That Was Your Favorite Part? Really?

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FIRST TO BURN, Book 1 of The Immortal Vikings

A soldier with secrets. Immortal Viking Wulf Wardsen once battled alongside Beowulf, and now serves in Afghanistan. He trusts the mortal men on his elite special operations team to protect his secret, until an explosion lands him in a place more dangerous to him than a battlefield: a medevac helicopter.

A doctor with questions. Army captain Theresa Chiesa follows the rules and expects the same from others, even special forces hotshots like Sergeant Wardsen. She’s determined to discover the secret behind his supernaturally fast healing, and she won’t allow his sexy smile to distract her.

An enemy with nothing to lose. Even as Theresa’s investigation threatens to expose him, Wulf wants nothing more than to build a future with her. But the Viking relic that might reverse his immortality is being hunted by another–an ancient enemy who won’t hesitate to hurt Theresa to strike back at Wulf.

Reading is one of the last solitary personal spaces. Although more and more of us interact about books on social media, the way a book remains a unique experience for each reader was brought home to me when I asked my friend/beta reader Mary and my editor Jeff to help me choose a memorable scene from First to Burn to submit as an exclusive excerpt at a book review site.

Jeff listed the motorcycle chase in Rome, the sewer escape and the sauna love scene. Mary jumped on the cookies-and-movie scene and “the scene where Wulf finds out about his brother.” My short list contained the designer-boot shopping scene, evading the nosy photographer and the other cookie scene, where Theresa finds out that her mother’s care package can cause unexpected trouble:

“Delicious.” His slow, deep voice returned, cueing her to look down.

Her mother hadn’t put cookies on top. Black lace peeked out of pink packing tissue. Jet beads caught the sun and winked at her from ribbon trim that connected two scalloped bra cups. She shoved the offending object deeper. Her jaw hurt from the pressure of gritting her teeth, but nothing she could say, nothing, would make this go away. She should shut up. Right now.

“If you decide to take her advice…” His smile lifted one side of his mouth.

What was he talking about? She followed his gaze to a sticky note that’d transferred from the tissue paper to her forearm. Not for your roommates! Share these with a nice boy. Written in her mother’s distinctive slanted loops.

She needed to escape before she surpassed her record for embarrassment, set the day she broke her holster in pre-deployment training at Fort Benning, and her Beretta slipped down inside her pant leg. Two more minutes and she’d blurt out that story. That would impress a Special Forces stud.

“Here.” She reached deep, felt plastic and tugged out a bag of chocolate espresso swirls.

Mary is well-acquainted with Mr. Richland’s baking expertise, so I know why we both thought of the scenes with cookies. I was surprised she also flashed on the creepy scene where Wulf arrives at his brother’s deserted house and finds graphic evidence of their enemy’s retribution, because I had no idea it was one of her favorite scenes. Even after being roommates at the end of the grunge era and sharing hundreds of books with each other, talking about specifics taught me something new about my friend. She likes scary more than cute. (Although apparently not more than cookies.)

My editor preferred the sauna love scene over the first love scene, which is my favorite. The sauna fits my hero’s lifestyle, because he’s an immortal Viking, but I don’t personally enjoy tiny over-heated rooms. Even if Wulf gives Theresa a much better appreciation for the benefits of steam and cedar benches, I’m not a sauna type, so that scene never came to my mind.

Try the same game. Find someone–book group, friend, family–who’s read the same book recently and ask what three scenes she remembers best or would recommend as an excerpt. Any overlap with your list? Any complete surprises?

Anna lives with her quietly funny husband and two less-quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. She is a former army officer who now fills her days with imaginary friends and lots of coffee. Her new paranormal romantic suspense series is inspired by the Beowulf epic, and she also writes military romances, grocery lists and opinionated reviews of children’s books.

Anna would love to connect with readers at Facebook or Goodreads.
Visit for a longer excerpt from First to Burn and a sneak peek at Anna’s next book from Carina Press.

How Hot is Too Hot?

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Some people like their romance sweet, some readers like the characters to steam up the page. I’ve written a lot of romance, much of it erotic. There’s not a lot of sexual content I shy away from. I’ve published over 50 books and novellas, and each one has had at least a few fairly explicit sex scenes. But what does a writer do when sex just doesn’t fit the book?

