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


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:, 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!


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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!”


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.


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.


“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.


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.


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.

Author Spotlight: Ricardo Sanchez

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Mystery fans, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to this spotlight. We had a chance to talk to author Ricardo Sanchez and go behind the scenes of his new mystery, Elvis Sightings. Keep reading to find out more!

Meet Ricardo Sanchez…

There are a lot of interesting characters in this book that you don’t usually see in mystery stories.  How do you go about creating your characters?

The original premise for the story was a PI looking for Elvis in a town that would be too weird even for a Weekly World News reader to accept. The initial result was too much for anyone to accept. So I honed down the core of the story to a PI looking for Elvis. But I needed to create an environment where Elvis could hide, if he were still alive. And I needed obstacles for the PI to overcome. So I took what was best from the initial idea and brought that back. I won’t give too much away by saying there are three groups exerting influence over the town were Floyd, the PI, is looking for Elvis: The descendants of a group of Dutch immigrants, a group of circus performers who have tried to settle down for a nice bucolic life, and men in black. Each group has an agenda and a use for Floyd that is at odds with his agenda. So to complicate things as much as possible for our hero, I set out to create characters that he would naturally feel sympathetic to, or in a few cases, very antagonistic towards. That all sounds pretty calculated, but there was also a fair amount of serendipity involved. But when you think about the possibilities of ex-circus performers, militant Dutch-Americans, and some sort of government agency, it’s hard not to come up with some characters that were pure joy to bring to life. And hopefully to read.

Lots of main characters, especially in detective stories, have some kind of hook. They have perfect memory. They drive a cab. They are a little old lady that people don’t watch their tongue around. For Floyd, it’s being a Lifestyle Elvis – he lives his life the way he thinks Elvis would want him to. When in doubt, ask yourself, “What would Elvis do?” Part of the reason for this was to connect him more intimately to the search for Elvis, but also to set readers up for the type of book they’re about to get into.


If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, what would it be?

Forget about it! Take up knitting.

I’m kidding. But writing is hard work. So I think if I were to give myself, or any writer, advice, it would be to find a way to eliminate distractions and give yourself time and a place to focus because you will shock yourself how much you can get written when there is nothing else for you to do. Despite the fact that I quite literally feel a compulsion to create things (mainly by writing) and am miserable when I’m not creating things, I will go out of my way to come up with other things I have to do before I can do any writing. In fact, answering this very question is something I’m doing instead of finishing a short story that I need to hand off in a few days.

There is a writer I know who built a small shack in his back yard. It has reference books, electricity, and a good climate control system. It has no windows, no internet and a computer with nothing on it except the program he uses to write in. He’s a lot more productive than me. And I hate him. Just a little. But if I tried to replicate that shack, it would be because I was probably putting off writing.


What drew you to the mystery genre?

My mother. She loves mysteries. Especially Agatha Christie. I was always more of a Sci-Fi and fantasy reader with some hard boiled stuff thrown in like Chandler and Hammett. There are a few good Sci-Fi mysteries that I absolutely loved, but in my head they were still science fiction books. So I’m at my mom’s house one day and picked up Christie’s Nemesis. I loved it. I hated that there was pretty much no way on Earth for me to finger the killer in advance (or at least not by more than accident) but I really enjoyed the way she constructed the whodunnit. Now, Elvis Sightings bears almost no similarity to an Agatha Christie story, but that was what started me on a binge read of a bunch of mystery stuff from Christie to a dozen other writers including Elmore Leonard and Stephen J. Cannell.


While writing characters like acrobats and bearded ladies, did you ever think what role you’d like to take in a circus and why?

We’re assuming I suddenly have super powers instead of being a total klutz? Actually, I don’t need super powers for the gig I’d want – Ringmaster! Even as a kid, when I went to circus the Ringmaster was the most fascinating person in the show. He or she is the only person you get to know at all, and the Ringmaster ties together the experience from the first tumbler to spring out onto the sawdust to the last clown to taunt him before the closing bit. A bad Ringmaster can totally ruin a circus experience even when the performers are great. A great Ringmaster, on the other hand, turns it into an event.

Then again, the Ringmaster has a lot of pressure, so maybe a clown instead.


Last but certainly not least… favorite Elvis song?

The answer changes from time to time. I’ve cycled through some of the classics like “Long Tall Sally” and “Viva Las Vegas,” but right now it’s a song called “Such a Night.” It’s a cover of a song performed by the Drifters that Elvis released on the Elvis is Back album in 1960.


About Elvis Sightings

elvissightingsI’m Floyd—no last name needed, thanks—and I’m a P.I. The only other thing you need to know about me is that I’m not an Elvis impersonator. I live my life fast and hard and yes, in sequined jumpsuits, but more importantly I live my life the way Elvis would have wanted me to. Honestly. With integrity.

It was a tip that the King was still alive and living under an assumed name that brought me to Kresge, Wyoming. But there’s something bigger than Elvis happening out here. I’ve been beaten bloody by an acrobatic bartender, roped into the search for a missing councilman, fallen for a bearded lady, and threatened by men in black who really don’t want me poking my nose into the town’s business. Half of my leads look like dead celebrities. The other half are either refugees from a broken-down circus or spear-holding Viking wannabes.

I’m in Crazytown, USA, but I can’t leave. Not yet. If I don’t find the missing councilman soon, Kresge will be turned into a Danish-themed amusement park. I’ve never been so close to finding Elvis. And I need to know if my new self-appointed sidekick James Morrison is really who he claims to be…

Click here for more Mystery!

#CarinaMystery sale!

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September marks the start of Carina Press’s mystery celebrations, and what’s a celebration without party favors! From August 29–September 26, you’ll be able to get 10 awesome mysteries from your favorite ebook retailer for just 99¢ each! Which book are you going to read first? Tell us on Twitter using #CarinaMystery!



(mystery, fantasy, alternate history)


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(historical, mystery)


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DESIGNED FOR DEATH by Jean Harrington

(cozy mystery)


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(historical romance, male/male, mystery)


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MURDER ON THE SEASIDE by Julie Anne Lindsey

(cozy mystery)

Murder by the Seaside final

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NO ONE LIVES TWICE by Julie Moffett

(action adventure, comedy, mystery)


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BINARY WITNESS by Rosie Claverton

(detective, mystery)


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PRESUMED DEAD by Shirley Wells

(detective, mystery)


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THE FURNACE by Timothy S. Johnston

(mystery, science fiction, thriller)


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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