Laurel Heights by Denise Moncrief – Review, Interview & Giveaway
A dark cloud of deceit hovers over her family tree…
Left an estate by an aunt she’s never met, Laurel Standridge takes possession of Laurel Heights, hoping it will be the safe haven she needs to recuperate from her ill-fated relationship with Rand Peterson. Secrets long buried rise to the surface when her cousin James is murdered and dumped on the highway just outside the gates of Laurel Heights.
Her past trails her to the mountains of Arkansas…
Caught in an obligation Chase Peterson feels he cannot ignore, he agrees to help his brother Rand take back the property he believes Laurel stole from him, but Chase remains at Laurel Heights after he discovers Laurel took nothing of Rand’s away with her except nightmares, fading bruises, and a broken rib.
Unexplained disturbances shatter her hopes of a normal life…
Are the strange bumps, thumps, and bangs reverberating through the night caused by the murderer of Laurel’s cousin James, someone Rand has sent to exact his revenge, or a disturbed soul existing in another dimension, trying to communicate with the living? Drawn together by the intrigue surrounding Laurel Heights, Chase and Laurel become hopelessly entangled in a relationship that goes deeper than mere physical attraction. Can their love survive the haunting of Laurel Heights?
I personally love a good supernatural tale, providing the story is good. Laurel Heights by Denise Moncrief is among the finest stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. This wonderfully mysterious and spooky tale begins in San Diego, CA and soon leads to Fairview, a small town in Hill County, Arkansas. I won’t tell you the entire incredible story; I hate to spoil a good read. However, here’s the enticing set up.
Laurel Stanbridge is the nice but damaged ex-girlfriend of gangster Rand Peterson. She has unfortunately, learned too much about the life of crime from him, but has not committed any herself, other than her early efforts to ‘protect’ her boyfriend (before she found out what a monster her really was). Rand is a monster and has kept her afraid and unable to run away from him for a few years. He’s abusive and so much more…downright evil.
Rand is now in prison after putting her in the hospital, and Laurel testified against him…he’s not a happy camper! He manipulates his half-brother (who he really doesn’t know well) into finding out where she went and finding a travel drive with files he needs on it, he believes she has it.
His half-brother, Chase Peterson, finds Laurel in Arkansas. She’s inherited a large house and land from an aunt she didn’t even know existed, just when she really needed a place to go. She’s trying to turn the old place into a B&B, but really needs help (locals won’t work at the house). Chase poses as a handyman and takes the job, so he can look for the drive. Long story short, he’s not a bad guy and nothing like his half-brother…yes, he begins to like her and believes she doesn’t know what Rand is talking about.
There are strange things beginning to happen in the house and property…when a dead man is found on the road near the gate of the house…and turns out to be a cousin she didn’t know about the ghost-hunting cops come calling.
This marvelous tale has so much going on it’s really complicated. However, the writing is well done, very expressive and flows eloquently. The author gives you lots of information and lets you ‘feel’ the characters and the events, both past and current.
This is a ‘page turner’. It’s very difficult to put down, so of course I didn’t! Who to trust, who is bad, who is good, WTF is going on? Crazy Aunt Celeste, is she a ghost or is someone gas-lighting Laurel? Will Chase fall for her or her for him? Will someone do the world a favor and kill Rand (please)? Who else is involved? What else could there be, ghost hunting cops? Oops…almost a spoiler!
You’re going to need some ‘serious’ beverage to sit and read this one! Something to crunch on besides your fingernails and plenty of lights turned on! It’s mysterious, suspenseful, romantic, and downright scary! Enjoy everyone, I certainly did!
Reviewed by Georgianna
Copy provided by Promoter
Hi Denise, welcome to The Reading Café. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today. We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.
TRC: Please tell us about yourself
Denise: I’m an accountant by day and a romantic suspense writer by night. I live in Louisiana with my wonderful husband and two terrific children. Some of the things I love…chocolate, coffee, Greek yogurt, roller coasters, reality TV, and Minecraft.
TRC: When and how did you first become interested in writing?
Denise: I’ve been writing off and on since I was a teenager. That was a lot of years ago. I have a very active imagination and I found I was doing a lot of daydreaming about being in different places with different people doing different things. One day I decided all that daydreaming wasn’t exactly…healthy. It certainly wasn’t my reality. Then I got the idea to channel my overactive imagination into writing rather than daydreaming. After all some of my daydreams made great stories. Writing was a result of a much healthier expression of my inner creativity.
TRC: Laurel Heights is the first book in your new Haunted Hearts series. How did you come up with the idea of this series? Can you please tell us the premise of this series, and how many books do you anticipate?
Denise: Several years ago, I became fascinated with the television series Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. I know that many of the episodes (if not all of them) are scripted and contrived, but the shows sparked my interest in paranormal investigation.
I wrote the rough drafts of the first three books in the series eight or nine years ago as romantic suspense, but I’ve always felt something was missing. Another dynamic. I wanted to add something more to the story lines than romantic suspense. When I started revising them for publication about six months ago, the idea of adding a paranormal element just kind of came to me. Maybe because I had become fascinated with paranormal investigation or maybe because I was reading Heather Graham’s Krewe of Hunters book series.
The central character in the series is Mitchell Grayson (Gray), a county Sheriff’s deputy and paranormal investigator. Even though he is not a main character in any of the books except the second one, he is a central character in the series. Each book has three elements that spin and twist until they come together at the conclusion of the book. A romantic element, a suspense element, and a paranormal element. All of the books in the series will have a haunting that Grayson will investigate. I have already begun revisions on the second book in the series, Victoria House, with the concept in mind for revising the third book, Ashley Ridge. I plan to continue the series as long as I can imagine new situations for Gray to investigate. I’d like to keep the series going for a least an additional three or four books beyond what I’ve already drafted.
