A classic story that’s so good to hear.
Thief Of The Heart (Heels & Handcuffs, Book 3) by Rena Koontz, narrated by Verla Bond, released in June in the Romantic Suspense genre.
From the moment he saw Jennifer Roberts, his instinct was to protect her. But she wanted nothing to do with him. In fact, the last thing Jennifer wanted to do that Saturday afternoon was call the police. She didn’t trust them. She’d fallen hard for a cop – the exact person every child is told to run to for safety – and he betrayed her and broke her heart. She wouldn’t make that mistake again. But she has no choice when she discovers her apartment has been broken into. Five simple words will turn her world upside down: “You called for the police?”
When blond-haired, blue-eyed Max Domer arrives, he is ready to protect and serve. It is his motto. It will be her downfall. Max is ready to leave Center City behind, cut all ties, and make a fresh start as a detective on the West Coast. There is nothing unusual about the burglary call he catches, except that the woman is stunning and, for some reason, antagonistic toward police. But she’s caught in someone’s crosshairs – her car is stolen, her father dies, and murder comes to her doorstep – and, like it or not, she needs his help.
But while Max is on the trail of a master crime ring, the real thief sets about stealing his heart. And Jennifer, who innocently lets her guard down, learns she can’t judge a man by his uniform. They are polar opposites destined to stand together and fight for their future.
About the Author: Rena Koontz
I’m a lifelong journalist and an award-winning author. My writing career has taken me on to sports fields and into the political arena. I’ve written life features, editorials, and reported on my favorite, cops and courts. I’ve chased fire trucks and police cars, covered all sorts of crimes, including double homicides and murders-for-hire, and reported criminal, civil, high profile and ordinary trials.
And that’s what I write about.
In my books, cops are the good guys and the good guys always win.
I’m a Pittsburgh native and an avid sports fan. I work Pittsburgh connections into all of my stories and my characters often wear black and gold or reference the city’s outstanding sports teams — the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
My books are based on real incidents. Plus, I’m married to a retired FBI agent whose stellar career fuels my ideas and whose technical advice is invaluable. He also takes credit for the steamy scenes!
Hi Rena, and thank you for being with us today!
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
Not at all. In fact, I confess to never having listened to an audiobook until recently. I was pleasantly surprised to discover audio listeners are such avid “readers.”
How did you select your narrator?
I was brand new to the audio book world.You might say I dove into the deep end of the pool and I don’t know how to swim. That’s true — I don’t.
I opened my book up for auditions but my friend and fellow author encouraged me to search for my own narrator. I selected first names of friends, cute names, different names. Each time I clicked on their audition sample, I closed my eyes. When Verla Bond began to speak, my eyes popped open. She was the one.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
Very closely. Verla wanted to ensure she pronounced my characters’ names correctly. For example, was it JO-vahn or jo-VAN?
Plus, I wanted her to capture the characters as they sounded in my head, so I made sure to explain that Eric was a thug, a high school dropout, whose speech would sound muddy, while Jovan (jo-VAN) attempted a distinctive, sophisticated manner of speaking.
Where there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
All of my books are based on real crimes that I’ve woven into love stories. I was a news reporter who covered cops and courts and reported on the bad guys. Their crimes stuck with me. In the case of Thief of The Heart, where the heroine is the victim and target of a crime ring, I was the burglary victim in this story. Writing it helped me heal.
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
More than one. In Chapter 6, Verla Bond captures Jennifer’s frustration as she tries to convince her hometown police to help her once she discovers her pawned jewelry in another city. And in Chapter 33, when Officer Tocar is shot, his pain comes through as if the listener is right beside him.
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
I’m a sucker for chocolate ice cream. Or a chocolate milkshake. This was a shake night for sure.
What’s your favorite:
Food – peanut butter
Song – anything by Cher or Trace Adkins
Book – The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen Woodiwiss. It’s when I knew I wanted to be an author.
Television show – Right now, I’m hooked on Yellowstone. I recently finished Justified, and loved that as well. Must be the hats.
Movie – I can’t narrow this down to only one movie. I like action flicks, like Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, and Air Force One. And I like romantic movies, like An Affair to Remember, The American President, and Casablanca.
Band – oh boy. I’m from the City but I’m a little bit Country.
Sports team – The Pittsburgh Penguins, The Pittsburgh Steelers, and The Pittsburgh Pirates, followed closely by The Cleveland Indians. Yeah, the Pittsburgh-Cleveland rivalry exists in my house but I justify supporting the Indians because they are an American League team and my Pirates are National League. But “my” teams wear black and gold.
City – Pittsburgh, my hometown.
Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
Ha! In every one of my books, there is a reference to my sports teams. Sometimes it’s reflected in a black-and-gold nightshirt my heroine wears. Sometimes it’s a reference to spring training or the steel curtain. My readers know where my allegiance lies.
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
My advice isn’t anything that hasn’t been said before. Don’t give up. I wrote my first book in 2007 but wasn’t published until 2012 and the story that was published was my third book. I have a quote hanging above my desk that says “You haven’t failed until you quit trying” – Gordon B. Hinckley. That’s my advise.
What’s next for you?
My next audiobook will be Loving Gia to Death. It’s the story of a father who suspects his ex-wife suffers from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy and deliberately hurts their daughter. He has to fight to save his precious five-year-old. Verla Bond is narrating it now. It should be released in late August or early September.
About the Narrator: Verla Bond
Verla Bond is an American actor, improvisor, and storyteller. For many years, she traveled around the world making a living as an entertainer, but she now spends most of her time entertaining from the comfort of her home studio, exploring the world through literature.