The Book of Hours by Maria Elena Alonso Sierra
Genre – Romantic Suspense/Thriller
Heat Rating – PG-13
For artist Gabriela Martinez, psychopaths do strike twice. In The Coin, two star-crossed lovers were cruelly used by fate—and now, in The Book of Hours, destiny isn’t done.
Back then, Gabriela almost lost her life to a psychopath hoping to claim her artwork, her career, her body, and her love. If not for Richard, the operative sent to protect her, she would have fallen victim to his twisted vision. The dramatic showdown pushed Gabriela and Richard together, even in the face of countless obstacles.
With someone new threatening Gabriela’s life, Richard will risk everything to protect the woman he loves. But with a new villain on the horizon, bent on possessing Gabriela’s latest work no matter what it takes, she is forced to fall back on old friends, including the man who changed her life not so many years ago.
With an even more dramatic threat looming, and far more to lose, if they don’t stay one step ahead of the danger, their lives, their love, and their future may very well go up in flames.
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Read An Excerpt:
Gabriela’s body stilled at the soft sound of her name. For a moment, she stood listening, then shook her head like a wet dog shaking off water. You are such a fool, her mind supplied. Disgusted, she stabbed at the cerulean blue on her palette. Her mind had deceived her yet again. She slobbered the paint on the canvas, realized what she had done, and hissed. Since agreeing with Jean-Louis to call Maurice later that evening, she’d been a nervous wreck. Throughout the noon hour, her brain had staged all sorts of encounters with one infuriating, unforgettable man. Like a dutiful stage manager, her mind had supervised every possible scene, every possible emotion under its tutelage. She’d jumped from rage, to indifference, to haughtiness, but longing had finally won, hands down. No matter how hard she tried to avoid it, she could never escape the terrible need she felt for him, a need that went deeper than the instinct to breathe.
The lyrics from the song she’d impulsively put on swirled around her, teased her. The singer, in his soulful tenor voice, sang about the moment of encounter with his beloved, anticipation heating his blood, nerves tingling in expectation of the seduction. His words mimicked her own guilty longings, her desires. Oh, God. How would she ever get through this day? How would she find the courage to do what must be done?
This time the voice penetrated, took form. It called out to her, familiar and unmistakably real, a living entity that caressed her skin and raised goose bumps on her warm flesh. This was no figment of her imagination, no mistake. She felt him, her nerve endings suddenly electrified, awareness shaking her. Panic sent her heart scurrying. Hope and love made her turn around slowly, ever so slowly.
She blinked, thinking her eyes were deceiving her, but Richard’s tall frame stood static before her, his chestnut hair combed by the soft breeze, his eyes intense, pinning her and caressing her all at once. The embers of irrational hope fanned to life like a conflagration. For an unguarded moment, her eyes reflected her hope, her joy, but especially her hopeless love for him.
Richard watched those powerful emotions play across her face and relief slammed him. Gotcha. She’d always had such an expressive, beautiful face. Now, no matter what she did, but especially said, he would know the truth. The love was there, and it flared like a beacon.
please tell us a little bit about your current projects?
The Book of Hours is the sequel to The Coin, both romantic suspense. Without giving out any spoilers, in the first book, Gabriela, an artist, finds herself under a dire threat because of a coin she finds in the forest near her home in the French Riviera, and Richard Harrison, an intelligence operative, is assigned to protect her. In the second novel, a new danger emerges, but their love continues to grow in new and unexpected directions.
When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
The moment my stories would not shut up. I had to start putting them down on paper.
Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?
One of my teacher’s, John Dufresne. Write for yourself, not the market.
Describe the “perfect” hero. What about the “perfect” hero for you?
That he is not perfect. That he is human, with human flaws, and can overcome them.
What are some of your favorite pastimes? Do you have any hobbies or collections?
Reading. Gardening. Going out to dinner. Losing hours in a library or a bookstore. Hiking with family. Traveling the world.
What has been your biggest adventure to date?
Marriage and my children.
If your fairy godmother waved her wand and whisked you away to the location of your choice, which place would you choose, and why?
That is hard! I have a few. Hands down, though, it would be the French Riviera. I seem to be attached to it with an invisible bond. Maybe another lifetime?
When it comes to food, are you the adventurous type who will try anything once, or do you prefer to stick to tried and true foods and recipes?
I am adventurous, up to a point. However, there are a few things I will not try, especially if they look gross.
What is this romance writer’s idea of the “ideal romantic evening”?
A quiet night with champagne, foie gras, cheese and crackers and the one you love.
How do you describe yourself? How would your family and friends describe you?
I think I am driven and a perfectionist. I am curious about almost everything, and always eager to learn. I don’t suffer fools. My friends and family would probably say I am maternal, intelligent, loving, warm and caring, have a vivid imagination, and am meticulous about crafting the English language.
What is your favorite comfort food?
What is your favorite season? What do you love about it?
Spring. The slant of the sun makes the surroundings sharper, the colors more vibrant, and the blooming trees and bushes make me smile. The air is crisp and everything around me restores my energy. Hope is truly renewed.
What is the one modern convenience that you cannot do without?
A good bathroom.
What project are you working on next?
I am currently working on a police procedural, where my detective, Nick Larson, burdened with a painful past that haunts him, is hopelessly in love with his neighbor but refuses to do anything about it. He gets involved in a case involving a serial killer and eventually, everything he loves most will be threatened. Then I have another one about a ballet dancer, and another one which will have a ghost. Can’t be labeled paranormal, though.
Any place we can find you in person or on the net this month or next?
Aside from a whole lot of blog stops connected to the release of The Book of Hours, I am reading and signing novels in Miami for the launch and later on at Book ‘Em in North Carolina. I will be part of a panel there discussing how to create conflict from setting. It will be fun!
Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a full-time novelist based in North Carolina. With Cuban roots, she has lived in many countries, including France, the setting for her first novel, The Coin. She speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German, and reads Latin, Middle English, and old French. She holds a Masters in English literature, specializing in medieval romances, and is currently an active member of the Carolina Romance Writers. She loves to hear from her readers, and always hopes to open a dialogue with her fans.