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Friday, April 24, 2015

DAISIES, DIAMONDS & STORMS, OH MY!





  
April’s theme is daisies, diamonds, and storms. Daisies are very pretty and festive. They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I don’t have many diamonds, and the few I have are small, but that’s okay. I’m not much of a diamond gal. I prefer more colorful gems.



I chose the storm picture here because it shows one of the famous natural monuments in Monument Valley, Utah, a place I visited with my husband and son on one of our trips to the Southwest. We didn’t see any storms, but the mesas and plateaus and the wonders of Nature spread out for all to see there is awe-inspiring.

I live in Delaware, on the East Coast. Thankfully, we don’t get weather extremes here. Tornados have been known to touch down, but they’re minor compared to what they get in Tornado Alley. We have severe thunderstorms at times, but thunderstorms don’t scare me. I think they’re awesome, but I do worry about losing power each time we have a storm. In 2008, we were hit with a big hailstorm with golf-ball size hail. The sound of those ice balls hitting our house was deafening. When it started, we didn’t know what it was. My husband, son, and I, along with our cat, ran to the window. I’ve never seen anything like that before or since. Unfortunately, our cars were parked outside and they sustained damage from the hail.

Hurricanes, snowstorms, and ice storms are our biggest weather challenges in this part of the country. As a child, snowstorms were fun because we got out of school and we could go sledding when the snow stopped falling. Snowstorms and ice storms aren’t much fun when you’re an adult and have to drive in them to get to work. Most companies don’t close for snow or ice.

The last big hurricane here was Irene in 2011. Hurricane Sandy the following year was worse but it affected the Jersey Shore and not so much Delaware. During Irene, we lost power and Internet for six days. The evening the hurricane started, we lost Internet. We lost power during the night when a tree in a neighbor’s yard fell on electric wires. Twelve houses in our neighborhood were affected by that falling tree. Power outages were widespread throughout the state. At least we had water and our landline. Two of our phones are hardwired so even with a power outage we have phone service. That first afternoon when the storm finally ended, I heard a horrible thumping noise that shook the house. I looked out the window to see a telephone pole in our yard on the ground and split in two. There went our landline.

We were luckier than our neighbors because we had hot water. Their water heaters are electric while ours is gas-powered. We could take hot showers and they had to be content with cold ones. It was still summer and that helped. We managed to save everything in our refrigerator. We took our frozen stuff to a nearby relative’s and stored them in her freezer. We had two large coolers in our kitchen where we kept the refrigerated stuff. Every other day we bought more ice for the coolers. I cooked every night on the grill outside. On the fifth day our food ran out and we had to eat out. Every morning, I made a run to the convenience store for coffee. Must have my coffee in the morning.

Almost as bad as losing electricity was losing Internet. I got my first iPhone later that same month so I would never again be completely without my Internet. I was going crazy. It was as if I had no link to the outside world. Finally, after five days, I went to Barnes & Noble to use their Internet. Seems everyone had the same idea. The place was packed with people sitting all over using laptops. A store employee found me the last free electric outlet in the store—in the children’s section. I sat on a tiny child’s seat and hooked up to the BN Wi-Fi. At last, I could read my emails. I felt calmer than I had in days. On the day I was at BN, my husband was working on the yard. He left our garage door open and a guy on a bicycle stole two leaf blowers out of the garage. My husband chased after him on foot but couldn’t catch him. There are always those people who take advantage of situations.

On the sixth day, a convoy of power company trucks rolled into our neighborhood. The cavalry! Most of us neighbors who’d lost power were in my backyard at the time. When we saw the power company trucks, we let out a loud cheer.

We survived Irene, but it was a lesson in how dependent we are on basic needs like electric, water, telephone, and also Internet. I hope not to go through that again, but Mother Nature likes to flex her muscles at times and we’re at her mercy.

Weather can be a great backdrop for a story. My multi-award winning sexy sizzler, Storm of Desire, is set during a January nor’easter at the Delaware beach.


"The storm outside is nothing compared to the storm of desire and guilt raging between former lovers trapped together." 
Corporate attorney Samantha Greco needs some peace and quiet to come to a decision about her career. Instead, while an icy nor’easter rages outside, she finds herself trapped in a cottage on Fenwick Island with Aiden Rourke, a man she used five years ago when she ran from the heartbreak of her fiancé’s betrayal. 

Aiden Rourke has loved Sam for years. For one glorious night she was his. But then she fled, wounding his ego and his heart. Thrown together again, they soon discover time hasn’t diminished their fiery passion for each other. Only Aiden has ever been able to melt Sam with just a look or a touch. But the fear that she’s like her mother, who used men mercilessly, scares Sam to death. 

The storm outside is nothing compared to the storm of desire, fear, and guilt raging inside Sam. But during their wild weekend together, Sam and Aiden draw closer and realize their all-consuming passion for each other masks deeper needs and desires. 

When the storm ends, will they go their separate ways? Or will they find the courage to face the future together as one? 

Winner, second place novella category, 2013 Gulf Coast RWA Silken Sands Star Contest! 

Winner, fourth place short contemporary category-2013 OKRWA International Digital Awards Contest! 

