Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jackie Keswick here today to talk about House Hunt, the latest release in The Power of Zero series. Welcome, Jackie. What are you sharing with us today?
Impeccably Tailored Pinstripes by Jackie Keswick
Hi, I’m Jackie Keswick, and I’m on the road with House Hunt, the third book in the Power of Zero series. Many thanks for offering me a place to stop and chat for a while.
While The Power of Zero tells the story of Jack Horwood, Gareth Flynn and the two boys they rescue from a pimp, many reviewers have noted that the series has a whole raft of secondary characters. I really can’t argue with that. After all, I put them there myself. For reasons. One of which is that I don’t think romantic relationships exist in a bubble. The love story between Jack and Gareth is influenced and shaped by the people around them and their actions: demands made by Lisa separate Jack and Gareth, Nico’s and Daniel’s needs make both of them consider whether their relationship is strong enough to build a future… and many times Aidan Conrad’s detached common sense points them in the right direction when they’ve veered off-track.
Aidan Conrad, helicopter-flying barrister and impeccably pinstriped allround badass, is one of my favorite characters. He’s not any one person, but he is someone I definitely would love to meet. Aidan is an amalgam of men who have inspired me over the years: people I worked for and with, a couple of book boyfriends, and… David Gandy. And he has long hair, which I find as sexy on a man as Jack’s long legs and shapely butt or that perfect V that Gareth has going on.
The other thing I like about Aidan is that he’s a chameleon. Slap a wig and gown on him and he’ll stand up in court, unruffled and serene, laying down the law. Ask him to defend someone against the odds, and Aidan will pretend that the law is for other people until he has the whole story. As he points out to Jack:
“I watched a friend get sent down for something he didn’t do, just because all available evidence pointed that way. I couldn’t stomach that, so I started to study law hoping that, one day, I could make a difference.
I tend to take cases that aren’t what they seem. In the case I told you about just now, the client would have gone to prison for a good long time had he been convicted. All the available evidence pointed to him being the guilty party, yet I believed the story he told me and searched for evidence that supported his belief that he was being framed. Cases like this one are how it all started. And it’s still the bulk of what comes across my desk.”
It’s no surprise that Jack takes to Aidan the moment they meet. Aidan is a fixer like Gareth, he thrives on crusades like Jack and he has a keen appreciation for skills – even unconventional ones like Raf’s and Skylar’s.
At 45, Aidan is the eldest of my cast of characters. He’s made a success of reconciling two very different careers, and after bringing up his daughter by himself, he can appreciate the task that Jack and Gareth take on when they decide to make Daniel and Nico part of their family. Appreciate it, and step in to help before anyone even thinks to ask.
Aidan doesn’t mince his words. He’s not afraid to knock heads together or serve up unpalatable truths. He tells Jack the moment they meet that not talking to Gareth will get him nowhere. He tells Gareth equally plainly that making assumptions about Jack is stupid. He doesn’t mind calling it as he sees it, but despite the gruff exterior he’s a teddy bear when it comes to people he cares about.
High on the list of those people is Alexandra Marston. While it may not be obvious, Gareth is aware of Aidan’s feelings for Alex and tries to help out – much to Jack’s amusement.
“You really want to see him shacked up with Alex, don’t you?”
“Why not? They deserve each other—and I mean that in the nicest possible way,” Gareth defended himself. “They’ve been dancing around each other for years.”
“Have you tried locking them in the stationery cupboard?”
Gareth groaned and Jack couldn’t get over the image of Gareth Flynn, matchmaker. The guy was working so hard to get his two friends to admit they had feelings for each other it was actually hilarious.
“Seriously, though, do you know what’s stopping them?”
“She’s what—twenty-three or so? And she objects to her father—?”
“No.” Gareth rubbed a hand across the back of his neck, as if he could rub away the embarrassment. “Emily doesn’t object. It’s Aidan. He never thought of remarrying after his wife died. Emily was four or so and he was still serving. It must have been hell when he was deployed. He still looks out for her, like the overprotective oaf he is.”
“I can see why the two of you get on so well,” Jack commented.
Jack’s not wrong there. Both Gareth and Aidan are fiercely protective. And not at all impressed when they’re faced with anything that reeks of disloyalty. Aidan in particular is apt to hold a grudge, even when that’s likely to deprive him of something that part of him really wants.
So while Aidan keeps a weather eye on Jack, Gareth, Nico and Daniel, intent to insure the happy-ever-after of their experiment in making families, it may need Gareth’s or even Jack’s intervention to make sure that Aidan doesn’t face the end of the journey all alone.
But then, straight-talking, meddling and taking the odd rap… that’s what friends are for, right?
Jack Horwood hates owing favors. But when a simple day out to treat Gareth to the best oysters in England leads to a discovery of drugs and counterfeit money—things that neither Jack nor Gareth have the jurisdiction to handle—he has to call in help. Help that doesn’t come cheap, and that forces him to do something he promised himself he’d never do again—walk away from Gareth and the family he’s starting to make for himself.
Three months undercover is a long time. After missing Gareth’s birthday, Jack is determined not to miss their first anniversary. But coming home and being home are two very different things. So when he is asked to assist with a corporate espionage investigation, Jack can’t say no, despite knowing it will impact his already straining relationship.
Except, of course, he’s walking into a trap….
Series: The Power of Zero, Book 3
Length: Novel / 96k
Release Date: 30th March 2016
About Jackie Keswick
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurrent dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig. She’s spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with a husband, a cat and a tandem.
Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes and tight cyclist’s butts and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
Jackie’s current obsession is a green-eyed hacker-turned-vigilante by the name of Jack Horwood. The first two parts of his story, Job Hunt and Ghosts, are available from Dreamspinner Press and anywhere books are sold.
For questions and comments, not restricted to green-eyed hackers or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places: Twitter | Facebook | Jackie’s Website |
House Hunt is available as ebook or paperback from