The “Morgan Dane Series” by Melinda Leigh should be on the forefront of any reader who wants a suspenseful and riveting story. She has a knack for writing main characters and a likeable supporting cast, with bad guys who are pure evil. Each story delves into some kind of abuse whether emotional or physical.
The first story in the series has Morgan Dane moving to her childhood town after her late husband was killed while serving in the military. Now with three girls, Ava six years old, Mia five years old, and Sophie three years old, she moves in with her grandfather. Luckily, she has a support system of Gianna Leone, the nanny, Stella her sister, her grandfather Art, and Stella’s boyfriend.
Although a stellar prosecutor, she switches roles in this series to become a defense attorney to help those unjustly accused. She decides to make personal sacrifices in the name of justice. Knowing she needs a private investigator she hires Sharp Industries’ Lance Kruger and Lincoln Sharp, former police detectives. This is where the relationships begin to formulate. As the series progresses, so do the feelings of Lance and Morgan for each other. Each novel has them working together to find the perpetrator and let justice prevail. Below is a brief summary of each book in order from one to six.
The first book in the series, Say You’re Sorry, has Morgan defending her neighbor’s son, Nick, who is accused of killing her sometimes babysitter, Tessa.
Her Last Goodbye has a young mother Chelsea Clark leaving the house for a girls’ night out and vanishing. Her family knows she would never voluntarily leave her two small children. Her desperate husband, who is also the prime suspect, hires Morgan and Sharp Industries to find his wife and prove his innocence.
Bones Don’t Lie delves into the backstory of what happened to Lance’s father. Private investigator Lance Kruger was just a boy when his father vanished twenty-three years ago. He has lived under the weight of that disappearance, until his father’s car is finally dredged up from the bottom of Grey Lake. Lance and Morgan must face his deadly past that’s risen to the surface.
What I’ve Done has Haley Powell waking up covered in blood, with no memory of the night before. When she sees a man lying in the backyard, stabbed to death, she has only one terrified thought: “What have I done.” Morgan and company are hired to find the truth behind the killing.
Secrets Never Die also has Morgan and company defending a teenage boy after a retired sheriff’s deputy is shot to death in his home. Evan, becomes the prime suspect. Even more incriminating, the boy disappeared from the scene of the crime.
Save Your Breath is sadly the last book in the series. The story has true-crime writer Olivia Cruz disappearing with no signs of foul play. Her new boyfriend, Lincoln Sharp, suspects the worst. He knows she didn’t leave willingly and turns to his friends and co-workers, attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger, to find her before it’s too late.
Leigh is a great author who writes true-to-life characters that readers are willing to take a journey with, both professionally and personally. Besides her suspenseful and gripping story lines the characters are one’s people care about.
Elise Cooper: Why did you write the Morgan Dane series?
Melinda Leigh: She is a secondary character from the Scarlet Falls series. Her sister, had her own story in the SF series. The Morgan Dane series is a spin-off from that one. I was excited about writing her character.
EC: How would you describe Morgan?
ML: Her character grows quite a bit throughout the series. She finds a career, to be a defense attorney, which gives her some confidence. In the beginning, she was vulnerable and timid with some doubt in her ability both personally and professionally. As the books continue she becomes more determined and becomes very tough. Overall, she is honest, ethical, and has a lot of integrity.
EC: How would you describe Lance Kruger, Morgan’s eventual boyfriend?
ML: He was working as a police detective, but because of an injury he had to retire and became a private investigator. He is loyal and strong. Throughout the series he grows emotionally. Originally, he was standoffish and it took him a while to accept that any emotional connection must be on equal footing. For instance, he always wants to help Morgan and his mom, but never wants to accept help himself.
EC: Speaking of his mom, he treats her like she should be in a cocoon?
ML: Lance takes care of his mom, Jennifer. She’s agoraphobic with depression and anxiety. He needs to accept her for who she is. Jennifer was never going to change, but that does not necessarily mean she needs to change. He needed to accept what her limits are and let her lead her own life the way she wants rather than put his own ideas as to what she should be doing. He needed to step back and give her some independence. I put in the anxiety diagnosis to make the story realistic because it is a current issue that is prevalent.
EC: How would you describe the relationship between Lance and Morgan?
ML: I think it is realistic. It grows more intimate throughout the series, although slowly. It felt very organic. They had to learn to depend on one another equally. The quote in book three best describes them, “The relationship requires support and sharing on both sides. It’s not a one-way street where one personality does all the giving and the other all the taking.”
EC: Morgan’s grandfather, Art, was a great character?
ML: He is her mentor that is a steady influence parental type. Everyone needs someone in their life that is a constant and a good role model. Even at his age he is very productive. My own grandfather is 88 years old. He still drives, lives alone, maintains his property, and goes fishing several days a week. It is funny, but after I had written scenes with Morgan’s grandfather the editors said this is not believable. I just laugh because the elderly can be very active. I based Art’s spunkiness on my grandfather. Art is very sharp, loves Morgan, her family, and was there for her and her siblings. He is intelligent, loyal, and dependable.
EC: Lance’s partner, Lincoln Sharp, was more like a father figure?
ML: I liked writing his character. He becomes more open. In the beginning Lance is the one who he really has a connection with. He grows closer to Morgan and her children and wants to protect them. He is like a mother hen, because he is always chastising Lance and Morgan to eat healthy, especially since she enjoys Junk-food.
EC: The last two books brought in a new character, Olivia?
ML: She is the perfect counter point to Sharp. He hated journalists before he met her. I enjoyed writing how she forces him to accept how wrong he is. She is a teaser, very sharp, confident, and determined.
EC: Morgan’s youngest child, Sophie, steals the scenes she is in?
ML: She is a hell bent three-year-old. I have two children of my own and was a stay at home mom. My house was where every child in the neighborhood came to play. I appreciate watching a child’s spunk and how their personalities develop so I enjoyed writing Sophie’s character from my own experiences.
EC: In your books you seem to have a good cop and a bad cop?
ML: There is good and bad everywhere. We are all human beings. It is just like any other profession. For the most part, the majority of law enforcement characters are good. The bad ones happen to stand out more because of their rottenness.
EC: What about your next book?
ML: It will be the second book of the new series featuring newly appointed Sherriff Bree Taggert, titled See Her Die that will be released in September. In this new series dogs play more of a role in the plot, while in the Morgan Dane series dogs are more pets. The plot involves students who are killed and Bree must find a connection. She hires Matt Flynn as a consultant to help, since he is a retired police dog handler. Also, since the characters from the Morgan Dane series are all from the same world as this new series I envision them to make appearances.