Carina Press Best Sports Moments

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What does romance have in common with raucous fans, heart-thumping action and wickedly skilled athletes? Read on, as six Carina sports authors share with you their favorite sports highlights of 2014 and how moments like these inspire them to write within this popular genre.


Michele Mannon, author of Out For The Count

MMA isn’t just a man’s sport. Case in point is the upcoming UFC 182 fight between Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano for the bantamweight title. Ladies by day and warriors in the Octagon cage, both women have earned reputations for being skilled fighters, particularly Rousey, who is known to defeat her opponents in the first round with her signature armbar submission. I love the way MMA has evolved into an equal rights sport, how female fighters are respected and, as with this fight—in which they are the featured headliner—how their popularity has grown. Fighters who were the inspiration for pretty, all-American kick ass fighter, Huntley Rey Wittaker, the heroine in my new release, Out For The Count.

Don’t miss Knock Out and Tap Out, available now!

Get OUT FOR THE COUNT at Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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Connect with Michele!
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Rhonda Shaw, author of the Men of the Show baseball series

With so many best sports moments of 2014, I had a hard time picking, but I kept coming back to one—the emergence of J.D. Martinez.  Yep, I’m sure most of you thought, “Uh…who?” (unless you’re an avid Detroit Tigers fan like myself), but the story of J.D. Martinez is pretty awesome.

At the start of the year, J.D. was with the Houston Astros.  He’d been struggling and worked on changing his swing over the winter.  The results were starting to show, but the Astros had too many prospects in their ranks so they cut him.  Now, I’m not a professional athlete but I would imagine being released would feel the same as when an employer terminates an employee unexpectedly.  It hurts and stings, and after getting past the anger and insult, you’d want to show them exactly what they gave up, and that’s precisely what J.D. did.

The Detroit Tigers picked him up intending to use him as a bat off the bench, but it wasn’t before long they realized there was no keeping J.D. riding the pine.  He quickly became a legitimate (and clutch) run scoring threat right behind the biggest two bats in the Detroit lineup—Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez—making the three of them an intimidating, run producing machine.

J.D. ended the 2014 season, ranked ninth of all left fielders in the major league by Buster Olney of ESPN, with 23 homers and 76 RBIs (runs batted in) in 441 at-bats.  I can’t wait to see what he does in 2015.  Thank you, Houston, for J.D.!

Here’s one of his clutch home runs for your viewing pleasure:


 

Meet the hot, sexy Men of the Show in The Changeup and The Ace!
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Rebecca Crowley, author of Love in Straight Sets

CARINA_0414_-9781426898297_LoveInStraightSetsThe Grand Slam tennis season has been over for a couple of months now, and 2014 proved to be an interesting – and transitional – year for the sport. For ages we’ve seen the domination of the elite four: Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic. While they’re all still on top, cracks are starting to show, and a new generation of players is on the rise.

Although a lot of fans would point to Wimbledon’s Djokovic/Federer final as the match of the year, I would hand that trophy to the last title match of the last Grand Slam: Cilic v. Nishikori at the US Open.

Now, you’ve obviously heard of Marin Cilic, right? What? No? That may be because Cilic is one of only three men outside of the big four to win a Grand Slam since 2005. His highest world ranking is #8 and the most remarkable note in his career was a four-month drug suspension. That changed in September, when he demolished Federer in straight sets in the semifinal, and then swept the final 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Although I love the superstars like Federer and Nadal as much as the next tennis fan, there was something special about watching the world’s #14 and #10 players battling through the final of a Grand Slam. In an individual sport like tennis you’re only as good as your last match, and 2014 proved that the big four shouldn’t get too comfortable, because there are some dynamic, unpredictable players nipping at their heels.

For a glimpse into the wild world of women’s tennis, try Love in Straight Sets!
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Kat Latham, author of the London Legends rugby series

I’m going to break the rules a little here. Instead of talking about a highlight from 2014, I’m going to tell you what I’m most looking forward to in 2015: the Rugby World Cup.

England is hosting it, though several matches will be played in Wales too. My husband and I have tickets for the two quarter finals in Cardiff, and I can’t wait!

The Rugby World Cup is a relatively recent tournament. The first one was held in 1987, and they happen every four years so this will be the seventh one. Readers of my London Legends series will know that two of my books—Knowing the Score and Playing It Close—end with England playing in the World Cup final in London. Whether they make it there in real life or not, I’m hoping for a tournament full of adrenaline rushes, amazing feats of strength and hot men with great thighs wearing short shorts!

Here’s a video showing some of the highlights from Rugby World Cups past. Enjoy!

Read about Kat’s hot rugby lads in Knowing the Score, Playing It Close, Tempting the Player and Unwrapping Her Perfect Match!

