Meet Richard Prentiss—Royal Attorney, Best Friend, and Confidante

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By Heather Long, author of SOME LIKE IT DEADLY

No one ever said being a prince’s best friend was easy and you’d never hear Richard Prentiss admit to anything of the kind. He’s known Armand since their first year in college and, while he didn’t know about his wealthy or privileged background right away, nothing between the two friends changed once he found out.

To be perfectly honest, one of the best parts of the Going Royal series for me is the friendship between Richard and Armand. I love these guys so much.

For Armand, Richard is the voice of reason. He’s the guy who will call him on his crap and he doesn’t stand on ceremony. It helps that Richard is a killer attorney who can run block passes against the press and corporate raiders alike.

For Richard, Armand is the guy who’s never judged him or asked him to be anything more than a friend. They play racquetball together, they are extremely competitive and they synchronize perfectly when it comes to business—cool-headed and ruthless, the pair of them.

Armand is a control freak and Richard isn’t much better. The only time they truly clash is over Richard’s personal security. Armand wants him to have more, Richard wants far less. So, what is a best friend to do?

Well, hiring a personal bodyguard to double as a secretary is Armand’s choice. What Richard doesn’t know might just save his life. Thankfully, Kate Braddock—retired Army—is more than up to the task. The last thing any one expected was a wild attraction to spark to life between Richard and Kate.

Armand is willing to do anything to make his best friend safe, but his choice may cost him the very thing he values so much: Richard’s friendship.

Favorite Richard Moments

Some Like It Royal – Reaching Out to Alyx

CARINA_0114_9781426897764_SomeLikeItRoyal“Your Highness? Please pardon the intrusion.”

No matter how much she practiced with Victor, it was always a jolt when someone else said it. She glanced up at the reflection in the glass behind her. She didn’t recognize the gentleman, so she turned, a polite smile on her face. “Please, call me Alyx or Miss Dagmar. It’s a little less of a mouthful than Your Highness.” And so much easier to respond to, but she avoided adding the caveat.

“Miss Dagmar. My name is Richard Prentiss.” He withdrew a card and handed it to her. She glanced down at the heavily embossed cardstock. The symbol in the corner was an elegant crest—one she recognized.

It represented her family.

She studied him. He didn’t resemble any of the photos she’d memorized nor did his features suggest a personal relationship with her. “Mr. Prentiss, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Extending her hand, she wasn’t surprised when he bowed over it and brushed a kiss lightly to the air over one knuckle. It was a kind, respectful greeting.

“And a rare pleasure to make yours. I understand that you are attending this function to support your fiancé, Mr. Voldakov.”

She didn’t have to manufacture the soft smile curving her lips. “Yes, he’s done some wonderful work for the Takahashi Corporation and they are showing him a rare honor with this party. I would introduce you, but…” She motioned to the conference room Daniel vanished into.

“I would enjoy such an introduction but I am actually here for two reasons and I hope you’ll forgive the minor subterfuge.”

Sipping the wine, she resisted the urge to rub her suddenly damp palms against her dress. What subterfuge? The vellum card weighed heavily in her hand. Instead, she focused on breathing, calm, and canting her head to suggest a hint of patient curiosity. Hours of drills with Victor paid off in that moment. “And what subterfuge would that be, Mr. Prentiss?”

The man had the good grace to flush, a hint of red staining his ears. “To inquire whether you would accept an invitation from your cousin, His Highness, the Grand Duke Armand.”

My cousin.

A second jolt in as many minutes and her confidence wavered. The grand duke divided his time between his native Norway and France most of the year. The newspapers referred to him as a playboy, often featuring photographs of the prince with a host of women at various functions throughout Europe.

“Because an invitation cannot be extended if I will not accept.” It was a statement, not a question. Protocol demanded that no one could turn down the royal family, whether they were a displaced one or not. It was how the royals played.

“Precisely, Your Highness, and I apologize for putting you on the spot. His Highness recognizes that you may be reluctant to see him and asked that I extend to you his deepest desire to make your acquaintance. If you could see it in your heart to accept his invitation, he would like a chance to speak with you in person.” There was a subtext to his words, a suggestion that the grand duke wanted to do more than just talk to her. The jittery butterflies in her stomach flapped harder. This was exactly the type of invitation Daniel wanted, the reason he’d approached her. Access to the grand duke and his European connections could help him launch Spherecast’s influence in the EU.

So why did she hesitate?

“I’m not entirely sure what my schedule is.” That seemed the safest answer and her heart beat against her ribs so hard, she was certain he could hear it. “But if you would let me pass this card to my assistant, I can have him get in touch with you.” She tucked the card into her clutch, careful to make sure it slid inside before she snapped the little purse closed.

“Absolutely.” Prentiss’s expression relaxed and he smiled. “Which brings us to the second reason for my approach.”

The reminder that he had two reasons ramped her already emotionally unsettled state closer to full-blown panic. She took another sip of the wine and prayed the alcohol would relax the jangling of her nerves. Amazingly, her voice didn’t betray a quaver. “I am filled with curiosity.”

Prentiss actually grinned at that, some of the stiffness leaving his shoulders. Dark haired and dark eyed, he cut a striking image in his equally dark suit but she cataloged his looks more from a clinical standpoint.

His darkness couldn’t compete with the sunshine in Daniel.

“To give you a gift. Your birthday is approaching and whether you accept the invitation or not, the grand duke wanted you to have this.”

He held out a small box, wrapped in a simple gold foil. She had to set her wineglass down and slipped her clutch purse’s strap over her shoulder to take the box. Eagerness flared inside, pushing away the anxiety. “I’m surprised he would send such a gift, considering we have never met.” Maybe it wasn’t politically correct to say such a thing, but the sentiment remained genuine.