Here’s an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.
Samantha Greco yanked her wet suitcase through the bedroom doorway, dropped it on the floor, turned on the lamp and slammed the door. The sound reverberated through the empty house. She hadn’t meant to take her frustrations out on the door, but her white-knuckled drive up the coast from Richmond, Virginia, to Fenwick Island, Delaware, had plucked her last nerve.   
Lightning flashed, illuminating the shadowed corners of the room. The fierceness of the January storm had turned the early afternoon to dusk. A sudden crack of thunder made her jump. Damn nor’easter!  
Shivering, she set her handbag on the night table, then shrugged off her jacket and threw it on the bed. The soaking rain had dampened her jeans. She sat on the bed and tugged off her boots, then her jeans and the sweater she'd worn since early morning. She unzipped her suitcase and rummaged for fresh jeans and a sweater. Straightening, the clean clothes in one hand, she loosened her hair from its clasp to let the damp tendrils swing about her shoulders and down her back.
She started when she caught a glimpse of another person in her peripheral vision. With a nervous laugh, she realized she’d seen her reflection in the full-length mirror. She studied herself and shrugged. Clad only in a red thong and matching lace bra, her black hair falling loose and undone, she looked worlds removed from the conservative corporate lawyer she presented to her colleagues. 
The lamp flickered, then went out, plunging the room into semi-darkness.
Samantha dropped the clothes onto the bed and let her eyes adjust. The wind picked up, howling an angry song. Scrub trees scraped the side of the house, a macabre accompaniment to the wind. Anxiety snaked through her. “I should have stayed in Richmond this weekend.”
Above the wail of the wind, she heard a door open and close. Samantha froze. She must have imagined the sound. Or maybe the cats were into something, or perhaps it was only a loose shutter. 
Footsteps echoed in the hallway.  
Definitely not the cats. Not a shutter either. 
Her heart raced. Oh, God. 
She groped for the sweater she’d thrown down. Sweater in hand, she looked frantically around for something to use as a weapon. 
Her bedroom door flew open and hit the wall with a loud bang. She screamed. A tall man, brandishing a baseball bat, stood silhouetted in the doorway. 
She threw the only thing she had in her hand at him--her sweater. He smacked it to the ground with the bat. The light suddenly came back on. She blinked as recognition dawned.
“Who the hell…?” he shouted above the thunder and the wind. His dark blue eyes widened and he sucked in a breath. Frowning, he lowered the bat. “Sam? I saw the car and wondered. But you? Why are you here?”
She couldn’t breathe as his hot gaze raked her. She’d never forgotten those eyes or that thick brown hair, or the dimple in his cheek when he smiled. She'd never forgotten that night five years ago either, that incredible night. Almost naked, feeling vulnerable, she folded her arms across her chest as if she could protect herself from the memories.  
“Aiden.” Her voice shook. Warmth curled in her stomach and wound lower, leaving her breathless from fright and remembered heat. 
He set the bat against the wall and glared at her, making her wonder if she’d imagined the desire in his eyes a second ago. “Sam, what the hell are you doing here?”
No one but Aiden called her Sam. 
The unexpected harshness of his voice brought her to the present. She scowled back at him. “What are you doing here? In my mother’s house?”
He pushed fingers through his hair, sending droplets of water flying, and studied her with eyes that sparked blue fire. This time there was no mistaking his desire. His gaze made another leisurely sweep of her body. “My God, you’re beautiful,” he whispered. “And still sexy as hell.”
Despite the embarrassment of her near-nakedness, her nipples pebbled under his scrutiny. He was smokin’ hot, and impressions flashed through her mind, as quick as the lightning outside--the feel of his lips on hers, the rough skin of his palms against her breasts. 
She should tell him to leave; she should get dressed. But caught in the sensual heat of her memories, she couldn’t move.
He broke the contact and looked away. When he turned back to her, his eyes were cool. “Get some clothes on, Sam. I’m a man, not a saint.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t charged in here scaring me half to death, I would have had time to dress.”
She glanced down and saw her short terry robe hanging out of her suitcase.
She grabbed it and pulled it on, tying the belt around her waist. Feeling armored, she propped a hand on her hip. “You didn’t answer my question. What are you doing here?”
“I promised your mom I’d take care of things while she’s away. I drove over from Rehoboth to check the house and get the cats. I would have been here sooner but the storm's made driving a mess.” He gave her a pointed look. “As you know.”
She ignored his jab. “You’re the friend who’s watching the cats?” At his nod, she said, “Well I’m here now. I’ll take care of them. You can leave.”
A muscle twitched in his jaw and he moved into the room. “Yeah. Right. You’re here now. Get dressed, Sam. We need to leave. All of us.”
At the seriousness in his eyes and voice, apprehension dashed up her spine.
She pulled on the ties of her robe again, fighting her unease. “What are you talking about?”
“The storm. We don’t have time to argue. Let’s find the cats and get the hell out of here.”
“Are you nuts?”
“You’re the one who’s nuts if you stay here.” He jutted his chin toward the windows. “Do you hear that? The storm of the decade and it’s only going to get worse. The Coastal Highway is taking on water. They’re evacuating everyone inland. Didn’t you notice cars going out but none coming in?”
“It’s January. There’s never much traffic here in January. Besides, I’ve been through plenty of nor’easters.”
“Then you know what happens when the highway floods.” 
A clap of thunder shook the house, as if to punctuate his statement.
Aiden reached out and turned her toward her suitcase. “We don’t have much time. Have you seen the cats? I don’t want to leave them alone. We don’t know when the authorities will allow us back in.”
She stepped away from him, then rubbed her arm as if she could erase the heat of his touch. “The cats ran past me into Mom's room a little while ago.”
“I’ll get the carriers. Get dressed, then we’ll get the cats.”
“Don’t order me around.”
He moved closer, invading her senses with his heat. His hair had begun to dry and curled softly over the collar of his black leather jacket. The dim light from the lamp touched his sharp cheekbones and full lips.
“Listen, princess, if we don’t get out now, we might be stuck here for days.”
Remembering the pleasure he’d given her with that mouth, she licked her suddenly dry lips. “Stuck here? With you?”
His eyes darkened and his gaze lingered on her mouth. “The two of us. Here. All alone.”  






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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Interview of Author Lily Harlem

Today it's my pleasure to present an interview of romance author Lily Harlem.

