What makes a song timeless? — Delynn Royer

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My book, It Had to Be You, opens on Thanksgiving in Manhattan, 1924. It was the first year Macy’s sponsored its parade. It was also the year Isham Jones and Gus Kahn published a catchy tune called “It Had to Be You.”

Their ditty was a big hit, but, depending on the list you choose, it wasn’t the number one song that year. It had stiff competition. (Remember “The Charleston?”) Since then, “It Had to Be You” has emerged as one of the most enduring romantic songs of the twentieth century.

Ever wonder what makes a song timeless?

Is it a series of notes that causes the toe to tap? Brings a tear to the eye? Words that ring true to even the most jaded heart? That’s simplicity at its finest. And it stands the test of time.

Our favorite books and movies are no different.

When I started It Had To Be You, I wasn’t sure if it was a mystery or romance—as it turned out, it’s both—but I knew exactly what I wanted it to feel like. Timeless.

I wanted readers to step from our hectic, internet-saturated twenty-first century into the soft, sepia-toned set of a classic movie. You know the kind… The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon, His Girl Friday.

I had the place—1920s Manhattan—and two leads made to order. One bright girl reporter who could give Lois Lane a run for her money and one homicide detective with a seen-it-all, Philip Marlowe kind of attitude. Toss in a murdered gangster and a sultry ex-fiancée, and I was primed. A little mystery, a dash of noir, snappy dialogue and a splash of romance…

Some things never get old.

What’s your favorite film, song or book that has stood the test of time?

ithadtobeyouIt Had to Be You

New York City, 1924
Determined to pursue her dream of becoming a crime reporter, heiress Trixie Frank believes she’s off to a running start when she lands a job at the most successful tabloid in Manhattan. Unfortunately, her high hopes fade fast when she’s assigned to the rewrite desk.

Sean Costigan is a demoted homicide detective on the commissioner’s blacklist. The last thing he needs complicating his life is a perky debutante with delusions of becoming the next great American journalist. Too bad she happens to hold one of the keys to solving his latest case, the Central Park murder of a notorious gangster. The other key? Sean’s childhood sweetheart, the victim’s widow, who has gone missing.

Sean soon has more trouble with dames than any good man deserves. But that’s the least of his worries. When he suspects deadly corruption within his own department, it’s not just his and Trixie’s careers that depend on finding the killer. It’s their lives.

Find It Had to Be You at Carina Press.

Delynn Royer writes historical fiction for the light of heart. Aside from the research that inspires her novels, she enjoys classic movies and yoga. Stop by her blog or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

5 Ways Space Operas Can Help You Live a Better Life

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The phrase space opera was coined in 1941 and recently author T.D. Wilson did a Spotlight on Space Opera right here on the blog. He defined space opera as “filled with adventure, conflict, mystery, and romance and beautifully orchestrated for the reader in an outer space setting.”

In other words it’s a big adventure, set in space, with romance, cool technology, exotic worlds and civilizations, and dashing heroes and heroines. Excited? I am.

Okay, so how can space operas help us live a better life right here on regular old Earth? Here we go:

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MORE LOVE – We could all do with more love in our lives and space operas offer some big sweeping love stories. Princess Leia and Han Solo? Flash Gordon and Dale Arden? Dathan Phoenix and Eos Rai? Space operas encourage us to get out of the ordinary and do something extraordinary to show that special someone in our lives that we love them.

INSPIRATION – I find the awe-inspiring worlds and peoples of space operas a real inspiration. I love to see the mixed crews of Star Trek, where prejudice is a thing of the past. I love to see the vast races and worlds of the Star Wars galaxy and believe that anything is possible.

LARGER THAN LIFE HEROES AND HEROINES – Space operas give us heroes and heroines to look up to. Okay, they are larger than life, but most of them are flawed and despite the seemingly impossible odds stacked against them, they just keep getting up and trying to save the day (or the princess, or the empire or find the last remaining fragment of the Mona Lisa). We could all learn something from their determination and perseverance as we face the challenges of our own lives.

