PINK NEON: Meet Cecily Brown and Daniel Padilla!

From the desk of romance author Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy……

Pink Neon!

It’s that time again, time for me anticipate a new release with small shivers dashing up and down my spine, with a combination of excitement and trepidation.  Release day is when my newest “baby” is revealed to the world and all I can do now is sit back and wait for responses!  This one is a contemporary multicultural romance with a good measure of suspense.  Official release date from Rebel Ink Press is July 3 but stay tuned – once in awhile they sneak it out a little bit early.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll be among the first to know if it should happen.  Now here’s a little about the story:


Pink Neon begins with a woman driving a vintage fire engine red GTO over the hills and curves into the Ozarks, a woman too exotic to be a native with her dark skin and corn-rowed braids.  She’s brave, though, and bold as she comes to start over, to begin again in a different place in order to realize her dreams.  Cecily, my heroine, revealed herself before I ever began writing but my hero, an FBI agent named Daniel Padilla strolled into my story and made it his tale, too. 




When Cecily Brown roared into the vacation hotspot of Branson, Missouri, she had nothing on her mind but distancing herself from her life in Chicago after a divorce. She planned to make her long standing dreams of owning a boutique called ‘Pink Neon’ come true and forget the decade she spent trapped in a hellish marriage to millionaire jeweler Willard Bradford VI. Once she arrives, though, she finds she’s a minority among the tourists with her corn rowed braids and African-American heritage but Cecily is determined to stay.

Her cousin calls to tell her the news – her ex-husband managed to get murdered on the steps of his mansion but Cecily doesn’t care. Her old life is history and she’s eager to move forward with the grand opening of her boutique. Her first customer at Pink Neon is a man, dark and mysterious. She pegs him for a criminal or a cop but their attraction is intense. So is their first date which ends in intimacy and soon, she’s all but inseparable from Daniel Padilla. He carries his own old baggage too.

Life’s good until Padilla admits he’s an FBI agent sent to check Cecily out. She reacts with anger but as she learns she’s become the FBI’s favorite suspect, she has to trust Daniel if she can trust anyone at all. As the investigation heats up, she ends up heading south with him to Texas, as she and her FBI lover try to discover who the real killer might be. But danger lurks and it’s going to get rough before they straighten things out….if they can.


Sweet baby Jesus, my first customer is smoking hot. I think I just died and he’s my dream angel come to carry me to heaven.  Or he might be a demon to drag me down to hell.  Either way, I’m willing.

Hi,” Cecily said as he stepped onto the soft carpeting. “Welcome to Pink Neon. We’ve just opened and you’ll find an eclectic blend of beautiful things here.  Is there anything in particular I can help you find?”

Her pat greeting sounded lame now but she rattled it off anyway as she drank in his face with her eyes.  His copper hued skin, weathered and darkened by the sun, indicated an ethnic heritage but he wasn’t black.  Native American or Hispanic, maybe a little of both showed up in his family tree along with some white heritage.  He watched her with deep, dark eyes, both powerful and still.  They reminded her of a placid pond, deep and mysterious surrounded by shadows.  Tiny wrinkles wreathed the corners of his eyes and a few tight lines around his mouth indicated he must be older than she was, mid thirties maybe.  His lips were thin, mouth well-shaped and she wondered how well he could kiss.  He looked tough – and she figured he was – but he had soul, too.  Even if he doesn’t know it, he’s got it.  For the moment, though, he wore a bland mask.

I’d like to look around if that’s okay,” he said in a baritone voice, solid as good steak, richer than whipped cream, and soft as velvet.  Cecily suspected it could turn knife sharp and hard in seconds.  He’s either a career criminal, heavy duty, or a cop.  Growing up ghetto she could recognize either one although they often shared similar qualities.

“Sure,” she said.  Resisting the urge to drum her fingers in a restless beat on the counter to relieve her tension, Cecily switched on the CD player to find a calm center.  One of her favorites, the haunting Take Me Down To The Water by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals flowed from the speakers, powerful and poignant.   Her customer, paused near the gourmet coffees, halted and his head jerked upward.  He turned to face her, features alive and curious.

“That’s my favorite song,” he said with surprise. “I like most of their tunes but that’s the one I listen to the most.”

“Me, too,” Cecily told him. She had the song on repeat, had listened to it over and over while putting the shop together.  The shorter cut appealed to some inner emotion, a deep pocket of need and longing.

The man gazed at her and his eyes shimmered. “Can you sing it?” he asked. “Will you sing along with the music?”

His question slashed through ten years of silence, a decade during which she seldom sang.  Once, Cecily lived to sing and cherished music.  During the years with Willard, she seldom raised her voice in song or listened to tunes.  Freed, she’d immersed herself with music again but it wasn’t until the last week or so, she’d felt able to sing.  Cecily sung along to CD’s in the car, at home, and here at the shop but without an audience.  She parted her lips to say ‘no’, to refuse but his eyes caught hers and she sensed a kinship, a shared knowledge of suffering.  He lived with anguish and he knew the price of pain.  Kindred souls, we’re kindred souls.  Her chin lowered in a brief nod and when the song ended, she allowed it to begin once more. 

Cecily unleashed her voice, blended hers with Grace Potter’s, and added her rich chocolate to Grace’s vocals.   In the first moments, her skin prickled with awareness of his presence but after the notes emerged the music filled the spaces between them.  She’d sung the lyrics many times and knew them well.  And she didn’t miss any notes her voice remained true to the melody.  During the song, he moved closer and closer until at the end, he stood at the counter, eyes intent on her.  When the song ended, he stretched his arm over the barrier and turned the player off. 

Tears brightened his eyes, unshed but present in their depths.  Her cheeks were wet too although Cecily hadn’t realized she cried.  He extended his hand to her and she took it, held it instead of shaking it. “Thank you,” he told her. “I’m Daniel Padilla.”

“My name’s Cecily Brown,” she replied. “I’m glad we share the same taste in music.”

Book Spotlight - Pink Neon by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, multicultural romance

Length:  73K

Available beginning July 3 at, Barnes and, All Romance Ebooks

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Twitter: leeannwriter

From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy



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