17 October 2010

Guest Author: Renee Ryan

This week on Unusual Historicals we're welcoming Steeple Hill Love Inspired author Renee Ryan as she celebrates the release of DANGEROUS ALLIES, set in 1939 Berlin.

In Nazi Germany, British agent Jack Anderson risks his life working undercover as an SS officer. And his latest mission--to uncover intelligence about a Nazi secret weapon--is his most perilous yet. Especially since he'll have to work with Katarina Kerensky. The famous actress is too dangerous to trust--and too beautiful to ignore.

Desperate to save her mother from the Gestapo, Katia reluctantly agrees to work with the coolly handsome Jack. But can she trust a man whose sense of honor is tangled in a web of lies? In a race against time, Jack and Katia forge an alliance to take down the enemy...and learn whether love can survive in a world gone wrong.

DANGEROUS ALLIES received 4½ stars from RT Book Reviews. Patsy Glans wrote: "Ryan outdoes herself with this latest offering--a mix of romance, intrigue and spies. She writes her characters with strong feelings and heart."

At Renee's website, you can take a look at deleted scenes from DANGEROUS ALLIES, as well why she chose to delete them. Those storytelling choices are always fascinating!


Hi, Renee! Tell us a little about DANGEROUS ALLIES.

DANGEROUS ALLIES is a romantic spy thriller set in 1939 Nazi Germany. The hero is an American naval officer on loan to the British government. MI6 (the equivalent of today's CIA) sends him into Germany to photograph the blueprints of a Nazi secret weapon. The heroine is an exiled Russian princess and the hero's contact inside Germany.

Isn't WWII considered a taboo time period for romance novels? What made you decide to write a story that would be a guaranteed hard sell?

I didn't sit down and think, "Hey, why not transcend the genre." Rather I wrote DANGEROUS ALLIES during a long dry spell between my first and second book sale. I was so frustrated after my first publisher released me that I quit writing altogether and cancelled my membership in all of my writers' groups. I knew I was heading down a dark road. I couldn't keep chasing the sale anymore. I was a bit too obsessed. In fact, the pursuit of publication became my sole mission in life.

Something had to change. So I purposely took a step back and started working on my faith walk, something I had let lag to dangerous indifference. I also started reading books that were not romances, namely thrillers written by men for men. I very quickly realized these books, though well-written and fascinating, lacked the depth of character, emotion and romance I preferred.

I figured if I was going to collect rejections I might as well swing for the fences and stop playing it safe. Enter the WWII time period, a time of true heroism that hasn't been overdone. I was, for want of a better word, inspired. I took what I knew about romance writing and what I'd learned from all those male-targeted thrillers and melded the two inside the taboo time period. The inspirational thread was just for me, an experiment to see if I had what it took to add my faith into a story without it being overwhelming. I'm truly blessed my editor took a chance on this one.

What do you think makes DANGEROUS ALLIES an Inspirational romance?

Well, I should point out that DANGEROUS ALLIES is not a traditional Inspirational romance. The hero and heroine lie, cheat, steal, and (in the case of the hero) kill to get the job done. They operate under the assumption: sacrifice one to save a multitude. But the larger sacrifice could be their very salvation. This is not a story about "perfect" people, but rather people struggling with the question: Has God abandoned mankind?

Are you finished with the WWII time period?

Not at all! I'm working on my next WWII Inspirational romance right now. It will also be a romantic spy thriller, but is set on American shores. The hero is an OSS agent sent to investigate a Nazi sabotage plot. If successful, the saboteurs will bring the war to the U.S. High stakes indeed. It's also based on a real plot that failed. The traitors were tried in by a military tribunal and found guilty of treason.

Anything else in the works?

In April, my fourth "Charity House" book will be released. The "Charity House" series is set in 1880s Denver, Colorado around a unique orphanage that caters to prostitutes' "mistakes." I've really enjoyed exploring the world where these very brave men, women and children live. They might be outcasts in society, but they have a safe place where love abounds. Very different from my WWII novels!


Thanks so much for stopping by, Renee! I'm so excited to see more headway toward making WWII an acceptable setting for romance of all kinds.

Readers, if you'd like to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of DANGEROUS ALLIES, leave a comment or question for Renee. I'll select a winner at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!