 

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Allison Parr, author of the New York Leopards football series

 

I can’t yet tell you what my favorite sports moment of 2014 is quite yet, because the Patriots are still in the running and I hope the best is yet to come! But I can say that it’s been a very exciting season, both during games and outside of them. I’ve been following all the emerging conversations this year about health, safety, and politics in the world of football, and they’ve been fascinating to listen to and learn from. While my heroine in Imaginary Lines is a writer for a completely fictional publication, I’m continually impressed by all the real sports journalists, just as I’m impressed by the players who’ve committed themselves to such a beloved game.

 

Get IMAGINARY LINES at Carina Press or your favorite online retailer: 
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Connect with Allison!
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Kate Willoughby, author of the In the Zone hockey series

On June 13, 2014, my favorite team, the Los Angeles Kings, won the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years, but my favorite moment came not when they won the game, but about fifteen minutes later.

After the NHL commissioner presents the Cup to the team captain, one by one, the players take a very emotional victory lap around the ice with the trophy held high. It’s a big honor to be the second to hoist the cup, and Dustin Brown surprised everyone by handing it to a guy who hadn’t skated for weeks—Robin Regehr.

Regehr was injured early in the Semifinals, but he stuck with the team, providing support however he could. I’m sure it killed him not to be out there competing with his teammates. Weeks later, even though Regehr had recovered, the coach decided not to risk sending in a player who might be rusty after his injury and went with a defenseman who had been performing very well. Instead of being bitter about being passed over, Regehr continued to support the team in the locker room and during warm-ups.

So my favorite sports moment of 2014 was when Dustin Brown chose to honor a veteran of 1022 games who had never touched the Cup before. (Traditionally, only players who have won the Cup can touch the Cup.) In that moment, he also showed Regehr just how important his behind the scenes presence was, demonstrating that the game of hockey is so much more than what we fans see.

Check out how Kate’s San Diego Barracudas manage to play damn good hockey while falling in love in On the Surface, Across the Line, and Out of the Game (available April 2015).
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Living Vicariously Through My Characters

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By Amylynn Bright, author of FINISH WHAT WE STARTED

One of my favorite things about being a writer is getting to live vicariously through my characters. Anything I’ve ever wanted to do, be, or possess is at my fingertips.

Take for instance my heroine in Finish What We Started.

When I was a child, anytime anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up the answer was always “a veterinarian.” By the time I was in high school I had expanded my proposed title to “a veterinarian specializing in the breeding of endangered species.” Quite a mouthful, eh?

I actually found a youth group affiliated with my local zoo and discovered a group of weird kids like myself. Let’s face it, anytime you find a group of kids with such avid narrowed focus, regardless of what it is, they’re a little bit odd.

By the time it came to apply for colleges, I had shifted my laser focus to film. To be honest, when I found out that veterinarians went to school for approximately thirty-seven years and spent nine million dollars on their education, there was less appeal. Nothing much came of my film education either, other than some scripts that should not be read by humans, but that is a different story.

So, circling back around to my original thesis…

I already knew the hero from Finish What We Started as he’d been in the first book of The Bennett Series, Cooking Up Love. The love of his life, however, was someone I’d get to create from scratch. Who should she be? Right before my eyes I built my dream career. Candace Claesson got her veterinary degree at Glasgow University in Scotland. She’s returned to her home town to join the family practice. Even though she did a lot of undergraduate work with breeding programs—specifically the Clouded Leopard Project in Thailand—she enjoys family practice and taking care of the pets people love.

Once our intrepid hero discovers the lady has come home, he invents all kinds of reasons he needs to see her and each one of them involves taking a different animal to her clinic.

That was the second way I got to live through my characters. I’ve always wanted a hedgehog, and a chinchilla, and every single puppy I’ve ever seen. The best part of my story is that, with a few exceptions, Lee is afraid of every animal he takes to see her. Of course, comedy high jinks ensue.

As you suspect, in the long run things work out for our couple and their menagerie. Sadly, I still don’t have a hedgehog, a chinchilla, or access to cuddle clouded leopards like my characters do, but here’s to positive thinking!

9781426899331-COVFive years ago, Lee Bennett’s whirlwind romance with Candace Claesson ended as abruptly as it had begun, and just when he needed her the most. Since then, Lee’s built a successful construction company and a satisfying, if solitary, life. When he’s hired to build Candace’s new veterinary clinic, Lee finds her as irresistible as ever—but he’s never forgiven her and he’s sure as hell not letting her break his heart again.

For years, Candace has wrestled with regret and guilt over leaving Lee. At the time, nothing was going to stop her from achieving her dreams of studying in Scotland and becoming a vet—not even young love. They’d been inseparable for six months, but anything that intense couldn’t last. Or so she thought.

Reunited in their hometown, neither Lee nor Candace can resist picking up where they left off. But with so much from the past standing between them, how they can rebuild what they started so long ago?

Get FINISH WHAT WE STARTED from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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Amylynn read her first romance novel in 2008 after being a lifelong literary snob. By the time she was done, she was hooked. She is an Arizona native and lives in the same house her husband owned before they were married. Amylynn fears she will never call another state home unless someone tells her husband there are forty-nine others to chose from. In reality, she’d little for a walk-in closet. Her family consists of the aforementioned husband, two beautiful children, two dogs, two cats, some fish, and a hankering for a panda. She’d like it mentioned she’s never been in prison, but we’ll see how that panda thing works out.