In Ashes & Alchemy, I decided not to force it. Even though morals are a little different in my steampunk version of 1960, my hero, Seb, is still a gentleman, through and through. He not only falls in love with Minnie, the heroine, but he also respects her deeply. Minnie, mind you, doesn’t necessarily agree with this waiting business. She’s not an innocent young maiden—she’s a mother, after all. But she’s had a rough life and Seb’s out to prove that he considers her just as special as any diamond-studded debutante. So…no sex until after they’re married.

I had a choice. I could tweak Seb’s character and have him give in. It’s a novella, so it’s not like there’s room for much extraneous fooling around. Or, I could wait until the very end to slip in a little heat. Since I fell so deeply in love with Seb on my own, there was no way I was going to weaken his resolve. In this case, the characters won the battle. Seb and Minnie will have the rest of their lives together to heat up the sheets. I hope my readers aren’t too disappointed they’ll only get a taste.

So tell me, what would you prefer, as a reader or writer? Stick with the author or series’ standard heat level, or follow the characters and the story? I did struggle with this question and would genuinely love to know your opinions, since I’m sure it’ll happen again. In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy my peek at how the middle class lives in the world of the Gaslight Chronicles.

Ashes & Alchemy
Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and All Romance e-Books.

London, 1860
Police inspector Sebastian Brown served Queen and country in India before returning to England to investigate supernatural crimes alongside the Order of the Round Table. If his wifeless, childless life feels a little empty sometimes, that’s not too great a price to pay in the name of duty.

Minerva Shaw is desperately seeking a doctor when she mistakenly lands on Sebastian’s doorstep. Her daughter Ivy has fallen gravely ill with a mysterious illness—the same illness, it seems, that’s responsible for taking the lives of many of Ivy’s classmates.

Seb sniffs a case, and taking in Minnie and Ivy seems the only way to protect them while he solves it. But as mother and daughter work their way into his heart and Seb uses every magickal and technological resource he can muster to uncover the source of the deadly plague, it’s he who will need protecting—from emotions he’d thought buried long ago.


Contest: a Rafflecopter giveaway  Win a custom piece of steampunk jewelry or pocket watch from The Spectra Nova. Enter again by following my Bewitching Book Tour over the next two weeks!


Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. An award-winning author of 18 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons, a granddaughter and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Connect with Cindy on Facebook, Twitter, or her website and sign up for her newsletter group!

Magic and Mysticism in Marfa

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Magic, mysticism, and wee ghosties that go bump in the night have always fascinated me. I was recently reminded of a traumatizing high school incident concerning a Ouija board. Whoa! Some things need to stay in the dark. I’m more into movies like Practical Magic, the TV series Charmed, and books from authors like Sarah Addison Allen. The magic is white and the good guys always win. And that’s how I chose the setting for my first Carina Press book, Beyond Texas.

Marfa (aka Mirage) is a small town in far West Texas that’s famous for the mystical lights that have been dancing across the desert as long as people have inhabited the area. Tourists, scientists, ranchers, and skeptics of all ilk have reported seeing the colorful orbs that appear in uninhabited and difficult area to access. The lights span the color spectrum and occur randomly regardless of the weather. They’ve been explained as swamp gas (in a desert), car lights (in 1883), ball lightening (I’ll give them that one), UFO’s, and the spirit of Apache ancestors. They’ve been known to zoom across the desert and whip back almost as if to entice viewers to follow them. Whatever the cause or the description, the miracle lights tantalize our imagination. Personally, I like to think of them as a friendly reminder that not everything is explainable.

Have you ever had an experience that didn’t quite fit what we call reality, that didn’t adhere to the rules of physics, that made you wonder—be it a feeling, a glance, a sound that seemed out of place?

Let’s chat about your otherworldly experiences.

Mysticism isn’t the only reason I chose Marfa (Mirage) as the setting for Beyond Texas. A small town in far West Texas seems an unlikely place to be on the cinematic map, but that’s exactly what happened when a famed producer made the Academy Award-winning movie “Giant” in the 1950’s. From that auspicious beginning Marfa was featured in such mainline films as “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood.” And believe it or not, a town with a population of 1,900 now sponsors an annual film festival. Throw in the mix the fact that Marfa has a military history dating back to the Mexican Revolution, and I had the perfect place for my hero and heroine’s romantic adventure. My heroine, Twinkie Sue Carmichael refers to the desert of West Texas as a part of her soul—a place where the blues, and pinks and yellows of sunrise melt together like an Impressionist painting.

