Concierge (Black Raven #3) by Stella Barcelona-Review, Interview & Giveaway
Black Raven #3
by Stella Barcelona
Release Date: September 27, 2017
Genre: adult ,contemporary, suspense
Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N /
About the book:
The Concierge delivers anything…for a price.
A provider in the underworld of human trafficking, the Concierge fills deviant orders of an exclusive clientele with inventory collected from people who live on the streets. As client requests are delivered, a personal obsession with New Orleans artist Andi Hutchenson festers…until the predator’s quest is possession..
Andi Hutchenson lives in a world of fear-fueled shadows. Two and a half years ago, Andi was kidnapped, tortured, and left for dead. Since then, crippling fear has ruled her life. Round the clock security enables her to leave her French Quarter home to paint the world around her, but Andi’s past is about to collide with her lonely present.
Gabe Hernandez believes his client is safe…but she isn’t. Protecting Andi is a given, but Black Raven Agent Gabe Hernandez is captivated by her and wants to entice her back to the land of the living. Yet with each tug on the lifeline he offers, Gabe is pulled deeper into Andi’s world, where the dividing line between imagined horrors and real-life demons is whisper thin.
Concierge begins with Andi Hutchenson believing that she’s seen a young woman kidnapped in broad daylight in the French Quarter, not far from her home. The Black Raven agents assigned to her detail saw nothing. Which causes Andi more stress because she doesn’t know if the agents are lacking or if she’s having hallucinations. Due to the fact that Andi is best friends with one of Black Raven’s founding partners, who still feels somewhat responsible for what happened to Andi, she is a high priority client. When she fires yet another agent, they send in Gabe Hernandez.
Agent Hernandez is known for his quick wit and his charm, but even more for his almost empathic abilities. Once he makes the scene, it doesn’t take too long for him to ascertain that there is more to Andi than meets the eye. She has basically shut herself off from society, the same society that she once enjoyed, almost to the extreme. But what makes her stand out for Gabe, other than being a beyond gifted artist, is the way she sees herself….broken. That is NOT what he sees. He sees a beautiful, determined woman who is doing her best to navigate through what’s happened to her and try and make herself whole again. He makes it his mission to get her see to herself the way he does: unstoppable.
Andi tries to resist Gabe’s charm. She’s never even known another agent’s name. He invades her space, almost daring her to fire him, which she wants to do, but for some reason can’t. She eventually starts to feel something she hasn’t felt for two and a half years….safe. Just as Gabe starts to convince her that he’s the real deal, and so is she, evil rears its ugly head and upsets the calm they’ve been striving for. As Gabe and almost the entire Black Raven team race against the clock to save Andi, all he can do is pray that she’s still alive.
Concierge is an intense story from beginning to end. Your heart breaks for Andi and what she’s endured. It will also beat with pride as she is determined to make it out the other side of what happened to her. Yes, there are times that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to do it. Yes, there are times that she second guesses all aspects of her life that led up to her being kidnapped and tortured. Gabe is just what she needed. Of course, he’s charming and all of that, but it’s his empathic side that allows him to see Andi in a way that she doesn’t even see herself. All she has to do is believe in herself and in his steadfast support. Easier said than done when you’ve been through what she’s been through.
I have to say that there are a couple of parts of this book that are very dark. One particular scene in the beginning almost had me putting the book down, but I will say that I’m glad I didn’t. The Concierge (character) is a twisted, perverse being and Barcelona held nothing back in her portrayal of that character. Thankfully, there are only a few scenes where we are subjected to the Concierge’s whims. With all of that said, this book is by far my favorite in the series, and that’s saying a lot. Intense really isn’t a good enough word to describe it, but that’s what I’m going with. There is also not a problem reading this as a standalone. If you’re a fan of fast paced thrillers with phenomenal leads, sizzling romance and awesome secondary characters, you will never go wrong with one of Barcelona’s stories. I cannot wait for the next installment. Well done, Stella Barcelona! Very, very well done!!! (p.s. Stella Barcelona, please tell me Ragno’s story is coming soon!!!!)
Reading Order and Previous Reviews
Copy supplied for review
Reviewed by Vickie M.
TRC: Hi Stella and welcome back to The Reading Café.
Stella: Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s great to be here.
TRC: Congratulations on the release of CONCIERGE, the third book in your BLACK RAVEN series.
Stella: Thank you!
TRC: We would like to start with some background information for anyone who doesn’t know Stella Barcelona. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Follow Stella: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Stella: I write romantic thrillers. When I’m not writing, I’m a lawyer. I work for a court in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve lived in and around New Orleans my entire life. During one very special time in my past, I lived in an apartment in the heart of the French Quarter, in Jackson Square. I’m also a dog lover, and I have two adorable papillons, who appear occasionally on my website and my Facebook page.
TRC: What has been happening in your life since last we spoke?
Stella: I’ve been busy writing! As you know, Deceived was published in 2014. Since then, I released Shadows and Jigsaw, and most recently I released Concierge.
I’ve also revamped my website, stellabarcelona.com. I write blogs from time to time, some book related, some not. I’ve included book club discussion questions on my website for each of my novels; the discussion questions give insight regarding themes that intrigued me as I wrote each novel. I also have an “Ask Stella” blog, where people ask questions that I answer on my site. I love to hear from readers, so please visit my website and say hello!
TRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of CONCIERGE and THE BLACK RAVEN series?
Stella: “Black Raven” is shorthand for a continuing character in my novels, the security agency Black Raven Private Security Contractors. Each story that I write in the Black Raven series involves a high-stakes job for one or more agents.
In Concierge, A Black Raven Novel, after spending time in far away places in Shadows and Jigsaw, the action returns to New Orleans, Louisiana. The story involves a private security detail provided by Black Raven for an artist, where the job quickly goes awry in unexpected ways.
Concierge is set in and around a neighborhood where I once lived—the French Quarter. In the story, I provide a local’s glimpse of the chaos that ensues in the days leading to Fat Tuesday. It’s a thriller, where the action takes place along Royal Street, Frenchmen Street, Esplanade Avenue, and beyond.
Twists and turns will take the reader along French Quarter streets, into a world where peril ensnares vulnerable people who make the streets their home. In particular, a young musician who goes by the name “Pic” plays an important role in Concierge. Pic, a runaway who lives on the streets, was inspired by people I encountered while living in the Pontalba Apartments, in Jackson Square.
TRC: What kind of research/plotting do you do, and how long do you spend researching /plotting before beginning a book?
Stella: Although I spend significant pre-writing time conceptualizing each story, the time that I spend researching and plotting varies with each book.
In the pre-writing time, I usually develop the parameters of the Black Raven job that will drive the story. From there, I research thematic elements. My research results tend to drive some of the plot points. I add character development into the mix, and then I research the setting.
I develop points for chapters and scenes and lay everything out on a plot board, following, somewhat loosely, the method of plotting by color I learned from fellow author, and friend, Cherry Adair. I tend to rearrange everything for a while and obsess even more about various plot points and characterization. When I’m really, really tired of plotting, I start writing.
TRC: How do you select the names for your characters?
Stella: Names are difficult! I’m somewhat random with name selection in the beginning, then have to change the names midway through the story. For example, when writing Jigsaw I realized I had several characters with names that started with an “M.” It was confusing, so I had to come up with new names. It wasn’t fun, because I had been working on the story for months. It was hard to think of the characters with their new names.
TRC: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
Stella: If anything, it made me more determined to be a productive author. My goal was never to simply write one book and then stop. My goal has always been to be a storyteller. Since stories always play in my mind, I have more than one story to tell. Finding readers for Deceived, my first novel, and each subsequent novel, has made the entire process a worthwhile, rewarding endeavor.
TRC: What was your hardest scene –ever-to write?
Stella: There are a few that come to mind, BUT, the hardest, by far, was one particular bridge scene in Jigsaw. I’m trying not to give too much away- but the scene takes place in Paris, on the Pont Neuf. The hero, Zeus Hernandez, has to think and act fast to stop an explosion. The scene is short, but it took me forever to write. To this day, I can’t explain why it was so difficult for me.
TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. Many authors are re-issuing their previously erotic story lines with ‘cleaner’ versions without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. What do you believe has precipitated this move or change in direction?
Stella: Though my novels have a sensual element, I don’t consider myself an erotica author. I can’t really speculate on the reasons why erotica authors may be re-issuing their books with ‘cleaner’ versions. It sounds interesting, though, and it makes me wonder whether the reverse would work as well. Should authors of non-erotic fiction re-issue their books with more erotic scenes set within?
TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?
Stella: I believe covers are extremely important, but truly, I think the quality of the story told within is even more important than the cover. Nevertheless, because of the importance of having covers that capture the imagination of readers, I tend to be extremely selective regarding cover elements. Recently, I wrote a blog about the cover of Concierge on my website. The blog, entitled “Musings…On the Cover of Concierge,” gives a bit of insight as to the depth of my obsession with covers.
TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?
Stella: Yes! I love to listen to music as I write. The louder it is, the better! It’s difficult to explain why music facilitates my writing, but I think the beat translates to story pacing. Fast paced songs remind me to incorporate action, while slower, more emotional songs remind me to reveal what my characters are feeling.
TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?
Stella: One misconception is that authors always feel inspired to write. In reality, at least for me, getting from the beginning to the end of a reader-worthy story is hard work that requires extreme diligence and self-discipline.
Also, I’m not sure the creative process will ever become easy, even though writing is something I love to do. I equate the difficulty that comes with producing a novel with the sort of difficulty I experienced in my third and final year of law school. The classes in that third year weren’t magically easier just because I had been through two years of law school. To perform in that third year at the level I hoped to achieve, I still had to work hard. The same goes with writing.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Stella: I’m writing my next Black Raven novel, entitled “Insertion.” It’s set in Alaska … and … Stay tuned! It will be released in 2018.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Stella: Yes – I love to hear from readers, so please reach out and say hi, either on Facebook or through my website.
TRC: Thank you Stella for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on your new release.
Stella: You’re welcome, and thank you!
Stella is graciously offering a $25 Amazon gift card + a hand-blown glass fleur de lis paperweight + an autographed copy of Concierge. to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe
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