“Rick eased toward the open doors of his living room, thinking to disappear into the shadows. He just didn’t feel like an early morning encounter with anyone, certainly not the mermaid with those incredible legs who was ambling slowly in his general direction. He stopped suddenly when something caught the corner of his eye. A glint of sunlight on metal. He reached for his pistol, but his waistband was empty. Damn. What is that woman doing with a diving knife strapped to her right bicep? Who the hell is she?”

 From Taking Control: Rick’s Story by Morgan Malone

Morgan Malone is the pen name of a retired lawyer who turned in her judicial robes to write romantic memoir and sexy contemporary romance, which always features silver foxes and the independent women who tame them.

She fell in love with romantic heroes after reading her mother’s first edition of “Gone with the Wind” when she was 12 years old. Rhett Butler became the standard by which she measured all men. Some have met the mark, most have failed to even come close and one or two surpassed even Rhett’s dark and dangerous allure.

Morgan lives near Saratoga Springs, NY with her beloved chocolate Lab. She can be found on occasion drinking margaritas and dancing at local hostelries, but look for her most often in independent book stores and the library, searching for her next great love in tales of romance, history, adventure and lust. When she can’t find the perfect man, she retreats to her upstairs office and creates him, body and soul, for her pleasure and for yours. Remember: love, like wine, gets better with age.

Her recent novel is the contemporary romance, Taking Control: Rick’s Story.

Book Description:

Summer on the Jersey Shore and all Rick Sheridan wants is some solitude at his beach house. Then he spots a lean, leggy blonde coming out of the surf and his plans are shot to hell. And the dangerous looking knife strapped to her arm tells him this is no damsel in distress. As a not-so retired Marine, at 51, Rick’s learned that nothing is for certain, plans can spin out of control and shit happens.

Wounded and weary from one too many wars, Britt Capshaw thought a summer at the Shore, hanging out in her family’s beach cottage, would help her heal. And figure out what to do with the rest of her life. Out of the military, disillusioned and distrustful of any two-legged male, Britt’s one love is Alex, the yellow Labrador retriever she rescued from Afghanistan.

Rick and Britt are immediately attracted to one another, but after years in combat, they are wary of letting down their guard, of giving up control. The summer heats up and fireworks are flying between them even after the Fourth of July. But, ghosts from their pasts haunt them and finally bring them face to face with some dark secrets that may destroy the fragile trust they’ve built.

Can Britt trust Rick with her dangerous past? Will Rick be able to let go of the rigid control he needs to keep Britt and himself safe from more heartbreak? These two brave souls fight against surrendering their hearts and finally finding love. Who will win?

Interview:

Welcome Morgan! I find it interesting that you write sexy contemporary romance novels and focusing on independent women. What sparked the interest of writing this genre and independent heroines?

Morgan: I’m so happy to be here to talk about “Seasoned Romance.” I have children older than the heroes and heroines of most contemporary romances. Also, after becoming a widow the age of 35, I started dating again in my 50’s. Finally, I retired ten years ago from a thirty-year career as an Administrative Law Judge and Counsel. I was looking for romances that featured characters older than my kids, celebrated the notion that woman who were Baby Boomers could have an active romantic life and were about women who were not just looking for a man to support them, rescue them and make decisions for them. Ten years ago, I began writing romantic memoir and racy romance that featured women like me, my friends and colleagues. Along the way, I discovered many other authors and hundreds of readers who were looking for the same thing. We have some great groups on Facebook, like Seasoned Romance and Romance In Her Prime.

Are you a detail freak when it comes to writing your novels?

Morgan: I am a pantster-I write by the seat of my pants. That being said, as a former lawyer and judge, I am detail-oriented. For Taking Control: Rick’s Story, I spent time reading about military ranks, pay grades and retirement benefits to make sure my heroine could afford to live on the Jersey Shore. I looked into how dogs the troops adopt in Afghanistan can be brought back to the States. I even checked out local bars and diners near Surf City, New Jersey. My next project involves pirates…my office has stacks of pirate books that threaten to topple over every time my grandson comes toddling into the room.

How hard for you was it to sit down and start writing your novel? Did you have all these ideas swirling around your head or did it take some time before you were actually ready to sit down and begin?

