Happy New Reviews

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Happy New Year’s! I’m jumping the gun a little bit, but I wanted to see how everybody’s reading challenge(s) went for 2010. When I first started this position in May 2010, I set myself a goal to read 25 Carina titles by the end of the year. I only managed to read 10 of them… (I put in 10-15 hours/week at a second job, so there just wasn’t time!)

Did you meet your reading goals this year? What are your reading plans for 2011? I’m shooting for 40 Carina titles, definitely more than last year but since I don’t have that pesky second job anymore, I’ll have more time to devote to the reading challenge.

Oh yes, can’t forget the reviews! (And potential reading challenge material)

Stone Kissed by Keri Stevens – Parajunkee’s View

“Stone Kissed left me scratching my head and smiling at the same time. I didn’t know what to make of this particular romantic tidbit. Stevens weaves words together in an almost dreamlike pattern. The story is wrapped in similes and metaphors and abstract personifications that had me reading with my eyes at half-mast feeling as if I was drifting into the story itself. It was a very romantic tale, full of magic, sex, bizarre antagonist behavior and quirky small-town life.”

The Debutante’s Dilemma by Elyse Mady – Night Owl Reviews

“If the modern world is getting to you and you need a break, step back into this Regency romance. It’s so short that you can finish it in an afternoon yet it’s got a lot of intense loving in those few words. However, don’t even think to read this book if you expect a demure female lead and a limp male because that is so not going to be on these pages!”

Gambit by Kim Knox – Dark Divas Reviews

“Gambit is a well-written, funny, sexy and endlessly entertaining story with saucy banter and a wonderfully designed backdrop. I recommend this for anyone in need of an honest to goodness science fiction action story with a dollop of romance on top.”

Overdue for Pleasure by Shelley Aikens – Night Owl Reviews

“This story isn’t very long and you should be able to read it in an afternoon. Just make sure that you’re prepared for the lusty feelings that you will probably have when reading. Reading this on your lunch break may not be a good idea unless you have a secluded park area like Mandy.
I really enjoyed this quickie for so many reasons or perhaps I just envied Mandy. Regardless, take a moment out of your busy life and have fun with Mandy and the guys. You won’t regret it.”

A Carina year in review

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It’s hard for me to look back at 2010 and say “here’s what we did” because honestly? It feels like there was so much of it. 2010 was our year of launch. And since we only announced our existence in November 2009, that means we did…pretty much everything that was needed for launch during the months leading up to June 2010. Here’s some of the craziness the Carina Press team accomplished before June:

* Read and acquired just under 40 titles for launch PLUS all of the titles to be released in July, August and September

* Edited and copy edited all those titles. Wrote back cover copy for those titles. And created cover art for all those titles.

* Contracted with ten freelance editors and…I think six or seven copy editors

* Worked with our amazing and hardworking legal team to draft and fine tune contracts

* Created processes for everything from formatting, scheduling, and creating books, to metadata, emailing authors and every other process you can think of for publishing a book

* Developed the Carina Press website (both the placeholder site and the commerce site) and created content for both

* Wrote blog content 3-5 times a week

* Developed marketing, promotion, social media strategies and utilized leading up to launch

* Worked with Audible.com to get first books into production for audiobook release.

* Worked with online etailers to get Carina content for sale.

* Many, many, many meetings to discuss the smallest details imaginable.

* And 100s of other small things I won’t bore you with listing. All of them before our June launch date.

Of course, after June, there were still 6 months of the year to get through and we didn’t just sit around during those months either! Here’s some of the other things we accomplished in 2010:

*101 titles published from June to December

* 3 Christmas collections planned, acquired and published

* Working with Direct to Consumer to provide Carina books to subscribers

* Acquired (and edited and formatted and published and wrote cover art and cover copy some of them) books for scheduling from September 2010 through Summer 2011.

* Hired even more freelance editors and copy editors!

* Made some groovy plans for 2011 including:  by-invitation-only collections, a ramped-up Carina newsletter you’ll look forward to reading (you can sign up for the newsletter following the link at the top of this site), targeted marketing, further utilization of rights, attendance at close to 20 conferences and individual RWA chapters, as well as a swag or marketing presence at others, and oh so many more (groovy) plans.