Check out this YouTube video. Even though the cars are vintage, it is an entertaining introduction to Marfa and the lights.


About the Book


There’s no place like Texas, and there’s no one like a Texan!
A budding entrepreneur, Twinkie Sue Carmichael is the co-owner of the Clown Motel in Mirage, Texas, a town known for the mystical lights that dance across the desert. As mayor, Twinkie is concerned about the shenanigans at nearby Fort Huacha, a redundant military facility that’s now the home of the Brotherhood. Why are pregnant teens being held at the fort? And what can she do about it when her witness is reluctant to go to the police?

A former drug agent, Cole Thornton arrives in Mirage looking for his kidnapped sister. He suspects she’s at the fort but he can’t prove it.

As they form a partnership to investigate the Brotherhood, Twinkie’s hormones and internal alarm go on high alert. Is this good-looking guy who he seems? In this fast-paced adventure Cole and Twinkie fall in love (and lust) surrounded by an eccentric cast of characters, from her cohort of girlfriends to her sheriff ex-husband. And from Cole’s high-powered family to his former drug cop partner. Not to mention his missing sister, a group of pregnant teens and a houseful of retired hookers.

As the Brothers and an assortment of other bad guys soon discover, you’d better not mess with a Texan!


Click here to buy Beyond Texas from Carina Press!



A Tidbit to Entice You

“Look what that no-good wind blew in now,” Jessie Roy mumbled. “She-et, old Beelzebub really does have it in for us.”

A lot of folks shared his pessimism. In her dual duties of town mayor and vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, Twinkie had assumed the job of head cheerleader, but even her optimism had its limits.

First, they’d endured the media circus surrounding the crazy polygamist cult that had spilled over from the adjacent county, and now they were in the middle of a ball-busting, ground cracking drought the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Great Depression. It was so bad the Baptists had resorted to sprinkling rather than their usual dunking.

Mama scampered over to unlock the door. “We have a customer.” Wave a dollar bill in her face and she morphed into Silly Putty.

Twinkie watched as the rider dismounted and took off his helmet. His Hog wasn’t any run-of-the-mill Harley. This guy rode a low-slung custom Blackline with polished chrome and red flame racing stripes.

The man strolled in the lobby oozing testosterone. With hair the color of midnight and a five o’clock shadow, he had the bad boy persona down pat. Please God, her eyes weren’t bugging out.

“Thank you, ma’am.” He nodded to Mama. “It’s a treat to have such a lovely concierge,” he said as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m glad I found a place to stop. That storm’s a real b…bad devil.”

Twinkie had always been a sucker for broad shoulders, and those biceps–well, let’s just say that a Texas Cowboy T-shirt with the sleeves ripped out had never looked so good. Faded jeans encasing very long legs and an impressive ass completed the picture. At least that was her impression until he took off his mirrored aviator sunglasses and she discovered he had eyes the color of          Mama’s sapphire ring. Oh boy, the big bad wolf had just rolled into town!

Jesse Roy pulled out his cell ready to punch in Dan’s number. “I’m definitely calling the sheriff.”

“We don’t sic the law on our customers.” Twinkie took a deep breath to regulate her breathing. Lord in heaven, she hadn’t clapped eyes on anyone like him in a month of Sundays.  “That’s not a good business model.” Actually, the only business she had on her mind was monkey business. She hated to admit it, but she hadn’t enjoyed as much as a kiss in six long months. That had to be the reason her lust-o-meter had just rocketed into the stratosphere.


About Ann

Ann writes romantic adventures served with a big dollop of humor. She likes sassy heroines and tough, but tender, heroes. As a fifth generation Texan she loves to set her books in the Lone Star state. Beyond Texas is her first Carina Press book (look for the sequel in the summer of 2014). An award winning author, Ann is a two-time Rita finalist and has written nine novels and one novella for Harlequin American and Everlasting. You can connect with Ann at her website, her Facebook and her Twitter feed.

She loves to hear from her readers. Connect with Ann on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or her website!

