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

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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.

LUMBERJACKS!

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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 CarinaPress.com 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 http://inezkelley.com/  Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/inez.kelley

Get Your Geek On!

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Lexi Carmichael, geek girl extraordinaire, is back and this time she’s going to Rome! For those of you not familiar with the series, Lexi is a geek first-class—a gamer, hacker, book nerd and fangirl who double-majored in mathematics and computer science, and has zero social skills. Her day job for a hot new cyber-intelligence firm has landed her an exciting case on behalf of the sexiest überhacker in the universe, code-named Slash.

Slash’s uncle in Rome has been accused of siphoning money from the Vatican Bank and it’s up to Lexi to hunt the hacker and clear his name. There’s only one problem: Someone doesn’t want Lexi messing up their grand plans, meaning she may be the next target. Suddenly she’s on the lam in Italy with the sexiest guy she’s ever met, and his interest in her seems more than friendly. How’s a geek girl to know for sure?

Now all she has to do is find the hacker while figuring out how to handle Slash, if that’s even possible. Between Slash’s hilarious grandmother, a strange cat, a handsome guy from the Pope’s private Swiss Guard, and a curvaceous Italian agent who has the hots for Slash, things get a bit crazy. When the trail leads Lexi to the secret Vatican archives, she realizes there is a lot more at stake than just money. She’ll be lucky to get out of Rome alive.

Here is a short excerpt from the book:

I’ve loved listening to music since I was a little girl. Not because I’m musically gifted, but because notes, themes, chords and tempo all have an intrinsic mathematical logic that speaks to me. After all, music is defined by its numeric divisions, such as a beat, a measure or a bar. Musical scales are actually harmonics based on the numerical ratios present in the Fibonacci series, which are a sequence of integers beginning at zero and one and continuing with each new number being the sum of the previous two.

I know all of this because I’m a geek first-class. My name is Lexi Carmichael and I’m a mild-mannered twenty-five-year old who, thankfully for music aficionados, is not employed in any part of the music industry. By day, I work as the Director of Information Security at a hot new cyber-intelligence firm just outside of Washington, D.C. By night, I’m a gamer, book nerd and fangirl (Bond, Star Wars, Dr. Who, Lord of the Rings). I’ve got long brown hair, no discernible curves and zip in the social skills department. I double-majored in mathematics and computer science at Georgetown University with a specialty in cybersecurity. Ask me to talk about a rigorous axiomatic framework or computational complexity theory, and I’m all over it. Ask me to make small talk and I’ll imagine myself jumping off a bridge.

I love writing about Lexi, her friends and their adventures! Who knew geeks could be so much fun? If you’d like to read NO PLACE LIKE ROME you can download from Carina Press, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble, and wherever ebooks are sold! NO PLACE LIKE ROME is also an audio book. Click HERE to download or hear a sample.

Haven’t tried a Lexi Carmichael adventure yet? Well, you’re in luck! The first book in the series NO ONE LIVES TWICE, is now available everywhere ebooks are sold for ***FREE***. But hurry, this offer ends on November 30!

If you’d like to download NO ONE LIVES TWICE from Carina Press, click HERE.

Thanks to everyone for getting geeky with me! I appreciate you stopping by. Just for commenting on this blog, I’ll enter you in a random drawing to ****WIN*** any book of mine (paperback or ebook of your choice—check out my books on my website) and some geeky swag to go with it!

Feel free to drop me a line at my website, my Facebook page (and don’t forget to “like” me, please), or on Twitter. I really enjoy chatting with readers, writers, and random people!  :)

Julie Moffett is a bestselling and award-winning author who writes in the genres of mystery, historical romance and paranormal romance. Learn more about Julie and her books on Facebook, Twitter and her website. She has won numerous awards, including the EPIC 2011 Award for Best Action/Adventure Novel, PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel and Best of the Best Paranormal Books of 2002. She has also garnered several nominations for the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Holt Medallion and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.                                                                                                                                                                    

 

 

Out of the drawing room and into. . . the Alps?

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Improper Arrangements
When I set out to write my second novella for Carina Press, I only knew one thing: the heroine would be Lady Alice, the rejected almost-fiancée we never quite meet in Improper Relations. Beyond that, I had a blank slate in front of me.

