Meet Jesse St. Claire

Photo of a man sitting with his laptop and talking on the phone.
© Can Stock Photo / dolgachov


the unfaithful husband in The Betrayal

What would a contemporary romance novel of betrayal and adultery be without a cheating spouse? Jesse St. Claire, the unfaithful husband in The Betrayal, is a complicated and enigmatic antagonist. Unlike Scott Andrews, the cheating husband in my earlier contemporary romance novel, The Deception, Jesse actually isn’t a player. In fact, he’s never cheated before. A highly successful motivational speaker, Jesse steadfastly claims to love his wife, in his own strange way. 

Jesse has built his career on helping people take control of their lives. His own life, however, will spiral out of control when his wife, Emily, catches him in the act with Annette, his personal assistant. As Emily packs her bags and walks out the door, a determined Jesse tries to come up with a plan to win her back. Not only does he want to save his marriage, he also wants to save his career. Unfortunately for Jesse, bad habits prove difficult to break. His past soon comes back to haunt him, forcing him to once again betray his wife.

Jesse is a fictitious character, who, thank goodness, isn’t based on anyone I know. His inspiration came from anecdotal stories of unfaithful men who claimed to love their wives. However, for those of us who don’t cheat, this is something we can never fully understand.

Marina Martindale

The Betrayal is available on Amazon and

A Sample Read from The Stalker




The inspiration for my contemporary novels comes from all kinds of places, including social media. In fact, the idea for my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, came from a Facebook fued.

For better or worse, Facebook has become a part of our culture, and a few years ago a bitter feud erupted on my Facebook newsfeed. A friend’s former colleague had a falling out with her. She had blocked him Facebook, but his so-called friends and supporters enabled him to continue stalking her by sending him screenshots of her Facebook posts. This included posts about her job, her family, and even her children. He would then use her posts to smear her, and her family, on his newsfeed.

No one deserves to be bullied and harassed on social media. My friend took her harasser to court, and the judge put a stop to it once and for all. However, the legal system takes time, so this feud went on for at least a year. As a writer, I saw this as a good premise for novel. Most people assume stalking is limited to former lovers, but it isn’t the case at at. Anyone can be a potential stalker, although stalking itself is a rare phenomenon. I talked it over with my friend, and she gave me her okay to use her experience as the inspiration for my novel.

While inspired by real-life events, The Stalker, is a unique and fictional story. It’s also a much darker and creepier story. Craig Walker, a successful freelance writer, is stalking Rachel Bennett, a former coworker. Rachel had once considered Craig a mentor, but their friendship soured when she got a promotion he thought she didn’t deserve. Now Criag out for revenge, and he intends to destroy Rachel, once and for all. 

Below is a short excerpt from The Stalker. The Stalker is available on Amazon and

Marina Martindale

An excerpt from The Stalker

Rachel waited until Shane was gone before turning her attention back to the deputy. His nametag identified him as Joseph Gonzalez.

“And so another wonderful evening gets ruined, thanks to Craig Walker.” She let out a disappointed sigh. “I first met Shane, the man who just left, back in high school, but I never really talked to him until tonight, and I could tell something wonderful was about to happen. Then you showed up.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m just doing my job.”

Her toned softened. “I know you are, and I’m sorry for being rude. This really isn’t your fault. You got duped by Craig Walker, just like I did.”

The deputy motioned for her to take a seat in the corner of the lounge. As she settled into her chair, he took a small notepad from his pocket and sat down across from her.

“Okay, Ms. Bennett, can you please tell how you know Mr. Walker?”

“Craig Walker is an ex co-worker who I first met in Reno, Nevada, where we both worked for a magazine.”

“Were you ever romantically involved with him?”

“No,” said Rachel, firmly, as she shook her head. “Mr. Walker and I have never been romantically involved. It was strictly a business relationship.” She went on to describe their talks in the break room, and how he had turned on her after she was hired as the new art director.

“So,” said Gonzalez, “you said he was reprimanded after this incident. Did the harassment stop after that?”

