I want to welcome Annette Mardis to my blog today. Her new romantic suspense novel, Shore to Please, is the third book in her Gulf Shore series.
Tara Langley thought she’d found the love of her life, but he betrayed her with another woman. So she buried herself in her mission: convincing Gulf Shore Aquarium that dolphins and whales belong in the wild, not in artificial pools.
If Tara had her way, Paul “Flipper” O’Riley would lose the job he loves. Flipper is the head dolphin trainer, and the aquarium’s dolphins are his babies. While he’s open to having a real family one day, Tara is the last person he would choose to be his wife and the mother of his children.
These two should be sworn enemies, after all. He certainly swears at the sight of her. And his surfer-dude looks and lover-boy reputation aren’t exactly what Ms. Prim and Tidy had in mind when she pictured her ideal man.
But in the age-old way of opposites attracting, Tara and Flipper find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other. There’s no possible way a relationship between them could work, right?
As the two try to find common ground amid the quicksand, Flipper and his coworkers become the targets of an increasingly more menacing campaign to force the aquarium to release the dolphins under its care. Will Gulf Shore Police Detective Joanna Tompkins catch the culprit before it’s too late?
Paul “Flipper” O’Riley backed away from the note as if he expected it to somehow lunge at his throat. The outrage, disgust, and, yes, he’d admit it, fear he felt at reading the vile threats composed on the single page of common white printer paper had his stomach roiling ominously.
The letters of each word had been cut from what looked like a glossy magazine and glued on like a ransom note from a classic crime drama. If the message hadn’t been so loathsome, Flipper might’ve laughed at how cartoonish it looked.
But the warning had been nailed to the front door of the cottage he rented across the street from the beach, and that in itself represented an alarming development. It meant, of course, that the animal rights crusaders who’d been hounding Flipper’s employer now knew where he lived.
With a hand he fought to keep from shaking, he drew his cell phone out of the case attached to his belt, scrolled through his contacts, and pressed a familiar number. It rang several times before the person on the other end answered with an impatient huff.
“Jo?” Flipper asked. “Is that you?”
“No, it’s the queen of England. What do you want?”
Joanna Tompkins’ characteristic grumpiness and brusque manner usually amused him, but Flipper wasn’t in the mood for her tough-chick act right now.
“I’ve got something here at my place that you need to see. Can you come over?”
“How many times do I have to tell you, Fish Brain? Even if you show me yours, I’m not going to show you mine. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” She gave a chuckle that he didn’t appreciate, given the circumstances.
“Hilarious, but I’m serious. Another of those nasty notes came, and this one’s even more personal than the others.”
Jo’s tone immediately changed into her no-nonsense cop voice. “It mentioned you specifically by name?”
“No, but it’s nailed to my front door.”
“At your cottage?” She sounded even more concerned now.
“Don’t touch it. I’ll be right over with a tech to dust for fingerprints.”
“I know the drill. I’m hanging up now and calling Kenshin.”
“See if he can meet me at your place. That’ll save me a trip to the aquarium.”
“And if you’re still on your doorstep, haul your happy ass inside right now and lock the door until I get there.”
“Did you call me for help or not?”
“All right, all right. You’re the boss.”
“And don’t you forget it.”
Wary now, Flipper looked around before doing as she ordered. Then he called his boss, Kenshin Hamasaki, supervisor of marine mammals at Gulf Shore Aquarium, and filled him in. Kenshin promised to drop what he was doing and be right over.
Flipper surveyed his cozy living room—with its bland, impersonal furnishings straight from the rental property decorators’ manual—and then moved to his front windows to fully close the mini blinds. He wasn’t too proud to acknowledge Jo’s admonition had freaked him out, and he was too antsy to sit. Not that he’d feel safe settling onto either the loveseat or his favorite recliner, both near windows. He yanked his hand through his hair, annoyed with himself for letting the situation unsettle him and pissed off at whoever was disrupting his life this way.
Who would’ve thought being a dolphin trainer carried such potential for danger?
1. Who is your favorite writer, and how has he or she influenced your writing?
Choosing just one is like trying to eat just one cashew, so I have a number of favorites. I’ve learned a lot about pacing, character and plot development, and dialogue from authors like Susan Mallery, Julia London, Robyn Carr, Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvis, Susan Wiggs, Kristan Higgins, Kristin Hannah, and Debra Salonen. I also like the writing of Diane Hammond.
2. Where do you get your ideas?
I’m a firm believer in “writing what you know.” I’m also a native Floridian, a veteran newspaper journalist, and a volunteer at a marine animal rescue and rehab center. That’s why my Gulf Shore series is set in a fictional west-central Florida beach town, much of the action takes place at the local aquarium, and the staff there also rescues dolphins, small whales, turtles, and other marine animals. And in Shore to Please I introduce a new character, a reporter at the local newspaper. I’m most definitely not writing about Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where I volunteer, but I’ve learned a lot about animal care and aquarium operations in general. I’ve loved dolphins ever since I was a child, and my interest has only grown in recent years. I’ve been very fortunate to spend time observing the dolphins who star in the Dolphin Tale films.
3. Do you have a special routine you follow when writing?
I work on my laptop and sit on the couch next to my African gray parrot’s cage. My two dogs are in the room, too. I like to think of them as my “writing assistants.” They’re not much help, but they’re awfully cute. The three of them have supporting roles in my books.
4. What about Shore to Please are you most proud of?
It’s longer and more involved than any book I’ve written. I’ve also added the suspense element in this novel. Plus, I’m happy to be able to continue the story lines from the first two books. As a reader, I love to reconnect with favorite characters as a series goes along. So I’ve made sure to keep my readers up-to-date with the men, women, and animals from The Shore Thing and Shore Feels Right.
5. Tell me what you really like about Paul “Flipper” O’Riley.
I love funny people who don’t take themselves too seriously, and Flipper definitely has a sense of humor and a playful side. He’s well aware of his popularity with women, but he’s not full of himself. He’s a hard worker, and he loves dolphins even more than I do. While he has a bit of a temper, it usually flares when he’s protecting or defending someone or something close to him. He’s a good friend and, despite his reputation as a player, he’s a faithful, considerate boyfriend. He’s not perfect, but he’s the kind of man anyone would want as a friend and any woman would want as a lover.
6. What else are you working on?
I’m in the early stages of writing Shore is Magical, the next book in the Gulf Shore series. Flipper’s boss, Kenshin Hamasaki, will meet his match, and she’ll be unlike any female character I’ve ever written. It’s my first try at writing a paranormal romance, and I’m definitely up for the challenge. I also have a middle grade children’s novel that I’m reworking after setting it aside for a while.
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