Nothing Says Love Like…SPAM?

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By Kelsey Browning, author of DESIGNED FOR LOVE

I’ve chatted about food here on the Carina Press blog before because I’m incapable of writing a book without food popping up again and again. Can you tell I’m from the South?. And since the Texas Nights series is—sadly—coming to a close Designed for Love, this is the perfect time to recap what I consider the most important food in each of the four books and leave you with a recipe for one of my dad’s all-time favorite meals (bless his heart).

Personal Assets – There are tons of food mentions in the first book since the hero’s mom is a fabulous baker. But what causes the most brouhaha is when Cameron accuses the heroine, Allie, of conspiring with his mother to bake cookies in the shape of a guy’s goods. :-)

Running the Red Light – The heroine, Roxanne, is a major fan of pie. She’s pretty much an equal opportunity pie consumer, but the Butterfinger™ pie that Jamie brings her one night? Oh, that’s a foodgasm on a fork!

Problems in Paradise – Since the heroine, Eden Durant, owns a café, it’s not surprising food plays a major role in this book. Although Eden cooks healthy organic dishes, Beck prefers to stuff his face with junk food. In order to convince Eden to go out with him, she insists that he give up his SlimJim habit. And that, my friends, is a real sacrifice for this guy.

Designed for Love – Although beer weenies and chocolate-covered cherries do appear in this story, SPAM is the real culinary star. I don’t want to ruin the story by giving you all the details, but that canned ham could be the thing that kills the relationship between Ashton and Mac.

And so to celebrate Designed for Love’s release this week, I give you…

Eddy’s Weeknight Canned Gourmet

  • 1 can of SPAM
  • 1 hunk of rat cheese (not familiar with rat cheese? It’s basically a hunk of sharp cheddar)
  • 1 can of green beans

Open green beans, dump in a pan and heat on the stove or nuke.

Slice SPAM into quarter-inch slices. Slap one or two slices of rat cheese on top of each SPAM “steak” and arrange them on a shallow baking sheet. Crank up your oven’s broiler and shove the pan in. Broil the hell out of it the cheese bubbles and the SPAM is browned around the edges.

Remove from oven and serve with a side of limp green beans.

Enjoy!

Want more delicious ways to enjoy SPAM? Join Mac, Ashton and Napoleon in Designed for Love!

Get your copy from your favorite online retailer: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

Nothing says love like SPAM, right? What are some other romantic foods you eat with your significant other?

CARINA_1114_9781426899256_DesignedForLove1DESIGNED FOR LOVE by Kelsey Browning

Ashton Davenport: Hot blonde. Old Money. Off-limits.

That’s how Mac McLaughlin sees her, anyway. And now that he’s enduring a temporary self-imposed exile in tiny Shelbyville, Texas, he’s seeing her way too often. Mac only wants to succeed as the contractor for the Lily Lake development in order to rebuild his reputation and return to Dallas, pronto. A sexy distraction like Ashton was not in the plans.

Mac McLaughlin: Hot builder. Cash poor. Hands-on.

Ashton kissed her trust fund goodbye and left her life as a society princess to prove she could make it on her own. Developing Lily Lake is her big chance, but it’s hard to stay focused working side-by-side with bossy, rough-around-the-edges Mac. Especially when he pulls off his shirt.

When the discovery of an endangered species derails the project, Mac can’t afford to stick around for a stalled job. His and Ashton’s explosive chemistry aside, he’s outta there…unless she can convince him that they just might be able to build something together.

Kelsey Browning - HeadshotKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and cozy Southern mysteries. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, and Bad Dog. She’s currently at work on the next book in her Texas Nights series and The Granny Series.

Connect with Kelsey: Email | Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Coe’s Story

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By Stacy Gail, author of WHERE THERE’S A WILL

Coe is so pushy. Hmph.

From the moment I created Coe Rodas in Starting From Scratch, he wanted his story told. He told me who he was—a mechanical genius who was motivated to prove he was as good as anyone in town. While I was trying to get SFS to my editor under the deadline, Coe was yapping on about the hell he’d lived through as he grew up on the crap-end of town. I knew him inside and out.

But I couldn’t really “see” the heroine.