I think everyone on the Carina Press team can agree that 2010 was an incredible year. Busy and sometimes stressful, but always interesting and utterly fantastic. So a sincere thank you to the Carina Press authors and all of the readers and reviewers who’ve supported us in such amazing ways this past year. Your tremendous support, word-of-mouth marketing and genuine enthusiasm was what made every moment of hard work worth it. Thank you!

Who’s in Charge, Here?

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My characters are MY characters. I made them up. I wrote them down. They exist in my head and on my hard drive. They aren’t living, breathing people that take over my mind. They aren’t my babies or children or friends. No flesh, no blood, just ink and pixels and paper and screens.

And yet…

Delia, my heroine in Stone Kissed secretly loves the oldies—Duran Duran, the DiVinyls, Laura Branigan, the Violent Femmes and more—classic music from the 70s and 80s. (Yes, I know. But she’s in her mid-twenties and I am not, so in her mind, these are “oldies.” I forgive her for that and so should you.) The music her mother loved ties her to her dead mother, who used to sing “Gloria” to her, but replace the title with Delia’s name. It was the only way Mrs. Forrest even obliquely acknowledged Delia’s ability to talk to statues. I know this, and now you do, too. Most of the book’s readers, however, will never know the story behind the story because I cut those scenes.

kindling fireI took down the bust of Eisenhower from Delia’s attorney’s office. He was a snarky, snotty, nasty piece of marble and I dearly loved him. But since all he did in early drafts was dump information, he had to go. When Delia was very young–well before the book begins–a carving reveals that the butcher next door to her parents’ apartment is abusing his wife.  It was a tight, quiet scene. I wept writing it. I wept rereading it. And I shed a couple tears because it didn’t forward the plot and had to go.

Characters, scenes and plot threads from earlier versions of Stone Kissed still exist in the back of my head, although I am ruthless about cleaning them out of my computer. Unless I can specifically use them in another work, I don’t save excisions.  I know many writers advocate filing these snippets for future use, but I just can’t. When I decide to kill a character, he must remain dead. When I decide to burn a bridge, I walk away from the embers, never to go back.

And yet, sometimes I DO go back because readers take me there. Readers fill in blanks, identify patterns aPhotobucketnd motifs, and tell me things about my characters. When My critique partners, beta readers and reviewers with advanced reader copies weigh in, I find myself learning even more about Delia, Grant, the statues and the town of Stewardsville.

Books aren’t just vehicles by which writers inject stories into readers. Your imagination and reasoning skills come into play as well. You see aspects of my characters I didn’t realize I’d written. You make connections between events and characters I didn’t even know were there. You bring them to life.

Thank you for the story.

Come Into My Catacomb

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Stone KissedLast year I dreamt of James. I’d known him as a child, but he moved when I was ten and I forgot him. Almost 30 years later he crawled up through the darkness startled me awake. While I hate to think I forget people, I’m amazed that I really don’t—everyone I’ve interacted with, I am convinced, is electricity sparking, winding and curving through my brain. My neuroscientist husband says it’s more complex than that—so we’ll refill his wine glass, pat his hand and return to our own chat, okay?

Jenny Crusie once told my RWA chapter, “The story is complete in your subconscious.” I believe that. I have to believe that.

PleurantIn STONE KISSED, no human character is based on a real person. The talking statues, however, are based on art I’ve seen in real life—most of it in the graveyards I whined my way through as a child, eating bologna sandwiches on strangers’ slabs while my father took rubbings of ancestors’ stones. The Beckler twins, who play chess on top of their tomb, are based on a monument in a Kansas City graveyard. Grandmère weeps over a crypt in Paris.  The lamb introduced himself from his perch atop a small grave in the Presbyterian churchyard of Hillsborough, NC.

Even when I think I’ve made up a statue all by myself, I discover it crawled up from the recesses in my mind. Only in the later stages of edits did I realize my ferociously sexy Claudel statue was based on Rodin sculptures in the North Carolina Museum of Art. How many times did I skim over those bronzes, my mind on sneaking goldfish crackers into my toddler’s mouth so he wouldn’t fuss and disturb the other patrons? I honestly don’t know.

