The Coast Guard

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By Sharon Calvin, author of A DANGEROUS LEAP

GH_Coral_2My life-experiences include hitchhiking from Philadelphia to Kansas City with another girl and a dog, working in an Oregon saw mill, being a telephone exchange repairman (until I failed pole climbing), I fired a Thompson submachine gun (Tommy Gun) at the FBI firing range, won second place in an off-road hill climb in my Jeep CJ-5, and got to try flying a four-passenger helicopter.

Sharon CalvinTrading Kansas tornadoes for hurricanes, I now live on an island in Florida with my husband and a Maine Coon cat with attitude. Feel free to connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

The idea for my Gulf Coast Rescue series began back in the nineties after reading Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm. I was living in Kansas, had little to no experience around large bodies of water (spring break in North Miami Beach notwithstanding) and was in awe of what the men and women who made a living on the water faced during that 100-year storm.

As I read about the U.S. Coast Guard, especially the rescue swimmer, I became hooked. I had to learn more about these men, and the few hearty women, who regularly faced unimaginable weather conditions to save lives.

I read a number of books about what the U.S. Coast Guard does, including one that detailed the first woman to qualify as a rescue swimmer. In fact I named my character from A Dangerous Leap in honor of Kelly Mogk. Then I had an opportunity to move to Florida and my neighbor was an ex-coastie hoist operator (yes, he was the inspiration for Joe—but without the bad attitude). Now I knew I had to write that book!

A few things that make the Coast Guard unique is they rescue mostly civilians, making their job much more difficult than say an Air Force pararescue or PJ (the 920th Rescue Wing is located at nearby Patrick Air Force base) who generally rescue fellow military personnel. What that means for the Coastie rescue swimmer is that the survivor could be out of shape, panicked, and less likely to follow directions. There is less specialization, more personnel have multiple jobs, and the bulk of their work is in Search and Rescue. All of those factors make for great characters, unique situations, and lots of diverse plots—a writer’s trifecta!

So, would you be willing to jump out of a helicopter in twenty-foot waves?

{395657B4-7502-420A-A08F-A5CED6B86786}Img100Book one of Gulf Coast Rescue

Raised by navy parents, Kelly Bishop learned how to pack light and say goodbye at an early age. She’s earned her Coast Guard rescue swimmer stripes in some of the toughest waters out there, outperforming men along the way. Now she’s ready for a new start in Florida, eager to prove herself as the best of the best.

What she isn’t ready for is the spark between her and fellow Coastie Ian Razzamenti.

Ian knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. And what he’s always wanted is a stay-at-home wife—someone who can take care of their children while he’s out on missions. The attraction he feels for Kelly is intense, but is it worth giving up his big-family dreams?

Life-or-death situations leave little time for distraction—or doubt. When a tropical storm becomes a hurricane and a dangerous enemy reveals himself, their air station springs into action, and Kelly and Ian may not have the chance to decide whether they want to take the leap…

71,000 words
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For the Love of Technology

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By Caroline Kimberly, author of AN INCONVENIENT MISTRESS 

One of the ongoing battles I face as a parent is ensuring my girls strike a healthy balance of screen time with more productive pursuits—like playing outside, reading books, and learning how to interact as human beings. At nine and fourteen, they possess an array of phones, tablets, and games, along with an understanding of technology that I’ll never have. My husband and I have done this to ourselves by providing these items, and although we impose limits, it’s hard not to roll our eyes when we find ourselves talking to the “tech zombies.”

I know. The fact that I spend my time staring at my computer screen writing makes me a hypocrite. But I’d argue that I’m actually using my brain.  I’m developing characters and plots, creating and solving problems, and helping couples find their happily-ever-after. I’m actively engaged, not staring at a screen in a coma-like stupor.

And yet….

I confess. Sometimes inspiration happens when I’m plugged in.

For me, a good movie (or a bad one) can be the catalyst that helps flesh out a character, solve a plot problem, or give me a much needed change in perspective—much like my favorite authors do.

For example, in my latest book, An Inconvenient Mistress, I wanted the hero, Phillip, to be a privateer. Problem was, he’d grown up as an aristocrat. Why would a gentleman leave his pampered life to go to sea? How could I make an outlaw likeable, while at the same time make him as mercenary as he needed to be for the plot twists?  His brothers, Simon and Ethan, had been easy to develop. Phillip, on the other hand, remained a challenge.

