Thursday, June 20, 2013

[Book Spotlight & Interview] Vertigo by Gwenan Haines

When attorney Blake Cartwright abandons a successful career to turn a dilapidated lighthouse into an inn, everybody thinks she's gone a little bit crazy. After witnessing a body fall from the tower, Blake wonders if they might be right. According to local legend, the spirit of a former keeper's wife lures women to their deaths in the icy water below. Has Blake witnessed a suicide, seen a ghost--or is she just seeing things?

Declan Hunter, the mysterious man she hires to help with renovations, doesn't help matters. The man with the Navy SEAL physique claims to be nothing more than a 
local handyman, but Blake's instincts warn her not to trust him. As the mystery deepens, she finds herself drawn into a dangerous labyrinth of secrets, lies, and murder. But the most serious danger of all may be falling for a man determined to leave her.

Did every woman go a little crazy when she hit thirty?
Blake Cartwright stood in what passed for a driveway, staring at the ramshackle two-story cape she now owned. What had looked quaint yet spacious on the internet was dingy and run-down up close. The sunny blue skies of the photos were nowhere to be seen, even though it was the middle of July. Dark spruces surrounded the place, their pointy spires disappearing in a ghostly mist that hung over everything. The rocky coastline that had seemed stunning a month ago looked threatening and unfriendly now. As for the lighthouse, she didn’t even want to contemplate the amount of money it was going to take to make it presentable.
What the hell had she been thinking?
She hadn’t been thinking. That was the problem. For twenty-nine years she had done things by the book and her life had been one long, picture-perfect Kodachrome moment. Up until six weeks ago she’d had the dream job, the dream apartment, the dream boyfriend. Then for the first time—after a teary night spent with her laptop and a couple of margaritas—she had trusted her emotions. For once she had allowed herself to stop planning and start imagining. She would open a thriving inn, one that would allow her to pursue her passion for cooking while freeing her from the insane hours she logged at her law firm. Even if she had to put some money into renovations, she could get the lighthouse for so little it would hardly dent her savings.
And this, she thought as she stood staring at the white clapboard house with its chipping paint and sagging roof, was the result.
Good call, Cartwright.   
Shivering in the tank top and cut-off jeans she’d thought would be appropriate for the middle of summer, Blake wondered just how cold it got in northern Maine. Did she even own a hooded sweatshirt? Overpriced Armani suits, check. Expensive Jimmy Choo pumps, check. Wool fishermen’s sweaters—not a one. She pulled the old-fashioned iron key out of the envelope she’d picked up from the realtor and tried to shake off the idea that she had just made a colossal mistake.
She took a tentative step onto the first porch stair and stopped. An icy certainty that something was wrong coursed through her, making her fingertips tingle. Much as she wanted to attribute it to the lack of proper clothing, she knew the sensation too well. She always got it when she met a client who was guilty, however much they might protest their innocence. Or when she was being watched.
Feeling like a fool, she looked over her shoulder at the solitary landscape. The lighthouse stood about fifty yards away, at the end of a barren headland that jutted out into the iron-gray sea. The tower rose out of the mist, its height dwarfing the massive boulders below. She peered up at the lantern room, half-expecting to see a shadowy form or the glint of binoculars, but its windows were dull with years of disuse. The only sound was the crash of the waves against the rocks.
Clearly, no one was there.
Quit jumping at shadows. Forcing herself to cross to the door, she inserted the key into the lock and turned it. The door actually creaked as it opened and when she stepped over the threshold she found herself enmeshed in a thick layer of cobwebs. With a sound of disgust, she pulled a few sticky strands out of her hair and peered inside.
The interior was shrouded in darkness, despite the fact that it was the middle of the afternoon. A ray of weak light seeped through a crack between drawn curtains on the other side of the room, illuminating a sliver of dust motes. As her eyes adjusted to the dimness, she could make out darker, bulkier shadows looming before her. She moved a few steps further into the room, ignoring the deepening sense that she wasn’t alone.
It’s only furniture, she told herself. So why did she suddenly feel like the lead in a bad horror movie? Edging sideways, she ran her hand along the wall until she found a light switch. She flicked it up, then down, then up again. Nothing happened. Cursing herself for not thinking to bring a flashlight, she made a mental note to see what she had to do to get the electricity back on. In the meantime, she needed more light. After fumbling around in her purse she triumphantly extracted a forgotten lighter and ran her thumb over its jagged tip. Its flame sprang to life, bathing the interior in wavering shadows.
She held up the lighter and looked around. To her right, a staircase disappeared into blackness. To the left was what had been a living room. Is a living room, she amended, forcing down the queasy feeling in her stomach. She was glad the place was furnished, but its stillness was more than a little eerie. Aside from the cobwebs and the thick layer of dust that had settled over every possible surface, the room looked as if whoever had been living there had simply gotten up and walked out, leaving everything just as it had been fifty or even a hundred years earlier. The coffee table was littered with old copies of National Geographic and there were even a few logs piled up in the fireplace. The faded wallpaper seemed to undulate in the flickering light and the mahogany bookcases that filled an entire side of the room threatened to topple over at any moment. Even from where she stood in the entryway, she could detect the musty smell of old books and stale air.
Home Sweet Home.



