Aug 6 2013 12:30pm

Meet the Siblings: Lisa Gardner’s Family Ties in Her Family Secrets Series

Lisa Gardner

Today Heroes and Heartbreakers is thrilled to have Lisa Gardner as a guest.  Maggie's Man, her latest release, begins her Family Secrets romantic suspense series. It's available today as an ebook and in print. Maggie's Man shares the story of shy Maggie Ferringer who is called up for jury duty only to be taken hostage by Cain Cannon, the man who says he's wrongfully accused of murdering his girlfriend. The two have a lot to overcome and lots of secrets between them. Today, Lisa shares her experience writing under the pen name, Alicia Scott, and explores the relationships experienced in romance novels—not just the romantic ties, but the family loyalties and deep friendships found there, too. And don't miss the exclusive excerpt of Maggie's Man to see how the Family Secrets story begins. Thanks, Lisa, and Happy Release Day!

I am a woman of many names. Before I became a #1 New York Times bestselling author of suspense, Lisa Gardner, I wrote romantic suspense novels under the pseudonym Alicia Scott. I’ve always loved romance, as both a reader and an author. Any novel that involves a dark and dangerous hero, where falling in love poses the greatest risk as well as the biggest reward, sign me up!

I also love the myriad of relationships covered in romance novels. Not just the hero and heroine’s, but the true meaning of friendship or the power of family ties. My upcoming Family Secrets trilogy, written fifteen years ago as Alicia Scott, was based on such experiences. Growing up, myself, my older brother, and my cousin spent a great deal of our summers at our grandparent’s dairy farm in Tillamook, Oregon. Our parents had to work, so when school got out, three bored kids would descend upon our grandparents for another summer building hay forts, feeding calves, and taming feral cats. I loved those summers. The bonds formed by shared adventures. The ways three cousins tortured each other, but also stood up for one another. We learned the true value of family, helping drive tractors and shell peas and hand-churn ice cream.

Of course, when you’re a kid, you never appreciate how good you have it. That would take me until years later. Then, being a writer, I found myself recalling those idyllic summers with growing levels of nostalgia. The end result: the Family Secrets trilogy, now three half siblings brought together on their grandma Lydia’s farm, in, yes, Tillamook, Oregon, to learn the value of family after their father’s mysterious disappearance. Each novel features suspense—a kidnapping at the hands of an escaped murderer, an investigation into a deadly auto accident, the final desperate search for answers in face of a blazing inferno—but the trilogy is truly about family. The bonds of loyalty forged amongst three lost siblings. The strength of their grandmother who brought them together. And the legacy of their father, who claimed to love them and yet failed them terribly.

Maggie, C.J., and Brandon each have questions to answer, challenges to face, and love to be found. Luckily, they also have each other to help show the way. I hope you love reading the novels as much as I loved writing them. From my childhood summers to your future beach reads, hope you enjoy!

The Family Secrets Trilogy by Lisa Gardner, writing as Alicia Scott:

1. Maggie's Man  (Maggie and Cain)  
2. MacNamara's Woman (C.J. and Tamara)   10/01 
3. Brandon's Bride (Brandon and Victoria)   12/03





And now, check out an excerpt of Chapter 2 from Maggie's Man by Lisa Gardner, the first novel in the Family Secrets romantic suspense series!

“Ticket, please.”

“Ticket?” her esteemed colleague repeated absently. He was peering up three blocks to the mass of blue and red flashing lights and dark-­uniformed police officers. His eyes were narrowed intently and his fingers drummed rhythmically against the wheel as if he was lost in great thought.

Maggie risked a look over his shoulder at the parking lot attendant. Because of the considerable height of the truck, she gazed down at him. He appeared amazingly small next to Attila the Hun’s broad shoulder, and his face was covered with pimples. Probably barely a day older than eighteen and his width hadn’t caught up with his height.

Not exactly Superman material. She sent him desperate thought waves anyway. Hey! Hey, you! Look at me. Just look underneath Godzilla’s arm and spot me for one moment.

“Your parking ticket, sir.” The young man’s voice cracked with impatience. He stared at them both glumly as if to say, I spent four years in high school and all I got was a lousy parking-­attendant job.

“Parking ticket?” her captor repeated, focusing on the attendant for the first time. He gazed around the cab, then straight at her. “Do you see a parking ticket?”

“No,” she whispered. She looked up the street. She could see blinking lights and the blue-­clad police officers scurrying around like ants. She counted eight of them. Eight cops. So close.

Honk the horn, Maggie. Hit him in the ribs. Do something bold and courageous. This man is planning to commit another murder!

But she couldn’t move. She’d never liked loud noises; she lived in fear of making a scene. She still vividly remembered her mother throwing Waterford crystal across the parlor and screaming at her father that he was nothing but a philandering rat. And she remembered the very late nights, when the house was finally dark and quiet—?­sometimes not until four a.m.—?­when she would creep downstairs just to sit in the parlor and listen to the silence. Once, she’d found her father there, sitting in the dark, still and brooding. Then he’d finally reached over and picked up the phone, speaking in a hushed, murmuring voice. She’d remained in the hallway, curled up on the Persian runner, listening to his deep, velvety baritone wash over her like a soothing wave.

