Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Interview With the Hero from Nancy Weeks's Romantic Suspense, IN THE SHADOW OF EVIL

Detective Jared McNeil talks about his role in Nancy C. Weeks’s romantic suspense, In the Shadow of Evil from Crimson Romance:

I'm so excited to have the chance to interview Detective Jared McNeil from my good friend, Nancy C. Weeks's novel, In the Shadow of Evil today.  Look forward to seeing what you all have to ask him today.

Loni Lynne [I wish I had a photo of Jared McNeil I could share, but he’s camera shy. Here is a brief description for you to envision as you read his interview.

Lieutenant Jared McNeil carries himself like a soldier, stands proud with muscular shoulders, chest, and a lean waist. He is a good six foot two inches tall and has the most gorgeous, piercing cobalt blue eyes and short, wavy brown hair. Today, he’s wearing a dark, navy blue sports coat with a pair of black denim jeans. He’s the kind of man that doesn’t like to draw attention to himself.  Who can’t check this guy out?]

 Loni Lynne: Thank you for being here on my blog today, Detective McNeil. You don’t look very comfortable. Is there anything I can do to make this easier on you?

Jared: Please call me Jared. [He runs a hand through his hair then wipes his palm on his slacks.] I’m not comfortable talking about myself or the job. But, Nancy and Jennie asked me to be here so here I am.

Loni Lynne: I promise to make this as painless as possible. If you don’t feel comfortable with a question, just let me know and I’ll move on. [He nods but I can tell he doesn’t believe me.] So, In the Shadow of Evil, you play the hero, right?

Jared: Yes, but if there is a hero to this story it’s Jennie, not me.

Loni Lynne: Would you like to explain that statement? I know who Jennie is but our readers may not. Who is Jennie to you?

Jared:  Jennie McKenzie McNeil is the bravest woman I have ever known. She is my hero― my everything.  You might refer to her as my love interest. I can tell you right now that label doesn’t even come close to doing Jennie justice.

Loni Lynne: I agree with you, Jared. Jennie McKenzie is an amazing woman. But before we get to her, can you tell us a little about yourself.

Jared: I’m thirty-one years old and a detective with the Maryland’s Special Crime Unit.

Loni Lynne: (Smiling) And…

Jared:  What do you want to know about me?

Loni Lynne:  Why don’t you tell us about your family?

Jared:  [A low groan escapes from the back of his throat]

I’m the oldest son of a large family.  My father is Thomas McNeil and he’s a retired police detective. My mom, Mary, is a surgeon, but these days, she only works part-time.   I have a twin brother named Noah. Most people can’t tell us apart and we have spent a lifetime making use of that little advantage. Mac, or Luke McNeil is the next sibling and he lives in Austin, Texas. Mac is a special agent for the FBI as is my youngest brother, Jason. Jason’s wife, Sarah now teaches physics at the University of Texas when she is not working as a consultant to the FBI. She is this crazy math genius, smart as hell. Don’t have a clue what she sees in Jason. My sister, Emma is Jason’s twin. She is married to Jason’s childhood best friend, Aiden and has two six year old twin boys, David and Ethan.

Loni Lynne: I have heard how similar you and Noah are to each other. Has Jennie ever had trouble telling you apart? Has she ever kissed the wrong brother?

JaredHELL NO! [He squirms a little in his seat] Sorry. Jennie can tell me apart from Noah. In fact, she doesn’t think Noah and I look anything alike.

 Loni Lynne: So lets talk about Jennie. How did you two meet?

Jared: [His eyes darken from a deep blue to almost black and he tenses up.]
I met Jennie while on my first undercover assignment. I was working my way up the chain in Elías Mendoza’s organization. She was only sixteen at the time. Her foster brother, Nick and her were living with Mendoza.

Loni Lynne: How in the world did Jennie come to live with a man like Mendoza?

Jared:  I really can’t go into that. Nancy asked me not to give out any spoilers from In the Shadow of Evil. Your readers will have to read that part of the story which I think is in chapter one. What I can tell you is that it was my job to not only gather information about Mendoza, but to protect Jennie and Nick. I failed miserably and will never forgive myself for underestimating Mendoza.