“He has many years to make up for and while this simple gift cannot possibly repair such a history of oversight, he hopes that you will wear it with the pride you should. His words, exactly, Highness.” Prentiss gave her another kind look and party or not, she slid one manicured nail through the tape and revealed a velvet jewelry box. She glanced at him before lifting the lid. Inside nestled a lovely cameo on a silver strand. But instead of a profile, it was her family crest set against a background of royal blue.

The breath caught in her throat and tears swam across her vision. “How can he accept me? Just like that?” She forgot about the rules, the manners and the control she’d worked to perfect.

“You are the image of your great-grandmother, Your Highness. If you’ll look beneath the necklace, he included a small photo of her. He has no doubts that you are indeed the grand duchess and he is most eager to welcome you to the family.”

The tears prickling her eyes threatened to spill. She chewed at her bottom lip and blinked at him. Prentiss shifted with just the barest hint of discomfort. Daniel appeared in her periphery, an arm snaking around her waist.

“Are you all right?” He murmured the words to her, but set a hard look on the gentleman talking to her.

She gave a watery little laugh and nodded, holding the necklace over to show him. “Daniel, this is Richard Prentiss, he’s—I’m not sure if you work for him or are just associated with the grand duke?” She glanced back to Prentiss.

“I’m a personal friend. Armand and I went to university together.” He extended a hand to Daniel, who accepted it only briefly, but continued to stare hard at him until Prentiss cleared his throat and retreated a step. “If you will excuse me, Your Highness, Mr. Voldakov. I will await your assistant’s call.”

Some Like It Scandalous – Calling His Best Friend on His Crazy

Carina_0514_9781426898242_SomeLikeItScandalousRichard circled the billiard’s table, eyeing potential shots. “You’re one crazy son of a bitch, Armand. What did you think she was going to do? See you again and beg you to take her back?”

Armand said nothing; he stared at the green felt table as though it might reveal the answer.

“Armand, seriously?” His best friend looked up from his shot. “You didn’t.”

The problem with Richard lay in how well he knew Armand. “I didn’t plan on groveling on bended knee.” But yes, I thought she would be more…more her…

She’d refused to drink out of the bottle, then ignored the glass he’d poured for her.

The attorney angled his hand against the edge of the table, balancing the cue stick between the thumb and forefinger. He snapped the stick forward and it tapped the cue ball, sending it careening after the blue stripe and sinking it. “You’re an idiot.”

“Helpful.” Armand sighed. His body hummed at the memory of her perfume, sweet and exotic. She’d rarely worn any when they lived together, but her shampoo—it had smelled of citrus and orchids, just like she did today.

“Look, I can do a lot, but the fact you even thought she would be happy to see you based on a summons to appear or lose her funding? Where did your diplomacy go?” Richard circled the table and cleared a second ball from the table.

“It’s been ten years. I thought—hoped—her temper might have cooled.” Ten years to regret leaving him—to regret never calling. When Richard sank a third shot, Armand set the pool cue aside and walked over to the bar. He needed something a lot stronger than water. From the moment she walked into his office, his response swamped his good sense and judgment. He’d wanted to run his fingers through her hair.

She was beautiful—heart-wrenchingly beautiful—but too pale. She’d squinted, as if her head bothered her, and for just the barest of seconds he glimpsed an unsteady step, a waver in her professional façade. He’d caught her arm—he just wanted to help—but she jerked away as if he’d hit her.

And the anger had flared in her eyes, a fiery beast if ever there was one. God, but the woman possessed a temper. Why the hell did he arrange to spend the rest of the week with her? She’d clearly wanted to be anywhere except his office. And the last thing I need is to spend it with her. But he’d wanted to know if she’d gotten over them—over him. Clearly, she had. So why hang on to something that never had a chance in the first place?

He poured in three fingers of brandy and tossed the whole thing back. The liquid heat burned through his system, churning his already agitated gut.

“Call Nikole. Get laid. You’ll feel better.”

“The wisdom of the ancients there, my friend.” Armand snorted, ignoring the curl of disgust at the very idea. “Nikole wants a marriage proposal and has informed me that if I wish to enjoy time with her, I must be prepared to put a ring on it.”

Richard laughed.

Turning to stare at his friend, he couldn’t help his own reluctant smile. “Yes, exactly so.” He poured another drink. “And Nikole is not the one I want.”

“I know.” The attorney sobered and finally missed a shot. He joined Armand at the bar and poured his own drink. “So, give yourself a few weeks and pick out another model. You like them, they’re easy and you can forget today.”

“I’m spending the rest of the week with Anna.” He waited for Richard’s reaction, and the man didn’t disappoint.

He choked, sputtering on the brandy, and swung his gaze up to stare at him. “Why?”

“She will be administrating Alyx’s scholarship fund and we’re folding it under the Dagmar Foundation. She’ll need to be brought up to speed.” Any of a dozen executives and administrative staff could handle it

“Bullshit.” Few people ever spoke to him like that—none while he grew up—and only two in his adulthood. Of those two, only Richard remained. “And when were you planning to tell me we were adding that program to the Dagmar Foundation?”

“Tonight. I need the paperwork pushed through by morning.” He looked at the amber liquid in the glass and swirled it around. She’d never liked wines or decanted liquors. She preferred beer—in the bottle—the cheaper the better. She liked seven-topping pizzas and sticky caramels mixed in with her popcorn. She’d always tasted of sin and sweetness when they kissed.

Richard snapped his fingers in Armand’s face. “Dude, you have it bad.”

Shaking off the alluring memories, he took another drink. It would be his last for the night. He would require all his wits about him in the morning if—when—she arrived for their session. “You haven’t called me dude in years.”

“You haven’t been this stupid over a woman in years.” The attorney leaned on the bar. “Tell me this—when did you decide to fold in that scholarship?”

