Relatively Risky cover art

Nell Whitby is starting over in New Orleans, getting a publisher for her children’s book, sketching tourists in the French Quarter, and leaving the tragic death of her parents behind. When a handsome detective asks her for a date, her fresh start seems perfect…until a dangerous family secret bubbles up from the past and puts her life in jeopardy.

The oldest of thirteen children, detective Alex Baker has two goals in life: solve murders and avoid anyone under the age of ten. That is, until the day the quirky children's book author foils a carjacking, becomes a target for the mob, and makes his libido sit up and reconsider the whole no-kids thing. If he doesn’t protect her, she’ll be the next body to turn up in his homicide investigation.

As bullets start to fly, Nell can’t resist her sexy bodyguard or ignore her past, and Alex must protect the irresistible kid-magnet who has them both in the crosshairs.

Excerpt:

He shifted uneasily. “They smile.”

“Excuse me?” She blinked, though slowly, her lashes drifting down and then up as if that was all she had energy to do.

“Your eyes. They smile.”

“Do they?” She touched the edge of one, as if feeling for the smile.

“Inside them.” He knew he was being…something. Should shut up.

“Oh.” Her lips curved up to match her eyes. A slight breeze made the shadows on her face shift, revealing, then shading her mouth.

“How was the muse?” he surprised himself by asking.

She made a face, punctuated it with a lazy shrug.

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His libido kicked it up a notch. Odd to feel that slow slide now. He dealt with the aftermath of human impulse at work all the time. Saw a butt load of human impulse—and some he considered not-human—helping to raise his siblings. He should understand it. Didn’t. He didn’t know why he’d come. Wasn’t sorry. Found himself remembering the moment when he’d almost kissed her and hadn’t. Maybe he should give into impulse every now and again. Sure couldn’t make a move now when they were up a tree. Was kind of sorry about that.

She shifted position, uncrossing her booted feet. She leaned forward, stowing her pad in the portfolio and securing it.

“You’re not from here, are you?” The question came out conversational, rather than cop-like.

“Wyoming.” She turned her head, just enough for her sleepy gaze to meet his. “Not Star Valley.”

He grinned. “How did you know—”

“Almost everyone’s ‘I know someone from Wyoming,’ is someone from Star Valley.” An amused frown pulled her brows together. “Not sure why. It’s not huge.”

“Not many towns in Wyoming are,” Alex pointed out, which was almost all he knew about the state. And that most of Yellowstone was in Wyoming. Okay, he just thought he knew that.

Her tiny nod conceded the point. It was followed by another lazy smile that made his insides relax some. He liked that she didn’t fidget or chatter. Looked at him straight, her gaze clear and honest. And smiling. There really was something about her eyes—

“So you’re from not-Star Valley.”

Her chuckle was engaging.

“Waipiti. I’m from Waipiti.”

“Wa—what?”

“It’s a little place between Cody and Yellowstone. A really little place.”

“How did you get from there to here?” Her perch suited her, New Orleans did, too, but at the same time…he tried to picture a little town in Wyoming behind her, but he’d never been to Wyoming. Were Wyoming small towns like Louisiana small towns? Her eyes shadowed some and she looked away.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:on A Girl and Her Kindle:

"With just the right amount of detail, Jones hits it out of the park and leaves readers wanting more. I love how well-developed the characters were and that the story was addictive. Can't wait for more!”

on Long and Short Romance Reviews:

"Readers of romantic suspense novels will certainly not go wrong if they take a trip to New Orleans with Relatively Risky!”

on Midwest Book Review:

"Jones’ writing style is unique: a strong dose of noir balanced with humor and witty dialogue. The plot moves at a fast pace as does the chemistry between Alex and Nell. The characters are well-developed and likeable, the relationship between Alex and his 12 siblings fun, and the New Orleans ambience conveyed so realistically the reader will feel as if they have been plopped down right in the middle of the Big Easy."

on SingleTitles:

"Grinning and loving it, RELATIVELY RISKY by creative talent Pauline Bard Jones is a hoot! Humorous dialogue, rapid pacing, loveable characters and a no-holds-barred setting in New Orleans make a perfect storm of a book. Add a few evil villains to fight and you have a read that can not be put down. Eagerly awaiting the next volume in The Big Uneasy saga."

on Romance Junkies:

"Set in New Orleans with lots of mystery and intrigue that keeps circling back to unassuming Nell. Enough romance to keep me interested in where it was going for Nell and Alex to keep me turning the pages."


