Writing Fantasy Romance

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By Eleri Stone, author of THE SHAPE OF TEMPTATION

My first book boyfriend was Jimmy the Hand from Raymond Feist’s Riftwar Saga. I’m talking about the young Jimmy the Hand from the Magician books—the clever teenaged orphan thief who gets swept up in an epic battle between good and evil. I was only about twelve or thirteen myself at the time so the teenager thing worked for me then. The thing is, the Riftwar Saga is fantasy, not romance, and Jimmy the Hand is a very minor character. This is how fanfic happens.

I made up great adventures for Jimmy where he got to be the star and not the sidekick. Stories where he fell in love with nerdy girls who liked to read too much but would drop everything to go on an adventure with a smart-mouthed pickpocket who needed help saving the world.

Fantasy was my favorite genre at the time and, while I liked the adventure parts of the stories just fine, I often found the romantic subplots unfulfilling. So, I owe a lot to Jimmy who inspired me to start writing my own stories where I could combine adventure and fantasy and romance all together. And I do still have a preference for heroes who are roguishly charming. You can see a touch of that in Benim, the hero from my new fantasy romance, The Shape of Temptation. He’s a soldier, not a thief, and he’s not out to save the world this time around. But he does fall head over heels for Kailey, who is both a powerful mage from a backwater territory and a completely unsuitable woman for a city-born soldier to fall in love with. The world they’re living in is full of magic, political machination and inconvenient class rules that keep Benim and Kailey apart. I hope you like their story!

9781426899553-COVHe once controlled her fate; now she holds his heart—and his body—in her hands…

Living in a humble village at the edge of the Sarian Empire, Kailey is a gifted but untrained mage with an affinity for stone. She believes herself well beyond the reach of the guild that controls all magic within the empire until Benim, an unwilling guild soldier, appears at her door. She’s part of his quest to assemble gifted citizens for entrance to University.

As Kailey struggles to navigate the strange society of the Sarian upper class, she’s tasked by a guild master to create a masterpiece for the emperor. And when Benim is commissioned as her model, Kailey comes to crave the hard-bodied soldier she spends her days sculpting inch by intimate inch.

Benim cannot resist the warmth of Kailey’s spirit nor the comforts found within her body, though he knows that a poor soldier has no place in a mage’s world. But he and Kailey will have to overcome more than just class differences in order to remain together. For someone has made Kailey a pawn in her mentor’s ambitious play for power…

This is Book Two in the Spellcraft series, but the books don’t need to be read in order. They share a common world, but there’s not an overarching plot or shared characters.

Are there any non-romance series that you love but wish had a little more romance to them?
~

Get your copy of THE SHAPE OF TEMPTATION from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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Eleri Stone is a RITA-nominated author of paranormal and fantasy romance. She was born in New Jersey, but now lives in Iowa with her husband and their three children. All of her stories have some element of speculative fiction in them and they all end with a happily-ever-after.

 Connect with Eleri!
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A Not So Ordinary Morning

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By Caitlin Sinead, author of HEARTSICK

You scratch your sleepy head as you shuffle to the bathroom. You stumble for your toothbrush and toothpaste, gingerly putting on a dentist-approved amount. You swoosh the brush and mint flavor in your mouth and groggily look into the mirror.

Wait….What?

Your previously lethargic heart pounds and your eyes blink rapidly, as if the blinking will change what you see. Your eyes are bright purple. The toothbrush falls from your now-open mouth. You lean closer, pulling down your upper cheek to get a better look at your eyeball, but it’s no trick of the light. Your eyes have changed color overnight.

And you have no idea why.

That’s the initial premise of HEARTSICK: a mysterious condition affects just one person, and then another, and another, until it spreads across Quinn’s small college town. And, after an infected friend is found murdered, Quinn resolves to find out who, or what, is behind it.
~

9781426899607-COVQuinn is looking forward to her senior year at Poe University. She has big plans to hang out with her best friend, flirt with a certain boy genius, party at her favorite dive bar and figure out what she’s going to do after graduation with her not-so-useful art major. But that’s before she meets Luke, a hot townie who’s moved back home to help take care of his dying sister. And it’s before a weird epidemic sweeps across campus, mysteriously turning people’s eyes purple.