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A Rich Cultural History

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By Danube Adele, author of DREAMS OF A WILD HEART

I love that we’re a nation of different colors, textures, celebrations, triumphs and histories richly layered with soulful meaning. We all have an important story to tell. Large parts of our identities are braided within the many unique struggles that are part of our diverse cultural heritage, and it is that which we pass on with great care to our youngest members so they, too, can know how important they are. For this reason, the most fun, light-hearted scene in Dreams of a Wild Heart, Book 3 of the Dreamwalkers series is the one that involves a family party near the beginning of the story. It’s dear to my heart because I wrote from my own family experience.

My father is a mix of English, German and French heritage while my mother is of Mexican descent. Parties were always large when I was growing up with a mixture of languages (English/Spanish) being spoken at any given time. We were upwards of forty a time or two and surrounded by the most delicious foods. Cousins were more like siblings, aunties were special people who gave out a lot of love (there were many women in the family), and the elderly aunties and grandmas could sit back, gossip, and dole out sage advice, whether it was requested or not. This was where the inspiration for my character, Cecilia “Ceci” Bradford’s, family came from.

I wanted to honor the very special relationships the women in my family thrived on. They were close, loving, cranky, kind, snarky, clever, critical, and loyal to a fault. They were in each other’s hearts, minds and personal business, always, even if miles separated them. They were all brilliant and willing to work hard to become professional women. They supported each other through joys and hardships, good health and tragic illness. They taught us through example what it meant to be strong. These are the women I’ve portrayed as Ceci’s grandmother, mother and aunties.

In Dreams of a Wild Heart, the family is worried about Ceci because she continues to remain distanced, out of touch with her own feelings, after her lifelong best friend and lover is murdered needlessly when she is seventeen years old. Busy, busy, busy. She’s kept herself busy ever since. She’s now twenty-six, and her grandmother won’t give up on her future happiness. Of course, she meets Tabron, a hardened soldier, and knows that her life could change if she let it. There’s just something about him that makes her body burn and her heart seek the hidden tenderness she’s glimpsed behind his stony façade.

Thanks so much for taking time with me today. Thinking about my family always gives me a sense of pride in my cultural heritage. What heritage are you proud of?

 

CARINA_1214_9781426899324_DreamsOfAWildHeartDr. Cecilia—Ceci—Bradford at your service.

I dance, rock climb, and have mastered MMA, because just being a twenty-six-year-old doctor isn’t enough. It doesn’t keep me from remembering the terrifying night my life changed, the night my true love died. I was nearly seventeen.

Life goes on, but the secret I keep is that I still talk to him in my dreams. That was getting me by until Tabron showed up–or, more specifically, until the six-foot-two brute of a Viking whisked me off to another planet because his leader is dying. And the joy didn’t end there. I’m being forced to choose a mate. The Brausa are facing extinction.

Tabron has no need for a mate, himself, and he’s told me as much. Multiple times. What he does have are hands and wicked lips that stir feelings I thought lost forever. Choosing him (just to play along until I can find a way home) seems to irk him and I find this surprisingly fun. But surviving a hidden conspiracy and the dangers of this alien place might be more difficult than I could ever imagine…

Book Three of The Dreamwalkers

Available now from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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Danube AdeleDanube Adele wrote her first romance at the age of seven when she penned the story of her dogs falling in love and having puppies. She’s been dreaming up romantic tales ever since. A lifetime resident of southern California, she spends time playing at the beach, camping in Joshua Tree National Park, and hiking Mammoth Mountain. Always a lover of adventure, she and her husband took their sons on a cross country road trip to Florida and back in an old VW Westfalia, that had no A/C, in the month of July, and still, it continues to be the best trip they ever took. Extensive travel and trying new things has kept the creative spark alive. Danube lives in Claremont with her biggest fans, her loving husband, amazing and wonderful identical twin sons, and a teddy bear of a Rottweiler.

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Embracing Chaos

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By Caroline Kimberly, author of AN INCONVENIENT WIFE

“Mom!  I have a bead stuck in my nose!”

Yep.  That’s my life.  Sadly, not one but both of my daughters have woken me up with that particular statement. They’re actually intelligent kids—despite shoving jewelry up their nostrils—but they’re also both very spirited and inquisitive, which can be a blessing and a curse.

Over the years, there have been many such fiascos. Case in point: my younger daughter once asked me sweetly, “Mommy, do you ever wish we had blue carpet?”  I was vacuuming at the time and gave a distracted, “No.”  I should have been immediately suspicious because she got very quiet (a sure sign something’s brewing) and said simply, “Oh. Okay.”  You’d think I’d learn, yet it took nearly five minutes before I chased after her, realization dawning.  Sure enough, my little interior decorator had taken it upon herself to color a large corner of the living room carpet with a crayon. Sky blue.

