Continuing the Grace Award summer book tour, I am hosting Nike Chillemi today and showcasing the latest book in her Sanctuary Point series, Darkest Hour. Set in the 1940’s, these historically intriguing romantic suspense novels will keep you coming back for more!
A petite widow, medical secretary and sole support of her young son and grandparents, is framed for the murder of her boss. Wealthy village residents conspire with the DA to indict her and stop further investigation. The medical examiner thinks the shooter was a tall individual. When his report is shoved aside, he starts his own side-investigation trying to clear her and in the process he falls in love with her.
Lucinda Byrne lost her husband and parents at sea. When she discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society fiancee, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, accuses Lucinda of murder. She struggles on shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness of her situation. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he’s a ladies’ man, but soon realizes he may be the only one in her corner.
Hank Jansen, the county ME who’s had his share of pain and loss, doesn’t know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she’s too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can’t deny he’s fallen head over heals for the accused, and also is crazy about her son. A huge problem is there’s a leak inside the investigation and the murderer is always one step ahead of them.
An interview with Nike:
Barbara: In DARKEST HOUR, your heroine Lucinda Byrne isn’t as feisty as your previous heroines have been. Can you comment on that?
Nike: Lucinda Byrne certainly is strong, but she doesn’t shoot from the hip the way my other heroines did. She’s much more careful. I think a woman can show strength in many ways. Lucinda is a widow, the mother of her five-year old son, and the sole support of her grandparents. Her strength comes through as she handles her responsibilities with courage and grace while powerful individuals in the village seek to destroy her. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing spunky heroines, but in this story, I wanted Lucinda to have poise and dignity, first and foremost. Still, she can and does stand up for herself to the village detective and to Hank Jansen, the medical examiner, who she’s falling in love with in spite of the fact that she doesn’t know if she can trust him.
Barbara: When we first meet Hank Williams it would never occur to me he’d take any personal risks to help a young woman he hardly knew. How did you create this character?
Nike: That’s right. Hank wouldn’t be seen as a man to go out on a limb for anyone. It’s not that he’s cowardly. He’s got a backbone. It’s just that he’s been so hurt in the past he doesn’t extend himself for other people. He’s as surprised as anyone when he decides to help Lucinda Byrne. Perhaps it’s because his professional opinion has been ignored, and the one thing he’s got left is his career. Then he begins to see her as someone who’s being unjustly hurt. He can certainly identify with that.
Barbara: How did you develop the plot for DARKEST HOUR and how did you come up with the name?
Nike: In my Sanctuary Point series, one novel flows out of another. Main characters in one novel will appear as subordinate characters in the next one. Hank Jansen, the Nassau County Medical Examiner, first appeared in my Christmas/New Year’s novel in the series, GOODBYE NOEL. Then he popped up at the murder scene in PERILOUS SHADOWS. I got to like him and thought he’d be a terrific hero. He is the most flawed of my heroes, but like all my others, he seeks to right injustice. So, he needed a heroine, but I wanted a gal who would be put off by him at first. So, I created a widow with a young son who is dignified and protective of her family. At first she thinks Hank is a ladies’ man and too cavalier for her taste. Then, of course, he grows on her. It helps that he’s practically the only one who thinks she’s innocent of murder. The name DARKEST HOUR came to mind because things in this story get so scary for the heroine.
Thanks for stopping, Nike. It was great to learn more about Darkest Hour and the entire Sanctuary Point Series.
You can purchase Nike’s novels here:
You might call Nike a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. You can read more about Nike & her books at her author website: http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/