Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Theresa Lynn Hall to the blog. Theresa will be talking about her book Ransom in Rio and how it came about. She also has a cliffhanger excerpt, so be sure to read to the end. Welcome, Theresa!
Ransom in Rio was so much fun to write that I hated to write “The End”. What started as a small idea rolling around in my head suddenly became Lexi’s story. My publisher, Pelican Book Group, put a request for submissions page on the website asking for novellas with international settings that include 3 items and a passport. The three items for Rio, Brazil were an emerald necklace, a formal event, and a family secret. As luck would have it, my husband had just returned on a business trip from Rio. He’d spent two weeks there completely immersed in the culture. He brought back a lot of pictures and many stories to tell. He also brought back coffee and chocolate—my favorites! I wish I had been able to accompany my husband on his trip, but one thing he did tell me was how scary the driving is! Apparently, I would fit very well in Brazil with my driving skills! He was also there on Easter Sunday and decided to rent a car to drive to visit Christ the Redeemer.
I had no idea how massive the statue really is. It’s an iconic symbol of Brazil that many tourists visit on Easter. I was so jealous but I loved that he was able to experience something so amazing. His pictures made me feel like I was able to be there with him.
With my husband’s help, a little internet research, and some brainstorming the story came to life. To my surprise, it won First Place in the 2017 International Digital Awards (IDA) Contest for the Oklahoma chapter of RWA! I hope you enjoy reading Ransom in Rio as much I enjoyed writing it.
Ransom in Rio
By Theresa Lynn Hall
Private Investigator, Braden McCoy wants nothing more than to finish out the week doing a little fishing from his boat. The ex-special ops vet enjoys his peaceful life and loves his new career. He’s learned to put his past behind him and enjoy his blessings. Until a mourning redhead walks into his office and changes his plans.
Lexi Ramos always knew her family was dysfunctional. Until the sudden death of her brother, she never knew exactly how much. Consumed with questions surrounding his accident, she seeks the help of a private investigator. What starts out as a murder investigation in Cozumel, quickly crosses borders and escalates into a race against time to save them both from Brazilian kidnappers, who somehow know more about her family secrets than she does. Lexi soon realizes that life comes with a price.
Her worst nightmare had come to life.
Now, the fear of what she would do if it ever happened was over, but the loss of her brother came with a burden she hadn’t foreseen. It left her to deal with her family alone. To carry the legacy. To protect the empire. To convince everyone to believe the lies.
“He was always so careful,” she muttered to herself as she drove.
Snow had started falling as the last “Amen” was said at the cemetery. The heavy white powder made the pale yellow lines on the road fade in and out of sight. Lexi tugged her sweater tighter around her body with one hand and gripped the steering wheel with the other. The funeral had drained her of what little emotional strength she had left. It was crazy, but several times throughout the day she’d found herself picking up her phone to see if Jace had messaged her. He used to text or call every day. Silly stuff sometimes, like never walk the dog with no shoes on. Once he’d texted that he had the hiccups.
“I just can’t believe he’s gone.” Lexi glanced at her friend. She didn’t expect Kristy to say anything. Nothing she could say would make the pain go away.
Jace had been the perfect big brother, Lexi’s best friend. From an early age, they learned that sticking together in a dysfunctional family was their only hope. One thing Lexi knew for certain was that Jace wouldn’t leave her here alone. He would not have put himself in danger for a stupid fishing trip. His chance to break free of their crazy family was finally around the corner. He’d just bought his girlfriend an engagement ring. They had plans to move to New York as soon as the wedding was over. Now he was gone. None of it made any sense. Why was she the only person who could see that something was wrong with ruling the cause of death as accidental?
Lexi brushed at her red hair with a careless hand and caught a glimpse of her swollen, blue eyes in the rearview mirror. She hardly resembled her brother at all—a fact that had always bothered her, but she’d never questioned it the way Jace had. He had always asked where he’d gotten his blonde hair.
“Lexi, why don’t you stay with me tonight?”
The sound of Kristy’s voice startled her. “I’m sorry. I’m really out of it.” She smiled and wiped a stray tear from her cheek. “Thank you for everything. You’ve done more than enough for me over the past few days.”
“You know I’m always here.”
“I know.” She swallowed hard. “Kristy…”
“I can’t stop thinking…I just don’t think this was an accident. It couldn’t be. Jace didn’t even like to fish. He wouldn’t charter a boat to go fishing in Cozumel. He liked nice restaurants, museums, theaters. Not fishing. And then there’s the fact that he didn’t take Selena with him. He always had Selena with him. Why doesn’t anyone else seem to think this is odd?”
“I don’t know. Now that you bring it up, Jace wasn’t much of a risk-taker.”
“Exactly. The strangest thing is that Selena said he told her he would be back in an hour. He only left for one hour. Who charters a fishing boat for only an hour?”
“Did Selena tell you why he didn’t take her?”
“She didn’t say, and I didn’t want to ask her a lot of questions. Not yet.”
Kristy nodded. “I saw her today. She’s really not handling this well.”
“No one is.” She pulled into Kristy’s driveway. It was a relief to be off the snowy roads.
No matter how she looked at this, her brother’s death could not have been an accident. Somehow, she would prove that he didn’t drown on a fishing trip. She would prove Jace was murdered.
Going back to work hadn’t been easy. Jace’s empty office was a constant reminder of her loss. Somehow, she’d made it through the first day and knew her brother would be proud of her. Now that she was home, a hot bubble bath and early bedtime sounded like a great ending to a long day.
She stopped at the mailboxes. It had been days since she’d checked her mail. Unlocking the box, she frowned when a manila envelope fell to the concrete. She groaned as she bent to pick it up. All the stress and lack of working out was beginning to take its toll. As her eyes scanned the writing on the front of the envelope, a chill raced down her spine, and her free hand flew to her mouth to stifle the guttural sound working its way out. She stared at her name scribbled in blue ink.
In Jace’s handwriting.
Her keys fell from her hands and jingled against the sidewalk. She fought to steady herself as she studied the postmark. It was dated this Thursday. A day after his funeral.
Lexi scrambled to pick up her keys and unlock the door. She stumbled inside and fell into the nearest chair. Her vision blurry with tears, she studied the handwriting. Touching her name, she traced the L.
“Oh, Jace…” she whispered.
She pulled open the envelope, reached in, and pulled out a flash drive. Was that it? No note? No explanation?
A flash drive? She ran to the bedroom, slid into the black leather office chair at her desk, and flipped open her laptop. She stared at the small piece of plastic as she waited for the computer to boot up. Her hand shook as she plugged it in.
Ten minutes later, she stood staring into the bathroom mirror gripped by nausea. She covered her face with a cold, wet towel. Her worst fears were coming true. And she needed help.
Want to read more? Check Ransom in Rio out at
About the Author:
As a native Texan, Theresa loves to write suspenseful stories that happen in small Texas towns with old fashioned Southern values. She’s an elementary teacher and mom to two boys—the oldest being in law enforcement, which comes in handy when she’s researching. When she’s not teaching kids or writing, she loves to cook, read a good suspense, and binge-watch episodes of Dateline. She is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). She actively promotes fellow Christian Fiction authors on her blog. She also loves to hear from readers who enjoy Christian Fiction and can be found at http://www.theresalynnhall.com, Facebook, and @theresalynnhall.