Of Sacrifices and Stories

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By Kristine Wyllys, author of LOSING STREAK

We hear about sacrifices all the time. The grim-faced soldier on dusty land, protecting their country. The firefighter who runs into buildings others are running away from. The good Samaritan who jumps into dangerous waters to pull out a drowning stranger. The romantic in me, the one who celebrates bravery and heroism, loves to hear about men and women risking everything for the sake of someone else. Judging by how often those stories get shared about the web, I’m not the only one. We love to hear a good story. We love recognizing those who sacrifice. And we should. They deserve recognition.

But all around us, all the time, sacrifices happen. It’s the father who works a job he detests to provide for his family. The single mom who devotes her every hour to her children, leaving none for herself. The child who goes to a community college so they can stay behind to help their parents. The friend who empties their bank account to help another friend. The person who devotes their every free hour to volunteering. On and on, every day, in tiny, quiet ways. It’s done out of love. Out of duty. To make our world, and the worlds of others, better.

In Losing Streak, my main character, Rosie Young, sacrifices everything for her family and the boy she loves. Her sanity, happiness, and later, her freedom and even morals. Often, all she wants is for someone to stop and notice. To recognize it. She wants to feel like someone sees it and it matters. I’m sure everyone who has quietly sacrificed has felt this way at some point. We’ve wanted someone to look over and say, “I see what you’re doing. It doesn’t go unnoticed and it absolutely matters.” Sometimes we need that in order to keep going.

That’s what I’d like to do today and I’d love it if you’d help me. Use the comments to tell me about someone you admire for their sacrifice. Maybe it’s big or maybe it’s small. Maybe it’s loud or maybe it’s quiet. Maybe they’d be okay with you telling us their story. Maybe they’d only be comfortable with you talking in generals. If you’re not sure, you should probably check with them. A random commenter’s “nomination” will be chosen to receive a $20 Visa giftcard. The commenter will receive a signed print copy of book one, Wild Ones, and a free e-copy of book two, Losing Streak.

And the rest of us? We’ll get to recognize and be recognized. We’ll get to tell the people around us, “we see you and your story.”


LOSING STREAK (The Lane #2)

CARINA_0914_9781426899041_LosingStreakHappiness doesn’t come without a price.

Rosemary Young knows the Lane. It’s where she grew up, raising a brother barely younger than she was. It’s where she served drinks, wearing a gaudy uniform in a low-lit bar to support her mama. It’s where she fell for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Brandon Williams might’ve had a taste for gambling and been headed nowhere fast, but something about him made her almost forget every promise she ever made.

These days when Rosie walks the Lane, it’s on the orders of the man who owns it. The man who owns her—Joshua King. A bet gone wrong ties her to him, serving as the collateral Brandon didn’t have. For Brandon the guilt is a white-hot brand, but Rosie can’t bring herself to regret it completely. The safety of those she loves is worth the sacrifice.

Now King’s called Brandon back to town early and given Rosie one last job to do before they’re free. Nothing—not even King—will keep Brandon from Rosie, not after three years of simply existing without her. And before it’s all over, everything that had been done in darkness will come to light and nothing in their lives will ever be the same again.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author

Kristine Wyllys is a hopeless romantic with wild hair and a thing for twangy music. Born near Detroit, these days she dances around a dusty kitchen in the south with a baby on each hip and the boy she fell in love with at fifteen. When she’s not playing pretend, you can find Kristine at her website kristinewyllys.com

Saying Goodbye to a Series

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By Lynda Aicher, author of SHATTERED BONDS

The release of Shattered Bonds brings an end to the Wicked Play series and it is truly bitter-sweet for me. I spent the last two years creating this world, these characters, their stories. They are my people. Ones I’ve toiled and cried over, cheered and sighed for. I love them in a crazy way maybe only authors and readers can understand, but crazy or not, they are mine. And now it’s time to let them go.

Shattered Bonds is Noah and Liv’s story, but it is also the series end which meant involving all the previous characters, winding up plotlines while evolving the world forward. It created challenges that required me to do something I almost rebelled against, yet the story had to be told. I confess, I cried while writing the epilogue. I’m a sap, I know, but it was my last goodbye to a cast of characters who I believed earned and deserved their happy endings. They are a family by choice and I will miss them in that crazy author way.

