Deadly Legends
A Boxed Set feat. Silent Echoes and Silent Obsession
by Melissa Bourbon
Genre: Romantic Suspense
National Bestselling author Melissa Bourbon brings dark twists to two Latin-American urban legends guaranteed to keep you up into the wee hours. With riveting suspense, sigh-worthy romances with heart-stopping heroes, beautiful writing, and characters that jump off the page, these thrilling romantic suspense novels will have you believing in curses and ghosts.
For the first time, Silent Echoes and Silent Obsession are together in this boxed set. Get ready for a thrill-ride…
Silent Echoes
Something deadly waits in the shadows…
On a Texas night twelve years ago, Vic Vargas kissed Delaney West so deeply that she almost came apart. Later that same night, evil crept into Delaney’s room as she slept – and everything in their world fell apart. Now Vic is a rancher living a half-empty life punctuated by one-night stands and a strained relationship with his 11-year-old son.
Then Delaney returns to San Julio, and the past comes rushing back… along with the silent echoes of that night so long ago. Livestock are dying. Some say coyote, but others whisper another darker word. Chupacabra. Bloodsucker.
The past hasn’t disappeared – nor has the instinctive desire that snaps and crackles between Delaney and Vic. And as those emotions ignite, so does the evil that hibernated for the last twelve years. The evil that waited for Delaney to return to San Julio… and to Vic Vargas.
Silent Obsession
Johanna Rios is a woman whose past has come back to haunt her.
The ghost of la Llorona is said to haunt the riverbanks, always searching for her drowned child. She also haunts high school teacher Johanna Rios, whose own mother believed so deeply in the legend she tried to drown her daughters. And now the ghost has become real, a young woman murdered, and the safe world Jo created is falling apart.
Since returning home from his last tour of duty to become a school principal, Ray Vargas has fought his attraction for his employee, the sensual woman who’d once been the girl next door. But the Llorona Killer will not stop until he claims his final victim—Johanna—and Ray will do anything to protect the woman he’s come to love.
With a serial killer out to prove the curse is real, will Ray and Johanna’s future be drowned in the ghostly waters of the past? Or will the power of their love give them the strength to stop a killer…and heal their wounded hearts…?

Guest Post by the Author

Dark Heroes and the Moral Code

 

 

I’m a mystery writer.  My Lola Cruz Mysteries with are soft-boiled and caperish.  My Magical Dressmaking Mysteries and Bread Shop Mysteries are both cozies.

 

And I have my two romantic suspense based on the haunting Mexican legends of la Llorona and chupacabra. They are much darker than my other books.

 

Shifting from writing smart, sexy, sassy mysteries to small town cozies to darker romantic suspenses sometimes makes me feel as though I have multiple personality disorder!  There’s never a dull writing day, that’s for sure.

 

When I began to think about a darker story, I automatically focused on the dark hero. The damaged heroine. It was about that time that I got into Dexter.

 

I should note here that I have taught creative writing (Southern Methodist University with the creative writing CAPE program).  One thing I love about teaching is that it forces me to continue my own learning in new and unexpected ways.  Discovering a new (to me) television show and realizing it can teach me something about characterization, is thrilling. I went through this with Supernatural (love love love those Winchester boys).   went through it with Lost (rife with conflict, those plane crash victims were). I experienced it with Breaking Bad (Walter White is one heck of a conflicted cancer victim).  And I went through it with Dexter.

 

If you haven’t seen Dexter, here’s the lowdown:

 

Dexter Morgan is a forensic scientist. He studies blood spatter. This television series is based on a series of novels by Jeff Lindsay, although, in the vein (no pun intended!) of True Blood, the series has taken on a life of its own. My observations are based on the TV series, not the books.

 

The further into the series I got, the more I wondered: Is Dexter a Villain or a Dark Hero?

 

My take on Dexter is that he walks a thin line between being a dark hero and a villain. This line is blurry and complicated; he is fascinating, which makes him an excellent case study. One could probably write a dissertation on the subject, in fact.  The bottom line? He’s a layered character who does horrible things for all the right reasons.

 

The show has been great food for thought in regards to crafting my own characters (for any of my different series), developing their layers and depths and figuring out how to build conflict into my stories (particularly in the romantic suspenses like the Deadly Legends book, which are, by nature, dark).

 

When I develop a character, good or bad, I craft his/her moral code.  Even the darkest hero and the villain have a moral code.  It may be twisted or skewed, but it exists and in his/her mind and actions are justified because of the code. I’ve always written this way, but the point was driven home as I watched the end of season one in Dexter. We begin to see flashbacks to Dexter’s adoptive father and the code he helped Dexter establish. Harry’s Code. It’s the guiding force in Dexter’s life, informing all of his decisions. It’s his moral compass.

 

Dexter is an anomaly within humanity in that he doesn’t feel anything. He says he has a hole inside him where those feeling should go. If he could feel something, he’d care about his sister, also a cop.

 

Harry, Dexter’s father, steps in to help Dexter adapt to the world he lives in. He teaches him how to survive, kill effectively and efficiently, how to never get caught, and, on an emotional level, how to interact with the people around him so that he can fit in.

 

We all have our own moral code, we just don’t recognize it or live by it as intentionally as Dexter.  But when crafting a character, knowing his/her code can help you stay authentic to him/her.  In my Lola Cruz Mystery series, Bare Naked Lola (book 3), the mystery takes Lola to a nudist resort. The big question is, “Will she or won’t she?” Go naked, I mean. See, Lola lives by a code of striving for gender equality, seeking justice, being true to her sexy, sassy, smart, kick-ass self, preserving her family’s culture within her life, and respecting herself and her family.  She’s also a good Catholic girl.  A few of these elements conflict when I try to answer the question of whether or not Lola’ll take it all off in order to solve a case.

 

Harlow Cassidy, the sleuth in Pleating for Mercy, has her own moral code, as well.  It revolves around the idea of justice, preserving the safe, small town Texas town she grew up in, and keeping family close and safe.  She’s not an ends justifies the means kind of woman, but she is a go-getter, willing to put herself on the line if it’s the right thing to do.

 

Just like in Dexter, people can make a choice to go against their code.  There are consequences to those decisions, and in a book, that’s exactly what you want.  If Lola doesn’t go nude, she upholds parts of her code, but sacrifices other elements.  If she does, she may solve the mystery, but will she respect the decision knowing what she did and how she compromised? Does the end justify the means?

 

In Silent Obsession, someone is killing women and making it look like the drownings of la Llorona, a 500 year old mythic woman (think Madea).   The killer lives by his own code and sees what he does as justified.  Skewed, yes, but authentic. The characters in Silent Echoes also have their own moral codes.

 

In good books, conflicts manifest in very unexpected ways. A great character, dark or not, will force us to look more closely at ourselves, to examine what we think and feel, and any character who can make us do that is well worth watching or reading about, and will, ultimately, help us as we build our own conflicted, real characters–no matter how light or dark the book.

 

 

            ◦  What do you think of Dexter (if you’ve seen the show and know the character)? Do you think he’s a villain or a dark hero?

 

Melissa Bourbon, the author of the Magical Dressmaking Mysteries (A Seamless Murder, A Killing Notion, A Custom-Fit Crime, Deadly Patterns), sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name, Misa Ramirez. She gave up teaching middle and high school kids in northern California to write full-time amid horses and Longhorns in north Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love-hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.
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