When I was a much younger writer, I felt guilt for not carrying around a Moleskine and fountain pen, recording observations all day long. I don’t worry as much about my inconstant journaling now.  James and Jenny and Auguste have taught me that the next book and the one thereafter are simply in there. Writing, for me, begins with crawling in, reaching into a dark hole and pinning to paper whatever bites my fingers.

KERI STEVENS was raised in southern Missouri and has lived in Germany, Arizona, North Carolina and Kentucky. Along the way she acquired degrees in writing and German, a romance hero of her very own, three sons, two miracle cats and a mutt who licks her when she speaks German. She creates mayhem and magic in small-town paranormal romance novels like her award-winning debut, Stone Kissed.

Come play with Keri online at:
Main site and blog: http://keristevens.com
Her Friends Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KeriStevensFriends/join
Twitter http://twitter.com/keristevens (@KeriStevens)
Facebook: http://facebook.com/KeriStevensAuthor
Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/Keri_Stevens
eHarlequin community: http://community.eharlequin.com/users/keri-stevens

A book-filled Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas from the Carina Press team. We hope your holiday brings books of every size, shape, format and genre and that your home is filled with the warmth of love and laughter.

eBooks: Adults only?

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By Jenny Bullough, Manager of Digital Content, Carina Press team member, and ebook convert

Over the past year I’ve become a total ebook convert. I still occasionally read print books, but only when there is no ebook version available. I’ve even turned down free hard copies of books from friends in publishing because I’d rather buy the ebook! It’s just so much more convenient, especially when travelling or commuting, and holding a device in one hand is so much easier than clutching a fat paperback or heavy hardcover.

As proof, here’s my bedside TBR pile:

All of those print books are months (or even over a year) old, gathering dust as they wait, neglected. My real TBR pile is in my Kindle and my Sony, where many Carina Press manuscripts and  ePubs of Harlequin and MIRA books await! (Ooh, I get tingly just thinking about all the juicy reading to come!)

I’ve even converted my techno-skeptic husband, who has pretty much totally eschewed print in favour of our brand-new Kobo:

(Please try to ignore the dust on his bedside table. I’m not the best housekeeper. I’d rather read than dust!)

But lest you think our household is devoid of print-based reading, take a look at our 6-year-old’s bookshelf:

She has some chapter books and early-reading paperbacks, but when it comes to bedtime reading, her first choice is big-format picture books. As you can see, she has amassed quite a collection in just 6 years!

And our 2-year-old is taking up the habit – she has a metric tonne of board books!  Here’s a sampling — and this is just what she picked out for bedtime reading last night:

So while my husband and I are completely digital, our kids’ book collections aren’t yet evolving the same way – although I have heard of a few iPad apps that are pushing the envelope on creating interactive reading experiences for kids, and I’m curious to try them out.

How about you? Are you a total ebook convert or are you reading a mix of formats? Have you found any ebooks or reading apps that your kids engage with? Let us know in the comments!

Choose Your Own Hero, Take On the World

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I have an addiction to aural storytelling. As a kid I couldn’t wait to go to the local library for story time. In the evenings I’d beg my father to tell me bedtime stories. Of course he’d thwart me by reciting the following ditty:

“Once upon a time a monkey found a dime. The dime turned red and the monkey fell dead.”

Sheesh. No wonder I’m issue-matic…but this is a happy post. ^_~

My adoration for stories quickened in the creation of my own tales and in sharing them with playmates. In high school I added a romantic element and narrated custom love stories—starring my girlfriends and the hero [read: popular singer or actor] of their choice. The worlds I built became the property of the listener and their joy got me high. The habit continued into college and friends still talk about the romances I wove for them back then.

Lately I’ve adopted the title: Raconteur [strikes a pose]. It sounds elegantly roguish, doesn’t it? Like some fabulous synonym for cat burglar or grifter—which is probably why I like it. I continue to tell romantic stories but now they’re urban fantasies in book form. There’s something magical in sharing an adventure with anyone who’s up for the journey, whenever they’re ready for the ride.

