A Gentleman and a Rogue

Friday, December 16, 2011

Welcome Guest Author Sharon Donovan

SHARON: Thank you for having me on your blog today, Steph! It’s a pleasure to be here. I’d like to offer a prize. My story SNOW ANGEL is one of the stories in the Winter Anthology for Whimsical Publications. It’s a sweet Christmas inspirational starring Oliver. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Now about Charade of Hearts, a romantic suspense which stars Oliver as a detective.

STEPH: Sharon, it's great to have you here today. I don't know much about Charade of Hearts. What's it about?

SHARON: It’s a romantic suspense about piracy on the high sea. Here’s a blurb.
While scuba diving off the coast of Diamond Head with her diving partner on a quest to find a family heirloom, underwater photographer Dominique St. John witnesses his brutal murder and photographs it, ensnaring her in a deadly jewel ring. And when the investigating officer turns out to be her partner’s identical twin, a man she knew nothing about, her life becomes a Charade of Hearts.

Welcome to the world of greed, intrigue, deception and murder. And at its core is a blue diamond worth millions.

As honest as his twin was corrupt, Honolulu Homicide Detective Oliver Carvalho must convince Dominique that her diving partner and best friend was a crook. In a race against time, Oliver must rescue Dominique from a ruthless killer. But his biggest challenge proves to be mending a broken heart torn by betrayal that can only be redeemed by love.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

SHARON: A blue diamond worth millions! Last November, the Crimson Line of The Wild Rose Press challenged authors to write a story for the Jewel of the Night Series. The story could be set anywhere in the world and could be in any time frame. The parameters had to include Romance Suspense Danger and Intrigue. Most importantly, each story had to evolve around a blue diamond. I like to write about a subject worth exploring.

Ship wrecks, underwater photography, piracy and scuba diving were among these subjects. I challenged myself to string those elements into a romantic suspense packed with sexual tension starring Oliver!

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

SHARON: There was a deadline, leaving no time for procrastinating! By time I came up with the setting, storyline and created compelling characters to play the hero, heroine and villain, the clock was ticking. Add to that a ton of research and I was burning the midnight oil many a night! To answer your question, about three months, making the deadline by the skin of my teeth. Smile.

STEPH: How did you come with the title, "Charade of Hearts?"

SHARON: A woman’s heart strings are being pulled in totally opposite directions by two men that just happen to be twins. One has hurt her deeply and the other wants to mend her broken heart. Who’s fooling who in this Charade of Hearts?

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?

SHARON: Yes, but I’m a research fanatic! I’m border-line compulsive when it comes to research. I’m very meticulous on detail and precision. Scuba diving has always fascinated me. From the time I was quite young, I watched documentaries about it on the Discovery channel. For Charade, I read countless magazine articles on diving, air tanks, wet suits, sights and sounds in the seabed, underwater photography, sharks and other sea predators. I was amazed that blood is green under water. Tiger sharks, I learned, are man eating sharks and stalk the Hawaiian waters. Contraire to popular belief, most sharks do not attack people, but all sharks have radar when it comes to smelling blood. It draws them in like bees to honey. Yes, JAWS fans, there is a deadly shark attack in Charade.

I really got caught up in researching shipwreck piracy. European trade began with East Africa in the fifteenth century when Portuguese explorers discovered the Cape of Good Hope. Thousands of ships made their way to Asia, crossing the Indian Ocean and wrecking off the coast of Mozambique, making it a pirate’s haunt for sunken treasures.

During the Ming Dynasty, Mozambique was part of the East Indies run. Fleets of ships crossed the coast of Africa, using Mozambique as a trade post. With poor navigation back then, countless ships carting precious cargo sunk to the bottom of the Indian Ocean, taking the precious jewels to their watery graves. The quality of the gems would have been worth a mint, and if discovered by scuba looters today, would be a million dollar market.

Based on this research, I created a deadly jewel ring that looted ship wrecks in the Mozambique Channel and Pacific Ocean.

STEPH: How important is the setting to the story? Have you ever been to Hawaii?

SHARON: Very important. The setting is the first thing I think of when writing a story. Once it’s set, everything else falls into place. I was fortunate enough to have visited Hawaii, bringing my story to life with first hand knowledge. The island is breathtakingly beautiful, a wild and majestic landscape brimming with miles of sugar-white sands, exotic tropics and water so blue it steals your breath. Diamond Head shrouds the entire island like a fortress, making it both beckoning and foreboding. The contrast against the water is mystical, ebony on true blue.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

SHARON: I collect ceramic masks. They shroud my computer and inspire me to write. Among my favorites are The Crying Mime with jeweled tears, The Veiled Lady and The Jolly Jester. I keep a feather pen with violet ink at the ready for signing contracts.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

SHARON: No, those things are a mystery to me. Since the loss of my vision, I read books in audio format.