Armand didn’t answer. The visceral blow he’d experienced when he saw her name in Alyx’s email lingered. He couldn’t believe it was really her—life and fate were not that cruel. Or so he always believed.

“When, Armand?” Richard repeated the question.

“After I found out Alyx hired her to be in charge of it.” He wasn’t proud of the admission. He’d spent an hour talking Alyx into placing her scholarship fund under the oversight of the Dagmar Foundation and then promised the newlywed he would handle all the details. The further he put Alyx out of Anna’s reach, the more in control he could exert.

“And the goal of this exercise?”

“To provide educational opportunities to underprivileged youth.” He drained the brandy and grabbed his pool cue, avoiding Richard’s knowing gaze and the truth. He could dance around both for some time. He lined up the shot and sank two balls. He completed two more shots before glancing up. “I want her back.”

“Okay.” He nodded slowly. “Then we need a plan.”

“I’ve got her attention—well, I commandeered her attention.” If she shows up—if she doesn’t just refuse to work with me altogether…

The attorney pulled out his phone. “So that’s step one, what’s the next step?”

Armand stared at the shot he lined up and blinked slowly.

“You have a next step—right?” Richard sighed.

No, he’d barely managed to push through that meeting with her today. Bringing her back tomorrow bought him some time.

“This isn’t you, Armand. You don’t twist in the wind and act all indecisive. What do you want to do next?”

He wanted to pin her against the wall and kiss her senseless. He wanted to lap up all that radiant passion she so easily shared with him. He wanted to find out what movies she liked and what book she curled up in bed with at night. He wanted…

Slamming the pool cue down on the table, he ignored Richard’s wince. “I want to know everything about her life. Where is she living? Is she living with someone?” The thought made him sick, but he pressed on. “What does she spend her free time on?”

Richard nodded, his thumbs moving swiftly as he typed on the miniature screen. “And while we dig up all this information?”

He cleared his schedule. Anna was his only talking point. “She hates the title.”

“That’s resentment, not hate.” Richard corrected. “But it’s an advantage. Use it.”

“To do what? Chase her away again? Let her box me up and put me squarely in the category she believes I belong?” He scowled. For someone so tempestuous and grounded in reality, she maintained a very black-and-white view of the world.

Thirteen years before, a busty little brunette burst into his introduction to business ethics class, interrupted the professor’s dry as hell lecture, and set the whole classroom laughing. With few seats to be had in the packed hall, he’d offered her his and she’d made him sit back down, while she squeezed into the narrow space next to him.

Their thighs touched for the entire class.

He never did hear what the professor droned on about with regard to compliance laws. He’d introduced himself, but she barely shook his hand before racing off. He didn’t even know what color her eyes were. A bribe at the register’s office earned him her schedule, and he’d waited for her outside her next class. The workload surprised him, but a week of putting himself in her path worked.

She’d said yes when he asked her out.

“Find all that out, but where does she jog in the morning? What coffee shop does she frequent? Where does she shop?” He drummed his fingers. “Her address is in the file, get that for me…”

“There’s a law against stalking.”

“Don’t be my attorney, Richard. Be my friend—help me.”

“Call her. Make up some excuse and get her on the phone.” Richard glanced at his watch. “It’s late, but it can’t hurt if you’re the last thing she thinks about before she goes to sleep.”

“Unless she hates me.”

“Oh, she’s probably angry, and like I said earlier, she resents the title. And the lie.” The droll response didn’t make him feel better. Richard held up his hands. “Look, you made a mistake and you paid for it—but at the end of the day, she was the one who walked.”

“She walked away because I’m a prince.” The bitter churn of that fact burned.

“You can’t change the fact that you’re a prince—or I guess you can, but it’s not like you can’t drop the titles altogether and walk away from your family.” Richard always knew what buttons to push. Armand was the head of his family, he couldn’t—and would never—abandon them.

“You are very good at poking holes, Richard, but do you have any suggestions?” He bit off the next words because his friend didn’t deserve the anger. Not this time. If anyone was at fault it was Armand himself.

“You can’t stop being a prince, Armand. So why bother?” Richard rolled his sleeves down one at a time and buttoned them at the cuffs. Their billiards game was over.

“What’s your point?” They’d already established that his position had an undesirable effect on Anna.

“My point, Your Highness.” Richard shrugged on his jacket. Disapproval rang in his words—he only used the appellation when Armand annoyed him. “You can’t stop being a prince, so why not use it to your advantage?”

Use it to my advantage how? She doesn’t like the damn title. He frowned.

Richard pulled his keys out of his pocket. “I’ll call you in the morning. I have some strings to go pull so you can stalk—court—your lady.”

Some Like it Deadly

Carina_0814_-9781426898860_SomeLikeItDeadlyBeing the best friend to a prince isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As attorney and spokesperson for the royal Andraste family, Richard Prentiss lives under a microscope. Fair or not, he’s not able to date like a regular person. So when his personal assistant retires, Richard knows her pretty replacement, Kate, is strictly off-limits.

Kate Braddock’s resume includes special forces training and enough profiling work to pick a threat out of a crowd. None of that prepares her to resist the charming, down-to-earth attorney she’s assigned to protect. Determined to treat him like any other body to guard, she struggles to maintain her distance. It’s her job to step in front of the bullet with Richard’s name on it, nothing more.

When threats against the royal family take a deadly turn and his new assistant foils two attempts on his life, Richard’s grateful–and more than a little intrigued. There’s more to Kate than meets the eye, but what is she hiding? He’ll have to trust her with his life when the danger proves to be closer than either realized…

Book three of Going Royal

The Path to THE FREEZER: How Far Would You Go to Avenge Someone You Loved?

