Jill Sorenson's Badlands is our January Top Pick in Romance! Single mother Penny Sandoval finds herself caught in the middle of her father’s whirlwind presidential campaign, but things take a dark, drastic turn when Penny, her 5-year-old son, Cruz, and their bodyguard, Owen Jackson are abducted at a political event and taken to the California desert. Sorenson's combination of "taut suspense and tender romance" is sure to keep you hooked, and you'll be rooting for Owen and Penny every step of the way.

We talked with Jill Sorenson about her recent travels, the sexiest scene in Badlands and more in a 7 questions interview.

Describe your book in one sentence.
Desperate bodyguard battles the elements, a group of kidnappers and his own demons to protect the love of his life in the California Badlands.

You took some research trips while you were writing BADLANDS—what was your favorite place?
This is a tough one. The mud caves were really cool and the Salton Sea was fascinating. We also visited Slab City, an off-grid desert community. I loved the whole post-apocalyptic, wasteland vibe of that area. But I have to say the Goat Canyon Trestle was my favorite place. Even though I didn’t make it all the way to the tracks, getting a glimpse of the structure was awesome and the hike was epic.

Tell us what you love most about Owen and Penny’s relationship.
One of my readers said this: “She was the ‘gentle’ he needed in his life; he was the strength she needed in hers.” That quote sums it up pretty well! Another reader called Badlands a feminist book because of “its depiction of vulnerability and kindness as positive—yet threatened—aspects of masculinity.” I love that Owen will kill for Penny and her son, but his physical strength doesn’t make him cold or infallible.

What are the sexiest scenes to write?
The sexiest scene to write in Badlands was definitely the shower scene. Owen and Penny are handcuffed together, locked in a bathroom, unable to deny the attraction they’ve been fighting since they met five years ago, in Aftershock.

What was your favorite book as a child?
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

When you’re not busy writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to read, hike, run, watch movies, spend time with my family and hang out on Twitter.

What's next?
Next up is Island Peril, a digital novella (May 2014), and Backwoods, a full-length action adventure romance (June 2014). These are connected stories set in the Aftershock world and published by HQN.

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