bad that I’m already starting to look forward to a cooler season and curling up with some of the awesome books in my “to be read” pile?

I’ve kept busy with family and writing. We’ve taken several long weekends to go away, but mostly have been home. One of the good things about that is that my Tropical Persuasions series is now set for release. In fact, the first story is already out there!

I’m excited to reveal the covers for this series. An updated version of Stolen Treasures, the story of Dion Gaetani and Claire Saunders, who put everything on the line to capture a modern-day pirate, is now available on Amazon. Other venues coming soon.

Pirate’s Promise is slated for re-release on September 15th and is now available for pre-order on Amazon. I couldn’t write Stolen Treasures without realizing that the pirate, Hakon “Hawk” Thoralssen, needed his own story, so I introduce him to his attorney, Julia Branholt, and sparks fly.

And Dare To Love, the long-anticipated third and final story in the series, and also available for pre-order on Amazon, releases October 13th. Aidan Walker, friend and co-worker to Dion, meets his match in Gail Grayson, a spike-haired pixie who wants to turn the ladies’ man into a one-lady kind of guy.

As well, I’ve set up a newsletter list where news about my stories will be released first. To join the list, just click here and enter your name and email address.

Thanks! Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Laurie Ryan

New Release – Northern Lights

The story inspired by a bucket list item of mine (seeing the Aurora Borealis) has arrived!


What it’s about:

When New York corporate man Renzo Gallini shows up with papers saying he owns the waystation Jess Jenkins lives and breathes for, she laughs in his face. But things get tense when he’s got the paperwork to prove it…and her father, who apparently signed their home away, is nowhere to be found.

Jess has lived her entire life at Last Chance Camp, a man’s world where femininity is relegated to wisps of time behind her closed apartment doors. Yet she’s proud of what they’ve built here. Last Chance is all she needs to be happy and no amber-eyed city-boy will convince her otherwise.

Renzo Gallini left New York on his mother’s foolish errand, to ferret out what changes would be needed to turn an Alaskan truck stop into a vacation destination. He finds little of merit in the wide spot in the road until the small community, led by a fiercely loyal tomboy, show him there’s more to Alaska than just ruts in the road. That survival depends not just on good planning, but on each other. And love can be found in places where you least expect it.

Where it’s at:

Barnes & Noble
All Romance eBooks

Coming soon to iBooks and GooglePlay

A sample:

Ren sipped coffee from the restaurant’s porch and watched the tourist group outside dwindle until only Jesse was left. She pulled her hair free of its band and gazed skyward. Then, to his surprise, she began to twirl in slow circles, her body swaying in time to a music he could not hear, her arms outstretched to the meandering ribbons in the sky. Her dark hair, unbound now that her day was done, swirled about her in soft waves.

Ren froze, caught in the hypnotic display of her almost spiritual union with the sky around her. She moved with a fluid grace Ren found more profound and sensual than anything he’d ever experienced. He swore he could feel the thrum of the spirits flowing through his own veins as a web of peace settled around his beating heart.

As he watched, Jess’s soft sounds of delight were joined by another quieter, more elusive sound, almost like a hushed whistle. He smiled, betting that Jess would say the spirits approved.
He waited and watched as Jess danced in their midst until the last light faded from the night sky. He watched until she wandered beyond his sight. Even then, he stood, his coffee forgotten. He felt…bereft with her disappearance. He wanted to call her back.

Somehow, Ren knew that, with tonight’s events, his life had been forever changed. And right now, at this moment, he didn’t mind one bit.