I’d turned the character over in my mind, yet no matter how hard I tried, I struggled. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a darkened theater, munching popcorn, that I found my answer. Phillip was a charming opportunist who’d always spin a situation to his advantage, while maintaining his own moral code. He was the type of hero who’d do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Sure, he’s brash and stubborn and arrogant, but he’s also charming and loyal and principled…in his own way.

The movie had nothing to do with romance or privateers. (I don’t even remember if I liked it.) I think zoning out for an hour simply allowed my brain to take a much needed break.

So, as much as I hate to admit it, I see the lure of occasionally plugging in. It can be…liberating.

Of course, my kids will never know. In fact, I’m turning off our wi-fi this afternoon so my tech zombies will go outside to play.

About the Author

Caroline Kimberly has spent most of her life making up stories to help offset the daily grind. Historical romance has always been her favorite genre, and brainstorming romantic romps makes life as a soccer mom much more interesting.

She lives in Minnesota with her patient husband, two busy daughters, and three lazy cats.

An Inconvenient Mistress

23565760Isabella North needs a hero, but if an arrogant mercenary is all she can find…he’ll just have to do. She must get back to England before her past catches up with her, even if that means booking passage on a vessel captained by a man she cannot abide.

Phillip Ashford, notorious smuggler and captain of the privateer Intrepid, knows Miss North is trouble. She’s stubborn for starters, and it’s painfully clear that she’s conning him—she looks more like a schoolmarm than the rich man’s mistress she claims to be. But beneath her prim exterior is a sharp with and courageous spirit that draws him in despite himself.

They both know they should keep their distance. But passion flares as they defend themselves on the high seas—until Phillip begins asking questions Isabella would rather not answer. After all, how much can she really share with a man she’ll never trust?

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Writing What You Know—and Don’t…

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By Katherine Locke, author of SECOND POSITION

People are always shocked that I don’t dance when Second Position, my debut novel, is all about ballet dancers. ‘Aren’t you supposed to write what you know?’ I’m frequently asked.

Well, yes. You should definitely write what you know. And prior to writing Second Position, I didn’t know Odette from Odile (spoiler alert for the White Swan/Black Swan Princesses in Swan Lake). But I did know a little bit about the shape of grief, falling in love with best friends, and recovering from mental illness. And all of those pieces came together in the book.

But the best part of writing a dance book when I myself am not a dancer? The research. I gained so much respect for dancers as both athletes and artists. They push their bodies to the max, every single day, and they retain an immeasurable curiosity for the way our bodies and music can say things words cannot. Also, the research was visually appealing, no matter which way you swing. Dancers are gorgeous. I’ve never had so much fun on Pinterest!

Beyond just looking at pictures of gorgeous dancers, I watched documentaries like First Position, Ballerina, and the wonderful AOL Originals series on youtube city.ballet about the New York City Ballet. I also interviewed former and current ballet dancers at all levels, watched classes, and lurked in the ballet communities online, including Tumblr and Facebook.

All the while, I wanted to make sure that Second Position was accessible to the non-dancer. While I hope dancers enjoy the book, I also hope that even if you’ve never seen a ballet, you like and enjoy the book. Dance is about telling a story and all dancers will tell you that the audience is not just witnessing the story, they are also a part of it.

And so is the reader when they read the book. The book itself without a reader is just a bunch of data floating around. With a reader, a book takes on a life and with each reader, its life and its telling is slightly different.

Some readers might relate to different plot points than others, for instance. In the book, Zed is no longer dancing and he needed to find something else he loved as much as he loved ballet and Aly. What new hobbies, sports, or adventures have you started ‘later in life’?

Happy reading!

Katherine Locke lives and writes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. Her dayjobs always vary, but in the past she’s worked in nuclear weapons abolition activism, lead poisoning prevention and education, and food safety programs at a mushroom farm. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, and when she’s not reading, she’s tweeting about reading and writing. She secretly believes most books are fairytales in disguise. Her debut novel, SECOND POSITION, arrives in April 2015 from Carina Press.

You can find her online at @bibliogato on Twitter and KatherineLockeBooks.com

9781426899706Four years ago, a car accident ended Zedekiah Harrow’s ballet career and sent Philadelphia Ballet principal dancer Alyona Miller spinning toward the breakdown that suspended her own. What they lost on the side of the road that day can never be replaced, and grief is always harshest under a spotlight.