I love my kids.  I really do. But sometimes…well, I just need to escape.  At least temporarily.

My latest romance, An Inconvenient Wife, was just such an escape.  It’s actually the first book I started writing, though it’s second in the Ashford Brothers series.  Out of the three books, however, it holds a special place in my heart. Granted, that could be because it took me longer to finish this story.  Much longer.  I spent a lot of time getting to know Kyra and Grif as I worked their adventures around naptimes, play dates, and the general mayhem that comes with children.

I think it’s more than the time spent though. This book was my happy place. It was my sanity, when screaming toddlers and girl drama and exhaustion threatened to overwhelm me.  I’d daydream about characters and storylines—spinning the plot, making up dialogue in my head, jotting down notes in the hopes that I might remember each detail.  Whenever I could carve out a chunk of time, I’d sit down and type frantically before anything slipped my memory.

As hodgepodge as the process was, I loved every minute of it.

In hindsight, it’s probably no coincidence that Kyra spends a good part of the book trying to run away.  The story was my chance to run away too—a temporary respite from the chaos of reality. I didn’t really want to flee, of course, and neither does Kyra.  Thankfully Grif was there as a reminder that home really is where the heart is.

My children are growing up—too fast if you ask me.  They’re no longer sticking beads in their noses, or coloring carpet, or squeezing lotion directly into their mouths like it’s chocolate syrup. (Yes, they did that too.)  I can devote entire days to writing now that the girls are in school.

Still, there are times I miss that hodgepodge process.  It was fun.

Who am I kidding? It was therapy.

Whatever the reason, I love this book.  I hope you enjoy it too.

9781426899317-COVAn Inconvenient Wife

The only thing worse than watching the woman he loves marry someone else would be marrying her himself…

Ethan Ashford, Earl of Griffin, swears on what little honor he has left that fetching Lady Kyra Deverill home from Scotland for her wedding is his familial duty and nothing more. Yet Grif finds the assignment all but impossible, and not just because Kyra escapes him at every turn. In truth, he’s lusted after her for most of his life.

Fleeing England after her father’s death is by far the most reckless thing Kyra has ever dared. It’s either hide in the Highlands or marry the repulsive Earl of Brumley, and she simply refuses to spend her life married to a troll. But from the enthusiastic way Grif chases—and kisses—her, it’s clear he no longer thinks of himself as simply her guardian.

Even if Grif wanted to marry Kyra—which he doesn’t—it’s quite out of the question. He is standing on the brink of financial ruin, after all. And though Kyra has quietly mooned over Grif since they were children, she’s never trusted him with anything. The rest of her life doesn’t seem to be the place to start. 

Get your copy of AN INCONVENIENT WIFE from Carina Press of your these ebook retailers:
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About the Author

Caroline Kimberly has spent most of her life reading and making up stories in her head.  It wasn’t until she was in graduate school, however, that she realized she wanted to write for a living.  Since then, she’s worked at a newspaper as a reporter and copy editor and at a children’s book publisher, where she had the chance to write a number of school library books.  While she very much enjoyed those experiences, romance writing has been her favorite genre by far.

She lives in Minnesota with her husband, their two children, and three lazy cats.  She loves to hear from readers!  Check out her website at:  www.carolinekimberly.com

A Behind the Scenes Look at an MMA Fight, Romance Writer Style

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By Michele Mannon, author of OUT FOR THE COUNT

Imagine being in a place wall to wall full of men. Muscular men. Guys with zero fat count, abs that redefine the term eight-pack and pecs so taut, so ripped, they put the gym bunnies’ bodies to shame.

And these are just the spectators.

Okay, MMA fighters attend fights. Men training in the various disciplines of mixed martial arts come to matches. Guy who think they’re tough—and look the part—follow their favorite warrior’s bouts.

And then, there’s me. Sports romance writer. Adventurous soul. Attending her first fight, Bellator 118, for research purposes.

Did I expect to see a few finely chiseled men? Um…you bet. But truthfully, I didn’t expect to be surrounded by them.

A matter of fact, the entire event was an eye-opener. Better than I’d ever imagined it to be. Different in many really cool ways.

MMA Fighters

They’re ten times hotter in person. Seriously, they’d give my heroes, including the ultimate Alpha hero, Bracken Kelly—featured in my new release, Out For The Count—a run for their money. It’s not just that they exude raw maleness. They’re intelligent. Skilled. And…sweet. Yep. Sweet.

Take UFC star and Bellator champion, welterweight Dante Rivera, who graciously took a post-fight pose with me. What struck me most about Dante—besides the fact that he’d draped an arm across my shoulder and pulled me into his side for the picture, gently but with such raw power I still get goosebumps thinking about it—is that he was such a gentleman. Kind and considerate. Yep, sweet.

So unlike my troubled, brooding, fictitious MMA warriors. Not that I don’t love a dark hero archetype.