COOL GADGETS – Space operas offer us some pretty cool stuff. Ever wanted your own lightsaber? Droids to do your housework? Or a lingual implant so you can speak any language? Space operas show us the possibilities of the future and inspire us to create them. And in the meantime, we can always use these space opera inspired gadgets: Your own Lightsaber BBQ tongs or a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer or maybe a smartphone-controlled robot called MiP.

MORE ADVENTURE IN YOUR LIFE – Space operas are all about grand adventure whether they are escaping from Ming the Merciless, or the Cylons, or going on a galactic treasure hunt. Reading a great adventure helps us spice up our own busy lives or might even inspire us to make our own adventure (get away for a weekend, take a hike, or take the kids somewhere fun).

So if you need a bit more Space Opera in your life, check these out:

  • Books: The Epherium Chronicles by T.D. Wilson, Cosmic Sparks Series by Robert Appleton or lots more here >> Carina Press Space Opera
  • Movies: Star Wars, Fifth Element, The Chronicles of Riddick
  • TV Shows: Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and Firefly
  • Comics: Flash Gordon and Guardians of the Galaxy (soon to be a movie starring Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Glenn Close and Bradley Cooper)

CONTEST: Enter to win my sci-fi romance novella Winter Fusion (set in the same galaxy as AT STAR’S END). Just leave a comment here at the blog and tell me which cool space gadget (either from this post or from your fav space opera science fiction) you’d like to have.

Dr. Eos Rai has speAction Romance Science Fiction Romance Space Operant a lifetime dedicated to her mother’s dream of finding the long lost Mona Lisa. When Eos uncovers tantalizing evidence of Star’s End—the last known location of the masterpiece—she’s shocked when her employer, the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation, turn its back on her. Left with no choice, Eos must trust the most notorious treasure hunter in the galaxy; a man she finds infuriating, annoying and far too tempting.

Dathan Phoenix can sniff out relics at a stellar mile. With his brothers by his side, he takes the adventures that suit him and refuses to become a lazy, bitter failure like his father. When the gorgeous Eos Rai comes looking to hire him, he knows she’s trouble, but he’s lured into a hunt that turns into a wild and dangerous adventure. As Eos and Dathan are pushed to their limits, they discover treasure isn’t the only thing they’re drawn to…but how will their desire survive when Dathan demands the Mona Lisa as his payment?

Read a sample

AT STAR’S END available at Carina Press

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logoI’m Anna Hackett and I write action romance to thrill you, excite you and leave you inspired. Join the adventure! You can find me at all the usual places: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Inspiration

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As a writer I find inspiration everywhere—sometimes in some really odd places; however, most of my inspiration comes from music and books. The entire Realm Walker series sprang from one Daughtry song and other songs were the inspiration behind specific books. When I write, I have to have music playing and I have a different playlist for each series or book.

And then of course there are books, many, many books. Some of them are in my genre but a lot of them aren’t. In urban fantasy and paranormal romance I love Ilona Andrews, Jeaniene Frost, Jax Garren, R.L. Naquin and Eleri Stone. In other genres, my faves are Tessa Dare’s historicals and Katie MacAlister’s contemporaries. Despite how much I admire all these authors, it’s not always their stories that inspire me. Sometimes it’s the way they build a world, or the way they make me laugh, or even the way the pour emotion into their character interactions.

Death’s Daughter may have come from my brain and my fingers, but it’s a culmination of years of music, books, tv shows and whatever else sparked a bit of creativity in this brain of mine. What about you? What are some of your favorite bands or authors? How do they inspire you?

Death’s Daughter (Realm Walker #2)

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Juliana Norris, Realm Walker with the Agency, is an Altered. A fact that she runs up against every time she’s forced to work with human police officers, and their species-ist commissioner, on cases they can’t solve themselves. Which happens more than they would like to admit.

Her gift—the quality that makes her the best Realm Walker in the business, without boast—is the ability to read magical signatures. Whether the gift came from her father, the dark fae god of death, or the mage mother she can’t remember, is anyone’s guess. And when Altered children start going missing with only wild magical signatures as clues, her heritage is the last thing on her mind.