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

SHARON: Again, since the loss of my vision. Prior to that, painting was my passion. Needing to channel my creative muse, I began painting pictures with words.

STEPH: What's your favorite holiday? Why.

SHARON: Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year!

Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began attending creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream arose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words.
Sharon writes stories of inspiration and suspense. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. Echo of a Raven, a narrative non-fiction about her struggles with diabetic retinopathy, received a CTRR award for outstanding writing, and The Claddagh Ring is a 2009 CAPA nominee for best inspirational of the year. Mask of the Betrayer was voted book of the week at LASR and its video by Triad Productions was a second place winner at You Gotta Read. Other books by Sharon Donovan are Touched by an Angel, Lasting Love, Her Biggest Fan and Charade of Hearts. You can visit Sharon at

Charade of Hearts is a romantic suspense set in tropical Hawaii. It is one of the mysteries in the Jewel of the Night series for the crimson line of The Wild Rose Press. This book features Oliver, the sexy cyber butler on my blog as well as on the author roast.

Here’s a teaser:

While scuba diving off the coast of Diamond Head with her diving partner on a quest to find a family heirloom, underwater photographer Dominique St. John witnesses his brutal murder and photographs it, ensnaring her in a deadly jewel ring. And when the investigating officer turns out to be her partner’s identical twin, a man she knew nothing about, her life becomes a Charade of Hearts.

Welcome to the world of greed, intrigue, deception and murder. And at its core is a blue diamond worth millions.

As honest as his twin was corrupt, Honolulu Homicide Detective Oliver Carvalho must convince Dominique that her diving partner and best friend was a crook. In a race against time, Oliver must rescue Dominique from a ruthless killer. But his biggest challenge proves to be mending a broken heart torn by betrayal that can only be redeemed by love.

Steamy excerpt

With an abrupt bang, the line went dead. Dominique sat staring at the phone cord dangling in mid air, polarized. She felt the tremor from deep in her gut, rising high in her chest and through her throat. Her mouth was wide open but nothing came out. But when she heard a sharp wrap at the door, she erupted like a quaking volcano and let loose with a piercing wail that rattled the chandelier.

“Dominique, open up. It’s the police, Detective Oliver Carvalho. Let me in.”

Racing to the door, hands trembling as her fingers fumbled to undo the dead bolt, she flung the door open and thrust herself in the detective’s arms. Her voice came out in jumbled fragments. “He…the attacker…” she jabbed her forefinger over her shoulder toward the bedroom phone where the receiver dangled. “Said he’d call back…twenty four hours. Wants them, diamond and camera. Feed me to the sharks if I call the cops.” Her voice broke, tears streaming down her face and onto Oliver’s shirt collar. “He knows my name…saw me take pictures…he’s…”

“Easy,” Oliver’s muscular arms draped around her waist. Then he walked her backward to the bedroom, giving her a gentle shove onto the bed. Then he snatched up the receiver from the rug, clapped it to his ear. Lips puckered, he slammed it back into the cradle and stared at her.

His fiery gaze was scorching hot. A slow heat burned in her belly as his eyes rake her long, slender neck, stopping to linger on her exposed cleavage. Then lower still to her bare legs where the cherry red silk robe rode high on her upper thighs. Then that penetrating gaze seared into hers. His words came out, laced with enough heat to have her quaking at full throttle.
“Tell me what he said, word for word.”

Dominique licked her lips, reached for her cocktail. The ice cubes had melted and beads of moisture had seeped onto the teakwood night stand. She took a sip. “He told me he knew I had the diamond and he knew I took pictures. He said I had twenty-four hours to hand them over, that he’d be in touch. He said no cops…or…” her voice broke off, lips quivering. “He threatened to feed me to the sharks, said they were hungry. He said Roberto, he called him lover boy, just wet their appetite for dessert.”

The detective nodded, prodding her to go on. “What else?”

“Nothing, the line went dead. Then you knocked at the door. I thought it was him, the caller. I thought he came to…”

Detective Carvalho waved off what she was about to say. “I went to the Honolulu Clinic this morning because I had more questions. They informed me you’d been discharged and had been transported by taxi to this hotel.”