Michele Mannon1 MicheleMannon2 MicheleMannon3

MMA Bouts

There were twelve bouts on the fight card but the event began with many other preliminary fights. Roughly six hours of fighting, with three five-minute bouts per round. Except for the big event, the last fight, which included five five-minute rounds. So many fights, so little time. And that was what was the most surprising about them. They started and ended quickly, then on to the next.

MMA Fighting

I expected blood. I’d braced myself for the sound of fighters taunting each other, a litany of filthy curse words, bones breaking. None of that happened. What I saw was mad skill. Less attacking of one’s opponent and more dodging, more defensive posturing. Sure, a guy lifted another in the air and slammed him down on his back. Yes, two fighters battled it out against the Octagon cage. But it wasn’t as brutal as I’d imagined. I’d overlooked the fact that MMA fighters are trained professionals. And, they respect each other.

MMA Fans

In KNOCK OUT and TAP OUT, my heroes found themselves fighting in blue-collared Pittsburgh arena or in down and dirty street fights. In OUT FOR THE COUNT, there’s a shady, illegal fight club being run inside an industrial warehouse. The crowd attending Bellator 118 wore polo shirts and chinos. The harshest curse I heard was “Your mama doesn’t love you anymore!” As a matter of fact, when I got a bit carried away, hollering out terminology I’d been researching for so long, like “get him in a Peruvian necktie” and “ground and pound him”, that I riled up the gentlemen sitting next to me to the point where they began shouting. That is when they weren’t laughing at my enthusiasm for actually seeing those skills I’d research put into play.

MMA Fan For Life

Would I go to another fight for fun? Absolutely. It was awesome. Beyond what I’d expected. There were a lot of females in attendance, I never felt uncomfortable, the excitement in the air was palpable, the cameras, music, announcers and general crowd enthusiasm was contagious. The fights were short and interesting. The men…uh hem, well I think I’ve said enough about them!

And, if attending a fight is not your thing, why not read about one in this excerpt from OUT FOR THE COUNT.

9781426899003-COV

As Huntley drew closer, she realized a few things at once.

He was not only big, but muscular, filling both the seat and the black leather jacket he wore, despite the warm May temperature outside. The soft leather sleeves hugged his muscles like a fitted glove. Nothing was more of a turn on than amply defined biceps, and she’d bet tonight’s tips his were the size of her thigh. The few other bikers she’d encountered in Reno had supple, rounded beer bellies—but not this one. His simple black T-shirt stretched over his taut abdomen perfectly, not a single roll of flesh evident, not even one caused by the way he sat, leaning back on the barstool with his legs spread out long before him.

No one maintained that kind of physical shape by being a barfly. She should know, with the hours she’d logged in at the gym.

His nose was crooked. Notched high up on the bone at the thinnest section on the bridge, a few inches below his eyes, interrupting an otherwise aquiline profile. Like a cool glass of water on a steamy day, she drank him in. The nose. Beard. Leather. And, as she drew closer…that scowl.

Anger radiated off him.

She hesitated. He was breathtaking, in a violent, all-male, scary kind of way.

Biting her lip, she put his drink down and pushed it forward. No way was she backing down. Get in for the punch, then back out quickly, her instincts told her. “It’s on the house,” she informed him.

He grunted, tossed a five on the table, and grabbed the glass, taking a long sip. Without saying thank you or acknowledging her at all.

Get OUT FOR THE COUNT at Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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About the author:  Michele Mannon is an avid fan of traveling, skinny cinnamon lattes, and gawking at shirtless men on television—jocks, MMA fighters, vampires, bikers alike.

With a love for different cultures and rich characters, she earned a degree in French, taught English in Japan, and worked in the NYC fashion industry. Now, she puts her experiences to pen, by creating kick ass heroines and oh-so sexy alpha males, and throwing them into the situations they’d never dreamed of being caught in.

Connect with Michele!
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The Revolution Will Be Trancehacked

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By Sonya Clark, author of FIREWALL

One of the first things I came up with when I started writing the Magic Born trilogy was the concept of trancehacking itself. In the futuristic Magic Born world where witches are segregated into urban zones, Normals assume that living in cities deprives spellcasters of a necessary connection to nature. The secret truth is that magic has evolved. More and more witches have forged a connection with the elements that make up city life. Instead of invoking fire, earth, water, and air, some of the Magic Born are able to call on neon, concrete, crowds, and cyberspace.

Trancehacking is the ability to use astral projection to enter cyberspace. In book one, Trancehack, it’s used to uncover all sorts of secrets. In book two, Witchlight, trancehacking is first seen as a means of blackmail and then a conduit to the outside world for witches restricted to their local zones. That conduit is desperately needed, too, after the way Witchlight ends. (But you’ll get no spoilers from me!)

There were a lot of things I wanted to do with book three, Firewall. One of them was a rocky reunion romance between fugitive witch Tuyet Caron and the commanding officer who loved her and let her escape, Dale Hayes. Not only do Tuyet and Hayes have to find their way back to each other after years apart, but Hayes has to decide if he’s willing to upend his life and walk away from everything he believes in to be with the woman he loves. And they have to do this in the middle of city rocked by protests.

