Meet Chuck McKenna

A Lead Character in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo / photography33

Director Charles McKenna, a lead character in my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has been drawn to Lauren McAllen for some time. Lauren, however, is unaware of it. For the past few years they’ve been working closely together a top rated soap opera. Lauren has recently left the show, hoping to break into feature films, while Chuck wants out of Hollywood for good.

The son of a set nurse and a director of B-rated horror films, Chuck grew up in the entertainment industry. He too thought he wanted a career in movies and television. However, after years of grueling hours directing a soap opera, he’s burned out and no longer sure of what he wants. His plan is to relocate to Colorado once his contract is up. As much as he wants Lauren, having such different goals means any romance between them would be short lived, so he decides to keep it as just friends. Fate, however, has other plans for both Chuck and Lauren. Each experiences their own unforeseen tragedies which turn both of their lives upside down and will forever redefine their relationship.

Chuck is a fictitious character who represents the type of man most women would like to have as a friend as well as a life partner. 

Marina Martindale

The Scandal is available on Amazon and

To read a free preview of The Scandal, please click here.

Meet Lauren McAllen

Lead Character in The Scandal

© Can Stock Photo/yuriyzhuravov

Lauren McAllen, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has achieved fame in a town where few become successful. For the past ten years she’s played an iconic vamp on a top-rated soap opera, making her a household name and the woman fans love to hate. Now she’s ready to move on and become a star on the big screen.

Once again, luck appears to be on Lauren’s side. Hollywood mogul Calvin Michaelson has seen her work, and he soon offers her a supporting role in a feature film. For Lauren, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and dream come true. However, it may come at a price. While Cal has made other women famous, he has a reputation for expecting certain favors in return. Unfortunately for Lauren, Cal is accused of a serious wrongdoing before the camera starts rolling, and she will soon find herself caught up in a major scandal which rocks Hollywood.

Lauren is a fictitious character. Her inspiration came from a cousin who once played on a soap opera many years ago. However, Lauren is a unique individual and her life is very different from from my cousin’s.

Marina Martindale

The Scandal is available on Amazon and To read a free sample please click here

How I Create my Characters

Photo by Gayle Martin
And are they based on real people?

When I tell people I write contemporary romance novels they’re genuinely curious about what I do. They ask a lot of questions such as, are my books a series? No, they are not. Are my characters based on real people? Sometimes. Ian and Gillian in The Reunion are loosely based on people I’ve known.

Gillian in particular is based on someone I know really well. Me. I really was an art major in college. Some of my work has been in juried art shows. I also thought about buying an art gallery, but couldn’t get the funding. I’ll never know for certain what my life may have been had I made different choices, but Gillian was a wonderful opportunity to play what if.

Ian was loosely based on an old college boyfriend. I incorporated some of his positive traits into Ian, such as his desire to succeed. However, none of us are perfect. My old boyfriend certainly had his faults too, but most of those characteristics were not part of Ian. Oddly enough, I later found some of his negative traits in antagonists in other stories, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Funny how our minds work.

Whether inspired from a real-life person or not, each character is fictitious and unique individual. I must be doing a good job as I’ve had some interesting feedback from readers. Some truly hated my villians and were glad to see them get their comeuppance. Others shared their frustrations over the protagonists making bad decisions. My all time favorite, however, came from my proofreader, who was reading The Reunion in her apartment complex laundry room. She said one of the antagonists, Ryan Knight, made her so mad she started cursing him out. Then she looked up and noticed other people were giving her strange looks. Her story was the highest compliment anyone could ever give me.

Marina Martindale


The Reunion is available on Amazon and

Meet Stephanie Ellis

© Can Stock Photo / aletia

a lead character in The Letter

Stephanie Ellis, a lead character in my contemporary romance novel, The Letter, has a lot of spunk, and she’s not afraid to call it as she sees it. A legal secretary, Stephanie has been in a relationship Danny for some time. She wants to know where their relationship is going, but whenever she brings it up, he quickly changes the subject. 

Their relationship will soon takes an unexpected turn when Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a card an old girlfriend sent to Danny. Her best friend thinks the sender is nothing more than a lonely ex, but Stephanie remains unconvinced. Is she really an ex? Or has Danny been seeing his old girlfriend on the side? The old girlfriend, however, will soon be the least of her worries as her entire world will soon spirals out of control. And while things aren’t necessarily as they appear, she’ll make a rash decision which changes her life forever.

Stephanie is a purely fictitious character. However, the opening chapter of The Letter is based on a real-life event that happened to a close friend many years ago. 

Marina Martindale

Meet Danny Woodruff

Photo of a businessman wearing glasses.
© Can Stock Photo / barsik
 a lead character in The Letter

Danny Woodruff, a lead character in my contemporary romance novel, The Letter, is my most complicated character to date. He’s hardworking and ambitious. His goal is to work his way up the corporate ladder, regardless of what it takes to get there. He also in love with Stephanie. At least in his own way. Unfortunately for her, Danny has a problem. He’s haunted by not one, but two, women from his past. 

The Letter begins with Danny and Stephanie in a long-term relationship. Stephanie is ready to make a commitment. She wants marriage and a family. However, every time she brings it up, Danny changes the subject. He’s perfectly happy with the status quo. In fact, he’s not sure if he even wants a wife and family.

Things will suddenly change when Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a love letter to Danny from an old girlfriend. 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 loosely based on several men I’ve known in the past. He may not be my most likable lead character, but he’s probably the most realistic.

