A Christmas Scene from The Betrayal

For your holiday reading pleasure, I’m sharing an excerpt from my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.

Emily thought she had a good marriage until she caught her husband, Jesse, with another woman. Jesse however, has fought hard to win her back, and his efforts appear to have been successful. To celebrate their reconciliation, Jesse has taken Emily to San Diego for Christmas, but an unexpected phone call from Emily’s grandmother is about to set the stage for an even bigger tragedy. 

Marina Martindale

A Christmas Excerpt from The Betrayal

Emily heard a knock at her door as she put on her earrings. Jesse waited on the other side. Once again, he greeted her with a kiss.

“You brought your little black dress.”

She smiled in return. “Indeed I did. As I recall, it was your favorite.”

“And it still is.”

As he stepped into the room her phone started ringing. She reached into her purse and frowned as she checked the caller ID.

“Who is it?” asked Jesse.

My grandmother.” Emily let out a frustrated sigh. “Somehow it figures. I haven’t heard from her in weeks, and now, here she is. Her sense of timing is impeccable. She’s always had a knack for raining on people’s parades, and I’m really tempted to let it go to voice mail.”

“Don’t.” Jesse’s voice sounded firm. “Otherwise she’ll keep calling back, every half hour, until you answer. Besides, it’s Christmas Eve, and you and I are on our way back to where we belong. It’s time to let it go and wish her a Merry Christmas.”

Emily shook her head and shrugged her shoulders before she accepted the call. “Hi Grandma. Merry Christmas.”

“I just got off the phone with your brother.” Her grandmother’s voice had its usual demanding undertone.  “So I know your father is in Minneapolis and you’re at home alone. So why don’t you come over here?”

“Where are you, Grandma?”

“I’m at your Aunt Heather’s house. I’m with her, and your cousin.”

“Which one?”

“Tonya. Gary and Annette have other plans tonight, but I’ll be seeing them tomorrow. Meantime, I’m very concerned about the fact that it’s Christmas Eve, and you’d rather be home by yourself instead of reaching out to your family.”

“Actually, Grandma, I already had an invite from Eddie and Gwen. You know, my other cousins. On Dad’s side of the family.”

“Oh.”

Emily heard the distinct sound of disapproval in her grandmother’s voice. “Besides, this year none of you invited me to any of your holiday celebrations.”

“So I’m inviting you. Now.” As usual, her grandmother’s invitation sounded more like a command.

“Sorry, Grandma, but I won’t be able to make it. At the moment I’m in California, with Jesse.”

“With Jesse?” Barbara sounded stunned.

“Yes, Grandma, I’m with Jesse. He’s still my husband, and we’re trying to work things out.”

“Well, hallelujah. It’s about time you came to your senses. I’ve been telling you for months now that this was nothing more than a misunderstanding that’s been blown way out of proportion. It’s about time you stopped telling all your vicious lies about your cousin. You know, he fired her because of you, and she’s–“

Jesse could hear Barbara’s end of the conversation through Emily’s phone. “May I?” he whispered. Emily gladly handed him her phone.

“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Leary.” Jesse tried to sound upbeat.

Well, Jesse. Merry Christmas to you too.” There was a phony sweetness in Barbara’s voice.

“Thank you.” His voice took on a serious tone. “I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight, if I may, once and for all. There was never any misunderstanding about anything on Emily’s part, and everything she’s told you is the truth. I fully admit that last summer I had an inappropriate relationship with your other granddaughter, and Annette was a willing participant in that relationship. It was a huge mistake on my part, and Emily did indeed catch us in the act. It damn near cost me my marriage, and I’ve taken full responsibility for my wrongdoings. I don’t know what Annette may have told you, but my decision to fire her was mine and mine alone, and I’d think by now my reason should be pretty clear. At the time I let her go, Emily and I weren’t speaking to one another, so please, quit blaming her for something she didn’t do. And by the way, I also referred Annette to another job, with better pay I might add, but for whatever reason, she wasn’t hired.”

For the moment Barbara was speechless. Jesse went on.

“I want Annette out of my life, Mrs. Leary. Emily wants her out of her life as well, and I’m sure you can understand the reason why. I’m sorry it’s come to this, and I’ll always regret my part in creating a permanent rift in your family, but I’m afraid it’s the way things will have to be from now on. Emily and I will be here in California for the holidays, and then she and Megan will be leaving for their cruise right after the first of the year. We’re hoping she’ll be ready to move back home once she returns, and then maybe we can have you over for dinner. In the meantime, we’d like to wish you, and your daughter, and Tonya, a very Merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you sometime in the New Year.”

