Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shadow of Deceit, by Mal Olson

I'm very happy to have fellow WisRWA member Mal Olson here today with her debut book, SHADOW OF DECEIT. I read the book and loved's what I have to say:

“Shadow of Deceit delivers on the author’s promise of adrenaline-kicked romance with great characters, a well developed plot, and action packed scenes that’ll keep readers turning the pages and wanting more! Shannon is a heroine who’s been dealt a tragic blow but somehow manages to keep on living. Her strength is tested when she discovers her recently deceased husband had deadly secrets that have come back to haunt her. Though knocked for a loop the moment he sees Shannon’s beautiful blue eyes, FBI Agent Tony Crazaniak suspects she knows more than she claims. Attempts on her life cast him in the role of protector as well as investigator, and he’s helpless to resist their sizzling attraction. The end result is Mal Olson’s great debut full of action and emotion that you won’t want to miss!”

Mal also answered a few questions for me, so enjoy the excerpt and then read on and comment for your chance to win an ebook copy of this wonderful book! (Make sure you leave your contact info in case you're the winner!)


Genre: Romantic Suspense, 66835 words
Heat level: Spicy

Buy: The Wild Rose Press, Amazon

Can an FBI agent obsessed with redemption and a grieving widow desperate to clear her husband’s name learn to believe in love again?

Shannon Riedel faces down danger when a gunman breaks into her office claiming her dead husband swindled him. When FBI agent Tony Crazaniak arrives to investigate, sexual heat sizzles. The ex-Delta Force operative’s massive presence and dark eyes trigger an attraction the young widow finds unnerving.

When Crazaniak convinces Shannon she needs his protection, they partner to unearth secrets her husband left behind—secrets involving a Tanzanian mine that yields perfect blue diamonds coveted by dealers around the world—secrets connected to a terrorist leader Crazanaik has vowed to take down.
With danger surrounding them, two emotionally wounded souls bond, but can they put their demons to rest and trust in love? Can they survive long enough to find out?


Shannon sat, stalled, her heart pummeling like prey snagged in an icy hunter’s trap.

Someone knocked on her window.

Heart in her throat, every muscle in her body tensed as she jerked her head toward the passenger side and looked through frosted glass into the face of Special Agent Tony Crazaniak.

Relief uncoiled the knot in her stomach. She’d never been so happy to see anyone in her life. She unlocked the door, and he opened it.   

“Jesus, what the hell was that all about?” He dipped his head and plunked a snow-clogged foot onto the floor mat as he grabbed her bags and tossed them over the seat.

“I don’t know, and I wasn’t sticking around to find out.”

Cramming six-foot-plus inches of man into her Porsche was like stuffing two hundred pounds of prime beef into a picnic cooler. But he managed not only to squeeze in and make himself comfortable, he took charge.

“Traffic’s moving, go!”

She eased the accelerator, launching forward into an ice-jammed gridlock of traffic crawling west.

“You want to tell me what’s going on?” His shoulder brushed against hers when he shifted in the seat.

“I would if I had the slightest clue.” 

His heat made her nerve endings prickle. And as far as telling him what was going on? The “would if I could” may not have been the entire truth, but it was close enough. Besides, she didn’t want to tell him anything. Yet.

What did she actually know? 

Snow bunched on the windshield as the wiper blades plowed through thick gruel, as her brain churned, as she tried to come up with an answer the FBI operative would buy. “Obviously someone’s after me.”

“Obviously. But, who?”

“I don’t know.”

“Jilted lover?”

Snapping her head around, she glared at him. The full effect of his intense eyes sent heat waves rippling down her spine.

“No.” Cheeks blooming hot, she tugged her glance away and added, “No lovers.”    

She felt his scrutiny slow-slide over her. The bloom that heated her cheeks spread down her neck.

“You ought to fix that,” said Tall-Dark-and-Scrumptious.

And the fact that she noticed that he was scrumptious flustered her. She wasn’t looking for…anything. Although, she could use his broad-shouldered, don’t-mess-with-me attitude and his FBI badge riding shotgun until she ditched the Lexus.

“Listen, I’m not…I mean…” What did she mean? “Not in the market…All I want is a guard dog until I lose the lunatic in the Lexus.”

He shrugged. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.” His smile slammed the scrumptious meter so high she heard bells ring, which made her reconsider her comfort level. She realized she would be safer, at least on an estrogen-to-testosterone level, without his massive presence and raw animal magnetism steaming up the Porsche’s windows.

