Painter Jenny Kinley has spent the last decade struggling in the New York art world. Her grandmother’s sudden death brings her home to New Mexico, but inheriting the children’s art camp her grandmother ran is more of a burden than a gift. How can she give up her lifelong dreams of showing her work in galleries and museums?
Rob Caruso, the camp cook and all-around handyman, would be happy to run the camp with Jenny. Dare he even dream of that, when his past holds dark secrets that he can never share? When Jenny’s father reappears after a decade-long absence, only Rob knows where he’s been and what danger he’s brought with him.
Jenny and Rob face midnight break-ins and make desperate escapes, but the biggest danger may come from the secrets that don’t want to stay buried. In the end, they must decide whether their dreams will bring them together or force them apart.
Counterfeits is romantic suspense in the Southwest that will interest fans of Terry Odell, Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels.
Reviews for Counterfeits: An Art Theft Romantic Suspense
‘Counterfeits’ is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s ‘Moonspinners’, and Kris Bock used all the things I love about this genre. Appealing lead characters, careful development of the mysterious danger facing one or both of those characters, a great location that is virtually a character on its own, interesting secondary characters who might or might not be involved or threatened, and many surprises building up to the climax. 5 Stars – Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog
Jenny’s rolling suitcase bumped up the porch steps. Once, twice, three times, like a knock that would never be answered. Tears stung her eyes in the cold night air. How many times had she rushed to this door with a sense of coming home? Growing up, she had spent every summer at her grandparents’ art camp. She hadn’t been back as often in the last ten years, but it still felt more like home than any place else in the world. And now she couldn’t bring herself to reach for the doorknob.
She took a shuddering breath and turned away to gaze up at the dark sky. Stars splashed across the moonless night, so many stars she could hardly pick out the constellations. The band of the Milky Way sparkled like a streak of glitter paint on velvet paper. She had gazed up at that sky a million times, and yet it filled her with awe. After a decade living among the lights of New York City, it was easy to forget that nature had her own Great White Way.
She shivered. During her summers in the northwestern New Mexico mountains, nights had typically been mild, even at over 6000 feet elevation. Now in early March, at nearly midnight, the temperature had to be dropping toward freezing. Maybe that was why the vast, chilled sky seemed so distant and lonely.
Jenny leaned back against the door and closed her eyes. She was so tired. The last two days had been a blur of grief, desperate planning, and travel across the country. But she’d been tired before that, for months, maybe even years. She couldn’t remember the last time she hadn’t felt exhausted, discouraged, hopeless. And now the person who could always make her feel better was gone.
She hadn’t made plans beyond getting here. Thank goodness for Ms. Lucena, the camp secretary, who was handling all the funeral arrangements. Jenny simply didn’t have it in her to tackle that as well.
Maybe she’d take a few extra days and rest. But she couldn’t bring herself to enter her grandparents’ house and go to bed, knowing she’d be alone. When her grandfather had died two years before, her heart had broken. Now her grandmother was gone as well.
Jenny tried not to imagine her grandmother’s last moments, when the car she was driving had skidded off the twisty mountain road two days before. She tried to blank out all thoughts, all grief. She took a ragged breath, the frigid air searing her lungs, and released it slowly, hoping to empty her mind as well.
Her thoughts refused to quiet, while her heart ached with emptiness, a dark hole as vast and cold as the night sky.
Jenny rose from sleep slowly, her body resisting. She could see nothing in the pitch black. Where was she? She blinked, trying to make sure her eyes were really open.
Memories broke through the fog. The phone call, the rush across country, the late arrival. Crawling into bed in her grandparents’ upstairs guest room. She groaned and pulled up the blanket. Morning must be hours away, given the darkness.
The old house creaked, but no sounds drifted in from outside. Maybe that’s what woke her; she was used to the murmur of city sounds all night long. Who’d have thought that would become normal?
Her head pounded. Probably dehydration from the high elevation and dry air. She should get up, drink a glass of water, take a couple of aspirin. Her head would thank her in the morning. If only she could make herself move.
The house creaked again, followed by a rhythmic sound – like footsteps. Jenny jerked upright, her ears straining. Had she heard a voice?
She shook her head. She must still be half asleep, dreaming. Imagining her grandparents were still here. Wishful thinking.
Downstairs, a door closed. Jenny clutched the blanket. Imagination be damned. She was not alone.
