Let’s meet Josephine ‘Jo’ Rayburn from Gravedigger, a romantic suspense by CeeRee Fields. Welcome to Romance Lives Forever. I’m Kayelle Allen, author and owner of this blog. Happy to have you here! Please tell us about the story your author wrote.
Gravedigger by CeeRee Fields
Hunting a killer is easy. Learning to love is hard.
Genre Romantic Suspense
Book heat level (based on movie ratings) R
Josephine ‘Jo’ Rayburn has no luck with love. Between the demands of her job as a homicide detective, finding the perfect yarn for her knitting projects, and her nosy family, she doesn’t have time to find her happily ever after, nor does she really believe it exists. Until she’s assigned to the Gravedigger task force where she meets Rhysian ‘Rhys’ Harrison, the sexy Coroner’s assistant.
Rhys Harrison thought he had found love with the perfect woman. But his parents’ death forced him to choose between his fiancée and caring for his brother, he chose his brother. His only regret, the medical degree he abandoned to work in the Coroner’s office. When the Gravedigger leaves his latest victim at the gates of a cemetery, Rhys and Jo are thrown together, her prickly personality interests him, but it’s her deeply hidden romantic side that captivates him.
After one of the task force members is shot, Rhys’s fears of losing Jo, like he’s lost so much already, threaten to rip them apart. Can she convince him that love is worth having no matter the risk? Or will he play it safe, leaving before his heart becomes too attached?
Introducing Detective Josephine ‘Jo’ Rayburn
Please tell me about yourself.
*Jo clears her throat*
“So, I’m thirty. A female.” She huffs, “I feel like I’m being grilled.”
I grin. “That’s because you are. Continue, please.”
“Fine. I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. And I’m a homicide detective.” Jo frowns. “Do you wanna know my sign?”
I shake my head. “Nope, I already know it. How about telling the readers your stats.”
“You mean like I’m a perp?”
“Well, you are being grilled like one.”
Jo rubs her forehead. “I’ve gotta talk to the captain about sending me on these dang interviews.”
“Come on, Josephine, keep going.”
My comment was met with a narrow-eyed squint. “Don’t call me that.”
“Then keep going.” I swear sometimes my characters are so stubborn.
“I have brown hair. It’s plain not like what you hear about in all those books. Just boring brown. I’m short and skinny. Not scrawny as some of the other officers like to say but skinny. It comes in handy as perps underestimate me. Until they meet my gaze.”
I looked into Jo’s light-colored blue eyes.
“Most find the color disconcerting.”
“I can imagine. Especially if you look at them like you’re looking at me, right now.”
“Like I’m a bug under a microscope.” I flipped to the next question. “So, tell us about the significant other in your life.”
“Like my boyfriend? You know I hate that term, but that would be Rhysian ‘Rhys’ Harrison. Or if you’re talking about the guy who has my back when bullets start flying, well that’s my partner Sullivan Krane, also known as Icky which I will never call him in public.” Jo holds out her hand. “You know what? Pass me the sheet. I’ll fill it out so this interview goes faster.”
Refraining from rolling my eyes at the stubborn woman, I pass over the questionnaire.
How do you dress?
It depends. If I’m headed to a crime scene, then I prefer black or dark colors in case blood gets on me. Or in case I have to chase a perp. If I’m going out with Rhys, then I might wear something in blue as he loves that color.
If we could only hear your voice (but not see you) what characteristic would identify you?
My snarky replies. My partner, Sullivan, brings it out in me. As does working with my half-sister, Karma. As well as Jones and Brown, I swear those two should come with a warning label.
Please tell us about your education.
I grew up around cops. My stepdad, Carl is Chief of Police in Moody… well, he was. He’s retired now. My two older brothers are cops, pretty much all Carl’s family are cops, so I’ve grown up dissecting crime scenes and hearing about cases as they would sometimes bounce ideas off each other. I also have a Criminal Justice degree with a minor in Psychology. But I am by no means a head doctor; I just like to know how the bad guy thinks.
