Friday, August 10, 2018

Review - Interview - Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin

If you know me you know I LOVE the novels of Laura Griffin, there is none better in the romantic suspense genre, her new release Desperate Girls was the best in the genre I've read this year. Fantastic characters and a tight plot make this a must read on everyone's late summer reading list.

ISBN-13: 978-1501162411
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: 8-7-2018
Length: 368pp
Source: Author/Publisher for review
Buy It: Amazon/B&N/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible


New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin’s Desperate Girls is a tightly wound, fast-paced thriller that examines intricate relationship dynamics in the wake of a killer’s symbolic revenge spree. 

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors. With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way. She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.
When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.
With no help from the police, Brynn is forced to take matters into her own hands, turning to a private security firm for protection. But when Brynn defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe. With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.
As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.


Read an excerpt:

Desperate Girls excerpt-
Jen Ballard planned to get lucky tonig
The thought made her heart do a little hopscotch as she slid her Volvo sedan into the driveway and checked her surroundings. No news vans. No beat-up hatchbacks belonging to reporters. She skimmed the street in both directions, but saw only familiar cars in familiar driveways. She glanced in the rearview mirror at the driveway across the street, but it was empty—which might or might not be a good sign.
Jen pulled into her spacious garage and gathered her groceries off the passenger seat as her phone pinged with an incoming text. David.
Running late. ETA 20 min.
She breathed a sigh of relief. Perfect. Now she’d have time to shower and change into something more alluring than the charcoal pantsuit she’d worn to work.
She slid from the car and hurried into the house. Even laden with groceries, she felt empty-handed this evening. She had no briefs to read, no pretrial motions to consider. She’d left everything at the office, including her laptop, which felt good for a change.
Jen stashed the steaks and the salad ingredients in the fridge, then washed the potatoes and put them in the oven. She checked the clock. Fifteen minutes. She uncorked the merlot. It needed to breathe anyway. Really. She poured half a glass, then made her way to her bedroom as she sipped a little liquid courage.
David liked merlot. And he was allergic to bees. Funny the things you learned about your neighbors over the years. She also knew he was divorced, no kids, and he was one of the top cardiologists in Dallas.
Jen set her glass on the bathroom counter and turned on the shower, twisting her thick hair into a bun because she didn’t have time to dry it. She stripped off her clothes and stepped under the hot spray.
A date. Tonight. Her stomach fluttered with nerves, and she wished she hadn’t sampled the wine.
She’d bumped into David at Home Depot last week, and he’d asked her out right there in the light bulb aisle.
We should have dinner sometime, he’d said with his easygoing smile.
She’d been so shocked that she stood there staring at him for a full five seconds until I’d love to! popped out of her mouth.
It was impulsive. And ill-timed. But once the words were out, there was no going back.
She’d told him they should probably wait until her trial was over, but his blank expression made her realize he might not even know about it. How could he not though? Didn’t he read the papers? Maybe he was too busy saving lives to take notice of the media circus that had been going on in her courtroom for the past four weeks.
His utter obliviousness to her professional life appealed to her. A lot. She liked the prospect of seeing someone who didn’t think of her as Judge Ballard or Your Honor. Most men were intimidated by the robe, and she hadn’t had a single date in the two years since she’d been elected to the bench.
Jen stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towel. Nerves fluttered again as she opened her closet and skimmed the endless rack of suits.
“Crap,” she mumbled, combing through the hangers. Everything was drab, even her weekend clothes.
Very few women could exude sex appeal in the courtroom and still be taken seriously. Brynn Holloran came to mind. The auburn-haired defense attorney wore low-cut blouses and spike heels, and everyone knew she was a force to be reckoned with. Jen had always dressed down, in muted colors and sensible shoes, even during her prosecutor days. She wanted people to focus on her brain, not her boobs, but lately she’d felt sick to death of the whole conservative-jurist shtick.
Her gaze landed on the coral sheath dress she’d worn to her niece’s graduation. It was pretty. Feminine. She remembered feeling confident in it. She grabbed the hanger and before she could change her mind, slipped into a lace thong and pulled the dress over her head. She tugged up the zipper and rearranged her breasts because the tight fit didn’t leave room for a bra.
Jen checked herself out in the mirror. Not bad. She freshened her makeup and fluffed her hair into breezy style to match the dress. She slid her feet into sandals and downed a last sip of wine.
Her phone chimed from the bedroom, and she rushed to check it. Maybe another update from David. But instead it was Nate Levinson, a former colleague. What would he want? She’d missed two calls from him while she’d been in the shower, as well as a call from a Beaumont area code. She let Nate’s call go to voicemail. It was business, no doubt, and she was taking the night off.
She glanced at the mirror one more time before heading into the kitchen. The house felt warm, and she stopped at the thermostat to turn up the A/C. The clock read 7:25. David would be here any minute, and she still needed to season the steaks and throw the salad together. She walked into the kitchen felt a crunch under her feet.
She looked down. What the…?
Glass. All over the floor. She glanced at the patio, and a warm waft of air turned her blood to ice.
“Hello, Jennifer.”
She whirled around to see a black pistol inches from her face. Her heart leaped as she looked at the man holding the gun. Dear God, no.
The calls from Nate, from Beaumont all made sense now.
The man stepped forward. “On your knees.”
“Don’t hurt me.”
Her legs folded, and she was on the floor, chunks of glass biting into her skin. This can’t be happening. How can this be happening? Her heart hammered wildly in her chest.
“Don’t hurt me.” She gazed up at him, and the utter calm on his face made her stomach quiver.
He brought the muzzle of the gun to her forehead. It felt cool and hard, and bile rose in the back of her throat.
“Please,” she croaked. “I’ll do whatever you want, just—”
“That’s right.” His eyes were flat and soulless. “You will.”

