Today’s book review is Deep Night, by Kathy Clark. Netgalley provided me with an advance copy of the book, and Tasty Book Blog Tours generously allowed me to interview Kathy as part of the review. We’ve also got another giveaway, so make sure you read through to the end of the post so you can enter!
Sure to thrill readers of Nora Roberts and Karen Robards, the breathtaking Denver Heroes series from New York Times bestselling author Kathy Clark continues as two adrenaline junkies find themselves fighting unexpected passion—and unspeakable terror.
Ex-soldier Chris Wilson lost too many friends to war. Back home in Denver, he’s trying to make a difference as a paramedic, treating victims of crisis situations. Not even active combat could prepare Chris for the rush he gets when violence and tragedy collide, but the job isn’t the only thing making his heart race. His partner is his closest confidant from childhood, and the girl he remembers is now a strong, sensual woman . . . who needs him more than ever.
Sara Richards is more comfortable risking her life than asking for help. The petite blonde medic put a wall around her heart long ago, vowing to never let anyone hurt her again. Only now her long-buried secrets threaten to destroy everything she’s built. And though she should be able to trust Chris, his smoldering blue-gray eyes ignite desires that feel more dangerous than whatever’s lurking in the shadows. For once, Sara can’t go it alone. But Chris might just be stubborn enough to stand by her side as she faces down her worst nightmare.
The gurney, loaded with the elderly and very overweight driver, was heavy and unwieldy. Even though Sara could have handled her share, the firefighter jumped in and did the heavy lifting with Chris. They dropped the wheels and rolled it through the emergency room doors. Orderlies met them inside and took over freeing up Chris to grab a wheelchair and return to the ambulance for the woman. She was supporting her wounded arm with her other hand and almost lost her balance as she tried to step down from the vehicle. Chris caught her and helped her onto the chair.
Next to him, the last ambulance arrived, and in a flurry of activity, they unloaded their patients and wheeled them inside the hospital. Chris got the woman to the registration desk, then helped unload the other patients.
Finally, when everyone was settled in the emergency room, Chris waited in the cab, filling out paperwork until Sara returned, pushing the now empty gurney up to the rear door. He hopped out and joined her at the back.
“How is he?” Chris moved to the other side of the stretcher and helped her lift it into their ambulance.
“We got him here alive, and now he’s in good hands. Apparently, he has a history of heart disease and hypertension. He was awake and talking when I left. I called his wife. She’s on her way.”
“Let’s get the bus ready for the next call,” Chris suggested. Their uniforms were still fresh and it didn’t take long to tidy up and restock the ambulance, since there hadn’t been any blood or other bodily fluids to remove and sanitize. They gave it a quick wipe-down, removed the discarded medication packets and other used items and restocked. Within just a few minutes, they were back on the road. They drove slowly, circling through downtown, heading back to their post.
Although the city ambulances worked out of Denver Health Medical Center, they didn’t wait there for calls. Instead, they would hang out at one of the three dozen or so posts that were all over the city. The spots had been chosen because they were in parking lots near restaurants or convenience stores that provided easy access to food and restrooms while keeping the medics spread out to quicken response times.
Chris pulled into a big, empty parking lot, backed into a space and turned off the engine. Their post was in City Park, across the street from the Denver Zoo and only a few blocks from several fast-food places. They rolled their windows down and settled back, waiting for their next call. The roar of a lion echoed eerily through the night, followed by the screech of a howler monkey.
Sara leaned her head back on the headrest and closed her eyes. “That’s why I like this post. I love to get to the zoo after closing time because the animals are more active at night.”
“Including the ones roaming loose on the streets.” Chris studied her silhouette, which was backlit by the streetlights. They had hung out together as children, but the difference in their ages had seemed huge when they were in high school. He hadn’t given her a second thought as he spent four years in college, then another four years in the Navy. He had hardly recognized her when they were introduced after orientation when he was assigned to her ambulance.
She looked nothing like the skinny little girl he had known, her knees always scraped, her cheeks freckled and sunburned and her feet bare. That was more than eight years ago. Since then she had grown up to be a very attractive young woman.