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By Timothy S. Johnston, author of THE FREEZER

Agatha Christie inspired me to write The Freezer.  Just as with the first in the series, The Furnace, it is a claustrophobic murder mystery with a limited number of characters, one investigator, and one or more killers.  As Michael Crichton is also a big influence on me, I’ve incorporated a scientific element to the story — something the investigator Kyle Tanner must decipher to not only solve the mystery, but also to survive.

I’ve recently tweeted from @TSJ_Author, “Kyle Tanner is having a very, very bad week.”  The book begins with the death of someone close to him.  An excerpt is here.  From this point on, the story is told as a countdown to his potential death.  He soon finds himself on an ocean of ice on a hostile moon, amongst a small cast of characters — one of more of whom wants to kill him.

It’s a classic setup, much like an Agatha Christie mystery, but I want to note that you don’t have to read these books in any particular order.  Each is a “standalone” murder mystery, or “A Tanner Sequence Novel.”

So the question is, How far would you go to avenge someone you loved? If someone was ripped away from you in the most horrible way possible — as a means to hurt you — what would you do in return?  It’s a question that has led many people in history down a dark and chilling path.

It’s also started wars.

Tanner is faced with this dilemma in The Freezer.  As an investigator working for the military, he often finds himself dealing with moral issues of this nature.  And because his position gives him the authority to arrest and punish criminals at will, Tanner is pushed to the edge of an emotional precipice.  It’s a dark and scary mystery, but I like to think that it’s also a compelling page turner.  It puts the reader right into the events — especially because it’s written in first person — and I hope it will make you wonder what you’d do in this situation.  It also takes place in a very hostile environment, one which mirrors his emotional state.

The question that haunted me as I wrote The Freezerwas:  Would a homicide investigator contemplate murder in order to exact revenge?

You’ll just have to read it to find out … but the ending could be the most powerful scene I’ve ever written.

I hope you decide to jump into Tanner’s world, experience the mystery through his eyes, and see if you can figure out this whodunnit.

CARINA_0814_9781426898853_TheFreezerFrom The Freezer by Timothy S. Johnston:

I stalked back to Module E with the mysterious vacsuit, which I dragged behind me.

Dyson was pale; he could see my fury.

He knew a confrontation loomed.

Once back at the dome, I found the rest of them in the seating lounge near the games tables and consoles.

I threw the vacsuit to the deck before them. Every eye went to it, but no one responded with anything other than bewilderment.

“Whose suit is this?” I demanded.

Lefave shrugged. “We don’t have that type of vacsuit here, Tanner.”

“Dammit, it’s Lieutenant. And I don’t care if it’s not standard. I want to know who it belongs to!”

He bent to examine it. It was large, clearly a man’s. He said, “Why don’t we just compare—”

“What is this, Cinderella?” Cray exclaimed. “If the vacsuit fits, you must be the murderer? That’s ludicrous!”

Dinova shrugged. “Well it’s clearly not mine.”

He spun on her. “Why? You can’t wear something that’s too big for you? Not possible?”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“It could be you. You arrived from Ceres and then the murders started!”

Everyone was on their feet now, and the tension between them crackled.  The killer was there…but who?

Thanks for spending your time with me today.

Timothy S. Johnston

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The Freezer by Timothy S. Johnston

A Tanner Sequence Novel

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CCF homicide investigator Kyle Tanner and his girlfriend are on their way to Pluto, en route to a new life together. Just one little death to check out in the asteroid belt first. But when you’re as tangled up in conspiracy as Tanner is, a few hours on a case can change your life. Or end it.

The mystery is a strange one—one man dead, a cryptic message his dying breath. Still, Tanner’s ready to wrap it up until another gruesome murder shakes him to his core. The discovery of a microscopic bomb near his own heart offers the first faint clue, but the clock is ticking. He has four days….

A desperate search for answers takes Tanner to The Freezer, an isolated facility on one of Jupiter’s moons. With anti-CCF dissidents targeting the facility, a team of scientists conducting experiments the military would rather remain hidden, and a mysterious man in white hunting him on the ice, Tanner will have to choose his allies carefully. Putting his faith in the wrong person will leave him bleeding out in seconds.

98,000 words

Timothy S. Johnston’s Bio

Timothy S. Johnston is a lifelong fan of techno-thrillers and science-fiction thrillers in both print and film. His greatest desire is to contribute to the genre which has given him so much over the past four decades. He wishes he could personally thank every novelist, screenwriter, filmmaker, director and actor who has ever inspired him to tell great stories. He has been an educator for nearly twenty years and a writer for twenty-five. Timothy is the author of The Furnace, The Freezer, and The Void. He lives on planet Earth, but he dreams of the stars.

Visit to register for news alerts, read reviews and learn more about his current and upcoming techno-thrillers. Follow Timothy on Facebook and Twitter @TSJ_Author.



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Order The Freezer from Carina Press.

My Life (Such that it Is)

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By Lisa Marie Rice, author of MIDNIGHT VENGEANCE

Readers like reading about writers’ lives and it never fails to make me laugh. Most professional writers have lives that are about as interesting as watching paint dry.

Take me, for example. Basically I roll out of bed very early in the morning and pad to my study. I am often up before dawn and I love watching the sunrise, the sky slowly lighting up, the hush of the dawn, the feeling of newness. That is the highlight of my day, the really exciting part. I check several newspapers just to be sure that the world hasn’t blown up overnight (because you never know) and then start writing. I write one project at a time though I might be taking notes for the next book while writing the current one. Full out writing two books at the same time would make my head explode.

A cup of tea and breakfast for my husband and I’m ready to roll.

So I write until it is time to cook lunch for my husband, then afterwards go back to my study and write until it is time to cook dinner for my husband. Are we sensing a pattern here?

Rinse and repeat. It’s really boring.