Holiday Date Night

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Once the presents are wrapped and the Christmas tree is aglow in festive lights, the magic of the holidays surrounds us. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend time with those you love. We asked the three talented authors of the newly published anthology For My Own what their ideal holiday date night would include, and here are their responses:

Shari Mikels – Christmas Curveball

My ideal holiday date night would start off with a six o’clock showing of The Nutcracker ballet. We’d have seats close enough to see the exertion of the dancers, but far enough away to take in the entire stage at once. Afterward, we’d have dinner at a restaurant featuring a live jazz band softly playing holiday tunes in the background as to not overwhelm the diners. And finally, we’d go to a little desserts-only shop that bakes specialty cakes by day and opens its doors to theater and concert-goers at night for a sweet treat to end the evening.

When newly single Rachel Tanner finds out that pro pitcher Kevin Ganlin has come home to recover from an injury, her heart skips a beat. She’s loved him from afar since her preteen years, never bold enough to let him know.

Connect with Shari on TwitterFacebookTumblrGoodreads, and her website!


Alison Packard – A Christmas For Carrie

My ideal holiday date would start with an early evening sleigh ride with my sweetie. Snuggled together under a warm blanket, we would sip hot cocoa and gaze at the stars until our driver delivered us to our destination: a cozy bed & breakfast where we are the only guests. After a romantic candlelight dinner for two, we’d sit in front of a roaring fire, listen to holiday music and forget about everything and everyone except each other.

The very thought of Christmas is enough to darken Carrie Jones’s day. “Jingle Bells” and eggnog? Not for this girl; not anymore. But running into a handsome old crush might make this year different…

Connect with Alison on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her website!


Kinley Cade – Kissing Her Scrooge

The most romantic holiday date to me is for sure in Kissing Her Scrooge. In the book it’s over a series of different dates, but combine them and that’s the ultimate fantasy: Hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows; a tree lighting ceremony; twinkly lights; connecting with family and friends; and spending time with someone you love. Realizing that person you love knows you better than anyone else.

The holidays are a romance waiting to happen. I’m really glad I got to write one.

Every Christmas, Hannah Jones makes it her mission to give her hometown the perfect pageant. Even malfunctioning inflatable Santas and lost students can’t stop the self-proclaimed Miss Holiday. But the teacher may have met her mismatch in sexy but antisocial tree farmer Griff Green. Hannah’s been lusting after her new neighbor for months—and she’s determined to melt his heart by being naughty as well as nice…

Connect with Kinley on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and her website!

For My Own: A Contemporary Christmas Anthology


Snowy days and steamy nights

This year, a modern-day Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas with the help of a suddenly sexy old friend. A down-on-his-luck baseball star finds a beautiful new beginning with a hometown girl. And a prim-and-proper teacher is determined to bring out the holiday spirit in a grumpy tree farmer. Settle in for the season with this collection of very merry short fiction.

Edited by Angela James.

Stories also available for purchase separately.


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For a mountain girl, there isn’t anything better: Hard-bodied men who brave the outdoors, work in and with nature, have their character molded by their environment. They rise before the sun, always smell of fresh-cut wood and have arms like steel. My favorite part of their bodies has got to be the rough hands that cradle you gently, yet masterfully handle an axe or saw to fell a massive 100-foot tree.

Yes, I married a lumberjack. Sort of. He’s been in the lumber industry for well over 25 years and filled a number of positions, all of them outdoors and blue-collar. He was raised in the business, really, since his father is still a logger, forester and anything else that the company needs him to be. I’ve heard every dirty joke out there about hard wood.

I decided it was finally time to write what I know. I took my love of my home state of West Virginia and combined it with my knowledge of the timber industry. The series, COUNTRY ROADS, kicks off with TAKE ME HOME and Matthew Shaw, the lumberjack with the heart of gold and a dark secret. Everything about him, from the saw-dusty clothes and muddy boots, screams “man of the mountains”.

But there is a new woman on his mountain, one whose very presence gives him trouble as much as she gives him wood!

Logging manager Matthew Shaw is wary when Kayla Edwards, the owner of Mountain Specialty Spices, hires his firm to harvest timber on her Appalachian property. It’s a place he knows better than the back of his calloused hand—it’s his family’s old homestead, lost years ago in a painful foreclosure. He’s hauled himself up from dirt-floor poor since then, and resolves to stay professional…but Kayla’s vivacious beauty makes it hard to focus on his job.

