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Archive for April, 2012

Until I sat down to write Darkest Caress, I’d never even attempted paranormal romance before. I’d thought about it trying it, letting little story details form, but never took the idea all that seriously. All I knew was that if I ever did write a paranormal romance, I wanted it to be about something other than vamps and shifters. I just didn’t know what.

Then in the fall of 2009 I went to Lithuania on holiday (oh, it’s a really long story, and part of me is still surprised that I went), and something magical happened. In the midst of a picturesque, magical seaside town named Nida, I found my inspiration.

Walking along towering sand dunes overlooking the Baltic Sea and following a shadow-dappled path through the woods past wooden sculptures depicting local folklore, it suddenly all came together.

That place was filled with a magic so strong that my skin tingled and the hair on my arms stood on end. I had to wait a while before I could plot out the story, but I couldn’t wait to bring my magical race to life on the page. The ancient tales I’d heard of witches and a Baltic sea goddess named Neringa were too incredible for my overactive imagination to ignore. I suddenly knew what my characters would be, and where they came from. In that moment, the idea for The Empowered was born. I hope you enjoy Darkest Caress.

Which paranormal romances feature the best world building, in your opinion? Please leave me a comment to enter a contest for a digital copy of Darkest Caress.

Two-hundred-year-old Daegan Blackwell is one of the last remaining Empowered, an ancient magical race. Daegan’s duty is to lead and protect his remaining Brethren in the coming war foretold by prophecy. The last thing he expects is to meet the one woman who will either save or destroy him-his destined mate.

Fiercely independent Realtor Olivia Farrell believes darkly handsome Daegan is simply a prospective client. Until she’s attacked by a man with a strange aura-and Daegan fights him off, taking away her pain with just his touch. At first, Olivia refuses to believe she’s part of a magical race, yet mounting evidence and her powerful chemistry with Daegan are too strong to deny.

But as Daegan’s partner, Olivia becomes a target in the battle between good and evil that threatens her life, as well as the very existence of the Empowered. And the only one who can save her is the man claiming to be her destiny…

Happy reading!

Kaylea Cross

Kaylea Cross is an award winning author of edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense. A Registered Massage Therapist, Kaylea is an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, belly dancer and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband.

You can find her through her website, Twitter, Facebook, and blog.

 

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Winners!

Nancy Spitznagle

wins An Accidental Affair by Eric Jerome Dickey

*

bettysunflower, Linda Mc, and Na S.

wins Sierra Falls by Veronica Wolff

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Eva/TXBookjunkie

wins The Witness by Nora Roberts

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Asylos

wins Blood of the Wicked by Karina Cooper

*

Diane D – Florida

wins A Secret in Her Kiss by Anna Randol

*

Jill M.

wins a digital book (winner’s choice) from Hailey Edwards’ backlist

*

TrishJ

wins A Perfect Storm by Lori Foster

*

Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

And remember, this is the last week to enter the giveaway for the last remaining ARC of Chaos Burns by Lauren Dane. All trivia answers can be found on the author’s website.

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The blurb:

Computer security specialist Elizabeth Martinez has never been able to turn her back on her brother Benny. When his risky lifestyle finally lands him in harm’s way, Elizabeth finds herself dragged into the dangerous underworld with him and into the cross hairs of one of Miami’s death-dealing drug lords. Only after her ex-boyfriend saves her does she realize she might have no choice but to depend on the one man she has tried so desperately to forget.

Former Marine Porter Caldwell never should have let Elizabeth walk away from him all those months ago. She means more to him than anything and now that she’s in danger and turned to him for help, he won’t make that mistake again. When a local gang targets her and she’s nearly killed in a drive by shooting, Porter vows to do whatever it takes to keep her alive. Even if it means turning his back on all that he’s sworn to uphold.

The review:

The book starts with Elizabeth arriving at the home of a major criminal because, once again, her brother Benny is in trouble and has called her for help. He owes Orlando (the major criminal) a bunch of money and Orlando is willing to let Elizabeth trade 6 months of her life in exchange. When she refuses, things get physical until Porter busts in to save the day.

This is the type of romance I adore. Smart heroine, loyal to her family. Strong hero, battling between what his mind says is right and what his heart tells him. I found Elizabeth’s continuing loyalty to her brother (who is without a doubt a screwup) very believable, especially when their past is revealed. Benny saved her from something horrific as a child, something that left him emotionally scarred, and she refuses to give up on him no matter how much logic says she should. This loyalty is what ended Elizabeth’s brief relationship with Porter. He wasn’t willing to stand back while she dropped everything to pull her brother out of dangerous situations.

The chemistry sparked between Elizabeth and Porter from chapter one and continued to build. I loved that build up. They didn’t just dismiss their earlier issues, they talked them out and got to know each other better and because of that, I believed in their happily ever after by the end.