However my life was not always so staid and boring. I once had a very glamorous life of travel and meeting world leaders. I was a simultaneous interpreter and I translated for heads of state, for Nobel prize winners, for captains of industry and leaders in the worlds of science, commerce and art. I was often in meetings that were in newspapers the next day (you’d be surprised at how much journalists get wrong!). I travelled first class and stayed in the finest hotels and ate at the best restaurants. I was on the road most of the time. I spent infinitely more time in hotel rooms than in my own home.

And, to tell you the truth, the glamorous life looks much better from the outside than from the inside. During my interpreting years I was single, based first in Brussels and then in Florence. Trust me when you don’t have a family and travel a lot, you end up not knowing where your home is. I had a home, ostensibly. Pretty flats both in Brussels and in Florence that I never saw. I’d get home late Friday evening or early Saturday morning and I’d leave again on Sunday. In the refrigerator would be the classic single girl contents of a bottle of champagne and some moldy yogurt. You can’t keep local friends if you are never there so your social circle must of course be made up of people leading your exact same life. Which is cool, but not stable.

It got old and I got married and I infinitely prefer my writing life.

And, to tell you the truth, it’s not that bad. I live in a very pretty small town in Italy. I often have coffee or a drink with friends in a gorgeous little piazza. I can see the bright blue line of the Ionian Sea from my terrace and if I had a powerful enough telescope I could see the Greek temple where Pythagorus taught.

And my commute is 20 steps.

There are worse ways to make a living.

midnightMIDNIGHT VENGEANCE by Lisa Marie Rice

Morton “Jacko” Jackman isn’t afraid of anything. He’s a former Navy SEAL sniper, and he’s been in more firefights than most people have had hot meals. Lauren Dare scares the crap out of him.

Gorgeous, talented and refined, she’s the type of woman who could never be interested in a roughneck like him. So he’s loved her fiercely in secret, taken her art classes, and kept a watchful but comfortable distance. Until now.

Lauren had finally found a home in Portland, far from her real identity, far from the memories of her mother’s death, and outside the reaches of the drugged-out psycho who’s already tried to kill her twice. One tiny misstep–a single photograph–has shattered it all. She has no choice but to run again, but this time she’ll give herself a proper farewell: one night with Jacko.

Their highly charged emotional encounter changes everything. In Jacko’s arms there cannot be fear, there can only be pleasure. Anyone wishing her harm will have to pass through him, and Jacko is a hard man to kill.

Read an excerpt HERE.

Lisa Marie Rice is eternally 30 years old and will never age. Her books have twice been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads”. She is tall and willowy and beautiful. Men drop at her feet like ripe pears. She has won every major book prize in the world. She is a black belt with advanced degrees in archeology, nuclear physics and Tibetan literature. She is a concert pianist. Did I mention the Nobel?

Of course, Lisa Marie Rice is a virtual woman and exists only at the keyboard when writing sexy romantic suspense. She disappears when the monitor winks off.

Connect with Lisa Marie Rice: website | Twitter | Facebook


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By A.J. Larrieu, author of DANGEROUS CALLING

Like many writers, I often find my books accruing playlists. As I go through the process of writing a story, I pick up songs that capture a particular character or a particular moment. I might not listen to them while I’m writing, but I’ll often put a set of songs on repeat while I’m mentally nailing down a scene. It’s a way of getting my brain into the right zone. By the end of the process, one song usually surfaces as the emotional keystone for the book, something that captures the heroine’s journey.

I have a thing for songs in minor key, probably for the same reason I have a thing for dark books. Give me a story with a slew of difficult choices on the way to a hard-fought happy ending, and I’ll be happy for hours. Give me bunch of minor key love songs full of longing, and I’ll be happy for hours more. No surprise, I guess, that I find myself listening to one while I’m writing the other.

When I started writing Dangerous Calling, the second book in my dark urban fantasy series The Shadowminds, I knew I was going to be listening to Myshkin. She’s a folk singer who was based in New Orleans for a long time, and she has a way of capturing the underside of the city. Actually, she has a way of capturing the underside of everything, and like any good folk singer, she does it with the sincere empathy of a true storyteller.

I first heard Myshkin play in a dive bar in Baton Rouge. It was one of those live music experiences you remember for the rest of your life. The tiny place was packed, and even though the crowd didn’t amount to much in numbers, we made up for it in enthusiasm. The music felt alive. I came away with a copy of the album she was promoting—Blue Gold. It’s still one of my favorites.

One of the songs on that CD, Sweet Coffee, turned out to be the keystone song for Dangerous Calling. You can listen to it here if you’re in the mood for something “elegantly skewed” (as Time Out UK calls Myshkin’s music). It’s a song about being a musician, about being complicated and conflicted and full of equal parts hope and fear. As I took my heroine Cass through a journey full of grief and struggle and redemption, I listened to Sweet Coffee on repeat for hours. Something about it captured her state of mind for me in a way I couldn’t quite articulate.

I think this is what good songs do, just like good stories. They capture something complicated that we don’t quite have the language for. It’s the same reason listening to Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing brings me right back to my sophomore year of college, angst, heartbreak and all. What songs speak to you?

More about Dangerous Calling:

CARINA_0814_9781426898839_DangerousCallingAfter years of denial, Cass Weatherfield has finally accepted her telekinetic gifts. Living with her boyfriend, Shane, has given her the confidence to be herself, but the fear of losing control and harming those around her is always present.

Knowing firsthand the hell of growing up without a mentor, she agrees to meet and help Diana, a young Shadowmind. But when Cass shows up, the terrified woman changes her mind and flees. Cass and Shane track her across New Orleans, and soon discover that Diana is being held against her will by an illicit organization that’s selling her rare clairvoyant skills to the highest bidder. In charge is an ancient creature more powerful than any they’ve ever encountered. And apparently she wants Shane dead.

Cass and Shane work to free Diana. But as Cass uses more and more power, drawing it from her friends in the fight against evil, she feels an addictive pull that challenges her control. And, in the end, Cass may be the greatest threat to those she loves the most.