Don’t get me wrong—I knew what she had to be in order for the story to work. I even knew the look of her, because Coe’s got a thing for blondes. She also had to be from a wealthy background, with exquisite manners that could be used as ice-cold weaponry. Basically she had to be everything Coe wasn’t. But I didn’t want her to be unrelatable. Then I ran across a graphic online that I personally could relate to very well:

Behind_every_bitch

And there it was, the last piece to my heroine puzzle. This phrase is totally Miranda Brookhaven when she first reunites with Coe. Once I had that last piece, it was her turn to let her guard down and talk to me. I realized just how deeply shattered this character was. She was totally alone, and so exhausted from trying to keep her defenses up that there were times when she made me cry. The cracks in her armor weren’t flaws—they were wounds.

Wounds that Coe had dealt her long ago.

From the beginning of SFS, Coe proved himself to be a natural-born protector. Now that quality gets to shine while he does his best to heal his broken lady love with bottles of milk, dinosaur bedding and the legendary twenty-second hug.

Since Coe has long since proven himself to be so freaking pushy, I suspect Miranda won’t be alone—or broken—for long. ;)

Favorite line: “My only point here is that you’re not doing yourself any favors by holding onto all the anger I can see boiling away in you. So please, for your own sake, lighten the hell up and stop letting the assholes of the world get you down.” ~ Coe, Where There’s A Will

 

***

CARINA_1114_9781426899287_WhereTheresAWillWHERE THERE’S A WILL

Miranda Brookhaven returned to Bitterthorn, Texas to fix the past. Years ago, her father used her teenage romance with Coe Rodas to steal the prototype for a groundbreaking new automotive invention. Now her father’s dead, and thanks to the convoluted will he left behind, she’s stuck in town until she rights the wrong that lost her the man she loved.

Coe learned early on that life never goes according to plan. His dreams of hitting it big vanished when Miranda all but invited her father to take the only thing of value he ever had. But now the once-pampered princess is holed up in a condemned trailer on the edge of town…and everything he thought he knew about her—and about what happened between them back then—seems completely wrong.

Miranda’s determined to give back to Coe all that he lost. If she can do that, maybe she can move on from the past. But Coe seems to be more interested in their rekindled passion than claiming what she thinks he deserves. She’s got sixty days to convince him to cough up evidence that he’s the original inventor—after that, the only way to transfer the patent rights over to him would be to make him part of the family, and she’s not sure her heart can take another hit.

 

Carina PressAmazon US  |  Amazon UK  | iTunes |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  | Google Play

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

Connect with Stacy! Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram |  Newsletter

If you’ve made it all the way down to here, you deserve a reward! Enter my WHERE THERE’S A WILL giveaway, and you could win a $20 Amazon GC, or one of two $5 Amazon GCs. Good luck!

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Is There an Echo in Here?

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By Josh Lanyon, author of FAIR PLAY

I have a confession. Originally I intended Fair Game to be a standalone novel. As both a reader and a writer, I actually prefer standalone to series. With a standalone there are no loose threads, no need to hold back anything for the next book. The stories are always more intense, not least because there are no guarantees. You can’t count on anyone surviving to the next book because there isn’t going to be a next book.

Except…when there is.

The idea for a sequel occurred to me before Fair Game was complete. I loved the juxtaposition of an FBI agent saddled with a 60’s radical father, and Roland was such a strong character in his own right that I could hardly help noticing that there was a lot of story potential there. Especially with Roland writing those potentially explosive memoirs of his. Even so, I resisted temptation. And I kept resisting when readers began asking for more of Elliot and Tucker, though I became less and less sure why. In fact, I’m not exactly positive when I officially changed my mind — it might have been listening to the audio book.

I’m glad I did relent because I’ve loved writing Fair Play, the second book in the All’s Fair trilogy. (Er, yes. Trilogy.) The mystery is a fun one, but what I really enjoyed was having the luxury to explore the relationship between Elliot and Tucker. And also the relationship between Elliot and his father. This is definitely a book about connection; the ties that bind. And it’s a book about family. The families we are born into and the families we choose.

So what about you? Do you prefer standalone or series? Why? Answer below and I’ll pick two random names for an audio download of Fair Game.