Now maybe, okay really, one of the reasons I didn’t lament too long is that my next series, Power Play, releasing next year is a spin-off of Wicked Play. Do you remember those hunky hockey players who were friends to Holden Hauke in Bonds of Courage? Yeah? Well they get their own stories! Which means some (maybe all) of the Wicked Play characters will be sneaking into the new books. Some things work out so well. It’s almost like I planned it that way… (You can read the first chapter of Game Play, Power Play #1 in Shattered Bonds. ☺)

So as a reader, are you sad when a series ends or do you like having a clear ending to a world?

***

“For loyal fans, this is well worth a read.” - 4 stars, RT Book Reviews

  {49225590-7E3D-4CF1-A3F4-F6B0FBA0A8B8}Img100Shattered Bonds, Book Seven of Wicked Play Will the doors of The Den close forever? When the lives and friendships of The Den owners are thrown into chaos, Noah Bakker steps in to deal with the fallout. He hasn’t had a sub or participated in a Scene since tragedy changed his life four years ago. But as an investor in the exclusive BDSM club, he can’t walk away from the lifestyle completely. As he works to keep the club running, he finds himself drawn to Liv Delcour, the seemingly naïve sister of one of the other owners. Liv didn’t know about the naughty things her friends were up to behind closed doors, but when their secrets become headline news, she’s more curious than shocked. As she works with Noah to keep the media at bay, she finds that his dominant strength is more than a little arousing. Soon they’re exploring their mutual desires in the most wicked ways. Liv isn’t sure if she can completely submit to Noah the way she thinks he wants her to—and Noah isn’t sure he can withstand the pain of falling in love… New to the Den? Start at the beginning with Bonds of Trust. Start reading Shattered Bonds now!

 

 

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

Facing Fear Can Change Your Life

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By Alison Packard, author of BREAKING HIS RULES

It’s hard to believe that my new release, Breaking His Rules, is my fifth book with Carina Press. It’s an accomplishment I’m very proud of, but it’s one that almost didn’t happen.

You see, about three years ago, my local Romance Writers of America (RWA) chapter announced that Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, was to be a speaker at an upcoming meeting, and in addition to her presentation she would be doing a Kamikaze cold read. A what, you ask? Well, I asked the same thing and when I was told that the first five pages of manuscripts submitted by the members of my chapter would be read aloud in front of the group, and that Angela would stop the reader exactly where she would stop reading if the manuscript had been submitted directly to her and then give an honest critique, my immediate reaction was…oh hell no. I’d never had my work read aloud to anyone and I was petrified that everyone in the room, including Angela, would think it was total crap.

As the submission deadline approached, I agonized over whether or not to participate. But then I realized that if I was serious about this writing thing then I needed to hear what a respected editor thought of my work. So, still scared to death, I plunged ahead and sent in my five pages.

On the day of the meeting I was as nervous as I’ve ever been. Throughout Angela’s presentation all I could think about was the cold read coming up. Finally it arrived. One of my chapter mates started reading the submissions aloud. As Angela gave her feedback, I was sweating and my stomach was in knots as I pondered the fate of my five pages. After six of my peers’ pages were read to the group, it was time for mine. My knees shook as my work was read aloud. I kept waiting for Angela to stop the reader so she could critique the words I’d written, but she allowed the reader to finish all five pages. I was in shock. Did that mean she liked it? I wasn’t sure.

I’d like to tell you I remember everything she said after it was over, but the only thing that stands out in my mind were these words: “I’d like to see more of this.”

Long story short, I sent her the manuscript for Love in the Afternoon and it was published by Carina Press a year later. When I look back, I’m proud of myself for facing my fear and submitting those five pages. If I hadn’t, I might not be celebrating the release of Breaking His Rules today.

Just for answering the following question on this blog, I’ll enter you in a random drawing to WIN any e-book of mine OR a print copy of my second book, The Winning Season. The question is: “What fear have you faced, and did overcoming it change your life in any way?”

About Breaking His Rules

CARINA_0914_9781426898921_BreakingHisRulesLosing fifty pounds is an incredible achievement. But for Melissa Atherton, progress doesn’t come with praise—a scathing comment from an evil cousin at a bridal shower threatens to crush her new self-esteem. Who will she bring to the upcoming wedding? Showing up without a date would be humiliating. It just isn’t an option.

Personal trainer Jake Sawyer was attracted to Melissa before she lost weight, but her progress has him floored. When she admits she plans to hire a male escort—and why—his heart all but breaks. Melissa’s come too far to be knocked down, especially by her own family. He’ll go as her date…and figure out a way to keep his hands to himself.