Read the first chapter here.

Add Dangerous Calling to Goodreads.


Buy your copy here:

Carina Press
Barnes & Noble/Nook
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See where the series started! Find out more about Twisted Miracles (The Shadowminds, Book 1) here.


About A.J. Larrieu:

photo credit: Johnny Chauvin

photo credit: Johnny Chauvin

A.J. Larrieu was born and raised in small-town Louisiana, and yes, she did have an alligator in her back yard growing up. It was a small one. She spent most of her summers knee deep in the mud exploring the swamps or nose-deep in a book exploring other worlds, so it’s no surprise she grew up to write paranormal romance and urban fantasy set in the South. These days, she lives in San Francisco with her husband and son, and even though she’s been in the Bay Area for over a decade, she still misses those pounding Gulf Coast thunderstorms. Find out more about A.J. on her website, follow her on twitter, or drop her a line at

Music and Mayhem: the World of Cherry St. Croix

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By Karina Cooper, author of ENGRAVED

Whenever I write a project, I have a playlist or a type of music I dedicate solely to that project. This has made for some interesting compilations over the years, across several platforms. A lot of my contemporary and “for fun” listening playlists appear on Spotify, while I use Grooveshark for much of my fantasy worldbuilding.

Cherry, however, was different.

Throughout most of her misadventures, I relied on classical music to carry me through the bulk of it. Everything from Baroque symphonies to the Romantic Period classics, every step above the drift and below was punctuated by a score from periods past. Yet as I wrote Engraved and Transmuted, I relied heavily on three scores: The Black Swan and the combined scores of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

To be fair, when I first sat down to work on Engraved, I fell back on my classicals. What could possibly go wrong with Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and all the other greats?

Turns out, not wrong so much as not right. As I was writing, I realized something was missing. There just wasn’t enough… creep. I needed creep. So where else to turn but movie scores?

Now, as I write the final pages for Transmuted to Angels & Demons’ ‘God Particle’, I can’t help but be grateful for these marvelous composers and the atmosphere their music inspires. From the thick, devil-fog below to the gilded cage of above, from the Midnight Menagerie’s manicured lawns to the circus terrors it inspires, the misadventures of Cherry St. Croix are punctuated beautifully by the haunting, ambient scores of musical geniuses.

And there’s a side benefit to this: when I wake up to an earworm in my head, as I did earlier, then the music helps drown that out!

So if you’re reading Engraved and wondering what Transmuted will have in store for you come January, give these scores a listen. Who knows, maybe they’ll inspire your own misadventure!

Tell me, adventurous ones: what’s your favorite music to listen to as you write, read, or go about your days?



ENGRAVED by Karina Cooper

Cherry St. Croix returns to the fog-ridden streets of Victorian London, where the balance of power threatens all that she loves.

I will not wither without laudanum. Sober and determined, I have chosen another way– alchemy, and the pursuit of wellness it embodies. My name is Cherry St. Croix, and though freedom is finally at my fingertips, I return to the blackened streets intent on righting the wrongs I’d left behind.

All is not well in London low. Caught in a war between gangs, men are torn limb from limb, and I am called on to ascertain how. The immoral Karakash Veil is no doubt involved, and Micajah Hawke, a prisoner in his own Menagerie, cannot soften the danger this time.

Armed with the alchemical arts I have learned, my ever present guardian, and what few friends are left to me, I embark on a campaign to rescue the ringmaster I cannot abandon, save the Brick Street Bakers from annihilation, and finally face that which frightens me the most–my own heart.

Book five of the St. Croix Chronicles

Connect with Karina Cooper: Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | website

From Soup to Pucks

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By Kate Willoughby, author of ACROSS THE LINE

Because I love cooking and hockey, when I set out to write Across the Line, I thought it would be fun to pair a hockey player and a chef together and see what happened.


Alexander Klyuch via Wikimedia Commons.

I knew the hero, Calder Griffin, would play for the San Diego Barracudas, the NHL team I had established in On the Surface, the first In the Zone book. What I needed was a trendy, unique restaurant for the chef heroine, Becca Chen, and I needed it to be in an area called the Ithaca Commons in New York. After a lot of thought, I eventually decided lettuce cups—crisp, cold leaves of lettuce with savory fillings— were the way to go. An imaginative chef could create dozens of different types of lettuce cups. As I wrote chapter two, I found I needed to mention and describe specific items she had on her menu. Some of the ideas I came up with were a little out there and came straight from my imagination, like the Duck Duck Goose Lettuce Cup – seasoned ground duck and goose, scrambled duck egg, julienne carrots, zucchini, bean sprouts and hoisin sauce. Some were more familiar, like the BLT Lettuce Cup, with recipes easily found on the Internet. Speaking of Internet recipes, I thought you might like the one I found for the BLT Lettuce Cup from With only five ingredients, it’s only 160 calories! I found another one (vegetarian) from that’s only eight ingredients: Spicy Cashew Lettuce Wraps. Do you have any quick and easy recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients? (They don’t have to be for lettuce wraps.) If so, I’d love to hear about them! And if the idea of a hockey player and a chef finding love sounds good, check out my second hockey romance, Across the Line. If you prefer reading series books in sequence, start with On the Surface.

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. Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

acrossthelineCalder Griffin needs to get back in shape. Sidelined last season by a knee injury, he’s determined to return to the San Diego Barracudas and play the best hockey of his career. This might even be the year he gets out of his talented older brother’s shadow. For months, Becca Chen has poured her energy into Cups, the restaurant she owns, desperate to prove to her parents that she can succeed in the career of her choice, not theirs. But after she spends a five-hour plane ride flirting with charming, magic-on-the-ice Calder, she tells herself she needs a fling. Becca and Calder can’t keep their hands off each other, but they know the relationship can’t last. They live on opposite coasts, and they’re both too devoted to their careers. All they have to do is prevent their feelings from crossing the line from lust to love…


The Scenes that Stick With Us

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By Tamara Morgan, author of WHEN I FALL

There are certain scenes from books and movies that we seem to be unable to shake. Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in the middle of a diner in When Harry Met Sally, Emma Thompson sobbing at Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility, Colin Firth emerging soaking wet from the pond at Pemberley—these are the types of iconic scenes that stick with us months and even years after we first experience them.