This book is non-stop action. Guns, gangs, stuff blowing up, a couple on the run through Miami. Very fast paced with little downtime.

The only issue I had was how naive Elizabeth seemed during the first half of the book. She constantly argued she wasn’t in danger, even after a gang vandalized her lawn in an attempt to scare her. She believed that since it was her brother that owed the money, Orlando had no reason to come after her. This is a woman who has repeatedly dragged her brother out of crack houses and other dangers AND she is the systems manager at a security firm. With her background, that level of naïveté rang a little false.

Overall, No One to Trust was a faced-paced, steamy romantic suspense with quite a bit of emotional depth. I would recommend it to any fan of the genre.

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Format: eBook
Length: short novel (45,000 words)

Purchase links:

All Romance eBooks
Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Diesel eBooks
Smashwords

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He never saw her coming…

Spencer Lark already knows too many secrets about Arizona Storm, including the nightmare she survived and her resulting trust issues. But in order to expose a smuggling ring—and continue avenging his own tragic past—the bounty hunter reluctantly agrees to make Arizona a decoy. Yet nothing has equipped him for her hypnotic blend of fragility and bravery, or for the protective instincts she stirs in him.

Arizona wants to reclaim her life, which means acting as bait to lure the enemy into a trap. Sure it’s dangerous, especially with a partner as distractingly appealing as Spencer. But as their plan—and their chemistry—shifts into high gear, Arizona may discover there’s an even greater risk in surrendering her heart to a hero….

 

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I suggest that budding romance writers write what excites them. Avoid the traps of trying to jump on the bandwagon, or emulate a successful author. If it’s not YOU, you won’t enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, why would anyone else?
Some writers prefer stand alone books. Some, like me, have characters that take over and show up again and again.  Some like writing sweet romances, and some like super-steamy and explicit. It is such an amazingly personal thing that you can’t, and should never try to, write for anyone but yourself.
I’ve had books that readers hated. Some that readers *really* hated. LOL. But I’m a realist. I know I can’t please all the readers all of the time. When disappointed readers write to me, I apologize. I AM sorry that they spent time on a book they didn’t enjoy. But will I change what I’m doing for them? I can’t.
What works for me is writing what I want, what I enjoy, the way that I want to write it, and the way that works for me. All writers should do the same.
Another tip for new writers – stay away from critique groups. It’s YOUR book, not a book by committee. Just because your critique partner doesn’t like it, just because she thinks it’s awkward, doesn’t mean you need to change it. The only opinions that matter are #1) yours, and #2) the editor’s.  Your critique partner cannot buy your book. All she can really do is point out typos, which is great, discourage you with criticism, which is self-defeating, or bolster you with praise, which may or may not jive with an editor’s opinion.
So avoid it.
Contests can also be a catch 22. Sure, you get immediate feedback and sometimes you get a connection with an editor or agent. But you also get immediate gratification – something you should get after you’ve _finished the book!_ NOT because you’ve written one to three chapters.
I’ve know unpubs who’ve polished that first chapter a dozen times. It’s been submitted in at least that many contests. It’s even placed in a few, or won in some. But the whole book? Why finish a book when you can send just one chapter in to win another contest?
Contests make it so easy to lose sight of the end goal – which is publication.
New writers – keep your eye on that end goal! As soon as you finish a book and get it mailed off, start another. And another.

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For more information about Lori Foster , visit lorifoster.com. And for a chance to win A Perfect Storm, leave a comment below. The winner will be announced Sunday. Good luck!

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Hope dangles by a silken thread.

 
When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan’s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.
 
Born the youngest son of an impoverished maven, the only things Rhys has to his name are his sword and his mercenary reputation. His clan is starving, but their fondness for the flesh of fellow Araneaeans makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Torn between loyalty to his clan and fascination with his future bride, Rhys’s first taste of Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart.
 
Amid the chaos of battle, Lourdes’s sister disappears and is feared captured. Lourdes and Rhys pursue their enemies into the southlands, where they discover an odd plague ravaging southern clans as it travels north, to Erania. Determined to survive, Lourdes will discover whether she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.
 
Warning: This book contains one mercenary hero with a biting fetish, one determined heroine who gets nibbled, and an answer to the age-old question, “What does dragon taste like?” Matricide and sibling rivalry are available upon request. The house special is revenge, best served cold.