It was a startling thought. The past six months had been a blur of long hours on the ambulance, rotations in surgery, in OB, in pediatrics and in the emergency room. No sleep and much to learn had left him no time to breathe, much less miss sex.
He gave himself a mental shake. Now was definitely not the time to start thinking about sex. It had been a long dry spell since he’d been back . . . actually since he had left for Afghanistan. But the warning that stuck in his mind was “don’t dip your wick in the company ink.” Even when he was in the military, relations with fellow soldiers had never worked out well. Someone always cared more than the other person, and it wasn’t always the women. He’d seen plenty of men do stupid things when the woman transferred out or went back home to her real life.
Spending so much time together, basically trapped inside the ambulance, bred a closeness that could easily turn to passion. Familiarity might be mistaken for emotion. And there were plenty of stories in the department that proved that intimate relations rarely ended well.
Once he made it through probation, he could relax a little and find someplace else to tickle his wick. And Sara would remain his friend and co-worker.
WM: Deep Night deals with some very intense topics: suicide and abuse, among others. Without asking you to go into detail if they were, were you inspired to include them in this book by real people or did they come naturally to this book?
KC: Before I married my husband, I dated a paramedic. He gave me an inside view of a world I never knew existed. I couldn’t believe what sort of issues they have to deal with on a daily basis. They are truly heroes and seemed a perfect addition to my Denver Heroes series. I have a friend who is a Denver firefighter and is EMT certified. He gave me a lot of information, plus, he introduced me to the head of the Denver Paramedics Dept. I spent an afternoon with her and took tons of notes about procedures, treatments and the specifics of becoming a paramedic. I try to keep it as real as possible because I want people to learn something while being entertained by my books.
WM: Some authors try to handle these kinds of intense subjects, and unfortunately, don’t handle them very well. You, however, managed to write them very believably and in a way that makes the reader really think about them. Did you worry about whether you could do justice to these topics when you started writing this book?
KC: I’ve written my share of fluffy stories, but even my classic contemporary romances had serious elements. With both AFTER MIDNIGHT and CRIES IN THE NIGHT, the stories were inside my head for about 20 years, but I never had the nerve to write them because I was afraid the audience wouldn’t accept the harshness of reality. When the self-publishing option arose, I was able to write the books the way I wanted them to be. I was so lucky to have Random House want to take them over and publish them without changes, plus add the third book to the series.
I was a victim’s advocate for a couple of years and witnessed many cases of the cruelty of humans against humans. I’ve never been a victim of physical abuse, thankfully, but I tried to channel an abuse victim and show the physical pain, as well as the mental anguish of not being able to break away. I witnessed abuse happening to rich and poor, men and women and even with same-sex couples. In DEEP NIGHT, I imagined what it must be like to be a child dealing with such an adult trauma. I wanted to show that PTSD comes in all shapes and sexes, too as I explored the different types and the treatment options…and that not everyone can be saved.
WM: Deep Night is the third book in the Denver Heroes series. Will there be any more books, or is it going to remain a trilogy?
KC: I fell in love with the characters, especially Rusty, Chris and Sam and don’t want to let them go. While I’ll continue to create more Heroes series set in different cities, I’d love to add a book or two to the Denver Heroes series so I can spend more time with these old friends. Perhaps a cross-over from the Denver Heroes series to the Austin Heroes series will be in the works soon. All that testosterone in one place would be explosive! And a lot of fun.
WM: What advice would you give to another author who is considering writing a story that tackles some of the issues mentioned in Deep Night?
KC: My best advice is to really want to write the truth. I get very upset with authors that gloss over tough subjects or get their facts wrong. Do your research, and don’t sacrifice reality for a storyline. Tough subjects serve the purpose of giving an author the chance to create deep, wonderful characters. But it also helps readers better understand these issues and, if the subject cuts too close to their own lives, perhaps to show them a way out or a solution on how to deal with it.