Home. That’s how army-brat-turned-foodie Kayla feels about her new mountain hideaway. What’s more, the hottest lumberjack ever to swing an axe has agreed to manage her timber crop and get the old maple syrup operations back on tap. Matt’s ruggedly sexy ways and passion for the land have her falling hard.

The heat between them grows wild…until Kayla discovers that Matt hasn’t been up front with her. She feels devastated and, worst of all, used. How can Matt prove it’s her he wants and not her land?

TAKE ME HOME is available at and all participating ebook retailers.

INEZ KELLEY was born and bred in the mountains of West Virginia. Although you can never take the hillbilly out of the girl, her knight in shining armor transplanted her to the Midwest along with their teenage drama queen, Spawnetta, and the Demolition Duo – Damien and his twin, the Omen.

Sign up for Inez’s newsletter to get sneak peeks and contest entries. You can visit her at her website  Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at

About those people who want to read my book

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So, as of release, there are a few avid readers out there who want to read TASTE OF PASSION because it’s a sexy sci-fi romance with a headstrong heroine whose empathy lets her taste emotion.

And then there are the people who want to read my book for another, more terrifying, reason: They know me in person.

– My usual waitress at a local seafood restaurant, who witnessed the big post-contract celebration with the BFF
– And every other waiter/waitress who’s had Laurie and I in over the last few months
– My mother’s friend from high school who is very active in her church community
– My brother, who heard on the news self-publishing is a great way to get rich quick
– My housekeeper, who has a hard time getting into books lately, but thought about reading 50 Shades of Grey
– All of the friends of my very enthusiastic cousin
– My friend Sam, who’s more into horror and thrillers and sci-fi and such
– My hair stylist, who has read 50 Shades of Grey, and made a not-impressed face when remembering the sex

Note, if you publish your romance debut in 2013, all mainstream world discussion jumps off from 50 Shades of Grey as a baseline. It’s like the Wal-Mart in a small town used for directions – “It’s one mile down from the Wal-Mart, take a left on Highway 81, second right.” So, if I’m talking with non-romance-fan friends, TASTE OF PASSION is “A lot like 50 Shades of Grey. They both have sex in them, and it’s just everything else that’s different.”

I guess real-life-person reviews will be trickling in over the next few months. Wish me luck on that.

Though, I do have one early review back – Sam’s gal loved it, and it made her want to read a lot more romance. I created a romance fan, guys! Man, is it dusty in here. It’s a localized dust storm, right around my eyes.

Taste of Passion by Renae Jones


21,000 word novella
Sci-fi erotic romance

Fedni, an empath who can taste emotion, was once a highly desirable courtesan. But the conquering New Earth Federation has abolished her temple, forcing her into early retirement and making her struggle to find her place in a transformed world.

Learn more about TASTE OF PASSION

Renae Jones on TwitterRenae Jones on Facebook

Yeehaw! Cowboys!

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Need we say more?

Okay, we know we don’t have to, but we will. You see, there are few heroes as enduring as the cowboys of the American west. Strong, resilient, upright men of honor, a cowboy knows how to get down and dirty, but he also knows exactly how to treat a lady.

There have been many, many memorable cowboys in fiction and film. Today, we’d like to share a few of our favorites with you!

Maggie Wells:

Will Kane, former Marshal of Hadleyville, and the law man determined to face his destiny in High Noon. Strong without being overbearing, Marshal Kane was a man with a strong dedication to duty. He placed the good of the town above his own personal well-being, and will willing to sacrifice his deepest desires for what he felt in his heart was the right thing to do.  Oh, and it didn’t hurt that Marshal Kane was portrayed by the incomparable Gary Cooper, either!

Christina Thacher:

Well, it has to be Clint Eastwood for me. But which of his many cowboy roles would I pick? I think I have to go with Hogan, his drifter/mercenary/romantic hero in Two Mules for Sister Sara. I love the plot of Hogan being confused by Shirley MacLaine’s Sister Sara, who smokes cigars and drinks his whisky. Eventually he learns that she’s a prostitute pretending to be a nun. It’s not quite screwball comedy, but funny and sweet as well as dramatic and exciting. Not a great movie, perhaps, but when they ride off together, I’m rooting for them. And that’s a cowboy I can love. (Plus Maggie already bagged Gary Cooper, darn her.)