She can’t afford such distractions, and she definitely can’t afford to worry about the fact that her mate, master vampire Thomas Kendrick, hasn’t spoken to her since she saved him from a demon—maybe it’s because she had to stab him to do so. Because whoever is kidnapping these children must be very powerful to wield wild magic. Very powerful, and very dangerous indeed. Available now from Carina Press

 

 

 

Kathleen Collins has been writing since Kindergarten. And while her ability has drastically improved, her stories are still about fantasy worlds and the people who live in them. The rare instances that she actually finds some spare time, she spends it playing with her two boys. Three if you count her husband. She is currently hard at work on her next book.

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Congratulations 2014 RITA Award Finalists!

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Last week the Romance Writers of America announced the nominations for the 2014 RITA® Awards and we’re thrilled to see that two amazing books from Carina Press were nominated! Congratulations to our authors and all of the other nominees! Visit the RWA blog for the complete list.

 

Paranormal Romance
Witch Bound by Eleri Stone
Gina Bernal, editor

Book two of Twilight of the Gods

Raquel Lindgren knows what her future holds. An arranged marriage. A new home in Ragnarok, Iowa, with another clan of refugees from Asgard. She should be happy. But there’s a mental block preventing her from tapping in to her true abilities as a witch. And she’s more attracted to the best man than she is to the groom…

Fen can’t believe he’s falling for his best friend’s future wife. As a hound, a wolf shifter, his duty lies with the pack. He’s seen too many hounds destroyed by love, and he’s sworn never to take a mate, never to have children of his own. He can’t deny his desire for Raquel, but she deserves more than he can offer her.

Raquel’s been raised to trust in magic, her clan and her destiny. But when a vengeful demon threatens to break out of Asgard and destroy the clan, Raquel learns she must trust in love if she is to take the future into her own hands.

For more tales of modern-day Vikings, check out Demon Crossings.

 

CARINA_1213_9781426897603_MineUnderMistleToeRomance Novella
Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham
Angela James, editor

Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did notinclude a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can’t wait to leave dreary London–and all its difficult holiday memories–for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

Crossing The Finish Line (Plus Giveaway!)

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 photo CARINA_0314_9781426898099_DangerousAngel_zpsff2dca61.jpgWheee, I did it! With the release of Dangerous Angel, I’ve completed my first series. This project took over a year and a half to complete, from an idea about a demonic apocalypse, to this moment. Over 231,000 words later, It. Is. DONE.

I love writing in many romance subgenres, from contemporary to cyberpunk (I’m even sharing DANGEROUS ANGEL’s release date with my sci-fi holiday anthology sister, Anna Hackett, so check out AT STAR’S END—it’s already on my Kindle). Paranormal romance (PNR), however, holds a special place in my heart.

Why do I love PNR? The only limit is imagination. For instance, when I read about a demon who could take the appearance of any person, could “know the minds” of all mankind, and had the ability to cause insanity, I had to write about this Great Duke of hell, Dantalion. With devastating abilities like that, can you blame me?

So I had a wicked great villain. Score! But what could defeat him? I came up with the concept of the almost-human Nephilim (angel-human hybrids) living among us. They basically lead ordinary lives… until they have to stop a demonic apocalypse. Though their bodies are mostly human and their angelic abilities threaten their lives as much as any demon, they’re willing to sacrifice it all to save the world for the people they love.

The hero in Dangerous Angel, Kyle, is no different. Descended from an angel who controlled lightning, Kyle’s mostly human brain is always firing—or misfiring, ADHD-style—at an alarming rate. If he’s not careful, his circuits will get permanently fried.

It takes a special kind of personality to roll with the Nephilim, and the heroine of Dangerous Angel is up to the task. Nikita Tesoro went through the worst kind of hell while growing up, so life has prepared her to take things like demons in stride. Life also prepared her to understand sacrifice the way only a human can , and that’s Nikita’s superpower. She might be surrounded by supernatural beings, but it takes her beautiful human heart to return balance to the world.

