Rogue Alliance by Michelle Bellon
Trying to escape a horrific past, Shyla has immersed herself in life as a tough cop in the bustle of LA. When the case of a lifetime takes her back to her hometown of Redding, she is thrown into a world of organized crime, deceit, and bitter reminders of her childhood.
As Shyla’s path crosses that of Brennan, a troubled sidekick to the ringleader she’s intent on taking down, she discovers he has a past even darker than hers and she is forced to re-evaluate everything she believes about herself, her job, and what she knows about right and wrong.
Can she face the demons of her upbringing and learn to trust again? Her life will depend on it.
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Excerpt from Rogue Alliance:
Before Shyla could speak or regain her composure, Brennan turned and plucked her off her feet. He carried her to his car, opened the door, and plopped her into the front seat, slamming the door and walking around the car in swift, purposeful movements.
“I have a cab coming,” she said stupidly, still reeling from the large intake of alcohol and the sudden change of events. Everything had happened so quickly.
“Are you okay?” Brennan asked. His tone didn’t convey worry. He sounded like a different human being, his voice raspy with suppressed rage. She imagined that he was fighting more than just anger, reminding herself that there was an instinct to kill built within him.
She hit the button on the passenger door, and lowered the electronic window. Pulling in a few deep breaths, she nodded.
“I’m okay,” she turned and looked at him. “I don’t want to go home yet. Take me for a drive.”
Brennan didn’t answer but his grip tightened on the steering wheel and he took the exit out of town.
Twenty minutes later, they were at the lower end of Shasta Lake. The moon was high and shone brightly over the new blanket of snow. They were both silent, reverent, as they stared out at the shimmering, calm water.
“You were watching me,” she whispered.
He shot her a quick glance, and then looked away.
“I’ve been watching you. You know that. It’s a good thing too, or else you’d probably be dead right now.”
She ignored his clipped tone, but was all too aware that his anger simmered hotter with each passing moment. What the hell was he so mad about? She was the one who had just endured a physical attack from one of her father’s old drinking buddies.
“Oh, that’s an exaggeration,” she said. “I was managing. He caught me off guard but I had it under control.”
“Yeah, sure and you’re not drunk either, right?”
“Oh, no,” Shyla laughed. “I’m drunk all right. But I’m tired of this conversation.” Irritable and woozy, she opened the door and marched out of the car towards a gravel path that cut through the woods.
In seconds, Brennan was beside her. “Where do you think you’re going?”
He spun her around and she nearly toppled over. He grabbed her by the front of her shirt, pulling her closer, in a hold resembling the one he’d just had with her attacker. She didn’t like to be grabbed like that. With as much force as she could muster, she slapped him across the face.
Her breath came in short, quick gasps. She was mad at the world and especially at men. Why did they always have to push her over the edge? She stared at him. His eyes were unreadable. When she tried to turn away, her grabbed her again and spun her around.
“Just leave me alone,” she wailed, and started slapping him on his chest and arms, each one stinging her hands. It felt crazy, horrible, and sensational all at the same time.
His arms crushed her in a vice grip, pinning her arms down to her sides. She flailed and kicked to no avail as he stomped down toward the lake. One moment she was in a fit of rage, the next she was completely submerged under the icy waters of the lake. She came up spitting mad and gasping for air. He hauled her up by the shirt.
“Settle down or you’re going under again,” he warned.
She kicked out in a fury, and down she went.
“Stop,” she screamed, as she broke the surface.
“Are you going to stop drinking yourself to death?” He seethed through clenched teeth. She’d never seen him so angry.
He shook her till her teeth clanged together. “Is this what you want out of life? You keep telling me that I’m not my past, but I don’t see you moving past yours. What do you want Shyla? What do you want?”
She kicked and thrashed. “Let me go!”
Under she went again. The icy waters sobered her quite thoroughly, and she realized it was useless to fight him. He was too strong for her and determined to win.
“Fine!” she screamed out, as she came up for air the third time, “I’ll stop. Just don’t dunk me again.”