Is it an odd side effect from a new party drug?

Is it a rogue virus developed in a campus lab?

Is it the mark of the devil?

Soon the town starts blaming the university and the student religious group becomes frighteningly aggressive in their on-campus accusations. Quinn and Luke are caught in the middle–until a tragic accident forces Luke to reveal the one part of himself he’s kept carefully hidden. That he’s so much more than the happy-go-lucky boy next door Quinn had believed him to be isn’t a surprise…but this truth might be too dangerous for her to handle.

Get your copy of HEARTSICK from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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Caitlin Sinead’s writing has earned accolades from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Glimmer Train, and Writers & Artists. She earned a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University and lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband and two cats.

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Hot Off The Ice

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By Lynda Aicher, author of GAME PLAY

The first nugget of an idea to write a series about hockey players entered my brain three years ago. I was writing the second book in my Wicked Play series and created a fictional name for the city’s pro hockey team. The entire idea wasn’t formed back then, but I created the team with the thought of maybe…

Two years later I pitched the spin-off series idea and was both happy and worried when Carina Press agreed to publish it. Happy because years spent weaving the team and players into my first series was going to pay off. Worried because now I had to execute on the idea.

I’m a girl raised on sports, both playing and watching them. Hockey has always been one of my favorites. But I have to admit, I’m not a rabid fan. I don’t watch it very often anymore and I have minimal knowledge about current players or teams. But I love the idea of sport heroes. More importantly, I was excited about the challenge of digging behind the players and finding the men. That’s where the good stories are.

Game Play is the first book in the Power Play series. Dylan Rylie is a Texas born professional hockey player. He might live in Minnesota now, but his trademark cowboy hat, boots and charm are still with him. The young hot shot and party boy meets his match in Samantha Yates, a hockey star in her own right. However with her professional career at a forced end when his is just beginning, is it possible to find love?

That’s the conflict I love to read and write. Real world issues that deal with personal acceptance and growth. Who we are as people versus what we present is often very different. Yet finding that person who accepts and loves every side of us is what we all search for.

Then of course there’s the hot action that takes place both on and off this ice. Trust me, I enjoy writing (and reading) both. Take all that competitive desire and watch it combust in the office and shower and… Yeah. Yum.

So which do you enjoy more? The on or off ice action? Lol. Or is it the combination of both that makes the story for you? For me, it has to be both.

Carina_0215_9781426899409_GAMEPLAY_REVGAME PLAY, book one of Power Play

One night, one time, nothing more. That’s all it was supposed to be. They’d agreed their first night together would be their only night together—and Minnesota Glaciers defenseman Dylan Rylie was fine with that. Giant hickeys and claw marks on his ass had never been his style, even if the very memory of Samantha Yates’s merciless sexual energy gets him hard within seconds. He needs to focus on getting a better contract, not mind-blowing orgasms.

One night, one time, nothing more. Fresh off representing the US at the Games and with nowhere else to play, Samantha gave in to one night of frantic passion with the Glaciers’ brawny hotshot. She couldn’t get hurt—not if she controlled the outcome. And she planned to leave Minnesota soon, anyway. She didn’t expect to be recruited to coach Dylan after they’d gotten down and dirty.

When brutal on-ice workouts lead to kinky locker room sessions and “one night” falls by the wayside, Samantha insists on keeping things casual, despite Dylan’s quiet hope for more. But when Dylan goes down—hard—and his career is in jeopardy, Samantha is the first one by his side. What will it take to keep her there after he’s healed?