The only things missing: I can’t clarify, edit on the fly, or customize the hero or world to suit a particular reader. The aural tradition is singular because of those things. The listener can ask questions and tale becomes interactive.

I bridge the vibe of aural storytelling with the written in two ways. First, by supplying a banquet of delicious heroes. Dreams’ Dark Kiss, my romantic urban fantasy, features a leading hero, Keoni, and three equally sigh-inducing supporting heroes. You can read more about the Dream Guardians at eHarlequin (totally worth the click).

Secondly, to share more of the world, I created a glossary that is an intriguing ^_^ read by itself. I’ve included a sneak peek at the end of this post but I’d like to say one last thing. It’s a great joy for an author when a reader adopts their characters, revels in their world, and ultimately makes them both their own. So feel free to customize my heroes and lay claim to the world of Dreams’ Dark Kiss. After all, this story’s for you.

**How could I forget? Carina Press and Audible.com have given me a Christmas gift straight out of my childhood glee. Dreams’ Dark Kiss will soon be available in audiobook! Pardon me while I dance a noel rendition of my infamous shimmy-shake. Who wants sangria?**

Dreams Dark Kiss Glossary of Terms:

ankou: noun \ ahn-koo \
A human being who has been possessed by a bane (below) and utilizes nightmares to torture and/or kill. See also: howler

bane: noun \ beyn \
The tainted from of a howler (below), these pale shaggy beasts stalk the dreaming (below) in search of victims to pervert in an effort to become ankou.

Ciaran: proper name \KEER-en\ Wannabe demon-slayer and resourceful—“where there’s a frying pan there’s a way”—heroine.

chakra: noun \ chuhk-ruh \
One of seven points of spiritual energy down the center of the body according to yoga philosophy. Each point is related to a color, an emotion, and is visually represented by a bloom with a certain number of petals.

the Dreaming: noun \ dreem-eng \
The second of the two worlds forming all of existence; the Dreaming is comprised of the dreamscape, wastelands and the Otherside (all below).

dreamscape: noun \ dreem-skeyp \
The plane on which the act of dreaming takes place, shared by all dreamers.
See also: the Dreaming

howler: noun \ hou-ler \
Beneficent nightmares who help to drive human development through confrontation with fear. See also: bane and ankou

Keoni: proper name \ Keh-oh-NEE \ In a word: Hawt! (i.e. emphatically hot).
See also: dreamy, steamy, funny and delicious.

Last Hurrah: noun \ lahst \ • \ huh-rah\
Final journey a soul takes, in the company of a psychopomp, before crossing over to the Otherside (below).

Libros Arcanum: noun \ LEE-vros \ • \ ahr-kay-nuhm \
The great, secret library of the Dreaming; all libraries and none simultaneously. Houses the Dream Guardian Guild.
Also know as: LibrosArc, big ass library

psychopomp: noun \ sahy-koh-pomp \
Person who guides or conducts souls to the Otherside; e.g. Charon, Hermes.
Also know as: soul conductor

the Otherside: noun \ uhth-er-sahyd \
Land of the afterlife. See also: the Dreaming

Somnian: noun \ som-nee-uhn \
Evolved human being who protects mankind as they sleep.
Also known as: dream guardian

spirit animal: noun \ spir-it \ • \ an-uh-muhl \
Avatar or spiritual representation of a person’s essence, projected into the dreamscape via an animal form.

three realms: colloquialism \ three \ • \ relms\
Slang term used to reference the dreamscape, wastelands and the Otherside succinctly.
See also: the Dreaming

two worlds: colloquialism \ too \ • \ wurlds\
Slang term used to reference the Waking World (below) and the Dreaming as one.

