Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Aloha to Gina Robinson and THE SPY WHO LEFT ME

Last week, Mary Gramlich called me, "YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK."  She was referring to Gina Robinson's THE SPY WHO LEFT ME.   In fact, Mary asked the publisher to send me a book.  Thanks to Jessica at St. Martin's Press for doing so as this was a fun read of pure escapism.   Check out review on Goodreads at this link.

Haleakula - Maui's No. 1 destination

Beside being a fun read, Mary drew my attention to THE SPY WHO LEFT ME because it is set in Hawaii:

If there’s one thing that can ruin a vacation, it’s running into your ex. Just ask Treflee Miller. If she’d only known that her husband Ty would be here in Hawaii—muscular, sun-bronzed, and infuriatingly gorgeous—she would have brought the divorce papers for him to sign. But life is full of surprises when you’re married to a world-class spy…

Ty Miller can understand why his wife is tired of playing Mrs. James Bond. He’s never home, he’s always on a mission, and he’s usually surrounded by exotic informants. He has to admit that the perfect spy makes a pretty lousy husband. But for the sake of Ty’s security and Treflee’s safety, they can’t blow his cover. Not here. Not now. Not when his longing is so strong, her lips so tempting—and his enemies so close…

Naturally, I invited Gina Robinson to be my guest ... and what a treasure she is!   Please join me in welcoming Gina Robinson!

Kim:  From your bio, you have an Italian grandmother who told fairy tales - how precious is that! What was your favorite story ... and favorite food if Grandma cooked?

Gina:  Being Italian, my grandma told Italian fairy tales. Her favorite and mine was The King Who Would Have a Beautiful Wife, which, as the title suggests, is about a king who wanted the most beautiful woman in his kingdom to be his wife. His guards scour the land, looking for just such a woman. But they are fooled into taking a very ugly old woman to the king. The old woman knows she’ll be killed once the king gets a look at her, so she appeals to fairies who make her beautiful. That’s the gist of it, anyway. As true fairy tales are, it’s a little gruesome in its original form. But Grandma softened it up and embellished it for her grandchildren. When I was a girl, she used to tell it to me as she brushed the tangles out of my hair. Because, of course, I hated to have my hair brushed and complained about the pain and the moral of this fairy tale is so appropriate--It takes a little pain to be beautiful. Isn’t that so true, lol?

As far as cooking, Grandma was a terrific cook. She made a mean pasta fagioli and polenta. But no one could make better fried chicken than she did.

Kim:  Tell us about where you live - your favorite sight, sound, and smell.

Gina:  I live in a suburb of Seattle in the Greater Puget Sound region of Washington State. My favorite sight is the majestic Mount Rainier which you can see from almost anywhere here when you look to the south. I love the sounds of the birds here in summer, and the smell of the fresh air after a rain shower. And we get plenty of rain showers here, believe me.

Seattle skyline

Kim:  You are an author new to me - what inspires your "humorous contemporary stories with plenty of romance and suspense". Where do you find research for spies?

Gina:  I write humor because it comes naturally to me. I’ve always loved reading romance, mystery, and suspense novels. I like spy novels, too, but I kind of fell into writing about spies. Years ago, my husband showed me a travel article about a fantasy spy camp. That article inspired an idea for a novel—what if a woman who was totally un-spy-like went to fantasy spy camp and bumped into some real intrigue? That idea eventually became my first published novel, Spy Candy. Things evolved from there.

I do a lot of research for my novels online but I also have a bookshelf full of books about spies – both the CIA-type and the James Bond-type. People now know I love spy stuff so they buy it for me or send it to me. And then, yes, I may have talked to a former spy or two.

Kim:  Have you seen the CIA Cookbook, SPIES, BLACK TIES, AND MANGO PIES? It offers both unclassified stories and delicious recipes (available at this link).

Gina:  I haven’t seen this book, but now I’m going to have to buy it. Wouldn’t it be fun to write a book about a spy who’s a chef? Sort of like a modern day Julia Child, who really did work in the intelligence field. See? I can grab an idea from anywhere ;-)

Kim:  Tell us about THE SPY WHO LEFT ME. What inspired you to set it in Hawaii and include female veterans?

Gina:  I call The Spy Who Left Me a simply spylicious romance. It was the most fun to write. I just let myself go and imagined all the downsides of being married to a spy and the problems his career could cause in a marriage. I wanted to portray marriage as sexy and fun and worth saving if you still love your partner.

I chose to set it in Hawaii because I wanted a fun tropical setting. I’ve vacationed in Maui and loved it. For so many of us on the mainland, Hawaii beckons as the ideal getaway vacation. As for female veterans, I wanted strong female characters, women with courage and knowledge of battle. My dad was a lieutenant in the army when I was young. He instilled in us a deep respect for the men and women who serve our country. I’m so grateful to our military and all those who serve. They have courage and a sense of self-sacrifice that I truly admire.