So, it’s done. I’ve crossed the finish line and written the story of how love, loyalty, strength and sacrifice—the best of our human qualities—can prevail over evil. I’ll miss writing about the Nephilim. But of course, I did leave one character standing alone, with no one to love. Hmmm…

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BLURB:

Book four of the Earth Angels series

Miami’s best bounty hunter, Nikita Tesoro will do anything to collar a fugitive, including stepping into a stripper’s stilettos for the night. Outsmarting her rival Kyle Beaudecker is just a bonus. Despite the sexual tension sparking between them, Nikita keeps a professional distance from “Hurricane” Kyle. After all, she can’t get hurt if she doesn’t care.

A descendant of the archangel Barakiel with the power to harness electricity, Kyle should be focusing his energy on tracking down a demon that may be hiding in the human realm. But he’s a lover, not a fighter, and he’d much rather use his special talents for pleasure: specifically Nikita’s. And teaming up to find a bail jumper means spending lots of time together…

But when their case takes a turn for the demonic, Kyle can no longer hide his true nature from Nikita. He’ll do whatever it takes to win her heart—even stop the apocalypse. But he can’t do it alone.

80,000 words

Get your copy of Dangerous Angel at any of these ebook retailers!:

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | Kobo | Carina Press

 

 

Wow, you read all the way to this point? You should be rewarded with… a DANGEROUS ANGEL giveaway! ^_^

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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.

Connect with Stacy on her WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads, and Pinterest!

Author Spotlight: Michele Mannon

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Michele Mannon combines well-rounded characters, romance, and MMA fighting in her Worth the Fight series, and the latest book in the series is no exception. Find out more about MMA champion Caden Kelly below, as well as a message from Michele Mannon herself on what it’s like being an author.

 

“A little bit of me goes a long way in the stories I bring you”: Michele Mannon on life as an author

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I guess not many writers could say they lived in a small city named Happy Mountain. Yep, it’s true. Years ago, I spent a year teaching English in Fukuyama, Japan, located about thirty minutes outside of Hiroshima. A stunning move for family and friends because I’d just graduated college with a B.A. in French. Oh, I’d studied in France, celebrated Oktoberfest in Munich, ate my way through Italy. “Why be redundant?” my younger, adventuresome self had offered as an explanation.

But in a way, it sums up who I am as a writer. I love how unique and interesting people of all walks of life are. The good, the bad, the funny. This love helps in creating characters who, on the surface, seem like your average Sally and Joe. You think you know them, until something challenges them, and hopefully pulls you, the reader, deeper into their complex psyche.

michelemannonheadshotAnother favorite ruse of mine is taking a character out of their normal environment and tossing them into a foreign world where, like working a puzzle, they struggle to figure out just what they’ve gotten themselves into. I think everyone has experienced the uncertainty of change and can empathize with just how difficult it can be.

Accents. I go a little nuts over them. Polish, German, Chinese, 1950’s conservative fiddle-fart. Though admittedly, the most challenging to date has been genuine, homespun Texan. Ah te’ yew whut!

From my travels, I’ve learned that laughter is universal, no matter the language being used. Hopefully my stories make readers chuckle, and I’ve done my job at balancing the deeper moments with a bit of sunshine.

Those years of traveling, of exploring different cultures, of living in Happy Mountain, are still relevant today. For a little bit of me goes a long way in the stories I bring you.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

 

About Tap Out

CARINA_0414_9781426898228_TapOutLate-night shock jock Sophie Morelle has been fired, dumped by her network after an embarrassing incident cost them big bucks. But she knows just how to get back on her feet—by filming a raw, gritty documentary about MMA fighters, starring the hottest welterweight around. The only problem? He’s the one responsible for ruining her life.

MMA-champion-turned-model Caden Kelly is hell-bent on reestablishing himself as the best fighter in the country. He’d been on a roll, too, until that loudmouth reporter hit him in the head with a camera on national TV. The headaches he’s suffered since are nothing compared to the one he gets when she shows up, seeking an exclusive. That Sophie’s gorgeous is undeniable…but she’s also the most infuriating woman he’s ever met.

Stepping into the ring with Caden Kelly is not for the faint of heart, but Sophie’s never been the delicate type. This champion may have finally met his match—both in and out of the bedroom.