Waking World: noun \ weyk-eng \ • \ wurld \
World of reality. Also know as: waking life

wastelands: noun \ weyst-lands \
Hellish landscape between but simultaneously beneath the dreamscape and the Otherside. See also: the Dreaming

Shirin Dubbin
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This Is Not My Story

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It’s rather ironic, I talk more than any three speedy-tongued cartoon characters put together and yet seldom reveal anything truly personal. I am private, ridiculously so, and chatter is my shield. This protective instinct extends to the secrets of others. My mother calls me “the vault” and I have become a kind of repository for the confessions and struggles of friends and strangers alike. I don’t reveal these confidences without permission and thus this is the first time I’m sharing the inspiration behind my latest release. Dreams’ Dark Kiss is my book but it’s not my story.

A few weeks ago: I shocked my cousin, Rhian, with the news I’d written a book for her. She cried. I struggled not to.

A couple of years prior: My sisters, mother and I arrived in London to spend Christmas with our family there. The city was draped in a fog so thick it clung to our faces in a pall—seeming to portend news to come.  My auntie tried to prepare us in the cab but when I walked into my cousin’s room and saw her face…her lip sliced in two, one eye swollen, the other marbled with the red of broken blood vessels, and her expression of mingled pain and shame…I…my hands ached to crush something. I wanted to hunt the monster, the boyfriend, who had hurt my little Rhian. But this is not my story.

Rhain and her boyfriend had argued. She’d said something smart-alecky—the girl has a gift for edgy wit, a gift that most often brings smiles, never hurt. He’d struck her. Left the flat. Come back and beaten her relentlessly. When she defended herself he asked her, “Why are you fighting me like you’re a man?” She said, “Why are you beating me as though I was one?” I guess he’d felt his manhood had been challenged by a smart comment from a 5’ 3” woman. What a man.

Although Rhian knew it was irrational she blamed herself, had lost her confidence, and I knew the wound was deep. What could I do? The police were investigating. She’d been to the doctor. And I was already holding her, my sweater absorbing her tears, my heart drenched in her pain.

In those moments a heroine, Ciaran, took form. I couldn’t do anything to reshape what had happened but, dammit, I’m a writer and I could sculpt an inspiration from words. In Dreams’ Dark Kiss and in Rhian’s stead, Ciaran, a woman recovering from an assault, gets sucked into a world of corporeal nightmares bent on breaking her down and using her to create hell on earth. In response she kicks ass.

A few weeks ago: I explained I hadn’t dedicated the book to Rhian because “I didn’t want to put [her] business in the street”.  In true heroine form she replied, “I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen. I may have suffered more for it but I fought back and because of that I can deal. I want women to know they can do the same.”

So if you decide to read Dreams’ Dark Kiss you’ll understand why it’s my book, but not my story. It belongs to women—a battle cry to remind us even after we’ve been beaten down we get back up, we overcome, and we kick major ass.

Shirin Dubbin
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How it’s made…

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So how did we come up with this story? As I remember it, I was sitting in a park, killing time, waiting to have dinner with a friend, when Madi called me. She says, “We should write a shifter book.”

I groaned, most likely aloud, and told her no. I’d become disenchanted with werewolves (the only thing that popped into my head when I heard the word “shifter”). I was tired of the same story, same setting – usually in the Deep South.

“Come on,” Madi says. “I was thinking cougars.”

I’m pretty sure I made a face. I do that a lot when talking to Madi on the phone, because she can’t see me. *grin* So off the cuff I said, “Fine, but it’s going to be set in Washington in the mountains.” The Cascades are my third favorite place to travel, but that’s another story for another time.

Madi agreed, and that’s where it all started.

Then the creative stuff really began. Sexy characters, beautiful scenery, hot love scenes, and…danger! We started writing and the excitement over this “shifter idea” took off.

Our one book idea turned into a trilogy, possibly even four books, because there are six catamount shifter brothers and one sister. Since our guys have to mate in pairs—which is explained in the book I know you’re just dying to read—we have three books. And then we have ideas for the sister now, too.

We’d love for you to stop by www.laylekeaton.com, register at the site, and say hi. We run contests often! Check out our blog and our backlist. Mine, hers and ours. *grin*

You can purchase the book here: Carina Press

Madi on Facebook ~ Anna on Facebook

Here is an excerpt from my favorite scene. Enjoy!