Morgan: I write most of my novels in my head before I ever sit down at my computer. Rick, the hero of Taking Control, was a character in my first romance novel, Out of Control: Kat’s Story. As they say, he didn’t get the girl in that book and many readers have approached me over the last few years asking if Rick was ever going to have his own HEA. I knew that he was, but I couldn’t get the feel for who would be the perfect woman for him. A passing conversation with my son, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, gave me the idea for Britt, the heroine of Taking Control. Once I sat down to write the story of Rick and Britt, the characters took over and the story went in a direction that I had not planned, but I think is a much better romance than the one I originally envisioned.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies. Is there any truth to that?

Morgan: I’m not a loner by nature…except when I’m writing. I don’t do well in a writing group or at a writer’s retreat when I am actually trying to get the words out. Before and after, I’m pretty much a people person, but I like to write in solitude. Until last month, my only company was my beloved chocolate Labrador Retriever, Marley. Sadly, Marley passed away in July at the age of 13. I’ve been having some difficulty coming up with words for my next project since then, so I have been editing and researching. I’ve just started on my new book and I am missing my furry brown muse a lot.

I am so excited about your novel, Taking Control: Rick’s Story. Can you tell us a little bit about the main characters?

Morgan: Rick is 51. He is a former Marine, who acts asa consultant on motion pictures but is also often sent out to hot spots by Uncle Sam because of his years in active combat and clandestine operations. He has returned to his cottage on the Jersey Shore in time for his Fourth of July birthday. All he wants is some peace and quiet. Then he spots a woman emerging from the surf in the early morning light-a striking woman with scars, a nasty diving knife strapped to her arm and a rambunctious yellow Labrador Retriever. He discovers she is staying in the cottage next door. Britt is in her forties, an Army veteran, who was badly wounded and betrayed in Afghanistan. She, too, seeks peace at the beach with her beloved dog, Alex. But, this is a romance novel so sparks fly upon their first meeting. Rick and Britt are wounded warriors who dance around each other, neither willing to let their guard down and make the first move. Once they are in each other’s arms, barriers start to disintegrate and their feelings begin to emerge. But, there are ghosts from their pasts that they both have to put to rest before they can find their happy ever after. I love that Britt and Rick explore some of the serious issues facing our veterans of past and recent wars. Also, the book is set on the Jersey Shore, one of my favorite beach locations so it is a great summer read. Finally, a character emerges in this story who I had not planned: Mick, who is Rick’s former comrade-in-arms and a widower living on the Shore. I already have Mick’s book outlined; I just fell in love with him.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point when the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in Taking Control: Rick’s Story?

Morgan: Rick has control issues. He was into a lot of control, domination, really, ostensibly to protect himself and the women with whom he became involved. Because of his control issues, he left Kat, the heroine of Out of Control, before he could fall in love with her. I wanted to find a way for Rick to lose some of his need to dominate and open himself up for love. In Taking Control. Rick lays out his need to control their intimacies in a pivotal scene with Britt. Britt then shares with Rick an experience that changed her life, with the unspoken inference that maybe the same experience could help Rick. Britt participated in a program for veterans that was created by Saratoga WarHorse Foundation in Saratoga Springs, NY. The program matches vets suffering from PTSD with retired thoroughbred race horses in such a way that the vets experience a repair of the emotional short circuit they suffered when they experienced their traumatic event during their military service. This is a program that is local to me and is near and dear to my heart. I did research with Saratoga WarHorse and pledged to donate 25% of my profits from the sale of Taking Control: Rick’s Story to the Saratoga WarHorse Foundation. What I learned from them changed the outcome of Taking Control: Rick’s Story in ways I could not imagine when I started writing this book. The story is more than I ever imagined.

What’s next for you?

Morgan: I’m in final edits for The Dance, a memoir about my late husband. I’m also writing Treasure, a novella featuring a couple in their fifties, which is the present-day prologue to my long-planned Pirate trilogy. And, of course, Losing Control: Mick’s Story, the final installment of the Love In Control series, is just waiting for me to let the words out of my head. So many stories, so little time. I’ll just have to learn to get by with no sleep at all.

Thank you for this opportunity to chat with you.

Remember: Love, like wine, gets better with age

Morgan

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