HelenKay Dimon

Harlequin Intrigue, January ‘11
ISBN: 0373695217

Before the recovery project was even up and running, its first case exploded on the scene Agent Holden Price didn't have to go far to find his next case—it crashed right into his living room! Not only had the beautiful blonde lost control of her car, but if she was telling the truth, someone was also trying to kill her. As a recovery agent, he had an obligation to investigate. And he couldn't deny that Mia Landers interested him more than she should.

Nothing made sense to Mia—especially not the attempt on her life. All she could do was trust Holden, the tall, dark and devastating agent who discovered that he and Mia had a common enemy…and a fierce attraction. But in order to act on it, they'd first have to come face-to-face with their darkest fears and a deadly revelation that might put their newfound love on the line.

Holden Price leaned his head back against his couch and threw his baseball in the air for what felt like the hundredth time. Much more of this and his catching hand would go numb.

Being on paid leave was not his idea of a good time. More like torture.

Up until two months ago he'd worked undercover with the Recovery Project, an off-the-books government agency fronting as an antique salvage operation. He found missing people for a living, those on the run who didn’t want to be found and those who were desperate for rescue.

One case gone wrong and pencil-pushing higher-ups disbanded the Project and subpoenaed his boss, Rod Lehman, to Capitol Hill for top secret congressional subcommittee hearings. It all sounded like a load of bureaucratic crap to Holden.

He spent his twenties in the Army and the first four years of his thirties at the Project. Without the routine of work the last few weeks dragged. He couldn’t remember ever being this bored.

The ball thumped against his palm before he whipped it into the air again. The seam turned end over end as it traveled halfway to his family room ceiling. It ran out of ompf and began falling back down just as the lights on his outside alarm system flickered to life on the panel next to the door.

Shrill beeps filled the room and kept right on cycling. When tires squealed outside the large double window across from him, Holden lifted his head. Saw the blinding headlights weaving and shifting straight up his lawn.

The sights and sounds refused to register in his brain. By design, his cabin sat in the middle of nowhere. He dealt with dangerous people and life threatening situations. The unsettling mix had convinced him long ago to set up a sanctuary, a place of peace known only to a few friends who also happened to be gun-carrying colleagues.

And now someone was violating the safety zone he created, using more than three thousand pounds of automobile as a weapon to do it.

He scrambled off the cushion and grabbed for the gun in his side table. He hit the floor on his right shoulder just as the sedan smacked into and through his front door. The crashing boom rattled the cabin's foundation.

The wood creaked and splintered. Studs crumbled. The lights dimmed as the exposed wires fell from the smashed ceiling panels and pushed the electricity to the breaking point.

With dust flying and pieces of furniture scattered everywhere, Holden sat still, his back to what was left of the couch and his gun aimed at the bowed head in the front seat of the car. Long blond hair mixed with the broken windshield glass even as the white knuckle grip continued its hold on steering wheel.

His attacker was a she.

And possibly dead.


Bestselling and award-winning author HelenKay Dimon spent twelve years in the most unromantic career ever – divorce lawyer. After dedicating all that time and effort to helping people terminate relationships, she is thrilled to write romance novels full time. Her debut novella appeared in the April 2006 Brava anthology release, WHEN GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO BAD BOYS with Lori Foster and Erin McCarthy. Since then she has sold more than twenty-five books to Kensington®, Berkley®, Harlequin® and Samhain®. Her books have been featured at E! Online and in the Chicago Tribune, and she has had two books featured as "Red-Hot Reads" in Cosmopolitan Magazine. When not writing, she teaches fiction and romance writing at MiraCosta College and UCSD and generally wastes a lot of time watching bad SyFy channel movies.

How often to you get lost in a story?
HELENKAY: When I'm writing a story, that's exactly what happens. I start thinking about the characters and plot all the time. I know I'm entrenched when the dialogue plays in my head even when I'm showering or walking the dog. At that point, I have to get the words on the page as fast as possible. I want it all down so I don't lose it. In fact, I get so lost in a story while writing that when I'm done I experience a sort of memory loss. Once I turn in a book I can't really tell you what's in it with any specificity. It's as if all of my energy went to writing it down and there's nothing left in my head. I'm always surprised when I read it again at the copyedit stage.

ANGI: And when you don’t have your author cap on?
HELENKAY: One of my favorite things is to get lost in a book as a reader. That feeling where I read and don't want to put it down because I am dying to know what happens next...is there anything better? The more I read the harder it gets for me to separate the reader me from the author me and let myself fall into a book, but when it happens it's pure magic.

ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading?
HELENKAY: I actually can't remember my first book ever. I've always been an avid reader (thank you, mom!). My parents never said no to buying a book and never censored what I read. We talked about it when they thought the book might be older than I should read, but they were very open when it came to books. That fed my love for reading and I am eternally grateful.

