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I’m stoked to have Vonnie Davis, an incredible author and friend (and editor) embrace the mania today. If you haven’t checked out any of her work, you’re missing out. She writes heartwarming stories of love and romance, full of characters that stay in your heart and mind long after the last page is turned. Can you tell I’m a fan? Well, I am, and you will be too.

She’s here today to give us a taste of her latest release, MONA LISA’S ROOM. It hits the shelves today, and I can attest to the fact that she’s done it again. By the way, that is one kick ass cover, Vonnie. Crap, there I go again, yadda yadda yadda. I’ll shut up now. Take it away my friend. 😉

I am so thrilled Mac invited me to guest on her blog for my release day of MONA LISA’S ROOM.  This is my first romantic suspense, so I’m more than apprehensive regarding everyone’s response to the story. This is also book one of a trilogy, another first for me.

Calvin took me to Paris five years ago for a couple weeks. We had a grand time walking the streets and seeing the sights. Many years ago, long before we met, Calvin took a sabbatical from teaching and lived in the City of Light for a year, absorbing French culture and writing at sidewalk cafés. He wanted to show me all of his old haunts on the Left Bank. That the picture below is where he lived in ’68-69. His studio apartment was on the second floor.

We walked narrow, cobblestoned streets, or rues, late at night. I was a little nervous. Calvin, on the other hand, was right at home. There were narrow, dimly-lit cafés, doors hanging open with sweet smelling smoke wafting out onto the sidewalks. Jazz clubs were in basements, once catacombs under the city. All the women, it seemed, wore high heels, their feet tattooing a staccato beat on the sidewalk as they hurried by. All these sights, smells and sounds I catalogued, never thinking I’d write about them eventually. I was still existing in my “wanna-be-a-writer-someday” mode. Writing was still a far-off dream.

We were having lunch one day at a café along the Champs Elysées, or the “shanz” as the French call it. Calvin—ever the teacher—was telling me how this wide street was once “the” place to promenade, dressed in one’s finery to make a grand impression. Women were wrapped in furs and dripped with pearls and gems. He talked, too, of how the French cried as the Nazis goose-stepped up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe.

Out of the corner of my eye, the suited waiter brought the man, seated at the tiny table next to us, a shrimp salad. The elegant gentleman asked for an additional plate for his chien, or dog, lying at his Italian-loafered feet. I should interject here that the French love their dogs and take them everywhere, including stores and restaurants. Once the patron had a white china plate for his dog, he forked several shrimp onto it and set it on the sidewalk for his pet’s enjoyment. My gaze slid to the white china plate I was eating off of, and I wondered how many dogs had used it before I.

Paris, there’s no place like it.

As we made our nightly treks through the narrow streets, some still bearing grooves from chariot wheels, we listened to ghosts whisper off ancient buildings of times and peoples gone by. Yet, even my romantic mind sometimes snagged on the dangers of the present—terrorists. What if…

What if an American came to Paris and somehow became entangled in a terrorist attack of some kind? Slowly my mind started churning and Mona Lisa’s Room took shape. As I’ve mentioned, this is book one of a trilogy. Each book has its own romantic couple, yet the same band of terrorists create havoc in all three books. Mona takes place in Paris and a seaside community along the Normandy coast. Book two, Rain is a Love Song, is set in Paris and Budapest. The final book, the one I’m still writing, takes place in Paris, Syria and Berlin and is titled Jazzbeat of Surrender.

Here’s the blurb written as an email from my heroine to her sister:


You won’t believe this email. I’m sitting in a French safe house, eating caviar and drinking champagne with a handsome government agent, Niko Reynard. He’s wearing nothing but silk pajama bottoms and mega doses of sex appeal. I’m in big trouble, little sister. He’s kissed me several times and given me a foot massage that nearly caused spontaneous combustion. I’m feeling strangely virginal compared to the sexual prowess this thirty-year-old man exudes.

When I came to Paris for a bit of adventure, I never imagined I’d foil a bombing attempt, karate-kick two men, and run from terrorists while wearing a new pair of stilettos. I’ve met a German musician, a gay poet from Australia, and the most delightful older French woman.

Don’t worry. I’m safe–the jury’s still out on yummy Niko, though. The more champagne I drink, the less reserved I feel. What an unforgettable fortieth birthday!


This excerpt takes place in the famed Shakespeare and Company, a narrow bookstore along the Siene, across the river from the Notre Dame Cathedral:

“Where are you from?” Niko detected an Aussie accent.

“Australia. Brisbane. I’m here to experience Paris, study art and do a bit of poetry writin’.” Eddie’s eyes were scanning the shelves. “Ah, here we go, mate.” He climbed a stepstool to reach what he was after. Turning, he leaned down to hand the two books to Niko.

Thanks. Sketches of Parisian Rooftops and Sketches of Gardens of Paris.” He quickly scanned through the pages. Aly would love these.

Eddie hailed a greeting at two men, dressed in suits, when they entered and ambled through the narrow store, quietly talking as they climbed the few wooden steps to the next section.

Niko briefly glanced at them before flipping the books over to check the prices. “I’ll take all three.” He waited for the total and paid his bill. “Wrap them please so my lady friend can’t see them. They’re a surprise.”

“Oh, lucky her. I just love…”

Suddenly, screams followed by loud thumping and books falling filled the bookstore. Niko sprinted in the direction of the high-pitched shrieking, gun in hand. He bounded up the steps and rounded the corner. “Aly! Aly! What the hell.”

He skidded to a halt. One of the well-dressed men he saw entering the store earlier was on the floor, books covering most of his body. His companion was staggering, holding his hands over his eye and screaming like a banshee as blood ran down his face.

In the corner stood a pale and trembling Aly, her frightened blue eyes dominated her face. “They…they grabbed me! Said they’d kill me if I resisted. I…I karate kicked them.” She swallowed, obviously trying to gain control. “Kung…kung-fooed the hell out of them, too. And…and…”—she pointed to the screaming man still on his feet—“I think I poked his eye out with one of my stilettos.”

Niko ran a hand down his face, keeping it over his mouth to hide the smile. What a piece of work. He wanted to laugh. He wanted to hug her. And damned if he didn’t want to shake the daylights out of her for stepping out of his sight. Hadn’t he told her to stay with him?

“You okay?” Niko’s gaze swept over her, looking for injuries. He fought the urge to pull her to him and embrace her until her trembling stopped. Frankly, if he were honest, his nerves weren’t the greatest right this moment, either. When he heard her scream earlier, cold fear did a free-fall straight through his system.

Some professional he was. While buying books, Aly had to defend herself. His gaze took in the shambles. By the looks of things, hell if she hadn’t done a damn fine job. “Answer me! Did one of these bastards hurt you? Are you okay?”

“I…I gotta pee.” She was shaking violently. No doubt going into shock. Today’s events finally took their toll.

“I’ll show her to the dunny,” came the Aussie accent behind him. “Ain’t no wonder she’s gotta use the loo. The woman beat the bullocks out of the blokes, she did. Gobsmacked ’em, I’ll wager. Shall I call the police or will you?”

“I am the police. Counterterrorism unit.”

Oh, I love that Nico, Vonnie. *shiver* So, where can we find him, I mean, where can people find Mona Lisa’s Room and you? 



THE WILD ROSE PRESS (paperback) —

AMAZON (paperback) —