Are you book-smart, self-taught, widely-experienced?
I wouldn’t say book-smart as I don’t have much time to read. I’d probably go with self-taught as spending time sparring and at the gun range is me teaching myself to be better.
Do you get by, live comfortably, live extravagantly?
I live in a one-bedroom apartment. My most extravagant thing in there is a table my mom wanted to donate to Goodwill, but it held too many memories. So, I took it. My other extravagance would be the corkboard that takes up the wall across from my couch and Lazy-boy which I hang my tough cases on to try to puzzle out as I knit. *Narrows my gaze* Yeah, I knit and that needs to be kept close to the vest.
What is your viewpoint on wealth?
I don’t have a problem with wealth. Rhysian’s wealthy, he and his brother live in a house in Mountain Brook that looks like a flipping castle. Not my thing, but I love Rhys, so I accept the money part of it.
On what special skills do you rely?
My brains and my gut. I can beat Sullivan at the shooting range and Karma in a no holds barred sparring match.
Are any of your skills a source of pride or embarrassment, and if so, which ones and why?
I’ve been studying one form or another of martial arts after I was kidnapped when I was five. I love the challenge of learning the forms and applying them in my everyday life when needed. But I am by no means a master.
What kinds of things do you always carry (in pockets or purse)?
My badge and a few things that help get me out of a jam. Like a Swiss army knife. A backup gun in my ankle holster for those ‘just in case’ emergencies. A set of lockpicks, because you never know when you’ll get locked in someplace. And a few other odds and ends.
What is your family like?
My mom, Maddy, and stepdad, Carl, are amazing. I have two older stepbrothers and a half-brother and half-sister that are Maddy and Carl’s biological children.
My biological dad keeps his distance. He’s not to be trusted. I’ve got three half-sisters from him and the women he’s been with.
Are you close to family?
I’m very close with the Rayburns. They’ve always been in my life.
Again, my bio-dad’s family. My half-sisters have begun making noises that they want a relationship. I’m on the fence since they still have contact with bio-dad.
Are you involved in your community?
As long as you consider arresting bad guys and making sure we have a rock-solid case community involvement… then yep, I’m all kinds of involved.
How well do you know your neighbors?
Neighbors? Wait you mean the people in the other apartments? Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve seen them. But then again, I work odd hours. They have to be good people though, since I’ve never arrested any of them and as far as I know no one from the police department has responded to any complaints.
Now that you brought it up, it might be a good idea to make sure none of them are on the shady side. (Jo shoots a text to her partner Sullivan)… done. Next question.
Do you see morality as black-and-white, or with shades of gray?
If you did the crime, then I’m going to arrest you. Morality and the many shades are for judges and juries to decide, not me. I deal in homicides, which means someone’s killed someone else. So, their moral compass is screwed up by the time I get involved.
How do others perceive you based upon looks, and is this assumption accurate?
If they don’t meet my gaze, most think I’m harmless. For some reason, the second they meet my cold eyes perps run… usually in the opposite direction. Then I gotta chase them… It’s not pleasant. Sometimes they duck in alleys when I tackle them and those places are cesspools. Not as bad as flop houses, mind you, but almost.
Do you care about what others assume about you?
Nope. I don’t like some of the flack I get from the older cops for being a female. But I hold my own when they decide they want a piece of me. Whether it’s verbal or in the ring.
If someone from your past showed up, who would you most want it to be, and why?
Those I want to stay in touch with from my past… I stay in touch with, so they don’t need to show up. They’re always welcome for a beer and chat.
If someone from your past showed up, who would you most NOT want it to be, and why?
That’s gonna be a long list… Do you have more paper? I especially need to do a star system, because some of the people I arrested need to be at the top of the list.
Oh, and I really need to include my bio-dad’s contacts in that list. Great. Now I’m going to have to call Karma for their information and she’s going to probably want to come down here to see what’s going on. You know what, let’s just start with the arrests and go from there.