It took weeks of brainstorming, coffee and chocolate before it hit me: I’d set my novella somewhere different. Really different. I wanted to experiment with the setting—move away from the drawing rooms and assembly halls of English high society, and into the open air of…where, exactly?

We writers are always being cautioned to write what we know. Although I’ve never climbed a mountain (I’m burdened by a crippling fear of heights), I did spend some years working as a copy editor for an extreme sports magazine. Although I never was inspired to take up paragliding or heli-skiing or ultra-marathoning, a few things stuck with me, and one was a growing interest in the early history of alpinism. What motivated those early pioneers of mountain climbing? Who were they, and why did they choose to risk their lives for the chance to stand at the top of the world?

I went to the window and forced myself to admire the entrancing view. Oceans of sky so blue it nearly hurt my eyes, a few stray clouds scudding by, and above all the inescapable mass of the mountains, so near and yet so remote, their upper slopes heavy with snow even in high summer. It seemed impossible that men had stood atop those peaks to stare down at the world below.

The more I read, the more I knew I had a potential hero—and not only that, I had the perfect setting for Improper Arrangements. By sending Alice and Elijah off on their own, unconfined by the strictures of polite society, surrounded by the overwhelming beauty of the Alps, I would free them to explore what really mattered: their hopes, their dreams and their growing feelings for one another. Alone on the High-Level Route, their lives would be reduced to the most essential elements: food, water, shelter and (let’s be honest here) sex. Lots and lots of sex.

My universe was reduced to this, to Elijah, to the sound of his every breath, the scent of his skin, the heat of his touch. I needed nothing more. I desired nothing else. Nothing beyond him, in this moment, in this void that enveloped us.

Now it’s your turn to share: do you like it when authors take a chance on an unconventional setting? Or are you part of the “strictly ballroom” camp when it comes to such things?

Juliana Ross is a former copy editor who is now a full-time writer (when she’s not helping the kids with homework, complaining about never-ending piles of laundry or walking the dog). You can find her at her website, her Twitter feed, her Facebook page and her Goodreads account.

Yeehaw! Cowboys!

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Cowboys.

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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Taking the leap!

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Three weeks before my book was set to be released I ran into an old college professor. She taught English Lit, and we had a love hate relationship. And by that I mean, she loved when I didn’t show up to class and hated when I did. I was a science major. Chemistry, physics, and biology were the places I put my heart. I loved formulas, constants, and laws—not words. I liked numbers, because they were easy to figure out. You can imagine her surprise when she asked what direction life had taken me, and I told her I was writing novels. She was in such shock, I had to repeat myself three times, but when she came to, she said something that struck a serious chord with me.

“You finally took the plunge.”

The plunge off the proverbial cliff—the one that we’re all so scared to approach. That’s just human nature, right? I mean, think about the feeling you get when you scoot too close to the edge of a cliff. It’s unsettling—scary, even. It feels the way your first kiss tastes, or the way your hands shake when you finally touch the person your heart’s been screaming about for days.

It has a tendency to turn your world upside down, and that’s not just unsettling. It’s terrifying. But we all do it eventually—take the plunge. For me, this happened when I took the stories from my mind and put them on paper. I stopped tip-toeing around the ledge and jumped. That’s the bravest thing you can do, right? Throw all your weight into something. Because you’re gonna fall, and I’ll tell you right now, gravity won’t let you land on your feet. If life gets its way, you’ll land on your ass; it won’t be graceful, and it’s gonna hurt like hell. There isn’t anything pretty about it. The beautiful part comes after the dust settles and you pull yourself up—when you reach the one thing that was worth leaping for.

—–

Charlie Day knows a thing or two about landing on her ass. Unfortunately, she didn’t choose to jump. Instead, life gives her a swift kick from behind when Jackson Stiles saunters back into her life. You see, Jackson was Charlie’s first love, and only for that matter, but that was before he and her brother enlisted and served in Iraq. Before Jackson came back different. Before they told Charlie her brother would never come back at all.

 

When Jackson takes a job at the company where Charlie works, it becomes painfully clear that the spark between the two of them is still there. A spark that could very easily become a flame. And you know what they say about that . . . where there’s fire, someone’s bound to get burned.

