Guest Author & Giveaway: Shannon McKenna featuring One Wrong Move

Monday, September 10

NYT Bestselling author Shannon McKenna is my guest today, to share her own brand of romantic suspense novels (which I just so happen to love love love).  Her author bio describes her books as "...turbocharged romantic thrillers, among which are the stories of the wildly popular McCloud series. She loves tough and heroic alpha males, heroines with the brains and guts to match them, villains who challenge them to their utmost, adventure, scorching sensuality, and most of all, the redemptive power of true love."  I couldn't have said it better, so I'm not even going to try, LOL.  Enjoy!


Welcome  back to Seductive Musings Shannon! If you didn’t already know it, I think you write some of the BEST romantic suspense novels...ever!!!  What makes writing hot romances with such dangerous plots so compellingly seductive to your muse?

Hello, and thanks very much for the welcome! Delighted to be back!

I never thought I would be a thriller writer. I pegged myself as a future writer of historicals, because I’d been shamelessly overdosing on them since I was ten years old, from Georgette Heyer onward. But I remember, back on my first opportunity to present a single title novel to the powers that be at Kensington, I happened to be reading a Linda Howard novel, and there was a secondary character, a mysterious spy type, who was watching the heroine as she stood at her father’s grave. That image just stuck. I started imagining this dangerously hot but somewhat obsessive “every step you take” sort of guy, who has a compelling and morally defensible reason to stalk the heroine but falls in love with her instead . . . and BEHIND CLOSED DOORS was born. I took to suspense instantly. And oh, man—how could I do without it now? I just love to be thrilled.

I like over-the-top hot heroes who need to be tamed, and wild adventure, all mixed with the delirious triumph of true love and righteousness. Maybe it’s simplistic of me, but I don’t care. And I have always preferred my romance novels with suspense, from the start, even the historicals. Otherwise, it’s just the hero and heroine endlessly, claustrophobically going around and around with their “issues,” which is just way too painfully similar to real life for me. My heroine is too busy dodging bullets to stress about her emotional baggage, and my hero is too busy heroically rescuing her to bug her with his tedious fear of intimacy. All that stuff is there, sure, and they will eventually have to deal with it, but the bombs and bullets give them something else to talk about, thank God. And the suspense ups the stakes for everyone. They’re fighting for their lives at the very least, and maybe for even bigger stakes, if the villain wants world domination, or to kill the whales and the pandas, or whatever.

Some months ago, I discovered the TV series Prison Break (years late, I know, but that’s how it is when you’re in exile abroad with two little kids!) What a discovery it was. I loved the first two seasons, particularly. I was crazy for Michael, the valiant, selfless, gorgeous, spookily brilliant hero. He just rang all my bells. I adored the impossible romance with the prison doctor, Sarah. What an awesome RS set-up. Juicy, tense, complicated, impossible. Oh, yum. (The series could have done with a few more sexual encounters between them, in my humble opinion, but that’s just me.)  And then, at the end of the last season, Michael dies! I was simply horrified. I was startled by the strength of my reaction, which was all out of proportion, since it was just a TV show, but I felt utterly betrayed. They had sold Michael to me as a romance hero, and I had let down my guard . . . and then they cheated me of my HEA! That was the way I read the situation, anyhow. My tissues still recoil at the memory. The moral of the story for me is, mess with a romantic suspense junkie’s expectations at your peril! If you’re going to put her through that wringer, give her satisfaction at the end, and make it damn good! And that’s what I try to do, with every book. Long live romantic suspense!

Your newest novel is One Wrong Move, which is related to the McCloud series.  Can you tell us how One Wrong Move is connected to Blood and Fire and the rest of the McClouds series, and for someone who has not had the pleasure of reading the other books, can you give us a brief summary about each of these stories? And do they need to be read in order?

The hero of ONE WRONG MOVE is Alex Aaro, who does not get introduced into the series until relatively late. He appears for the first time in EXTREME DANGER, which is number five in the series, Nick Ward’s story. He actually came about because I needed a warm body with certain useful linguistic attributes, and then one day, out of nowhere, he came into full color and started making trouble. I think that happened some time during FADE TO MIDNIGHT, when both his house and his van get blown to smithereens in the course of helping those pesky McCloud brothers with all of their crazy stuff. After that, I knew the guy had suffered enough to deserve his own book. Then, in BLOOD AND FIRE, he started demanding his own point of view. Two big scenes. A sure sign that I’d better hurry and give him his own book, or there’d be hell to pay. 

