September 5, 2012

Character Interview: Quinn Wells

In Hot Pursuit.

Karen, welcome to Romance Lives Forever! Let's talk about your new book, In Hot Pursuit.

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Buy links:
Barnes and Noble:
Publisher: Crimson Romance/Adams Media
Length: a tad over 72,000 words
Heat rating: PG13
When $25 million is stolen from her employer, a relationship-phobic accountant hunts for the thief alongside a handsome bachelor who falls for her.
Quinn Wells believes her life is just as it should be -- calm, relaxed, and free of relationship entanglements. The theft of a $25 million dollar gift to her employer, Houston Cullen University, changes all that.
Quinn, knowing her own innocence is in question, takes matters into her own hands by setting off in pursuit of the coworker she believes is responsible for the theft. But Logan Rice, the donor of the gift, isn’t going to let her out of his sight.
As they race from city to city, Logan is determined to win over Quinn and convince her they have a chance as a couple. But Logan’s wealth and social position are the opposite of Quinn’s middle-class life, and he devastates her by withholding information about his past. Will she discover what is most important to her before he walks away?
What are your main characters' names? Ages? Occupations?
Quinn Wells -- 44 years old -- Controller of Houston Cullen University
Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas
Logan Rice -- 42 years old -- Executive Director of the Bridge Foundation