He looks at me, and my wits vanish into thin air. Just poof, gone. Here’s the thing about Jackson…he’s always had this crazy effect on me. Like this weird magnetic pull. Here’s the other thing about Jackson… He’s perfect, and by perfect, I actually mean perfect. Perfect nose. Perfect jawline. Perfect teeth. Perfect eyes. Perfect body. He’s gorgeous in all the ways that make girls do stupid things. In fact, his only visible flaw is the small scar above his right eyebrow that he got during his first tour in Iraq. But it’s sort of rugged and sexy. So if anything, it adds to his perfectness. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that Jackson is intimidating, extremely intimidating.

 

“I miss you,” he says, leaning in.

That’s when I catch a good whiff of him. He smells the same, like body wash and citrus fabric softener. The same body wash and fabric softener, actually. The way he smelled in high school when he was sort of mine.

All of a sudden, my mind slams into overdrive and he starts tumbling through it…a kaleidoscope of memories, flashing and burning bright. Jackson kissing me, me kissing Jackson, Jackson and his smile, Jackson laughing… Jackson, Jackson, Jackson. All the feelings come rushing back, and for a moment, I feel like everything is the same, like he’s the same.

Except for the scar. So he’s not the same, not really. He’s been to war…he’s changed, and he isn’t my Jackson anymore. The thought sends my stomach plummeting to my feet. My gaze trails across his familiar face. Up the tanned skin of his neck, over his scruffy jawline, to his lips and then his eyes. I take a deep breath and look at the scar again. Then I burst into tears.

Giveaway: Who was your first love? Where you seven? Sixteen? Twenty-nine? I wanna hear about them. Or even better, tell me about the first big leap of faith you took—into life, love, adulthood. Post a comment below, and I’ll pick two winners at random to be the recipients of a $20 gift card to their e-book retailer of choice!

Headfirst Falling available for purchase at: Carina Press / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes

Melissa Guinn is a caffeine-driven Respiratory Therapist by night and writer by day. She was born in West Texas, where pump jacks outnumber the locals, and you never forget to say “yes sir” and “yes ma’am.” It’s in West Texas that she currently resides with her husband, their two dogs, and half-tailed cat-dog. Loves include: Books, people, nail polish, coffee, and sometimes tequila.

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Men’s men, spinsters, and those in the regency closet

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Though my newest regency, A Tryst With Trouble, originally began with a literary inspiration (the bantering relationship between Beatrice and Benedic in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing), the story really took on a life of its own thanks to a news story. In late 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told an audience at Columbia University, “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.”

Like many who heard that, I thought, “Of course there are gay people in Iran. They’re just afraid to come out, because they could be put to death.” (As recent developments in Russia show, Iran is far from the only country in which gay rights are threatened or nonexistent.) And since I write historical romances set during the regency, I started thinking about how until 1861 homosexuality–or at least any sexual act deemed “sodomy”–was a capital offense in Great Britain. Clearly, there were gay people in England in the early 1800s. So what kind of lives were they leading?

The answer is that they were probably married with children–married to a member of the opposite sex, I mean. It was what was expected of them, especially in the case of the gentry and the aristocracy, who had property to pass on to the next generation. Later in the century, for example, Oscar Wilde married a barrister’s daughter and fathered two sons.

And that, in turn, got me wondering what life was like for the families of those married gay people. Since homosexual acts were punishable by death, were gay men so carefully closeted that their wives and children had no inkling about their sexual preference? Or if their loved ones did know or suspect–if, for instance, rumors were circulating–how did those loved ones feel about having a gay family member? (Keep in mind this was a time when even newspaper 
reports, though they gleefully reported sodomy arrests, talked 
around the charges with vague euphemisms like “an immoral act” or “an unnatural 
crime.”)

If you were the child of a parent rumored to be gay in regency England, it must have been both isolating and confusing. The topic wasn’t discussed openly, so I suspect it was probably a source of pain and anxiety. If schoolboys can still be heard on playgrounds today baiting each other with homophobic taunts, can you imagine the kind of bullying a gay man’s son might have experienced during the regency?

So I came up with a regency character who knows his father is gay, and who’s grown up so defensive about it that it’s shaped his entire personality. To counter the bullying he experienced as a boy, he’s made himself over into his idea of the ultimate man’s man. And who else would be the perfect foil for an arrogant young man’s man, if not a blunt-spoken spinster? That was the genesis of Ben and Barbara, my bantering aristocratic hero and heroine in A Tryst With Trouble.

