Stalker in the Shadows

Stalker in the Shadows by Camy TangStalker in the Shadows by Camy Tang
Publisher: Harlequin
Number of pages: 224
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

“Consider this a warning.”

Lately, nurse Monica Grant feels she’s being watched. Followed. And then she receives a threatening letter—accompanied by a dead snake. If she doesn’t stop her plans to open a free children’s clinic, she’ll end up dead, too. Terrified, Monica turns to former lawman Shaun O’Neill—who believes the same madman murdered his own sister five years before. She understands how much it means to the handsome, heart-guarding man to save her—and her dream. Even if he has to lure a deadly stalker out of the shadows—straight toward himself.

* * *

It’s been a while since I read a Camy book, and honestly, I didn’t even know she had another book in the Grant sisters’ stories. It wasn’t until after I finished reading Protection for Hire that I found out, and I immediately got the book for my Kindle.

In the third installment of Camy Tang’s Love Inspired series, Stalker in the Shadows we meet the third Grant sister, Monica, a nurse with a heart for social work. With her trusty nurses shoes, she plans to open a free children’s clinic in their town, and she knows it wouldn’t be easy but it shouldn’t bethat hard either. Until she starts receiving threatening letters and “gifts” from someone who tells her that if she doesn’t stop her plans, she would end up dead too. Scared out of her wits, Monica seeks help from Shaun O’Neill, who believes that the same person threatening Monica was the one who caused his sister’s death. As the threats come and the stakes get higher, Monica wonders if maybe she should quit, while Shaun is constantly haunted by the thought of failing to protect Monica the way he felt he failed to protect his sister.

I haven’t read a lot of suspense or mystery novels lately so it took me a while to get inside Camy’s world in Stalker in the Shadows. I liked Monica right from the start, maybe even more than how I liked Rachel or Naomi. She was a level-headed and determined character, always putting someone else first before herself — her father, her investors, and even the children who will benefit with the clinic. I also liked her dynamics with Shaun, and I liked how Camy wrote him as a “heart-guarding man”. It’s not often we find heroes like that in fiction. :) There wasn’t much surprises in the romance (except, as always, for the first kiss!), but it wasn’t too predictable, either.

This book is probably the least preachy of all – and by that, I mean that the Christian aspect was shown more instead of being told. There were some God talk, of course…I don’t know how exactly to describe it, but it felt more natural when Monica realized things and Shaun realized things and they felt God more in their own realizations and with the things that happened to them. The climax felt a little bit too CSI-esque, but it was exciting enough for me to really fear for the main characters.

The mystery was pretty…well, mysterious, for the lack of better terms. I had several hunches about the culprit, and even one hunch that I was so sure was correct…and it wasn’t. Oh well. But that makes for a good mystery, don’t you think? Overall,  Stalker in the Shadows is a very good installment to the Grant sisters’ stories, and I was glad at where Monica (and Shaun) ended up. :)

Rating:

Reviews of Camy’s other Love-Inspired Suspense books:
Deadly Intent
Formula for Danger

Interview: Camy Tang, author of Protection for Hire

I thought I’d end the year (or sort of), with an interview with one of my favorite Christian chick lit authors, Camy Tang. I read and loved her latest release, Protection for Hire, and I realized that while I had an interview with her in my old blog for the release of Deadly Intent, I never had the chance to interview her here. So, without further ado, here’s Camy to talk about her latest novel.

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What was your main inspiration in writing Protection for Hire?

I love Stephanie Plum and The Joy Luck Club, and so I wanted to write a book with all the humor of both and with the action/suspense of the Stephanie Plum series.

I also love strong, capable heroines like from the TV shows Alias, Nikita, Covert Affairs, and the movies Tomb Raider and Resident Evil. I wanted to write about a strong woman with a heart for God, so I came up with my character, Tessa.

I wanted to give Tessa a reason to keep being involved in different crimes (so that I could have more books with her as the heroine) and the idea came to me that if Tessa had a shady past before coming to Christ, that past would provide good spiritual conflict as well as causing external problems in her life. I am a fan of The Sopranos — I don’t care much for the violence, but I liked the more humorous parts of the series, especially those involving the family fiascos. I thought it would be fun if Tessa belonged to the Japanese mafia, and I created a Japanese version of The Sopranos, which makes it both exciting and funny, mirroring the feel of the Stephanie Plum series.