WM: You write a rather wide variety of books: contemporary romance, new adult, young adult, etc. Do you find it difficult to switch between genres or do you just write the stories as they come to you and the genre just works itself out?
KC: I would hate to be limited to the same genre all the time. I love spending time with my Heroes series because the characters are challenging and gritty. But I also enjoy hanging out with the new adult characters from my Scandals series because they do all the things I wish I could do at their age. And then there’s the YA time travel series. Who doesn’t want to time travel? I have such fun going on trips with them and seeing past events from their modern sixteen-year old perspective. And now Bob and I are writing a romantic erotica series called Room Service which we are thoroughly enjoying…for more reasons than one!
WM: You also write with your husband, Bob Wernly. What’s the hardest part of writing with someone else? Do you think the fact that he’s your husband makes it easier or harder?
KC: I can’t imagine writing with anyone other than my husband. He does all the marketing, most of the research, and he writes the rough draft after we have extensively plotted the story together. As other authors can understand, it’s wonderful not to have 300 blank pages staring back at you. He usually gives me about 100 to 150 pages, mostly action, which always pulls me along from point A to point B. I add all the color, characterization, and romance, as well as making sure all the set-ups and plot points are dealt with appropriately. It’s a lot of fun to have someone who shares your goals and interests, and who cares as much about your success as you do. But the secret to our business relationship is that I have the final say, and Bob doesn’t get his feelings hurt when I change something or drop a subplot. We don’t let our egos get involved because ultimately, we both want to write great books that will touch our readers and stay in their hearts forever.
This book was intense. It delves into a number of touchy topics: suicide, PTSD, abuse, and the lack of services for veterans returning from war.
The first thing I have to say is that I was amazed with how well the author handled these sensitive topics. Disturbing scenes were handled with care, giving us only as much detail as we need to get the point across and make us feel without going so far that it makes it too uncomfortable to continue to read – she also makes sure that these scenes don’t overpower the book, and its overall plot, as a whole.
The characters drew me in almost immediately. From the newly 10-year-old Sunny in the prologue, to Sara, Chris, Miller, Chris’s family, and other minor characters such as the patients they dealt with, they all reached out and touched me and made me want to know what would happen with them.
The relationship between Chris and Sara developed in an unusual way to me. They were childhood friends (though Chris is a little older than Sara), and until he went to high school, they were quite close. They lost touch for a few years, and now she’s his boss and becomes his roommate shortly after the book begins. Living in close proximity brings hidden feelings to the surface for both of them, and has them each questioning the friendship, and more.
I enjoyed reading about the struggle they each had with those feelings and questions, seeing how they finally resolved and answered the questions. Seeing them both doubt themselves, and each other, but finally talking things out and moving forward, was nice.
There were moments of levity to break up the heaviness of the more intense parts of the book, and those lighter moments were well placed, well written, and did a good job of giving the reader a chance to catch their breath, smile, and relax before diving back deep into the hard stuff again.
This was a very well written book that took hard subjects, vulnerable characters and a rather unique setting, and blended them into a beautiful story that brings attention to things that many people would rather not think about while still entertaining us. Very well done!
Find Deep Night and the entire Denver Heroes series on Goodreads.
Kathy Clark is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels have sold more than three million copies in eleven languages. Her plot lines have always championed women’s empowerment, placing strong female characters in real-life situations. Her stories will make you laugh and cry, and her characters will live in your heart forever. She lives with her husband and co-author, Bob Wernly.
You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and win:
One Loveswept Mug
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Ebook copies of:
JUST A LITTLE CRUSH by Renita Pizzitola
CRUSHED by Lauren Layne
AGAINST THE CAGE by Sidney Halston
POSSESS by Laura Marie Altom
AFTER MIDNIGHT by Kathy Clark
MAKE YOU BURN by Megan Crane
MY HIGHLAND LOVER by Maeve Greyson
BREAKING NOAH by Missy Johnson and Ashley Suzanne
A FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE by K.J. Charles
FORBIDDEN by Jacquelyn Frank
You can follow the rest of the tour here, to read more reviews, guests posts and interviews with Kathy Clark.