 

What readers are saying about Michele Mannon and Knock Out:

A fantastic first book by a writer I definitely want to read more of! Very well-written and utterly absorbing, the story is one that will appeal to those who enjoy strong and determined heroines who will not take “no” for an answer, and good looking, dominating and dark damaged heroes, who are softer than they would like to think. –Goodreads review

 

When you read Knock Out, the plot will have you excited to turn the page, but sad when you know it’s coming to an end. I can’t wait to read it again! –Goodreads review

 

The romance in this book is so great; I love their connection! The heat level is definitely in the high range with very hot love scenes, but their characterization and emotional connection is what makes this book so strong. –Amazon review

 

For more from Michele Mannon, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.

Genre Spotlight: Sports Romance

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One of the best things about Sports Romance is the wide variety of athletes to choose from. Whether you’re into quarterbacks or catchers, there’s definitely a sporty guy that’s right for you. Check below to find your favorite sport and the latest books to go along with it.

Football

Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr

CARINA_0414_9781426897757_ImaginaryLinesTamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She’d always considered it destiny that they’d end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and it’s nothing she’ll ever forget.

Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York’s premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she’s felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar’s decided to move on, Abe’s realized she’s the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who’s been holding her back all these years.

Read more about the New York Leopards in Rush Me and Running Back, available now!

More from football: Rush Me by Allison Parr, The Game of Love by Jeanette Murray

 

Rugby

Playing It Close by Kat Latham

CARINA_0414_9781426898211_PlayingItCloseWhere do you go to escape everything when you’re one of the most famous rugby players in the world? For Liam Callaghan, that place is a remote lodge on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast. Perfect, except he doesn’t exactly want to be alone with his thoughts. Enter Tess Chambers, the ultimate distraction.

Still reeling from a professional disaster that’s made her all but unemployable, Tess understands the desire to move through life as somebody else. So when instantly recognizable Liam uses a fake name, she runs with it and creates a temporary new identity of her own.

Their time spent together in paradise is idyllic but brief—after one passionate night, Liam wakes up to find Tess gone. Returning to London, he’s shocked to learn she’s taken a job with his team’s new sponsor. As the Legends’ captain, he’ll have to not only figure out how to work with the one woman who ever left him wanting more, but also convince her that their feelings in the present mean more than any lies they’ve told in the past.

More from rugby: Knowing the Score by Kat Latham

 

MMA

Tap Out by Michele Mannon

CARINA_0414_9781426898228_TapOutLate-night shock jock Sophie Morelle has been fired, dumped by her network after an embarrassing incident cost them big bucks. But she knows just how to get back on her feet—by filming a raw, gritty documentary about MMA fighters, starring the hottest welterweight around. The only problem? He’s the one responsible for ruining her life.

MMA-champion-turned-model Caden Kelly is hell-bent on reestablishing himself as the best fighter in the country. He’d been on a roll, too, until that loudmouth reporter hit him in the head with a camera on national TV. The headaches he’s suffered since are nothing compared to the one he gets when she shows up, seeking an exclusive. That Sophie’s gorgeous is undeniable…but she’s also the most infuriating woman he’s ever met.

Stepping into the ring with Caden Kelly is not for the faint of heart, but Sophie’s never been the delicate type. This champion may have finally met his match—both in and out of the bedroom.

More from MMA: Knock Out by Michele Mannon

Read more about Michele Mannon here.

 

Hockey

On the Surface by Kate Willoughby

CARINA_0414_9781426898235_OnTheSurfaceBook one of In the Zone

NHL player Tim Hollander lost his temper one time and threw a water bottle at an abusive fan. After “Bottlegate,” he’s traded to the San Diego Barracudas, where he’ll need to keep the bad publicity to a minimum while proving he can still compete with the younger guys on the ice.

Erin Collier is a pediatric nurse who’s never seen a hockey game, but gets in line for Tim’s autograph at a PR event in hopes of impressing the doctor she has a crush on. When an obnoxious fan gets pushy toward Erin, Tim rushes to defend the pretty stranger, throwing a punch in the process.