ANGI: And, uhm...just how old were you when you read your first romance?
HELENKAY: Now, I do have an admission: I never read a romance until I was about 30 years old. I was a mystery and thriller reader then one day a co-worker handed me three romances – Daniel's Bride by Linda Lael Miller, Perfect Partners by Jayne Ann Krentz and The Bride by Julie Garwood – I read them and I was hooked on the genre. So, I don't remember my first book but I do remember those first romance novels.

ANGI: What’s your favorite “love” word?
HELENKAY: It's not a traditional love word, but my favorite is hope. People ask me all the time why I write and read romance. The answer is easy. Romance is about hope, about showing the transformative power of love. It can be a tough world. We all need to know love is possible, that there's hope. Romance novels provide that.

ANGI: What turns you off like nothing else?
HELENKAY: I love alpha males. Love, love, love them. A hero can he tough and demanding and a wee bit controlling. He can like to get his way and handle any situation, but he absolutely can't be abusive. There is a line. Abuse is not sexy and certainly isn't romantic.

ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
HELENKAY: I read all the time. I truly believe to be a good writer you need to read. You need to know what's out there and what works. Also, I just plain enjoy reading. I can do it anywhere. I have a kindle and still buy many (too many!) print books. I have a TBR pile big enough to take down a wall in my house if it ever falls over. I just hope it never falls over.

ANGI: What was the first story you remember writing?
HELENKAY: I am not one of those authors who wrote their first books at age four. Nope, that's not me. I didn't start writing until after I started reading romance. Yeah, I'm a late bloomer in this career. That first book was a mismatched mess. I didn't read craft books or do any research before I started. I just let myself dive in, knowing I would never submit it to a publisher. It was about 500 pages long and the heroine's name changed two times, but I did it! And then I got the bug. I wanted to keep writing and do it well. From the time I decided to make a push to get published it took me 18 months to sell.

ANGI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
HELENKAY: I love movies. I can watch a bad movie without blinking. But there is one movie I think about often and have to watch every now and then: Love, Actually. The intersecting stories and bittersweet endings to a few of them makes me wish I'd written the screenplay. And Colin Firth is in it. That alone makes it a must-see.

ANGI: Be honest, when reading 1st person...do you miss the hero’s POV?
HELENKAY: I truly appreciate and am impressed with authors who write first person well, but I have to be honest...romance is all about the hero for me. I want him damaged and imperfect. He should be bone-deep decent but difficult to read on the surface. I want to be in his head, see what he sees and watch the internal struggle as his world falls apart and he falls for a woman who can help make him whole. I can only get that in-depth view by having his point of view.

ANGI: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?
HELENKAY: Story-telling. Definitely. I can come up with the story and tell it without blinking. Doing the tough part of putting it on the page in a way that mirrors what's in my head is tougher.

ANGI: What’s something you’d like to tell your fans?
HELENKAY: I am so grateful to all of my readers. I can't even express how much I appreciate you. Thank you.

ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: HelenKay you live in the sunny state of California...do you travel to other locations you write about? And where’s your dream setting for a Harlequin® Intrigue (company tab of course so no limits!)?
HELENKAY’S GOTTA ANSWER: I do! All of my Intrigues® so far, including the ones for the current Mystery Men miniseries, are set in the Washington, D.C. metro area. I actually lived there for seventeen years (except for a brief period spent in North Carolina in law school), so I know the area well and really enjoy writing about it. The setting works well with themes about power and trust. I've written single titles set in Hawaii, Washington, D.C. and Southern Utah. Hawaii is the perfect place to set a romance. My husband grew up there and my in-laws live there, so the research trips are fun!

As for a dream Intrigue® location, it seems to be a romantic thriller set in beautiful Hawaii could be interesting, but I'd really love to write an Intrigue series set on an island outside of Seattle, like Bainbridge Island. The richness of the atmosphere with the rain and cool weather and all the water around to cause trouble cries out for an Intrigue. Hmmm, the more I think about it the more I like it!

Do you have a favorite hook you like to see in a Harlequin® Intrigue? Are you a secret baby, amnesia, undercover agents...or something else fan?

~ ~ ~
HELENKAY is generous to give away a copy of UNDER THE GUN, the prequel to her Mystery Men miniseries to a commentator today. GUNNING FOR TROUBLE will be released in February.
~ ~ ~
Dustmuffin ~~ Congratulations, you're the winner of HelenKay's UNDER THE GUN. Please contact us at GetLostInAStory@gmail.com with your information.

AND OUR READERS will need to bookmark HelenKay:
facebook.com HelenKay-Dimon

DON’T FORGET to bookmark Get Lost In A Story on Facebook & Twitter. And come back Thursday to ‘get lost’ with Lois Winston and again on Friday for a visit with Helen Johannes.