Now twenty-three, Zed teaches music and theatre at a private school in Washington, D.C. and regularly attends AA meetings to keep the pain at bay. Aly has returned to D.C. to live with her mother while trying to recover from the mental and physical breakdown that forced her to take a leave of absence from the ballet world, and her adoring fans.

When Zed and Aly run into each other in a coffee shop, it’s as if no time has passed at all. But without the buffer and escape of dance—and with so much lust, anger and heartbreak hanging between them—their renewed connection will either allow them to build the together they never had…or destroy the fragile recoveries they’ve only started to make.

Book One of the District Ballet Company

71,000 words
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Native Tongues

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By Daryl Anderson, author of DEATH AT CHINA ROSE

Daryl AndersonSeveral years ago my husband and I were driving in my hometown of Baltimore, searching for a cross street.

“You just passed our turn!” I said, a little too gleefully. Like most husbands, mine fancied himself an expert navigator, so naturally I enjoyed pointing out the occasional wrong turn.

“No,” he said calmly, “that was Belair Road.” My husband pronounced the street name as most people would—Bel-air, with two syllables. “You said we’re looking for Blare Road.”

My glee vanished. “No, that was the road.”

“But—”

“Just turn around,” I said, sinking into my seat.

You see, we native Baltimoreans tended to shorten words whenever possible. I’d simply pronounced the name of Belair Road as I had all my life—Blare.

Well, if accents are troublesome in real life, they’re even more problematic in fiction.

In my latest novel Death at China Rose, PI Addie Gorsky connects with her friend and fellow Baltimorean Thelma Sky. As readers of Murder in Mystic Cove know, Thelma is an authentic Baltimore hon, with a beehive hairdo that the Florida humidity can’t touch and a Bawlmer accent thicker than a cheesecake from Hoehn’s Bakery in Highlandtown.

I love the sound of my native tongue, but if I replicated Thelma’s open-voweled intonations phonetically, the result would have been downright confusing, if not unintelligible. Just check out the short list of Baltimorease—all of which might have come out of Thelma’s mouth—and you’ll see what I mean.

Jeet?—a polite inquiry, as in Jeet enuf?

Zink—where you warsh the dinner dishes

Aspern—what you take for a headache, usually after drinking too much Natty Boh

Baffroom—where you find the tawlit and the baffroom zink

Kilt—a murderous act, as in He got kilt!

Po-leese—a police officer

Pleese—plural for above

Tarred—extreme fatigue, as in I’m really tarred.

Woorder—what you drink when you’re thirsty

Aigs—what you eat for breffist, often with a glass of arn juice from the Sunshine State.

Merlin—the state where you find Bawlmer.

It can be a tricky business, but the myriad beauty of regional speech is worth communicating—whether it’s the syrupy drawl of the South, the lilt of the West Indies, or the nasal tones of working-class Baltimore. But rather than strive for perfect mimicry, a smart writer suggests the different speech patterns, sprinkling non-standard English into the dialogue with care.

Now that you know a little bit about my native tongue, I’d like to know about yours. Are there any phrases or pronunciations that are peculiar to your city or state?

After all, dialect is one of the more delightful differences that people share—don’t you think?

9781426899874-COV

In this swamp of double-dealing, almost everyone has an agenda.

When Harry Pitts—owner of the rundown China Rose Fish Camp–is beaten to death in his home, the bloody scene suggests a frenzied, random act of violence. But PI Addie Gorsky believes the crime is connected to another case—the disappearance of Harry’s daughter, eleven years ago.

All murders begin in the past, but Addie soon realizes that this case is rooted in old Florida, back in the time of wily pirates and proud conquistadors, and the trove of treasure that legend claims is buried in this backwater.

Addie dives headfirst into the wild heart of China Rose, surrounded by grinning gators, killer bees and gaping cottonmouths. But these predators pale in comparison to the cunning two-legged killer Addie is hunting…and who soon begins hunting her.

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Daryl Anderson is a USA Today bestselling mystery author of the Sunshine State Murders, a series of mysteries set in north Florida and featuring resourceful PI Addie Gorsky. Daryl lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and three dogs. When not plotting homicide, she enjoys gardening, vegetarian cooking, and cycling. Connect with Daryl at her website, Facebook, Blog, and Goodreads.