How did you get the idea for this particular novel?
I grew up in New England and have spent a lot of time on the Maine coast. Not too surprisingly, I’ve always had a fondness for lighthouses. When my daughter was young we used to make up bedtime stories about two girls who lived in a lighthouse and would solve all kinds of mysteries. That eventually sparked the idea for Vertigo. Of course Vertigo is completely different than the stories we used to tell. For one thing, there aren’t any dolphins or unicorns. Plus a couple of characters wind up dead and there are some R-rated love scenes. . .
What is your favorite scene in your new release?
Hmmm….my favorite is probably the climactic one (plotwise, I mean) but I don’t want to say too much about that because I’ll give away the mystery. So I guess I’ll go with my second choice, which is a romantic scene between Blake and Declan. I’ve written lots of love scenes where my female lead is a smokin’ hot babe wearing black lingerie and the man is driven wild by the sight of her. I love steamy sex scenes, believe me. But the big love scene in Vertigo starts out with Blake wearing a pink terrycloth bathrobe. She’s taken off her make-up and thrown her hair up into a messy knot. And there’s definitely a lack of sexy undergarments. To quote my heroine, she’s feeling—and looking—about “as sexy as a ratty gym towel” when she walks into her living room and finds Declan waiting for her. But he’s still totally turned on by her. I also like the scene because it’s about make up sex, which is always the best kind.
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I’d love to try a romantic comedy at some point. I always veer toward mysteries and the paranormal. Vampires, dark angels, tortured heroes—all that. I can’t resist it, but some day I’d like to take a shot a writing something lighter.
What’s the last movie you watched and loved?
Silver Linings Playbook. This was the funniest movie about mental illness I’ve ever seen. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper give amazing performances, plus the plot is quirky and original. Loved it.
Most _____________ in high school. (popular, nerdy, sporty…) Why?
Nerdy. Definitely nerdy! I’ve always been a bookworm and tend to get lost in my own world of daydreams. Which is great for writing—but that doesn’t always get you the prom date with the high school quarterback. . .
Flirting Questions
Which actor or book character do you have a crush on?
I love those old books by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Mr. Rochester is one of my all-time favorites. And Healthcliff. As for newer versions….I love Colin Firth in Bridget Jones Diary, which is my go-to movie for break ups.
What does love feel like? Lightning.
What’s your idea of a perfect date? Anything at the ocean (as long it doesn’t involve me making an appearance in a bathing suit). Champagne and popcorn at the drive-in under a full moon. A midnight picnic. Or something simple, like playing a board game by firelight. Maybe add in strip poker and red wine? Okay, this is starting so sound like a Plenty-of-Fish profile blurb, so I’m going to stop.
If you could take a romantic trip, where would it be? Italy. Hands down.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Oh yeah.

Flirting Quickies
Boxers or Briefs? Boxers

Alpha or Beta? Alpha

White wine or red? Red

Coffee or tea? Definitely coffee.

Vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate

Winter or summer? Summer! 
Cat or dog? Dog. As in my big Siberian husky.
City or Country? Country
Clubbing or candlelight dinner? I always go for anything with candlelight.
Morning or night person? Night.
Christmas or Halloween? Halloween
Optimist or pessimist? Late-blooming optimist


Gwenan Haines writes paranormal fiction, urban fantasy and romantic suspense. After working in Washington, D.C. for several years, she decided to turn her adventures into stories. She has traveled to Italy, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Greece and other countries. Her favorite destination? Too tough to call, though she has vivid memories of sleeping on the deck of a Greek ferry and riding with mujahidiin resistance fighters along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Her life now is much more sedate, but she does her best to live vicariously through her characters. She loves to hear from readers and to befriend fellow romance junkies on Facebook.


  1. Love the whole beginning...learning heroine's motivation, then reality meeting expectation. Made me smile. This book really grabs me--loved the whole excerpt, truly. A bit different from so much of the repetitive, typical plots/conflicts I see lately. On my TBR if I don't win it, Gwenan :-)

  2. Hi Gwenan well this looks like a very interesting book to read for sure! I am from New York and visited many different state Lighthouses and yes they can be a bit spooky. I have a kindle fire that runs with Amazon. Would love to win a gift card and your book Vertigo! I need to add this to my goodreads group. Good luck and keep writing. I love to read. thanks for the entry. Susan

  3. I loved the end, where she was all paranoid and comparing stuff to horror movies. I do that all the time, I freak myself out thinking I'm going to die or something like out of a horror film and have to convince myself that I'm just overreacting and being paranoid.

    1. Btw, I friended you on FB since I couldn't find your page to like