Friday, 2:54 P.M.
The life path for Quinn Wells encountered a major detour on an afternoon in mid-May -- one of those close to scorching afternoons when office workers shuffled paper or checked movie times, waiting for the clock to tick-tick to going-home time. She considered herself productive that afternoon, color-coding her accounting files for the upcoming fiscal year end. Then her office phone rang.
It was an outside call, from First National Bank. Her hand hesitated over the receiver, but she was a sucker for a ringing phone.
“It’s Lynne Jenkins.”
“How are you?” Quinn said.
“Confused. We haven’t received the wire yet.”
“What wire?”
“The wire for the twenty-five million dollars from the Bridge Foundation. Can you check on it?”
Quinn had no idea what Lynne was talking about -- and no way would she let her know that. It was embarrassing, once again, not knowing about a major gift before it arrived.
“Give me a few minutes and I’ll get back to you.”
Quinn replaced the phone, shook her fists at the ceiling. A twenty-five million gift was being wired today? What the hell? She jumped out of her chair and headed for the office of her boss, the vice president of finance. Surely, he knew about the wire. She rushed down the long hallway and found his assistant, Ellie, at her desk.
“Is Scooter here?”
Ellie looked up from a paperback novel. “No. I came back from lunch and he was gone. Calendar says he’s at a meeting and should return in half an hour.”
Quinn blew a slow breath, worked at calming her frustration. “Let him know I need to talk to him as soon as he returns.”
She debated what to do next. Should she wait for Scooter or should she call Development, the department responsible for soliciting gifts? Would Scooter be upset if she didn’t wait for him?
Back in her office, she turned her chair away from the desk and her eyes moved to the CPA certificate on the wall. She’d worked her ass off to pass the exam and earn that credential. Ten years ago, she hadn’t worried about making the wrong decision, she simply went with her instincts. She picked up the phone to call the executive director of development.
“Rebecca, I need to ask you about a gift that was wired today.”
“You mean the one from the Bridge Foundation?”
“That’s the one. The bank called and the funds haven’t arrived.”
“That’s strange. The wire should have been sent first thing this morning. We sent the wire instructions two days ago.” Rebecca’s voice was calming. “Let me contact the donor and I’ll call you back. I’m sure it’s a simple mistake.”
While Quinn waited for the return call, she shuffled files on her desk, then dug an antacid tablet out of her purse. The taco she had for lunch was talking to her. She chewed the tablet and stared out the office window. Friday classes at Houston Cullen University were over and students rushed toward the parking garage down the street. The weekend would officially begin at five o’clock.
The phone rang. Rebecca’s name appeared on the digital read out.
“I called the director of the Foundation. He said he talked with their brokerage firm this morning and the wire was sent as planned.” Rebecca was still calm.
“Something is wrong.” Why wasn’t she freaking out like Quinn was about to do?
Trevi Fountain - Rome
“Don’t worry,” Rebecca said soothingly. “I’m sure it’s some glitch within the bank. They’re all having problems these days.”
“Right, thanks for the information.”
Something was definitely wrong. How did twenty-five million dollars disappear? Quinn’s head was hot. Where was Scooter? He should be the one calling the bank. But Lynne from the bank had called Quinn, so she’d do her duty and follow up. She punched in the number and Lynne answered on the first ring.
“The Bridge Foundation says the wire was sent this morning,” Quinn said.
“You’re sure?”
“That’s what our Development Office told me.” She wiped sweat off the back of her neck. “What should we do to find the funds? This can’t happen every day.”
“No, it doesn’t, and not with such a large sum. I’ll call the brokerage firm and get their transaction number for the transfer so we can trace it through the Federal Reserve System. Should I follow up with you or Scooter?”
“Would you mind calling Scooter?” Quinn knew he’d want to hear it from Lynne himself.
“No problem, I’ll call him as soon as I have an update.”
Quinn next called Ellie to find out if Scooter had come back to the office … not yet. Now what?
She stacked the color-coded file folders on the credenza adjacent to her desk, then decided to clean out her email. The distraction of busy work kept her from imagining why the gift might be missing. She glanced at the time in the corner of the monitor -- 3:27. Surely Scooter would return any minute.
She first went through her inbox and deleted messages she’d already read, jotting reminder notes on a yellow pad. She clicked through the list and checked the time again -- 3:51.
Where was Scooter? This would be the day he was late coming back from a meeting.
Quinn next focused on the spam folder, a total of 112 messages. She worked her way through it to those dated today, then she stopped, her fingers clutching the mouse. This was strange, a message from Gregory James, Inc., the brokerage firm used by the Bridge Foundation. Why would they send her an email? She double-clicked and read the message. Her throat squeezed shut, and she couldn’t catch a breath.
Holy shit. The message confirmed a change, her change, to the wire instructions for the Bridge Foundation’s gift. The receiving bank and the associated account number had been updated as instructed … by the controller of Houston Cullen University. She swallowed, then sucked air in her lungs. What?
She jumped out of her chair and rushed to the office door, closed it quietly. Then the shaking started, from her elbows to her knees. She began to pace her office from the small window to the door, ten steps, back and forward. As she walked, the shaking lessened. Although her brain spiraled around in a state of shock, her limbs began to regain their memory of function.
After a few minutes, she stopped pacing and sat back at her desk, ready to deal with the message, still open on her monitor.
The email was an error. She had made no change to the wire instructions. How could she since she didn’t even know about the gift until two hours ago? The message implied she stole the twenty-five million by changing the HCU wire instructions. It was a mistake or a joke. Someone had a sick sense of humor.
She took a deep breath and printed the email. She debated telling Scooter about the message but decided to keep it to herself for now. She grabbed the paper off the printer and folded it in half, then half again, small enough to slide into her wallet. She tossed the wallet back into her purse. She’d analyze this later and then determine the right thing to do.
Even a lousy plan was better than no plan at all.