Behind the Book: The (mostly) true story behind the writing of Relatively Risky.

Not long after finishing my second or third book (I forget), I started a tradition of interviewing myself about the process of writing my latest book. It's the story behind the story that only I can know--and only I can coax out of myself. It's a little weird, but it helps me capture the things about the story that I'm sure I'll remember forever, but forget when I start the next book. So, without further fanfare, here is the Interview:

Me: Well, after five years, you've finally written a new, romantic suspense novel. How did that happen? I thought you were permanently headed into space.

Myself: I thought I was going to keep going where no man has gone before, too. But then two things happened. First, I decided I wanted to try self-publishing a novel, to diversify my income stream, and because I wanted to learn how to do it. Second, a friend of mine was cleaning up her computer hard drive and found an old proposal and sample that I'd done way back in time for my then-agent. My friend read it and emailed me to ask what had happened with that story. She'd read it to a friend at work and they both liked it and thought I should finish it. (grin)

Me: And then?

Myself: I found the file, opened it, re-read it and went, you know, this is pretty good. And I knew that both my agent and a NY editor had really liked it.

Me: After you went, hmmmm, then what happened?

Myself: I had three chapters of a steampunk novel down, but I'm still figuring out that story. This one had, for the most part, been hammered out. So much of the work of a novel happens before you ever write a word. You need a hero, a heroine, a bad guy (for romantic suspense), a setting and of course, a story. I'd had to get the basics down for my then-agent, so I was halfway there.

Me: Not quite halfway there….

Myself: Okay, I thought I was halfway there. And it was a project well suited to be an independent release.

Me: Can you share those reasons?

Myself: It wasn't a BAB (big a** book). I was pretty sure I could keep the word count down without sacrificing story. (A lot of my science fiction romance word count goes to world building and such.) Plus, romantic suspense is very popular with readers. It shouldn't be quite so hard to promote. Because I've written romantic suspense in the past…

Me: …and won some awards for them…

Myself: (modest smile) They have done well, thank you. I've had readers asking me when I was going to write more romantic suspense. And the story/series is set in New Orleans, which is a popular location for readers, as well. Plus, New Orleans is just fun to write about.

Me: Your romantic suspense has kind of spanned really light to really dark. Where does this book fit in?

Myself: This story hits about in the middle. I wanted it to be fun, but not as whacky as Do Wah Diddy Die. I also wanted it to have intensity, but not as much as A Dangerous Dance or my Lonesome Lawmen. I wanted it to reflect New Orleans, which is funny and exciting.

Me: You also planned for this book to be out sooner, didn't you?

Myself: Rub it in. You were there when life kicked us around last year.

Me: (rubs tush) Yes, I was.

Myself: But, despite that, or maybe because of Life, I've had time to really think about the Big Uneasy series and how to go forward with it. Alex, the hero of the first book, has lots of law-minded siblings. My plan is to release a mix of short stories, novellas, and novels in the upcoming year and beyond. I can't promise a book a month. I don't work that way, at least I can't work that fast and produce solid stories. But by mixing up the project lengths, I should be able to have a better release schedule than once a year. At least that is the hope.

Me: We live in hope a lot.

Myself: Yes, we do. Beats living in despair.

Me: True. (Drifts off for a moment, gives shake) Right. So, there is something special about the cover art, is there not?

Myself: Why yes there is. My cover artist, Elizabeth Vargas Greer, used one of the hubs' photos to create it. I think the hubs had awesome photographs and it is fun for me to be able to use them.

Me: You're almost the only person he lets use his photographs.

Myself: (casting lashes down modestly) Indeed. He loves me. (gives shake) Seriously, the hubs has been amazingly supportive of my writing. He's awesome.

Me: Any last words to share?

Myself: As you know, we moved away from New Orleans ten years ago. It has been a wonderful experience to "revisit" the city that care forgot, even if it's just with my fiction. We left New Orleans, but it didn't leave us, or at least Its magic didn't leave. And I hope readers will enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂

Relatively Risky
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