Top Ten with Zee Monodee author of Before The Morning

Title: Before The Morning
Author: +Zee Monodee
Series: Corpus Brides Book 2: The Prequel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
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BtM1600x2400In this stand-alone prequel to the explosive Corpus Brides romantic suspense/espionage series, found out how everything started when one of the agency’s deadliest became the target of a rogue faction.

Before the morning

…is the time of greater darkness…

A trained killer with borderline sociopathic tendencies

Rayne Cheltham traced out her life’s path when she was twelve: she would marry her best friend and bear his children, and in the process, stifle the restless edge in her. When he vows never to marry, she gives in to the darkness and becomes a clandestine agent—until the day he walks into her world again, and her carefully fabricated façade crumbles.

A former cop burned by life and his personal demons

When Ash Gilfoy meets a woman who reminds him of his childhood best friend, he starts upon a path that leads him down into the abyss once again. The day Rayne waltzes back into his life, he knows she is his second chance, and the one who will save him.

Each thinks the other is their redemption…until they discover how deep darkness goes inside both of them

The secrets between them make them sit on a keg of gunpowder with a lit fuse in their hands. Rayne’s whole life is built on a lie, and the truth is threatening to explode in their faces. But that is not the only menace they have to face. Someone is out to get Rayne, and she must disclose her secret past before it is too late.

Can Rayne and Ash survive all that’s thrown in their path? Can they hang on to the last thread of their relationship, and can they emerge, still together and still alive, in the morning after the deepest darkness?

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Top ten facts about the book

  1. Rayne did not exist when this series started – it wasn’t even supposed to be a series, but then it started niggling as to how it all started, and how did the Corpus come to find out? Rayne was thus ‘born’ into the ranks of the clandestine Corpus Agency, and of course, she had to be the most dangerous of them all!
  2. This story started on a dare from Goodreads users in the Dangerous Hero Addict Support Group – all those taking part needed to write a story about a dangerous hero (that was a given!) and we had a few tropes to choose from. “Friends to lovers” sounded really interesting, so this became the main trope for this book.
  3. Ash Gilfoy is the embodiment of ‘honour’. He had to be the character with the most beautiful yet tortured soul; still, he only wanted to do the right thing, especially with Rayne whom he believes is an innocent entrapped in the vortex of his darkness. It was a labour of love giving him his absolution along with Rayne’s.
  4. Where Walking The Edge focused more on the ‘Nikita’ vibe, Before The Morning took on more of a ‘Burn Notice’ comedy aspect of espionage…when the families were brought in! Rayne has been trained to kill without blinking and without making any mess; she goes toe to toe with the most sociopathic of criminals out there…but tell her she has to come back into her family fold, for a wedding, no less, and she breaks into cold sweat and yearns to run away!
  5. The book takes place even more around Europe, with a stint in Las Vegas, too, at one point. Prague in the Czech Republic features heavily in there (fyi, the image on the cover is of Prague). Then there is London, especially the Ritz and Soho, and Hastings in East Sussex on Sea, a location not usually seen in stories. There’s a hop to France, as well, to the French Provence at Arles and the Alyscamps Roman necropolis located there. Research about underground tunnels under the Thames took me to Brunel Tunnel and its grand entrance hall, where a pivotal scene is set.
  6. The character of Anastasiya—heroine of the third and last Corpus Brides book—is introduced in this story. She is Rayne’s best friend inside the agency, a woman cloaked in secrets and made for the clandestine life…until she cuts and run. Most believe her to be behind the mutinous conspiracy to take power inside the ranks.
  7. Corpus agent Scott makes another hefty guest appearance in this tale—an integral part of the ‘good guys’ camp, he saves Rayne’s arse on more than one occasion.
  8. The whole story is even more a plethora of guns and danger. Makarovs, Walthers, Glocks, Micro Eagles—you name it and it’s probably in there. Proved to be fun to research (as well as giving whoever’s watching the kind of information to put this computer on the ‘to-watch list’, LOL)
  9. Family and relationships are an integral part of the plot, as much as the danger and espionage form part of the story. Rayne has existed in her bubble as assassin Kali for half of her life—it is now time for her to reconcile with the woman, daughter, sister, and wife, inside of her…and no amount of training has prepared her for this!
  10. Despite being the prequel to the whole series, the story stands alone and there is a definite conclusion to the romance of Rayne and Ash, all while spring-boarding the events in both Books 1 and 3 (Walking The Edge and Let Mercy Come, respectively).