About the author
Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark involves archaeology and intrigue among ancient ruins. What We Found features a young woman who stumbles on a murder victim, and Rattled follows a treasure hunt in the New Mexico desert. To learn more about her latest work, visit www.krisbock.com or her Amazon page.
An Interview with Holly Hewson
HH: Kris, thank you for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is Counterfeits. What can you tell us about your latest suspense-filled work?
KB: Thanks for having me!
In Counterfeits, Jenny returns to her grandparents’ art camp in a remote New Mexico town after her grandmother’s sudden death. That night she wakes to the noise of intruders. What do the strangers want? As more bizarre events unfold, Jenny realizes the people she thought she knew are not what they seem – least of all Rob, an old friend whose past may be coming back to haunt them all.
Counterfeits is romantic suspense that will appeal to fans of Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels.
HH: What do you like best about Jenny and why will readers identify with her?
KB: Though I am now a writer, I attended the Rhode Island School of Design to study photography. Art and artists have a special place in my heart, so it was fun to write about them.
Jenny is very dedicated to her art, but she has gotten stuck on a path that may no longer be the right one for her. I think many readers will understand the feeling that maybe you need to change direction, while fearing being a “failure” if you “give up.” One of the most important questions in life is, “Who do I want to be when I grow up?” It takes some of us decades to figure it out.
HH: What do you like best about Rob and why will readers love him?
KB: No alphahole heroes for me, please! I like book heroes I would like in real life. Rob has secrets, but he’s not keeping them for his own sake. He’s torn between his desire to have an honest relationship with Jenny and loyalty to her late grandfather. He has a strong protective streak and he’s nurturing, though that tends to come out more in deeds than in words. He has a dark past, but he’s spent his adult life trying to be a better man. He’s succeeded so well that he deserves Jenny, even if he doesn’t quite believe it yet.
HH: How do you go about doing research for your works? Do you draw on personal experience for your stories?
Whispers in the Darkfollows a young archaeologist who stumbles into danger as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. That was inspired by a trip to Hovenweep National Monument some years ago.
I had an idea for a series about treasure hunting adventures in the Southwest, so I read up on some lost treasures. In Rattled two friends search for the Victorio Peak treasure – a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider. Their experiences in the desert are based on my experiences hiking in New Mexico, though they get more danger and drama.
Beside the art aspect to Counterfeits, it’s set near Jemez Springs, a real town in the Northwestern part of New Mexico. I have attended many writing retreats at a camp there. Sites mentioned in the book such as Battleship Rock and Soda Dam are real. I hiked through the mountains and took notes for one scene where Jenny has to escape from some bad guys.
I’ve blogged about my Southwest travel and inspiration more here.
HH: What else do you have coming up for lucky readers?
KB: Lately I’ve been busy with paid jobs. As children’s book writer Chris Eboch, I write nonfiction books for educational publishers, as well as fiction for ages 9 to 12. I teach workshops, and I offer developmental editing critiques. All this has kept me from spending as much time as I’d like on my novels. I’m working on a sequel to Rattled, but I doubt I’ll finish before the end of the year. I’d love to make enough money from fiction that I no longer have to take every other job that comes my way, but that hasn’t happened yet.
HH: What is your writing schedule like?
KB: I am a full-time writer, working from home. I usually spend an hour or two catching up on e-mail and other tasks. Then, ideally, I work on one of my own projects for a couple of hours, unless I have too many other deadlines. In the afternoon, I may tackle research, nonfiction books or articles, critiques, or marketing and publicity. Sometimes I have workshops lined up on the weekends, or I give online workshops.
HH: Where do you mostly draw inspiration for your writing?
KB: Inspiration is everywhere, from both good and bad events in our lives. As I said above, the Southwest has been important for my romantic suspense stories.
I also enjoy history and foreign cultures. Though I haven’t written any historical romance, I’ve written historical fiction for children. My “Chris Eboch” novels for ages nine and up include The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy,The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan drama.
HH: What do you enjoy reading personally?
KB: I like romantic suspense and mystery, but nothing too gruesome. I don’t need dead bodies strewn on every page. Lately historical romance seems to be my comfort reads. It generally makes a nice break from whatever I’m working on. Maybe because I don’t write it, I can turn off the editorial brain and just be a reader.
HH: Where can readers find you online?
Thanks so much for the chance to visit! Counterfeits is on sale for the Kindle, for $.99, from June 22 – June 28.