Although it has been decades since I left India, cricket still has a place in my heart. So baseball was a natural transition. I did court football once (the one they play in Europe) but I love baseball. Hence, my hero, Rafael Henley, is a ball player. He had to be a pitcher because the body mechanics involved fascinates me. Karma Deepika Huntington is an independent woman and my books all feature strong female characters.
Invariably, a lot of food is featured in my books. People are always getting together and making a meal. It is such a basic need and necessity. Rafael Henley has everything he has ever wanted. Except for that one thing. He thought he had it but lost it. Karma is not his type at all, fiercely independent and self-sufficient. Opposites do attract, they just have to have the right environment to blossom. My protagonists wear many hats. Just to name a few, Rafael is a father, a baseball pitcher, a chef and an avid reader; Karma is a sports writer, a foodie who likes to make pizza from scratch, a loving daughter and a writer.
I’d just finished another book set in Bollywood and New York and wanted a change, so I set Karma’s Slow Burn in an undefined city on the shores of a lake. There is a river, the St. Lawrence, which is less conspicuous. I see Lake Ontario every day and every day I’m struck by how big it is. How it seems to reflect my moods. Like today, on this mild autumn Halloween day, the sun has decorated it with golden sprinkles, lifting my almost blue mood to a bright red.
Karma’s Slow Burn
Sportswriter Karma Huntington is going to hit Rafael Henley, star pitcher for the Sliders, hard to avenge her husband’s death. Rafael cannot ignore the chemistry between them and decides a one-night stand is in order. Karma agrees. Just to get that itch off. But once they get into each other’s pants, things get complicated. Revenge and guilt take a back seat with sizzling chemistry in control. Rafael likes willowy blondes and women who don’t look to him as their protector. Yet here is, lusting after the complete opposite: petite, raven-haired, Karma with a rose tat running up her neck. Can Rafael overcome the dark secret he hides and give in to what his heart wants? Will Karma finally admit she needs Rafael?
Excerpt Karma’s Slow Burn
When she finished the article, Karma called an Uber, packed her stuff and left the bar to wait for her ride. It was a dark evening, thick and heavy clouds hanging from the sky. Karma could sense a thunderstorm coming. The air was moist, filled with an earthy fragrance. She took a deep sniff. She half-turned when she heard gravel crunching behind her. A hairy arm snaked around her shoulders. Fumes of alcohol hit her nose. Coarse hair rubbed against her cheeks. He was huge. Her back rubbed against his soft belly. God! She hadn’t thought of him at all! Was this the way her beautiful evening was going to end? No fucking way!
Karma let her bag slide from her shoulder and her body went slack. With her head hung forward, she bent her elbows and jackknifed them into the softest part of his belly with all her might. It got a grunt from him and loosened his arm around her shoulder. She flipped around to face him, lifted her knee and jabbed it into his groin while slamming her ringed fingers on his nose.
With a groan, he dropped like a stone even as her legs gave way under her and she flopped to the ground, sharp pricks from the gravel biting into the heel of her palms. She didn’t feel the stones tear through the skin or the burning pain in her knuckles.
“I see you don’t need my help.” From far away, Rafael Henley’s voice drifted toward her in the night.
In the glow of the streetlamp, she saw him pick up her bag and walk toward her, the sound of his soles soft on the gravel. He set her bag on the ground beside her.
“You okay, Karma?” The concern in his voice brought tears to her eyes.
Words refused to pass her lips. He came closer and bent down to her level. He took one of her hands in his. She winced and he frowned. Reaching forward, he put his arms came around her and lifted her to her feet. She stumbled against him then stilled as he brought her to his chest.
“You’re safe now, Karma. You made sure of that.”
She leaned her head on his chest, her hair screening her face and her hands trembling. Her blood pounded so hard in her ears and chest, she swayed on unsteady legs. His arms tightened around her. She wanted to say something but her lips were still locked. All she could do was fold her body into the comfort of his embrace and breathe in his clean smell, trying to erase all memory of the stink of the other man.
He was a solid wall against her wobbly legs. Her shaking body had him bend down and hook an arm around her knees. Not a word of protest crossed her lips. He carried her to his SUV and opened the door. He settled her in the seat, buckling her in.
“Wait, no. Have an Uber.” She managed to croak the words out.
“What kind of car?”
“I see him coming around the corner. I’ll let him know you don’t need the ride. I’ll take you home.”
Karma did not utter a peep of protest. For once, she let someone decide for her. When he got in the driver’s seat, he paused.
“Let me see your hands.” He switched the interior lights on. She refused to comply. He leaned over, grabbed them and turned them over. She sucked in a breath. “A few scratches and some bruising on the knuckles. Rewards of a warrior.” He nudged her chin up with a finger and looked into her eyes. She slapped his finger away. “And we’re back.”
She hated to show him her vulnerable side. She did not need a knight in shining armor. But she had needed his embrace. And that was it. Nothing more.
Fireflies in the Night
Literary Fiction, winner of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award; Best Books of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews; Starred Kirkus Review; Finalist Foreword Reviews Indie Fiction Award. A historical, coming-of-age novel.
About the Author
Nalini Warriar dreamed of being a writer then forgot the dream for a bit as she went on to garner a Ph.D in Molecular Biology. While in her lab, the dream came back and hit her on the head and she’s never looked back writing through her years as a scientist. After more than a decade in cancer research, Nalini returned to the creative part of her soul and now devotes her time to dreaming up the perfect alpha male and feisty woman to appear in her books. Her novel, Fireflies in the Night, was a Foreword Reviews Fab Award finalist and won the Next Generation Indie Book Award in 2017. Kirkus Reviews awarded Fireflies in the Night a starred review and named it Best Books of 2016. Karma’s Slow Burn, a contemporary romance will be released in February 2020. She’s working on her next romance, a Crenshaw Brothers book, to be released in 2020. She lives in Ontario, Canada.