Which leads me to the other big thing I wanted to do with Firewall – find a way to give not just this new couple but all of the Magic Born a happy ending. I created this world (in Trancehack), I broke this world (in Witchlight), and in Firewall I wanted Tuyet and Hayes, along with characters from the first two books, to save it. Trancehacking turned out to be the key to that, along with a series of riots and revolutionary new attitudes about witches. Ultimately, the Magic Born world wound up right where I wanted it to be from the very beginning. I hope readers enjoy the journey as much as I have.

 

***

9781426899300-COVFirewall

She was the only Magic Born to ever escape the Rangers. Now there’s a ten-million-dollar bounty for her return.

Trancehacker Tuyet Caron could have left New Corinth for good, but instead uses her magic and risks her life on a daily basis to help the Magic Born. She’s been careful to avoid capture, but a careless glance at a video camera brings her face to face with the Ranger who let her go.

Captain Dale Hayes let Tuyet walk away once, but he won’t make that mistake again. When faced with the ultimate choice, however, he chooses her with barely a thought. But that also means siding with the Magic Born and becoming a fugitive in the eyes of the law.

Tuyet and Dale plan to flee, but are caught in a deadly riot that kills innocent people. Outraged, the pair vows to bring an end to the Magic Laws, regardless of what that means for their own safety.

 

About Sonya Clark

Sonya Clark grew up a military brat and now lives in Tennessee with her husband and daughter. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with a heavy helping of magic and lots of music for inspiration. Learn more at www.sonyaclark.net.

Going Back to High School — A Geek’s Worst Nightmare!

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By Julie Moffett, author of NO TEST FOR THE WICKED 

Lexi Carmichael, geek girl extraordinaire, is back and she’s headed to high school. Again. Returning to high school is not something she ever wanted to do over—it was awful the first time around. So why do she have to go back as part of a new undercover assignment? Because the universe loves playing jokes on her, obviously.

She’s been ordered to go all 21 Jump Street and track down the students who are breaking into the computer system, changing grades, and causing all kinds of havoc. Although she’s not thrilled about her new gig, at least it gives her something to do other than worry over the fact that she now has a boyfriend. And no freaking idea what to get him for Christmas.

Or it did give her something else to worry about, until she stumbled across a more sinister threat. Lexi is shocked to find distinct traces of a group of international hackers inside the network. Why would dangerous cyber mercenaries be interested in a high school in the middle of Washington, D.C.? What exactly has she gotten herself into?

For those of you not familiar with the series, Lexi is a geek first-class—a gamer, hacker, book nerd and fangirl who double-majored in mathematics and computer science and has zero social skills. Her day job as IT director of a hot new cyber-intelligence firm has landed her the undercover job at a posh high school for gifted and technologically savvy students in Washington, DC. Before she knows it, Lexi and her new friends are racing against the clock to save the high school from a lot more than just a few changed grades.

 

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A few reviews for NO TEST FOR THE WICKED:

“Another winner! This is one of my favorite series. I love how Lexi is smart and doesn’t pretend to be anything less than she is…I started this book late in the day and stayed up late to finish it – it was just that good that I couldn’t put it down. If I could give it more than 5 stars, I would.”  ~GoodReads

 

“TOP PICK! I absolutely love Lexi Carmichael. She is a geek that knows how to rock it…Fun and fantastic.” ~Night Owl Reviews

 

“This is one amazing read…None of Moffett’s characters are cardboard…you expect them to knock on your door for a visit. I am in awe of an author that can create on such a high level…”~Armchair Beauty Sleuth and Book Diva

 

“Fun, quirky (because Lexi’s friends are a crack up!), and nicely entertaining. GIRL POWER!” ~GoodReads

 

“I am a major Lexi Carmichael fangirl and I highly recommend this book and series.” ~GoodReads

 

“Lexi grows so much in the book…I promise you will laugh so hard tears will be rolling down your face.” ~ GoodReads  

 

Download NO TEST FOR THE WICKED from Carina Press here.RWA1

I love writing about Lexi and her adventures. Who knew geeks could be so much fun? Haven’t tried a Lexi Carmichael adventure yet? Well, you’re in luck! Just for answering the following question on this blog, I’ll enter you in a random drawing to WIN a rare signed print copy of an earlier Lexi Carmichael mystery, NO BIZ LIKE SHOWBIZ, and some geeky swag to go with it. Here’s a photo of the book.

 

 

 

Would you go back to high school again if you had the chance?

 

Thanks for hanging with Lexi and me! In the meantime, “Get Your Geek On!” Hooray!