“He never actually spoke to me after that, but he still gave me the evil eye whenever he saw me, and he always made a point of contradicting me at staff meetings, even when everyone else agreed with me. I probably could have said the sky was blue, and he would have said no, it was green. And then things started getting really scary.”

“What do you mean by scary?”

“I started getting some really nasty emails in my personal account. They came from different senders, but they all had pretty much the same verbiage. I was a hack who didn’t know how to do my job, and the only reason I got my job was because I’d slept with the boss. Changing my password and blocking the senders didn’t seem to help. So, I finally went back to my supervisor, but I was told that unless I could prove Craig was the sender, they couldn’t do anything about it. They suggested I open a new email account.”

“Did you?”

“Yes, and after that I made a point of not checking my personal email from my work computer. Later on, I found out someone was using the contact form on the magazine website to complain about me, but management simply ignored it. They knew what was going on; they just didn’t want to get involved. It was about the same time we learned the magazine would be going out of business.”

The deputy went over his notes. “You mentioned something about this not being the first time you had an evening ruined by Mr. Walker. Could you please explain what you meant by that?”

“Back in Reno, it seemed like every time I went out with friends, Craig would be there. If we went to a bar or restaurant, he’d be at another table. If we went to a movie or show, he’d be seated in the auditorium; always giving me a cold, hard stare. It was as if he knew my every move, even though I’d made a point of keeping my private life private. I never discussed any of my plans with co-workers. Then there was Eric.”

“Who was Eric?”

“Eric Hawthorne was someone I was seeing while I was in Reno. It wasn’t anything overly serious, but we enjoyed each other’s company. So one night while we were out having dinner, Craig was brazen enough to approach Eric in the men’s room. He told him what a lying, two-faced bitch I was, and that I was sleeping with the boss, and why was wasting his time with someone like me when there were so many other women out there who were better? The confrontation apparently didn’t last long, maybe a minute or so at best, but it really made Eric mad, not to mention how embarrassing it was for me.” Rachel sighed. “Eric sent me an email a few days later. He said he was sorry about the problems I was having with Craig, but he wanted to end the relationship. He wished me luck and hoped there’d be no hard feelings. After that, I never heard from him again.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “Once again, I went to my supervisor. She said she was sorry, but since it happened after hours and away from the office, they weren’t going to get involved.”

“I see.” Gonzalez scribbled down more notes. “Is there anything else?”

“Other than the fact that he harassed me via the company email account at my next job, and through social media, I can’t think of a thing.”

Meet Beau Fowler

The corrupt detective in The Betrayal

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

Meet Denise Sanderson

the evil nurse in The Journey
© Can Stock Photo / geotrac

If I had to list the most evil of the villains I’ve created, nurse Denise Sanderson, from my contemporary romance novel, The Journey, would most certainly be near the top of that list. 

Denise is dedicated to her career. Her patients come first, and she’s not intimidated by hospital politics or vindictive supervisors. However, Denise also has a secret. While in nursing school, she frequented a neighborhood bar and soon fell in love with one of the bartenders, a young man named Jeremy Palmer. Unfortunately for Denise, Jeremy didn’t feel the same, and Denise neither forgave, nor forgot, his rejection.

Denise would meet Jeremy again, this time under different circumstances. When Jeremy’s wife, Cassie, is seriously injured in a car crash, Denise becomes one of her nurses. She quickly befriends both Cassie and Jeremy, and while Jeremy can’t quite place her, he feels he can trust her. Denise will use his trust to unleash her revenge, and Jeremy’s life will never be the same.

Denise is a fictitious character who represents a deep-seeded fear many of us may have. What if the people we trust to take care of us during our most vulnerable times really don’t have our best interests in mind?

Marina Martindale

The Journey is available on Amazon and

Meet Scott Andrews

the Deceiver in The Deception

© Can Stock Photo / photography33

They’re out there. The liars. The cheaters. The scumbags. The players. The married men who put themselves out as single men, and like the predators they are, they like to prey on unsuspecting single women, looking for lasting relationships.

Scott Andrews, the antagonist in my contemporary romance novel, The Deception, is one of those players. Handsome and charming, Scott passes himself off as a single man. For him, it’s a game. Scott has become bored with his marriage, but he’s unwilling to pay child support. His solution is to have girlfriends on the side. They have no idea he’s married, and once he’s had his fill, he goes running home to his unsuspecting wife.