Get your copy of GAME PLAY from Carina Press or your favorite online retailer:
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About Lynda Aicher

After years of weekly travel as a consultant implementing computer software into global companies, Lynda ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now, her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties of being a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, cleaner and mediator.


Connect with Lynda


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The Top Five Reasons *YOU* Should Read GAME PLAY by Lynda Aicher

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9781426899409“If you’re looking for something to warm you up while you wait for spring to arrive, this is definitely the book for you.” — RT Book Reviews

If you like erotic romance, you’ve probably heard of Lynda Aicher, author of the Wicked Play series. If you like hockey, you won’t want to miss GAME PLAY, book one of Power Play. But don’t take our word for it! Lynda shared with us five reasons why you should score this hot hockey romance. Check back daily to see the next reason why you’ll want to read GAME PLAY!

 

GAME PLAY is available now! Get your copy from Carina Press or your favorite online retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

 

 

#5

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On Loving Your Body

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By Solace Ames, author of THE COMPANION CONTRACT

As children growing up, we’re bombarded with a constant stream of media messages about what the right body looks like, how to get that body, and how bad we should feel if we don’t have that body. We’re aware that this just isn’t fair, and we should be allowed to be happier in the body we live in. That’s the simple message of body positivity, which I’m 100% on board with. Not that you have to express any kind of sexual desire, or that you have to be perfectly ecstatic with your ever-changing body… just more freedom. Less societal hatred. That’s all.

What I love about erotic fiction is that it celebrates the body. And that’s actually fairly rare among genres. Most (not all) fiction that strives to be taken as “literary” ends up painting a very depressing, almost mortifying, view of the body and its desires. To see what I mean, you can always take a look at some of the entrants to the Bad Sex Awards, showcasing stories that either talk about bodies in humiliating terms or turn them into completely bloodless abstractions!

Even the worst erotic fiction dares us to take the body seriously. And what I love about the best erotic fiction, the kind I keep I strive to write, is that it’s not just exciting but thoughtful. Although I don’t think erotic fiction needs to serve as education (FAQs are better for that), it can definitely make us think in new, exciting ways about ourselves and our bodies and our sexual desires.

A few parts of The Companion Contract dealing with body hatred were hard for me to write, even painful. But I felt like I owed it to the heroine, who’s on a daring journey for love, body acceptance, and belonging. She’s a porn star trying to leave the business, and her main reason is not that she hates the work, but that she doesn’t like what the business is doing to her self-image. It’s not the sex, it’s the constant emphasis on having a certain kind of ideal body in order to be famous and keep making money, and as such, it’s not unique to the sex industry. The man she falls in love with has an intuitive understanding of the pressure she’s under, and becomes her rock in the storm.

I left in the painful parts to make the happiness more meaningful. Because we can’t just snap our fingers and tell ourselves we’re good enough, and believe it from that point on. It’s hard. Especially if have a “different” body than what the standard in movies and magazines tells us we should. Love is a journey, and sometimes we have to understand exactly how we’re made to hate ourselves along the way. That’s the complicated (and sometimes heart-wrenching) path that I tried to trace in The Companion Contract. And whether or not you decide to follow this particular story, I wish you the best of luck on your own journey!

9781426899522-COVControl. Submission. Power.

Amy Mendoza knew she’d never have a Cinderella story. She walked away from the ashes of her childhood on her own, and signed her first porn contract the day she turned eighteen. The money’s been good, but it’s time to walk away again before the life drags her down. When a mysterious stranger offers her an unusual contract—sexual companion to a recently relapsed rock star—she accepts.

Amy quickly and gratefully falls into an easy rhythm of control and submission—but it’s not her client who keeps her up at night. Emanuel, lead guitarist and the man who hired her, occupies her thoughts—and soon, her bed. Their connection is intense, and although Amy knows sleeping with Emanuel isn’t what she’s there for—isn’t what she’s being paid for—what’s between them is too strong to ignore. But there’s more to Emanuel than Amy knows, and submitting to him might come at too high a price…


Get your copy of THE COMPANION CONTRACT from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

 

Solace Ames has roots in the Southeast US, although her heart lives somewhere along the Pacific coast of Mexico. She’s worked in restaurants, strip clubs, academia and the corporate world and studied everything from the philosophy of science to queer theory to medieval Spanish literature. You can find her at solaceames.com and on twitter as @solacewrites.