A Tryst With Trouble cover, Ben and Barbara

London, 1820

Lady Barbara Jeffords is certain her little sister didn’t murder the footman, no matter how it looks…and no matter what the Marquess of Beningbrough–Ben–might say. She can scarcely help it if his cousin is the only other suspect. In fact, she wants nothing to do with ruggedly handsome Ben; he reminds her of all the insensitive clods who passed her over.

For years Ben has been dogged by painful gossip about his father’s rumored homosexuality. His gruff shell hides a passionate nature, and he’s also fiercely loyal—which is why he’ll never let the clever and beguiling Lady Barbara pin a murder on his cousin.

Sparks fly as the two compete to defend their loved ones. But as strange new clues emerge that neither can decipher alone, they have no choice but to compare notes and sleuth in tandem. A tenuous bond develops that soon faces its toughest challenge when Ben himself becomes a suspect…

 

The story may have begun with a serious real-world question, but I think you’ll find it’s a fun ride–more lighthearted romance than heavy drama. If you could use some regency banter, a healthy serving of sexual tension, and a splash of murder mystery, I hope you’ll give it a look. You can buy A Tryst With Trouble here.

Do you prefer your romances as moving drama or lighthearted comedy? Leave a comment, and I’ll use random.org to select the winner of a $20 Amazon gift certificate one week from today (October 1). I’ll need the winner’s e-mail address to send the prize, so you can either include it in your comment or check back here on the 1st and be prepared to contact me with it if you’re the winner. I’ll post the winner’s name in the comments here and on my website on Monday morning 10/1 after 8:00 a.m. Eastern, which is also the cut-off time for entering.

Alyssa Everett
A Tryst With Trouble is Alyssa Everett’s third regency romance. Her first two regencies, Ruined by Rumor and Lord of Secrets, are also available from Carina Press. Look for her next regency, An Heir of Uncertainty, in March of 2014. She hopes you’ll visit her website and follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, where she promises not to spam you relentlessly.

Heroes and Heroines – They’re Everywhere!

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How did you do in 2012?  I think for an awful lot of people, 2012 was a pretty tough year. I know it was for me. It started in December 2011 when a dear writer friend and sweet man in my life passed away after a sudden illness.

But he never stopped writing despite his illness, and I followed his example and completed my novel. I was preparing to begin submitting it, when an opportunity came via Carina and Harlequin for a full read and critique by an editor. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

Shortly afterwards, while on a week’s vacation where I was planning fall cleanup in my garden, I was greeted instead by the arrival of that rude gal, Sandy. For twelve days, along with my mother, I was without power or heat. We made it through, cold but triumphant (and I can now say I know how to cook anything on an hibachi, including pasta!). We all sighed with relief when power came on one morning as I headed back to my job in NYC.

The next day we were hit with an ice storm nor’easter.

It was one of those times when I am proudest of NYC. Everyone pitched in. We shared what we had, and shrugged off deprivation. A temporary mail carrier handed me coffee and hamburgers one morning when she found out my Mom and I were still without power. It was incredible to see electricians coming from all around the country to help us get back to normal. Friends on social media reached out to see how we were all doing. There were heroes and heroines in the headlines, and behind the scenes, every day.

Before Hurricane Sandy arrived, I’d stocked up and among other items, I bought book lights to make sure Mom and I could read if we lost power. So one of the things I did during the blackout was read romance. Because it helped me to forget the cold and the grunge and the anxiety.

It was one morning after things got (mostly) back to normal, that I spotted Angela James’ note on Twitter announcing she’d be making some acquisition calls that day. Little did I know, I would be one of those lucky writers.

Words of Lust is an erotic romance set in my personal backyard – New York City – with all of its diversity, excitement, eccentricity and life.  This is a city where I meet fellow romance lovers at book signings, fellow authors visiting from around the country and the world. My characters are ordinary people who love, and laugh, who fight and struggle, who battle back from adversity, but who are always ready to extend a hand to those who need it.

And I love writing about these “real” people. 2012 was a tumultuous year that showed me just how courageous, how generous, and how resilient we can be even in the face of the most horrific of tragedies. I write fiction I hope gives readers an opportunity to be swept away – in good times and bad – to believe in romance and the intoxicating allure of physical love.  But my fiction is inspired by these amazing people. Heroes and heroines all. I bet some are reading this blog right now.