A mutual friend has introduced Scott to Carrie, a down on her luck photographer. Not only has Scott fooled Carrie, he’s also fooled their mutual friend, Allison. Carrie will innocently mention that she’s recovering from an earlier breakup, and Scott will take full advantage of her vulnerability. Carrie, however, will soon realize things aren’t adding up, but by then it will too late. Carrie will left to deal with life shattering and potentially deadly consequences.

The inspiration for Scott comes from stories friends have told me about meeting men they thought were single, but weren’t. This experience is not only emotionally shattering, and it can often leave them with significant trust issues. Scott may be a fictitious character, but there are, unfortunately, too many real life Scotts out there. Stay safe, ladies.

Marina Martindale

The Deception is available on Amazon and

Killing Characters Off

Photo of gravestones underneath big trees.
Photo by Fotolia.

Most novel writers have to kill off a character at one time or another. We don’t do this because we’re mean or deranged. We do it because it’s needed to enhance the plot.

The first time I killed a character off was in my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. Jason Matthews, a minor character, was one of the villains. He meets an untimely end, but it happens off camera, meaning the readers don’t actually see it. His ex-wife, Gillian hears of his demise in a telephone conversation with a police detective. They say show, don’t tell. However, there are times when telling can be more compelling. Jason was a character who was often talked about but never actually seen. Therefore, revealing his death in the dialog kept it consistent with the story.

In my second contemporary romance novel, The Deception, I killed off another antagonist. It happens near the end of the story. The plot revolves around the character’s conflict with Carrie, one of the lead characters. Carrie has finally won battle. Her nemesis, however, soon figures out a way to get even. This left me with two options. Save it for a possible sequel, or kill the character off. In this case the second conflict was directly related to the first, making a sequel redundant. Therefore, rather than have the story repeat itself, I killed the character off, thus ending the conflict once and for all.

In my soon-to-be released contemporary romance novel, The Journey, I killed off someone who was a supporting character in The Reunion. I honestly liked her, and I really didn’t want to kill her off, so I wrote an alternate draft in which she survives. It wasn’t a bad storyline, but it lacked the drama, and the punch, of the original draft.  Her sudden and unexpected death was an intrical part of the plotline. It happens early in the novel, but she still maintains a presence in the rest of the story.

I’ve heard the joke among my author friends about how there are two kinds of people who know how to kill other people. Psychopaths and novel writers. This first one definitely, although I’m not so sure about novel writers. So far most of my characters have died in accidents. Or, like Jason in  The Reunion, they were their own undoing.

Marina Martindale

Meet Maggie Andrews

The Queen of Mean in The Deception

A woman with short blonde hair.
© Can Stock Photo / yekophotostudio

Some of the villains I create in my contemporary romance novels are downright disturbing. Maggie Andrews certainly fits the description. She’s the woman readers love to hate in The Deception.

Maggie is the last person you would ever expect to be so mean-spirited. She’s a stay-at-home mom who’s married to Scott, a software engineer. They have two typical all-American kids and they live in a nice home in the suburbs. Maggie and Scott also share a passion for art collecting. She be believes she has it all and that she’s living the good life. 

Every morning after Scott has gone to work and the kids have left for school, Maggie likes to grab a second cup of coffee and catch up on her email. One fateful morning she borrows Scott’s laptop. While she’s there she’ll uncover something she never wanted to know, and her heart will break as a result. However, whatever sympathy readers may feel for her will be short lived. A darker side of Maggie will quickly emerge as she hatches a twisted plan for revenge which, in the end, will have potentially deadly consequences.

Maggie is purely fictitious character. While she’s not inspired by any specific individual I may have known, many of us have undoubtedly encountered people like her. Maggie is a spiteful woman who’s incapable of forgiveness. She is also the personification of the concept that two wrongs never make a right. This is why readers love to hate her.