As far as the other books in the series are concerned, we start with BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, Seth and Raine’s story, in which Seth becomes involved with the three McCloud brothers in the course of his wild adventures. Connor McCloud was the FBI partner of Seth’s murdered brother, Jesse, and the McClouds had an interesting past and some very complex issues, so I got interested, of course, and the next book was about Connor and Erin, STANDING IN THE SHADOWS. Then came the strong-but-silent Davy, and Margot, in OUT OF CONTROL. We learn about Sean McCloud’s long lost twin, Kev, lost at the age of eighteen in a fiery car accident, in Sean and Liv’s story, EDGE OF MIDNIGHT. Sad, about the brother, huh? I thought so, too . . . until they finally had genetic testing done on the body in that grave, and discovered that it was not Kev in that grave after all. I swear to God, that took me by surprise. Then, I chickened out, could not face Kev’s story yet because I had no freaking clue what had happened to him, and I was completely intimidated by the task. So I went with Nick Ward, another FBI associate of Connor’s, a guy with his own issues, involving global mafiya and organ pirates, and EXTREME DANGER was born. Throughout the series, from the beginning, I had introduced the ultimate bad girl, Tam Steele, and she came next, in her story ULTIMATE WEAPON. And then, at last, I affronted Kev’s story and wrote FADE TO MIDNIGHT. In that story, we discover where Kev has been all these years, and also meet his adopted brother Bruno, who charmed the hell out of me and thereby became the hero of the next book, BLOOD AND FIRE. That was when Aaro started agitating to be next.

And no, in answer to your question, I don’t think the books really need to be read in order. Each of the stories is entirely self-contained, but I think it might be more fun to read them in order. That way you get to know the characters slowly and gradually.

You’ve described the character Alex Aaro, as your most reluctant hero.  What made him so difficult to write?  What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Nina, fall in love with him despite his thinking that he’s damaged goods? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in One Wrong Move?

Aaro’s got more reason than most of my heroes to be emotionally armored, and that’s saying a lot. He is essentially on the run from his mafia father, using the outlaw skills he learned as a boy to hide out, change his identity, and make his living (legitimately now, of course). The kind of wounds he suffered as a boy make him, well . . . prickly would be putting it mildly. But although he perceives himself as damaged beyond repair, deep inside he actually is tenderhearted and heroic, with a real moral center. He just can’t allow himself to own it, or admit it. But Nina, of course, can see right through him . . .

And as for the story, how about if I just give you the description I gave to the editors so they could describe the book to the sales team.


We met Alex Aaro raising hell in BLOOD AND FIRE, Bruno’s story. He tries not to attract attention, but fails utterly, every damn time. Fate has other plans for him—big plans. And now it’s his turn to face the fire.

Privacy. Solitude. To Alex Aaro, that doesn’t seem like so much to ask of life—for the world to let him keep his head down, make his money. But it can never be that simple. His crazy Aunt Tonya was dying. She’d spent more time in the nuthouse than out, but she was the sole family member he gave a damn about. Enough of a damn to blow decades of hiding from his Ukrainian mafia clan. He would risk his life in the writhing snake-pit that was the Aaro family, to say goodbye to a dying woman. It was stupid, irrational.  Suicidal, even. And he couldn’t talk himself out of it.

And now his friend Bruno calls, just as Aaro lands in New York. He wants Aaro to take a scenic detour to a hospital in Coney Island, Brooklyn, for God’s sake, to do a favor for Nina, one of Bruno’s wife’s friends. A single woman friend. A social worker, out to save the world. The type of woman he would drive hundreds of miles to avoid. Some bullshit about translating the hysterical ravings of some roughed up Ukrainian woman who had attacked Nina with a hypodermic needle. He could not even count all the things there were to hate about this scenario, but he couldn’t say no—he owed Bruno. Owed him big, in blood and skin. But no one could have warned him about Nina’s eyes, her voice, the effect that they would have on him. Violence flares like wildfire—as swift and hot as the desire they can’t seem to control.

Nina Christie has way bigger problems than the surly interpreter that her friends are siccing on her. She’d been injected with some crazy unknown drug, and it is having effects on her that scare her to death. But when the bad guys who are looking for that drug close in, only the six-foot-four rock hard slab of lean muscle and seething bad attitude called Alex Aaro stands between her and an ugly death. The guy’s an unlikely hero, and a royal pain in the ass—and he also makes her pulse race and her lungs squeeze up until they won’t take in any air.

Nina has her own good reasons for being wary about men, and Aaro embodies them all, in one lethal package. But Nina’s about to unlearn everything she thought she knew, about men, about herself, about everything. Because the two of them hold the clues to a deadly secret, and as their world goes up in flames, they face their deepest fears to unveil it before it destroys them . . .

There’s an adage that says “write what you know”, but clearly you aren’t related to the Ukranian mafia (at least I hope not :).  What did you need to learn or what experiences did you rely upon when writing this book?