Emily Cale:

Will the others kill me if I say that I’m too young to remember most of these? The one I do remember watching was Guy Williams in the TV show Zorro. Even as a little kid, there as something about him that summed up exactly what I wanted in a guy. He was chivalrous, always after the bad guy and super dreamy. Even now, when the word Zorro comes up, I am immediately in (even if I am usually disappointed by what shows up on these screen these days).

Ginny Glass:

My pick may be a little unconventional – one of my favorite “cowboys” is Kevin Kline as Paden in Silverado.  As a former gambler and outlaw, you see him first in dire circumstances, robbed and left in the desert to presumably die. Have no, fear, though, our man eventually makes it to the nearest town with the aid of the equally awesome Scott Glenn and this leads into one of the best scenes in the film – Kline has a showdown with his attackers dressed in nothing but long, red underwear.

I love the character’s mix of humor, swagger, and even of moral conflict. Part comedic, part dramatic, intelligent and sensitive with hints of a rogue past, Kline is super-smokin’ in this movie – just enough bad boy and just enough hero to make the cowboy lover in all of us swoon a bit.

But the gals reminded me of a few other hot cowboys, too – guess I’ll have to hit up my Netflix queue and brush up on some hot outlaws and lawmen. Hope you’ll all check out the final volume of Love Letters and enjoy some of our heroes as well!

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Love Letters Volume 6: Cowboy’s Command – available now from Carina Press!

These men know how to ride! Meet red-hot ranchers and captivating cowboys in five new short stories in Love Letters Volume 6: Cowboy’s Command.

V Is for Vindicated by Maggie Wells
Barrel-racing queen Michelle Kelly likes to ride wild–but her old flame Cole Powell might have what it takes to rope the woman he loves once and for all.

W Is for Wanted by Ginny Glass
When Samuel Thrasher is forced to return to his family’s ranch, he doesn’t want to revisit his past…except when it comes to Merrit Hightower, who’s definitely not the innocent girl he left behind!

X Is for XXX Ranch by Maggie Wells and Emily Cale
Jane Richardson is stunned to discover that the property she’s inherited isn’t the working ranch she imagined. Handsome neighbor Clive Boland offers to buy the XXX Ranch–and proposes more than just a business deal.

Y Is for Yearning by Christina Thacher
Cowboy Ben Hastings is everything Diana wants in a man. He may be quiet, but their passion between the sheets is anything but. Yet making a place for her in his bed and life may be a challenge…

Z Is for Zeal by Emily Cale
Rancher Aaron Lyons hates when tourists take over his local bar during rodeo week–until he meets Nathan Howell, and their encounter turns into a one-night stand neither of them will forget.
Learning the alphabet has never been so sexy. New to the Love Letters series? Start reading today!

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Who loves a mystery? Me!

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The sixth book in my Dylan Scott mystery series, Deadly Shadows, has hit the virtual shelves and I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am to be published by Carina Press and see my books alongside such wonderful mysteries. Seriously, you should check out the Carina Press mystery category.

I’ve read most of Carina’s mysteries and, although there are far too many to mention individually, here are some of my favourites.

Hunter Files
I’m addicted to W. Soliman’s Hunter Files series. Addicted, I tell you. Charlie Hunter retired from the British police force at 40 to enjoy some relaxing time on his boat, but ends up risking life and limb to solve a variety of cases. He does anything but relax on that boat. I fall in love with him all over again each time I’m treated to another in this wonderful series.

The Shoeless Kid
Kate Williams has a new job as a small-town police chief and is tempted to ignore the homeless man who walks into her police station clutching a kid’s shoe. But then a child actually does go missing and – well, no spoilers from me, but I couldn’t put The Shoeless Kid down. I became a huge fan of Marcelle Dube’s Kate Williams.

Allegra Fairweather
If your tastes run to paranormal mysteries, I heartily recommend the Allegra Fairweather series of books by Janni Nell. Allegra is a paranormal investigator (don’t call her a ghostbuster) who solves cases with the help of her very own, drop-dead gorgeous, guardian angel. And I do mean drop-dead gorgeous. Yum.

Scene Stealer
If it’s a cozy mystery you like, why not try Scene Stealer by Elise Warner? This begins with a chance encounter on the subway when a retired schoolteacher sees a child that she knows is afraid. Augusta Weidenmaier soon becomes determined to help the police in their search for a missing nine-year-old child actor. Augusta is a wonderful character who refuses to be intimidated by anyone. She’ll stop at nothing and I found myself cheering for her every step of the way.