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When you think about fantasy novels, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s got to be the worldbuilding. When I read Robin D. Owen’s HeartMate, I was enamored of Celta. Robin took a few basic ingredients from our world, Celtic mythology and Wiccan-like religion to create a society similar to ours, but with fantastic differences. The result is a culture that’s both familiar and alien. On Celta, people use flair—magic—to do their chores and jobs. It’s a very interesting system, and I love that most everyone has their primary Flair that defines how they’ll earn their living, and a creative Flair. Then you have the echoes of Earth. The planet, Celta, was colonized by humans from Earth. One of the “characters” is actually Nuada’s Sword, a spaceship that has become sentient. There are also sentient houses called Residents and telepathic animals.

Really, I could go on for days about this series. If you want to see intricate worldbuilding at its best, read these books. The class system, technology, everything makes for a fascinating read.

I will say this series is marketed as science fiction romance, but it walks the line (to me).

Fantasy doesn’t always mean alternate realm/reality/world. Sometimes the most alien place is our world, twisted just enough so that humans aren’t at the top of the food chain. This type of fantasy usually falls under the heading “urban fantasy”. One of my favorite UF series has got to be Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I love Harry so hard. I want to hug him for surviving each book.

In Harry’s case, he lives in Chicago. It’s our Chicago, but it’s not. There are Fae, vampires, werewolves, skinwalkers, ghosts, goblins—you name it and Harry has probably pissed it off. His world is more alien precisely because it is so familiar. You’re home. Yet the monsters under the bed are real and they won’t hesitate to bite off your head then use your spine for a toothpick.

Another great urban fantasy series is Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series. While it also has a familiar setting, there are monsters to be found in her world as well. I enjoy the fact that due to Mercy’s lineage, Native American folklore plays a large role in that series. It’s refreshing, and I enjoy learning the history of gods, tricksters, as well as tribal lore that’s unfamiliar to me.

I remember going with my dad to the Archives building in downtown and spending hours poring over microfiche, letters, books, anything we could get our hands on. Dad loves genealogy, and the family history he uncovered made my imagination whirl with possibilities. I owe him for so much, sparking my interest in Native American lore is only the tip of the iceberg. So when it came time for me to write A Hint of Frost, I had a good idea of how I wanted my world shaped. I used bits and pieces of tribal lore and created my own story of creation for a race of people with spiderlike traits. The great thing about writing fantasy is that your options are limitless. There’s no right or wrong way to build your world. As long as you stick to your own rules, then you’re golden. Use whatever inspires you, whatever makes you think, whatever makes you ask yourself “what if”.

Those two words are magic.

Go ahead. Give them a try. You might be surprised by your answer.

 

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For a chance to win a book from Hailey Edwards’ backlist (reader’s choice, any digital format), just leave a comment below. Good luck! 😀

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We shared this cover when it was first revealed but we haven’t shown the back cover copy yet!

 

Playing to Win
Book Four in the Play-by-Play Series

Someone’s going to have to let down their guard…

Football star Cole Riley is notorious for doing as he pleases—on the field and off. He parties hard and fights harder, but if he doesn’t clean up his act, his career is over—so Cole reluctantly agrees to work with image makeover consultant Savannah Brooks. He’s not used to being told what to do, especially by some (admittedly hot) southern belle. As for Savannah, she’s not convinced she can transform this cocky (and aggressively sexy) force of nature. But she’s determined to give it her best shot.

When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down the ground rules: no personal complications. If she can turn off the tingle she feels every time Cole gives her a hot stare with his gorgeous baby blues, he can turn off his desire as well. But for two people determined to have it all, a hands-off policy can only last so long before one of them yields.

Available September 4, 2012

www.jaciburton.com

Today, Jaci revealed the back cover copy for book 5, Thrown a Curve. Sounds yummy!

She thinks she knows this player—but he has a few surprise moves.

For Alicia Riley, her job as a sports therapist for the St. Louis Rivers baseball team is a home run—until she becomes the primary therapist for star pitcher, Garrett Scott. Out of the lineup with an injury, he’s short-tempered, hard to handle, and every solid inch, a man.

Right now, the only demand he’s making on Alicia is that she get him ready to pitch in time for opening day. Except the sexual chemistry between them is so charged, Alicia’s tempted to oblige Garrett just about anything. But both their careers are at stake—one bad move and it’s game over for both of them.

Garrett also feels the hot sparks between them, and the way he figures it, what better therapy is there than sex? Now all he has to do is convince the woman with the power to make the call.

Available March 2013

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She would gladly relinquish her life of intrigue…

A rare beauty, raised in the exotic heart of the Ottoman Empire, Mari Sinclair knows it’s time to end her career as a British spy when she narrowly avoids a brush with death. Unfortunately her employers think otherwise—and they are not above using blackmail to keep Mari in the Game.

