SECRETS AND SINS: RAPHAEL by Naima Simone-Review and Interview with the Author.
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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date April 28, 2014
When Greer Addison finds her future husband in bed with another woman, she runs…right into the arms of dark and dangerous Raphael Marcel. Angry and hurt, she throws caution to the wind and spends a hot night with the sexy security specialist. But when her fiancé is found dead, Greer becomes the main suspect of a crime she can’t remember.
Raphael is stunned and suspicious when Greer shows up on his doorstep claiming she’s carrying his baby. Worse, she’s the target of a stalker bent on making her pay for a murder she doesn’t recall. As Raphael begins to trust Greer, they must race against the clock to uncover a killer…..because Greer’s memory is returning.
REVIEW: SECRETS AND SINS: RAPHAEL is the third instalment in Naima Simone’s contemporary, adult, erotic Secrets and Sins romance series but can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. This is Raphael Marcel and Greer Addison’s story. Raphael is the tatted and pierced bad boy and co-owner of Liberty Security Services and Greer has been targeted by an unknown source.
The focus of the storyline is Greer’s protection and the building relationship between Greer and Raphael. Following a one night stand with the sexy Raphael, Greer walked into a gruesome murder scene-her ex fiancé was dead and she was the prime suspect. Four months later, Greer broke down and hired Raphael as her personal security guard but many things had changed for Greer in the ensuing months and Raphael soon learns that Greer is pregnant and he is the father.
Naima Simone pulls the reader into a storyline of murder, mystery, suspense and romance. The world building continues throughout the series with the inclusion of Raphael’s three brothers in arms (or a family of love) including Malachim, Gabriel and Chay. The four best friends are connected by a past mired in abuse and revenge but throughout their lives they have always had one another’s backs and hearts.
The relationship between Raphael and Greer is a not quite friends to lovers storyline that is overshadowed by numerous death threats and abduction attempts on both Raphael and Greer. Someone wants Greer dead and the list of possibilities continues to grow-from her ex fiancé’s family to someone close, Raphael can’t deny that someone Greer knows has targeted her for destruction. Greer comes from wealth but her dysfunctional family dynamics finds Greer alone and struggling without emotional or financial support.
SECRETS AND SINS: RAPHAEL is a fast paced, intriguing and compelling storyline. The intimacy between our leading couple is sexual, sensual and passionate. As Raphael works to uncover the who and why behind the threats against Greer, Greer will discover that the only people she can depend upon are those that have been there for her from the very start and the man with whom she has fallen in love.
Copy supplied by the publisher
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Naima and welcome to The Reading Café.
Naima: Thank you so much for having me here today!
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
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Naima: Sure thing! I’m a domestically-challenged wife and mother of long-suffering husband and two children. I’m an identical twin—the nicer half—and a preacher’s kid. A Yankee transplant to the south, Vin Diesel’s DL lover, a destroyer of Cherry Cokes and Symphony chocolate bars, and a devout Nalini Singh worshipper. And oh yes! A romance author! ☺
TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?
Naima: 16 Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, St. Elmo’s Fire, Oxford Blues—every 80s movie that made me believe happily-ever-afters aren’t just for pretty, popular, skinny cheerleaders. Made me believe shy, nerdy, curvy, slightly awkward girls like me can have the hot, desired, cool guys they dream of. And how cool is it that I can give them the HEAs? On paper at least. LOL!
TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?
Naima: I love to veg out in front of the television, watching hours of ID Discovery and reading. With a ridiculously huge, you-oughtta-be-ashamed-of-yo’self bag of sour cream ‘n onion potato chips. And yes, I can do all three at the same time.
TRC: RAPHAEL is the latest release in your SECRETS AND SINS adult contemporary series focusing on four friends who share a dark past. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Naima: Absolutely! A socialite spends a hot night with a sexy security specialist after she finds her fiancé in bed with another woman, and now she’s pregnant, suspected of her ex’s death, possessing no memory of the crime, and stalked by a vengeful assailant who desires retribution…and her life. That was my elevator pitch. ☺
TRC: Are any of the characters or the premise based in reality or a combination of reality and fiction?
Naima: Actually, Raphael Marcel, the hero in my newest release SECRETS AND SINS: RAPHAEL, is based on a real person. When I was in the middle of writing the first book in the series, GABRIEL, my father told me about this young guy he knew at the gym where he worked out. The guy was tall, ripped, wore a black skully, had tattoos all over his arms and chest…just looked like a thug. One day, while my father was lifting weights, the FBI came in looking for him—the other guy, not my dad. ☺ Later on, when he arrived to work out, Daddy informed him the Feds had been there asking about him. My father said, the guy grinned and confessed he might be in trouble because of some illegal hacking. I thought that was AWESOME! I mean, come on. Looks like a thug but is freakin’ brilliant? What an interesting character. And sexy, too. I love a skully on a man. LOL! So I went back to my book and completely changed Raphael’s character to reflect this man from the gym.
TRC: If you could virtually cast your four leading men which actors or models would best represent your ideal image?
Naima: Oooh. *rubbing hands together gleefully* I love casting my heroes! Let’s see… For Gabriel, Sebastian Stan. Y’know, the guy who played Bucky Barnes on Captain America? Sigh. For Malachim, Gabriel Aubry—before he got lumped up by Halle Berry’s current man. Henry Cavill for Raphael. And Travis Fimmel for Chay. Yes! An award winning cast here!
TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series?
Naima: There are four books in the series. One book for each friend. I confess, I’m going to miss them when I’m finished. *sniff sniff*
TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular story and series?
Naima: The most time-consuming challenge—but by no means was it a hardship—was researching the city of Boston. The series takes place there, but there are so many neighborhoods that make up this beautiful city. And each one has its own characteristics, personality, and flavor. So I spent a lot of time making sure I was as accurate as possible. Several of the authors I’m friends with live there, so they helped tremendously with my questions. And thank goodness my editor used to live there, too! She corrected me a couple of times. ☺
TRC: How do you keep your plot unpredictable without sacrificing content or believability?
Naima: ID Discovery and Criminal Minds. LOL!! Seriously though, writing romantic suspense allows me to play with some seriously disturbed characters. Imagining their motives, actions, and personalities kept the plot unpredictable…because they are.
TRC: What are your thoughts on writing a series and ending an installment with a major cliff hanger?
Naima: I love writing series, because even if it’s just cameos, I get to continue the story of the previous characters. As well as give the secondary characters, who I’ve come to love just as much, their HEAs. I’m not a huge fan of ending an installment with a major cliff hanger…I think those cliff hangers from Dallas back in the day might’ve traumatized me. Do you know how long I had to wait to find out who shot J.R.??
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Naima: It’s definitely a collaboration. I love characterization, and by the time I start a book, I know them, their history, their issues, their flaws and strengths. So when the book starts to veer off the plotted plan, I trust it because more often than not, that detour will stay true to the character and end up in a great scene that I didn’t see coming. Afterward, I’ll have a celebratory cup of coffee, sit back, and go, daaay-aaam. That’s good. LOL!!
TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writers fail in this endeavor?
Naima: We have to let go and become totally immersed in the character—their fears, joys, and sorrows. No, I may not have ever been abandoned by a parent, but I do know what it feels like to not be accepted, to need affirmation, to have self-esteem issues and doubts. I can tap into that pain, longing, and anger, draw on it, and pour it into the book. It’s about letting go and not being afraid to re-experience emotions that lifted us to the very heights of happiness and then turned around and ripped us to shreds. Our first crush or love. Our first heart break. The first rejection. The loss of a loved one. Even the elation and victory of selling a first book after laboring so hard. I think as long as we’re not afraid to feel, we can write deep emotion.
TRC: Writers Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writers block?
Naima: Boy, do I know how real it is. LOL! Sometimes I just have to power through. An author once told me, You can edit s**t, but you can’t edit nothing. LOL! So true, so true. If I’m not on a deadline, and the words just aren’t coming, I step away from the computer, go take a nap, read a book, or watch ID Discovery. Just step back, gain some perspective and space, and then go back and try again. Usually, it works. Oh! And pray. ☺
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Naima: I am so blessed to have two of the absolute best critique partners evah! Debra Glass and Jessica Lee. Between the two of them, I can always work out a plot or snafu. They are my literary angels! LOL!
TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
Naima: My pastor would be appalled right now, because he had us write this out about a year ago. And, yeah, I didn’t. *grin* Let’s see… Meet Nalini Singh. Take a family vacation overseas—I’ve been out of the country, but not with my husband or kids. And be successful and comfortable in a career I adore.
TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?
Naima: When I was ten, I ate a worm on a dare after my sister, cousins, and I read the book, How to Eat Fried Worms. No, it didn’t taste like chicken…
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Naima: Well, the fourth book in the Secrets and Sins series, CHAYOT, is in editing. Yay! And I’m my current WIP is a contemporary romance involving blackmail, revenge, and a marriage of convenience. And sex. LOL!
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Naima: Yes! Thank you so much for the opportunity to visit with The Reading Café! And thank you to every reader who has supported me with buying my books, funny comments on Facebook, tweets, and emails. Not only has it been a total ride writing for you, it’s been a blast getting to know you! Love you! Huge tackle hug!
Shrimp egg foo yung and hubby’s stuffed mushrooms
Favorite TV Show
Last Movie You Saw
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Awesoooome!!)
Come Up Here by Jason Upton
Dark or Milk Chocolate
Milk…especially if it’s a Symphony chocolate bar!
Secret Celebrity Crush
Can’t use Vin, because he’s not a secret. Umm…Charlize Theron. She’s gorgeous. I love my husband and aaaalll that he has to offer me, but yeah, she’s gaw-geous!
Last Vacation Destination
Cork City, Ireland
Off the top of my head, my pet peeve is when a certain person who shall remain nameless *cough* husband *cough* comes home with the Tupperware said person carried to work and drops it in some obscure place that I don’t find until days later. And by then it’s growing something that looks like it belongs in a Hogwarts laboratory and smells like it could make me invisible to zombies. That’s off the top of my head. Other than that? Smacking. Just put me in a room with a recording of someone smacking and I will tell you my social security number, bra size, and age!
TRC: Thank you Naima for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulation on the release of RAPHAEL: Secrets and Sins. We are
looking forward to reading CHAY’s storyline next.
Naima: Thank you! I’ve had a ball! ☺