Latest Book: Dark Warrior
Buy Link: https://www.totallybound.com/dark-warrior
Video Link: http://youtu.be/OUrxRUJxxMw

BIO:
Lily Harlem lives in the UK and is an award-winning, best-selling author of contemporary erotic romance. She writes for publishers on both sides of the Atlantic including Ellora's Cave, HarperCollins, Totally Bound, Xcite and Sweetmeats Press. She also self-publishes novels that range from emotionally charged erotic romance, to steamy ménage a trois and, with Natalie Dae, (Harlem Dae) writes dark BDSM that pushes all the boundaries.

One thing you can be sure of, whatever book you pick up by Ms Harlem, is it will be wildly romantic and down-and-dirty sexy so make sure you hang on tight for the ride!

Q: How did you celebrate publishing your first book?
A: It was actually on my birthday so I was already planning a party. The barbecue was lit, the wine was chilling and all my friends came round in their best frocks.

Q: Your novel is being made into a TV series/movie. Who’s in your dream cast?
A: Oh, great question! Dark Warrior is one of my Male/Male erotic romances (I also write Male/Female) and I’d need a handsome blond actor to play Dr Leo Rotherham, maybe Ryan Kwanten or similar, and a tall, dark studly guy like Jamie Foxx to play Kenyan warrior Malik.

Q: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
A: I wake up ready to write and often sit sipping tea and eating toast for an hour or so and pen my first words of the day. Then I go for a run, walk the dogs, do some chores. After that I settle for the afternoon and write more. I don’t have a set word count to do each day, it’s more a case of getting the stuff in my head down on paper so I can relax with Mr Harlem in the evening.

Q: What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
A: I self-publish some of my work. I used to only want to see my stories with a publishing house, but now I’m confident enough to go it alone on some projects and luckily these books always do well. I’d never solely self-publish, I enjoy the relationship I have with my publishers too much and also the ‘shop window’ they provide, but there is something very rewarding about being responsible for a novel every step of the way and making all the decisions.

Q: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
A: In Dark Warrior the leading characters is a doctor. Before I started writing I worked as a nurse, so I guess a lot of his medical dialogue and thoughts are straight from my own memories and knowledge.

Q: Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
A: I adore Kane Ward from In Expert Hands. He’s a gorgeous billionaire looking for the perfect female submissive and his cool, calm demeanor just heats me up, then when he loses control, at that exquisite moment of climax… Mmm yes, Kane Ward is a favorite. (His brother, Taylor Ward is just as yummy and has his own story in Sexy Just Got Rich.

Q: Do you eat comfort food/listen to music when writing?
A: I have to have silence when I write, music changes the mood in my head, if I’m listening to something happy when writing a scene of angst it would come out all wrong! As for eating, I tend to snack on dried fruit, the trouble is if I eat when I’m writing I barely taste the food, my concentration is on the screen. It would be a waste of chocolate!

Q: Give one advice tip to an aspiring author.
A: I can do better than that, I have a page on my website for new writers http://www.lilyharlem.com/tips-for-new-authors.html.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: I’m still fairly new to paranormal, it took me a long time to dip my toe into the vampire and werewolf pond but I bit the bullet last year and wrote Bite Mark and Claw Mark. I think I’d maybe like to have a go at historical one day, but the thought of getting it all wrong gives me shivers!

Q: Out of your entire backlist, which book has the best opening line? What's the line?
A: Probably the first line of Breathe You In, my new What’s Her Secret novel. It sounds so sweet and romantic but very soon, within a few paragraphs, the moment is turned on its head and all is not as it seems.
First line:
Kisses as soft as kitten’s whiskers trickled down my back, fluttering, floating, spreading into the dip of my spine and onto the rise of my buttocks.

Fun Stuff:
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: Greece! I LOVE Greece. I went on a sailing holiday there a few years ago and had the time of my life. I’ve set a new story there, Toy Boy, which is out in May. The colors and the food and the sunshine is all beyond perfect.

Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: I’m pretty good at karate. I also hate marzipan with a passion.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A nurse, and I achieved that. It was a wonderful, rich experience and I met amazing people who I will never forget.

Q: Favorite food.
A: Sushi, can’t resist it!

Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: Seeing my husband for the first time and thinking what a handsome guy he was. Little did I know he’d be mine one day!

Q: Favorite drink.
A: White wine, cool and crisp on a sunny day and served in a long stemmed glass. I like the rim of the glass to be delicate and slim – fussy aren’t I!

Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Summer, every time. I love my summer wardrobe and having the doors and windows flung open to the garden. We live in the countryside and the sounds of the birds and the smell of the flowers is wonderful.

Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: I want to go to Africa and immerse myself in the setting of Dark Warrior. Get up close and person with the plains and the animals and experience the wild. I’m a bit scared, to be honest, but I’ll give it a go if Mr H comes with me!

Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: To control time.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Website: http://www.lilyharlem.com/
Blog: http://www.lilyharlem.blogspot.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lily_harlem
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lily.harlem
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/LilyHarlemAuthor
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lilyharlem/
Raw Talent: http://rawtalentseries.co.uk/
BritBabes: http://thebritbabes.blogspot.co.uk/
Hockey Romance: http://www.hockeyromance.com/
Hot Ice: https://www.facebook.com/hoticeseries
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106837751333678531161/posts
Harlem Dae: http://www.harlemdae.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4070110.Lily_Harlem

BLURB:
While some passions live on the surface, others—wilder, darker passions—have to be kept buried deep.

Dr. Leo Rotherham is following his calling by working in rural Kenya for the charity Medics On Hand. While he expected a primitive way of life and limited medical supplies, what he doesn't bargain on is falling for handsome village warrior, Malik.

Malik is well respected, knowledgeable and loyal to his tribe. He's also beautiful, brave, modern and, much to Leo's dismay, married. Isn't he?

No, it turns out Malik is as free as the animals that roam the African plains at night.