What Keeps You Safe?

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By Alyssa Cole, author of RADIO SILENCE

Everyone has that special item that they tuck in a purse pocket, perch on their desk or drape over the foot of their bed. You know, that seemingly insignificant thing that somehow wards off any bad guys, bogeymen, or ne’er-do-wells who might try to do you harm. It could be as cliché as a rabbit’s foot or, if you’re religious, a rosary. For others, it might be a blanket passed down from one generation to the next. The Peanuts gang always made fun of Linus for his security blanket, but even as adults we hang onto those things that make us feel protected and loved.

My own personal talisman was a camping axe; I slept with it beside my pillow for several years of solo apartment dwelling (and that one time I had the creepy roommate who opened my door and watched me sleep. Tip: never trust Craigslist for electronics or living partners.). I’d picked it up before my first big camping trip, just in case I had to show some stray bear that he’d chosen the wrong tent to raid (N.B.: a bear would have used my mini axe for a toothpick after eating me, but such is the power of a talisman that I thought I could ward one off). My friends thought my choice in sleeping partners was weird, but as a woman living alone, my little axe gave me just enough peace of mind to get some much needed shut-eye every night. I never had to use it, thank goodness, but its presence lulled me into the belief that it would keep away anyone who might go bump in the night.

In Radio Silence, my heroine Arden and her best friend John flee their college town in the aftermath of an unknown cataclysmic event. They have a long hike ahead of them and they must pack light. One of the only items Arden carries with her is her Louisville Slugger, a gift from her dad when she moved across the country to attend school. She hopes that it can keep her and John safe; unfortunately, she is wrong. Luckily for her, John’s brother Gabriel intervenes when they are attacked, kicking off a contentious relationship that evolves from disdain to desire.

I’ve revealed my security blanket, and Arden’s as well. Now it’s your turn! List your lucky charm in the comments for the chance to win your very own Louisville Slugger baseball bat.
~

9781426899638-COVNo one expects the apocalypse.

Arden Highmore was living your average postgrad life in Rochester, New York, when someone flipped the “off” switch on the world. No cell phones, no power, no running water—and no one knows why. All she and her roommate, John, know for sure is that they have to get out, stat. His family’s cabin near the Canadian border seemed like the safest choice.

It turns out isolation doesn’t necessarily equal safety.

When scavengers attack, it’s John’s ridiculously handsome brother, Gabriel, who comes to the rescue. He saves Arden’s life, so he can’t be all bad…but he’s also a controlling jerk who treats her like an idiot. Now their parents are missing and it seems John, Gabriel, their kid sister, Maggie, and Arden are the only people left alive who aren’t bloodthirsty maniacs.

No one knows when—or if—the lights will come back on and, in the midst of all that, Arden and Gabriel are finding that there’s a fine line indeed between love and hate. How long can they expect to last in this terrifying new world, be it together or apart?

Book one of the Off the Grid series

Get your copy of RADIO SILENCE at Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

 

Alyssa Cole is a science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie who splits her time between fast-paced NYC life and island-paced life in the Caribbean. Her recent releases include the historical romance shorts Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight (Scottish medieval ) and Be Not Afraid (Revolutionary War).

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From Russia with Love

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By Elizabeth Harmon, author of PAIRING OFF

When I told people I’d written a novel set in Russia, I was sometimes asked, ‘Is it about spies/oligarchs/mobsters?’…and ‘have you been there?’

When the answer to these questions turned out to be ‘no,’ another one usually followed: “Why Russia?”