Interview with author Karen Sue Burns

Tell us about the main character in your current book. What is she like?
Quinn Wells is a divorced woman in her early-forties who is content with her life having a good job and happy daughters. After being divorced for ten years, she has convinced herself that she isn't relationship material, i.e. she'd damaged goods. She's looking forward to becoming a grandmother, continuing to work until retirement age, and cooking. She would love to publish her own cookbook. Her life turns chaotic with the theft of a $25 million gift to her employer, Houston Cullen University. As university controller, she’s appointed to deal with the police and proceeds to use her analytical skills and gut instincts to solve the theft. The search for the thief provides the perfect opportunity for the reader to view the many sides of Quinn -- analytical and organized over achiever, general smartass, doting mother, loyal friend, reluctant lover, and brave citizen in the face of danger.
If your main character was here today, what would she say is her strongest point?
Quinn has excellent logic in dealing with problems, along with plain old smarts that guide her search for the thief of the $25 million. Plus, she is tenacious and thinks outside the box in most instances.
Does she think she has a weakness? (If so, what does she think it is? What does her lover think it is? What does her enemy think it is?)
Quinn would say her weakness is that she's too smart for her own good -- yes, she's a smartass and thinks she is right about most everything.
Logan Rice would say her weakness is that she has given up on love and her thinking that she can't make a relationship work for the long term is plain wrong.
Rebecca Holland would say that Quinn's weakness is an over inflated sense of importance at Houston Cullen University as everyone knows that accounting is a necessary evil and boring as hell, just like Quinn.
What drives your heroine to do the things she does? What makes her want to be the "good guy?"
Quinn believes in "truth, justice, and the American way." She has a conservative nature and believes that hard work, dedication, and a strong will lead to success. She believes that by using her smarts she is the good guy who works are being fair to all. On the other hand, she does have a bit of a quirk or spark that generates her smartass trait. Her tenacity in going after the thief stems from her belief in justice and righting a wrong.
What's your main character's favorite guilty pleasure?
For women, a guilty pleasure usually relates to chocolate, jewelry, or clothes. Quinn's guilty pleasure is kitchen gadgets. She has a ten year old car and a plain cell phone, yet she has the latest style of food processor, four coffee pots, enough kitchen knives to open a store, and three sets of pots and pans. Rather than wandering around the shoe department at Nordstrom's or Macy's, she stalks the aisles of Crate and Barrel and every boutique kitchen store in the Houston metro area.
Coliseum in Rome

Interview with Character Quinn Wells

A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
The title would probably be something like: The Tenacious Broad
Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
This is an easy one, I would be a kitchen store. i would sell everything, other than food and large appliances, that could be found in a residential kitchen. And, naturally, I would be forced to tour the world for the very best products for my store . . . ooh, too much fun!
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Watch out, too smart for her own good.

Please Fill in the Blanks -- Responses by Quinn Wells

I love pizza with black olives and extra cheese.
I'm always ready for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, usually wine if it's after 11 am.
When I'm alone, I enjoy trying out or creating a new recipe.
You'd never be able to tell, but my first grandchild will be born soon. (I agree, I look so young for forty-four!)
If I had a halo it would be lopsided. I'm so not an angel.
If I could have a dog, I would spoil her like crazy. Hmm, maybe I should adopt a puppy.
I can never grow house plants because I have a black thumb, seriously, left hand.

About the Author

Karen Sue Burns writes romantic suspense and mystery featuring feisty heroines who find themselves embroiled in risky situations full of adventure and sexy heroes. She has worked as a CPA for over 25 years. She’s traveled to Rio de Janeiro, London and Oslo, audited glass molds for wine bottles in California, and taken a helicopter to a drillship off the Gulf Coast--all in the name of accounting. For the last 16 years she’s been controller at a liberal arts university in Houston, Texas handling the financial statements, the annual audit, and preparing IRS Form 990. Accounting has been good to her, but writing romance novels is her passion. In Hot Pursuit is her debut romantic suspense novel. Karen may be contacted via her website at


In Hot Pursuit is the first novel for the author.

Books Coming Soon

Karen Sue Burns
The Liberation of Mr. Delaney, a contemporary ghost mystery and book one in The Texas Ghost Series, is currently planned to be indie published by the end of October 2012.

Find Me Here

About the images

Statue of Liberty outside the New York-New York Casino in Las Vegas: One of Quinn’s favorite sights during the first leg of her search for the thief of the $25 million.
Trevi Fountain in Rome: Throwing a coin in the foundation alongside Logan is a comforting act for Quinn -- “They had crossed an unspoken boundary. The warmth of his gaze filled her with hope. Hope that what lay ahead wouldn’t bite her in the butt. But at that moment, the planets in her world were in perfect alignment.”
The Coliseum in Rome: This nighttime photo was the inspiration for the cover of In Hot Pursuit.


  1. Thank you for being here today, Karen!

  2. Karen, it was a fun interview and I loved reading the excerpt, too. Lots of luck with the new release - and thanks for sharing Quinn with us!

  3. Thanks for the nice comments....I had fun doing the interview for Quinn!


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