Marina Martindale

The Deception is available on Amazon,, and with other online booksellers

Meet Louise

the two-faced antagonist in The Deception
© Can Stock Photo / Koldunov

We’ve all known people who are sweet as pie to your face, only to plunge a dagger into your back when you least expect it. They say with friends like that who needs an enemy. Unfortunately, they don’t come with warning labels, and they can fool the best of us.

Meet Louise Dickenson, one of the antagonists in my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. Louise is more than happy to be your friend, provided you have something of benefit to her. This makes her a great antagonist as she’s the kind of woman we love to hate.

Louise is a semi-retired commercial photographer. Years before, she worked with Carrie, who was then a child model. The two forged a friendship which would last for decades. Louise later inspired Carrie to become a commercial photographer herself, mentoring her and helping her become successful.

Louise, now an art photographer, has picked up a private commission for a series of a female nudes. She also has a show coming up at a local art gallery, and plans on including the nude photos. First, however, she needs a model. Knowing that Carrie is currently down on her luck, she offers her old friend a well paying modeling gig. Carrie hesitates, but Louise skillfully calms her fears by convincing her that she’s really trying to help her. The experience, however, will leave Carrie feeling manipulated and exploited, and as the story unfolds, she’ll discover that Louise was never her friend.

Louise is a fictitious character, loosely based on a family member who was also a master manipulator.

Marina Martindale


The Deception is available on Amazon and

You Novel Writers are Evil

© Can Stock Photo/ Deagreez

That’s what a fellow author once said to me. Of course, she didn’t mean literally, although she had a point. She writes nonfiction, and her comment had to do with some of the things we novel writers do to our characters. She’s right. Some of the things we to our characters is just plain mean. Then again, some of those characters have it coming.

I was telling her about Scott, an antagonist in my contemporary romance novel,  The Deception. Let’s face it. Scott isn’t the nicest guy on the planet. He’s a married man who puts himself out as a single guy, and his actions have hurt a lot of people, especially Carrie. Once Carrie and her friends realize Scott’s stories aren’t adding up she ditches him. I had originally planned on writing him out of the story at that point. However, readers would expect him to be held accountable for what he did, and they would be disappointed if he were able to simply walk away. 

Scott is later arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and he gets his comeuppance in the form of a humiliating strip search. I strive for accuracy when I write because I want my contemporary romance novels to be as realistic and believable as possible. This means I do a lot of research, so I told the nonfiction author that I went online and read testimonials by real people who’ve had this experience. I then based Scott’s story on those real-life accounts. That’s when she looked at me and said, “You novel writer’s are evil.”

Well, what can I say? She wrote a memoir. I write fiction.

Marina Martindale


The Deception is available on Amazon, and To read a free sample please click here.

I’m Starting to Scare Myself

An ink splatter.

I’ve had wonderful feedback on some of my antagonists, such as Ryan Knight in my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. I’m happy knowing I’m creating people readers love to hate.

I’m developing a new antagonist for my upcoming novel, The Journey. Her name, for now, is Denise Sanderson, and she will be exceptionally nasty. The other day, as I was describing her to a fellow author, I stopped in mid sentence and said, “You know, I don’t know where these people are coming from, but it’s kind of scary when I stop and think about it.”

Ask any novelist. They’ll tell you that over time characters start creating themselves and they’ll tell you who they are. However, they still spring from somewhere deep in our creative psyche.

Some of my villains, like Ryan in The Reunion, are based on some not-so-nice people I’ve encountered in my own life. Writing about them has certainly helped me release some previously unresolved issues.

Other antagonists however, such as Denise, in the forthcoming Journey, and Maggie, in The Deception, are totally fictitious. They have no real-life counterpart. Therefore, it makes me wonder. Where are these people coming from?

All of us have a dark side, whether we care to admit it or not. These antagonists represent our fears. They represent the sense of outrage and frustration we’ve all encountered at one time or another. They also give us the opportunity to vicariously act out our own anger and frustration. Maybe that’s why we’re so delighted when they finally get their comeuppance. It gives us a chance to purge ourselves of our own demons, and that’s a good thing. That said, they still scare me.

Marina Martindale

Update: My contemporary romance novel, The Journey, is now available on Amazon and