As for my latest offering, Deadly Shadows takes private investigator Dylan Scott back to my own home, the somewhat bleak and forbidding hills of East Lancashire in the UK.

Deadly Shadows

Before his disgraceful dismissal from the police force, Dylan Scott worked undercover to get close to notorious drug dealer Joe Child. Now, Dylan works as a P.I. – and Child heads up a religious commune near Dawson’s Clough. But after two girls go missing from the refuge, the cops need Dylan’s help to find out if Child is saving souls as a cover for something more sinister.

The investigation means going back undercover as a petty crook – a tough gig for a detective who has recently worked some high-profile cases in Lancashire. Even on a remote farm, Dylan’s in constant danger of being recognized. Not to mention the strain his long absences have put on his family life.

Still, Dylan won’t rest until he finds the missing girls. But the longer he looks, the harder it is to tell the sinners from the saints. And the truth may be more than this bleak northern town can handle.

(Read an excerpt here.)

From the above, you’ll see that I love all sorts of mysteries, from the hard-boiled to the cosy, from police procedurals to paranormal. For me, the fun is in solving the puzzle, in figuring out whodunnit before the sleuth does. I also love a good battle between good and evil. Will the sleuth save the day? Will good overcome evil? I read a lot – romance, sci-fi, romantic suspense, anything – but mysteries will always hold a special place in my heart.

What about you? Do you enjoy a good mystery? If so, how do you like them? Hard-boiled or cozy? Paranormal? Brought to you with a large dose of romance? I’m curious. Also, if you have any recommendations of your own, please share!

Shirley Wells lives in Lancashire, UK, where most of her crime novels are set. She shares her home in the Pennines with her husband and two dogs. Her loves include dogs, books, chocolate, more books, football, and more books. To find out more about Shirley and her writing, visit her website, or chat via Twitter and/or Facebook.

The End?

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The Volatile Amazon is the final book in the four-book Alliance of the Amazons series.

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In many ways, I’m thrilled with its release. I strongly believe fans of the series will love the way Sarita’s story brings together all four books—from the Amazon sisters, to the goddesses, to the enemy they’ve hunted for so long.

On the other hand, I’m sad. To bid my Amazons adieu feels the same as saying goodbye to dear friends. Sarita, Gina, Megan, and Rebecca are just as “real” to me as any person I’ve known. I’ve lived and breathed their ups, their downs, their triumphs, and their tragedies.

So where do I go from here?

That’s a complicated question…

I have so many new stories swimming through my mind, I can now take the time to get to know all those characters the same way I became engrossed in the lives of my Amazons. There will be one big change for the time being—my focus is shifting.  photo rulesofthegames_zps1c51c4ab.jpg
Instead of writing urban fantasy—which I dearly love—I want to churn out a few more contemporary romances. It seems I have my greatest success in that genre. For example, my Carina Press contemporary romance, Rules of the Game, recently  photo holtimage_zpsf5820068.gif won the HOLT Medallion for best novel with strong romantic elements. It’s also a finalist for the Aspen Gold Readers’ Choice Award, the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award, and was a Golden Quill finalist. Rather hard to stay away from that kind of appreciation for my stories!

So if you’re looking to read more “Sandy James” books, keep your eye on releases in the contemporary romance arena. This might be “the end” of the Alliance of the Amazons, but there are plenty more stories full of tears, laughter, and love on the way!


The Volatile Amazon

Sarita Neeraj has never felt like a real Amazon. Compared to the obvious strengths of her sisters, her Water powers seem small as her stature. She’s determined to prove herself–unfortunately, all that gets her is captured by an enemy.

Ian serves a twisted goddess, preferring this to an empty afterlife. He’s taken Sarita hostage to coax the other Amazons from their safe haven. But in his ancient Scottish castle, the passion and love Ian finds for Sarita resurrect his honor, until he chafes at the dark will of his mistress. 

Sarita has finally found happiness–but before she can enjoy it, she’s “rescued” by her furious sisters. To save Ian from destruction at the hands of the Amazons, Sarita must risk wielding magick that could change her very nature. Only then can she prove the Water Amazon is the strongest of the four–and save them all from destruction.

