Monday, September 4, 2023


Guarding Her Love


Get a behind-the-scenes all-access pass to Guarding Her Love (The Sonoma Series - Book 1) by Shelby Gunter!


Guarding Her Love is about a police chief who is trying to solve a serial murder case while falling in love with the new girl in town. 

What neither of them realizes is they’re more connected to the murderer than they know and the more they fall in love, the more danger they’re in.


What is the sub-genre and trope? Did your characters lead you to this genre or was that decided before the story began?

Romantic suspense, friends-to-lovers, new-girl-in-town. It was sort of a combination of both. 

With Cooper being a police chief, it was sort of a given that he’d have to solve some form of a crime. The severity of the crime evolved as the story progressed.

Are you more character or plot-driven?

Plot driven until my characters decide my plot is silly and take over for themselves.

With many main and secondary characters, how do you keep them separated in your mind? Do you have a story/vision board above your workspace?

I keep a Notion folder for all of my series and then separate pages within those folders for each book in order to keep all of the names straight.

I know from previous interviews that characters take on a life of their own. Were any of the characters in this series determined to take their own direction instead of where you initially wanted them to go?

Oh, absolutely. Every single one of them.

Are any of the male/female POVs based on anyone you know?

No, I haven’t based any of my characters on people I know.

Was there any one character/scene that was harder to write about than the other?

There was a scene in my prequel novella, Forever, Always that I cried throughout while I wrote it, but I’m not going to say which one because I don’t want to give anything away. I wouldn’t say it was particularly hard to write, just sad.

What is your favorite book in the series? 

This is tough because all of my characters bring such unique perspectives to the stories, but I have to say the way Levi and Hope fall in love in Finding Her Strength is one of my favorites.

I know that we aren’t supposed to have “favorites” as far as our children, but seriously, who’s your favorite character and why?

Ugh… this is so hard! Levi in Finding Her Strength is probably my favorite guy, but Natalie in Breathing Her Fire is my favorite woman. That’s probably cheating but I honestly can’t choose between the two.

Series question - Who is your favorite couple and why did you decide on their dynamics?

I think this goes back to my fav book. Levi and Hope’s love story is a slow burn filled with longing and patience and it’s beautiful. I did not decide this dynamic. Hope came to me with her dark past and guarded heart and led me through how she finally allowed Levi to love her how she should’ve been loved all along.

How do you get inside these characters’ heads to find their perfect HEA?

I usually start off with a questionnaire as if I’m asking interview questions. It’s my attempt to get to know them and find out what makes them tick. 

From there, they start to tell me more about their life, how they became who they are, and why they fell in love.

What scene in this book/series sticks out the most for you? Why?

A scene in Guarding Her Love that always gets to me is when Cooper comes home from being at a crime scene all day and he finds Quinn in his bathtub completely oblivious to his presence and it hits him that she’s the one he’s always been looking for, the one he was meant to be with. 

There’s just something about that moment when he realizes he doesn’t have to search anymore that I love.

Series - Were any of the books harder to write than others?

Levi and Hope’s story was tough—both because of Hope’s past and because she was a tough nut to crack. 

She struggled to open up to Levi and I struggled to get their story on the page because of it. Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite. It was such a labor of love that I know every single piece of that story was written how it was meant to be written.

This question is if you write in MULTIPLE POVs not just the hero and heroine - I love the multiple POVs in a book. It’s not just the hero and heroine, but we get inside the heads of multiple characters throughout this series. I feel that it gives the story further depth. Do you think you will write another book or series following this multiple POV outline? 

The Sonoma Series has a third POV, however it’s a little different in that it’s in the mind of the villain. 

You get these little snapshots into the terror they’re bringing to the town and characters, and you get to know them just a little bit more than you would if they were completely anonymous.

How long did it take you to write this book/series?

I started book one in spring of 2020 right after COVID hit and published in 2021. The final book came out early Fall of 2022, so a couple of years to write the four main books and the novella.

How did you come up with the title for your book and series?

This title (Guarding Her Secrets) just sort of came to me while I was writing the story. It fit the general theme of how Cooper loved Quinn and I took it and ran with it. The rest of the titles from the series fell into line similarly and the series title is just the name of the town.

If you met these characters in real life would you get along?

I would absolutely get along with Quinn and the rest of their group. They’re hilarious and fun and I wish I could go to one of their barbecues.