He disconnected the call before Barbara could respond. “Hopefully that’ll shut the old battleax up for a while,” he said as he handed the phone back to Emily. “So are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said, “and I hope you finally got through to her, because she sure wouldn’t listen to me.”

“I think she may have gotten the message. At least for now.” He smiled and gave her a reassuring hug. “But even if she didn’t, it’s not your fault. I know she’s your grandmother, but it’s a toxic relationship. You have every right to live your life in peace and to not have to put up with her abuse. In the meantime, you’re sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, Jesse.”

He looked into her eyes and kissed her. “In that case, I guess we’d better get going. I made dinner reservations for seven o’clock, but hold that thought, okay?”

Click here for a free preview.

No Covid Here

Will I included Covid 19 in any of my future contemporary romance novels? No. I absolutely will not.

This isn’t to say pandemics can’t be good subject matter for a novel. For some genres, such as science fiction, mystery, or thrillers, an epidemic can make for an interesting story with plenty of conflict and drama. (I read The Stand, and loved it.) However, I write contemporary romance. My characters are hugging, kissing and making love, which would be rather awkward in the age of social distancing. Erotica writers on the other hand might have fun writing, shall we say, interesting, scenes about masks or Zoom sessions, but I write sensual romance, which means most of the action in my stories takes place outside of the bedroom

I’ve spent much of my time during the lockdown going over my earlier books, and as a result, you’ll be seeing a spin off novel from my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal. One of the minor characters in The Betrayal was a teenager named Tonya Claiborne who appears in the latter part of the story. She’s a strong character who has the potential for a leading role. I wrote The Betrayal in 2015, so you’ll meet an adult Tonya in the new book, which will most likely be titled The Diversion. The young Tonya was self confident but likeable, so we’ll see what happens when life throws her curveball and she goes off course. I had planned on The Rival being my next book, but I’m bumping it back until after The Diversion. So, it looks like I’m going to be busy for awhile.

In the meantime, in case you haven’t read The Betrayal, I’ve posted a free preview below.

Marina Martindale

Click here for a free preview.

Hotel del Coronado

One of the locations in The Betrayal
The Hotel del Coronado by Gayle Martin Photography copyright 2020 by Gayle Martin All Rights Reserved
© 2020 by Gayle Martin. All Rights Reserved.

Photography, like writing, is one of my life’s passions. I’ve visited, and photographed, many of the locations I use in my contemporary romance novels. So while I’m working on the treatment for my next book, I thought I would share my photos of some of the places we visited in my earlier novels.

Portions of my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal, take place in San Diego, when Emily and Jesse, spend a romantic Christmas holiday at the Hotel del Coronado.

The famous landmark dates back to the late nineteenth century with it’s Queen Anne revival architecture.  The hotel also has a reputation for being haunted. Kate Morgan, a young hotel guest in the 1890s, met an untimely end during her stay at the Hotel del Coronado, and her ghost is said to haunt hotel today. She’s even mentioned in The Betrayal. In the mid-twentieth century, the hotel was a location for Some Like it Hot, starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn’s ghost is also said to haunt the hotel.

Now, in case you’re wondering, I do my photography as Gayle Martin. If you would like to see more of my work please visit my website at GayleMartinPhotography.com.

Marina Martindale

 

Yikes! I’ve Created Another Sexy Villain

© Can Stock Photo / Ostill

Ask any fiction author. They’ll tell you characters have minds of their own. Believe me, I have experienced this phenomenon many times myself. There’ve been many times when a character came out differently than planned, and it’s always been for the better.


Villains in particular have a certain quality about them. They’re typically more complex, more charismatic and, for lack of a better word, sexy. Jeremy Palmer in my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion was the first. Originally intended to be a rogue character who would do his dirty deed and disappear, Jeremy ended up having a special charisma. He went from being a rouge to becoming a rival who would compete with his father to win Gillian’s affections. Josh Ramsey in my later contemporary romance novel, The Letter was intended to be a conman. Then the chemistry between him and Stephanie unexpectedly sizzled. So I revamped him into a mystery man.