CARINA_1114_9781426898976_FairPlayFair Play by Josh Lanyon

Fifty years ago, Roland Mills belonged to a violent activist group. Now, someone is willing to kill to prevent him from publishing his memoirs.

When ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills is called out to examine the charred ruins of his childhood home, he quickly identifies the fire for what it is—arson. A knee injury may have forced Elliot out of the Bureau, but it’s not going to stop him from bringing the man who wants his father dead to justice.

Agent Tucker Lance is still working to find the serial killer who’s obsessed with Elliot and can’t bear the thought of his lover putting himself in additional danger. Straightlaced Tucker has never agreed with radical Roland on much—“opposing political viewpoints” is an understatement—but they’re united on this: Elliot needs to leave the case alone. Now.

Tucker would do nearly anything for the man he loves, but he won’t be used to gain Elliot access to the FBI’s resources. When the past comes back to play and everything both men had known to be true is questioned, their fragile relationship is left hanging in the balance.

Buy at Carina Press.

About Josh Lanyon

A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Find out more about Josh at www.joshlanyon.com

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Five Things I Learned About Flying by Researching My Pilot Heroine

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By Kat Latham, author of TEMPTING THE PLAYER

One of my favorite things about plotting a new book is coming up with my heroine’s job. I write a series about English rugby players, so I already know the heroes’ jobs, and I love giving my heroines cool careers that say something about their personalities.

In Tempting the Player, Libby Hart is a commercial airline pilot. Like many non-military pilots, she started her career as a flight instructor so she could build her flight hours and get hired by an airline. As it turns out, her experience makes her the ideal person to help her best friend Matt overcome his terror of flying, a phobia that’s holding back his rugby career.

I can identify with Matt more than Libby. I’m scared of flying, and I have to do it a lot for my job and because I live in a different country than my parents and my in-laws. As part of my research, I took a flying lesson, I interviewed pilots, and I read books by people who spent their careers in the cockpit. Here are a few of the facts I learned that amazed me. I hope they amaze you too!

1. Forget engine failure. The thing that scares pilots most is…

Charlie Beauchesne, a retired airline pilot, told me, “In the flight simulator, we regularly practice having engine failure at takeoff—the most critical point. Pilots aren’t going to take off with a single pound more than the plane can handle with one engine. Our biggest fear is in-flight fire. If that happens, we put on our oxygen masks, disable the electrical system to the point where we can still fly the plane, then put it on the ground.”

This conversation brought back a terrifying memory I have of the overhead compartment in my row bursting into flames over the Atlantic when I was 15. I also remember the flight attendants running up and down the aisle yelling, “Where’s the fire extinguisher? I can’t find the fire extinguisher! Don’t use it all, we may need it again!”

And then my brain melted down.

2. Flight attendants were the first group of people to use antidiscrimination legislation to fight for equal employment rights in the U.S.

This is a bit of a cheat because I actually read about this long before I started writing Tempting the Player, but it’s so interesting that I still think about it. In 1965, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was set up in the U.S. to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Notice that gender wasn’t on that list. It was really a commission to address racial discrimination. But the first people to bring a complaint to the commission were female flight attendants.

I read about it in Gail Collins’ brilliant history When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. She talks about how flight attendants had strict weight requirements (they couldn’t be bigger than size 4) and couldn’t be married. One woman she interviewed recalling having a colleague who had secretly gotten married without telling the airline. Soon after that, during a layover, some men boarded the plane, grabbed her and marched her off. She lost her job.

These brave women brought their complaint to the commission and were mocked. This New York Times review sums up what the women faced even before they brought their complaint to the commission. “In a 1964 Congressional hearing, when airline executives testified that it was imperative for businessmen that attractive women light their cigars and fix drinks, Representative Martha Griffiths said, ‘What are you running, an airline or a whorehouse?’ and the conversation began to change.”

So if you’re glad that your employer can’t (openly) discriminate against you because of your gender, thank a 1960s flight attendant.

3. Most pilots get their initial training from the military, which is why it’s traditionally been a male-dominated profession.