Soon the tension is building between the two men and Leo isn't sure if he's coming or going. Whenever he's around Malik he can't help but notice the reflected look of lust in his eyes and feel the longing sizzling between them.

Malik stands too close, not close enough. Forbidden attraction simmers between them and the need grows to dizzying heights. But dare they admit to each other what it is they want? And are they brave enough to act on their desires and be honest about their lust? One thing is for sure, a passion this big, this powerful can't be contained and it's all going to explode in the most spectacular of ways.

EXCERPT: Adult Language Warning
“Like this.” Malik placed his hands on Leo’s shoulders and turned him to face the whitewashed wall. “More.” He gripped Leo’s wrists and spread his arms high and wide. “You have another sting beneath your arm. I need to cool your whole back.”

There was something about the dominant way Malik handled him, maneuvered him, that had Leo’s heart beating fast for another reason. He pressed his cheek against the cool wall and willed his cock not to fill. “How…how many stings are there?”

“About six,” Malik said, turning on the tap. “I think.”

Leo shut his eyes and stayed still, sacrificial like. He pressed his groin to the bricks and hoped he wouldn’t go to full hardness.

“Keep very still,” Malik whispered close to his ear. “This will be cold but it will help.”

“Ahh…” Leo gasped, gritting his teeth.

Malik had placed a large, cold wet towel over the length of his back.

As the chill spread over the painful bites, numbing them, Leo let out a sigh.

“Better?” Malik asked, his voice hushed and soothing.

“Yes. Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Malik’s hands were on his back, rubbing and smoothing the towel, as though helping it spread its coldness. His touch was firm yet gentle. Leo could feel each one of his strong fingers gliding over his body, from his waist to his armpits, the length of his spine and the base of his neck that was oh so sensitive to caresses.

He bit his bottom lip. Blood was rushing to his groin now. Any chance of not getting hard had gone.

“How is it feeling?” Malik asked.

“Better, but…” Leo squirmed as a nipping sensation caught on his left arse cheek.

“What? What is it?”

I think the little bastard got me on the buttock, too.”

“Let me see.”

“Well, no I…”

Leo gasped then froze as Malik’s hands slid around his waist and sought the button on his shorts. He could hear the other man breathing, long, slow inhalations right by his ear and exhalations that drifted down his neck.

Malik’s nimble fingers made short work of Leo’s shorts.

Leo prayed he wouldn’t skim his knuckles over his cock and discover his mounting arousal. It was shocking to be so infused with lust when he was being treated for hornet stings but he couldn’t help it. Flattened to the wall with Malik tending him was just too much of a wet dream, and now, now his shorts had gathered around his ankles. Thank goodness he’d worn boxers—at least he still had some barrier, though not much.

“This side?” Malik asked, pulling the waistband of Leo’s boxers so he could see down and examine his buttocks.

Leo clenched his bum cheeks. He screwed his eyes tighter, his cock throbbed, his arse stung. “Yes,” he said quietly. “That one.”

“Mmm, I can see it. Nasty.” Malik tugged the towel so that a wet corner landed over the lowest sting, instantly taking the heat away.

Leo’s heart was trip-trapping. He curled his hands into fists and locked his knees. Malik stood close, so close, crowding him yet calming him with his gentle movements.

I will wet this again,” Malik removed the towel.

“Okay. Thank you,” Leo said, surrendering to his treatment. He concentrated on the pulse in his cock. It was thudding, trapped between his belly and the brickwork.

Malik was back, so was the towel. This time it covered a large section of his arse. Again, Malik smoothed it over his skin. Finally, each sting was reducing in heat and becoming more bearable.

Leo held his breath.

Malik skimmed his hand over Leo’s buttocks, pressing the towel along the crack of his cheeks. It was almost like he was exploring Leo’s shape and contours. Familiarizing himself with the curve of his body and the lower dips of his back.

As he moved his attention up to his shoulders again, Leo let out a breath. Desire tugged at his belly, arousal seared through his veins. He’d happily bend over and be fucked senseless right now but he knew that wasn’t going to happen. It couldn’t. Malik wasn’t gay, and Leo wasn’t about to admit to being gay.



Anything else you’d like to add?
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Daisy-great for March, perfect for April

Leave a comment. I'll pull a name for a free ebook form my backlist.

The daisy, the flower of April, is a lovely, sweet, delicate flower, simplifying the innocence of youth and simplicity. Daisy Kerr is still youthful and enjoys the simplicities of life. Until her trusting nature blows her life apart.

Blurb:
Daisy Kerr’s life has reached the edge of the cliff and fallen off. Her so-called fiancé Craig Myers has embezzled millions from the investment firm where they both work and left her holding the bag. The FBI thinks she’s somehow involved, she’s been fired from her job and the condo she lives in belongs to Craig. Heartsick and depressed, she decides to use the tickets Craig had bought for their trip to Mardi Gras and see if she can “Let eh good times roll” in New Orleans. For a few days she can party and forget about her troubles. Maybe even meet a sexy Cajun man to take her mind of her troubles. A fling sounds really good to her right about now
Leaving the airport she meets Marc Doucet, a Louisiana native now living in New York. He tells her he’s in town on business but he’d love to show her the ropes of Mardi Gras. And a whole lot more. It’s not long before he’s really putting some Cajun spice in her life and then some. Sex had never been so good or made her feel so special. Maybe they might even see each other back in New York if she can straighten out the mess her life is.
But what Daisy doesn’t know is Marc is an FBI agent sent to ferret out any knowledge she might have of Craig’s scheme. His plan was to romance her, until romance landed in their laps for real. When Daisy overhears him in a phone conversation with his boss she feels betrayed once again and can’t get out of town fast enough. It will take a grand gesture on Marc’s part to get past the new walls around her heart and convince her what they have is real.

