Our Top Pick in Romance for February is Karen Rose's newest romantic suspense, Watch Your Back. While Baltimore detective and single mother Stevie Mazzetti is still recovering from a gunshot wound, she discovers that she's the target of a very persistent killer. When the clues lead Stevie to believe the trouble might be coming from inside her own department, she enlists the help of a sharp-minded former Marine, Clay Maynard. She's turned him down before, but as they uncover more crimes, they also find more trust and respect for one another, and it just might save them both.

We chatted with Karen Rose about her interest in writing about crime, her favorite on-screen romance and upcoming happily-ever-afters in a 7 questions interview.

Describe your book in one sentence.
When detective Stevie Mazzetti and her daughter are targeted by a determined killer, she turns to P. I. Clay Maynard for help, trusting him to watch her back even though she’s terrified to trust him with her heart.

Watch Your Back, like many of your previous novels, is incredibly gripping and suspenseful. What do you love most about the combination of romance and suspense?
I’m intrigued by the criminal mind—the logic, thought processes, and motivation that enable people —sometimes seemingly normal people—to do evil things. I’m also sucked in by puzzles of any kind. Writing suspense lets me combine the two. But first and foremost, I love the happy ending that I get from a romance, the bringing together of two strong yet vulnerable characters and giving them a “forever after.” Romantic suspense lets me have a thrilling, nail-biting ride, while all along promising that everything will turn out okay. The villain will be punished and the hero and heroine will find happiness.

It’s easy to root for Stevie Mazzetti and Clay Maynard as both are such strong and scrappy characters—what do you love most about their dynamic?
Thank you! I love that both Stevie and Clay are strong enough to survive alone, but that they are stronger together. Stevie is a working mom, trying to do the whole work/family balancing act—while trying to keep herself and her daughter alive. Clay has all the techno-gadgets any alpha male could ever want, but all he really wants is to have a family. Both seem to be tough and self-sufficient, but down deep, both are vulnerable. I love how they come together so imperfectly at first, then everything settles into place. And I really love the dynamic each one has with Cordelia!

Which of your characters do readers most want a happily-ever-after for?
Well, before Watch Your Back, it was Stevie and Clay. I get the most requests for Tom Hunter, son of Caroline and Max Hunter from Don't Tell, my first book. Tom’s in college now (the kids grow so fast!), so I’m going to let him grow up a little more before he gets a HEA. FBI Agent Deacon Novak has also become a popular character with my readers—a good thing, as he’s the hero of my next book.

Your husband writes film reviews and you seem to watch quite a few as well. While we’re still in the midst of award season, I have to ask—did you have a favorite on-screen romance this year?
Long answer short: No. My husband watches a lot of movies that aren’t mainstream—old films, foreign films and indies as well—so when I watch with him, I’m not usually seeing movies that are up for contemporary awards. Because I have a hearing loss and must wait for the captioned version on DVD, I almost never see the Oscar-nominated movies before the awards ceremony. So, I reached back a few years for a favorite on-screen romance—Harold and Ana in Stranger Than Fiction. I love that movie!

What’s at the top of your TBR stack right now?
I’m reading Lisa Gardner’s Fear Nothing at the moment, but next up is Lara Adrian’s Darker Than Midnight.

What are you working on next?
I’m working on Deacon Novak’s book! Deacon was first introduced in Did You Miss Me? and simply took over the scene. I had to scold him to back off, that Did You Miss Me? was not his book. I promised him that if he behaved and didn’t try to steal all of the scenes, he’d have his own book someday. I never break a promise to my characters!

Award winning, internationally best-selling author Karen Rose earned her degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland. For a number of years she worked in the engineering field, but began writing novels in 2003. Since then, she has released 14 novels. To date, her books have been translated into 21 languages. Karen lives in Florida with her family. Connect with Karen online at www.karenrosebooks.com, www.facebook.com/KarenRoseBooks, and www.twitter.com/KarenRoseBooks.

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