TRC: Can you please give us a brief description of Laurel Heights?
Denise: Laurel Standridge seeks refuge from her ill-fated relationship with Rand Peterson, so she moves into her aunt’s old house at Laurel House. But there is no peace for her there. Her family’s dark past surfaces and causes her trouble, Rand sends his brother Chase to exact his revenge on her, and unexplained disturbances in the middle of the night rob her of the rest she desperately craves. Drawn together by the intrigue surrounding Laurel Heights, Chase and Laurel become hopelessly entangled in a relationship that goes deeper than lust. Can their love survive the haunting of Laurel Heights?
TRC: Can you give us a brief description of your Colorado series? Twin Rivers will be the third book in that series.
Denise: The Colorado series is a set of interconnected books that are not sequels of one another. The books cover the same timeline, a short period of time when the actions of one man caused chaos in three women’s lives. Events that are common to all three books are seen through the perspective of each book’s heroine. In romantic suspense, there must be a villain. The same villain threatened the future happiness of all three heroines.
TRC: What are the challenges or difficulties that you found in your writing career?
Denise: My biggest challenge is that I have more ideas for stories than I have time to write. Once a writer types The End on a manuscript, the work really begins. Books do not sell themselves. Promotion and marketing are big time investments. After all, a writer wants readers more than anything. And to gain readers, a writer must also be an entrepreneur, a sales person, and a publicist. With all that added activity, sometimes finding time to write is difficult. And if I can’t write, I might as well not breathe. Writing is more than a hobby or a career for me. It is my passion.
TRC: You write Romance, Suspense, and Paranormal. Do you have a preference as to which genre you enjoy writing the most? Have you ever thought about writing another genre?
Denise: Paranormal is the newest genre in my catalog, and I’ve layered it on top of romantic suspense, working the three elements into a tightly twisted thread running throughout the plotline. I’ve found that I can’t write straight up romance without allowing the suspense to creep into the plot. Suspense is an addiction. I have to add that little bit of action or intrigue. An element of danger. The building of tension in the plot until there’s an ah-ha moment. When the suspense comes to full crescendo. I believe that writing good romance involves an element of suspense. When will the hero and heroine discover they are meant for one another? There is a definite ah-ha moment in a well-written romance plot line. No, I’ve never even considered writing anything else but romantic suspense. For me, the two elements, when done right, work together beautifully when both plotlines merge into one satisfying, suspense-filled moment.
TRC: What are you currently working on?
Denise: My current work in progress is the second book in the Haunted Hearts series. I’m about 60% through with my revisions. I’m very excited about this series, because it brings together all the elements of writing that I love the most.
TRC: What is your writing process? Do you have a favorite place or time you like to write?
Denise: I’ve always been a “pantser”. I usually know where I want to begin a plot line and where I want to end it. In the middle, I allow my characters to tell me how to get between the beginning and the end. But for my current work in progress, I’ve done some outlining and have found it’s kept me focused better. I don’t know if I will continue to outline, but at least for this book, it’s been useful.
My favorite place to write is on my sofa. Reclining with my MacBook on my knees, a cup of coffee nearby on the cocktail table, and my feet propped on the sofa arm. Actually, that’s where I’m at while I’m answering these questions. What time of day? Whenever I can squeeze it in, but generally I don’t get going good until about nine o-clock at night when things have settled down in my house. Then I can get about two hours of writing in before I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.
TRC: Is there a book or author that gave you the inspiration to write?
Denise: No one book or author in particular. More like a genre of books inspired me to write. I love delicious romance mixed with fast-paced suspense. I’ve enjoyed books by Mary Higgins Clark, Heather Graham, Karen White, and of course, classic romantic suspense writers like Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca grabbed my attention at an early age. No one writer has made me say, “I want to write like that.” At the risk of sounding vain, I want to be my own voice. I don’t want to emulate anyone else.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Denise: Thank you for hosting me on The Reading Café.
FAVORITE FOOD: Tex-Mex (Didn’t have to think about that one at all.)
FAVORITE DESSERT: Cheese Cake
MILK OR DARK CHOCOLATE: Dark
FAVORITE LITERARY CHARACTER (not your own): Scarlett O’Hara. My favorite line of all time is the opening line of Gone With the Wind. “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Criminal Minds
LAST MOVIE YOU SAW: Catching Fire
DOG OR CAT: Dog
TRC: Thank you, Denise for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes you the best of luck with Laurel Heights.
Denise: Thank you!
Suspense, She Writes
Where the road to happily ever after takes a suspenseful detour. Fast paced twists and turns that keep you turning the pages. Romantic happily ever after moments that take your breath away. Paranormal romantic suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Want to know a little bit more about Denise? She’s a Southern girl who has lived in Louisiana all her life, and yes, she has a drawl. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children, who not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her writing passion. Besides writing romantic suspense, she enjoys traveling, reading, and scrapbooking
Accounting is a skill she has learned to earn a little money to support her writing habit. She wrote her first story when she was a teen, seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she had read. She’s been writing off and on ever since, and with more than a few full-length manuscripts already completed, she has no desire to slow down.
Denise is offering an e-copy of the winner’s choice of one of her books (check her site for the list) to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.
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7. Giveaway is open Internationally
8 Giveaway runs from September 28- October 3, 2014