Excerpt:

First order of business, however, was to cab to the hotel, change into something comfortable and wander through the French Quarter. The curb was jammed with people there to celebrate Mardi Gras. Daisy managed to squeeze herself into a space and waited for the next taxi in line to roll up to her.
“Royal Orleans Hotel,” she told the driver as he got out to grab her suitcase.
“Mind if we share the ride, chere?” The voice behind her was deep and hot, rolling over her like warm melted chocolate.
Daisy turned to see who it was and there he was, as if she’d conjured him up. Her spicy Cajun male. Sexy for sure, he was tall and lean, with a thick shock of black hair and startling blue eyes. She couldn’t stop staring at him.
“Uh, excuse me, chere. Do you still want the cab?”
“What? Oh!” She realized she was standing there like an idiot. “Oh, yes.”
“Well, I heard you say you were goin’ to the Montmartre Hotel. So happens I’m goin’ there myself. Think we can share a ride?”
Maybe this was just what she needed, a ride with a man who oozed sex appeal and could take her mind off her troubles for a while. She wished for him, right? No sensed letting Craig ruin any more of her life, at least as far as this trip went.
She gave herself a mental shake. “I’d love to share a cab with you.”
“Great. Great.” He held the cab door for her, waited for her to slide in and settled himself beside her.
God, he smelled so good. She took a surreptitious sniff. Pachouli! Wow. She hadn’t smelled that in a very long time. Nerve endings blunted by the shock of her situation suddenly snapped and sizzled to life. She took a deep breath, the fragrance of Pachouli teasing her senses even more, and did her best to compose herself.
“Don’t usually see beautiful ladies heading for Mardi Gras alone.” The smooth-as-bourbon voice slid over her and snagged her attention.
She glanced over at him, which was nearly her undoing. The look in those deep blue eyes nearly melted her panties.
“Excuse me?”
He grinned, a twist of his lips that was almost lethal. “I was just remarkin’ I’m surprised that someone as gorgeous as you is hitting Mardi Gras by yourself.”
Should she tell him? Why not? She’d never seen him again. And she didn’t have to give him Craig’s name. It was already in all the media but thankfully, without hers being linked to it.
“I, um, had a fiancé who was supposed to go with me but he’s in the wind.” She lifted her shoulders in what she hoped was a casual shrug.
He cocked an eyebrow. “I can hardly believe any man in his right man would walk out on you.”
“Yeah, well, it happened. That and a lot more.” She forced a smile. “Anyway, hasn’t anyone ever told you that pickup line is pretty outdated?”
He laughed, a deep. Sensual sound. “I guess it is, but in this case I mean it.” She could feel his gaze raking over her. “Did he run off with another woman?” Marc shook his head. “I find that even harder to believe.”
“Worse than that. I discovered—Never mind. I really don’t want to talk about it. I decided to enjoy the holiday anyway. I’m sure I can find plenty of people to celebrate with.”
Pretty bold there, Daisy girl.
Maybe it was time for some bold on her part. She’d allowed herself to be Craig’s shadow for too long and look where that had gotten her.
 “I’m sure you won’t have any trouble. This your first Mardi Gras?”
“It is, and I’m going to do my best to enjoy every minute of it.”
“Well, then, let me give you a little rundown on what to expect and how to enjoy it the most.”
His voice was musical and soothing, rubbing smooth the raw edges of her anger. She was startled by the instant connection that zapped between them and wondered if he felt it, too. She kept glancing over at his very sexy face, rewarded each time with a smile that jumped her thermostat. At thirty-five she’d meet a lot of very interesting men, been involved with a few, but none of them had ever zapped her this way. Was it just a reaction of Craig’s betrayal, or—
No. She wouldn’t go there.  Anyway, maybe he was just being polite. Still, a girl could hope. As they chatted he shifted slightly on the seat and his thigh came into contact with hers. Blazing heat surged through her body from the point of contact, making her more acutely aware of the man sitting next to her.
“By the way,” he went on, “my name’s Marc. Marc Doucet.” He held out his hand.
When Daisy took it she felt the same surge of heat as when his thigh touched hers. The way Marc’s eyes widened just a bit she could tell he felt it, too.
Ohmigod!
“Daisy Karr,” she told him, moistening her lips. “Um, is Doucet Cajun? Are you from here?”
He winked at her. “Guar-on-tee it. Born and bred.”
“But you don’t live around here now?” she asked.
“No, sorry to say. I had to relocate for work.”
“Oh.” She paused. “What kind of work to do you?”
“Nothing that would interest you. I promise. Dull business stuff.”
Okay, then. She didn’t want to hear about it. She didn’t want to think about the business world at all for the next few days.
 “Are you meeting someone here for Mardi Gras?” Damn! Did that just come out of her mouth? It was none of her business. Except, lordy, he was so freakin’ hot.
“Not really. I have a little bit of business to attend to so I thought I’d combine it with some celebratin’.”
“Oh. That’s nice.” He probably had some hot sexy woman waiting for him. Men like him never lacked for female companionship. Daisy had seen enough of them in her life.



I love being the world’s oldest living active erotic romance author and excited that 
USA Today referred to me as “the Nora Roberts of erotic romance.” I have more than 160 titles released in multiple subgenres, everything from paranormal to action/adventure to contemporary romance. But they all have one thing in common: five-alarm heat.
I have drawn on my background in the music industry for such stories as Downstroke, Having It All, Joy Ride and Aftershock. My BDSM research has produced books such as Beyond Addiction, Schooled By a Master and Double Entry. But they almost all have one thing in common—the hot cowboys for which I’m known.
I was a three-time finalist for an EPIC E-Book Award (and a winner in 2014 for Collision Course), a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, winner of the first 5 Heart Sweetheart of the Year Award at The Romance Studio as well as twice a CAPA Award for best BDSM book of the year, winner of the Holt Medallion, multiple winner of the Whipped Cream Book of the Week Award, the Love Romances Café Readers choice Award and is published by five different houses.
I have been lucky enough to be featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village VoiceThe Daily Beast, USA Today, The London Daily Mail and numerous other national and international publications.