From the front-facing window on the second floor of the Shepherd’s Close freehold, Corpus secret agent Rayne Cheltham watched the ambulance pull away from the curb.

Shivers crept up her arms, and she hugged herself tight to ward them off.

Get a grip!

She was a professional on an assignment, for God’s sake. An elite, trained operative from a clandestine agency that handled operations for governments and international forces as a stealthy left hand. Her superiors entrusted her with the most important missions—nothing should faze her.

Before today, she would’ve said that nothing could affect her when she had her eyes on a goal.

But she couldn’t be sure anymore. She’d never had her past collide with her present like a few moments ago, in the form of her childhood best friend.

Ashford Gilfoy, better known as Ash. The boy who had been there to catch her when, at six, she had slipped while climbing the chestnut tree that sat right on the border between their two houses in Hastings, two days after her family had moved there from Salisbury. The boy who had taught her how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels on the long and winding, gravel-covered lane leading to her parents’ mansion. The teenager who had smashed the nose of the first lad who had broken her heart, at thirteen, during recess in the schoolyard. The young man she had left seventeen years ago on a platform at London Waterloo, on the day she’d bid her old life goodbye.

For the first time since that day, she’d stepped back on British soil, and kismet decided Ash should cross her path.

Why now, of all times? She stood a hair’s breadth away from closing the contract on this mission. Seven months of intensive infiltration work and she remained poised to achieve her aim—neutralize Nikolai Grigorievskiy’s criminal operations before she took out the man. The Corpus always sent her for the kill, but the trick spelled that she had to make her target’s death appear self-inflicted, at the bare minimum, or an accident, in the direst of cases. Measles, as such operations were known in their clandestine world—a planned assassination not leaving any indication of the cause of death. She would then have to sanitize everything—leave no evidence, no witness, nothing to lead back to her. Unlike her other agency counterparts, she wasn’t an out-and-out black ops assassin, but a different level of highly implicated agent provocateur.

In other words, a consummate actress who got to her ends by manipulating people and circumstances. All those years of drama school, at her mother’s insistence when, obviously, she’d be too tall to become a ballerina, had come in handy. In fact, her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in the drama school’s end of year play had caught the eye of the people who had recruited her into the Corpus. Seventeen years now into the agency, fifteen of them as Kali, her operative name, a sociopath with no apparent conscience who followed her orders with diligence. Never had any one of her targets come close to figuring she could be an undercover agent. Her track record was flawless—each assignment undertaken with one hundred percent success rate and a marginal body count.

Until today, when she’d almost gotten burned.

ProfilePicAuthor, editor, smitten wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween boy, best-buddy stepmum to a teenage lad, bookaholic, lover of all things fluffy & pink, chronic shoeholic, incompetent housewife desperate to channel Nigella Lawson (and who’ll prolly always fail at making domestic goddess status)…

Zee hails from the multicultural, rainbow-nation island of Mauritius, in the southern Indian Ocean, where she grew up on the figurative fence—one side had her ancestors’ Indian and Muslim culture; the other had modernity and the global village. When one day she realised she could dip her toes into both sides without losing her integrity, she found her identity.

This quest for ‘finding your place’ is what she attempts to bring in all her stories, across all the genres she writes. Her heroines represent today’s women trying to reconcile love, life, & relationships in a melting pot of cultures, while her heroes are Alpha men who often get put back into their rightful place by the headstrong women she writes. Love is always a winner in her stories, though; that’s a given.

ConnectonSocialMedia**Find more about the latest on Zee and her works in her monthly newsletter

**Read about her life & her books at her website/blog

**Friend her on Facebook (she loves to make friends & meet new people!)!/zee.monodee

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