Looking into the mirror, she couldn’t see the Lexus. She turned around and still couldn’t spot it. Even if it were there, it couldn’t pass four cars on Wisconsin Avenue on a good day, let alone in this snowy mess. 

“On second thought, why don’t I pull over at the next light and you can hop out. If I want help, I’ll whistle.”

“I don’t think so.” He swiveled to look out the rear window, his mouth nearly brushing her cheek.

Too close. Too hot. Too dangerous.

She couldn’t pull over without getting stuck in the slushy excuse for a right lane, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t stop, and that he couldn’t let himself out.

When the line of traffic stalled again, she eased her foot on the brake and said with a prick of guilt over ditching him in calf-high muck, “End of the ride, Agent Crazaniak.” 

He shook his head.

“I can make it home from here. Thanks for your concern.” Too bad he hadn’t worn boots.

He settled his broad shoulders against the seat.  

“I no longer need your assistance.” She glanced over her shoulder again. “The Lexus is gone.” 

“Not my style to leave a woman in distress.”

“Distress?” At the moment, he was the cause of her distress. All she wanted was to get rid of FBI Agent Tony Crazaniak.

Her attention snagged on the Tahoe in front of them, which attempted a jackrabbit start, fishtailed, and landed in a snow bank.

“Maybe when you get out, you could give the guy in the Tahoe a hand.”   

“You need protection.”

She reached into the glove box and whipped out a gold lipstick tube. “I’ve got it.” Pepper spray. She waggled bouquet de Red Hot Chili Pepper at him. 

“You need my protection.”

“How do I know you’re really an FBI agent?” She flipped off the top.

He eyed her small but effective weapon.

“Come on, Shannon, don’t mess around.” Raising his hands in surrender, he leaned away and grasped the door handle. “I don’t think you want to do that.”

“All I want is to go home. Alone…please.”

A nanosecond later, she found herself watching him stuff her pepper spray into his pocket. She didn’t know how the exchange had happened. Other than fast.

“Protective custody.” He patted his pocket. “I’ll get you home safely, and you won’t even have to whistle.” 

Dear God, she was trapped in her car with a man who oozed so much male charisma she felt like she was drowning in testosterone.

“Seriously, how do I know your ID is legit? You could be an ax murderer for all I know.”

“You want to call the Bureau?” He offered his cell phone. “You can get the number from information. You wouldn’t want to trust a suspected mass murderer for the correct number.”

She rolled her eyes.

“It’s listed under Federal Bureau of Investigation. They’ll vouch that I’m a really nice guy.”

When she took the phone, his body heat clung to it and warmed her palm, irritatingly so. “Are you, really?”

“What, hiding an ax under my jacket?”

“No.” She scowled and thumbed in 411. It didn’t hurt to check him out. “Are you really a nice guy?”

“What do you think?”

She thought he wanted to interrogate her. And none of the nice guys she knew were pumped like Hercules. Rather than answering him, she spoke into the phone, “I’d like the number for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The car behind them honked, and she turned her attention to driving and squeezed past the stranded Tahoe. While edging into the intersection, she concentrated on the snow squall, the taillights of the car ahead of them, and on memorizing the numbers the automated voice was reciting in her ear.

“Look out!” Crazaniak yelled as the Lexus materialized from the right, racing toward them. “The bastard must have turned off somewhere and circled around.”   

“Jeez, he’s going to ram us!” Shannon dropped the phone and stomped the gas pedal. The tires whined and spun and finally dug beneath the slush. But when rubber found traction, the car catapulted forward too fast.

Streetlights whirled.

Her 944 swapped ends twice on the glazed surface and came to a dead stop in the middle of the intersection. 

The Lexus revved its engine, its wheels pelting ice. Then rocketed toward them for a second attack.

Paralyzed, Shannon froze in terror. Every muscle in her body locked up. Static electricity lifted the hair at her nape. An image of the accident two years ago flashed through her mind.    
“Hit the gas! Hit the gas!”



How did you get started in writing, and how long have you been writing for?

I remember writing my first romance when I was in seventh grade. It was an English project, a short story, that I tied into the history subject of the jour—a pair of young French lovers who had been kept apart because of the hero's false imprisonment until Bastille Day reunited them. During high school, I was editor of my school newspaper, and for all of my adult life I've been writing "something."  But it wasn't until my daughter and I decided we could write a romance, that I tried a full length book. We completed two category length romantic suspense novels. They never sold, but I still believe with some reworking they have potential. Each one holds a soft spot in my heart because we so much fun working on them together.  

 What genre do you enjoy reading? Do you stick with what you write, or 'play the field'?