She had loved him so much and then he was just gone, off to visit one of his other families where Maggie was sure the mother didn’t scream or throw crystal across the room. Then he was more than gone—?­his plane crashed—?­and all Maggie had left was the locket he’d once given her, and memories of a midnight phone conversation she’d never told anyone about. That secret was the only piece of her father, the infamous Maxmillian the Chameleon, that was solely hers.

Abruptly, her captor leaned over, violating her small space and interrupting her thoughts. His lips halted right next to the corner of her mouth, the way a lover’s might, while his keen eyes fired to life. Maggie’s whole body went rigid. She stopped breathing and curled up inside of herself while the masculine scent of soap and sweat washed over her cheeks and flared her nostrils.

“Wh-­what?” she asked unsteadily, unable to breathe, unable to move. Should a felon’s eyes be so green? And so...?intelligent, steady, composed? She thought murderers had beady eyes, black beady eyes that were always darting to and fro. That way you knew they were trouble.

He said, “Ten dollars.”


“The attendant claims we have to pay ten dollars,” he repeated. He leaned back, his fingers drumming against the wheel as his gaze returned to the police lights blinking up the street. “Expensive,” he murmured absently.

She could only stare at him, then belatedly at the purse beside her. The car behind them impatiently honked its horn.

Attila the Hun’s attention pivoted back to her immediately. “Come on, Maggie,” he said tersely, his voice so low only she could hear it. “No games now. There are a lot of people who could get hurt.”

“I know,” she whispered. “I know.” Frustration and humiliation thickened her throat, but she still couldn’t think of anything to do. If she tried to raise a fuss, she’d probably get everyone killed. Maybe if she just humored him for now. She would cooperate; they could get beyond the city limits where no one else would suffer if she did anything rash....She took a deep breath. Okay, she’d get through this. Just one moment at a time.

She grabbed her purse and managed to retrieve a ten-­dollar bill with trembling fingers.

Mr. Escaped Con promptly handed over the money to the impatient, thin-­shouldered attendant. “Sorry about that,” he said politely and beamed a perfectly charming smile.

Maggie’s teeth set painfully as she watched the black-­and-­white-­striped gate swing up. In front of the police, the pedestrians and God, the truck pulled out into traffic.

She peered back. Two cops had stopped to watch them, no doubt watching all vehicles. If she could just raise her left hand a little, enough for them to see the handcuffs. Or maybe a sign. Didn’t those cardboard shades people placed behind their windshields during the summer say “Help! Call the Police” on one side? She gazed around the cab, easing away from her captor.

“Good idea,” he said so abruptly that she flinched. “Look and see what we have to work with.”

“Work with?”

“What’s in the glove compartment? Any maps, spare change, anything?”

“Wasn’t stealing the truck enough?” she muttered, then glanced at him nervously to see how he’d handle that remark. His hands were tight on the steering wheel. Beads of sweat trickled down his cheeks. So he wasn’t as calm and cool as he pretended.

As if sensing her gaze upon him, he turned to her tersely. “Look in the glove compartment, Maggie. Now!”

She hastily opened the glove compartment. She had a feeling not too many people argued with him when he used that tone of voice. She certainly couldn’t.

“One map of the northwestern states, one map of Portland, the vehicle registration, a flashlight, four packets of ketchup, two straws and six unpaid parking tickets,” she rattled off. “Why is it nobody ever pays their parking tickets? It really is a shame.” She glanced outside. They were at the waterfront now. Traffic was still sluggish with morning commuters. She spotted one cop parked on the driveway of the Alexis Restaurant, scrutinizing all traffic through mirrored sunglasses.

Look over here, she begged him, her teeth sinking into her lower lip. For God’s sake, look over here.

“Maggie,” Attila’s voice said quietly. “Fasten your seat belt.”

She looked at him abruptly, then at the rearview mirror. A cop had pulled in behind them. Even as she watched, he picked up his radio and spoke into it.

“He heard me. Finally, somebody heard me,” she whispered triumphantly.

“Don’t break out the champagne yet,” he muttered. He downshifted the truck as if preparing for a mighty leap forward.

“You can’t outrace an entire city full of cops!” she cried instantly.

“Watch me.”

“No!” Before she could stop to think about it, she reached over and latched her hands onto the wheel. She stared up at him as fiercely as she could, though her body was trembling again. “There are pedestrians out there. Innocent people crossing the streets and strolling down sidewalks. They could be killed! Don’t you understand that? Don’t you care just a little bit?”

His green gaze slid over her, dark and glittering, his square jaw set so rigidly she could see a muscle spasm. “Let go, Maggie. Now.”

Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Gardner.

Love what you've read? Learn more about or order a copy of Maggie's Man by Lisa Gardner, writing as Alicia Scott:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at IndieBoundBuy at iTunes



Lisa Gardner is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen novels. Her Detective D. D. Warren novels include Catch Me, Love You More, and the International Thriller of the Year award?winning novel The Neighbor. Her FBI profiler novels include Say Goodbye, Gone, The Killing Hour, The Next Accident, and The Third Victim. She lives with her family in New England, where she is at work on her next novel.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Post a comment