A former manager in the aerospace industry, multi-published author Paula Altenburg currently writes short contemporary romance. Book 4 of her Spy Games series is coming soon, with more to follow. Paula lives in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband and two sons. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
I write contemporary romance and fantasy. I’ve published more than fifteen books now, including what I’ve co-authored under a pseudonym. My latest contemporary romance series is about gentlemen spies. I wanted to write about something I know. The Spy Games series leverages off the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. CSIS is a little like the CIA and MI5’s quiet brother, which is perfect.
No, I’m not a spy. A gentleman either, if we want to be nitpicky.
But before I began writing full time, I did work for a Canadian aerospace and defense company. That means I worked closely with the military, both active and retired. I try to inject a high level of verisimilitude into my work because I have those resources to turn to. Their stories are fascinating. While CSIS is a civilian organization, it reports to the Minister of National Defence. That’s a simplification of the process, but it’s sufficient for my series. (I’m a little sorry I decided to make the Canadian Minister of National Defence a series villain, though. Our current minister is highly qualified and amazing. We’re pretty proud.)
While I have a background in the defense industry, and I like romantic suspense, as a reader I’d lost interest in the Navy SEAL archetype. How big and bad can these guys get? Frankly, the most impressive people I know appear pretty ordinary, at least on the surface.
I’m also not a huge fan of the “woman in jeopardy” trope. Every little girl and boy should read The Paper Bag Princess. I want my heroes and heroines evenly matched. Intelligence matters. Employment equity is a big issue for me. Self-sufficiency is another. And I think most people expect honesty in a companion.
So what happens when you find the perfect partner—or even better, one who doesn’t seem perfect at all—only to discover they aren’t what they seem?
My Spy Games series focuses on heroes (and heroines) who lie for a living. How are their love interests supposed to get to know them and find out who and what they really are? Can these people be trusted? What are their core values?
These were the questions I chose to explore, so don’t expect any firefights. Fireworks, perhaps...
The first Spy Games story, Her Spy to Have, opens with my heroine, Isabelle, caught trying to sell her passport in Thailand. (She was desperate. Don’t judge her.) A cat and mouse game ensues. Neither she nor Garrett can be trusted, and they both want to uncover the other’s secrets.
In the second story, Her Spy to Hold, Kale is a spy who’s met his match in Irina, a super-smart weapons placement design expert. He’s never had to impress a woman before, and she’s especially hard to impress.
In the third book, Her Spy at Night, impetuous Marlies is the spy. She gives Harry, Canada’s staid trade commissioner, a few new things to consider. He knows what the spy world entails. Against his better judgment, and at a serious risk to his career, he’s fascinated by her.
And in book number four, CSIS team leader Dan’s past catches up to him in the form of Alycia, the woman he loved and lost—to his best friend. Alycia’s not the type of woman to pine for a man, however. Especially one who made it clear she comes second in his life. She’s moved on. When their work brings them back together, a shared tragedy will keep them apart. (FYI, I love Dan. This guy is tortured.)
The Spy Games series is barely beginning. Dan and Alycia’s story will take the characters and their story world in a slightly different direction, since the original series plot is about to be resolved.
For anyone interested in learning more about Canada’s spy organization, you can read the Act here.
His Spy at Night (Spy Games, Book 3)
For love of the game.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service officer Marlies Wiersma plays hard and loves harder—sometimes with disastrous results. After falling for a man who wasn’t who he pretended to be, Lies is anxious to prove to her boss that she won’t make the same mistake twice. She accepts an assignment which pits her against a charming crime lord—and alongside a diplomat with no patience for spy games, particularly feminine ones.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
When a national security threat results in Canadian Defence Trade Commissioner Harry Jordan harboring a spy in his embassy office, his instincts scream that Lies Wiersma is a woman not to be trusted. The two of them are supposed to be on the same team, but Lies is a little too good at these games for Harry’s personal comfort. He’s been burned by a woman before.
Harry’s reluctance to play along proves to be too much temptation for fun-loving Lies to resist, and once again, she finds herself in over her head with a man. This time, however, he’s exactly who he claims to be.
Now Lies has to convince Harry that, no matter who she pretends to be during the day, at night she’s all his.