First, it made sense from a plotting standpoint. Russia is known for pairs figure skating champions and PAIRING OFF is the story of two pair skaters, an American woman and a Russian man, who team up when both are left without partners prior to the Winter Olympics.  Not only that, but after my heroine’s career and reputation are ruined by the outrageous antics of her ex-skating partner, Carrie has good reason to pack her bags.

I also loved the idea of placing my Southern belle heroine in a huge, foreign city.  Though Carrie’s skating career has taken her all over the world, it’s one thing to visit a place for a week-long competition, and another to move there.

In Moscow, Carrie encounters architectural beauty, surly fast food and subway employees; discovers that fish pie tastes much better than it sounds, and that a GPS doesn’t work so well when your destination is spelled with Cyrillic letters.

But one of the things I loved most about writing PAIRING OFF was the fun I had presenting Russia, and Russians, in a different way.  Though Moscow is a familiar setting for thrillers, PAIRING OFF is less Tom Clancy and more Nora Ephron. Inspired by the portrayal of Manhattan in When Harry Met Sally and my own experience of living in downtown Chicago, I tried to create a vibrant city of restaurants, coffee shops, parks, quirky neighborhoods and people falling in love.

Carrie doesn’t go to Moscow expecting any of those things, but she finds them, along with a gorgeous sexy man who’s just as beautiful on the inside. Anton is a different kind of Russian hero too, and with him, Carrie realizes that home isn’t just where you are, it’s who you’re with.

Have you ever lived abroad? What did you enjoy most, and what was the biggest challenge?

9781426899508-COVAmerican figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in the United States, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is paired with the most infuriating, talented–and handsome–skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close–with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to be confronted with their past…never mind share the ice with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?

Get your copy of PAIRING OFF from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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An adventurous cook, vintage home enthusiast, occasional actress, and entry-level figure skater, Elizabeth makes her home in the Midwest, where life is good, but the sports teams aren’t. She loves to hang out on her front porch, or at her favorite local establishments, enjoy good food and wine, and talk writing with anyone who will listen.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, she has worked in advertising, community journalism and as a freelance magazine writer. She feels incredibly blessed to have a career that allows her to spend her days imagining “what if?” and a loving family that keeps her grounded in the real world.

Elizabeth is a member of Romance Writers of America.  Watch for her future Carina Red Hot Russians releases, TURNING IT ON, Aug. 2015, and GETTING IT BACK, March 2016.

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The Equation for Love and a Happy Life

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By Lisa Marie Rice, author of MIDNIGHT PROMISES

Midnight Promises, the 5th book in the Midnight series, has just come out. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it.

Each Midnight book is a romance but it is also a component in the creation of a big, extended family, the family of Alpha Security International. ASI is a company made up of former Navy SEALs and just as the men were teammates and had each other’s backs in the military, now they are teammates and have each other’s backs in civilian life.

The men making up ASI are without a biological family. The Navy became their family. Once out of the service, and members of ASI, they have a ready-made family in their colleagues. Once they fall in love, that’s it for them, so they have their nuclear family and the extended ASI family.

Their women, too, are friends among themselves. They listen to each other’s problems, are fiercely loyal to each other and always help with problems (while consuming vast quantities of chocolate and white wine, essential components in problem-solving).

So when John found Suzanne, and Douglas found Allegra, and Bud found Claire, and Jacko found Lauren and now when Metal finds Felicity, they form not only strong couples but a strong network.

Isn’t that what we all want? To live our lives among people who love us, people we can love right back. The rest of the world can be—and often is—hostile, but the Midnight people have their enchanted circle of close friends. Life has and will continue to throw harsh stuff at them. Luckily, the men and women of the Midnight world are strong, resilient and smart.

But sometimes your own strength and smarts aren’t enough and that’s where their circle of friends is an entity that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Every member of the Midnight clan will help you bury the body, will stand fast with you against the world, will provide a shoulder to cry on and will give unquestioning loyalty.