Interview with Michelle Bellon:
Rogue Alliance is a very intense read with very flawed, yet intriguing characters. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are quite a few messages in the book, some subtle some not so subtle, but for me, the main issue is that we are not our pasts. We are formed by, we evolve from, but we are not our pasts. That is it. It’s simple but it is profound too and can be life changing. It can free you to live in the present. That’s what Shyla and Brennan are learning.
How much of the book is realistic?
There are paranormal elements to the book but even with that the characters are realistic people with very real pasts and personal challenges that everyone can identify with. That is what I like to write about; the emotional journey. It is fun to write creative stories with twists and turns that you hope have something different to offer than other books, but at the core, what I need my stories to convey is the fundamental evolution of personal growth that each and every one of us must go through in our lives.
What books have most influenced your life most?
All books. I’m serious. The written word is so powerful. I truly believe that if it is written, it shall be.
I love to experience things that I wouldn’t normally be able to through the magic of reading a story. I love opening doors to my mind by seeing through the eyes of the characters of a book. I simply love to read.
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading a few right now for the purpose of providing a review for other authors. As a writer, I take the responsibility of helping other writers succeed very seriously. It’s important in this world where everything revolves around social media and who you know that you do your part to lift others up too.
As far as reading for leisure, I just finished reading the ARC for Eightysixed, by Emily Belden, another Pandamoon author. It was a fun and humorous read!
What are your current projects?
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve recently collaborated with author, screenwriter, and movie producer, Alan Riehl of Riehl Faith Productions. He and I are currently co-writing the sequel to Rogue Alliance.
Do you see writing as a career?
It took me quite some time to call myself a writer. It wasn’t until I was at a writing conference, surrounded by hundreds of aspiring writers, and I realized how far I’d come in such a short amount of time. I realized that there was nothing more that I wanted to do than to just get better and improve on my skills. That’s when I knew that I was where I belonged. I was a writer and I had a career to build.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
All the other books, yes. I always look back and see all the ways that I could improve those first few books as I learned the craft. The last one, not as much. I still see how I could improve. All writers are their own worst critics, but as far as the story goes, I’m pleased with it and I hope that all of you enjoy Shyla and Brennan.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part about writing this last book was the challenge that I had given myself. Just before I began to write it, I had attended a conference in Seattle, the PNWA conference. Throughout the many workshops, I keyed on a major theme which was to “amp” up each scene. By that, they meant to make sure each scene, each chapter, had conflict, tension, motivation, etc, which moved the plot along at a vigorous pace.
So when I sat down and began to write Rogue Alliance, I decided that I was going to make sure I achieved that in every chapter. I wanted each scene to be alive and full of action and tension.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reaching out to me to tell me how my stories have touched you. Every time I get an email or a message on my Twitter or Facebook telling me that you enjoyed one of my books, it encourages me to keep striving to write you a better story.
About the author:
Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their four children. She loves to travel with her family. She is desperately confused as to why she lives where it rains all the time because she lives for sunny days and blue skies. She drinks coffee until she’s manic and loves to dance.
She married Pablo Bellon in her early twenties and relished her time as a stay-at-home mom for many years before she decided to go to college. She graduated with her nursing degree in 2005. Then when she and her husband decided to have their fourth child she took leave of her medical career to be with the baby. It was during this time that she began writing her first book.
Six months later, she sat back and stared in complete disbelief at the final page of a young adult novel and said, “I think I just wrote a book.” What next? So she set to doing the research on what it took to publish a novel. That’s when she discovered that writing the book was the easy part. Publishing and marketing that book was another beast altogether. She also discovered that her book was somewhat of a mess. It needed a lot of work!
So she immersed herself in the business. She found a writers critique group. She read everything she could on the craft of writing. She went to conferences and listened to the wisdom of authors and editors. She researched on the internet until her eyes felt like they were bleeding. But most of all, she wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Until she began to feel like she might, just might, have a chance at making a name for herself in this tough industry.
In four years she wrote seven books. Three have been published. Four are currently contracted to be published with Pandamoon Publishing. In the summer of 2012, she won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for her YA, Embracing You, Embracing Me. Later that same year she won a silver medal award from Wise Bear Media literary contest for her YA, as well as a silver for Rogue Alliance, the first edition.
As a multi-genre author, she writes suspense, romance, women’s fiction, literary fiction, YA, and her latest is crime suspense with paranormal elements.