Meet Earth, Fire, and Air in The Reluctant
Amazon, The Impetuous Amazon, and The Brazen Amazon.

 Find Sandy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


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Oops! Sorry, didn’t know you were there…Okay, maybe we did.

The Love Letters ladies have been at it again. Want to get a peek at their thoughts on being exposed? Read on!

Be sure to stick around to the end – there’s a FREE BOOK in it for you!

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Christina Thacher on why taking a chance can be so hot:

Here’s the thing about exhibitionism. It’s charming…as long as no one is watching! I know that’s contradictory, but really, it’s true. You want your lover to see you, sure, but you don’t want anyone else to watch. Still, there has to be the possibility that someone else can see. I borrowed a friend’s house in the country once. The swimming pool was open on three sides, but there were lots of trees and bushes between the pool and the road on the other side of the house. You know what that means: Nudie bathing! So awesome, swimming naked with a guy. Very sexy, very visceral. Until you try to uh, consummate the occasion and discover that those swimming pool sex scenes in books are wildly optimistic. Anyway, in theory someone could have driven by, but in reality they’d never have seen anything. It’s the feeling of exposure that ramps up the sexual tension.

Maggie Wells on sneaking a peek:

I admit it, I’m a peeker. I’ve never been able to resist a taboo. I’m also the type of girl who likes to cut to the chase. Christmas presents? I knew all my parents’ hiding spots. Mr. Wells learned to pay cash for Valentine’s treats and birthday gifts long ago. It’s not that I don’t like surprises. I love them—as long I’m prepared for them. In my mind, hot sex can be likened to a game of chess. A master might guess the other player’s next move, but that doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm for the game. Heightened anticipation is one of the most delicious bits of pleasure. One I believe is best savored with eyes wide open.

Emily Cale on why confidence is super sexy:

Um…so my heroine gets naked. This describes most of the characters in my books (I am an erotic romance author), but this one does it in public. How many of us spend time complaining about having to wear a swimsuit or skinny jeans? The other day I was talking with a friend about why some people can pull off any outfit they want while others always look out of place. I’ll save you two hours of rambling and tell you that the conclusion was that if you look confident, everyone else will go along with it. I’m not saying you should strip naked and let a bunch of strangers eat dinner off of you (though I’m not stopping you either), but maybe a little bit of confidence could go a long way. Hell, if you step out and tell yourself that you are the best looking thing around, I bet everyone else would agree.

Ginny Glass on having an audience:

I’m a drama nerd from way back, so no one has ever had to convince me of the merits of having an audience, but when it comes to sex, the majority of us aren’t breaking the fourth wall with any naked body parts. This doesn’t mean that the idea of an audience can’t be just as powerful – how often are you out doing mundane things with your husband, wife, significant other when they give you all the little flirty signals that let you know you just may be getting lucky? This is the mildest form of exhibitionism, and even if the cashier doesn’t know you’re headed home to immediately drop the groceries and  some clothing, it can still be a secret thrill. A lot of erotic romance gets a bad rap for catering to too particular of tastes – but next time your husband gives you the bedroom look over the produce section, remember, we’ve all got some kind of naughty streak in us!

Love Letters Volume 5: Exposed – available now from Carina Press!

Private passion meets public display in these four hot short stories in Love Letters Volume 5: Exposed.

R Is for Reality by Ginny Glass
Sheer desperation drives Mackenzie Alexander to persuade handsome cab driver Greg Redding to audition for a role she’s been forced to cast. A role that leads to steamy encounters on and off set…

S Is for Scandalous by Emily Cale
Taking a job as a nude serving dish at a party is a departure for model Kacey James. But the public event becomes something much more private when one of the guests turns out to be a man from her past.

T Is for Tango by Christina Thacher
Adam is shocked when his office’s sexy temp, Sonia, starts changing clothes at her desk when everyone else has left for the night–until she makes it clear he’s her intended audience.

U Is for Undone by Maggie Wells
Dr. Alec McCarthy has noticed hot nurse and neighbor Sofia Morales around the hospital–but she really gets his attention when she does a striptease for him in front of her window.

New to the Love Letters series? Start reading today! Volume 1: Obeying Desire is FREE for a limited time – download now!

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Carina ~ Amazon ~ B & N

Learning the alphabet has never been so sexy. Love Letters Volume 6: Cowboy’s Command available for pre-order now!

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