Grateful for the rescue, Erin agrees to stand by Tim during the resulting press conference and host him at a hospital charity event. Their chemistry is palpable, and soon their lives are intertwined. But Erin doubts a hockey player is capable of anything resembling a real relationship. And if Tim can’t get her to see beyond what’s on the surface, they’ll never last longer than a single season…

 

Tennis

Love in Straight Sets by Rebecca Crowley

CARINA_0414_-9781426898297_LoveInStraightSetsRegan Hunter came to tennis late in life, but she’s worked hard to become one of the world’s top players. Beating the odds has made her unstoppable on the court and neurotically controlling off of it. So when her manager hires a new coach, a has-been who left the sport after a scandal, Regan wants him gone, fast.

Ben Percy, a former Grand Slam winner, is well aware of Regan’s reputation for driving coaches away—usually screaming. But working with the notoriously mercurial Regan could be just the break he needs to take his career to the next level, and he’s never been one to scare easily. He must stick to only one rule: hands off Regan.

Keeping his distance from Regan is more difficult than Ben ever imagined. Behind her tough, sexy exterior is a woman he wants to get to know better. And Regan feels a connection with her patient, easy-on-the-eyes coach that’s hard to ignore. But with the biggest championship of all on the line, romance may be completely out of bounds…

 

Baseball

The Ace by Rhonda Shaw

CARINA_9781426898204_TheAceBook two of Men of the Show

“Love ‘em and leave ‘em” has been real estate agent Karen Bently’s motto for as long as she can remember. She doesn’t need a man, except to make her toes curl. Or so she thought, until her longtime crush, Ace pitcher Jerry Smutton, sets his sights on her.

After signing one of the largest baseball contracts in history with the Detroit Rockets, Jerry enlists Karen to help him find the house of his dreams. Their connection is instant and electric, but neither of them is the relationship type. When Jerry proposes a friends-with-benefits arrangement, that suits Karen just fine.

Passionate sleepovers soon turn into long, romantic evenings… Still, Karen and Jerry refuse to acknowledge they’re a couple. Karen insists that she’s immune to Jerry’s heart-melting charm. Jerry’s not ready to settle down. Denial is the name of the game, until one pitch changes everything…

Meet Jerry’s teammate Chase Patton in The Changeup!

More from baseball: The Changeup by Rhonda Shaw, Christmas Curveball by Shari Mikels, The Winning Season by Alison Packard

 

Click here to discover all of our sexy athletes! 

Improper Proposals – excerpt

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Today we’re pleased to share an excerpt of Juliana Ross’s Improper Proposals, an RT Top Pick!

CARINA_0314_9781426898082_ImproperProposals

July, 1870
London, England

For perhaps the thousandth time I resisted the urge to shift on my chair, to twitch at my veil, to dab at the drops of perspiration that were taking such an interminable amount of time to slide down my nape and dampen my collar. I had worn my best gown for the trip to London, the same one I’d had for John’s funeral last year, a black bombazine that looked almost new. It was very nearly stylish, with a modest bustle that was ever so much easier to manage than the wide crinolines of my youth. But the gown’s color—or rather stark absence of color—looked ill against my pale hair and even paler complexion. Not that it mattered, of course. All that was required of me, as a widow, was respectability.

When would the wretched man appear? Never in my life had I ever kept anyone waiting, certainly not for more than an hour without so much as a cup of tea or a newspaper to read. His lack of common courtesy really was insupportable.

“Mrs. Boothroyd?”

It was the clerk again.

“Yes?”

“He’s ready to see you. Please come with me.”

I gathered up my reticule and the leather folder that held my precious manuscript, shook out my skirts and followed him down a long corridor, past half a dozen offices filled with desks and overflowing bookshelves and serious men with furrowed brows. We came to a door at the end of the hall.

The clerk knocked twice, opened the door and indicated, with a jerk of his chin, that I should go in.

The room beyond was exactly as I had expected. As befitted the proprietor of a successful publishing house, it was bright and spacious, with one entire wall given over to bookcases that reached nearly to the ceiling. In the center of the chamber stood an enormous barrister’s desk so cluttered and piled with papers and boxes and leather-bound volumes that it was quite impossible to see if anyone sat on the other side.