Julie Moffett is a bestselling and award-winning author who writes in the genres of mystery, historical romance and paranormal romance. Learn more about Julie and her books on Facebook, Twitter and her website. She has won numerous awards, including the Holt Medallion 2014, Holt Merit for Best Book by a Virginia Author 2014, the EPIC Award for Best Action/Adventure Novel 2011, the PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel and the PRISM for Best of the Best Paranormal Books of 2002. She has also garnered nominations for the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

How to Have Fun During the Apocalypse

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By Anne Tibbets, author of THE LINE BOOK TWO: WALLED

When faced with the end of the world, remember, it’s not doom and gloom all of the time. When the police force is in chaos, and riots riddle the streets and scores of unsettled citizens attack one another, it’s the perfect opportunity to do some light “shopping.”

You’ll find scads of storefronts, shops, and food carts are either abandoned, or insufficiently guarded, and steals are ripe for the picking! Help yourself, by all means. The owners aren’t going to need the merchandise anymore, not where they’re going, so help yourself. You know what I always say: if it’s not nailed down, it’s mine.

Another fun-time Armageddon activity is touring the wonders of your post-apocalyptic world. Can you say “vacation?” Now’s the perfect time to see the other sectors of your heavily-guarded, militarized and oppressive hometown. Yes, breach those borders and do some sight-seeing! Nothing says “fun” like rushing the gates and mobbing the confused border patrol so you can see another run-down, dilapidated part of your dystopian society. Sounds like a party to me!

Lastly, for some great apocalyptic excitement I recommend spending time with your loved ones. Nothing says family togetherness like a pilgrimage to a new territory, especially when the old one is burning to the ground! Pack light, wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring a weapon to defend yourself against marauding crowds – but most importantly take the opportunity to share your feelings with your husband and kids, because truthfully, there may not be a tomorrow! Literally.

Please remember, the end of the world doesn’t have to be a total drag! You know that saying? “Yolo?” Well, now’s your chance to finish that Bucket List. You have 24 hours to make it happen!

I believe in you.

9781426899294-COVFreedom means making brutal choices.

Rebel lovers Naya and Ric have survived one year in hiding, raising Naya’s twins from infants to toddlers in the shadow of the brutal Auberge dictatorship. They’re alive, and they’re together, but the city is crumbling around them and the haunting memory of Naya’s dark days on The Line have never fully left them. Living in isolation won’t be an option forever.

When a mysterious revolutionary seeks their help to infiltrate Auberge’s electronic heart and shut it down, it’s an opportunity—it’s risky, yes, but if it works they’ll get out of the city and taste freedom for the first time. Naya needs this. They need this.

Beyond the broken walls of Auberge, Naya and Ric find the paradise they’ve always longed for. But with anarchy reigning and Naya’s children lost amidst the chaos, they’ll need to forfeit their post-apocalyptic Eden…or commit an unspeakable act.

ATibbetsauthorpic3Anne Tibbets lives in Los Angeles-ish with her family and homicidal pets. You can find more of her sarcasm on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

Christmas, in and out of Season

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By Susanna Fraser, author of A CHRISTMAS REUNION

Usually I’m the first person to complain about Christmas decorations or advertisements out of their proper season. One holiday at a time, people! Why must stores try to sell me Christmas ornaments before I’ve even selected my Halloween candy?

In our household Christmas music is never played until Thanksgiving is over, the tree doesn’t go up until the first Sunday in Advent, and it absolutely must come down by Epiphany on January 6. Those are the rules. To me, if the Christmas season extends much beyond a month, it becomes too ordinary.

But sometimes I cheat. I’ve sung in choirs off and on for much of my life, and I always enjoy the Wednesday night in October when the director passes out that year’s Christmas music.

And then there was one scorching July day in my native Alabama when I was home for the summer from college. I was flipping from one radio station to another as I drove around running errands when suddenly I stumbled upon a full-on, festive, wintry arrangement of a traditional carol. I think it was Joy to the World. I listened in pure shock at the incongruity of it, especially when it was immediately followed by a more contemporary but equally Christmassy song.

Then the DJ came on to explain that the AC in the studio had broken. It was so hot, sweaty and miserable he had to do something to cool down—so he broke out the Christmas carols. So for the rest of the afternoon, that station played one holiday favorite after another. Laughing listeners called in requests, and a big chunk of Birmingham got to enjoy a preview of Christmas in midsummer.

I got to cheat the holiday rules again when working on my latest Carina release, A Christmas Reunion. I drafted it in January and February, very much in the “Thou shalt not Christmas” zone, but it’s sort of impossible to write a holiday romance without thinking about the holidays. Gabe and Cat, my hero and heroine, both love music, and a small but significant part of their bond is their enthusiasm for the singing the old wassail songs together at their village’s Christmas Eve festivities.

I kept myself in the right mood to write by putting together a Christmas playlist to listen to when I was alone in my car. Since the story is set in 1810, before most of our current holiday standbys were written, I mostly stuck to the old and traditional yet obscure—The Holly and the Ivy, I Saw Three Ships, Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, and the like. While I dutifully put the playlist aside once I typed “The End,” I can hardly wait to pull it out again as soon as Thanksgiving is over.

What are your boundaries for holiday celebration? Do you ever listen to Christmas music in the middle of the summer?