Kim:  The bride and her bridesmaids were a riot!  Thank you for spotlighting women veterans as strong characters that can still have strong emotions.  What's next for Gina Robinson?

Gina:  My next Agent Ex book, Diamonds Are Truly Forever, comes out in June of 2012. It features Ty’s sidekick spy as the hero facing problems in his own marriage. In fact, he has to go undercover as himself. Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover copy:

Staci Fields loves her gorgeous husband—and that’s the honest truth. Unfortunately, her inability to lie is a major liability for the wife of a CIA agent. During a previous mission, her loose lips nearly got her husband killed. So now Staci’s filing for divorce to keep him out of danger—no matter how much her lips still crave his kiss…

Drew Fields knows that his wife doesn’t want to play the spy game anymore. But when he learns that Staci may be a pawn in her stepfather’s secret dealings with terrorists, he has no choice but to step back into her life. This time, the stakes are higher than ever. The closer he gets to Staci, the deadlier the odds. And the more he loves his ex, the more he has to lose…

Mahalo, Gina, for joining us at SOS Aloha!  Gina has generously donated an autographed book for me to giveaway today.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about spy life - who are your favorite "spy" authors and characters?

My favorite James Bond movie is THE SPY WHO LOVED ME - Egypt, Triple X, Jaws, and, of course, the parachute with the Union Jack!  And Carly Simon belts out the most beautiful song, "Nobody does it better."

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 26.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 27.


Kim in Hawaii

To learn more about Gina and her books, check out her website at

Plus I feature Maui over at ALOHA ON MY MIND at this link where I am also giving away a second copy of THE SPY WHO LEFT ME.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!
    When they cast the latest James Bond (Daniel Craig) I immediately thought they were so off the mark. Totally wrong. Whatever. But, I saw Casino Royale, I realized just how wrong I was. I really enjoyed it and thought he was great.
    "The Spy Who Left Me" sounds like a fun read...and all the better since it is set in Hawaii!

  2. My favorite spy -- Bond, James Bond!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  3. Hands down my favorite is James Bond.

  4. My favorite goes back a long way, to Helen MacInnes' Above Suspicion, capped with her Double Image.

    The Spy Who Left Me sounds to be great fun.

    Happy US Thanksgiving.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    My favorite spy character has become India Black by Carol Carr. I have read both books that are out in the series, and she has become my favorite espionage princess!!

  6. Hi Kim and Gina! The Spy Who Left Me sounds like a wonderful and must read. My favorite spy is/was James Bond -- Sean Connery and Roger Moore. As far as a spy book goes, I liked Tracey Jane Jackson's, A Bride Spy. That's the only one I can think of having read recently that I remember.

  7. I agree with everyone on James Bond with Sean Connery being my favorite.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


  8. Happy Thanksgiving!

    I like Judd Ryder and Eva Blake from Gayle Lynds The Book of Spies.

  9. Kim--Thanks for the fabulous writeup and inviting me to be your guest. Right now it has been pouring down rain for two straight days here in Seattle and I am dreaming of Hawaii :-)

    Mary--Thanks for recommending the book. I'm thrilled you liked it. Nothing makes a writer happier :-)

    I love all the James Bonds and have a hard time choosing. But I also really loved Collin Farrel in The Recruit. And I find Max Smart lovable in a bumbling spy way.

  10. I'm a fan of the Bond movies, too. I'm a fan of the show The Avengers with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee.

  11. Mahalo nui loa for the great giveaway!
    My favorite spy is Evelyn Salt from the movie 'Salt' (played by Angelina Jolie)

  12. The Agent X books sound great!
    I like Evelyn Anthony's spy novels

  13. The only spy that comes to mind is James Bond - preferably Sean Connery or Roger Moore.

    Gina Robinson is a new to me author, too. Her books sound like fun reads and I've added them to my extremely large TBR list.

  14. My new favorite spy is Gina's hero, Ty! This was a super fun read. Can't wait for the next book!

  15. Hi Gina,

    Your book sounds great ;)

    i love Mr. & Mrs. Smith by brad pitt and angelina jolie ;)

  16. I now have NOBODY DOES IT BETTER in my head. My favorite spy has to be Maxwell Smart. Of course 99, is a very close second. She just missed it by this much.

  17. Michael Weston of Burn Notice is an amazing spy but Fiona really kicks but so she is my favorite. Who doesn't like a woman that is fit, can handle C4 like a pro, and still get the guy.

    Thanks for the mention of my review it is as always appreciated.

  18. lol i tell my daughter, when i go up,im going to be a spy . she informs me, im to old at 43
    (we watch covert affairs together)

  19. I totally agree with the others here about James Bond!

  20. I have to agree with all who say James Bond is their fav. I loved "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Nobody Does It Better" is one of my fav songs. Aah, I can only

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  21. Great interview, this sounds like a real edge of your seat read!