Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Secrets in the Air by Liz Borino: Interview, Review & More!

Secrets in the Air
by Liz Borino
Wealthy family…
Childhood tragedy…
A love defying all odds…

Flying is in Rhett O’Neil’s blood. And nothing makes this pilot fly higher than wrapping himself in his husband Kaden’s arms. He’s thrilled when his grandfather entrusts him with O’Neil Airways, the family’s charter airplane business. With a mix of humanitarian and corporate clients, Rhett plans a bright future where his success improves the world.

Elise, Rhett’s mother, begins offering advice to “help” her son through the transition into increased responsibility. As evidence surfaces that her words are escalating into devastating actions, the truth comes out about the death of Rhett's sister Annabelle. Kaden has to race to protect his husband and himself from the consequences of the Secrets in the Air before it’s too late.

Today I'm welcoming Liz Borino to my blog. She's generously agreed to answer a few questions about her new release, Secrets in the Air, and I'm so excited to have her here! I must admit, I was immediately drawn to this story as soon as I read the synopsis. My own Grandfather was a pilot. He was a barnstormer with a flying circus, and then a flight instructor during WWII. He frequently talked about his experiences (although I suspect he may have embellished them a bit over time) and he passed on his love of flying to his family. Where did you get the inspiration for the strong family history of flying that is such a predominant theme in this story?

Liz: For me to truly understand where a story element originates, I’d have to delve even deeper into my psyche than I’m forced to do by living and writing from it. No one wants that! I’m not sure I’d return unscratched. Seriously, though, my characters come to me fully formed. Rhett has always been a pilot in my head. Now, whether that’s inborn or due to Don’s (his grandfather) influence, I can’t say. 

Carly: I love to skydive, and while I've taken off in planes, I've never actually landed in one! What type of research did you do while preparing to write Secrets in the Air? Did you have any unique or exciting experiences during the research process that you would like to share with readers?

Liz: I spent several days reading online about the training pilots go through and the FAA guidebook for flying. While important information to have – like any guidebook – it fails to show how 100% of its intended audience lives and works on a day to day basis. So, I changed the search terms to discover what the airlines don’t want us to know. And… yeah. According to my research, pilots regularly sleep on long flights, we shouldn't be concerned about turbulence, and a crash is most likely to occur during takeoff and landing. Oh, readers, if you’re on a flight, I strongly suggest wiping the tray table before eating. Almost all the articles I read stated no one else has, and parents like to change their babies there. Parents? Please don’t do that. 

P.S., Carly, the main characters in my Angel series are skydivers. 

Carly: In addition to the flying, you've also written a story that is extremely character driven, which is another aspect I love to see in stories! The family dynamics are complex, and I am sure that readers are going to love the emotional intensity of this story. Tell us a little bit about your writing process; do your characters write themselves or do you have a firm idea of how you want the story to progress from the very beginning? Was this a difficult story for you to write and why or why not?

Liz: The first draft of this book came out faster than any other I have written. I wrote my outline while I finished up an unpublished manuscript because the Rhett and Kaden would not get out of my head. But the original outline predicted a very different than the book I wrote. To start, Don was dead for years, but that didn’t work. Okay, I said, he can die in the prologue or first chapter. No, the boys didn’t like that, either. Turns out they knew best. Secrets in the Air would not be the same without him. Even once I began writing I’d change things – usually at the characters’ insistence. You’d think after writing for so long I’d learn to trust character when they deviate from my plan, but not yet. As soon as I followed their lead though, the writing flowed. I mean – it really flowed. First scene to the end took eleven days. Please don’t ask me how. I couldn’t tell you, nor do I think I can repeat it. I’ve come to believe that the draft was “easy” so I properly loved the book before starting the editing and formatting process. 

Carly: Finally, can you tell us a little bit about your works in progress or what we can look forward to seeing from you in the future? 

Liz: I have a huge Scrivener project filled with ideas for future projects. I’m trying to rework my first published series, which is no longer online; a story about an ex-con who has to go back into prison as an undercover cop, and a sequel to Secrets in the Air. What am I going to work on first? That depends on who screams the loudest. 