But when a steamy hotel room encounter takes them both by surprise, Jake balks. He’s sworn never to date one of his clients, not again. And Melissa can’t bear to be just friends with the man who treated her so tenderly, even if it was only for a weekend. Jake’s helped her see she’s strong enough to stand up for herself, but will she find the strength to pursue the only man who’s ever seen the real her?

70,000 words

About Alison:

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Alison now lives in Southern Nevada where she’s still getting used to the blistering summers and the slot machines in every grocery store.

When not working at the day job that pays the bills, keeps a roof over her head, and supports her book and chocolate habits, Alison spends most of her free time writing. But when she takes a break, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.

For more about Alison, you can visit her website, hang out with her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Calling All Beta Heroes

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By Emma Barry, author of PRIVATE POLITICS

I hope you’re sitting down because I am about to say something shocking. I don’t always love alpha heroes.

Let me backtrack! Like so many before me, I fell in love with romance in guise of one Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain, from Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels. In my head, Dain looks like Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, only unlike that cad, he’s very smart. Beyond his brains, Dain is arrogant, selfish, and rakish. He behaves utterly irrationally—like the mewling man-child with very serious mommy and daddy issues that he is. I don’t know how or why the eminently reasonable Jessica Trent put up with him, but such is love.

As I began to read in genre romance, I found a bevy of alpha heroes. You know the type, leaders who suppress emotion, have significant physical strength, and are willing to resort to violence/threats of violence to achieve their goals. While we don’t always read merely to explore our fantasies and while reading can be a safe way to explore things that we would never put up with in real life, there’s a definite fascination with the alpha. Indeed, most romance heroes seem to come in three flavors: alpha, ultra alpha, and alpha-lite.

But while I can get into sometimes, I do like heroes who are nerds. I like heroes who challenge traditional masculinity. I like heroes who struggle. I like heroes who are imperfect. I like heroes who are funny. I like heroes who are more than a little vulnerable. I like heroes who would help you vacuum the floor.

Which is why the hero of my latest book, Private Politics, is a beta with a lower case b. He’s been in love with the heroine since the moment they met, but he just can’t seem to do anything about it—at least until she needs his help with a brewing scandal. Then epic hugs, late night walks, and explosive chemistry happen. Liam is more than just a beta hero; Alyse is more than just a socialite fundraiser.

Wanna read the blurb?

CARINA_0914_9781426898914_PrivatePoliticsNew York socialite Alyse Philips is not the airhead people take her for-she’s great at convincing D.C.’s rich and powerful to open their wallets. Never one to coast on her family’s connections, her real dream is to help charities in a bigger way. Before she can pursue her ambitions, she discovers a money-laundering scandal that’s got her signature all over it. If Alyse can’t clear her name, she’ll never work in nonprofits again.

Political blogger Liam Nussbaum has been pining after Alyse for six months, certain she’d never go for a quiet guy like him. Helping her with the investigation is a no-brainer. But going up against a seedy network of money and influence isn’t just a romantic opportunity or a chance to grab the headline that will take him into the big time-it’s a gamble that could destroy his blog’s reputation.

As Liam and Alyse dig deeper, their hearts collide alongside their ambition. Will they choose love or politics? Because in Washington, everything comes at a price.

It’s available at all the fine online retailers, including Amazon | B&N | Carina | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Goodreads

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So…do your prefer your heroes alpha, beta, or both?

Emma Barry is a novelist and full-time mama and graduate student. She is the author of Brave in Heart, a historical romance set during the American Civil War, and The Easy Part, a contemporary romance series about political staffers, including Special Interests and Private Politics. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves hugs from her toddler twins, her husband’s cooking, her cat’s whiskers, and Earl Grey tea.

You can reach her on the web and Twitter. She would love to hear from you!

The Best Way to End a Series

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By Jeffe Kennedy, author of ROGUE’S PARADISE

This feels like the end of an era to me, seeing the release of Rogue’s Paradise, the third book in my Covenant of Thorns trilogy.

It’s funny because, for so many people out there, this book represents the moment they’ve been waiting for. If you’ve been reading the series all along, you’ll know what I mean. The relationship between Rogue and Gwynn, my very difficult Fae lord hero and my very stubborn scientist heroine, has been a complicated and fraught one to resolve. I knew that, when I started the first book, Rogue’s Pawn.

What I did not know was that people would think I’d left them with a cliffhanger.

That book has had a long, slow rise in popularity since it came out in July of 2012 and at first I didn’t get all that much feedback on it. But I recall vividly the day I went to the salon and my waxer sat at the reception desk, tapping her nails and giving me a mean look. I literally paused in my tracks.

“I have a bone to pick with you,” she grumbled.

