Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David, and their cat, Tigger. When she’s not writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach, and having a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are the Cotswolds of England, Captiva Island in Florida, New Orleans, New York City, and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and of course, romance. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. Debby belongs to Romance Writers of America, Florida Romance Writers, Hearts Across History, and Lowcountry Romance Writers. Her first novel, The Silver Crescent, was released January 2014.
RUE Toulouse by Debby Grahl
Release Date: January 15 , 2014
Published by The Writers Coffee Shop
Genre: FICTION / Romance / General / Suspense
ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-318-8
It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Attending a masquerade ball, wealthy fashion designer Caterine Doucette, dressed as a shimmering ice princess, has her cool façade shattered when she encounters Bayou-born ex-cop Remi Michaud, disguised as the darkly handsome pirate Jean Lafitte. Their true identities hidden, the princess and the pirate come together in an explosion of passion and desire. But when fantasy turns to cold reality, Caterine panics and disappears into the night, unaware this man will soon be sent to rescue her from a killer and will capture her heart.
Orphaned at a young age, Caterine grew up in the home of her beloved grandmother, Miss Dauphine Doucette. Despised by her Doucette relatives for the devotion she received from her grandmère, Caterine suffered years of envy and disdain. The young Caterine learned quickly how easily the love she had to give could be thrown back in her face.
After Miss Dauphine turns over ownership of the century-old fashion house, Ma Chérie, to Caterine, an attempt is made on her life, for there are those in the Doucette family who will stop at nothing to possess what they feel is their rightful inheritance.
Not knowing whom to trust, Caterine goes into hiding. Miss Dauphine, convinced someone in her own family is behind the attack, hires Remi, now working for a private security company, to track her down and unmask her would-be assassin.
Learning that the affluent Caterine Doucette is the beautiful princess he held in his arms at the ball, Remi is torn between his growing desire for her and painful memories of another rich socialite’s betrayal. Caterine finds herself falling in love with Remi, but old embedded pain leaves her afraid to open her heart.
Down in the Big Easy, Caterine and Remi must learn to trust one another if they are to survive in a world of family greed and ruthless revenge.
Caterine stared in disbelief at the man leaning against the door frame. Her mouth suddenly gone dry, she whispered, “Remi?”
“At your service.”
She opened her mouth and closed it several times before she stammered, “Wha-what are you doing here?”
“Your grandmother sent me.”
“Let me in, and I’ll tell you.”
Without a word, she stepped back to let him pass. He quickly scanned the room. “Nice, isn’t it? I’ve never stayed here, but I’ve heard it’s a great hotel. It suits you. But would you care to tell me why you’re here and not on a plane out of New Orleans?”
Caterine’s back stiffened. “I don’t see what concern that is of yours. I called Elaine and expected either Paul or her to come. So, again, what are you doing here instead of Paul?”
“You’re in trouble and need help.”
“But you don’t even know me.”
Remi smiled. “We have met.”
Caterine felt her face turning scarlet.
He chuckled. “I take it you remember.”
Remember? Oh, how she remembered. She’d relived those moments in his arms over and over again. And here he was standing in front of her wanting to help. It took everything she had not to throw herself at him. “I still don’t understand. How did you find out what happened?”
“I was on my way home when I heard Ma Chérie’s alarm. I found your hair clip and the blood on the sidewalk. What did that guy do to you?”
She looked away and in a barely audible voice said, “He held a gun to my back and tried to force me into a van.”
Remi’s jaw tightened. “That fils de putain left some blood. If we find him, we have a DNA sample.” He reached out and took her hand. “How did you get away from him?”
“First I swung wildly and hit him in the nose with the alarm remote I had in my fist. Then I got him with my umbrella.”
“Way to go, Princess.”
She gave him a slight smile. “And I’m pretty sure the remote saved my life. I set the alarm off while he held the gun to my back.”
“You must have been terrified. I promise we’ll get the bastard who did that to you.”
She tried to blink back the tears that suddenly filled her eyes.
“Don’t cry.” With the tip of his finger, he brushed away the tear that slid down her cheek. “You’re safe. I’m here.”
Review by Ramona
I'm always happy when I find a novel that enthralls and captivates me without it being overtly sex-centered; Debby Grahl has done that for me with Rue Toulouse. Written in a highly descriptive and fascinating way, it almost seems like you are walking the streets of New Orleans while the Caterine and Remi are battling her family's greed.
It won't hurt to say that visiting New Orleans is on my bucket list, which is the main reason why I wanted to read about this city that interests me so much. I found it so alive, it's become a main character in the story. Take the setting out of the Big Easy and there would be a lot less storytelling to be had.
There are not many women who could have survived what Caterine Doucette has been through. Since she was young, she's known for certain that the majority of her family hates her. She only has her grand-mère and her cousin Bobby showing any affection for her while the rest of her family would gladly have her gone. It doesn't help that her grandmother takes her under wing and molds her to take over the coveted family fashion empire, Ma Chérie, despite the fact that she's the youngest granddaughter and not in line to inherit the business. When Miss Dauphine deeds the business over to her, skipping over two cousins, she suddenly finds her life in danger. But who among those who hate her dislike her enough to see her dead and why?
Enter gentleman pirate Remi. The ex-cop had run into Caterine before on the street while she was attempting to get away from a very angry ex-boyfriend. A successful rescue left him wondering who his princess in distress was, until they meet again at the costume party thrown by his business partner who also happens to be married to her best friend. Sparks fly yet again and the two find themselves getting to know each other in the most intimate way in a garden gazebo. Remi and his partner Paul are soon after called in to protect Caterine when a series of happenings threaten her life. It's not so easy then to deny that they both feel something more than lust!
Multiple suspects give them a merry chase throughout the city and keep the suspense up until the last few chapters. Red herrings and probable perps abound, each one with a good motive and excuse but nothing is confirmed until the end - and it's not really the person you would expect.
The speed at which you're taken through the story is terrific. While it's taking place over the course of several days, you are left completely out of breath by the end, rushing through all the scenarios and being pulled along as Caterine and Remi face one situation after another. In the end, there's a deep sense of satisfaction when the wrap-up is narrated and the two lovers can finally be together without any outside problems.
Rou Toulouse is a fascinating rendition of Debby Grahl's "what-if," if a princess gets involved with a commoner. Only the commoner is a pirate knight in disguise and is sworn to protect his princess no matter what, despite the obvious racial and social slurs added to a very painful discrimination. In the end, the pirate vanquishes her dragons and they get their happily-ever-after.
Be sure to look for her other book, The Silver Crescent as well!
Special pricing for RUE Toulouse Release!
Praise for RUE Toulouse
"When privileged fashion designer Caterine Doucette meets sexy Cajun ex-cop Remi Michaud, things get way hotter than usual in New Orleans around Mardi Gras. Caterine's life is in danger, and Remi is hired to protect her - a job to which he applies himself most personally. Hot, and with a genuine mystery, I didn't know exactly who the baddie was until the ultimate showdown." - Andrea
TAGS: M/F Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Verbal Abuse, Racial Slurs, Social Slurs