Victory Doesn’t Come Easy

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By Angela Highland, author of VICTORY OF THE HAWK

There’s a lot of what gets called grimdark in the fantasy genre these days—gloomy, dystopian-type stories. If you’ve read my work, you probably know by now that I don’t write that. Real life has enough dark and depressing aspects about it that I want to avoid excessive grimness in my fiction, both in what I read and what I write.

And indeed, the very title of the third book of my Rebels of Adalonia trilogy, Victory of the Hawk, carries in it an implicit optimism. Victory, after all, is right there in the title. The reader can rightfully expect that the Hawk of the title—in this case, my character Kestar Vaarsen—will be achieving some kind of victory. But since this is in fact a fantasy trilogy, you can also expect that he’s going to have to work very, very hard to win it.

By book three of this story, Kestar will already have had his position in Adalonian society upended. He’s exiled from his rightful estate, disgraced in the eyes of his holy order, and on the run from his own Church. But I’m not done with overturning his world. In Victory, Kes will find the very tenets of his religious beliefs challenged, as well as the nature of his own existence. How he and the rest of the main characters ultimately win the day and what it will cost them… well. I’ll leave that to you, readers, to discover if you choose to read my book.

If you are new to the Rebels of Adalonia series, do go back and pick up book 1, Valor of the Healer, and book 2, Vengeance of the Hunter, so that you can get caught up on the story arc for Faanshi, Julian and Kestar. My healer has proven her valor. My hunter has sought his vengeance. Now in book 3, my Hawk will gain his victory, and in so doing, shake the realm of Adalonia to its very core.

What hard-won victories in fiction have been most meaningful to you as a reader? I’ll need to go with Tolkien, both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as well as the first four Elfquest graphic novels. Tell me about your favorites in the comments and I will choose a randomly selected winner to receive the entire Rebels of Adalonia trilogy!

9781426899690-COVAs war rages across Adalonia, their only hope is a sword named Moonshadow, the weapon that first saved the elves from the Anreulag.

Julian

Julian yearns to confess his love to Faanshi, the elven healer who captivated him since their first chance encounter. Though he fears she and Kestar share a deep connection, he must thrust such worry aside as danger descends upon them and their uneasy elven allies…

Faanshi

Faanshi’s connection to Kestar is inexplicable, born of her magic and their shared elven blood. She knows his every thought and desire, but her heart lies with Julian. She’ll have to find a way to tell him soon, even in the midst of rebellion…

Kestar

Though he knows not why—only that it involves his own recently discovered elven heritage—Kestar has risked the lives of everyone around him. For the Anreulag, the Voice of the Gods, has been freed of Her magical prison and will kill all in Her path until he is found.

Book three of Rebels of Adalonia

95,000 words

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks |Kobo

If you’d like to know more about Angela’s work, come say hi to her at angelahighland.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter!

A Giveaway and a Trial … Science Fiction Style!

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By Timothy S. Johnston, author of THE VOID and T.D. Wilson, author of THE EPHERIUM CHRONICLES: ECHOES

Today on the Carina Press blog we feature two Science Fiction authors: T.D. Wilson (The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes) and Timothy S. Johnston (The Void). To reveal a bit about each book, they have decided to put a central character “on trial.” Readers are encouraged to ask their own questions below, and Captain James Hood and Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner will try their best to answer!

Want to win a copy of The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes or The Void? Comment on this post with the book you want to read and your preferred format (.EPUB, .MOBI, .PDF). Two copies of each book are up for grabs. The contest ends on Sunday, April 12th at midnight. If you win, you’ll be notified via email.

And now … on to the trial!

Character on Trial: The Void’s Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner

9781426899645-COV

“MY NAME IS Lieutenant Kyle Tanner. I hunt killers for a living.”

As I said it the person sitting across from me snorted. Disbelief flashed across his features. His face was angular, his eyes dark pits. There were deep lines in his forehead. “But you are a killer,” he growled. “Why look any farther than the nearest mirror?”

It was a common attitude; I’d faced it all my professional life. But because I worked for a military dictatorship, and there was little freedom in this society of 2403 AD, I’d had to endure civilian scorn on a daily basis. It was numbing.

“Look,” I sighed, glancing around. The room we were in was dark, the only illumination a spotlight directly above my chair. It was blinding. Where the hell am I right now? “I know the CCF is difficult at times. But—”

“They are killers! They arrest people for expressing their beliefs. You call that—that—difficult?”