Can you keep a secret? Why or why not?
Yes, it’s called blackmail fodder. And usually I have videos to back it up, just in case.
What secrets do you know about people around you that you do NOT share?
I think my biological father is a hitman and I think he ordered the hit on the group of men who kidnapped me when I was a kid. I’ve never told anyone that and I won’t share that willy-nilly. But you seem like the type who can keep a secret.
What inner doubt causes you the most difficulty?
When my teammates get injured because of a call I make. I always blame myself, because I’m the one in charge of catching the Gravedigger and it’s my orders my team is following.
What past event causes you the most fear?
That someone else will get hurt while trying to catch the Gravedigger.
What is your biggest need?
My biggest need would be for Rhysian not to leave me because of my job. No matter how dangerous it can be. He needs to have faith that I’ll do everything I can to come home in one piece but life happens. He just has some trouble with his brother being involved in that hit-and-run when he was a kid which caused Rian to be brain damaged. Then Rhys’s parents died in a car accident, so it’s not just my job that could kill me but everyday life.
So, he needs to learn to live in the moment.
What are your biggest hopes and dreams?
Keeping Rhysian in my life while still keeping the job I love.
What would help you face hardship and meet any challenge?
Catching criminals so they won’t prey on innocent citizens again. Seeing the abject relief on the victims faces when I close a case, that helps me face another day and solve another case. It’s not easy, their loved one is still dead, but at least the murderer isn’t out there hurting, or killing, someone else.
What is your biggest personal flaw?
I’m prickly. I don’t let just anyone get to know me and I don’t trust many people. My family I trust to have my back and Sullivan. Rhys I’m learning to lower my guard around him, but it’s a process.
How do you handle challenges?
I meet them head on. I don’t like leaving something dangling that could cause me problems down the road. Especially, if it can come back to bite me in the rear.
What is your breaking point?
When one of my team gets hurt because of a call I made. I’d rather be the one to take the bullet than one of my team. Luckily, Rhys is there to help pick up the pieces and put me back together.
How do you express disappointment?
Usually at the gun range or in the ring.
How emotionally expressive are you to others?
Rhysian draws my emotions from me and makes me softer. For everyone else, no… Just no. I have a gun and I am not afraid to use it if you get in my personal space. Just so you know.
When (if) you lie or are upset, what gives you away?
Nothing to an outsider, I’ve learned how to keep a poker face due to all the crime scenes I’ve been called to. However, Sullivan and my family can read me like a book. They know the more stoic I become, the tighter rein I have on my emotions, the more upset I am. If anything, I become colder.
Who in your life has the power to hurt you the most and why?
Rhysian has the power to rip my heart out, since I’ve allowed him behind my heavily defended walls. My family and Sullivan as well, but they wouldn’t. Rhys is another story, there’s nothing to tie us together but promises. If I can just convince him to live in the moment and quit dwelling on all the ways I could die because of my job, we’d have our happily ever after. Otherwise, I’m terrified he’ll leave me.
What would you like to tell your writer?
Oh, this is my favorite question. *Josephine scribbles madly* ‘Quit putting me and Karma, my half-sister, on the same dang work assignments. It’s annoying. We don’t play well together and it’s never going to get better.’
Josephine’s writer laughs maniacally… Little does Josephine know I have Karma moving to Birmingham, Alabama to take one of the Homicide Detective positions open.
What would you like people who hear your story to know?
I will catch Gravedigger and when I do I swear I’ll bring him to justice.
Where to buy Gravedigger
CeeRee Fields Social Media
CeeRee Fields currently lives in Groningen, the Netherlands with her husband and cat. Since she was born in Alabama and moved to the Netherlands, Dutch is not her first language which gets her into mischief in various stores around town when she tries to speak it.
She loves writing, building worlds that her characters can explore and break if they feel the need. Action, adventure and love are her favorite things. And when stuff gets blown up who says the guy is the only one who gets to do it?