Series question – Did you know in advance that you were going to write this as a series or did one of the characters in book one demand their own story?

I only had Cooper and Quinn in my head at first and then as I began to write, I realized they had a whole group of friends who were shouting at me to write their stories next.

If your book/series were made into a movie, which actors do you see as playing your characters?

I think Lily Collins would be great as Quinn, and Cooper could be played by Travis Van Winkle.

Can you give us a hint as to what we can expect next? Whether a new book and series or a sequel to an existing series? Can you share a small tease?

A little hint at what’s next is I’ll be releasing a new series in September. And it’ll feature characters you’ll know if you’ve read The Sonoma Series.

Check out all my interviews/reviews for Shelby Gunter!

Shelby is a romantic suspense author who loves to write plot twists you'll never see coming. 

She and her husband live in Kansas City with their fur baby and love to travel as far and as often as they can. She loves all things relating to coffee, wine, and books and it's rare you will see her without one of those items in hand. 

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FOREVER, ALWAYS by Shelby Gunter
The Sonoma Series - Prequel

Available in Kindle Unlimited

I’m not good for her.

I’ll never be good for her, but no matter how many times I tell myself not to make her mine, she’s still the only one I’ll ever want. After all this time, I’m tired of fighting the pull I feel for Megan Thompson.

Except, life has a funny way of showing how little control you actually have. Our senior year of high school should have been the best one yet. Instead, it’s turned into a terrifying nightmare.

With my heart shattered, and my soul as dark as my hair, I don’t think I’ll ever come back from this. If she doesn’t make it, neither will I.

GUARDING HER LOVE by Shelby Gunter
The Sonoma Series - Book 1

Available in Kindle Unlimited

A gruesome murder. A sickening crime scene. A treacherous betrayal.

All things I never thought I’d experience as a small town police chief. Instead of policing teenagers and bar fights, I’m walking through bloody crime scenes hoping one of my neighbors isn’t killed next.

My saving grace? The beautiful blue-eyed newcomer, Quinn Lawson. She’s the light that burns away the heavy darkness on my shoulders, making it so I can do my job—protect my town…

Until I fail to protect her from the evil lurking in the shadows of my town.

Taken by someone I never believed would betray me, getting her back becomes my sole focus.

But with betrayal burning deep in my soul, I may cause her death before I can save her from it.

The Sonoma Series - Book 2

Available in Kindle Unlimited

I’m blaming my hormones. And deliciously spicy man cologne.

Because I think I blacked out there for a minute. Did Tucker James, aka hot firefighter, aka man of my dreams, just ask me out in an elevator? Yes… Yes, I think he did. What the hell do I do now?

If I were smart, I would listen to my mom and JUMP ON IT. That’s what a good daughter would do, right? Heed her advice.

So when Tucker and I finally get together, we’re well on our way to happily ever after, until a crazy arsonist goes on a spree, leaving nothing but death and destruction in his wake…

And now he’s set his sights on me…

If we don’t find this maniac soon, I could lose more than just the love of my life.

The Sonoma Series - Book 3

Available in Kindle Unlimited

I was finally safe.

After fleeing the evil of my old life with nothing more than a suitcase and a new identity, I retreated to the charming, small town of Sonoma, North Carolina to create a new home where I was safe to heal. But meeting the only man to ever make my heart race was not a part of the plan.

Levi Jackson was everything I’d ever wanted. Kind, sensitive, and so drop-dead gorgeous I could barely think around him. His ability to make me laugh along with his ever-present smirk gave me no choice but to fall hard and fast for him.

But after one phone call, the beautiful life I was building began to crumble. The malevolence of my past had caught up to me. He was here, lurking in the shadows. There will be no stopping him now that he has found me.

I thought I was safe. But I was wrong…

The Sonoma Series - Book 4

Available in Kindle Unlimited

My new boss is a grade A jerk.

With a permanent scowl furrowing his eyebrows and the words ‘back off’ stamped across his forehead, he’s made our small-town animal clinic unbearable. Unfortunately for me, broody only makes him hotter.

Until the night he saved my life, and my entire view on Benjamin Crawford changed. Falling for your boss usually ends in disaster, but this time, it’s not because we work together.

Making Ben mine paints a target on my back, forcing the dark shadow lurking around me to make itself known. Someone else wants me and is determined to keep me.

And no matter what we do to stop them, I think they may succeed.

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