To me, that is the best possible life you can live. With your life partner and soul mate by your side, doing work you love, among true friends. Love and friendship, the two greatest things in the world.

Do you have a circle of friends that are like family? I hope you do and I hope you realize how precious they are!

Happy reading! Lisa Marie Rice

CARINA_0115_9781426899348_MidnightPromisesIn their race for the truth, love must prove more powerful than America’s worst enemy…

When a gorgeous, bleeding woman on the run falls into the arms of Sean “Metal” O’Brien, the former SEAL medic knows just what he can do. Heal her. Tend to her. Keep her safe.

What he can’t seem to do is keep his guard up. Something about the haunted, hunted beauty knocks down all his defenses.

Felicity Ward is no stranger to secrets. Raised in the Witness Protection Program, her whole childhood was a lie. But she couldn’t have known that her family’s secrets—secrets she didn’t even know she was keeping—could spark a nuclear war.

And nothing could have prepared her for the tough, sexy warrior who first saves her life and then vows to protect it, no matter what.

 

Get your copy of MIDNIGHT PROMISES from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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Connect with Lisa Marie Rice!
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Can Love Conquer All?

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By Jeffe Kennedy, author of UNDER HIS TOUCH

 

When I began drafting Under His Touch, which is my ninth book for Carina, I did something I’d never done before. I sent my editor an email and said “here’s where I want to go with this story – is any of it TOO much?”

You see, I’d sold this story on spec, which means I wrote up a few paragraphs saying in general who the characters were and what the story would be about. I’d had the story idea for several years. By the time I got around to actually writing it, I discovered that it wanted to go to edgier, darker places than I’d realized. Fortunately my editor told me to go for it. She confessed to one kink-squick and I told her I’d make her love it.

Mission accomplished.

I really loved – and angsted over – writing this story of 22 year-old Amber falling for her 44 year-old, Brit-in-New-York boss, Alec Knight. This is the first time I’ve written a story where mutual passion and obsession overcomes good sense. As someone who’s worked in corporate culture for a good chunk of my life, and who is now in upper middle management, I’m well aware of the consequences of workplace sexual harassment. I’m on the side of being smart and using common sense. As a romance writer, I found it much easier than I had anticipated to dig out the emotions that would overpower that. In particular, I needed to find what would push Alec, a man of tremendous integrity, over the edge into questionable choices.

Turns out it took Amber, with all her determined and enthusiastic yearning.

One of the other first steps I took in writing this book, was to talk to, Mary, the Human Resources Director at my day job company. It was a funny conversation and I worried at first that she’d come down on my for my questions. Though the people I work with know what I write, we don’t discuss it that much – and with my position in the company, I’m not supposed to be at all unclear about our sexual harassment policy.

Instead, she took my hypothetical situation very seriously and we talked about Alec and Amber as if they were our colleagues, caught up in an intense love affair that crosses a number of workplace and personal lines. In fact, Mary had such wise and wonderful advice, ways of handling the situation that brought humanity to the process,  that my respect for her only grew. I tried to infuse her voice into those discussions as much as possible.

In the end, I convinced myself that what Alec and Amber found in each other is far more potent than any other consideration – career, age, or social expectations. That surprised me, but now I believe.

Maybe love does conquer all! What do you think – what would it take to get you to cross those lines?

CARINA_0115_9781426899461_UnderHisTouchAmber Dolors knows better than to get involved with her boss. Devastatingly handsome in his sharp suits and sexy beyond belief, he possesses an air of command that fuels her darkest fantasies. But she’s worked too hard to get this job, and keeping it will lead to a brilliant future. She won’t cross that line–even if his way of giving orders and demanding her best performance gives her delicious warm shivers.

Alexander Knight prides himself on his integrity and self-discipline. After all, he hasn’t risen to the position he enjoys by indulging his whims over ambition. He also isn’t blind. He’s certainly noticed his sharp, young assistant is hot as hell. His self-imposed sexual hermitage doesn’t stop him from watching her. And endlessly fantasizing.