It was hard to argue the point; he was absolutely correct. “I catch murderers,” I mumbled. “Not innocent people.”

“You execute anyone you want!”

I sat up straighter. “Not true. I sift through the evidence and punish the guilty.”

My inquisitor shook his head. His look was one of pure derision. “The CCF kills people they deem dissidents. They destroy families. They torture and murder to maintain control. Every dictatorship does that.”

I studied him in silence for a long minute. His assessment was spot on, however not every CCF officer did those things. I hunted killers and gave families closure. I wielded incredible powers to question and detain and arrest without due process, but I didn’t abuse that power. Instead I used it to heal those in pain. To capture psychopaths. “There are those in the military who enforce the dictatorship, without question. But I am not one.” I looked down and considered my next words. My voice was a rasp. “I don’t agree with the society we live in…but I…I manage.”

His voice softened. “You seem conflicted.”

It was hard to admit, because in the real world such a thing could get me killed. But here, in this place answering these questions, I was isolated and alone.

And safe.

“I am.”

“But why do you work for them?” he asked.

“It’s my life. But—”

“Yes?” the inquisitor prodded.

“I won’t work for them forever.”

He frowned. “What do you mean? How long have you been a Homicide Investigator?”

“I’ve traveled the solar system catching killers for fourteen years now.”

“But you are thinking of leaving?”

I fixed my eyes on his cold, dark pupils. “My girlfriend and I are talking about it.”

For the first time, he seemed lost for words. His eyes had widened. “But then you’ll be hunted, won’t you? You’re an officer in the military. If you run, they’ll kill you.”

I hesitated. To verbalize these thoughts was the hardest thing I’d had to do. I’d lived in this society my entire life. You never questioned it, and you definitely didn’t try to escape. “I can’t handle this existence anymore. It’s a chance we’ll have to take. And to answer your question, yes, if we run, they’ll try to kill us.”

He paused and stared at me for long heartbeats. “Good luck to you then. I hope you can escape this life.”

If I survive this last mission, I wanted to say. Then I’d decide what to do.

Do you have a question for Inspector Kyle Tanner? Are you curious what it’s like to live in a repressive society with little freedom? Why he’s done it for so long? Why he chooses to interact with psychotic killers? Or, how finding the love of his life changed his outlook on society? Ask below, and Lieutenant Kyle Tanner will be happy to answer.

Thanks for spending time with Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner today.

Character on Trial:  The Epherium Chronicles: Echoes’ Captain James Hood

CARINA_0315_9781426899201_TheEpheriumChronicles (2)“MY NAME IS James Hood, Captain, EDF Armstrong.

I regarded the man sitting across the table from me in the cramped office aboard the Armstrong. He was young, not more than twenty-five, but he had a level of seriousness that went far beyond his age. It was the same for all of the EDF’s investigators.

“Well Captain,” he began while reading the displayed information on his data pad, “you’ve had a rather full and decorated career. Your list of accolades goes on and on.” He focused his dark brown eyes on my face.  “I guess we’re going to have to add conspiring with the enemy to that list.” The EDF had a standard protocol to conduct a follow up with an investigator after a major engagement. The idea was to present a new perspective to commanders in the field, but a small percentage of them turned the process into a witch hunt.  This guy was one of them.

“Excuse me?” I challenged, but my kept my temper under control. What the investigator had insinuated was treason plain and simple. He wanted to provoke me and I wasn’t biting. “You’ve obviously read my report from the battle. What gives you the impression I would ever do anything to comprise my ship, the lives of the colonists or my crew?”

“It’s simple. Upon discovery of the Cilik’ti…Kree was its name I believe, you chose not bring in more seasoned personnel to conduct a proper interrogation. Instead, you had an inexperience junior officer take the lead with help from one of the colonists, who may have already been compromised by behavioural modification during her time in the Embrace sleeper chambers aboard the Magellan.

He leaned forward onto the table. “A proper interrogation could have gained the knowledge that an imminent attack was coming against the colony and the EDF could’ve been better prepared. In short, you let that thing play you, Captain. Now, after the dust has settled, you’ve taken the lead to develop a diplomatic exchange with the alien and his “rogue” Cilik’ti friends.  A role that clearly doesn’t fit you. Tell me where I’m wrong?”