She fought her way up the last few feet, and then she was being lifted the rest of the way. Dakota wrapped her arms around Axel’s neck when she was high enough and planted a hard kiss on his lips. “Thanks.”

He grinned, his breath warm against her cheeks. “You’re very welcome.” When he let her slowly slide down his body, there was no mistaking the hard bulge in his pants, even through the layer of denim and skiwear.

“Mmm.” She leaned into him and breathed in his scent. Fresh and clean like the outdoors with a sweet male musk beneath.

“Be good,” he whispered and pulled back. “Turn around and take a look.”

Reluctantly, she pulled away and let him lift and rotate her so she faced away from him.

“Oh…wow…” A smooth expanse of white stretched out before them, outlined by the dark pine trees. If she thought the snow on the mountain sparkled like diamonds, it was nothing compared to this.

Axel wrapped his arms around her and pressed into her back. “Pretty, huh?”

“Amazing. Absolutely gorgeous.”

“You’ll like this too. Come on.” He moved around her, took her hand and led her down the gentle incline to the lake, and then out onto it.

“You sure it’s safe?” she asked, wondering how deep the water was below them.

“Yep. Frozen solid.” He stopped and leaned down, unbuckled his snowshoes and then hers. “Step out.”

It looked deep, and she frowned at him when he stood up.

“Go on,” he said with a grin. “Trust me.”

She did trust him, and she stepped out of the snowshoe onto the snow, sank down about three inches then stopped.

“Careful, it’s slick.”

She squatted down and brushed the snow away, and saw the ice. Saw through it to some weeds and gravel. “Oh, cool!” She went down on her knees and brushed away more snow. “Look. You can see the bottom. It’s so clear!”

Axel dropped down beside her and helped her push the wet snow away to clear a circle of the pretty ice.

“Wow. Oh, man, just…wow!” She stuck her face down next to the ice, almost touching it with her nose, and looked through it at the colorful stones and weeds that had literally frozen into place. “It’s like a giant snow globe. Why is the snow so shallow here?”

“This is a really windy spot when the snow’s falling, so it doesn’t get deep.”

Dakota sat up on her heels and grinned. “Thank you.”

Falke came running up, then skidded on the ice and slid into her, knocking her onto Axel’s lap. They both burst out laughing as Falke used his claws and scrambled to his feet with a noise that sounded an awful lot like a laugh. Then he pounced, pushing her into the snow and coming down over her.

She laughed so hard her sides hurt as she tussled with the big cat, picking up handfuls of snow and shoving them in his face. He purred and batted at her with his big paws, splashing snow into her face.

“Help me, Axel!” she cried around her laughter.

Then Axel was there too, with a big handful of snow coming down right at her.

No,” she cried and rolled away, grabbed a scoop of the wet, white stuff and flung it at him as she tried to gain some footing only to slip and slide on the ice beneath the thin layer of snow.

Axel grabbed her behind the knee and pulled her back down, rolling beneath her and taking her weight so she didn’t smack the hard ice. Then he pinned her down with his body, tugged her shirt up, and rubbed a handful of snow on her bare stomach.

She gasped and laughed and struggled to get away. “Jerk!” she screamed as she reached above her, grabbed some snow, then in a guise of putting her arms around him, dumped it down the back of his neck into his jacket.

Axel shouted in surprise, and rolled with her until she straddled his hips. As she used her hands against his chest to lever herself up, Falke pounced on her again and knocked her back to the ground. With his big paws, he shoved snow toward her head, but she got him first, smack in the nose, with a lightly packed snowball. He jerked back and sneezed, then made that laughing sound again and grabbed her wrist between his teeth.

“Hey!” she said, losing her humor, realizing a full-grown male mountain lion had her in his teeth.

“Falke,” Axel said softly, but she heard the warning behind it.

The cat released her and lay down next to her, hanging his head, glancing up at her like a little kid who just got scolded.

Dakota looked between the cat and Axel.

“He wouldn’t have hurt you. He was playing.”

Falke hadn’t hurt her. She hadn’t even felt his teeth through her thick jacket and sweater. But still… She sat up and reached out to pet the cat’s head.

“It’s okay, big guy,” she said softly. “Just scared me is all.”