Learn more about me and my stories here:
www.facebook.com/desireeholtauthor
Twitter @desireeholt
Pinterest: desiree02holt
Also on LinkedIn and Google+






Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bring On The Thunder! —A blog post from romance author Renee Vincent

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com
As crazy as it sounds, thunderstorms, to me, have a calming effect. I love the sound of the rumbling reverberation they're able to make when passing overhead. The power and might of that sound alone, especially when you can actually feel its vibrations, is an incredible force.

As long as I can recall, I've never been afraid of thunderstorms. Ever since I was little, I enjoyed watching the lightning streak across the sky. I remember as a child counting one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, and so on as soon as I saw a flash of lightning. I was told you could determine how close the storm was by the amount of time that passed before you heard the thunder. If it took three seconds from the time you saw the lightning to the moment you heard the thunder, it was roughly three miles away. I can't say for sure if this is actually true or not, but it certainly kept me occupied. I was too engrossed in "tracking" the thunderstorm to be "scared" of it.

Another thing I remember from my early childhood was my grandmother telling me there's nothing to be afraid of when it came to thunderstorms. She'd told me it was just Jesus bowling in Heaven against the angels. The rumbling thunder was their bowling ball rolling down the lane and the crash of lightning foretold of someone landing a strike. I remember mentally keeping score and wondering if Jesus would ultimately win.

Just writing this all out has me laughing at the crazy stories my family told me to keep me from being afraid or fretful of passing storms.

As a grown woman, I no longer believe Jesus is bowling when it's storming. But as an author, I've written about them. While my protagonists have never counted seconds between lightning strikes and thunder, or rooted for celestial beings in a heavenly game of bowling, I have enjoyed placing them in the throes of natures elements.

Here is an excerpt of The Fall of Rain, when my archaeologist hero, Leif Dægannsen, is trying to unearth an incredible find beneath his front porch in the midst of a thunderstorm. I hope you enjoy!

THE FALL OF RAIN
Emerald Isle Trilogy Book 3
Buy now at:


Present day, Ireland

Leif Dæganssen was soaked to the skin. The cool June rain beat on his back and thunder rolled across the heavens as he staked his shovel into the saturated ground outside his quaint Inis Mór cottage. Normally, he would never think of digging in the ground on such a terrible night. But every bone in his body urged him onward. Though he had no idea what he was looking for, his gut told him that something grand and unique might very well be hidden beneath his porch.

Leif was not a superstitious man. In fact, his livelihood as an archeologist never allowed him to consider supernatural practices. After years of schooling and countless, tedious digs, he believed only in things explainable through science, carbon dating, and the naked eye.

This was different.

He dug on a hunch, an innate feeling coursing through his veins. By rights, the rain should have slowed his progress, or, at least, made him think twice on the idiocy of this escapade. But the aching muscles in his back and arms from the extreme measures of cautionary excavation seemed to be fueled by the dousing of the Erin rain. The more it drenched his clothes, the more he scooped dark, sopping mud away from his lattice-enclosed porch.

Shovelful after careful shovelful, he dug away the soil, ignoring the long heavy sighs of his younger brother, Kristoff.

“How long are we going to be out here in this storm digging for worms, Leif?”

Leif paid him no attention. He concentrated on the depth of his ditch around the front of his house and the silent calculations he made in his head. The perimeter hole he had already dug was about a foot deep and he knew the topsoil would eventually give way to rock-solid limestone beneath. A few more inches—at max maybe a foot—and he’d find something.

He could feel it.

As sure as the rain dripped from every strand of hair in his face, he could feel his adrenaline rising at the thought of his shovel hitting something solid.

“Leif!” Kristoff yelled, jerking him by the arm. A flash of lightning ripped across the midnight sky. Both flinched at the heart-stopping crack and peered above.

Kristoff turned his attention back to Leif. “This is insane! We’re going to get killed out here!”

“Then go inside,” Leif snapped back. “I’m not quitting.”

“And I’m not letting you get struck by lightning over some stupid gut feeling!”

Leif squared his shoulders and leaned in close, the rain spitting like needles in his face. “I’m. Not. Stopping.” He staked his shovel deep in the ground. A low thud reverberated around them.

“Did you hear that?”

Kristoff looked at Leif skeptically. “I did…”

Leif’s face lit up brighter than the violent streak of lightning that passed overhead. “I told you I’d find something!” He dropped to his knees, throwing his gloves aside as he dug beneath the last bit of mud. Using as much caution as he could muster, he tore away handfuls of soil, feeling for the object his shovel had struck. Within seconds, his fingertips scraped against something solid.

“I feel it,” Leif uttered breathlessly. “It’s right here.” Like a dog pawing for its buried bone, he kept pulling away at the dirt until the top could be seen.

“Holy Halfdan Haroldsson,” Kristoff mumbled as he saw a distinct pagan carving come into view. As the rain washed it clean, a whole slew of carvings took form before his very eyes.

Leif glanced at Kristoff. “Now, do you believe me?”

“Hell yeah, I do! Come on, dig it out!”

Leif didn’t need his brother’s encouragement. For years, he had been trying to convince Kristoff that this Irish island was the home of their Norwegian ancestors. More importantly, that the house he had bought two years ago was likely sitting atop their settlement. He had no proof. Only a vibe he felt from the moment he stepped on the treeless island.

Until now.

Even in the dark of night, through the shroud of Ireland’s unmerciful rainfall, there was no mistaking the Scandinavian carvings on the wooden artifact. They were telltale coils of a history forgotten—instantly recognizable designs spiraling and twisting into a complex weave of creatures, demigods, and beasts.