What was it? Had I bounced a check?  Committed some cardinal sin of waxing hygiene? Let me tell you, if there’s one person you don’t want to piss off, it’s the woman about to wax your nethers.

She slapped her hand on the desk. “How could you leave me hanging like that??”

And it hit me that she’d finished reading Rogue’s Pawn. “Um…sorry?” I said.

She forgave me—and flat refused to read book 2, Rogue’s Possession, until she could read the third book immediately afterwards. Knowing now how she is, I agreed that might be the best strategy. I know she’s not the only one. Of the people who have kept up, they’ve made it clear to me that they expect me to deliver the goods they’ve been waiting for.

I think I have.

But that brings me back around to the strange place where this celebratory culmination for readers feels like a sad good-bye to me. It’s not just me, either. When my wonderful, insightful editor Deb Nemeth returned the final copy edits to me, she wrote:

Damn, this is really a rough one for me to turn in. I feel so emotional–I have such love for these stories, and this hero and heroine. They dug their hooks into me so deeply, and I feel so sad to be done with this series.

I suppose that’s a sign of love. Far better for us to say a nostalgic farewell than to be bitterly relieved to see it done. That’s why it’s best for series to end while they’re strong, instead of dragging them out into a pitiful shell of what they once were.  I think we all can think of examples of each…

What are some series you think ended in the best way? Or, eep, went on too long? Which ones do you wish, wish, wish the author would write just a little more of?

Jeffe Kennedy is a scientist and an award-winning author of fantasy, fantasy romance and erotic romance. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She lives in Santa Fe, NM, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Foreword Literary.

Visiting Museums for Research

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By Eleri Stone, author of GUN SHY

One of the best things about writing a historical series is all of the research I get to do. I like reading history books, personal diaries and travelogues. There are tons of websites where you can access maps and records at the click of a button. And then, of course, there’s my favorite form of research—visiting museums.

That might be a nerdly thing to admit, but I’ve loved taking trips to museums ever since I was a school girl and saw the enormous whale hanging overhead at the American Museum of Natural History. The Cloisters sparked my interest in the medieval period and touring old sailing ships in Mystic left me with a longing to write about pirates. Now that I live in the Midwest, we’ve visited a lot of old forts, restored villages, living history farms, and train museums. One of my favorite museums out here is the National Mississippi River Museum. They have a really wonderful steamboat exhibit.

I like sharing my love of history with my kids and I think being able to see the artifacts with my own eyes enriches the stories I’m telling too. Writing a paranormal/fantasy that’s set during a real historical time period, I need the historical parts of the story to feel as authentic as possible in order to let the reader really sink into the story. Being able to describe exactly how the light catches an Amberina glass helps with that. Those details are always going to be in the background so it’s easy to dismiss them as not important but I think they are, and museums are a great place to go to gather up all of those kinds of details that the history books miss.

My new book, Gun Shy, let me combine my love of history and a fascination with cowboys into a paranormal adventure story about love and redemption.  You can read more about it here.

Do you like visiting museums? Have a favorite?

CARINA_0914_9781426898891_GunShyBefore the cure, Lieutenant Lyle Dalton’s job was simple: kill the Reapers. Now, under orders to inject all captured flesh eaters with the serum that restores their humanity, his Rangers at Fort Dougan face entirely new dangers. Someone wanted the Reaper cure badly enough to spill blood for it, and Lyle needs to steal it back if he hopes to hold the border.

Jane Fisher escaped Scraper crime boss Gideon Moore with only the clothes on her back. What he took from her can never be replaced, but her new home at Fort Dougan is the first safe one she’s known. Or was, until the remaining supply of serum was stolen, flown high into the mountains on Gideon’s command. Serving as Lyle’s guide through Scraper territory means revisiting her own personal hell, but it’s also an opportunity–for closure or revenge, Jane isn’t quite sure.

Beautiful, proud and haunted, Jane is a temptation Lyle’s worked hard to avoid. The mountains are the last place she needs to be. But if Jane can find the courage to face down a man like Gideon for the sake of the fort, no force on earth will keep Lyle from her side.

Don’t miss Reaper’s Touchavailable now!

Eleri Stone is a RITA-nominated author of paranormal and fantasy romance. She was born in New Jersey, but now lives in Iowa with her husband and their three children. All of her stories have some element of speculative fiction in them and they all end with a happily-ever-after.