Dominique stared at the detective, mute. His eyes were identical to Roberto’s. It was disarming. How could she possibly accept the fact this man standing less than a foot away from her with desire burning in his eyes wasn’t Roberto? She couldn’t. Her mind refused to accept it. She had to send the signal to her brain because her heart sure wasn’t getting the message. But when his scorching gaze raked her body, evoking feelings in her Roberto never had, her breath caught in her throat. She wanted to reach for him, coil herself in his strong embrace, feel his heart beat with hers. And she wanted him to rip off her sexy lingerie and devour every inch of her body. She bit her lip, mortified. How could she be thinking about sex at a time like this? And why was Roberto’s twin brother stirring her blood to liquid heat with his burning gaze? Not once had Roberto evoked such feelings in her. She reached for her drink with such swiftness, she felt her silky lingerie slither past her shoulder and down her arm. And then

Charade of Hearts
Oliver’s story!


Charade of Hearts is every bit the adventure the wonderfully suitable cover suggests!
Dominique St. John and her partner, the utterly wonderful Roberto, set off to photograph
a shipwreck, but also to locate a very specific treasure. They are not far from the
stunningly beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. For long moments at the start, we are distracted with the “wild and exotic beauty…of…majestic mountains … pristine beaches…butterfly and reef fish…” and even the contrast
of light at the horizon. Then Roberto is murdered.

It’s a shocking event; and perhaps a spoiler to mention here, but that event happens
early and seems the true start of this dramatic, suspenseful tale. Roberto was targeted,
through the very eyes of the man who ordered it: the Dragon. We see and understand just that hint more than Dominique does, and so sense the growing danger she faces.

The beauty of the backdrop for this tale is so well described, fans of
Hawaii will be thrilled to read, and those who aren’t, will be fans by the time they finish.
Descriptions are truly almost poetically enchanting, often in sharpcontrast to the
actual activity in any scene.


Charade of Hearts

Oliver’s story!

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

My website

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  1. Hi Steph, and hello to Sharon. What a wonderful interview, I loved the description of your workspace, and the ceramic masks, I know how much you love those.

    If you haven't read 'Charade of Hearts' folks, I can thoroughly recommend it. It's full of suspense, mystery and adventure, as well as a spicy romance with the delectable Oliver!

    Congratulations Sharon, dear friend, can't wait for the sequel!

  2. Sharon you are so talented and your story was just wonderful. If we didn't love Oliver before we had to love him after reading Charade!
    Keep them coming! You are amazing my dear friend. Simply amazing!

  3. Sounds like a great story! Congratulations!

  4. I'm so tickled pink to have Sharon visit. She's such a lovely lady and her Oliver is to swoon for!

  5. Once again Sharon, wonderful interview and Charade sounds fantastic.

  6. Enjoyed the interview and Charade has been added to my TBR wishlist.
    panthers.ravens@yahoo dot com

  7. Hi, Sharon--only you could come up with this highly intense story with intrique and mystery..not to mention a fantastic hero and heroine. Congratulations, my dear!
    I watched a video this afternoon of a blind quilter--fairly young-- here in Texas, on the Texas Country Reporter. Wow. I was blown away. So, of course, I thought of you, and now...here you are. Strangely, she had never quilted in her life, but when she became blind, she asked God...what am I supposed to do? She's now working on her 500th quilt. Amazing story, just like yours....oh, I so admire you, and love you, too. You're a doll...and so very pretty.
    I wish you well with this story...and wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

  8. What an inspiring interview, Sharon, thanks for sharing. I loved your blurb and excerpt too and have added this book to my wish list.

  9. Hi Lyn, sweet friend, thank you so much for your flattering words regarding Charade. I know how much you love darling Oliver, wink! You are so right about my collection of ceramic wall masks. I draw inspiration from them in so many ways. Happy Christmas, dear friend. Love you.

  10. Mary, darling girl, you make me blush. Thank you for your beautiful words my beautiful friend. Love you and Merry Christmas!

  11. Thank you so much, Alexa. I think you might like a story starring Oliver. Happy Holidays!

  12. Steph, my sweet friend, you flatter me! Thank you so much for having me on your beautiful blog. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and lots of love.

  13. Patsy dear friend and soul sister. You say the sweetest things. Thank you my dear. Merry Christmas and love.

  14. Celtic Amazon, thank you so much. Charade is packed with intrigue and mystery. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

  15. Oh Celia, now I’m really blushing. You flatter me beyond words, thank you, dear friend. That’s quite interesting about the blind quilter. It is devastating to be fully sighted and lose it. One really does struggle with what to do and digging deep in faith is the answer. God gives where taken and it’s up to us to move on. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas season, Celia. Love you.

  16. Hi Sherry, thank you so much for your interest in Charade. I hope you'll like it. Wishing you a joyous Christmas.

  17. Sharon, I guess I'm playing catch-up today. I'm sorry I missed your blog when it first posted. I want to congratulate you on that great review and wish the very best.