Loni Lynne: You’re being too hard on yourself, Jared. I know what incident you are not talking about and that was not your fault. [I raise my hand to keep him from arguing with me] Can you talk about Mendoza?

Jared: The only thing I’m willing to say about that basta … Elías Mendoza is that I hate him with every fiber of my being.He will never come near Jennie again.

Loni Lynne: I think we need to return this interview onto something a little more pleasant. Tell us how you see Jennie.

Jared: [His eyes lit up and his tense features relax instantly] What do your readers want to know about my wife? She told me not to whole back.

Loni Lynne: That was very kind of her. [Ladies and gents, the tough Jared McNeil is actually blushing]

Jared:  Jennie is my life, my heart. I’m nothing without her.

[His focus is on the wall above me]

Jennie isn’t like anyone I have ever met. She is more than just beautiful and sexy as hell. Her strength comes from a spiritual sourced deep within her. She is an amazing teacher too. I’ve seen her in action and her fifth grade students are just damn lucky to have her. I guess you just have to meet her for yourself to know what I’m talking about.

Loni Lynne:  You and Jennie really had a hard time finding your way to each other. Why?

Jared:  I’m just stupid like that. I was waiting for everything to be just right. I almost lost her.

Loni Lynne:  You had a very unusual wedding? Would you tell us about it?

Jared: Nancy would kill me if I told you about our wedding. But what I can tell you is that it was an experience I will never forget. The evening Jennie and I married changed how I look at the world and how I see myself. There are no words to explain what happen, but the man I was when I walked into St. Luke’s wasn’t the man who walked out.

Loni Lynne: Can you elaborate a little on what changed you so dramatically?

Jared: When you are on the job, you see the worst mankind has to offer. Your days are surrounded by men and women like Mendoza and it affects you, warps your soul until you can see only the evil that exist.  That all changed the evening I married Jennie McKenzie. [His gaze drops to his feet. He is silent for a long time before he faces me again.] There are mysteries in life that can’t be explained.  What happened in the church… all I can say is that my life has been altered for the better because I was smart enough to fall madly in love with Jennifer Marie McKenzie.

Loni Lynne: I understand that Jennie is also the youth choir director for St. Luke’s Catholic Church. She’s a busy woman. How do you two find time together with such demanding jobs?

Jared: Now _, you should know from reading In the Shadow of Evilthat nothing gets in my way when I want to be with Jennie.

Loni Lynne: [Ladies and gents, there is no way I can describe the hungry look in Jared’s eyes, but I almost swallowed my tongue. LOL]

How do you like having a priest as Jennie’s best friend? Do you find yourself watching what you say in front of Father Anthony?

Jared:   Father Anthony is a great guy. As for watching what I say in front of him, it just isn’t necessary. The man was a Special Forces soldier for years before entering the priesthood. There isn’t anything he hasn’t said, done or heard before.

Loni Lynne: Would you mind telling us a little about him? Father Anthony sounds like a fascinating person.

Jared: I think if you want to know Father Anthony’s story, you are going to have to invite him on your blog. His story is his to tell.

Loni Lynne I guess that’s fair. I see you glancing at your watch. I know we are running out of time so just one more question.

Jared:  Ask away.

Loni Lynne: You and Jennie are now married, living your happy-ever-after. What’s next for the two of you?

Jared:  According to Jennie’s dear friend and landlord, Mrs. Cunningham, we can expect babies, lots of babies. And before you ask, I can’t wait to hold the children Jennie gives me in my arms. [He stands and holds out his hand.] _,  it was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for having me here today. I have left a short excerpt for your readers to enjoy. I hope they enjoy our story.

Blurb for In the Shadow of Evil:

Elías Mendoza’s personal vendetta against the McKenzie family rests on Jennie’s shoulders. As she cradles the bullet ridden body of her ten-year old student, she knows Mendoza is responsible. Quinton’s death is a message. Jennie’s life belongs to only Mendoza. But she has her own message. No one else dies. Her life means nothing as long as Mendoza is free.
Jared McNeil has spent ten years with Maryland’s Special Crime Unit and very little rattles him. When the haunted teenager he once tried to protect walks into his precinct now a beautiful woman, he wants nothing more than to wrap her in his arms and never let her go. But he soon realizes she is there only to settle her debts before she goes after his nemesis, Mendoza. Jared’s vow to stay away from Jennie until the task force destroys Mendoza now means nothing.