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Excerpt: Shattered Bonds by Lynda Aicher

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Lynda Aicher’s Wicked Play series is a must-read for any erotic romance fan, and the final book is certainly no exception. Shattered Bonds returns readers to The Den, the most exclusive BDSM club in town, for what could be their greatest scandal yet. Shattered Bonds is available now! Get your copy from Carina Press and your favorite ebook retailer today!

 PRE-ORDER NOW!

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About Shattered Bonds:

shatteredbonfsWill the doors of The Den close forever?

When the lives and friendships of The Den owners are thrown into chaos, Noah Bakker steps in to deal with the fallout. He hasn’t had a sub or participated in a Scene since tragedy changed his life four years ago. But as an investor in the exclusive BDSM club, he can’t walk away from the lifestyle completely. As he works to keep the club running, he finds himself drawn to Liv Delcour, the seemingly naïve sister of one of the other owners.

Liv didn’t know about the naughty things her friends were up to behind closed doors, but when their secrets become headline news, she’s more curious than shocked. As she works with Noah to keep the media at bay, she finds that his dominant strength is more than a little arousing. Soon they’re exploring their mutual desires in the most wicked ways.

Liv isn’t sure if she can completely submit to Noah the way she thinks he wants her to–and Noah isn’t sure he can withstand the pain of falling in love…

New to the Den? Start at the beginning with Bonds of Trust.

***

“Over here!”

“Back up. Let ’em through!”

“Hurry!”

The piercing ring of a siren squealed through the air to join the ongoing choir, and cut off the frantic calls before it faded into the distance. An abundance of blue and red lights peppered the cold night with their universal signal for trouble under the blinding spotlights erected around the crash site.

“This way!”

“I need the clamps!”

Chaos surged around Noah as he crouched next to a semiconscious Deklan, who was laid out on a backboard on the edge of the scene. The stench of blood, gas and coolant clouded the area and rode tandem with shouts from the firemen and the medical-filled jargon of the paramedics.

“What the fuck happened?”

He leaned in to catch the slurred words that tumbled from Deklan. Blood leaked through the cloth he held to the man’s head, where a good two-inch gash ran beneath his short hair. He made another scan of the accident and swallowed. His stomach cramped and heaved in a threat to empty itself.

There was too much blood. In the car, on the pavement, covering his friends.

“Stay still.” He braced his free hand on Deklan’s shoulder when the man tried to get up. The first responders had secured Deklan’s neck in a brace, did an injury assessment, then accepted Noah’s offer to stay with Deklan so they could get to the rest of the victims.

“Fuck you,” Deklan mumbled, grimaced and dropped back down. His face was bleach white, eyes hazy with pain and worry. “I need to get to Kendra.”

The desperate edge of panic in his friend’s voice had Noah clearing his throat. “I know.” Shit. He wiped a hand over his mouth and cringed. Too much blood.

“Okay,” a paramedic said as she kneeled on the other side of Deklan. “I can take it from here.” She caught Noah’s eye for a second before her focus went to Deklan.

Noah let go of the bandage he’d been holding and started to move away before Deklan grabbed him.

“Tell me what’s going on,” the man rasped, his voice surprisingly strong, like his hold on Noah’s forearm.

“Sir,” the paramedic barked. “I need you to stay calm.”

Noah ignored the glare from the paramedic and leaned toward his friend. The daze had faded from Deklan’s eyes, and Noah understood the ex-military man needed the facts—good and bad.

“Your car was hit,” he said, his voice even and direct. “It’s bad. Kendra and Tyler are on the way to the hospital. The others are waiting transport. Seth’s the only one who walked away.”

Understanding washed over Deklan’s face in a hard inhale and press of lips. His grip tightened on Noah before he swallowed. “Dead?” The question was whispered, the fear transparent.

“No.” Noah maintained eye contact until the man relaxed back and closed his eyes. Only then did Noah release the breath he’d been holding. Not yet, at least.

“Sir.” He looked up at the nudge against his shoulder to see another paramedic standing at his side. “I need to get in there.”

Noah moved away, heart pounding on a wave of adrenaline fueled by dread that hadn’t let up since he’d watched the horrific accident happen in accelerated detail. His hands shook, the jittering movement continuing despite the tight clench of his fists.

“Let’s go!”

He jerked around to see another stretcher being lifted into the back of an ambulance. Jake. That was Jake. Shit. Where was Cali?

His gaze pinballed across the scene until he landed on the splash of blond hair between the bodies of more paramedics. Blood, shiny and dark, stood out in blaring wrongness in a mat of hair clumped around her temple.

“Sir?”