For her hero, I thought up the most unlikely pairing–a straight-laced lawyer from Louisiana–and as I wrote, I let the sparks fly!

Protection for Hire by Camy TangWhat makes Protection for Hire so different from your other works? Was it any difficult writing it?

Protection for Hire is a slight deviation from my other books (but only slight, I promise). The
Sushi series is humorous contemporary romance, so it’s light and fluffy. My Sonoma series is romantic suspense, so it has a lot of tension and danger.

Protection for Hire is a nice mix between the two. It has the humor and family drama of the Sushi series but a bit of romance and suspense like in my Sonoma series. It’s a lot like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, but for Christian fiction readers.

Tessa is a part of the Japanese yakuza in this Protection for Hire. I don’t think you’re a part of a yakuza (am I right…? LOL.) so I’m curious, how did you do your research for this novel?

There actually isn’t a lot about the Japanese mafia in San Francisco so I had to do a lot of research about the Japanese mafia in Japan, and then I also based the yakuza in my book off of research on other Asian mafia in the United States.

However, since this is a humorous novel, I also had the yakuza in my book not take themselves too seriously sometimes, and they have the same kinds of family problems as anyone else. I think readers will relate to my character even if they never have mafia family members. :)

Do you think Tessa would be friends with your other heroines too? Why or why not?

I like to think she’d be friends with them! I try to write heroines who are strong and flawed, and I think Tessa would definitely relate to the Sushi girls. She’s also probably relate to their numerous family issues.

If Protection for Hire would be made into a movie, who would you want to play the main characters?

I modeled Tessa to look a bit like Jessica Alba, since I loved how she was so vulnerable and yet so strong in the TV series Dark Angel. I picture Charles as looking like Bradley Cooper, but with a syrupy Southern drawl.

2012 is just around the corner. Do you think Tessa and Charles would make New Year’s resolutions? If yes, what do you think they’d resolve to do next year?

Tessa, being optimistic, would resolve to not argue with her sister and she’d break it within three hours. But she’d still try for the rest of the year just because she can’t stand when she tries to do something and fails in doing it.

Charles would resolve to do something boring like succeed in some milestone at work, but he’d be distracted by the antics of his mama and his younger brother. He’d probably meet his milestone, but not as efficiently or as quickly as he thinks he would.

What’s in store for Tessa in the next Protection for Hire book? How many books are you planning to write in this series?

The next installment in the Protection for Hire series is A Dangerous Stage which releases in late 2012. In this book, Tessa is hired to protect a rather hunky contestant on the television show Grab the Mic (a singing competition similar to American Idol, The Voice, and The X-Factor) whose life is in danger when his young daughter discovers that the show might be rigged. I’ve had to watch tons of episodes of American Idol for research, don’t you know. ;) There will also hopefully be a third book in the series releasing in 2013!

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Thanks, Camy! :) If you’re not yet convinced to add this book to your TBR, then you can read my review here (and also my reviews for Camy’s other books). Protection for Hire (as well as her other books) is already out under Zondervan, and for my Filipino friends, the book is available in Book Depository, Amazon Kindle Store and B&N Nook Store.

Protection for Hire

Protection for Hire by Camy TangProtection for Hire by Camy Tang
Protection for Hire # 1
Publisher: Zondervan
Number of pages: 336
My copy: ebook review copy from Netgalley

Tessa Lancaster’s skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo’s Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa’s abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son.But there’s a problem or two … or three …. There’s Elizabeth’s abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There’s Uncle Teruo, who doesn’t understand why Tessa’s new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there’s Elizabeth’s lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn’t know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars. Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch. Factor in both Tessa’s and Charles’s families and you’ve got some wild dynamics—and an action-packed, romantic read as Tessa and Charles discover the reality of being made new in Christ.

