Meet Danny Woodruff, the Leading Man in THE LETTER

Photo of a businessman wearing glasses.
© Can Stock Photo / barsik

Hard working and ambitious Danny Woodruff is my most complicated leading man to date. He intends to work his way up the corporate ladder; all the way to the top. He also loves leading lady Stephanie. Or at least he thinks he does, in his own way. Unfortunately, Danny has a problem. He’s haunted by women from his past.


Danny and Stephanie have been in a relationship for some time. She wants to know where things are going, but whenever she brings it up, he changes the subject. He’s perfectly happy with the status quo, and he’s not sure if he even wants a wife and family. As the story unfolds we learn more about Danny’s past and his struggle to overcome it. However, the ending may not be what you were expecting. 


Danny is a composite character inspired by men I’ve known in the past. He may not be my most likable leading man, but he’s probably the most realistic.

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Meet Shane MacLeod

Leading Man from THE STALKER

A young businessman holding a smartphone.
© Can Stock Photo / boggy

My editor loved Shane. She thought he was the best leading man since Alex Montoya in The Deception, and she has a point. Both will do whatever it takes to protect and defend the women they love, and both were “nerdy” kids when they were young.


Rachel and Shane went to the same high school, but they had different circles of friends. Shane hung out with a couple of other nerdy kids, known as “The Math Club.” Rachel was on the yearbook committee, and she took their club photo. She may not have noticed him, he certainly noticed her. Fast-forward to their ten year class reunion. Shane has gone from a nerdy teenager to a handsome, accomplished man. He soon spots Rachel and invites her to join him at his table. Rachel accepts. The two quickly become friends, but little they know that another man from Rachel’s past intends to destroy her, and he will stop at nothing to get to her.


Like Alex, Shane is a purely fictitious character not inspired by anyone I’ve known in real life. Tis a pity indeed.


By the way, if you liked, The Deception, you’ll certainly like The Stalker. Along with similar leading men, both leading women have enemies who intend to destroy them at all costs. There is also a supporting character who appears in both books.

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Meet Kyle Madden

Leading Man in THE BETRAYAL

© Can Stock Photo/AndreyPopov

Something I enjoy as an author is crossing characters from one novel into another. After all, they’re just sitting there, doing nothing, so I may as well put them to work. One of these crossover characters is Kyle Madden, who we first meet in The Reunion. Kyle is the police detective who warns leading lady Gillian about her ex-husband, Jason.


As I formulated the plot line for The Betrayal, I decided to include a good cop/bad cop story. My leading man would be the good cop, and the story would be set in Phoenix. So, rather than create a leading man from scratch, I thought why not use Kyle? He’d only played a minor role in The Reunion as a generic police detective, so he had plenty of potential. In The Betrayal, Kyle becomes a thirty-something divorced dad. He wants very much to be a good father, but his demanding career takes up too much of his time, and it has left him feeling burned out.


Kyle first meets leading lady Emily at an art gallery opening, but they’re destined to meet again. This time, however, it’s official police business, and Kyle soon realizes that Emily is being framed for a crime she didn’t commit. As he fights to prove her innocence, he’ll discover that one of his fellow officers is behind the nefarious plot, and he’ll risk his life to keep her safe.


Kyle is a hero inspired by real-life heroes; all of the dedicated real life police officers out there who put their lives on the line for the rest of us.


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Meet Jeremy Palmer

Leading Man in “The Journey”

A young, smiling dark haired man.
© Can Stock Photo / photography33

Funny how things sometimes work out. Jeremy Palmer was intended to be a rogue character in The Reunion. He would make a brief appearance, do his dirty deed, and disappear into the night. But things don’t always go as planned. I soon realized that leading man Ian would never have such an evil son. Thus Jeremy went from rogue villain to rival, competing with his father for Gillian’s affections. It created a storyline that many readers tell me was their favorite part of the book. Jeremy blossomed. Okay, he jumped off the page. He became a sexy, vibrant character worthy of having his own novel, The Journey.


The Journey begins approximately eighteen months after The Reunion has ended. A happily married engineer, Jeremy’s world suddenly turns upside down. His wife, Cassie, is seriously injured in a car crash. He rushes to the hospital and stays by her side. As Cassie slowly recovers the two befriend Denise, one of Cassie’s nurses. Denise seems familiar, but Jeremy can’t quite place her. Denise, however, has never forgotten how he jilted her, years before. She wants a second chance, and she’s about to unleash an evil plan to win him back.

Jeremy is a purely fictitious character, although his character is very similar to the young Ian seen in the flashback chapters of The Reunion. The inspiration for the younger Ian comes from someone I knew, long ago. And just like his father, Jeremy will make his fair share of mistakes, no doubt leaving some readers saying, “Like father, like son.”

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Meet Alex Montoya

Leading Man in The Deception

A young man with curly blond hair.
© by Fotolia

Alex Montoya, the leading man in The Deception, has to be one of the most likable, and sexy, characters I’ve ever  created. He’s strong yet quirky and vulnerable at the same time. The American-born son of a Spanish immigrant father, Alex is American in every way. His father, however, still clings to Old World customs and traditions. This creates friction between them.


Alex and Carrie, the leading lady, have a friendship dating back to the fourth grade. They remained friends through high school, but drifted apart when they attended colleges on opposite ends of the country. Ten years later Carrie deeply regrets letting Alex go. After her identity is stolen, and she’s accused of a serious wrongdoing as a result, a friend arranges for her to meet with a bright young attorney who can help her. Much to her surprise, that bright, young attorney is none other than her long-lost best friend, Alex.


I created Alex in part as homage to a friend who was the first American born child of Italian immigrant parents. While proud of her heritage, she too sometimes found herself in conflict with her parents whenever they tried to impose their Old World expectations on her. His other inspiration comes from a real-life cousin who’s an attorney and dedicated family man. In fact, the book is dedicated to him. 


If I had to describe Alex in one word, it would be loyal. He’s the kind of man who’s willing to go the extra mile for the people he cares about, while not expecting anything in return. That’s what makes him such a positive role model.


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Meet Ian Palmer

The Leading Man in THE REUNION

(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / photography33

Architect Ian Palmer first appears in most of my romance novel, The Reunion, as a middle-aged man. He’s had a successful career, working his way to a prestigious position with a large firm. His personal life, however, has been less than stellar. Ian married the wrong woman for the wrong reasons, and the marriage ended badly. Now his life is about to change. He has a second chance with Gillian, his long-lost love, but his new-found happiness will soon be put to the test. Ian struggles to balance Gillian, parenthood, and his career, which is about to come to an unexpected and untimely end.

Ian also appears in the story as a young man. During the flashback chapters he’s an outgoing but ambitious college student who meets Gillian, the girlfriend of one of his classmates. The two quickly become friends. Later on, they become more than friends. Unfortunately, Ian’s ambition and desire to succeed will be their undoing.

The inspiration for this younger Ian come from someone I once knew, years ago. His real life inspiration really was an architecture student at Arizona State University, and we really did meet in the college library. This scene is very similar to the real-life event. This is why Ian will always be one of my favorite characters and he’ll always be near and dear to my. There are some people who we never forget.

And by the way, in case you’re wondering, Ian Palmer wasn’t his real name. It’s not even close. After all, I have to keep a few secrets.

Marina Martindale

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