Wow, I have a confession to make. It’s all pure invention. I have always known I did not have the nerve to pursue a sort of profession in which a person has to make life-or-death decisions in an instant. Not for me the life of a soldier or spy, an air traffic controller or a brain surgeon! Of course, I did end up being a singer, but that’s different—if you screw up on stage, the only thing that might die horribly is your reputation and your ego. They can both eventually be repaired.

I range pretty far out there with my twisted imagination, but I have never been abducted by organ pirates, or strapped into a mind control device, or brainwashed into being a zombie slave (unless my years of temping in the insurance and bank offices of New York City count . . . now that I think about it, maybe they do!). Nor have I done any time as a cutthroat mercenary or a kick-ass commando or a Rambo type who can eat ants and grubs to survive, nor can I perform an emergency tracheotomy with a ball point pen, or sew up my own bullet wounds with dental floss.  I like to just think about such people. From a safe distance. While sipping a nice cup of Darjeeling with honey and milk, in my comfy squishy writing chair, with my toast, cream cheese and marmalade, my fleecy bathrobe and my bunny slippers. I’m oh, so tame. Don’t tell anyone.

I read on your website that you explored more of a paranormal element in One Wrong Move than in any of your other books, including Fade to Midnight which explored physic abilities.  Can you give us some insight as to its importance to the story and what it is?

Ahhh . . . well, remember in that blurb, how Nina gets injected with a mystery drug? Well, it’s a drug that has a very interesting effect upon Nina’s brain, and starts developing her latent paranormal abilities. I don’t want to spoil, but the paranormal element takes off from there. Aaro’s strong reaction to Nina’s scent, I think, is just him recognizing on a deep, primitive level (of course, not with his conscious mind, which will always come last with a stubborn, difficult man) that she’s The One.

What's your favorite scene or moment from One Wrong Move, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?

There is one part I really had fun with, where Nina and Aaro are on a bus, on the run, after tangling with the villains, (during which Aaro, too, gets injected with the same drug that Nina was exposed to). In this scene, Aaro starts getting an inkling that he, too, has some paranormal ability. That part came out of nowhere, for me, and made the story way more interesting. I read through the chapter, though, and unfortunately, any excerpt I could include has too many spoilers. It happens too late in the book to use as a teaser. Further on, there is also a wedding scene which is also a love scene, and that was kind of special and fun. There were a lot of surprises, scenes that wrote themselves.

What are five sexy and suspenseful facts about this book that readers would love to know?  (note: the links to the images are ones that I supplied, not Shannon so they may not necessarily be exactly the ones she is referencing...but you get the idea nonetheless).

Hmmmm . . . well,
  1. Miles finally starts coming into his own, as you Miles fans will be glad to know. And it looks like his tumultuous relationship with Cindy is finally, definitively over, and thank God for that. Let’s see, what else . . . 
  2. I had so much fun imagining the psychic element, trying to imagine how it would feel to have such abilities, as well as how it might feel to have them used against me. I have always been curious to what extent such abilities (a hint of which I have felt in myself, but only a teasing hint) can be controlled. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea, and wished that I was talented in that way, though I am sure that mind-reading could be hugely inconvenient and embarrassing. And I would not want a gift for prophecy. Scary.  
  3. For character inspirations, in terms of looks, I was thinking of Guy Pearce, with long hair, for Aaro. I like his cheekbones, and his tough, controlled vibe, hinting at seething depths. 
  4. Liv Tyler, for Nina. So gorgeous, but in such a haunting, understated way. 
  5. And Miles, too—I saw this great photo of Michael Phelps, the swimmer, showing off that amazing, huge, long body and impressive nose—except that Miles also has Shia Labeouf’s expressive, soulful eyes.
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases, or new projects that we can look forward to?  Are there any characters from previous books that you’d like to revisit?

I’m writing Miles’s book now! It has a working title, THE DARKEST HOUR, but I am sure that will change.  I’m having great fun with it. Miles is really taking me by surprise. He jumped out of ONE WRONG MOVE demanding scenes from his own point of view, the way that Aaro did in BLOOD AND FIRE, which clearly indicated to me that it’s time, for Miles. Past time. He comes into his own, in this book. In fact, he started to do that in ONE WRONG MOVE. As you will soon see!  Then, after Miles comes Sveti, since she’s finally old enough. And I think that will be it, for the McClouds. After that, the future looms before me, formless and terrifying!


Alex Aaro has spent most of his life on the run from his Ukrainian mafia family. But when he learns that crazy Aunt Tonya, the only relative who ever gave a damn about him, is dying, he risks returning home to say goodbye. He’s prepared for anything except the call from his friend, Bruno Ranieri, that sends him on a wild and dangerous ride with a mysterious woman who holds a deadly secret and a white hot passion that binds them together.