Flight training is really expensive, so most pilots have a military background. Since women have only recently been able to become military pilots (and that depends on the country you’re from), the job has been dominated by men. But more and more women are finding their way into the profession—whether through the military or private flight schools or getting a college degree and joining an airline’s flight program. Hopefully there will be a balance of power soon!

But, during my research I found another, more subtle barrier to women becoming airline pilots: height requirements. Lufthansa, for example, requires pilots to be 5’5” tall. Considering the average woman is 5’4”, this seems discriminatory. A judge in Cologne, Germany, recently criticized the airline for indirect discrimination. Of course, pilots have to be able to touch the pedals, and there’s also an upper height limit that’s likely to make it difficult for very tall men, but perhaps the design of cockpits on certain planes needs to be looked at so more women can become airline pilots.

4. Promotion is determined by seniority, not skill.

Your hire date is the most important factor in when you’ll get promoted. For those of us who are scared of flying, it’s a sobering thought.

5. There’s a whole website dedicated to barf bag design.

Yes, let’s end on a light note. People collect airsickness bags. They do. Seriously. I’m not joking.

Hopefully they only collect unused ones, but I guess you never know. And please don’t ask me how many hours I spent transfixed by this website. Probably as many hours as I’ve spent stuck on planes this year.

 

9781426899218Tempting the Player

Book three of the London Legends

Best friends make the best lovers.

Libby Hart and Matt Ogden are perfect for each other—as friends. They’ve known each other for ages. They act as each other’s plus-ones. They even share custody of a dog. And if there’s always been a little spark between them, so what? It’s never been worth jeopardizing their friendship.

Professional rugby player Matt is fighting for a starter position with the London Legends—and that’s not the only thing he’s fighting. A crippling fear of flying means he’s struggling to get his career off the ground. He has no time for a relationship, even if Libby does make him ache. As an airline pilot, Libby’s looking for a stay-at-home husband so she can have a family without sacrificing her high-flying career. Matt’s certainly not that man.

But just because they don’t have a future together doesn’t mean they can’t have a right now. When Matt asks Libby for help overcoming his fear, they agree to take a vacation from their platonic relationship—whenever they fly together, they can have sex. It’s the perfect way to resolve all that built-up tension. As long as they can avoid getting a little too comfortable…

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About Kat Latham

Kat Latham is a California girl who moved to Europe the day after graduating from UCLA, ditching her tank tops for raincoats. She taught English in Prague and worked as an editor in London before she and her British husband moved to the Netherlands. Kat’s other career involves writing and editing for charities, and she’s traveled to Kenya, Ethiopia and India to meet heroic people helping their communities survive disasters. She would love to hear from you!

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We Must Never Forget

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By Julie Rowe, author of the War Girls series

SavingTheRiflemanFinalEnticingTheSpymasterFinalAidingTheEnemyFinal

“To the ever glorious memory of the one who died and to the undying honour of those who served.” ~ Epitaph of Sergeant Joseph William Lapp, 48th HC, 3.10.43 (age 31). This is an epitaph on a World War Two soldier’s grave in Europe, one that gives a perfect dedication for what today is: A day to remember and honor our war dead. In the last one hundred years, millions of soldiers have given everything, their sanity, safety and, all too often, their lives to defend and protect our way of life: Freedom. It is our responsibility to never forget their service and sacrifice, no matter how long ago their battles were fought. There are no living soldiers or veterans left from World War One, and time and age has taken many of our veterans from World War Two, Korea and Vietnam. It is up to us, their legacy, to keep their memory alive and say their names out loud. Here are a few of those names, with epitaphs from their graves, from the book WORDS OF VALIDICTION AND REMEMBRANCE by Eric McGeer.