* * *

What do you get when you cross the niece of the head of the Japanese mafia with a Southern belle in need of protection and a straight-edge lawyer who hates the said mafia? Tessa Lancaster is the niece of Teruo Ota, the head of the San Francisco yakuza. Left by her dad when she was young and living with a difficult relationship with her mom and sister, she becomes some sort of mercenary to her uncle’s mafia, working as an enforcer for her mafia cousins. She was doing fine just like that until she decided to take the fall for her cousin Fred’s careless murder of his girlfriend, landing her in prison. Seven years later, Tessa is out, and she’s turning over a new leaf, after meeting Christ in prison. But her reputation precedes her that everyone’s still afraid of her, making it hard for her to live a normal life. Until she meets Elizabeth St. Amant with her three-year-old son on the run from her husband who’s trying to kill her. Elizabeth hires Tessa to be her bodyguard, which would be a fine job if not for Elizabeth’s lawyer, Charles Britton. Unbeknownst to Tessa, Charles was the reason why Tessa served extra years in prison, and Charles does not trust her…but he can’t deny the attraction that he feels for her. Throw in Tessa’s Uncle wanting her to work for him again, her mom, her sister and her new found faith, and…well, God only knows what could happen.

I’m not just saying this because Camy is one of my favorite authors, but really, Protection for Hire was such a fun book. This book is reminiscent of her Sushi series with all the wackiness and hijinks that the characters get into. But because Tessa had such a shady past and a heavy responsibility on her shoulders, there were more risks involved for her. She’s not one who’s worried about things such as zafus or make-up, but life and death situations. Tessa reminds me a bit of Venus, my favorite Sushi sister, but a bit more vulnerable especially since she’s been trying to live her faith. Her vulnerability is what made Tessa so endearing, and I rooted for her from the start up to the end.

The other characters surrounding Tessa were a hoot, too. Camy’s characters are one of my favorite things to read in her novels. They always feel so real, and I felt like I could easily be friends with them. In Protection for Hire, I loved Charles’ family, especially his mom and his brother! Such a darling family, and I don’t care if Charles’ mom cooks all the random food. Plus, she was a breath of fresh air from Tessa’s annoying (yet, well meaning…most of the time, anyway) mother. As always, there’s the heroine’s crazy family, which seemed to be a staple in Camy’s stories. I thought Tessa’s immediate family would be similar to the Sushi sisters’ clans, but I was glad that it turned out to be different, and dare I say, more entertaining to read. The Japanese mafia aspect was very interesting too. It was the first time I’ve read about the yakuza, and while it wasn’t really discussed in detail here, I liked the overall mafia/The Godfather-like feel that the story had.

Now, I wouldn’t have liked this so much if the plot wasn’t as good as the characters. There’s lots of action, funny moments and yes, romance, in Protection for Hire, enough to keep me glued to the pages. There were moments of shock, too — the good kind, the one that made me sigh and smile with delight when it happened. :) There was enough suspense in the story to have me guessing about what exactly were they up against. It almost came to a point where I was a bit overwhelmed with all the plot twists but in the end, I think it still paid off well. The wrap up at the end felt just a teensy bit rushed for me, but I guess it was still in character given Tessa’s family.

Protection for Hire is a fun, action-packed and romantic book that will definitely satisfy those who crave for that kind of stuff. If you’re wary of the faith aspect of the novel (being that it is a Christian novel), don’t worry — it’s never preachy or in-your-face. If you’ve ever been one who has tried to move on and make up from past mistakes and yet still find yourself under a microscope and slapped with your mistakes on the face over and over again, then you will be able to relate to Tessa. Throw in the a cast of hilarious, gripping plot and good writing, and…well, you have yourself a really awesome book. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
USA Today
TitleTrakk
Librarian Laura’s Book Reviews

Faves of TwentyEleven: The Characters

From books, we go to characters! Today is the second day of the Faves of TwentyEleven series hosted by Nomes of inkcrush. :) Characters are my favorite part in a book, and sometimes I think they may even be more important than plot. I believe strong characters can revive an overused or boring plot, so I always pay attention to them. Here are some of the characters that stood out for me in the books I read in 2011. :)

Day Two: The Characters

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Faves of TwentyEleven: The Books

I remember making my own set of best-of lists for last year, but this year I don’t have that same gimmick, so I’ll ride on other bloggers’ gimmicks instead. Ha. Here’s my first post for the Faves of Twenty Eleven hosted by Nomes of inkcrush! :)

Day One: The Books

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