It’s impossible to know, going in, exactly what kinds of scenes will stick most with an audience. While authors and filmmakers can do their best to manufacture these moments of grand romance, it’s usually the little things that make the biggest impact. Forget the sweeping gestures—it’s the hero in Kristan Higgin’s Just One of the Guys slowing down to run with the heroine, the kissing in the rain scene in Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels that really make me swoon.

In When I Fall, the scene that stands out in my mind as a personal favorite is the proposal scene. (Since this is an engagement-of-convenience story, it’s safe for me to confess there’s a proposal. Spoiler alert: it’s not real.) I won’t go into the details, since that really would spoil things, but it’s probably the least romantic proposal of marriage of all time, since the hero is mostly annoyed while he’s making it.

Every time I pick up the book to search for a quote or a passage for promotion reasons, I end up right back at those pages for a quick re-read. And then I smile. And then I get excited for readers to experience it too.

I can’t promise the scene will stick with you the same way it does with me, but I do hope you’ll find something between Becca and Jake to celebrate. They share plenty of grand, sweeping moments and smaller, quiet ones—so no matter what kinds of moments have the biggest impact on you, you’re sure to find one to fit!

when I fallWhen I Fall (Montgomery Manor #2)

Socialite Rebecca Clare gets through life one vodka tonic at a time. Emotionally shattered after her best friend’s death, she’s cast as the latest pseudo-celebrity screwup and hounded by paparazzi 24/7. So naturally, the cameras are rolling when she gets into a scrap at a club (he started it). But then an unexpected white knight steps in.


Playing caretaker isn’t Jake Montgomery’s usual role, but Becca is his stepmother’s little sister. As they bond over their bad reputations, they find they have a lot more in common than the spotlight. When a photo of the nightclub incident goes viral, it raises protective instincts that Jake never knew he had. What better way to save Becca—and the family—from scandal than by claiming he’s her fiancé?


Becca agrees to play along, never expecting a fake engagement to feel so right. But she’s vowed never to depend on a man for happiness; how can Jake convince her that falling in love is worth the risk?

 Available from Carina Press.

Tamara Morgan is a contemporary romance author of humorous, heartfelt stories with flawed heroes and heroines designed to get your hackles up and make your heart melt. Her long-lived affinity for romance novels survived a B.A. degree in English Literature, after which time she discovered it was much more fun to create stories than analyze the life out of them.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Energy on Both Sides of the Stage

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By Nico Rosso, author of MÉNAGE WITH THE MUSE

CARINA_0814_-9781426898792_MenageWithTheMuseBook three of Demon Rock

What happens when two very different satyr rock stars find their Muse…and discover it’s the same woman?

Musician Mia Dillon’s having the week of her life. Sharing the stage with the world’s biggest acts at a hedonistic festival is a rush, but she discovers new thrills as she frees her sensual side. A brief flirtation with sexy drummer Wolfgang quickly escalates as they lose themselves in wild music and the desert heat.

And then there’s Ethan. Silent, almost samurai-like, he’s the best guitarist she’s ever seen. He’s broken out of his quiet reserve just for her.

But Wolfgang and Ethan share two secrets. One: they’re demons. Two: they’re starving. The ancient rules of demons have shifted and if they don’t feed soon, the lights will go out for good. Mia’s energy has marked her as The One…for both of them.

 Mia’s never had two men—let alone two demons—at once. Nobody’s heard of demons sharing a Muse, either. But the three of them make a sexual melody unlike anything else. Mia’s never felt so alive, but with the enemy growing closer by the minute, it will take everything Wolfgang and Ethan have to keep her that way.

There’s nothing quite like seeing a band perform live. The music becomes more immediate. Even if you’ve heard the songs a thousand times, you don’t know where the musicians and singers might take you. Solos change, lyrics change. What might seem like a flaw in a recording studio is part of the excitement of a live show.

You’ve probably heard Tina Turner do “Proud Mary,” now see how different the live performance is (where she has what looks like a million people in the palm of her hand).

But what about the other side of the stage? What’s it like to get up in front of an audience and perform without a net, for everyone to see?

I’m not a musician, but I did some acting in high school and college and got a taste of the interaction between the performer and the crowd. Even though everything I was doing was scripted, with little room for improv, the energy of the people still had a lot to do with the way the show played out.

If the audience isn’t very engaged, the actor can try harder to pull them in, but that can seem forced. A raucous crowd, keyed to every beat of the show, can drive the energy even higher. I can only imagine what this would be like for musicians, in a performance that can change with every beat.

With the satyr rock stars I created in the Demon Rock series, they literally feed off the energy of the audience. They’ve been alive for thousands of years, drawing this life force and adapting themselves to the different trends of music. Things change, though, when a demon’s Muse shows up. She’s his one true love, the only other being he can feed from.

In the third book, Ménage with the Muse, Wolfgang is a bona fide wild rock drummer, free and reckless. Contrasting him is Ethan, also a demon, but more focused on the music in his guitar and less on the partying. They’re both aware that other demons are finding Muses, but don’t know if that kind of pairing is in their own destiny. Neither expects that Mia, a hard-rocking guitarist, is the Muse to both of them.

And she has no idea what’s going on the first time the literal energy from the audience rises up like a wave of fire and electricity during a performance, and slams into her.