Noah spun to his right as the ambulance siren blasted through the air. Another one off. That was five victims accounted for. Where were the last two? Dread turned sour in his mouth before he found Seth kneeling next to his girlfriend. Allie was in the same position he’d left Deklan in—prone on a backboard, neck in a brace with a paramedic on her other side.

“Sir.”

“What?” he snarled, the irritation and stark panic he’d been holding back pouring out in that one clipped word. The man held still, and Noah focused in on the thick coat emblazoned with the Minneapolis Police Department logo. Shit. “Sorry,” he said to the officer.

He squeezed his eyes closed to gain some focus, only to picture the horrific sight he’d found when he’d first peered through the cracked windows of the SUV. His eyes flew open and he shook his head to clear away the image.

The officer held out a rag, and Noah stared at it for a moment before his gaze traveled to his own hands. More blood. He flexed his fingers, the stickiness registering in his brain in disconnected understanding. “Thank you.” His voice was hollow in his ears as he accepted the cloth.

Damn it. He swiped at the blood and blew out a few long breaths. There wasn’t time for him to freak out.

His gaze went to the sheet that was now thrown over what was left of the front window of the pickup. With the truck’s nose crumpled almost clear to the cab, it’d only taken one glance at the crushed chest cavity and mangled face to guess the driver’s outcome. Rock had stepped up to the gruesome task of confirming that assumption before the first responders had arrived.

At least none of his friends had been pronounced dead at the scene.

“Sir,” the officer prompted again.

Noah snapped his chin up, control in place before he met the man’s eyes. “What can I do for you?”

The officer pulled out a notepad and pencil, his expression of concern flattening into a professional shield across his broad face. “Did you witness the accident?”

“Yes. I did.” Unfortunately.

“Then I have some questions.”

Noah made one more scan of the scene, noting the location of everyone he knew. Rock was walking next to Deklan’s stretcher as he was wheeled toward another ambulance. Rock’s partner, Carter, was on the side, talking to a police officer. Cali, Seth and Allie were in the same spots, which left Liv unaccounted for.

“Can we do this at the hospital?” he asked the officer, not waiting for an answer. He stepped away, spine straightening to gain the extra height to scan the crowd. The worry he’d tried to bank was back, gnawing at his reserves.

Where in the hell did Liv go? His throat was so dry that swallowing hurt. He didn’t have room to stress about another person. Yet his pulse sped to the thundering pace it’d been at when he’d sprinted to the accident.

He weaved through the crush of people to a man shouting orders, radio in one hand, the other gesturing at the crowd of gawkers that continued to press closer. “Get them back.” His loud bellow cut through the air with a tone of authority and people jumped to do his bidding.

Noah needed information and he had to find Liv. Damn it. He patted down his pockets as he approached the incident commander. Where was his phone? Everything since the crash had bled into a run of reaction-based events. He’d called 911, then Rock needed help opening Seth’s door, then…

“Excuse me,” Noah interjected as soon as the commander ended his discussion on the two-way radio.

“Who are you?” the man barked. He gave Noah a quick assessment before his focus swung back to the accident scene. “You should be behind the barriers.”

Noah choked back his frustration and settled into the stony demeanor that projected his confidence. “I’m their lawyer and friend. I need to know which hospital they’re at so I can let their families know.”

That got the man’s attention. He gave Noah a narrow-eyed appraisal that he met head-on. He might be without his business suit, his clothes smudged with blood, but that didn’t undermine his own authority or determination.

“Right,” the commander finally consented. He looked away, a flash of compassion lining his gruff face before he picked up a clipboard from the hood of the fire truck. He glanced down a document. “The first three went to HCMC. The rest are slotted for U of M, West Bank.”

Of course. There were too many to send to one ER. Noah nodded his thanks and, still tracking the crowd for any sight of Liv, headed over to Rock. The shriek of another ambulance siren sent a shiver through Noah as he watched it pull away. Deklan. That was four. Four out, seven still alive.

As far as he knew.

The cold air swooped in to chill the sweat on his nape but did nothing to cool his heated flesh. He caught Rock by the arm as the man swung away from the retreating ambulance. His features were set hard, like his name. The man’s military experience had never been more glaring to Noah. Rock’s calm composure and fast reactions had kept the panic from overtaking everyone before the emergency crews had arrived.

“Hey,” he said, his voice cracking for the first time that night. He cleared his throat and dug even deeper for the control he had to have. “We need a plan.”

Rock gave one nod, a twitch of the old scar that cut from his brow to his cheek his only show of emotion. “Agreed.”