Brynn Holloran dipped her fingertips in the warm water and eyed the clock.
“What’s your mood today?” Chrissy spun the nail polish carousel and glanced at Brynn’s ivory blouse. “Nude? Blushing bride?”
“Oh, no.” Brynn picked a bottle and plunked it on the table.
“Cha-ching cherry.” Chrissy smiled. “You must have a trial today.”
She nodded. “You’ll win,” she said, snipping away at Brynn’s cuticles. “Red’s your lucky color.”
Brynn darted another look at the clock as nervous energy buzzed through her. She appreciated Chrissy’s confidence, but it did little to quell her stress. Nothing would until she stepped into that courtroom.
“Big case?” Chrissy asked.
“Yes.” Big was an understatement. “It’s a murder trial, and I haven’t gone up against this prosecutor before.”
Chrissy swiveled in her chair and took out some hot towels. Wrapping Brynn’s hands, she studied her face through the steam. “You’ll do great. He won’t know what hit him.”
Chrissy had been a fierce supporter ever since Brynn had repped her in a dispute with her toad of a landlord, who was jerking her around over the rent. Brynn hadn’t even represented her officially—just sent a nasty letter on firm stationery. The toad had backed down, and Chrissy had offered Brynn a lifetime of free manicures—which she wouldn’t take, of course. Brynn would never hit Chrissy up for freebies, but she wasn’t above coming in on a busy Friday and asking to be squeezed in.
Chrissy unwrapped the towels. She pumped lotion into her hand—eucalyptus mint—and started massaging Brynn’s forearms. It felt so good, she wanted to drop her head on the table and weep.
The massage was over way too soon, and Chrissy thwacked the bottle of polish against her palm before twisting off the top.
“The trial’s in Dallas,” Brynn said. “I have a thousand things to do, but I couldn’t leave town without stopping in.”
She raised a sculpted eyebrow. “Not if you’re going to Dallas,” she said, expertly stroking red over a nail.
Chrissy understood the importance of appearances. She was in the image business. Thanks to skin treatments and relentless workouts, the sixty-two-year-old salon owner didn’t look a day over fifty, and Brynn hoped to be as lucky someday.
If she didn’t work herself into an early grave first.
A text landed on Brynn’s phone from Ross, her law partner. She swiped the screen with her free pinkie.
Perez is missing.
“Damn it.” She looked up. “I have to make a call, sorry,” she said, tapping Ross’s number. He picked up on the first ring.
“Where are you?” he demanded.
“In a meeting. What do you mean ‘missing’?”
“We were supposed to have a video conference at nine to practice his testimony, but he blew it off and he’s not answering his phone.”
“Try his girlfriend.”
“I did. That’s what worries me. She hasn’t seen or heard from him since Tuesday, and she has no idea where he is.”
Brynn bit back a curse. “Did you tell Reggie?”
“I’m headed to the office.”
“I’ll meet you there,” she said. “We’ll figure out what to do.”
As soon as the phone was down, Chrissy took Brynn’s hand and swiftly finished the first coat. She examined her work and did a quick second coat before switching on the drying lamp.
“I have to run. I—”
“Five minutes.” Chrissy’s stern look shut down any objections. She borrowed another lamp from a neighboring table and arranged Brynn’s other hand beneath the heat before walking into the back room.
Brynn gazed longingly at her phone. She wanted to call Reggie. And check her email. Shit. How could Perez be missing? Maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was sleeping off a hangover somewhere. But a tight ball of dread formed in Brynn’s stomach as she thought about all the implications. Her eighteen-year-old client was going on trial for his life, and their star witness was MIA.
She took a deep breath and tried to relax, letting the lingering eucalyptus scent calm her. That worked for about a minute and then she cast a furtive look over her shoulder. Chrissy had disappeared, and Brynn made a break for the cash register. She pulled out the credit card she’d left on top of her purse so she wouldn’t have to rummage with wet nails. After leaving an extra big tip and signing the bill, she stepped from the cool salon into the sweltering summer heat.
Brynn slid into her black SUV and headed across town, which wasn’t a long drive. Pine Rock was a sleepy bedroom community just north of Houston—six stoplights and two churches.
Her sister’s Wonder Woman ringtone emanated from the speakers, and Brynn answered.
“Have you left yet?” Liz asked.
“We leave Sunday.”
“What is it?”
“Mike’s got a college friend in from out of town. We’re taking him out for Tex-Mex tomorrow night and we want you to come.”
“I wish I could, but I’m slammed,” Brynn said.
“You’re just saying that because you think it’s a setup.”
“Well, isn’t it?”
“It’s Tex-Mex and margaritas. Totally casual. And this guy’s cute. I know you’ll hit it off.”
Liz and Brynn had a special language when it came to men. “Hot” meant drool-worthy alpha. “Cute” meant a teddy bear, and the last “cute” guy her sister had set her up with had been three inches shorter than Brynn.