So my questions for you are: what experiences have you had in front of a live audience? Did you feel the energy? How did it affect you? And if you haven’t been in font of a crowd, would you ever get up on stage? Looking forward to hearing from you!

If you want to further the discussion I can be found here: website, Twitter, Facebook

Nico Rosso was a writer in search of a genre until his wife, Zoë Archer, brought romance into his life in more ways than one. He created the sci-fi romance Limit War series, and set off the apocalypse in The Last Night. With the steampunk Ether Chronicles, he got to write more closely than ever with his wife, trading off tales that span the globe.  In Demon Rock, he takes you into the dark world of satyr rock stars and the Muses who feed them.  

What We Want—Erotic Romance

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August brings the heat, and we want you to bring it too!

We’re actively seeking to acquire novel-length erotic romance and what better examples than works by our superstar authors Lynda Aicher and Jeffe Kennedy! Lynda’s new Game Play series will feature h-o-t hockey player romances and Jeffe has just released her new erotic romance/BDSM series, Falling Under. We’re also excited for Emily Ryan-Davis‘s new San Sebastian Sinners series which tangles with ménage…coming in 2015!


Our editors’ complete wish lists for what they want to acquire RIGHT NOW is available here, but below are more specific requests in the erotic romance genre. Give us your passionate/kinky stories where sexy-times happen in the most daring of places! We know BDSM and club erotic romances are still hot, but we want to see where else you can take us!

Angela James, Editorial Director, is looking to acquire a dark erotic thriller that pushes the edges of exploring forced seduction, fantasy and eroticism

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, is looking for super-sexy erotic contemporary romances, esp. military or first responders. Series potential is a bonus. LGBTQ/PoC welcome—actively seeking diverse submissions! She’s also looking to acquire envelope-pushing erotic romance, any genre.

Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, is looking for erotic romances featuring badass alpha heroes, and she’d love a contemporary erotic series not set in a sex club.

Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, is looking for erotic romance with strong dialogue and great sexual tension—bonus points for heroes and heroines who rock at talking dirty.

Mallory Braus, Freelance Editor, is looking for erotic thrillers and suspense. She’d love to see a femme fatale character. She’s also intrigued by the potential of a cross genre Erotic Urban Fantasy with a strong female lead against a strong male lead… For example: something like a Catwoman and Batman pairing.

Tina Burns, Freelance Editor, wants erotic romance for both het and LGBT. Give her it all!

Submit your erotic romance to Carina Press now, right here!

Fly, My Flock of Dirty Birdies, Fly!

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By Stacy Gail, author of ONE HOT SECOND

So, I have a posse.  I know, I know. Usually that sort of thing is left behind by the time you leave high school. But I’ve totally got a posse… or a flock, to be precise.  I call them my flock of Dirty Birdies, and they’re the ones I go to when I’m not feeling, shall we say, inspired.

Carina_0814_9781426898785_OneHotSecondFor instance, in ONE HOT SECOND I had to create a Norman Bates-era, no-tell motel called The Lunar.  Since it’s the only motel for thirty miles, this is the place where secret assignations happen (or not-so-secret, since this motel’s in such a small town :D ). In fact, it’s so infamous for being the place to get your freak on, the locals of Bitterthorn, Texas refer to The Lunar as The Nooner.

Sounds like a fun place, no? ;)

I knew what I wanted for a backdrop. Parker, the heroine in ONE HOT SECOND, was to be given The Nooner’s official honeymoon suite, a skanky, over-the-top room that would look good in any porn movie.  But when it came time to describe it… I went blank. Honestly, I’ve never gone so fricking blank EVER in my writing. For two days I stared at the screen, and the emptiness of it mocked me.  All I had come up with in terms of décor was a bunch of candles.

Candles, y’all.  Seriously.

I’ve learned that when I’m stuck, it helps to talk it out. So when I went to work at the ice arena (where my flock of Dirty Birdies roosts every Tuesday), I mentioned the scene to my girls, and the “décor” I had come up with so far.  They stared at me in shock and yes, more than a hint of disappointment.

“Candles?” Cathy J., the dirtiest Birdie of them all and damn proud of it, curled her upper lip in disgust and let her East Texas drawl off the leash.  “Candles???  What the hell, woman, d’you think set designers for porno movies go shopping at f*ckin’ Pottery Barn?”

I hung my head in shame. Clearly I had let my flock down. Big time. “Uh, probably not.”

“At the very least you need shag carpeting and a vibrating heart-shaped bed, a bear rug, mirrors on the ceiling and a lube and condom dispenser in the bathroom.  And a stripper pole.”

“Oh!” Another Dirty Birdie, Joanie, snapped her fingers. “And a disco ball!”

“Satin on the walls!” Another Kathy, this one with a K, chimed in.

“Don’t forget the handcuffs,” Celyne (to whom I dedicated STARTING FROM SCRATCH) added, as if handcuffs were a natural thing to be found in a hotel room.

When my flock gets on a roll, they really get into it.  And boy howdy, did they roll right over my idea of candles, turning it into the stinky road kill it was. I’m eternally grateful.

I dedicated ONE HOT SECOND to Cathy J., who started the whole shebang and got me unstuck.  The honeymoon suite at The Nooner is a true testament to just how wonderfully dirty a mind can be. :D


QUESTION:  If you were putting together a room for The Nooner, what would you have in it?

Dirty Birdies 5

From left to right: Me, Joanie, Kathy, Celyne and Cathy J.


Buy Links:

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About Stacy Gail: A competitive figure skater from the age of eight, Stacy Gail began writing stories in between events to pass the time. By the age of fourteen, she told her parents she was either going to be a figure skating coach who was also a published romance writer, or a romance writer who was also a skating pro. Now with a day job of playing on the ice with her students, and writing everything from steampunk to cyberpunk, contemporary to paranormal at night, both dreams have come true.

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