Bestselling author Kat Martin loves what happens when she intertwines romance with other forms of fiction, creating characters with layers of emotion and motivation. Lately, she’s been particularly interested in incorporating aspects of suspense and thrillers into romantic situations—she finds the extra dimensions fruitfully intriguing. And in Beyond Reason, the first installment of a new three-part series about tough women who must fight their way through a man’s world, Martin doesn’t hold back on the page-turning thrills or steamy love scenes.

Beyond Reason is the story of Carly Drake, who must face grave danger to save her family trucking business after the deaths of her father and a top driver. Throughout the book, Drake struggles to succeed, balancing self-reliance with the lure of protection from a rugged alpha male named Lincoln Cain. “In any novel, conflict is the key to keeping readers turning the pages,” Martin says. “In Beyond Reason, Carly must conquer her inner demons, as well as her external problems, in order to find the happiness she deserves.” She explains: “From the start, I envisioned the book being as much about the developing relationship between the hero and heroine as solving the mystery. How will the protagonists extricate themselves from danger? Will the hero and heroine overcome their emotional problems and be able to forge a future together? And though the reader may be able to figure out the answer, the idea is to make the journey worth the read.”

In addition to dishing up Martin’s signature high-stakes action and romance, Beyond Reason represents a new direction for Martin. This story deals with regular, average people instead of detectives, bodyguards, or security professionals. “Beyond Reason is a slightly different book for me, a bigger novel in some ways,” Martin reveals. “Trouble doesn’t start when a client with a problem walks through the front door. The characters have to develop. The stage has to be set. The peril has to build. It’s a big, bold adventure, and once it gets rolling, it’s high-action, fast-paced danger I hope will keep readers turning the pages.”

Martin has set her books—she’s written more than 65, with more than 16 million copies in print—in places and periods as far-flung as the rugged West, the antebellum South, and medieval England. But Beyond Reason is set in contemporary Iron Springs, Tex.—a setting where the former Houston resident felt right at home. Since Martin is an obsessive researcher and often visits her books’ locations during the writing process, this time she went to trucking school to get some hands-on experience in the book’s environment. “I got to sit in the cab of an 18-wheeler while one of the drivers gave me a lesson in shifting gears,” she says. “We talked about fuel capacity and other practical information. One of my favorite action scenes in the novel came from a story the driver told me about what a truck could do racing backward at high speeds. I couldn’t wait to get that sequence into the book!”

Martin chose the trucking business because there was a personal connection—her father was a truck driver, so she was familiar with the colorful characters in the industry and wanted to explore howa woman could succeed and would be challenged in such a tough domain.

As is always the case in Martin’s work, the plot of Beyond Reason is chock-full of twists and turns. She says that she tends to work out plots in her head before she writes them down, which, she admits, accounts for many sleepless nights. “I do a mental outline of the story, then a brief written synopsis,” she describes. “I know the ending, key scenes, and relationship problems, but the story develops as it goes along. Each problem sends the characters in different directions. They must find a way to overcome the dilemma and continue toward the ultimate resolution. The trick is to fit it all together.”