What Jared and Jennie don't understand is there are forces at play greater than the evil shadowing them, but time is running out. United, they can do anything. Alone, they will fail.

An excerpt from In the Shadow of Evil that Jared brought with him. Enjoy!

Jared rested his head against the column and listened to the hauntingly sad music coming from the piano. As Jennie’s fingers waltzed across the keyboard, a tear slid down her cheek. Whatever gut-wrenching pain she was trying to rid herself of through the music, it wasn’t working. Every note echoed what only could be a deep hurt—the kind of hurt that dug itself into the darkest crevasses of the heart. Just listening to her pain ate away at him. What the hell had he missed that would cause this kind of grief?
Jared stepped out of the shadow and waited for her to notice him. It didn’t take long before her fingers froze and she sought him out. “Jared,” she whispered.
He took another step closer. “Hey, Jennie.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.” He strolled up the side aisle, keeping as much in the shadows as he could. The one question he wanted to ask all day came stumbling out of his mouth. “How could you just run off like that, Jennie? You know Noah. He’s all bark. He never would have . . .”
“You shouldn’t be here.” Her expressive, deep hazel eyes widened as she searched the sanctuary. When Jennie turned and faced him, her features were clouded with fear.
Jared straightened his stance and his hand went to his weapon. “Who else is here?”
“No one, except Father Anthony.”
“Why are you so spooked? Hell, Jennie, you look like you are about to jump out of your skin.”
Jennie stood and lowered the piano lid over the keys. “It’s just late. I didn’t expect anyone to be here. You just startled me . . .”
Damn. What the hell is going on?
“I think that is the first lie you ever told me.” Jared took several steps, closing the space between them. Even in the dim light he could tell his words affected her. He reached for her hands clutched in front of her. His fingers rubbed against several layers of gauze wrapped around her left palm. He lifted it so he could get a better look. He couldn’t see what was under the bandage, but the skin was red, and blisters formed on each joint. “What the hell? You didn’t have this earlier.”
She yanked her hand free. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”
“That’s two lies.” Jared shook his head. “And this,” he said, holding up her hand, “is definitely something. How did it happen?”
In all the years they have known each other, Jennie never tried to close herself off from him. In fact, he teased often that her eyes gave away exactly what she was thinking. But not tonight. She was definitely hiding something.
Where was the smile that lightened his mood, or the hug that stayed with him for hours? Their friendship was solid. She was one of the few people with whom he felt completely comfortable. He didn’t think there was anything he didn’t know about her.
So what had he missed? Could the distance he placed between them have finally led her to stop believing in him? The thought was crushing.
“Why did you come to the station today?”
“I left you a note.”
Jared edged in close enough that her citrus and jasmine scent surrounded him. She didn’t back away but she kept her gaze on the floor. “Since when do you need to leave a note? Why didn’t you just let me know you were coming? I’m would have been there to meet you.”
Jennie brushed a hand through her auburn shoulder length hair while her eyes darted everywhere but at him. So many emotions passed across her features—desperation, guilt, sadness.
With the tip of his finger, he lifted her face. “Jennie, what’s wrong?”
“Read the note, Jared. It’s all in there,” she replied in a hushed whisper.
It took everything in him to keep from blaring out where she could stuff the damn note. “You could always talk to me before. What’s changed?” He cupped her face with both of his hands. His thumb caressed the tender skin along her jaw. “I’m here, Jennie. Please don’t shut me out.”
“You’re not here, Jared. I can’t . . . won’t—”
“Won’t what, Jennie? Count on me, trust me?”


Nancy C. Weeks has loved happy-ever-after romances since she was in her early teens. While still in college, she met and married her hero and spent the next several years honeymooning and working overseas. Today, she lives in suburban Maryland with her husband of more than thirty years. Her two children are in college and she spends her days out on her deck writing as the local bird population keeps her company. She loves to hear from her readers.
Link where you can find out more about Nancy C. Weeks:

Buy links for In the Shadow of Evil and In the Shadow of Greed