To a pair of young archeologists, it was like striking gold.

“What is it?” Kristoff asked as he found its edge and began digging.

“I don’t know. Perhaps a shield…or a weather vane from a longship.”

“No,” Kristoff said, peeling hunks of mud away from the side. “It’s thicker than that. It’s…holy shit…it’s a…”

“It’s what?”

“I don’t know! It’s a…”

Words escaped them as their excitement vaulted in unearthing the sizeable object from its grave. Neither man was confident enough to say what they thought it could be, but one thing rang true. It was a large find—literally.

In the archeological world, antiquities, such as a small coin or even a glass bead, were significant discoveries. Most times, if one were found, it was purely by accident. Then, once the find was made public, archeologists from all walks of life would try to establish the site as historical and gather funding for a further, more intensive dig. Finding anything beyond the small artifact, takes months or even years of dedication and careful excavation with skillful hands.

Leif had found something substantial within a matter of minutes, and it was certainly nothing short of impressive. As he and Kristoff lifted the heavy, wooden relic from the muck and mire, they lost all sense of speaking. They stared at the highly decorated object. Their eyes traced every complex loop and spiral of the elaborate, dated designs.

This was no accident. This coffer had called to Leif—had beckoned him to buy this property. Though it proved nothing about his ancestors specifically settling here on this very spot, it did confirm that someone of Scandinavian descent had visited the isle. He was determined to find who and hopefully link them with his Norwegian descendents.

Gazing at the stunning carved box through the pelting rain, Kristoff broke the silence. “We’re going to be famous.”

Leif shot Kristoff a grave look. “No. We’re not telling a soul about this.”

“Are you out of your mind? Do you not know what this is?”

Leif disregarded his brother and took hold of the box, trying to stand in the slippery mud. All he wanted to do was take it inside and get it out of sight, but the blasted quagmire beneath him wouldn’t cooperate. He lost his footing and fell on his backside.

Leif let out a curse, and tried again.

“Here,” Kristoff said, thrusting out his hand. “Let me help you.”

Gasping a firm hold, Leif stepped out of the shallow ditch and made haste up the two meager steps of his front porch. As he suspected, Kristoff navigated past him and opened the door wide so he could pass through with ease.

Through the dark, he walked straight into the open space of the living room and into the adjoining kitchen, setting the object on the table. He could feel his heart hammering at the excitement of finally seeing his find under the blessing of light.

Stepping back, he reached for the light switch on the wall, pinching it between his fingers, unable to tear his eyes from the dark object displayed on the table. He heard Kristoff’s heavy footsteps approaching, but he didn’t have the strength to flip the switch.

“Turn it on already!” Kristoff demanded.

“Not yet.”

“What do you mean, not yet? Turn on the light.”

Leif studied his brother in the dark. “If I turn this light on, you must promise that what we see stays between us. No one is to know what we’ve found. And I mean no one.”

“Why?” Kristoff scorned. “We found something highly prized and we could—”

“We’re not going to tell a soul,” Leif instructed direly. “Think about it. If we reveal what we’ve found here tonight, this place will be swarming with media, treasure seekers, and museum enthusiasts. My home will no longer be mine and my life’s work will be ruined. I have spent countless hours tracing our ancestors to this very isle and this…this,” he said gesturing toward the table, “could very well be the missing link to finding my distant family. Please, Kristoff. Don’t spoil this for me. Don’t take away my one chance of uncovering my past. Our past.”

In the shadows of his kitchen, Leif heard his brother heave a heavy sigh. The moments ticked away with each bead of water dripping on the cheap linoleum floor.

“Fine. I give my word. Now turn on the bloody light.”

As he beckoned, Leif flipped the switch, but nothing could have prepared him for what he saw. It was not just a carved artifact, beautifully sitting on his table above a puddle of muddy water, but a chest—a chest that quite possibly held more riches than one man could fathom in a lifetime.

* * *

RENEE VINCENT is a bestselling Contemporary & Historical Romance author who also pens humorous, sweet contemporary romance (with a smidgen of spunk) under the name GRACIE LEE ROSE.

From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, readers will be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.

Her books have earned numerous accolades, including a #1 Amazon Bestseller for Viking Romance, countless 5 Star TOP PICKS by Night Owl Reviews, a "5 HEART Sweetheart" Award by The Romance Studio, and a "Best Book of the Year 2011" nomination from Long And Short Reviews.

Connect with Renee Vincent:
http://www.twitter.com/ReneeVincent
https://www.facebook.com/reneevincentauthor

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Interview of Author Linda Swift


Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author Linda Swift. 
Latest Book: This Time Forever


To film Video Link adapted from the book above:

BIO: 
Linda Swift divides her time between Florida and her native state of Kentucky. In her other life she was a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist in public schools in three states. She is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Her first books were published by Kensington. She currently has twelve ebooks (also in print) and nine novellas with three publishers available from Amazon and other distributors. Her Civil War saga, This Time Forever, has been compared to Gone With The Wind and the TV mini-series North and South.  The novel has twenty 5-star reviews and was awarded Top Pick status by Night Owl Reviews. Linda considers the adaptation of this book into the film, Clarissa's War, the highlight of her writing career.


Q. Your novel is being made into a TV series/movie. Who’s in your dream cast?
A: My Civil War novel, This Time Forever, actually is being made into a feature movie by an independent film company in Nashville, TN. The filming was finished in Nov. 2014, and the film, Clarissa's War, is scheduled for release this summer on VIMEO. My dream cast was realized in the actors selected from Talent Trek in Nashville. Each one fit their role just as I envisioned them when I wrote the book.

Q. What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
A:  In a word, "versatile." At times, when trying to meet a deadline,  I have set goals of a number of words per day. I am more productive when under pressure to complete something but I lean more toward overall deadlines rather than a specific number of words completed in a certain length of time.