Carly: Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today and taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences about Secrets in the Air. I'm looking forward to your upcoming works and am sure your readers are as well! Liz: Thank you for having me and for asking such insightful questions!
    Kaden O’Neil tensed as Rhett’s motorcycle roared into the driveway. “Lassie, your other daddy is in trouble,” he said as he scooped up the orange and white tabby. Rather, Kaden tried to remain irritated with his husband. Goddamn Rhett for making it nearly impossible to do that as he strode up the walkway with his snug jeans and brown curls gracing the collar of his leather bomber jacket. 
   Rhett raised an eyebrow as he took note of the bare windows. After opening the door, he tossed his duffel bag on the floor and offered a tired smile. “Going to just stand there and stare? What kind of welcome home is that?”
   “You’re lucky I enjoy staring at you,” Kaden said, coming over and kissing him. “Otherwise, I would still be mad for making me hangry.”
    “Yeah, hunger that causes anger.” Kaden scratched Lassie’s head.
    Rhett offered her his hand to smell. “Is this little bundle of joy why we don’t have curtains up in the living room?”
   “I love you.” Kaden glanced down at Lassie, who purred and rubbed herself all over Rhett’s fingers. “Oh, look, so does she.”
      Leaning in for a kiss, Rhett replied, “Uh-huh. Curtains?”
    “Mount Everest for cats. I got her a scratching post after she defeated them.” Kaden let her jump from his arms and embraced his husband. As Rhett returned it, Kaden buried his face in his neck, appreciating the familiar scent of worn leather. “I missed you.”
    “Mm, I missed you, too, Kay.” Rhett pulled back and kissed his lips. The kiss deepened as Rhett slipped his tongue in Kaden’s mouth.
    Moving one hand up to the back of Rhett’s head, Kaden entangled his fingers in his dark hair, and circled their tongues. He pulled away and unzipped Rhett’s jacket. As it dropped to the floor, Kaden’s stomach growled loudly enough for the cat to meow. “Food first?” he asked Rhett. Lassie led the way to the kitchen.
    “Was she watching us?” Rhett asked, bending over to pick his jacket up off the floor.
Kaden averted his gaze before Rhett faced him again. “Probably. She follows me into the bathroom. Studies all sorts of private acts.”
     Sauntering closer, Rhett whispered, “And you were also staring again.”
   “What did you think would happen if you bent over in front of me?” Kaden snaked his hand around Rhett’s waist and squeezed the firm globes. 
     “I thought you wanted to eat,” Rhett protested. 
     As if on cue, Kaden’s stomach growled. “Fine!” With a chuckle and another squeeze, he let go and made his way to the kitchen. As he dished out roast beef from the crock pot and added mashed potatoes, he smiled at Rhett, who poured water from the Brita filter. They kept no alcohol in the house. Between what Kaden saw at his job every day and Rhett’s father’s addiction problems, neither even considered it. “Everything all right?” Kaden asked, setting the food at their places. 
    “Hmm? Yes. Dinner smells delicious,” Rhett said, bringing the fork to his mouth. As soon as he wrapped his lips around the tines of the fork, he shut his eyes. The expression painting his face reminded Kaden of the one he wore after an orgasm. “Tastes it, too.”
   “I’m glad, but I meant Pop. Is he okay? Besides having no concept of quick.” Kaden smiled to signal that he wasn’t upset. 
    Rhett cleared his throat and returned it, albeit stiffly. “About that. We should talk.”
     “No, no, nothing bad.” He sat back in the chair and grasped Kaden’s hand. “Pop is retiring and giving me the business, in addition to part of my inheritance.”
     Kaden’s heart rate steadied and his smile widened. “That’s fantastic. I’m so proud of you.”
     “Thanks. I didn’t do anything, though.” Rhett’s face pinkened into a flush.
     After setting his fork down, Kaden stroked Rhett’s cheek. “Really? You believe your grandfather would hand his company to someone who had done nothing to deserve it?”
    “I meant today.” Rhett wiped his mouth. He covered Kaden’s hand with his own. “It’s a lot of responsibility.”
    “It is, and people who were once your peers are now your subordinates. Not all of them will appreciate that,” Kaden said. “Are they all keeping their jobs?”
     “Most, yes.”
     Rhett removed their clasped hands from his face. “There are a few older guys who I think would benefit from a retirement bonus, but I’m not going to force them out. That would be terrible.”
     Kaden opened his mouth to say more, but Lassie jumped up on Rhett’s lap. 
    “I am not your daddy,” Rhett informed her as he stroked her fur. “Kaden begged for months to bring you home.” The more he explained, the louder she purred while rubbing against him. 
    “You know, babe, I don’t think you get that choice,” Kaden said, pleased that despite the protests, Rhett wore a relaxed expression as he petted Lassie.
     “I do get to decide that she stays out of the bedroom viewing area.”
   “Oh?” Kaden tilted his head to the side. “Is there something to view up there? Our best TV is down here.” It took all of his willpower not to hop over the table, put the cat on the floor and straddle his husband once the devilish sparkle lit up his eyes. 
    “I think you want the neighbors to watch.”
    “Why would you say that?”
     Rhett leaned forward. “Because you’re wearing a ‘fuck-me-now’ look, and you know what that does to me.”
  “Must be mirroring your expression, then.”
    Setting Lassie on the ground and pushing out his chair, Rhett said, “Let’s take care of that, shall we?”
    “As soon as I clean up.” 
   “Oh, no, we are not the people who sacrifice sex for cleanliness. The dishes can wait.”
    Kaden glanced between the plates streaked with gravy and the orange and white cat, who stared at him while licking her paw. “We are the people with a cat, and if we leave dirty dishes on the table, we’ll be the people with a gravy decorated carpet. Ten minutes. Five if you help.”
     “Damn cat,” Rhett muttered, gathering the dishes while Kaden washed the potato pot.
    Damn cat inspired faster cleaning than we've ever accomplished, Kaden thought as Rhett led him upstairs three minutes later with a sparkling kitchen in their wake.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rhett and Kaden's relationship is everything I love to read in a story about married couples. Committed, passionate and still in love after many years together, they are realists who see each other's flaws while appreciating the unique differences that make them strong as a couple.

When their life is unexpectedly turned upside down, they lean on each other for the strength each needs to face the danger and heartache that could have overwhelmed them.

With an engaging and well developed cast of supporting characters, including a hugely mix basket of relatives and friends, SECRETS IN THE AIR is a romance within a mystery that engaged my imagination. Although the plot development had moments of extreme coincidence, that at times felt a bit surreal, I was able to easily overlook this because of the pure emotional impact of the overall story.

My third experience with Liz Borino's unique writing style, her characters continue to impress me with their depth and emotional realism.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a realistic love story that is well balanced with adventure and fun!

Liz Borino transcribes the world inside her head onto the page, and shares it with the people who are stuck in the “real world” to makes their lives a little more interesting. Because in her world, heroes fall and stand up again with the help of their partners and friends. Liz’s world is littered with formidable obstacles, which her heroes overcome with a fire of courage and passion. The beauty of love between two men is celebrated. Who wouldn’t want to live there?

When not with her heroes, Liz enjoys exploring cities, old abandoned buildings, working toward social justice, and editing for other authors. Liz published eleven books since 2012.

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