Till justice rules there is no liberty. I died for it. ~ Epitaph of Flight Lieutenant Arthur Grant Longwell, RCAF, 14.2.43 (age 29)

Though they sleep, their glory fades not, their deeds can never die. ~ Epitaph of Flying officer Wendell Stuart Curtis, RCAF, 7.11.44 (age 21)

In thought, faith. In deed, courage. In life, service. In death, victory. ~ Epitaph of Lance Corporal Clare Davidson Kines, RWR, 8.6.44 (age 29)

Sleep, dear son. Honour, justice, duty, all survive by your mortal fall. ~ Epitaph of Lieutenant Mackay Mackay, PPCLI, 27.8.18 (age 28)

Sleep peacefully, dear daddy. ~ Epitaph of Corporal Walter Oscar Rintala, QORC, 26.4.45 (age 32)

His task is finished, ours just begun, to bring peace. We shall not fail him. ~ Epitaph of Private Clive Austin Mills, ASHC, 24.10.44 (age 19)

He is not dead whose memory still is living within a nation’s heart. ~ Epitaph of Major Norman Campbell Pilcher, 5th CMR, 19.5.16

The blood of heroes is the seed of freedom. ~ Epitaph of Private Ivor Powell, 87th BCI, 4.9.18 (age 39) Dury Mill

Keep alive their pride, remember how they lived, remember why they died. ~ Epitaph of Private Gordon William Gurden, RHLI, 19.8.42 (age 22)

  Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”. In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has short stories in Fool’s Gold, the Mammoth Book of ER Romance, Timeless Keepsakes and Timeless Escapes anthologies. Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. AIDING THE ENEMY (book #3 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2014 Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Canadian Living. You can reach her at www.julieroweauthor.com , on Twitter @julieroweauthor or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JulieRoweAuthor

What We Want—Romantic Suspense!

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CARINA_1114_9781426899263_BlamedCARINA_0814_9781426898822_MidnightVengeance  9781426898976_FairPlay

In the mood for some suspense with your romance? So are we! We have some truly thrilling romantic suspense books available—see above for a sample—and we just can’t get enough. What makes a good romantic suspense? Fast-paced, exciting stories full of action and tension—sexual and otherwise! :P

Here is what our editors are eager to acquire in the romantic suspense genre:

Angela James, Editorial Director, would like to see:

  • A romantic suspense series that features mercenaries who are anti-heroes and anti-heroines. Something a little dark, with heroes/heroines who take you to the edge, don’t see things in black & white, and who have delicious sexual tension and dirty sex. Work hard, play hard!
  • I’m still looking for that one cracktastic project to really pull me in and it fits here because something that has suspense elements can help up that cracktastic feel!

Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, would like to see:

  • A super sexy romantic suspense series in which an assassin or a spy falls for his/her mark
  • Romantic suspense stories set against an Eastern European backdrop
  • A Mr. & Mrs. Smith-style setup, with dual betrayal and non-stop action that takes h/h across the globe

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • A fab, action-packed New Adult romantic suspense. Ramp up that angst!
  • Any M/M romantic suspense? I so want to see it, please!

Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • A sexy romantic suspense with a female mercenary heroine and her team tasked with liberating an imprisoned hero.
  • A super sexy m/m romantic suspense series, either historical or contemporar

Deb Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • You name it, I want it all: mercenaries, assassins, crime bosses, capers, secret baby rom suspense, m/m rom suspense, stalkers, serial killers, cartels, political intrigue/conspiracies and coverups
  • Military romantic suspense with plenty of action/adventure played out across dramatic landscapes such as snowclad mountains or windswept deserts
  • Gritty, tautly paced crime investigation romances with savvy investigators facing high-stakes situations
  • New Adult romantic suspense featuring a con artist or cat burglar protagonist
  • Espionage romance featuring a female—or gay—spy who falls for their target

Submit your romantic suspense to Carina Press now, right here!

 

Performance Review on My Second Job

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By Matt Sheehan, author of HELMUT GOES ABROAD

I found writing my second book in my Helmut series – and only my second written anything since college English 1B – mostly easier that writing the first book. Writing is my second job and I get most of my work done on the bus or at night after the kiddo goes to bed. (Can you really call it a job if it doesn’t actually generate income. But that’s beside the point.) I’ve found that where I used to labor over a few paragraphs some nights, I can now consistently crank out a page or two at one sitting. That’s probably why HELMUT GOES ABROAD a good 15k words longer than it’s predecessor.

The hard part was keeping the tone and characters the same. When I turned in my unedited copy of book two to my editor Jeff, I thought I had hit a home run. After all, my mom said it was even better than my first book. When you have an objective and unbiased opinion like that, what more do you need. Well Jeff didn’t agree. I’m pretty sure I had more red – yes they use red, just like in high school – on this manuscript than I did on my first.