I strive to make my villains as despicable as I can. There’s nothing more fun than seeing a villain we love to hate get their comeuppance. Some of my more dastardly villains include Scott Andrews in my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. Scott was a married man presenting himself as a single man to entice unsuspecting single women. Then there’s Beau Fowler, the corrupt detective in The Betrayal. He tried to frame an innocent woman for a crime she didn’t commit. And finally, there’s Craig Walker, the sociopathic villain in The Stalker. He’ll resort to kidnapping and murder to get what he wants. 


Now it’s happening again. This time it’s Calvin Michaelson, in my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Scandal. Cal’s a Hollywood mogul with a reputation as a playboy. Intended to be a despicable villain for readers to hate, his character became more dynamic than expected. He too is being revamped. He’ll still be a playboy, but at the end of the story a new and completely unexpected side to Cal will be revealed. 

Marina Martindale

Update

The Scandal is now available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

And Now for Some of My Other Characters

A horse and a dog in an open field.
© Can Stock Photo / Callipso88

My readers have given me nice feedback about the characters in my contemporary romance novels. I love them too, but let’s not forget my other characters. The nonhuman ones.

I love animals and I grew up around dogs and horses. So, it stands to reason that some of my characters are dogs and horses. They may not be as cunning as their human counterparts, but it doesn’t means they don’t cause problems.

In The Reunion, a black mustang named Miss Mollie puts Gillian in a real jam. Her dachshund, Duke, also becomes the catalyst in a major life changing event. However, these animal characters can do good deeds as well. Some even end up being the unsung heroes in the story.

Lurch, the lovable mutt in The Betrayalhelps save Emily’s life, while Lucy, Shane’s dog in The Stalker, becomes attached to Rachel, much to his chagrin. My upcoming book, The Scandal, will also have a canine character. This time it’s an English springer spaniel named Barney.

Those of us who have pets will tell you they really are part of the family, and my two real-life dogs are no exception. Of course, they wish I’d spend less time writing and more time with them. In fact, if it were up to them, I’d dote on them twenty-four/seven. Lucky for them they have a nice big cozy dog bed right next to my writing desk. Now, if only I could get them to give me feedback on my writing. Unfortunately, about the only words they really seem understand are eat, food, and treats. 


Marina Martindale

Update

 

The Scandal is now available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Themes and Plotlines

An image of a pen with a light bulb on top writing in a book.
© Can Stock Photo / khunaspix

At long last, I’m finally in the home stretch for my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Letter. Its theme would be don’t judge things by their appearance.

Some of you may be wondering, what’s a theme?

A theme is separate from the plot line. A theme is the underlying part of a story, such as the moral, or perhaps a comment about society or human behavior. I’ve posted the themes from my earlier contemporary romance novels below, but don’t worry. If you’ve not read all of them I won’t spoil the story.

Forgiveness — The ReunionIan was the one true love of Gillian’s life, but he suddenly ended their relationship for no apparent reason. If she can forgive him, she stands a good chance of having a future with him. This theme carries over into a subplot concerning Ian and a member of his immediate family.

Adultery and Its Consequences —The Deception and The Betrayal. Adultery is a great theme for the romance genre. It’s an opportunity to explore the repercussions for everyone involved, as it often affects more than the two primary parties. In The DeceptionCarrie, a single woman, meets Scott, a married man who has presented himself to her as a single man. In The Betrayal, faithful wife Emily unwittingly catches her husband, Jesse, in the act with another woman. Both women’s lives are turned upside down.

Revenge — The Journey and The Stalker. Life isn’t always fair and things don’t always go our way. However, it doesn’t mean someone has intentionally thwarted us. Sometimes bad things happen. Unfortunately, there are people out there who subscribe to the notion of don’t get mad, get even, and their quest for vengeance inevitably harms others who are innocent. In The JourneyDenise seeks revenge on Jeremy for having turned down her romantic overture years before, while Craig, in The Stalker, relentlessly hounds Rachel for getting a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve.

Those are my themes, at least so far. We’ll have to wait and what my next theme will be. Until then, happy reading.


Marina Martindale

THE BETRAYAL Book Trailer

photo by Marina Martindale

 I’ve spent a busy summer producing a new book trailer video for my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal, with my good friend and fellow videographer, Rob Resetar, of Rob Resetar Video.  

Like our previous book trailers, it presented its own set challenges. However, we still had a lot of fun. Rob and I got to work with some amazing actors. I even spent a day in the southern Arizona wine country shooting the road footage from my dashboard.

