Lee Christine was one of Escape’s launch authors with her debut novel, In Safe Hands.
So we asked Lee a few questions about it.
What is the title of your book?
A Dangerous Arrangement
What did you do when you found out you were nominated?
I received a phone call from an RWA member after dinner. I was sitting down, thank goodness. My initial thought was that something must have gone wrong with my conference registration. I was totally shocked when she told me ‘A Dangerous Arrangement’ was in the final of the R*by in the romantic elements category. I remember saying something like ‘thank you so much for calling, that’s so cool. I can’t believe it’. I remember her laughing at my surprise and congratulating me. After the call ended, I told my husband and messaged my children. I had one of those 4 packs of individual bottles of champagne in the fridge so we cracked a couple of those. That was the best I could do as nothing else was cold. The excitement lasted a couple of days and I still get excited when I think about it now. It’s not every day you final in the R*by, and while I’m sure most authors don’t write novels with the aim of finaling or winning awards, it’s lovely to know there are people out there who enjoyed your work.
How many books have you written?
I’ve written five books in total. My ‘In Safe’ Sydney-set legal series is comprised of three romantic suspense novels with more to come in the future. ‘A Dangerous Arrangement’ which is another romantic suspense also with more novels to come, and a small town Australian rural romance, ‘Shadows of the Heart’, which has a touch of suspense and is part of a thirteen books series written by members of my writing group.
Tell us a little more about ‘A Dangerous Arrangement’
A Dangerous Arrangement is mostly set in Italy. It has an Australian hero, a naval architect who builds super yachts for the rich and famous, and an American heroine, a classical violinist living and working in Australia. The two main characters are linked by the heroine’s flatmate, a man who works at my hero’s company headquarters. The inciting incident is a cyber-attack on my hero’s company. The files containing his latest yacht designs are frozen and a ransom is demanded. At the beginning of the book the hero has to find out if Marina is involved in bringing his company to its knees.
What is your favourite scene in the book?
Apart from the reconciliation in the final chapter, Marina’s scene with her father and sister in her home town of Boston. I love exploring sibling relationships in families, from the birth order, which can affect outcomes for children, along with the parent/child relationships. In romance novels, we often read about the disadvantaged sibling, the one who wasn’t favoured and the scars that result from those feelings of inadequacy. Often the character arc is about overcoming and rising above those inadequacies.
In ‘A Dangerous Arrangement’ I wanted to explore what happens when the hero/heroine is the talented one and how that affects their relationships with their less accomplished siblings. Also, how the burden of expectation and of being ‘the special one’ affects them personally? In Marina’s case, she feels guilty that the family’s money was siphoned into expensive lessons to further her talent often at the expense of her siblings’ sporting pursuits which didn’t rate as highly on the ‘Needs’ list as her violin lessons. She also feels the weight of having to succeed because of the sacrifices made by her parents. To fail, or not to make the most of every opportunity, would be a disservice to her parents.
What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
Definitely the nautical research, though I was greatly assisted by a very knowledgeable fellow in that area. The musical knowledge came naturally as I studied saxophone at the Newcastle Conservatorium for fourteen years.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I hope the book leaves them with a feeling of optimism and a belief that no matter how insurmountable the obstacles appear to be, that they can be overcome – provided there’s a willingness on both sides and lots of open and honest communication.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently writing a 90,000-100,000 word mystery/thriller with romantic elements. It begins in Tokyo then moves to the mountains of Vermont. I usually write around 65,000 to 72,000 words but this is an ambitious story and it will require the extra words. After that it’s another Dangerous Arrangement novel and another In Safe novel. I also have a romantic comedy plotted and I’m dying to write that one.
What would you tell people who are looking to read your books for the first time?
The tag on my website says, A potent cocktail of love, danger and high stakes suspense. My books have been described as entertaining reads with lots of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the end. They are mostly urban set and have quite a meaty crime/mystery/suspense story that occurs along with the romance.
And finally, what are you planning on wearing to the awards ceremony?
I’m wearing a navy blue vintage style dress with beading on it. It’s quite dark, so I may need to accessorise with silver shoes and blingy earrings.
Kicking off a brand new romantic suspense series from Lee Christine is A Dangerous Arrangement: a violinist with a secret, a billionaire with a problem and a race against time set on the beautiful Amalfi Coast.