Not that it should matter. Who cared what he looked like if he was decent and smart and managed to get through the evening without burping or bad-mouthing his ex? Brynn was the problem.
“I really have to work,” Brynn said. “I have a whole new fire drill, as of ten minutes ago. Our star witness is missing.”
“Damn. Really?”
“Really.” She turned into the parking lot beside her building and whipped into her usual space.
“Well, call me if you catch a break and want to go out tomorrow.”
“I will. Love you.”
Brynn strode across the lot, careful not to catch her Jimmy Choo sandals in any of the potholes. She dropped her phone into her purse as she mounted the steps to the converted Victorian that housed the offices of Blythe and Gunn.
Reggie had bought the property three years ago when he moved his law practice from Dallas to Pine Rock. From the street, the place looked charming. But years of dealing with leaky windows and temperamental plumbing had dampened Brynn’s enthusiasm for the architecture. The building was originally a boardinghouse, but Reggie had renovated it to accommodate six lawyers, two paralegals, an administrative assistant, and a receptionist—not to mention the steady flow of clients who drifted in and out seven days a week. Big trials were the firm’s gravy, but Saturday night arrests were their bread and butter.
The waiting room was empty of tearful mothers and hand-wringing spouses this morning. The receptionist’s chair was empty, too, and Brynn followed the smell of fresh coffee to Reggie’s office.
Faith sat behind her mahogany desk, dabbing her eyes with a tissue. Brynn stopped short. Reggie’s assistant never cried. The mother hen of the law firm was unflappable, no matter how crazy things got.
She glanced up, startled, and her usually perfect mascara was streaked down her cheeks.
It was Faith’s boys. Had to be. Her two teenage sons were constantly getting into trouble, and Faith had started to worry that her oldest was on drugs.
Brynn walked over and knelt beside her. “Faith, what happened?”
She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head.
“Brynn!” Reggie boomed from his office. The door jerked open and her silver-haired boss stepped out. “Brynn, get in here.”
She shot him a glare and returned her attention to Faith. “Are you all right?”
She dabbed her nose. “Yes, just… go on.”
Brynn stood and followed Reginald H. Gunn, Managing Partner, past the nameplate bearing his title. Shelves crammed with law books lined the walls, and towers of file boxes crowded every corner. Reggie walked behind his cluttered desk, and Brynn noted the pinstriped suit jacket hanging on the back of his chair. The pink silk handkerchief in the front pocket told her he planned to be in court later.
“Close the door, would you?”
She followed his gruff command, taking one last peek at Faith as she eased shut the door.
“Sit down,” he said.
“I’ll stand. What’s up?”
Reggie’s leather chair creaked as he sank into it. He ran a hand through his thick hair.
“Nate called me.” He glanced up. “Jen Ballard was killed last night.”
Brynn sagged back against the wall. “What—”
“I don’t have all the details yet, but she was murdered sometime yesterday evening in her home.”
Brynn’s blood turned cold. Beautiful, witty Jen Ballard murdered. The words didn’t belong in the same sentence.
She stepped closer to Reggie’s desk. “How—”
“I don’t know, okay? I haven’t even had time to call the police up there. And there’s something else—”
A sharp knock came at the door. Ross leaned his head in and immediately zeroed in on Brynn. “You tell him yet?”
“Tell me what?” Reggie asked.
Ross stepped into the office, oblivious to the tension hovering in the room. “Perez is missing. We were supposed to run through his testimony at nine, but he blew off the appointment.”
“Try his girlfriend.”
“She hasn’t seen or heard from him in days.” Ross looked at Brynn and frowned. “What’s wrong?”
She cleared her throat. “Jen Ballard.”
“What about her?”
“She was murdered,” Reggie said.
Ross’s face went slack. “What?”
“She was killed in her home last night. Up in Sheridan Heights, right outside of Dallas,” Reggie told him. “I just got off the phone with Nate Levinson twenty minutes ago.”
Ross shot Brynn a look, as if she might somehow make sense of what he was hearing, but she couldn’t. The forty-two-year-old woman who’d once been their boss, their mentor, and their friend was dead.
“What’s the other thing?” Brynn asked Reggie. “You said there was something else?”
Reggie stared at Brynn. A veteran trial attorney, he had a talent for creating drama, but the solemn look on his face was all too real.
“What is it?” Ross asked.
“James Corby is out.”
Brynn’s eyebrows shot up. “Out?”
Beside her, Ross made a strangled sound.
“He escaped.”
“Are you kidding me?” Ross clutched his head with his hands. “How do you escape a freaking maximum-security prison?”
Reggie’s gaze locked with Brynn’s. “I don’t know.”
But he did know. And so did Brynn. As an assistant prosecutor, Brynn had tried James Corby’s case alongside then lead prosecutor Jen Ballard. Brynn had learned that James Corby was not only violent and sadistic, but also smart. Frighteningly smart. And the prospect of him slipping out of prison had lurked in the darkest corners of Brynn’s mind for years.

