I’m happy to have Luanna Stewart here with us today to talk about her book Portrait of a Girl!
When her wealthy art dealer father died, Heather James was expecting a fortune. Instead, his bank account was empty and Heather’s working in a bakery, wondering exactly what happened to her father’s millions…until someone tries to kill her.
Tony Simons is on the trail of an art theft cold case that’s practically giving him frostbite. He’s hoping that by sticking close to Heather—the daughter of his deceased prime suspect—he’ll find the answers he needs. Instead, he’s finding himself distracted by a gorgeous woman who drives him crazy in every way imaginable…
Now Tony’s in serious trouble. Even if Heather can’t—or won’t—tell him where the stolen paintings and money are, she may well have stolen his heart.
And now someone wants her dead…
Excerpt from Portrait of a Girl
She cleared her throat and forged ahead. “I was sure I had everything when I moved into the gatehouse, but I’m missing some—papers. I thought perhaps there were more boxes in the basement. I’d planned to take a quick peek and be out of there before you got home, and you’d never have to know. Since it upsets you so much. For some strange reason.”
Tony leaned across the table, an intense gleam in his eye. “And did you find what you were looking for?”
“Pfft, no. There’s nothing down there except spiders and dust. So like I said, sorry to bother you.” She rose from her chair.
His hand clasped her wrist.
“What are you doing?” she gasped, pulling against his grip.
“You must have heard me putting that lock on the outside door. I made plenty of noise. Why didn’t you call out?”
She continued to tug and twist but it was no use. He was too strong. His hand completely circled her wrist. She was alone in the house with a man who could overpower her and do whatever he wanted. If she screamed, no one would hear. All the questions she had about who he really was came stampeding into her consciousness. She was seriously in danger of peeing her pants.
“I knew you’d be upset, and I was trying to think of another way out.” Keep talking and think of a way to get out of this mess.
“How did that work for you?” His hold relaxed, and he commenced rubbing his thumb against the inside of her wrist.
That’s where the shiver started. It traveled along her arm and settled low in her belly.
No, no, no, she was not getting turned on. She really, really needed to get out of this house. Now.
“Not—not so good.”
He raised an eyebrow and tugged lightly on her arm, moving her slowly around the table to stand directly in front of him.
Standing over him gave her an advantage. She wished she knew how to do one of those flying karate kicks. But she didn’t. And besides, she was afraid it would hurt him.
“Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?” He continued his light caress, his dark eyes growing darker. He grinned, a small dimple creasing his cheek, right next to his mouth. His full, classically shaped lips surrounded by a day’s growth of dark beard parted to reveal a gleam of white teeth. She wanted to tell him everything, every worry, every question. Maybe he could make sense of it, or at least offer some comfort.
The cut on his cheek from the cemetery reminded her that too much weird stuff had been happening. Ever since she arrived in Portland.
Panic tightened her chest.
No, the weird stuff started when Tony moved into the big house.
Get to know Tony
Luanna opens office door and invites in Tony Simons, lead investigator with International Securities Investigations.
(Tony slouches in a chair) I can give you five minutes, tops.
L: What’s the rush?
I have a world to save. (sexy grin) But seriously, I have a report to write before I can go home to my beautiful fiancé.
L: Okay, just a few questions then. (scans her notes) Why did you get into the business you’re in?
I went to college to learn how to be an FBI profiler, majored in criminal law and psychology. Did an internship one summer in the fraud department at a big insurance company and was assigned to track down some stolen artwork. I was hooked.
L: That’s better than the FBI?
I wouldn’t say better, but I love the puzzle aspect, digging into people’s histories, following clues no matter how inconsequential. Finding the missing clue that leads to the treasure is the biggest high.
L: Can you share what you’re working on right now?
Nope. Top secret. But we’re really close to finding the scum who raided an art gallery about twenty years ago.
L: How come it’s taken this long to find them? Don’t thieves sell the stuff and get caught that way?
(shakes head and chuckles) We’re dealing with a whole other class of people here. There are collectors who want something just to own it. It sits in a bank vault or a personal safe and is never seen. But they get off on owning it. (shrugs) The world is full of weird characters. (checks watch and stands) Anything else?
L: Hey, that wasn’t five minutes!
(flashes another sexy grin and winks) Can’t keep my lady waiting.
L: Fine, just a few quickies. What’s your favourite colour?
L: What kind of car do you drive?
L: Where are you going on your honeymoon?
(opens door) Top secret. (winks and strides down the hall)
L: (watches his fine butt until he turns a corner)
Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother’s stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna now lives in Maine with her dear husband, two college boys, and two cats. When she’s not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious.
Writing under the pen name Grace Hood, she has two novellas published with The Wild Rose Press. She is excited to have a book published under her own name with Entangled Publishing.