Social worker Nina Christie has no idea how much trouble she’s in when her Aunt Helga shows up unexpectedly, emaciated and bleeding, and injects Nina with an unknown drug. Now a ruthless crime syndicate will stop at nothing to make Nina disappear, and only Alex Aaro, that inscrutable six-foot-four rock hard slab of lean muscle, stands between her and certain death. Now Nina and Alex are in a race against time, death, and their desire for one another…

Read an excerpt & enjoy the special excerpt selected especially for Musings readers!

Preface from Shannon:  Here’s the lead-up to the first love scene, from Aaro’s POV. Enjoy!  
or read it in a Google document here.

Congratulations Shannon and thank you so much for being my guest today and sharing One Wrong Move with us!  I can't wait to read it.  Matter of fact I've anxiously awaiting this book since reading the excerpt while preparing for the interview.  Thankfully I'll only have to wait a few more weeks :)

If you'd like to learn more about Shannon McKenna and the romantic suspense novels she writes you can find her at her website, on Twitter, and at Facebook.

To celebrate the upcoming release of One Wrong Move on September 25th, Shannon would like to giveaway TWO prizes, a copy of one of her books at each blog stop on her tour AND a grand prize giveaway of a Kindle Touch!!! There are several copies of One Wrong Move, Blood and Fire, Ultimate Weapon, and Fade to Midnight up for grabs!

1)    To win a book: Finish this sentence on this blog post to be entered to win: "In spite of his surly bad manners, Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or else risk . . . " . Be sure to leave your email address in the comments so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner. This giveaway ends five days after the post goes live.

2)    To win a Kindle Touch: Enter the Rafflecopter widget(or link) below. A winner will be selected on September 27th.  See Shannon's website for complete rules and restrictions for both giveaways.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.


Jane September 10, 2012 at 12:38 AM  

Congrats on the upcoming release, Shannon. "In spite of his surly bad manners, Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or else risk death."

janie1215 AT excite DOT com

erin September 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM  

Thanks for a great post and congrats on the new release!

"In spite of his surly bad manners, Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or else risk . . . certain annihilation!!!!!!!!!! bwahhahahahah...

*ahem* couldn't help myself.


Shannon McKenna September 10, 2012 at 11:24 AM  

I love "certain annhilation" very cute! Hope you all like OWM, and my warmest thanks to SEDUCTIVE MUSINGS for having me! What a fun interview this one was . . .

Elizabeth H. September 10, 2012 at 3:07 PM  

"In spite of his surly bad manners, Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or else risk . . .going crazy."

Thank you so much for sharing the post! I can't wait to read this book!!

ehaney578 at aol dot com

Maureen September 10, 2012 at 3:58 PM  

It looks like an exciting story.
In spite of his surly bad manners, Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or else risk her family, her friends and her life.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Shannon McKenna September 10, 2012 at 4:57 PM  

Hello, ladies! I sire do appreciate the nice comments, hugs and kisses to everyone! It's about my bedtime over here, going in midnight, so I'll be disappearing for a while, but if anyone else comments after this, or has a question, go ahead and I promise I'll get back to you tomorrow!
All best,

Na September 10, 2012 at 10:06 PM  

I'm looking forward to reading more of your books! I find them exciting to read.

In spite of his surly bad manners, Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or else risk . . .forgoing the adventure of a lifetime.


bn100,  September 10, 2012 at 10:09 PM  

Congrats on the book! "In spite of his surly bad manners, Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or else risk . . . being on her own forever.


June M. September 10, 2012 at 11:38 PM  

I have only just heard of this series but can say that I will have to read them :) I do love that it is not necessary to read them in order, that I could read this one and then go back to the beginning to read more. Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy of one of your books, and of course the KT.
manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

Carol L. September 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM  

I'm on Goodreads as Carol Luciano
I love this whole series and just put it on my TRL.

"In spite of his surly bad manners,
Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or be captured by her enemies and driven completely mad before vanishing. I'm so not good at this. sorry....
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Shannon McKenna September 12, 2012 at 2:26 AM  

I've been trying to post a comment for days now, but for some reason the machine will not believe me when I try to prove I'm not a robot! I'll try one last time. Just wanted to say thanks to the lovely women who commented after I went to bed the other night--thanks for participating, and good luck!

Cathy M September 12, 2012 at 3:20 PM  

"In spite of his surly bad manners, Nina must accept Aaro’s reluctant help, or lose herself forever"

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

Booklover1335 September 14, 2012 at 2:31 PM  

The winner of the print book has been selected by the promotions tour, and the winner was....Cathy M!

Cathy, they will be in touch with you within the next couple of days :)

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