My third Konigsburg book, Be My Baby, will be available in print on October 6 from Samhain. It has a special place in my heart because it’s my first real mystery thriller. When I started working on it, I knew pretty much what I wanted to happen (in the great plotter/pantser debate, I fall on the plotter side). I had a nasty, conniving villain who wanted to snatch the heroine’s nine-month-old baby and who had enough money to hire someone to do the snatching for her. The real mystery was going to come in figuring out who the actual kidnapper was since readers would know who was paying for the kidnapping from the beginning of the book.
As an inveterate reader of mysteries, I knew I had to include more than one possibility for the kidnapper. And I knew that misdirection would be a good idea. Readers needed to think one person was probable while another person was the actual baddie. And I knew I needed a threat. The whole thrust of the external plot in Be My Baby is the danger to the heroine, Jess Carroll, and her son, Jack. I wanted to make sure readers saw and felt that danger.
So I really worked at it. And it was a lot of fun to do—red herrings have to be convincing or they’re useless. I think the plot worked out, and most of the reviewers agreed.
Then came last July’s free download of Venus In Blue Jeans at Amazon, which brought a lot of new readers to the Konigsburg series. I was delighted of course, and also a little dizzy. A lot of readers wrote reviews for Amazon and Goodreads, and a few readers actually blogged about Konigsburg too. One reader really got into the series and posted plot summaries of each book as she finished them. All well and good, and I thanked her for her enthusiasm.
Then she hit Be My Baby, and OMG she gave away the whole secret of the kidnapper’s identity in a few short paragraphs on her blog. I was horrified. I’d spent all that time constructing the plot, building in clues, hiding the identity until the Big Reveal, and this reader put it all out there for everybody to read before they’d even opened the book. I composed a long, semi-hysterical email about why this was such a bad idea, but (thank God) I never sent it. After a lot of deep breathing exercises, I decided that people who read plot summaries don’t really care about suspense. And people who want suspense probably don’t read plot summaries.
So here it is, Be My Baby, my first but probably not last thriller. And if you want my carefully crafted surprise, don’t read any of the blog entries! Here’s a quick blurb and excerpt.
There’s no room in her life for love. Love has other ideas…
Konigsburg, Texas, Book 3
If Jessamyn Carroll had only herself to consider, staying in Pennsylvania after her husband’s death would have been a no-brainer. Her vindictive in-laws’ efforts to get their hooks into her infant son, however, force her to flee to a new home. Konigsburg, Texas.
Peace…at least for now. She’s even found a way to make some extra money, looking after sexy accountant Lars Toleffson’s precocious two-year-old daughter. She finds it easy—too easy—to let his protective presence lull her into thinking she and her son are safe at last.
Lars, still wounded from enduring a nasty divorce from his cheating ex-wife, tries to fight his attraction to the mysterious, beautiful widow. But when an intruder breaks into her place, and Jess comes clean about her past, all bets are off. Someone wants her baby—and wants Jess out of the picture. Permanently.
Now Jess has a live-in bodyguard, whether she wants him or not. Except she does want him—and he wants her. Yet negotiating a future together will have to overcome a lot of roadblocks: babies, puppies, the entire, meddling Toleffson family—and a kidnapper.
Jess put Jack into his jumper seat, listening to him crow as he danced back and forth in the doorway to the living room. She slid into the chair at her computer and fired up the Paloma Gaming site. The e-mail from the site owner said that the win-loss ratings kept going flaky. Jess opened her console window and began checking code. The jumper seat usually kept Jack occupied for twenty minutes or so. With any luck she’d find the bug in less time than that.
The encounter with Lars Toleffson still rankled. Obviously, he was looking for June Cleaver. Obviously, as far as he was concerned, she was closer to Britney Spears. Tough. She’d do a good job with his daughter, no matter what he thought of her.
Toleffson wasn’t exactly what she’d expected. Weren’t accountants supposed to be wimpy? He was at least six four or five, given the way he towered over her five-foot-ten. And his shoulders were broad enough to block the light from the office window when he leaned back. He’d worn a predictable gray business suit, but his dark hair had the kind of curls that never stayed put, inching down slightly over his forehead.
The type of guy who probably made female hearts go pitter-pat, if one were susceptible to that kind of thing. Which Jess definitely was not.
She wondered briefly what had happened to Mrs. Toleffson. Probably a divorce, given the lack of sympathy he’d shown when she’d mentioned Barry. Not that she wanted sympathy. But why didn’t people ask single fathers where their significant other had gone the way they asked single mothers?
Jack gave a shriek of delight and Jess turned to look at him. He danced across the doorway on his tiptoes, bouncing up and down enthusiastically.
She remembered when she’d brought him home from the hospital. Small and wrinkled and rosy. Totally vulnerable. Totally dependent. Hers to protect. And love.
She bit her lip. “Oh, lord, Jack, don’t grow up too fast, okay? Let me savor this just a little.”
Jack grinned up at her and did a baby plié. Jess closed her eyes a moment, willing herself not to tear up, then turned back to the monitor. “Okay, time for Mommy to earn us some bread, kiddo. You just keep working on those dance moves so you’ll be ready for your big break when you decide to keep me in style.”
Assuming I can keep you to myself that long. Jess shivered, then concentrated on her screen. Maybe Lydia Moreland had just walked across her grave.