When nothing else followed, Noah sighed. Every muscle in his body felt like leaded weights pulling him down. What time was it anyway?

“This sucks,” Rock grumbled.

“Agreed.” Noah mimicked Rock’s earlier reply out of a sheer inability to say more. The fallout from one careless driver was going to impact dozens of lives. “We need to split up and call the others. Family, too.”

Rock scrubbed a hand over his face. “Fuck.”

The small break in the man’s composure was somewhat rewarding to see. At least Noah wasn’t alone on barely holding it together. It was an irrational response, but he didn’t have the energy to admonish himself at the moment.

Rock dropped his hand and leaned in, speaking low. “I can’t confirm, but I believe the driver of the truck was that bastard Harcourt.”

Noah flinched, the implications too tangled to comprehend. He shook his head, lips pursed. “No.” He leveled a glare at Rock to ensure the man understood exactly what he was saying. “We can’t deal in hypotheticals. Not now.”

Rock glared right back, his eyes narrowed to slits. “We need to be prepared if it is.”

With the way the pickup had plowed through the intersection without braking, if the once-esteemed but now-disgraced city council member was the driver, they were in for a whole lot of shit none of them needed. He had to listen to Rock, even if his mind rejected the thought. Denial only delayed the inevitable.

“Jake, Kendra and Tyler went to HCMC.” Noah fisted his shaking hands, noticing for the first time that his fingers were freezing. “The others are slotted for U of M, West Bank.”

Rock blew out a breath, and the solid wall of control fell back into place on his features. He drew his shoulders back and lifted his chin, nostrils flaring on his inhale. “Go. Get to HCMC. Carter and I will go to U of M.”

Noah sucked in a gush of cold air and mentally clicked through the details that needed to be taken care of as he scanned the crowd for the still-unaccounted-for Liv. That missing thread was unraveling the tight weave he held on his emotions. He checked his pockets for his phone, once again coming up empty. “Damn it. I can’t find my phone or Liv.”

“Liv’s got your phone,” Rock said. “She called V and Marcus and is moving our cars now.”

Noah stared at Rock, both relieved and annoyed the other man knew that and he didn’t. “And?”

“V’s waiting on hospital info. Marcus is heading to the club to let the staff know and grab emergency contact numbers for everyone.”

Smart. That was smart. He should’ve thought of that. “Right.”

Real Life Imitating Our Stories

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By Stina Lindenblatt, author of LET ME KNOW

While I was trying to come up with an idea for this blog post, my six-month-old kitten started meowing. Her meow was the only inspiration I needed. You see, Callie has a lot in common with my favorite characters that I love to read and write about. No, they aren’t strays. They’re broken.

These are the types of characters who have had horrific pasts and are struggling to cope. They’re stronger because of their pasts, but are afraid of letting anyone in. In Tell Me When and the sequel, Let Me Know, I not only have a broken hero and heroine, I have a cat called Smoky.

Smoky

What do Smoky, my broken hero and heroine, and Callie have in common? Well, when my daughter was three years old, I promised her that if I was ever published, I’d buy her a cat. I also promised that if one of my books was turned into a movie and it won an academy award, I would buy her a unicorn. Much to my relief, the latter hasn’t happened. I have no idea where one buys a real unicorn. When I sold Tell Me When to Carina in a two-book deal, my daughter reminded me of my promise. We eventually found the perfect kitten. While she might not have gone through the same abuse Smoky did prior to the beginning of Tell Me When, she had been found abandoned in a dumpster. She was extremely shy. So much so, that when we brought her home, she hid under the recliner for seven hours and then, while we slept, she managed to crawl into the basement ceiling. It took us three days to find her.

In romance novels, the hero and heroine slowly bring down each other’s wall as the story unfolds, and they overcome the inner demons that haunt them. We cheer for them. We want them to succeed. We feel their every painful moment in the book. And the more broken the characters are at the beginning, the more emotionally connected we feel as the story progresses. When I think back to when my family adopted Callie, I realize she was the perfect cat for me because of two reasons: she looked similar to Smoky and because she reminded me of the types of characters I love to read about. And like the heroes and heroines I adore, her walls are coming down as she grows to trust us.

What are your favorite character types you like to read about? Do you find they influence the types of people you like to be friends with or the type of pets you prefer to adopt?

Let Me KnowThis shouldn’t be happening again…

Amber Scott thought her screaming nightmares would end now that her stalker is locked up and awaiting trial. But they return when her slam-dunk case starts to fall apart. Explicit letters she allegedly wrote surface, suggesting she was the mastermind behind her assault, a willing victim.

