Meet Stephanie Ellis, Leading Lady in THE LETTER

© Can Stock Photo / aletia

Stephanie, the leading lady in my latest 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 heading, but whenever she brings it up, Danny quickly changes the subject. 


Their relationship soons takes an unexpected turn when Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a card another woman sent 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. Her entire world 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. 


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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 Rachel Bennett Leading Lady in The Stalker

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

Rachel Bennett, the leading lady in my latest romance novel, The Stalker, has a serious problem. A man from her past is obsessed with her.


A graphic designer, Rachel has recently returned to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. She’s come to attend her ten-year high school reunion, where she’s reintroduced to Shane MacLeod. Shane was 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, a former coworker, has been stalking and harassing her for the past few years. And no matter how hard she tries to seek justice, the system keeps failing her.


Fortunately for Rachel, it’s all about to change. With Shane’s help, things finally appear to be working in her favor. But unknown to both of them, Craig is about take his revenge, and Rachel’s life will never be the same.


Rachel was inspired by an acquaintance who was once hounded by a former colleague. She’s a courageous woman determined to regain control of her life, and she’s not afraid to back down from a fight.


Marina Martindale

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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 Emily St. Claire Leading Lady in The Betrayal

A photo of a woman seated in front of a piano.
© Can Stock Photo/ eZeePicsStudio

I wanted make Emily St. Claire, the female lead in my romance novel, The Betrayal, a loving, devoted wife. She’s 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.


Emily’s world is about to turn upside down. She’ll get the shock of her life when she discovers Jesse has been unfaithful. However, she’s nothing if not resilient. She returns home to her father, and her piano, determined to follow her dreams. However, her life will soon take another unexpected turn. An unforeseen tragedy will lead 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. A bitter, unhappy woman, Maggie 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’ll 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 friend’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.


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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 Cassie Palmer

Leading Lady in THE JOURNEY

A young woman outdoors on a summer day.
Photo by Fotolia

Cassie Palmer is a character best described as grace under pressure. Seemingly naive and shy, Cassie is an iron lady in disguise.


We first meet Cassie in 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 unveils another surprise; her daughter, Cassie. While Gillian is surprised, Jeremy’s life will never be the same.


Cassie and Jeremy soon become friends, but I don’t want to spoil too much of the storyShe returns in The Journey, this time as the leading lady. As the story unfolds, her world will turn upside down. Yet through it all, she remains gracefully resilient.


Cassie is a purely fictitious character and not inspired by anyone I know in real life. She is, however, an inspiration for those times when we feel overwhelmed by all life’s obstacles.


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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 Carrie Daniels, Leading Lady in The Deception

© Can Stock Photo / photography33

I wanted Carrie Daniels, the lead character in my romance novel, The Deception, to have a girl-next-door quality. Judging by the comments I’m receiving from reviewers, I must have hit my mark.

A freelance photographer and former child model, Carrie’s entire world is about to come crumbling down. Three years earlier her mother suffered a debilitating stroke, and Carrie went from riches-to-rags once her mother’s insurance ran out. Her financial calamity, however, is only the beginning of her problems. Her significant other is about to dump her. Once that happens, she’ll be left homeless and vulnerable as her former mentor seizes the opportunity to exploit her for her own selfish gains.

Carrie experiences both sides of infidelity. First she’ll learn that significant other has been unfaithful to her. She’ll then meet Scott, a married man who presents himself to her as single and available. Carrie leaves the relationship once she realizes things aren’t adding up, but by then it will be too late as Scott’s wife seeks revenge. Yet despite her troubles, Carrie remains resilient as she tries to make the best of what she can. She’s the kind of character you can root for; sweet on the outside, but strong on the inside.

Carrie is a mostly fictitious character. While I didn’t model her after anyone in particular, although I’ve put a little of myself into her. Photography is one of my life’s passions, and, in my younger days, I dreamed of being a model.

Marina Martindale

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