Interview with Laura Griffin:

Laura, wow just wow this novel is incredible, it’s the best thing I’ve read in a while.
Tell my readers a bit about it.
Thank you! I’m so thrilled with the feedback for this book.
DESPERATE GIRLS is the story of Brynn Holloran, a tough defense attorney who is at the top of her game professionally, but her personal life is a mess. She is about to begin the most important trial of her career—representing a teenage defendant on trial for his life—when a murderer she helped put away years ago gets out of prison and goes on a revenge spree.
Brynn understands that she needs protection, but she quickly finds herself at odds with her security detail, including former Secret Service agent Erik Morgan.

How did the title Desperate Girls come to be and how does it represent the novel?
Brainstorming titles is always a team effort, and in this case my editor came up with the title. She likes Brynn’s fierce personality and determination to succeed against the odds. The title has a bit of a subtext because a number of women in the story, including Brynn, struggle against men who pose a danger to them professionally, emotionally, or physically.

Talk to us about your stars, Brynn and Erik.
Who was the hardest to write and why?
I loved writing Brynn. She is tough, but she has a vulnerability, too. Brynn is the woman who says what’s on her mind and isn’t afraid to take risks. She’s the friend you want to go out with because she has sharp opinions and doesn’t hesitate to share them. Erik is the strong, silent type who refuses to back down when he knows he’s right about something. Erik was a bit harder to write for me. He is inspired by a Secret Service agent I met and interviewed, and his expertise in personal security is based on years of training. When Erik and Brynn don’t see eye-to-eye on things, they end up on a crash course.

