Guest Post, Excerpt, and giveaway by Susannah Sandlin
Deep, Dark Romantic Research
When I came up with the idea for Lovely, Dark, and Deep—a romantic thriller (think Indiana Jones with sex)—I thought my biggest research job would be studying the lost treasure of the Knights Templar.
They were the wealthy, powerful knights of the Middle Ages, and when they fell out of favor following the loss of the Holy Land, these crusaders became vilified by the church and the others who had previously supported them. As they disbanded and scattering throughout Europe, the knights’ great amassed wealth disappeared to history, with all kinds of wild theories about what happened to it.
Who’s to say one ruby-encrusted cross couldn’t have been stolen in the early 1700s? Or that the thief didn’t hop a ship heading for Canada, only to have the ship—and the cross—hit the rocks off Nova Scotia and sink?
Now, all these centuries later, the thief’s descendant, a Florida biologist named Gillian Campbell, is being blackmailed into finding that lost cross with the help of a washed-up deepwater diver named Shane Burke.
Turns out it wasn’t the Knights Templar that provided my biggest research challenge. It was Shane—or, rather, Shane’s occupation. I soon realized what I didn’t know about diving, especially deepwater salvage diving, could fill a library.
Put on a wetsuit, mask, tank, fins and hop in, right? Er, as it turns out, not so much.
First, there’s the equipment. Since my character lives in Florida but will be doing his dangerous dive in the much colder waters of the North Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia, he needs both a wetsuit and a drysuit. The drysuit is airtight and keeps water out, but it also keeps sweat in and is bulkier. Does he want to dive with one tank, or with one tank and a small “pony bottle” with extra air, or with two tanks? He needs a buoyancy control regulator to adjust how fast he rises or sinks in the water. He needs the right kind of boat from which to dive—will he take a giant leap over the side, or roll off backward?
Then there are the logistics. Shane wants to dive alone—he sure doesn’t want the sexy heroine diving with him. So of course she does anyway. How do they communicate with each other?
Finally, there is the location. How deep is the water off the eastern coast of Canada around Main-a-Dieu, Nova Scotia? It’s an area notorious for shipwrecks—what are the rock formations like, and what do ships get caught on? What would the water temperature be in September? At what depth does a diver have to worry about decompression sickness and not surfacing too fast? I learned, for example, that there are shelves of rock that sit just below the surface so in the days before sonar, ships could hit those things without being able to see them. That the area is extremely foggy. That the water is shallower than I would have thought. That the water is rough, and would offer a lot of challenges to a novice diver like Gillian—and even an experienced diver like Shane if he isn’t careful.
I now have amassed a considerable library of books on deepwater diving...and one lone book on the Knights Templar. Anyone want to take over my subscription to Diving Magazine?
Have you ever gone diving, or know a diver? Leave a comment to win a copy of Lovely, Dark, and Deep (and maybe a diving magazine or two)!
He wasn’t sure what woke him, but the first thing Shane Burke saw when he cracked open his eyelids was the bottle of Jack Daniel’s, tipped over and resting on its side. He could’ve sworn he finished it off last night but there was at least an inch of rich amber liquid still resting inside.
Good. Now he didn’t have to wonder what he’d have for breakfast.
The second thing he saw was a great pair of legs. Well, technically, a great pair of ankles above a pair of leather sandals, and then the legs.
Obviously, he was starting his Saturday morning with hallucinations.
Only one good solution for that. He dangled an arm off the side of his bed and almost had his fingers wrapped around the neck of the bottle when one of the leather sandals kicked his buddy Jack Daniel’s under the bed, clipping his hand in the process.
“Ow.” Hallucinations didn’t take his booze and kick him in the knuckles.
Ignoring the throbbing in his hand and the stabs of hangover agony behind his eyeballs, Shane rolled onto his back and squinted at the rest of his non-hallucination.
Shoulder-length hair that fell in a sheen of dark chestnut brown, fair skin, fierce brown eyes, red lips compressed in a tight line, black skirt and white blouse, big briefcase-style purse. Had he picked her up at Harley’s last night? If so, he had to cut back on the sauce.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I forgot your name.” Pity, ’cause she was a hot little number, way classier than the regulars at Harley’s. It’s not like he got laid so often that he could afford to forget it when he did.
“We haven’t met.” She propped her hands on her hips and muttered something that sounded like, “And you’re supposed to help me?”
Help her with what? Wait, maybe she was a charter. Had he chartered The Evangeline out to a tour group or fishing party today? Surely he’d remember if there was money coming in.
Color him officially confused. He struggled to a seated position and gave her another look. “What am I supposed to help you with?”
She crossed her arms and raked a ball-shriveling gaze the length of his body. “I came here to offer you a job, but I don’t think you’re up to it.”
He tugged the sheet up in self-defense. “I’m not at my best. Ever consider making an appointment? Not dropping in at the crack of dawn?” He had no idea what time it was but it couldn’t be that late.
“It’s past noon. And I didn’t figure, given your financial situation, that you’d be so picky about what time of day someone offered you money.” She shook her head. “Never mind. This was a mistake.”
She banged her head on the low doorway out of the master cabin, which served her right, the sanctimonious shrew.
The Collectors, Book 1
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Heat level: moderate; language; violence
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Number of pages: 320
Get it at Amazon
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.
About the Author:
Susannah Sandlin writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.
She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning this month with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Her Penton novel, Omega, is currently nominated for a 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Award in Paranormal Romance from RT Book Reviews magazine.
Website and blog www.suzannejohnsonauthor.com