~~Til next week when historical author Sandy Blair comes to visit!

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


  1. I'm pretty old fashioned, and in this day of "doing it all", I really love suspense romances where the man puts everything on the line to save his true love. I'm a big fan of fairy tales! The secret agent hook totally works for me, as I grew going to every James Bond movie with my dad.

    I'm really impressed with suspense novels because of how intricate and subtle many of the story lines and mystery cues are. I love being surprised by the ending.

  2. Welcome HelenKay! What a fantastic interview. I, too, am a bit of a late bloomer. Didn't start writing romance until my mid-thirties. And I do remember that a Julie Garwood was one of the first romances I read, though I can't remember which one now as one I discovered her, I devoured every book of hers I could find in rapid succession :)

    I think it's fabulous that you've gone from divorce attorney to romance novelist, and I love your idea that hope is the reason. Thank you for sharing such a lovely idea.

    Have a great day!

  3. Welcome again HelenKay! Just last week I told a man working at a convention center that I was a "hopeful romantic." I love that scene in ROMANCING THE STONE where her editor accuses her of being a hopeless romantic and Joan Wilder corrects her with "hopeful."

    Keep the book moving at a pretty good pace and I don't mind WHAT the hook is. But I'm a pushover for reunited love stories. I always want to believe the best, that we do silly things in our youth, but can change and ... Well, that's the story...right?


  4. Hi HelenKay - I'm another late bloomer, being too busy with raising a family to even think about writing. I love Jayne Ann Krentz and Julie Garwood.

    I'm open to most plots but really love a fast moving pace and characters that keep me coming back for more.

  5. Hi Helen,

    I recently met HelenKay as I have joined the RWA San Diego chapter. She has given me some wonderful advice and great support as I venture into my first author/publishing experience.

    BTW I am reading IMPULSIVE at the moment and completely "lost in your story." ;)

  6. And what it about the movie LOVE, ACTUALLY and romance authors? The opening VO gets me every time:

    “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.”

  7. Gillian - I totally agree about romantic suspense. The idea of a man risking everything - including his life - for the woman he loves is pretty compelling.

    Heather - Sounds like we started our romance reading experience the same way. I read one JAK book and then raced through her backlist. And with JAK that's a lot of books!

  8. Angi - Thank you for inviting me here today! I totally forgot about the ROMANCING THE STONE line but it's perfect, isn't it?

    Dale - I think pacing is the key. It's that racing feeling I get when I read and write romantic suspense that keeps me coming back. It's a huge thrill.

  9. Gjillian - I'm so happy you joined RWASD. And I hope you enkoy IMPULSIVE!

    I hear Hugh Grant start that intro to LOVE ACTUALLY and I am hooked! It makes me smile. His part of the story just tickles me.

  10. Hi, HelenKay, wonderful excerpt. And since I gotta ask and you gotta answer--next time you go to Hawaii, will you take me with you ;)

    Okay, don't answer that. Interesting that you didn't read a romance until you were 30; I did that also, and then I was hooked and realized what so many of my mainstream books were missing. The feeling and the emotion.

    As for what I like best in a Harlequin Intrigue. I love undercover ops. Always. The h/h on the run ... Welcome!

  11. Hi Donnell - That's what I like from Intrigue too. And if I can fit you in my suitcase, you can come along to Hawaii with me!

  12. HI HelenKay, Just wanted to say I am so looking forward to your next books. Any more Hawaii hunks in the future?

    It was great meeting you at Lori's get together last year
    Judy f

  13. Hi Judy! I had so much fun at Lori's event. It was great to meet you.

    It's a bummer but no Hawaii hunks in 2011. I have the Intrigue miniseries, a single title (VICTORIA'S GOT A SECRET) and a short in an anthology. Hope you enjoy those.

  14. I planned on watching LOVE ACTUALLY over the holidays, but just never had the chance to see it again. Enjoyed the movie, too. But I did re-watch Music & Lyrics... I always enjoy that one.


  15. I rather like the undercover or secret agent plots, I'm a sucker for law enforcement stories. I also like the wounded warrior storyline, the hero with a tortured soul, it makes for interesting reading. I always enjoy your books and can't wait to read this one.

  16. Hi HelenKay
    There's very few tropes I don't like. A big age difference between the H & H might be one. I like that you write awesome smart mouth kickass heroines to go with your alpha males.

  17. Thanks for stopping by HelenKay and I hope you enjoyed your day with us. Hope the hubby's feeling mucho better.

    We'll have the winner of your book shortly.

  18. ~~ Dustmuffin ~~
    Congratulations, you're the winner of HelenKay's UNDER THE GUN. Please contact us at GetLostInAStory@gmail.com with your information.