You write both stand-alone and series novels and sometimes, like here a series character makes a cameo appearance in Desperate Girls.
Do any of your stand-alone characters ever make it into your series novels?
Yes, that happens! I love connections between people and stories, so when the lines naturally cross, I go with it. A number of characters from the Glass Sisters series have appeared in the Tracers series. And several characters in the Tracers series appear in DESPERATE GIRLS. I love bringing characters back when they have something to add to the story.

Do you have a favorite character from Desperate Girls?
Brynn. She’s such an extrovert, and I admire the way she stands up for people.

You give readers quite an OMG shock at the end of this novel.
Without giving anything away did you know from the beginning this would happen or was it something that surprised you too?
I knew from the beginning how the story would end. But I managed to surprise my editor, which is hard to do, so I was happy about that!

Your novel is set in your home state of Texas.
Are all the places in the novel real or do you take some creative license?
I like to base stories on real settings that are just fictional enough to be flexible. I think a certain amount of reality is needed to make the story feel vivid.

Laura will you be touring with this book?
I was delighted to sign copies in Denver at the Romance Writers of America conference, and this week I’ll be in Houston at the amazing mystery book store, Murder By The Book. I’ll post details of other upcoming events on my web site.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, good luck with Desperate Girls.
When does the next Tracers novel come out?
The next Tracers book is HEART OF STONE, coming in February. This is book #13 in the series. Readers always ask me if they need to read the Tracers books in order. Each book is a standalone mystery and love story, so feel free to dive right in!

Listen to a sample––

My Review:

Desperate Girls
Laura Griffin

Filled with non-stop unpredictable twists and turns keeping reader’s hearts in their throats and on the edge of their seats from page one until “ The End”, Desperate Girls will undoubtedly go down as one of the year’s best Romantic Suspense novels. The stars are both likeable and believable, both lonely, both alphas each with their share of strengths and vulnerabilities with sexual chemistry that is off the charts. Using the perfect words and just the right tone and this masterful author’s iconic in your face with an attitude dialogue readers are treated to the biggest emotional bang for their buck. Her secondary characters both good and bad are exceptional and there’s a cameo from a character from the legendary Tracers series. Laura wraps things up with a nice big bow but not before delivering a heart-stopping OMG I did not see that coming ending. Every page was fantastic but it’s the tender love story that will leave a lasting memory in this best-seller bound, keeper shelf read.

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is at the top of her game and she’s lead counsel on a big case starting soon in Dallas when she learns a sadistic killer she helped put behind bars when she worked as a prosecutor just escaped prison and he’s apparently started another killing spree only this time he’s targeting everyone who helped put him away. So far he’s killed the then lead prosecutor and a retired detective who worked the case. Afraid that Brynn and her partner have made that list her boss hires Wolfe Security, the best in the business to protect them. Brynn has a big problem with taking orders and soon she and her, ex-military, by the rules, buff bodyguard are butting heads while serious sexual sparks are lighting the night sky.
Erik Morgan is a by the book kind of guy, when he tells a client to jump he expects to be asked how high, that is until his current client, the headstrong, bullheaded, impossible and beautiful attorney who’s in more danger than she thinks, who is constantly pushing his buttons and who he’s having trouble keeping at arms length. Heaven help him!

 Connect with Laura- Website - Facebook - Twitter
Meet Laura:
Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty-five books and novellas. She is a two-time RITA® Award winner (for the books Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Laura lives in Austin, Texas, where she is working on her next novel.

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  1. I love Laura Griifin's books. I need to get this one. Great interview and review.

    1. Thanks Nadene and I'm too a huge fan from the very beginning.

  2. Yay for finding an awesome read :) I have a couple of hers on my list.

  3. This sounds so good and I have a copy of it, but haven't had the chance to read it yet. I need to do that and soon apparently. Great review and interview!

  4. Oh I love the way Brynn sounds, and what - a surprise twist no one say coming. I think I read a review for this and someone else loved it too, It has to go on my TBR and read sooner rather than later.

    1. Yeah it was like OMG what just happened here. You'll love it Kathryn

  5. That excerpt really intrigued me.

  6. This sounds awesome. I've marked it on my audio wishlist. Great interview by the way!

  7. A new author and series for me! I love suspense. Is the romance pretty steamy, or is it mild? I prefer closed doors when reading romance books!