Q. What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
A: Now I try to give my writing, and myself as a writer, more respect. I think this comes with eight years as a multi-published digital writer. For a long time, too long, I tried to fit my work into a schedule where everything else took precedence. Real writers put writing first.  I still cannot force myself to do that, but I do try not to feel guilty for giving it equal time.

Q. How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
A: I can't estimate how much, but I do believe that no one writes in a vacuum. I think our values and attitudes show in what our characters say and do. Even our bad characters are expressing what we do not believe or approve. Their sense of humor and other character traits are often our own.

Q. Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?

A: This is a really difficult question but I want to answer it for my own enlightenment! I am really fond of so many of my characters, even the bad ones. But I would have to say that Phillip Burke, the main male character in This Time Forever would be my choice. Why? Because Philip is a man of high morals and sensitivity to others. He wanted his life to matter and considered his medical profession to be a "calling." He had great respect for women and would never deliberate hurt anyone but through no fault of his own, he was the cause of great hurt and heartbreak. It is his conflicting emotions and actions that make him such a complex and interesting character.

Q. How do you choose names for your characters?
A: I love naming characters. I spend a lot of time choosing names that fit the visual image I have of a character before I begin writing. I do make an effort not to have similar names in the same book.  That includes ending in the same sound, beginning with the same letter or sound, and names hard to pronounce or spell. Some names just appear in my mind, others I have to look for. I seldom if ever change a name, once chosen.

Q. Covers. Ever get one you wish you could change?
A: I've had very few unsatisfactory covers. Most of my publishers have given me access to work directly with the cover artist. With one book, the cover was overlooked until the last moment and I was given a hastily-finished cover and no recourse for change.  The book did NOT do well. And belatedly, the publisher took a look at the cover and changed it but it was too late to make much difference.

Q. What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: I've always thought it would be fun to write a Regency.  Not the frivolous inane plots that are so predictable but a story with substance told in the Regency style.

Q. Have you ever used an incident from your real life into one of your books?
A: Yes, I have used real life incidents in several stories. One that comes to mind was my disastrous baking of a holiday turkey. I first blogged about it and the reaction was so positive that I decided to use it in a book. It is related in Full Circle when the main character tries to make a holiday dinner for her "found again" first love and his children. 

Q. How many stories are swirling around in your head? Do you keep a mental list, a computer file, or a spiral notebook filled with the ideas?
A: I'm not sure how many stories there are in my head at this moment. There is another novella related to the two just released in a Christmas Collection and Valentine Anthology. Then the sequel to This Time Forever, which may be another long book  or three short ones. I also have a sequel to my two related historical books set in 16th century England. And the story gnawing at the corners of my mind involving a mail-order groom.


Fun Stuff:
1. What is your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas, because it is a season of wonder and joy and a time when all people seem to have more love and kindness in our hearts.

2. What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I find the whole car racing scene fascinating. And I am really very shy.

3. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I flitted between a movie star, a ballerina, and a mother (the latter probably because I was an only child and longed for siblings). Well, I am a mother of two, so I guess one out of three wishes come true is not bad!

4. Favorite food.
Chocolate anything/everything.

5. Favorite happy memory.
How can I choose just one? There are different ones for different stages in my life. Marriage. Births of babies. First new car. Graduating college at 31. First book publication.

6. Favorite drink.
A strawberry-banana pina colada.

7. Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
Hot summer days, preferably with a sandy beach and Gulf breeze.

8. What is the top thing on your bucket list?
Sort out the files on my computer. I am very organized except in this one area. It drives me crazy.

9. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
The power to make the world a safer, more peaceful place.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!

Blurb:
In a nation ravaged by war, lives change for all time...An antebellum mansion is transformed into a Confederate hospital when the Union Army invades Tennessee. Clarissa Wakefield remains in her home against propriety to help nurse the wounded. Philip Burke, a prisoner of war, barters his medical skill to avoid prison and is placed in charge.

As opposing armies fight for possession of Chattanooga, Philip and Clarissa wage their own personal battles. Each is committed to another, though kept apart by the endless fighting. Amid the blood and suffering, mutual attraction grows despite their best intentions. Caught in the passions of love and war, will they be faithful to their vows or listen to their hearts?

EXCERPT:
"Clarissa, my beautiful Clarissa," he whispered. "No matter how hard I fight this, I can't stop wanting you. There's never an hour you're not in my thoughts. I am obsessed by you."

She moved her hands from his chest to caress the sides of his face and he groaned with pleasure. "And I you."

He cupped her against him and she linked her arms at the back of his neck as he bent his head to take her mouth again with greater intensity. "I tell myself you are married, but it doesn't matter in what I feel. And I think you feel it too."

"Yes, oh yes," she whispered.

He held her away and looked into her eyes. "I was engaged to a fine woman. But I've told her I can't marry her now. It would be impossible when it's you I want."

"Is it she who writes you letters?" Clarissa asked curiously.

"Yes, she did, but not anymore."

"Oh, Philip, I'm so sorry."

"My father arranged an exchange for me while you were away."

Her heart plummeted and she asked sadly, "And you'll be going soon?"

"I refused it. I couldn't bear to leave you."

Joy surged through her at his words. "You did this for me?" Her voice was filled with wonder.

"I've burned all my bridges, Clarissa, because of you. I know you could never be happy in my world and now I doubt I could either. And you would be scorned here in your world if you should break your vows for me." He stopped, hesitating to say what was in his heart, then plunged on. "But we could go West when the war is over, make a new world of our own. You, me, and Robert."


Thank you for coming by! Anything else you’d like to add?
Only that I have enjoyed answering these interview questions and I appreciate the opportunity to promote my books and myself. Thank you.
Linda

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