CARINA_1114_9781426899249_AChristmasReunionA Christmas Reunion

Gabriel Shepherd has never forgotten his humble origins. So when he discovers a war orphan at Christmastime, he resolves to find a home for her—even if that means asking help from the very family who found and raised him, only to cast him out for daring to love the wrong woman.

Lady Catherine Trevilian has spent five years poring over the British Army’s casualty list, dreading the day she sees Gabe’s name. She’s never forgotten him, and she’s never forgiven herself for not running away with him when she had the chance, though she’s agreed to a marriage of convenience with a more suitable man.

When Gabe returns home on Christmas leave just days before Cat’s wedding, a forbidden kiss confirms their feelings haven’t been dimmed by distance or time. But Cat is honor-bound to another, and Gabe believes she deserves better than a penniless soldier with an orphan in tow. How can Cat reconcile love and duty? She must convince Gabe she’d rather have him than the richest lord in all of England…

A Christmas Reunion is available at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play and iBooks. You can read an excerpt here.

About Susanna

Susanna Fraser has been writing since the age of 9. Her youthful efforts featured talking horses, but she now writes Regency-set historicals with a focus on the soldiers who fought the Napoleonic Wars.

A native of Alabama, she never lost her love for barbecue or stopped saying “y’all” as life took her to Philadelphia, England and Seattle, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

For more information on Susanna and her books, visit susannafraser.com, sign up for her newsletter, read her blog, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Nothing Says Love Like…SPAM?

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By Kelsey Browning, author of DESIGNED FOR LOVE

I’ve chatted about food here on the Carina Press blog before because I’m incapable of writing a book without food popping up again and again. Can you tell I’m from the South?. And since the Texas Nights series is—sadly—coming to a close Designed for Love, this is the perfect time to recap what I consider the most important food in each of the four books and leave you with a recipe for one of my dad’s all-time favorite meals (bless his heart).

Personal Assets – There are tons of food mentions in the first book since the hero’s mom is a fabulous baker. But what causes the most brouhaha is when Cameron accuses the heroine, Allie, of conspiring with his mother to bake cookies in the shape of a guy’s goods. :-)

Running the Red Light – The heroine, Roxanne, is a major fan of pie. She’s pretty much an equal opportunity pie consumer, but the Butterfinger™ pie that Jamie brings her one night? Oh, that’s a foodgasm on a fork!

Problems in Paradise – Since the heroine, Eden Durant, owns a café, it’s not surprising food plays a major role in this book. Although Eden cooks healthy organic dishes, Beck prefers to stuff his face with junk food. In order to convince Eden to go out with him, she insists that he give up his SlimJim habit. And that, my friends, is a real sacrifice for this guy.

Designed for Love – Although beer weenies and chocolate-covered cherries do appear in this story, SPAM is the real culinary star. I don’t want to ruin the story by giving you all the details, but that canned ham could be the thing that kills the relationship between Ashton and Mac.

And so to celebrate Designed for Love’s release this week, I give you…

Eddy’s Weeknight Canned Gourmet

  • 1 can of SPAM
  • 1 hunk of rat cheese (not familiar with rat cheese? It’s basically a hunk of sharp cheddar)
  • 1 can of green beans

Open green beans, dump in a pan and heat on the stove or nuke.

Slice SPAM into quarter-inch slices. Slap one or two slices of rat cheese on top of each SPAM “steak” and arrange them on a shallow baking sheet. Crank up your oven’s broiler and shove the pan in. Broil the hell out of it the cheese bubbles and the SPAM is browned around the edges.

Remove from oven and serve with a side of limp green beans.

Enjoy!

Want more delicious ways to enjoy SPAM? Join Mac, Ashton and Napoleon in Designed for Love!

Get your copy from your favorite online retailer: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

Nothing says love like SPAM, right? What are some other romantic foods you eat with your significant other?

CARINA_1114_9781426899256_DesignedForLove1DESIGNED FOR LOVE by Kelsey Browning

Ashton Davenport: Hot blonde. Old Money. Off-limits.

That’s how Mac McLaughlin sees her, anyway. And now that he’s enduring a temporary self-imposed exile in tiny Shelbyville, Texas, he’s seeing her way too often. Mac only wants to succeed as the contractor for the Lily Lake development in order to rebuild his reputation and return to Dallas, pronto. A sexy distraction like Ashton was not in the plans.

Mac McLaughlin: Hot builder. Cash poor. Hands-on.

Ashton kissed her trust fund goodbye and left her life as a society princess to prove she could make it on her own. Developing Lily Lake is her big chance, but it’s hard to stay focused working side-by-side with bossy, rough-around-the-edges Mac. Especially when he pulls off his shirt.

When the discovery of an endangered species derails the project, Mac can’t afford to stick around for a stalled job. His and Ashton’s explosive chemistry aside, he’s outta there…unless she can convince him that they just might be able to build something together.

Kelsey Browning - HeadshotKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and cozy Southern mysteries. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, and Bad Dog. She’s currently at work on the next book in her Texas Nights series and The Granny Series.

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