Marina Martindale

Meet Rachel Bennett

A woman with blonde hair sitting in front of a computer.
© Can Stock Photo / oksun70
a lead character in The Stalker

Rachel Bennett, a lead character in my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, has a serious problem. A man from her past is obsessed with her, and he intends to have her at all costs.

Rachel has recently returned to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona, where she is attending her ten-year high school reunion. She’ll soon be reintroduced to Shane MacLeod, a fellow classmate whom she briefly met while serving on the yearbook committee. Rachel may not remember Shane, but he certainly remembers her. As they’re busy getting reacquainted, another man from Rachel’s past suddenly reappears. Craig Walker, is a former coworker who’s been stalking and harassing her for years.

Rachel has tried her best to stop Craig’s harassment, but the system keeps failing her. Finally, with Shane’s help, things appear to be working in her favor. But unknown to both of them, Craig is about take his revenge, and when he does, Rachel’s life will never be the same.

Rachel is loosely based on a friend who was once hounded for years by a former colleague. However, she wasn’t afraid to push back.

Marina Martindale

Meet Shane MacLeod

a lead character from THE STALKER
A young businessman holding a smartphone.
© Can Stock Photo / boggy

My editor loved Shane, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker. She thought he was the best leading man since Alex Montoya, from my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. She has a point. Both men will do whatever it takes to protect and defend the women they love, and both were the nerdy kids when they were young.

Rachel and Shane attended the same high school, but they had different circles of friends. Shane hung out with a couple of other nerdy kids, and they formed The Math Club. Rachel was on the yearbook committee, and she took their club photo for the yearbook. She may not have noticed Shane, he certainly noticed her. Unfortunately, he was too shy to pursue her.

Shane and Rachel would meet again at their ten-year class reunion. Over the past decade, 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. She accepts the invitation, and the two quickly become friends. Little they know, however, that another man from Rachel’s past intends to destroy her, and he will stop at nothing to get to her.

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

Marina Martindale

Meet Emily St. Claire

a lead character in The Betrayal
© Can Stock Photo/ monkeybusiness

I wanted make Emily St. Claire, one of the lead characters in my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal, a loving, devoted wife. Emily is happily married to Jesse, her college sweetheart. She also put her dream of becoming a concert pianist on hold, working as an office manager so Jesse could launch his own career. Now he’s become successful, and it’s her turn to pursue her dream.

Unfortunately for Emily, her world is about to turn upside down. She’ll get the shock of her life when she discovers Jesse has been unfaithful. However, Emily is nothing if not resilient. She returns home to her father, and her piano, determined to follow her dreams. Then her life will soon take another unexpected turn when unforeseen tragedy leads her to  Kyle, a man who’ll love her unconditionally. But first Kyle will have to save her from another enemy, determined to destroy her.

I wanted Emily to be the polar opposite of Maggie Andrews, the betrayed wife in The Deception. Both women have been deeply hurt by their husband’s infidelity. Maggie, however, is a bitter and unhappy woman who uses her husband’s affair as an excuse to destroy another person’s life. She believes doing so will somehow make her feel vindicated. Emily, on the other hand, tries her best to handle her husband’s infidelity with grace and dignity. Unfortunately for her, another man will take advantage of her vulnerability. She will make a decision she will later regret, and that others will use against her.

While Emily is a fictitious character, the inspiration for her story came from two different friends. One caught his ex-wife in the act. The other’s mother was unfaithful, and it tore the family apart. Adultery doesn’t just harm the injured spouse. It affects others as well, and both The Betrayal, and The Deception, are stories about the long term consequences of infidelity.

Marina Martindale

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and

Meet Kyle Madden

a lead character in The Betrayal
© Can Stock Photo/ Bialasiewicz

Something I enjoy as an author is crossing characters from one contemporary romance 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 first appears in my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. Kyle is the police detective who warns  Gillian about her ex-husband.

As I formulated the storyline for The Betrayal, I decided to include a good cop bad cop story. One of the lead characters would be the good cop. So, rather than create a new character from scratch, I decided to use Kyle. He  only played a minor role in The Reunion as a generic police detective, so he had plenty of potential. In The Betrayal, Kyle is a thirty-something divorced dad who wants very much to be a good father, but his demanding career takes up too much of his time. It has also left him feeling burned out.

Kyle first meets Emily at an art gallery opening, but only briefly. However, they’re destined to meet again. Unfortunately, this time it’s official police business. Kyle soon realizes 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 police officers out there who put their lives on the line for us each and every day.

Marina Martindale

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and


Meet Cassie Palmer

a lead character in THE JOURNEY
© Can Stock Photo/ heckmannoleg

We first meet Cassie in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, when Gillian and Jeremy stop for breakfast at a truck stop diner in Idaho Springs, Colorado. The diner owner is none other than Gillian’s long-long best friend, Samantha Walsh. As they get reacquainted, Samantha introduces them to her daughter, Cassie. A student at UCCS, Cassie has taken a few days off from school to visit her mother. Once introduced, she only stays with the others for a few minutes before excusing herself. Jeremy watches her as steps away, and his life will never be the same.

Cassie and Jeremy soon become friends, and as the story unfolds their relationship changes. Cassie returns in my contemporary romance novel, The Journeythis time as a lead character. Her world will quickly turn upside down when she’s seriously injured in a car crash, and Jeremy will mysteriously vanish before she leaves the hospital. Cassie is left to start a new life without him, yet through it all, she remains resilient. 

Cassie is a purely fictitious character who is best described as grace under pressure. She’s certainly an inspiration for those times when we feel overwhelmed by all life’s obstacles.

Marina Martindale

The Journey is available on Amazon and