Romanic suspense is where it's at for me. The only thing better than reading a RS is writing one. I realized when I looked at my bookshelves that most of my books are either RS (Stacey Joy Netzel titles top and center) or mainstream suspense. Gregg Hurwitz is an awesome suspense writer that I especially enjoy. But I'm game for any really well written book and like to start out each day with reading something that inspires me to write fresh.  Margie Lawson and Mary Buckham always have good examples of fresh writing on their web or blog sites.  Tanya French, author of In the Woods, is another inspiring author. Now that I have a Kindle, I'm focusing on many excellent offerings available from fellow TWRP writers, as well as many WisRWA author's whose books are only available electronically.
(Thanks, Mal, I'm glad you've enjoyed my books. )
What do you find most challenging in the writing process?
Now that I've had a book published, I find it harder and harder to find time to work on my WIP. Many time-consuming projects have a way of saying "me first," while I know finishing the next book should be the most important item on my agenda.

What do you enjoy most?
Starting a new story and creating the characters, although working out a plot without holes can be a challenge.

What do you have in store for readers after they've enjoyed Shadow of Deceit?

Too Sexy for His Stetson, a RS set in Idaho where a rookie deputy and her training officer try to stay focused on business—the white supremacist gang that's threatening their Idaho mountain community—while fighting the forbidden attraction that sparks between them. Also in the works, is an Adrenaline Series that features an uncover FBI counter-terrorism team. I'm also offering two free short stories, which are available on my website, at Smashwords, and at most other ebook retailers. Me and Brad is a heart-warming sweet romance while Danger Zone is an adrenaline-kicked RS that introduces one of the characters from Shadow of Deceit.
You can find Mal at her website:

Mal Olson writes adrenaline-kicked romantic suspense. When her consuming passion for writing allows time, she enjoys reading, flower gardening, jamming with friends on the mountain dulcimer, and hiking in a nearby state forest (or in the mountains somewhere). She has three grown children and one granddaughter and resides with her own special hero in southeast Wisconsin where she juggles writing time with her freelance landscape design business.

And check out Shadow of Deceit's book trailer:

Buy links: The Wild Rose Press, Amazon

I enjoyed Me and Brad, but didn't know about Danger Zone. I'll have to check that one out.

Thank you so much to Mal for being here today! Remember to comment with your email contact and she will pick a winner on Friday.

Have a great week!

Stacey Joy Netzel


  1. Stacey, it's great fun to be here. Your blogs are always awesome.

    Thank you for inviting me!

  2. Good morning, Mal,

    While I was caring for my son very early this morning I read Me and Brad in between tasks for my son before the nurse arrived. Loved it.

    I really like these short works that I can start and finish in a short time. It reminds me of the days when women's magazines always had a couple of fiction pieces that were well-written, thoughtful, and generated a good feeling.

    Also enjoyed your answers to your interview questions.

  3. Thanks, Mal--it's great to have you here!

    Morning, Casey! Thanks for always stopping by. :)

  4. Hi Mal,

    This is an awesome excerpt! Great writing and great tension you've created between the hero and heroine on a primal level and with the villain pursuing them. Wonderful balance for a romantic suspense. Wow!

  5. Thank you so much, Helen, I really treasure your kind comments.

  6. Casey, thanks so much for stopping by to visit me. I appreciate it, and I'm just starting Black Ribbon Affair. You've got me hooked

  7. I really like finding a blog that has new (or new to me) authors. Thanks for having this on yours, Stacey.
    The excerpt is great, Mal - sounds like a book I would like to read!

    Good luck with it!!

  8. Great excerpt and interview, Mal! I already have my copy of Shadow of Deceit on my nightstand, and I'm looking forward to reading it. :-) Just have to get my novella finished before I allow myself any rewards....LOL

  9. Thanks, Donna, it was really nice of you to stop by, and it's exciting for me to know that you've got a copy of Shadow of Deceit. Hope you have a fun read.

  10. Janet, its even more fun for an author to be "found." Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your kind words. I really appreciate your interest.

  11. Ta-da! And the winner is: Helen Johannes.

    Contract me, Helen, at my website where you can leave a comment so I know where to send your free copy of Shadow of Deceit. Do you want the Kindle version?

    Thanks for your great comments.


  12. Stacey, I'm going to pick another winner for a Kindle copy of Shadow of Deceit because Helen Johannes already bought it. (Isn't she a sweetheart.)

    So, Janet, you get an ecopy. Thanks for your comment.


    ***Janet, please email me at staceyjoynetzel (at) gmail (dot) com so Mal can get you your ebook copy!

    Thanks Helen and Mal!

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