Amber only feels safe in the arms of her boyfriend Marcus, the one person she can lean on. Until damning evidence from Marcus’s past collides with the case and the media circus drags them both down. To protect Amber’s reputation, Marcus has only one option: end their relationship. He won’t risk further damage to her case, even if it means breaking her heart.

Amber has to find the strength to step into the spotlight and bring awareness to victims’ rights before she’s convicted in the court of public opinion. And she’s really not sure what’s worse—that her kidnapper could walk free, or that the seemingly endless attention and speculation will drive Marcus away permanently…

See how it all began for Amber and Marcus in Tell Me When.

BIO

Stina-author-photoBorn in England, Stina loves to travel, and has lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. She spent a semester in graduate school living in central Finland, and a summer during her undergrad degree working in Helsinki. She has a Master’s of Science degree in exercise physiologyand has worked with elite athletes. In her free time, Stina is a photographer, mother of three adorable kids, and devoted wife. She currently lives in Calgary, Canada.

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What We Want—Mystery!

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So many intricate details make up a good mystery book. Our Carina Press authors craft their stories with the right amount of set-up and characterization, told in unique voices, and, sometimes, with a dash of humor! For great examples of some of our most excellent titles, see the newest releases above!

Do you have what it takes to twist a plot into a tale our readers cannot put down? We’re looking for stories that keep us guessing, and series that keep us coming back!

Here is what our editors are currently looking to acquire in the mystery genre:

Kerri Buckley, Editor, would like to see:

  • A dark mystery/thriller in the vein of Tana French’s In the Woods
  • Mysteries full of kooky, fast-talking characters and helmed by an unforgettably quirky gumshoe
  • A series starring a Rosemary & Thyme-esque amateur sleuthing duo

Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • Geeks and nerds! A cozy mystery featuring a brainiac amateur sleuth—inventor, archaeologist, scientist or historian
  • Action-packed capers and slick heists with clever twists

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • A sexy gothic novel-length mystery, contemporary or historical, with intense emotions and a strong setting.

 

Series Spotlight: Wicked Play

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by Lynda Aicher, author of the Wicked Play series 

I always find it hard to talk about my own work, in this case the Wicked Play series. The seven book series is coming to an end with the release of the final book, Shattered Bonds. So instead of me going on about why you should read the series (if you haven’t already), I thought I’d share what some reader/reviewers have said about Wicked Play.

“…bridging the gap between mainstream romance and Fifty Shades of Grey… this title will appeal to fans of the works of Lora Leigh, Maya Banks, or Sylvia Day.” – Library Journal Xpress Reviews

“The Wicked Play series always offers a quality story centered on hot sex, burgeoning romance and BDSM.”  - 4 stars, RT Book Reviews

I highly recommend this series for those new to the genre and for those who have been reading it a while.”  – 5 stars, Bewitching Bibliophile 

“I’m totally in love and invested in these characters. It’s one of my most favorite series of 2013.
Lynda Aicher is one great talent.” - 5 stars, Just One Opinion

“I’d highly recommend Lynda Aicher’s Wicked Play series to any fans of Cherise Sinclair
or Kallypso Masters.” - B+, Dirty Girls Good Books

Although each book in the series contains elements of BDSM, the stories focus on the emotional development and connection of the characters. They are love stories that battle through personal doubts and societal expectations before happy-ever-after’s are found. It’s a world built on the bond between the characters and the couples who are a family not by blood but by choice.

About Shattered Bonds: Book Seven of Wicked Play

{49225590-7E3D-4CF1-A3F4-F6B0FBA0A8B8}Img100Will the doors of The Den close forever?

When the lives and friendships of The Den owners are thrown into chaos, Noah Bakker steps in to deal with the fallout. He hasn’t had a sub or participated in a Scene since tragedy changed his life four years ago. But as an investor in the exclusive BDSM club, he can’t walk away from the lifestyle completely. As he works to keep the club running, he finds himself drawn to Liv Delcour, the seemingly naïve sister of one of the other owners.

Liv didn’t know about the naughty things her friends were up to behind closed doors, but when their secrets become headline news, she’s more curious than shocked. As she works with Noah to keep the media at bay, she finds that his dominant strength is more than a little arousing. Soon they’re exploring their mutual desires in the most wicked ways.

Liv isn’t sure if she can completely submit to Noah the way she thinks he wants her to—and Noah isn’t sure he can withstand the pain of falling in love…

New to the Den? Start at the beginning with Bonds of Trust.

Click here for more from the Wicked Play series.