In Tequila Sunrise, releasing November 13, the focus shifts from Agents Irish and Whiskey to Melissa Cruz and Daniel Talley, two secondary characters from the original series. I’m thrilled to expand the Whiskey Verse, first with their story in an action-packed holiday novella, and then next year with Nic and Cam’s trilogy. When I started writing Agents Irish and Whiskey, I didn’t see either spin-off coming, but sometimes those pesky, loveable secondary characters want their stories told!
Mel and Danny were truly a case of “where did that come from?” as I wrote Single Malt. While Aidan and Jamie were falling in love in the foreground, Mel and Danny were flirting their way to a relationship in the background. As I wrote the scene in Single Malt where Mel and Danny show up in Galveston, and Danny needles her about being “a hapless civilian,” it clicked. These two were perfect for each other! Mel is the most alpha of the AIW characters. She’s the woman who keeps these guys in line. She’s also a woman who falls in love unexpectedly, with her best friend’s little brother. Trope-y goodness! Despite their age difference, and Mel writing Danny off as a Casanova for fifteen years, grown-up Danny is every bit her equal. He’s competent in his job, he’s cool under pressure, and he can trot out Don Juan Danny and use his lock-picking skills to their advantage. A valuable asset to the AIW team, he’s also the resident jokester, which Mel desperately needs. Of all the couples I’ve written, these two might be the most well-matched. He’s a lighter presence in a life that’s often too dark, and we get to see more of that in the flashbacks in Tequila. I enjoyed diving back into the events of AIW, reframing events from Mel and Danny’s perspectives, and using those events to also move their relationship forward.
When it came to writing their story in the present, those matching puzzle pieces drive the action and romance again. Mel is doing her badass thing, infiltrating a holiday party under attack, while Danny, on the inside with Jamie, is keeping calm, protecting his family and company, and using his employing and lock-picking skills, ultimately saving the day. Together, he and Mel are a formidable, if unconventional pair. Add to them the rest of the AIW team, each doing what they do best—Jamie hacking, Cam protecting the family, Aidan directing matters, and Nic throwing his legal weight around—and it’s the story Mel and Danny deserved, and hopefully more of the Whiskey Verse characters, action and romance fans enjoy.
As for Nic and Cam, I don’t want to spoil too much about their upcoming trilogy, but Nic was definitely not on my radar as a potential spin-off lead, given how he enters the picture in Cask Strength. But as I wrote Barrel Proof, the prosecutor started revealing layers, and those layers, like the Mel and Danny puzzle pieces, matched up well with Jamie’s best friend, Cam, who I was planning to spin-off. Sparks and arguments flew between them in Barrel Proof, and readers will see more of the same in Tequila Sunrise. Their arguments lead to some unexpected places, for both men. I just finished drafting their Book 1, and I couldn’t be more in love with them.
I can’t wait for readers to meet Mel and Danny and Nic and Cam more fully, to see how the rest of the AIW evolve, and to continue to enjoy the expanding Whiskey Verse.
Layla is giving away the Agents Irish and Whiskey backlist set (e-copy) featuring Single Malt, Cask Strength, and Barrel Proof. Make a comment below to be entered in this drawing!
Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.