Falke licked her gloved hand, then stood up and rubbed his cheek against hers. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him. “For such a big kitty, you’re just an old softy aren’t you?”

He purred and nuzzled her neck.

“Cold nose!” She shoved his face away from hers with a laugh.

Axel was beside her, and she smiled at him. He returned the grin, and she saw something in his eyes.

Don’t go there. Just don’t. The more time she spent with him, the more she never wanted it to end. But she knew it was all an illusion. She’d hired him. She was sure he would bring anyone out to this spot to show off the scenery. It wasn’t just for her.

But, damn, she could really imagine it was.

“Falke will never harm you, Dakota. I swear it on my life—the life of every one of my family members.”

“That’s a pretty big statement. He is a wild animal.” She scooted around until she could get onto her knees on the slippery ice, made even more slippery by her ski pants. “I want a picture of you two.” She pulled off her gloves and reached into her jacket for the camera.

Axel didn’t say anything more, but he made a little face that let her know he wanted to argue the fact his cat was tame.

“Falke, go stand by Axel,” she said, making a shooing motion to the cat.

Falke got up, this time without sliding one bit on the ice, and she realized he’d probably…teased her? No, a cat couldn’t tease. But he could walk on the ice just fine, his claws clicking softly, so what explained him sliding into her before?

“Put your arm around Falke,” she said to Axel, who sat in the snow.

He draped his arm over the cat’s neck.

“You don’t seem real affectionate toward him,” she noted, realizing that he never touched Falke.

“He prefers the ladies,” Axel said in a dry tone, making Dakota laugh.

She raised the camera to her eye, but stopped and lowered it as she stared at man and beast sitting next to each other. “Dang, you two must have been brothers in another life.”

“What?” Axel’s tone was filled with shock. The cat turned its head to look at him.

“You two…You sort of look alike.”

Falke’s Peak ~ Layle & Keaton collaboration

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Madi (Madison Layle) and I (Anna Leigh Keaton) met as I assume a lot of people do these days…online. Seeing that I also met my husband online, (No, not a dating site, I assure you. We simply, by accident, bumped into each other in a chat room and fell madly in love.) it wasn’t a strange thing for me to become emotionally attached to the woman who became my co-author.

I said emotionally attached, not romantically. *snicker* She’s married to a guy, too, although they met the old-fashioned way—through mutual friends. Anyway, we’re fairly certain we were sisters in another life. Sisters that actually like each other, I mean, not the kind that fight all of the time.

After we met, as the story goes, Madi corrupted sweet ol’ Anna with her wicked ways, and even wickeder writing. Bondage, and triads, and S&M, oh my! I’m a good country girl from a good family. I don’t read that smut. (Yes, I’m laughing as I write this.) But it’s true. Madi introduced me to the world of very erotic romance with a fetish twist. I’d dabbled a bit in writing erotic romance before I read her first BDSM triad book, but she got me hooked on the wilder stuff.

Five years later, 17 co-authored published books later, and here we are at Carina Press, as excited about the release of Falke’s Peak as we were our very first book.

I must admit it’s light on the BDSM, but it’s big on hot, triad sex. Two brothers, shape shifters of the catamount (cougar) variety, and one woman who comes to love them both. *sigh*

Here’s the blurb….

She couldn’t believe her eyes.
Stressed out ad-exec Dakota wandered into Catamount Outfitters in search of a guide for a wilderness excursion. She didn’t expect to be greeted by not one, but five of the most ruggedly delicious looking men she’d ever seen. Not to mention a live cougar guarding the shop.
The Falke brothers have more than just good looks in their genes.
Eldest brother Axel agrees to guide Dakota on her mountain trek. In cougar form, Axel’s twin, Gunnar, was there as a protection from predators – but he had his eye on the sexy client instead.
Into the wild…
While the rule with clients was “paws-off”, both Axel and Gunnar couldn’t resist Dakota’s seductive Native American beauty and determination. As cold days lead to hot nights in the cabin, Axel and Gunnar wondered if they finally found a woman strong enough to tame them….

You can purchase the book here: Carina Press

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