So, on this day, especially important to me as a native of New York City, I’d like to take this opportunity, on behalf of anyone who, like me, has needed a hero one time or another only to discover that heroism is all around us, every day, sometimes large, and sometimes small to say:  Thank you to all the heroes and heroines.

 

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Serafina Luca, straitlaced Manhattan professor of erotic literature, isn’t one to blush at a few raunchy words, but her experience in the bedroom is hardly bestseller material. She’s not sure the passion in the books she teaches is possible in real life, let alone for her. But then she meets Nick Stellato.

The construction foreman may look like a guy’s guy, but he knows how to treat a woman. One look at Serafina’s luscious figure, and he wants to prove it to her. One dinner date and their sizzling chemistry is undeniable. Soon, it’s the professor getting a lesson or two…and Nick is a willing teacher. What surprises him is how much he enjoys the time he spends with Serafina outside the bedroom–and how easily he can imagine a future together.

Before long, Serafina is falling hard for Nick, too. But how can a timid academic with virtually no past fulfill his dreams of an adventurous future?

Lise Horton has been writing romance ever since she transitioned from a career as an actress and cabaret singer in Manhattan. She’s a caretaker for her mom, and visits her special needs brother in his adult group home. Words of Lust is her first novel and can be purchased from the major digital distributors, and at Carina Press http://bit.ly/17xA1E2. She loves talking books, especially spicy romance, and can be reached on all social media via her website, www.lisehorton.com and make sure to drop a line if you are visiting the Big Apple!

Exposed!

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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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Finding Your Characters

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Every time I sit down to write a new story, one of the first things I do is delve into my characters. I build their back story by defining their upbringing, family, occupation, tragedies and triumphs. This brings out their personality traits including habits, likes, dislikes, routines, defenses, etc. I often spend hours researching specific occupations or hobbies or illnesses or… you get the point. I do this through talking to people, the internet, books, visits to locations and sometimes, actually experiencing it.

With all the publicity this past week about the newly casted members of the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie, I couldn’t help but wonder how those actors were going to learn about their characters. Will they immerse themselves in the world of dominance and submission in order to understand the mindset of their characters? It’s an interesting thought. I believe we’ve all heard stories of actors doing deep immersion into a character to understand how to portray them realistically. Do you remember the hype around Demi Moore when she visited strip clubs to learn from real women who were mothers working as strippers for her role in Striptease?

This is what Quinn Andrews does in Bonds of Hope. She used to be America’s sweetheart and a popular child star, but the transition to adulthood hasn’t been easy for her or her career. When she lands the part as a submissive in an upcoming television series based around a BDSM club, she knows that her knowledge is sorely lacking on the topic. There’s only so much she can learn from the internet. In order to better understand the mindset of her new character, she seeks out a professional to teach her the ways of the BDSM world. Only she never expected to learn so much about herself along the way.

How do you get into the mindset of your characters? I’d love to know what you do to uncover the core of who your characters are before you start writing.

“This is a rare book that can make you laugh and blush at the same time.”
- 4 stars, RT Book Reviews on
Bonds of Hope

Bonds of Hope, Wicked Play #4

Quinn Andrews has a lot to learn about the world of BDSM. Once America’s sweetheart, she has an opportunity to revive her career by playing a sexual submissive in a highly anticipated new series. Quinn is ready to throw herself into the role, and her hometown’s premier sex club, The Den, is the ideal place for a crash course.

At first Marcus Reese is reluctant to take on Quinn’s erotic education, despite his intense attraction to the stunning starlet. While she fulfills his every command perfectly, she’s also a consummate actress—and Marcus is determined to uncover the real woman hidden behind the mask.

Quinn’s been taking direction all her life, so submitting to a Dom comes easily. But it’s not just the most amazing sex she’s ever had—Marcus challenges her to define her own needs and make her own decisions. And when her training is over, Quinn will have to choose between continuing to play a part in her own life, or living by her own rules.

88,000 words

Purchase at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Carina Press | ARe

New to The Den? Go back to the beginning with Bonds of Trust, Bonds of Need, & Bonds of Desire available now!

 

 

 

(BTW -Bonds of Trust is free at Carina Press for a limited time. Use coupon code BONFR913 at checkout)

 

Lynda has always loved to read. It’s a simple fact that has been true since she discovered the worlds of Judy Blume at the age of ten. After years of weekly travel as a consultant implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now, her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties of being a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, cleaner and mediator.

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