I snarled at first, but drew it back. I could see from a high level where he might find that a believable scenario, but his conclusions were based on the lack of details. Fortunately for me, I had them. “First of all, I find your charge of conspiracy and treason ludicrous. I have the full trust of Admiral Grant and Admiral Tramp. Both have agreed with every action I have made since I took command of this ship.”

The man just stared at me. I decided to take it a step further and leaned toward him. “As for you incompetence charge with handling Kree’s interrogation, let me dissect your overall assessment. First, we’ve never had a Cilik’ti held captive for interrogation before. Any of them captured during the war just expired without warning, like turning off a switch. Based on all our intelligence and the research of my junior officer, Lieutenant Wells, the Cilik’ti use telepathic communication. We knew that Kree was in contact with his people the entire time. Any harsh act of coercion to force him into revealing military secrets would have resulted in his quick death, quite possibly followed by ours at the colony. Second, Kree is a worker among the Cilik’ti, not a soldier. He was sent there to study and managed to provide a way for humans to communicate with his species.”

I leaned back into my chair. “Kree and the N’lan are not rogues.  The Cilik’ti are far more complicated than we ever realized, and the N’lan hold a critical place of power amongst their people. Frankly, without their help, I wouldn’t be sitting across this table talking to you right now.”

The man frowned. “I wonder about that too, Captain.  Perhaps your actions are justified, but I fear for our future. Another war could be disastrous for us all.”

I snorted. “For once we agree. But I think you need to spend more time investigating who is behind the theft of Epherium’s data on the colonists. The stealth frigate that attacked us in that asteroid field and left with an agent that was planted in my crew is still out there. That’s the real threat.”

The man closed the cover on his data pad and stood. “Thank you for time, Captain. I think you’ve provided me with valuable insight for my investigation. I’ll contact you if I have any more questions.”

Do you have a question for Captain James Hood?  Are you curious about what he feels about his crew?  What does he think of his new alien “friends”?  What does think about Epherium and their use of sleeper chambers to reprogram criminals into colonists?  Ask below, and Captain Hood will be happy to answer.

Thanks for spending time with Captain James Hood today.

The Best Book Boyfriends

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By Sybil Bartel, author of IMPOSSIBLE PROMISE

I would love to think I am sly and cunning about hiding my book boyfriend addiction, but in reality, I might like to swoon, a lot. Okay, more than a lot. Confession time—I LOVE book boyfriends! They’re perfect. But have you ever asked yourself who makes the best book boyfriend?

I would be lying if I said it was one single, earth shattering, time stopping, perfect, single character. Because, let’s be honest, there are so many to choose from, I couldn’t possibly pick just one! But there are elements, ingredients if you will, that make the perfect combination.

I like my book boyfriends to be alpha, so alpha they make your knees shake. And tall, and strong and swoon worthy gorgeous, but in a rugged way, an alpha way. Do you know the type? Presence in spades, dominant, and so consuming, he makes you forget all other men?

That’s Blaze.

He’s a six-foot-four Force Recon Marine. His stare is penetrating. He’s cunning and ruthless. He’s fiercely protective. He lives by a code of honor, and he loves hard. Oh, does he love hard. Everything about Blaze makes my knees shake, even the flaws—because of the flaws. Because that’s the secret ingredient to a perfect book boyfriend—the flaws. Rough when you wanted sweet, guarded when you wanted vulnerable, distant when you wanted more. It’s all about making you want more—those perfect imperfections that keep you turning the page.

Impossible Promise wasn’t an easy book to write. Sometimes it made me sad, sometimes I was so frustrated I had to walk away, but in the end it was Blaze’s flaws that made me fall in love with him. And ooh, would I love to tell you what they are, but I don’t want to spoil it for you! However, I will say this: I love my book boyfriend to be everything swoon-worthy. I want him to be the best alpha I’ve ever read. I want my heart to race as I turn the pages. And I want a vulnerability I can wrap my arms around.

So, the best book boyfriend? I know he’s out there. I’m giddy with excitement at just the thought of discovering him. It makes me believe in hope every time I read those first two tantalizing words, the ones that have me quivering in anticipation. Chapter One. Those two words get me every single time, because maybe, just maybe, they’ll lead me to my ultimate quest. I know the best book boyfriend is out there—I’ve met him a hundred times over. And I can’t wait to meet him again. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Impossible Promise. I hope Blaze becomes one of your book boyfriends!

XOXO – Sybil

9781426899676-COVThree years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.

Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior façade is a man on the verge of breaking.

Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.

Book one of two

93,000 words

Impossible Promise is available now!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

To find out more about Sybil Bartel, be sure to follow her on Twitter (she loves to hear about your favorite book boyfriend!), like her on Facebook, and visit her website.

Feeling Conflicted?

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By Julianna Keyes, author of TIME SERVED

When it comes to writing, the question I’m most asked is where I get my ideas. Normally the answer is something entirely vague and unhelpful like, “I don’t know, I just thought of it,” but I actually remember the moment I was inspired to write Time Served. It started with Dean.

Dean (not his real name) was a guy on a fairly serious reality show, and the man had issues. Major issues. But he was so hot. Stop-channel-surfing-and-actually-watch-this hot. However, as the show went on and more of his misdeeds were revealed, the more the alarmed wheels in my brain began to turn. I kept thinking how if I’d bumped into this man in the street, I’d be very attracted him. But if I knew about his baggage (and this guy would sink like a stone), I’d run screaming. So then I asked myself, Well, who could love this man? (And no, the answer isn’t “Someone less judgemental, you horrible shrew!”)

I decided the heroine had to be someone who had known Dean before he accumulated all his troublesome baggage (and I took the liberty of unburdening fake Dean of many of real Dean’s issues). I made them childhood sweethearts whose unfinished business formed the basis for their new, steamy-but-contentious relationship. And then I named her Rachel, because that’s what popped into my head.

I like opposites attract stories, and because Dean had gone down a bad road, I sent Rachel down a very good one, giving them (and me) lots of room to navigate, bump through a few potholes, and eventually meet somewhere in the middle. Then, because I didn’t want things to be completely uneven, I decided that Dean couldn’t be the only bad guy in the story, and I gave Rachel some issues of her own.

I like lots of conflict in my stories; I enjoy the fighting just as much as the making up. Sometimes more. Given Rachel and Dean’s tumultuous history, I knew they had a very long road ahead of them. This isn’t the story of two people who never got over each other. It’s the story of two people who were in love, then weren’t, then didn’t want to be, and really shouldn’t be. It’s meeting a sexy stranger and knowing he’s trouble, then agreeing to meet him again anyway.

That’s my favourite kind of story. The one that makes sensible shrews people run screaming, but keeps the bold ones rooted in place, desperate to see what happens next. It’s the book you inhale obsessively, hurl across the room six times, scoop up, apologize to, and re-read until the pages fall out (or your e-reader dies).

Which book have you re-read the most? My go-to is Sandra Brown’s Slow Heat in Heaven. It was my first foray into romance reading, and its prickly hero and prim-but-ballsy heroine set the bar for all who came after.

9781426899621-COVDean Barclay had nothing to do with my decision to flee my old life, but he is 100 percent of the reason I vowed to never look back.

I’ve never forgotten how it felt to follow Dean—dangerous, daring, determined—away from the crowd and climb into his beat-up old Trans Am. I was sixteen and gloriously alive for the first time. When I felt his hand cover my leg and move upward, it was over. I was his. Forever.

Until I left. Him, my mom, and the trailer park. Without so much as a goodbye.

Now Dean’s back, crashing uninvited into my carefully cultivated, neat little lawyerly life. Eight years behind bars have turned him rougher and bigger—and more sexually demanding than any man I’ve ever met. I can’t deny him anything…and that just might end up costing me everything.

101,800 words
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Julianna Keyes is a Canadian writer who has lived on both coasts and several places in between. She’s been skydiving, bungee jumping and white water rafting, but nothing thrills—or terrifies—her as much as the blank page. She loves Chinese food, foreign languages, baseball and television, though not necessarily in that order. In addition to Time Served, she is the author of two contemporary romances: Just Once, the story of a world weary socialite and a stubborn ranch foreman, and Going the Distance, a love story set in China between a kindergarten ESL teacher and a former army interrogator. She writes sizzling stories with strong characters, plenty of conflict, and lots of making up.

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A New Beginning In Familiar Places

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By A.M. Arthur, author of GETTING IT RIGHT

 

One of the questions I get asked very frequently by my readers is a variation on “Will there be another Belonging book?” I love so much that readers have fallen for the Belonging boys and want to see more of them, so I hate to say no. Belonging, for me, was always meant to be a trilogy. It was a journey of young men finding themselves in the world, and finding love along the way, and I’m so proud of No Such Thing, Maybe This Time and Stand By You. Those characters will always be dear to my heart.