Most surprising of all was the dog, asleep on the floor next to the desk. It was an enormous creature, shaggy and gray, its paws quite the size of dinner plates, and as I stared at it, not daring to move, it opened its eyes and lumbered to its feet. Although I liked dogs well enough, I was nervous around ones I didn’t know, and all the more when they were the size of a timber wolf. I took a step backward, then another. But the beast only huffed softly at my hand, then fell to the floor and presented his belly to me.

“Is that you, Mrs. Boothroyd?” came a voice from behind—or perhaps beneath—the desk.

“It is. To whom am I speaking? I had hoped to see Mr. Cathcart-Ross today, but—”

“And here I am,” he announced, standing up so suddenly that I took a step back. “I see you’ve already met Grendel.”

“He’s prettier than his namesake.”

“But not as ferocious. Unless you’re a rabbit, that is.”

Mr. Cathcart-Ross came around the desk and held out his hand for me to shake, and as his ink-stained fingers engulfed my own I was taken aback not only by the strength of his grasp, but also by the sheer size of his hand. A stevedore or lumberjack might aspire to such a hand.

There was nothing particularly memorable about his appearance. Nothing, really, to distinguish him from the rooms of clerks I had just passed. He was tall, but then most men seemed tall to me. He was dressed informally, his tie hanging loose, his waistcoat wrinkled. He wore no coat and his shirtsleeves were rolled to his elbows.

His hair was brown and curling, the color of his eyes difficult to discern at a distance. He was smiling broadly, his mouth wide and mobile, and he sported a close-trimmed mustache and Van Dyke beard that suited him very well.

“I do beg your pardon for making you wait. My fault entirely. I got caught up in making revisions to a manuscript and lost track of the time. Idiotic of me, really. May I offer you a cup of tea? A glass of sherry?”

“No, thank you. Is there anywhere we might sit?”

“Of course, of course. There’s a small sitting room just through that door.”

There was an upholstered settee in the room we now entered, Grendel ambling behind us, but I instead went to the table at its center and waited for Mr. Cathcart-Ross to draw out my chair. He did so, the very soul of courtesy, and as he seated himself opposite I set down my folder, drew off my gloves and pulled back my veil.

I didn’t need to look up to know he was staring at me. Examining my features, searching for clues, wondering what twist of fate had brought this small, plain woman to his door.

 

Juliana Ross has an abiding interest (one might even say obsession) in British history that first took root when she was at graduate school in England. She now lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, young children, a cat, a dog, and piles of laundry that refuse to fold themselves, no matter how much she glares at them. In her spare time she likes to cook for family and friends, make inroads into her weed patch of a garden, and read e-books (the steamier the better) on her tablet.

Connect with Juliana on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and her website.

Would You Ever Pay for Sex?

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Would you ever hire a prostitute? For yourself? For someone else?

That’s exactly what the young married couple in The Submission Gift, Jay and Adriana, end up doing. His suggestion, her decision. It’s a complicated process to set up, involving a little fear and a lot of nervousness and awkwardness.

Their relationship isn’t foundering. They love each other fiercely, and they’ve been through tough times together. They aren’t 100% sexually compatible, but then again, who is? They’ve found the overlap in the Venn diagram of what turns them on. Still, Adriana yearns for domination, and Jay knows he’s not the kind of man who can give it to her. It wouldn’t be true to himself, and it wouldn’t be right for her.

The gift of the title is for Adriana: a few “sessions” with a high end rentboy specializing in domination. She’s nervous, but she wants this. And it’s not cheating. After all, her husband will be right there along with her.

Paul, the man they choose, isn’t a magician or a telepathic dom. He’s just very, very good at what he does. And in the tug of desire, the constant back and forth between love and money, things start getting… complicated.

One of the central questions of this novel—well, other than “how much kinky sex can three people have in 100,000 words?”—is, “how can we control our desire?”

Can you turn it on for money… or to please someone you love? Can you turn it off when it becomes dangerous?