The day Alec’s cool reserve cracks and Amber catches a glimpse of something simmering beneath his apparent indifference is the day everything between them changes. Alec gives her what she’s been looking for sexually–as masterful in the bedroom as he is in the boardroom. He finds himself in the grip of an affair that tests even his boundaries, while Amber’s new role as willing student pushes them both past any consideration other than mutual longing.

 

Get your copy of UNDER HIS TOUCH from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

 

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received an Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

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Writing My Way Home

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By A.J. Larrieu, author of BROKEN SHADOWS

I’m a Southerner by birth and upbringing, but for the past decade, I’ve lived in not-so-sunny San Francisco. Homesickness is something I’ve learned to live with, a low level of unease and loneliness that simmers in my head. One of the ways I’ve dealt with that feeling is by writing my way back home to Louisiana—there’s nothing like writing about a place to help you feel close to it. But with Broken Shadows, the third book in my Shadowminds series, I took a different path. Instead of writing my way back home, I wrote about the city that has—slowly but inevitably—become home to me.

There’s a famous quote by Tennessee Williams: “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” I don’t agree with this—every city has it a unique personality—but I do think it’s true that San Francisco has an unmistakable character all it’s own. And one of the things I became fascinated with while writing Broken Shadows was exploring how that character is changing.

San Francisco is growing. The tech boom has created a huge number of jobs in high-tech fields, and those jobs have fueled real estate growth that has changed the face of the city. Neighborhoods that used to be full of three-unit apartment buildings from the 1920s and cramped locally owned grocers are being reshaped to include high-rise luxury condo complexes and fancy gourmet supermarkets. It’s a big deal—and a controversial one. And it forms the backdrop of my hero and heroine’s own converging searches for identity.

I’m fascinated by the ways that place influences our senses of ourselves. The search for identity and purpose amid opposing forces is something I see this city grapple with every day, and I ended up being fascinating by the same sorts of forces at work on my characters. The setting of a complicated, changing city was perfect for a woman struggling with changing ideas about herself and where she fits in the world.

My heroine, Mina, is struggling with an identity crisis of sorts. A telekinetic who’s lost her powers, she’s unsure of where she fits in the supernatural world she was raised in. She’s tried to forget, but just like the unique personalities of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, the roots of her character can’t be wished away. In the end, she has to build something new out of her past and her hopes for her future. I hope readers will enjoy Mina’s story as much as I have, and maybe, like me, recognize a little bit of their own journeys in hers.

9781426899478-COVEveryone has a breaking point.

Mina Tanner was once a converter, a human with telekinetic and telepathic abilities. After a vicious mental assault by an evil shadowmind stripped her of her powers, she was forced to flee her home to escape her attacker. Now, she’s trying to start a new life in San Francisco, far away from any and all reminders of the gifts she grew up using.

But her precariously balanced “normal” life topples as her apartment and her job fall victim to a new luxury development. Jackson Herring, an old family friend and powerful converter, offers Mina his spare bedroom while she gets on her feet, and she agrees…reluctantly. Mina’s finding it difficult enough to adjust without a daily reminder of what she’s lost, especially when that reminder is six-foot-four, super-talented and gorgeous.

When a mugger attacks her and she somehow burns his hands, Mina realizes that despite everything she’s lost, she may have gained something far more powerful–and dangerous–than she ever imagined. And when the rest of the shadowmind community learns about it, Mina will find herself on the run once again.

Book three of The Shadowminds

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A.J. Larrieu is a Southerner in San Francisco, a scientist, and a lover of beta heroes. She is the author the dark, sexy Shadowminds series, which follows a group of ordinary people with extraordinary powers. She loves to hear from readers! Drop her a line at aj@ajlarrieu.com, friend her on facebook, or follow her on twitter. You can find out more about A.J. and her books at www.ajlarrieu.com.