The Betrayal is the story of Emily St. Claire, a devoted wife who literally catches her husband in the act with another woman. Determined to rebuild her life, Emily returns home with her father to pursue her dream of being a concert pianist. But little does she know that a new, and deadly, betrayal is about to unfold.

Marina Martindale

Meet Annette

the mistress you’ll Love to hate in THE BETRAYAL
A young woman with long, red hair.
© Can Stock Photo / photolux

There are two kinds of women who get involved with married men. Some are like Carrie, a lead character in my earlier contemporary romance novel, The Deception. They’re duped into believing the man is single and available. Then there is the other kind of woman. She knows upfront the man is married, but chooses to get involved with him anyway.

Annette Claiborne, one of the antagonists in my contemporary romance novel,  The Betrayal, is the latter. Not only does she know, from the get-go, that Jesse is a married man, she also knows his wife, Emily. Jesse, however, is nothing if not charming and seductive. He takes full advantage of the fact that Annette has become disillusioned with her significant other, and he uses it as the catalyst to initiate their affair.

Annette has convinced herself that she’s doing Emily a favor by breaking them up. She knows Emily put her dream of becoming a concert pianist on hold to help Jesse with his career. Therefore, in her mind, she is, helping Emily by freeing her so she can finally pursue her dream. Emily, however, doesn’t quite see it that way.

Jesse soon ends the affair and tries win Emily back, but Annette, has no intention of going quietly into the night. She comes up with her own desperate scheme to get Jesse back. The consequences of which will forever change the lives of everyone involved.

Annette is a purely fictitious character. She isn’t based on anyone I’ve ever encountered. Unfortunately, plenty of real-life Annettes out there. That’s what makes her the woman you’ll love to hate.


Marina Martindale

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Writing Relationship Fiction

Photo of an open book with stars coming out of it.
© Can Stock Photo/kudryashka

This may sound arrogant, or perhaps hokey, but I sometimes get weary of hearing myself say, “I write contemporary romance novels,” whenever I’m asked about what I do. People think I’m writing cheap, schmaltzy novels. Or they think I’m writing erotica. Neither is the case, as there is so much more to what I write.

I write stories about human relationships. Love isn’t limited to a man and a woman falling in love and living happily ever after. Love is about all kinds of human relationships. The love of a parent to a child. The love between siblings. Even the platonic love between close friends. The romance between and man and a woman is only a part of my stories.

For example

One of my contemporary romance novels, The Journey includes a heartwarming subplot about the relationship between brothers Jeremy and Larry Palmer, as Larry puts his own life on hold to help his ailing brother through a life altering crisis. That’s true love. 

In The Deception, another contemporary romance novel, a father literally takes a bullet meant for his child. That too is true love. 

The Betrayal, another contemporary romance novel, includes a story of a long estranged aunt who finally lets go of the rivalry she carried for her deceased sister and reaches out to her niece, accepting her like another daughter. That too is love.

The reason why I write contemporary romance, as opposed to science fiction or mystery or horror, is because I’ve always been fascinated by the complexity and dynamics of human relationships. Not only between lovers, but between close friends and family members as well. Of course those relationships can be part of the storyline in those other genres. However, the romance genre is the only one where the primary focus is on human relationships.


Marina Martindale

Meet Beau Fowler

The corrupt detective in The Betrayal
© CanStockPhoto.com/savone

Sometimes the people we think we can trust the most are the very people who’ll betray us. My contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal is a good cop vs bad cop story as well as a love story.

Lead character Kyle Madden is a good cop. He risks his career, and his life, to save Emily. Unfortunately for Kyle, his partner, Beau Fowler, is also his nemesis. A thirty-year police veteran, Beau has been a good cop who’s caught his fair share of bad guys. During that time, however, he’s also been passed up for promotions, oftentimes by younger officers he helped train, and he’s become resentful. Now his luck finally appears to be changing. He’s been called to investigate a suspicious death at the home of a well-known motivational speaker. It’s the high profile case he’s been waiting for. All he has to do is get a conviction and he’s sure to get his long overdue promotion, even if it means framing an innocent woman. In Beau’s mind, people sometimes have the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

Beau Fowler is a purely fictitious character. Sadly, his inspiration is the occasional bad cop out there who inflicts harm innocent citizens. Fortunately, such officers are rare. Most police officers are like Kyle; good people who put their lives on the line each and everyday. 

Marina Martindale

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.