Jay, Adriana and Paul end up with deliciously mixed results when they try to answer these questions. I hope you’ll enjoy their journey!

~~~

LA Doms Book 2 (stand-alone)
Genre: Erotic Romance, Ménage, BDSM

Buy links: Carina Press | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | ARe | Google Play | iBooks

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

A husband hires a “rent boy” to satisfy his submission-craving wife, with no idea of the consequences for all three of them, in Ames’s debut, a tender, erotic ménage romance.

Newlyweds Jay and Adriana had a happy marriage and a spectacular sex life—until tragedy struck. Wounded in a car accident, Jay spent a year recuperating while Adriana worked overtime as a chef to pay their bills. Though he’s made nearly a full recovery, some aspects of their intimate play will never be the same. It’s a small price to pay, all things considered.

But when a long struggle with the insurance company results in an overdue payout, Jay has a plan. He’ll take some of it and hire a high-end rent boy who specializes in sexual dominance. Not for him, but as a gift for Adriana, for taking care of him for the past twelve months.

Paul is the handsome stranger they choose…and the one who changes everything. What starts out as a onetime session to fulfill a fantasy turns into something bigger than all of them. But when the money runs out and Paul’s dangerous past resurfaces, the sacrifices required to stay together may end up tearing them apart…

~~~

About the Author:

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. Rejecting neat categories, her writing sprawls across genres and genders and swings from high art to low art, marching with the erotic avant-garde, tongue sometimes in cheek and at other times… well. Along with writing, education and political activism are her passions. Family takes up most of her time, but she loves to keep learning.

Website and Blog: www.solaceames.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/solacewrites
FB: http://www.facebook.com/solace.ames
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/solaceames
Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/MsLrj

~~~

Giveaway Details:

Prizes are one bracelet with three heart charms and two copies of The Dom Project, LA Doms Book #1

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

A Sharp-Dressed Man…Or Not

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I was asked once on a panel how I come up with a hero and heroine for my books. My answer was something along the lines of: the heroes generally come to me first and then I ask myself what kind of woman would make him cuss and kick his truck tires in frustration. Then I give her a name.

Taken With You was an entirely different story, however. Hailey Genest was first introduced in All He Ever Needed as a friend of the heroine and Whitford’s librarian. She was a fun character to write and, as the series went on, readers started asking me if Hailey would get a happily ever after, too.

So now I had a heroine who needed a guy and Hailey was holding out for a man with a little sophistication and polish. Instead, while out in the woods, she’s rescued by a scruffy guy in flannel who doesn’t smell very good. While he cleans up (very) nicely when his vacation ends and it’s time to put on his game warden’s uniform, Matt Barnett is the total opposite of everything Hailey thinks she wants in a man.

She just needed to find a GQ guy in the land of L.L. Bean.

So tell me, which do YOU prefer: a sharp suit or faded flannel? (I don’t think it’ll be a big surprise I’m a flannel girl.)

Taken with YouAbout Taken With You:

Hailey Genest has seen most of her friends marry and have babies, and she’s happy for them, but it was a lot easier before she hit forty. She’s spent her entire life in Whitford, Maine, and if she hasn’t found her Prince Charming by now, she has to accept she’s probably not going to. When a new friend suggests they go on an adventure and embrace being single, Hailey agrees.

Surviving in the woods is game warden Matt Barnett’s idea of a relaxing vacation. But when he meets two women in need of help, he leads them back to safety—a task that proves more fun than expected, thanks to a certain hot blonde. He can’t resist pushing her buttons, even though she’s made it clear that the rugged, outdoorsy type just isn’t for her.

Hailey is glad to see the back of her tempting-tour-guide-slash-pain-in-the-ass. When he shows up in her life again, she’s determined to avoid him, no matter how good he looks in his uniform. But that’s easier said than done in Whitford, especially when he’s renting the house right next door…

And about Shannon:

lookup_cropped200New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her favorite activities are writing romance and really random tweets when she’s not riding her ATV. She loves mud, books, football & watching way too much TV. She can be found blogging (almost) daily on her website, www.shannonstacey.com and is often spotted running amok on Twitter and Facebook. One of her Pinterest boards is titled Kowalski Stuff of Doom, and her current release, Taken With You, is available now from Carina Press.