The spelling and grammar errors didn’t surprise me. That’s why I got C’s in high school English. (That and because my Catholic School teachers didn’t have a sense of humor.  But once again I’m getting off topic.) What did surprise me were the places where Jeff felt Helmut wasn’t being Helmut. Of course he was right. He’s always right. I found that out during the last editing process. But how could the character that I patterned after my best friend not be Helmut enough?

Part of the problem is I’ve been friends with Helmut’s real life counterpart since we were eight year old kids playing pranks on the neighbors. (Doorbell-ditching is best with houses that have double-doors. For whatever reason those doors tend to have the closed-loop style handle on both doors. A thick stick for the doors and a bush to hide behind is all you need for great fun – until they come out their garage door that is.) I had to separate the source material from my new creation. Helmut was now his own person and had to be treated as such. I was still able sneak in old stories from my childhood – I just made them more consistent with where Helmut is in life. I hope you enjoy HELMUT GOES ABROAD.

HELMUT GOES ABROAD by Matt Sheehan

CARINA_1014_9781426899102_HelmutGoesAbroadLife is pretty good for me, Helmut Haase, dashing detective and ladies’ man extraordinaire. I’m the industrious and charming half of the Fog City Detective Agency. My partner, Shamus O’Sheagan, is the most gifted and lazy Druid this side of the pond, but even he’s settled down with an Amazonian police officer. Together we managed to save the world once already, but our next case is hitting closer to home.

It all started when an old friend came to our door with a wild story about angel bones and necromancers. The bones belong to Azazel, former hero of the dreaded Cretan Empire, and the necromancers want to bring him back to life. The last thing anyone wants is Azazel to return and start another angelic war.

When Shamus locates our quarry in the Mediterranean, it’s bye-bye Wudong, hello luxury voyage to Capri, with a girl in every port and downtime to work on my fighting skills. Too bad such pleasures won’t last. Not with a coven of necromancers ready to fight us to the death over those angel bones and the fate of the world…

Read about Helmut and Shamus’s previous adventure in Helmut Saves the Worldavailable now.

What We Want: Dark, Contemporary Romance

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At Carina Press, we’re always looking to acquire contemporary romance but this month we dare you to step over the line into darker territory…

We want searing stories and risky editorial; books with high emotional tension and lots of dramatic conflict. We want sexy or erotic manuscripts with troubled characters and mysterious backstories. More specifically, if you’re writing any of the following, we’d like to see it:

  • Dark, erotic and/or psychological thrillers
  • Stories of adultery and betrayal
  • Capture fantasies and encounters of questionable consent
  • Gritty, graphic and explicit stories about organized crime and hit men
  • Mercenaries on a mission
  • Conflicts involving non-traditional h/h pairings
  • Anti-heroes and anti-heroines. Real, unredeemable bad boys and bad girls
  • Heavily atmospheric, gothic-inspired sexy contemporary romance
  • Super sexy (but not necessarily erotic) contemporary romance with sexually charged dialogue, off-the-charts sexual tension and/or a dirty-talking hero/heroine

HEAs not required, but please appease us—and your readers—with a HFN (Happily for Now).

Please note that submissions featuring the following will not be considered:

  • Rape for titillation
  • Bestiality
  • Incest
  • Characters under the age of 18 engaging in sex or illegal activity

 

 

Excerpt: Shattered Bonds by Lynda Aicher

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

 PRE-ORDER NOW!

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About Shattered Bonds:

shatteredbonfsWill the doors of The Den close forever?

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

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

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

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

***

“Over here!”

“Back up. Let ’em through!”

“Hurry!”

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

“This way!”

“I need the clamps!”

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

“What the fuck happened?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let’s go!”

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

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

“Sir?”

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

“Sir.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sir,” the officer prompted again.

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

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

“Yes. I did.” Unfortunately.

“Then I have some questions.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As far as he knew.

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

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

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

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

“This sucks,” Rock grumbled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Life Imitating Our Stories

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By Stina Lindenblatt, author of LET ME KNOW

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

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

Smoky

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

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

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

Let Me KnowThis shouldn’t be happening again…

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

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

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

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

BIO

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

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