When it came time to choose my next project for Carina, I knew I wanted to stay in Wilmington. I love Pot O Gold, and I still want a chance to get back to Half Dozen for a visit. And I’ve had a few readers quite boldly ask for Tag’s story. He made quite the impression during his few scenes in Maybe This Time and  Stand By You. He was also a decade older than the Belonging characters, and at the time, I didn’t know anything about his friends. So I knew this had to be a new series.

Thus the Restoration Trilogy was born and kicks off this month with Getting It Right, which tells the story of James “Tag” McTaggert and Nathan Wolf. The heroes in this trilogy are a bit older, more established in life, but they’re also a little bit broken. It up to the love of a good man to help restore what’s been lost to them, and I really hope readers enjoy meeting this brand new cast of characters.

I know I sure did.

9781426899577-COVDetective Nathan Wolf might just be a junior detective, but he tackles every case with the passion that he lacks in his personal life. A series of failed relationships with women has left him still single at thirty-four—because he’s too scared to admit to his longtime crush on his best friend James.

Dr. James Taggert likes to keep his profession as a psychiatrist separate from his party-animal persona. Known around the gay clubs as “Tag”, he’s the guy who screws them, leaves them, and never looks back. But James’s drinking is getting heavier, and when bad memories from the past resurface, he’s close to becoming the worst version of himself.

After a drunken blackout ends in a hot and heavy make-out session with his very straight best friend, James has no memory of the steamy affair. But Nathan isn’t sorry for the kisses that James can’t remember. Nathan finally musters the courage to tell James how he really feels, but a life-altering event might force them apart before they can ever be together.

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Men in Black (Suits)

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By Kate Willoughby, author of OUT OF THE GAME

The National Hockey League has this crazy, wonderful thing written into the contract where, on game days, the players must wear suits to and from the game. Not warm-ups. Not cargo shorts. Not jeans.

Full on sexy, tailored suits.

Isn’t that awesome? As a female hockey fan, I give this rule a big thumbs up, especially when I’m looking at players like Toronto Maple Leaf Joffrey Lupul…Or Jordie Benn of the Dallas Stars.




I often imagine what’s underneath the suits. Even more often, I imagine what goes on in an NHL player’s head and heart. On the outside, they’re fierce, confident competitors, but inside, I think they’re regular guys, vulnerable and wanting to find love just like everyone else.

Take Alex Sullivan of my fictional team, the San Diego Barracudas, for instance. In my first two hockey romances, On the Surface and Across the Line, Alex comes off as cocky and wry. He’s worked hard on his reputation as a ladies’ man, but lately, he’s been watching his teammates fall in love and they look so damn happy, it makes him wonder if there’s a perfect woman out there for him too. (Spoiler: There is.)

If you’d like to see a devil-may-care Cassanova figure out that there are more important things in life than hockey, beer and easy sex, try Out of the Game. If you’d like to see more hockey players in suits, check out The Boys In Suits Pinterest board.

In the meantime, what do you prefer your book boyfriend to wear? A stylin’ suit or worn-in jeans?

9781426899720-COV

Book three of In the Zone

Alex Sullivan may be the San Diego Barracudas’ resident playboy, but he hasn’t been able to forget the woman who kissed him like her life depended on it ten months ago. When he sees her again at a teammate’s wedding, he can’t think of anything but spending more time with her. Preferably naked.

Claire Marzano lost years catering to an overbearing husband, and she’s not going to answer to anyone ever again. A hot fling is just what she needs to get back in the game, and that’s exactly what sexy Alex offers–one wild long weekend away, with no promises or obligations.

But that one weekend changes everything. Despite knowing full well Alex isn’t the kind to ever commit, Claire is falling for him. And Alex secretly imagines a future with his strong, smart “accidental girlfriend.” Until a surprise announcement and an on-ice accident threaten to derail everything…or cause Alex to finally ditch his old ways and become the man Claire needs him to be.

Don’t miss On the Surface and Across the Line, available now!

Get your copy of OUT OF THE GAME from Carina Press or your favorite online retailer:
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Kate Willoughby happily writes her hockey romances in Southern California. She is married and has two sons, a dog, and a betta fish. When she’s not writing, she’s watching hockey. When it’s not hockey season, she whines a lot.

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