I’m taking our tagline’s advice today and “breaking rules” to share my thoughts on a romantic suspense novel (can’t help it; it’s also “stuffed full of awesome” as our tagline goes). It’s a book by our very own Suzanne Johnson, written under her pen name Susannah Sandlin.
Step aside, Indiana Jones, there’s a new adventure in town…
Action, adventure, treasure hunting, love, Susannah Sandlin’s Lovely, Dark, and Deep has all that…and a big dog, too. But let’s start at the beginning.
The Collectors (aka C7) are a group of wealthy, powerful men obsessed with obtaining rare treasures using any means necessary. This includes forcing innocent people, such as our heroine — biologist and gator wrangler Gillian — to play the group’s twisted “game.” The story’s C7 villain, a politician with too much money and zero sense of decency, threatens Gillian’s family and leaves her no choice but to team up with down-on-his-luck professional diver Shane to acquire a lost Knights Templar treasure: a cross, allegedly stolen by Gillian’s ancestor and lost when the ship sunk at sea off the coast of Canada.
What follows is one heck of an enjoyable adventure ride as Gillian and Shane assemble their treasure hunting team while having their every step monitored by the villain’s minions. And those henchmen? They do more than watch. No spoilers here, but I’ll say the hits keep coming and coming, creating oodles of addictive tension in the story. Yes, folks, it’s a high stakes game.
While the action is superb from start to finish, it’s Sandlin’s crisp writing style, tight plot (with clever twists), lush and vivid settings (both in and out of the water), and cast of unique characters that truly put this story in the 5-star category. Gillian is a tough, smart, kindhearted heroine who captures and relocates alligators. You don’t get much more unique than that! Hero Shane is wonderfully flawed with a heart of gold, endearing in his insecurity (haunted by a past diving incident). It was a pleasure to watch these two overcome their pasts, and work hard to solve their current dilemma while also falling in love. The secondary characters, too, make their mark on the story, such as Shane’s best pal Jagger, a Rolling Stones fanatic with a penchant for singing anytime, anywhere. And let’s not forget Tank, Gillian’s dog: the big beast hates Shane and provides some fun, laugh-out-loud moments for the reader.
What is your name? Do you have a nickname?
Jagger: Cal Mackie, aka Jagger. Not many people even know my real name is Calvin Mackie Jr., and, well, let’s keep it that way. Since I’m always singing Rolling Stones songs—and really well, too—everyone calls me Jagger.
Shane: I can’t believe you just put your name out on a blog, CAL. Now everybody’ll know it. I’m Shane Burke, and I don’t have a nickname.
Jagger: Only popular people have nicknames.
Shane: Shove it, Calvin.
Excerpt – Gillian and Shane’s First Meet
Here’s a taste of Sandlin’s writing and a sneak peek at Gillian and Shane’s first encounter.
Lovely, Dark, and Deep
The Collectors, Book 1
by Susannah Sandlin
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Heat level: moderate; language; violence
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Number of pages: 320
Word Count: 95,000
From award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes a heart-pounding romantic thriller that pits a quick-witted scientist and a scarred ex–combat diver against a ruthless billionaire treasure hunter with ties to the White House.
When biologist Gillian Campbell makes an offhand comment about a family curse during a TV interview, she has no idea what her words will set in motion. Within days, Gillian finds herself at the mercy of a member of the C7, a secretive international group of power brokers with a dangerous game: competing to find the world’s most elusive treasures, no matter the cost, in money or in lives.
To save her family, Gillian teams up with Shane Burke, a former elite diver who’s lost his way, navigating the brutal “death coast” of the North Atlantic to find what the collector seeks: the legendary Ruby Cross of the Knights Templars, stolen by Gillian’s ancestor and lost at sea four hundred years ago.