Saddled with a handsome, duty-obsessed “minder” to ensure that she completes—and survives—one last mission, Mari is incensed…for her guardian, Major Bennett Prestwood, is simply too dedicated, too unbending, and too disarmingly attractive. But in the face of dark secrets and deadly treacheries, as the true peril to Mari is slowly revealed, loyal soldier Bennett realizes that, to save and win this extraordinary woman, he will have to do the unthinkable and break the rules—rules that passion and desire have suddenly, irrevocably changed.

 

www.annarandol.com

 

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For a chance to win A Secret in Her Kiss by Anna Randol, just leave a comment below. The winner will be announced on Sunday. Good luck!

 

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As an independent witch living off the grid, Jessie Leigh has spent her life running, trying to blend in among the faceless drudges in the rebuilt city. She thought she was finally safe, but now she’s been found in a New Seattle strip club—by a hard-eyed man on a mission to destroy her kind.

A soldier of the Holy Order, Silas Smith believes in the cause: trawling the fringes of society for the murderous witches who threaten what’s left of the world. Forced into a twisting web of half-truths and lies, he has to stay close to the most sensuous and electrifying woman he has ever seen and manipulate her into leading him to the witch he has to kill: her brother. Silas doesn’t know that Jessie’s his enemy, only that he wants her, needs her, even as he lies to her… and must protect her until his final breath.

 

www.karinacooper.com

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For a chance to win Blood of the Wicked by Karina Cooper, just leave a comment below. The winner will be announced on Sunday. Good luck!

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The brainchild of Evangeline Ramsey, the London List features the latest gossip as well as blind advertisements. Every London resident, from the lowliest kitchen maid to the most exalted duchess, looks forward to Tuesday morning, when the newspaper publishes and speculation rises.

 

Baron Benton Gray is sick of finding his latest peccadilloes printed in the London List—and shocked to find his old love, Evangeline Ramsey, at the helm. He buys the newspaper from her ailing father with the intention of shutting it down, only to face uproar from its eager readers. Forced to enlist Evie’s aid to re-start the newspaper, he finds that putting the paper to bed becomes an unexpected pleasure for them both…

 

 Available November 27, 2012

www.maggierobinson.net

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The Book

 

 

The Tease

 

Dare coached a community league and this was the end of practice at the field near the lake on the edge of town.  All he had left was Charlie’s at bat, a pep talk, and then Dare was out of here for the night.

Ten minutes later, he’d given each kid a summary of their strengths and weaknesses.  When he finished, the kids scattered, some walking home together, a few lucky others picked up by their parents.

Dare put his spare equipment into the large duffel he kept in his trunk, hefted the bag over his shoulder and headed for his car, a black metallic Ford Edge.  He tossed the bag into the back and wiped his dusty hands together before slamming the trunk, then walked over to the water fountain and rinsed off his hands.

No sooner had he finished and turned to leave than he collided with a jogger on the sidewalk.  He’d raised his hands to block contact and he realized he now braced his palms against a very feminine chest.  Soft, round, full breasts molded to his hand.

His body registered that fact and reacted accordingly.

“Sorry,” he muttered, taking a deliberate step back.

“Me too.  I wasn’t watching where I was going,” a familiar female voice said.

Startled, Dare glanced up to see Liza pulling the iPod buds out of her ears. “Liza.”

“You,” she said at the same time.

He met her gaze and she blinked, focusing her coffee brown eyes on him.  Touching her had nearly knocked him on his ass and her gorgeous eyes almost completed the job.  Then there was the damp handprints he’d left on her chest, well those he couldn’t stop noticing.

He had to divert his focus or he’d be in big trouble.

“I do have a name other than you,” he reminded her in a teasing voice.

“Officer Barron.”  She ducked her head after she spoke.

This shy female was distinctly different from the take charge woman he was used to seeing at the police station, softer and more approachable.

Dare found himself drawn to her even more.  “I meant, I have a first name.”  And he wanted to hear her say it.

She lifted her gaze.  “Dare.”  Her expression was wary but with a hint of a smile on her lips, she teased him with a glimpse of those sexy dimples in her cheeks.

“Better.”  He allowed himself to take in her running gear, a pair of black shorts with white piping, a black tank that did little to hide her breasts and a worn pair of sneakers.

“Do you always jog in the evening?” The sun was setting and he’d prefer she didn’t run here at night.

 “No.  I usually run in the morning near my house but I had an early meeting today so I put it off till later.”

He nodded, feeling better about her jog.  “Well then, lucky me.  Are you okay? From our collision I mean?”

She nodded.  “I’m fine.  I should have been watching where I was going but I was distracted.”  A blush stained her cheeks, making him wonder what she’d been thinking about.

“So was I.”  He was even more distracted now.

Silence descended and she shifted from foot to foot.

“Well, I should get going,” she murmured.

He paused and before he could think about it, he said, “I was just going to get a slice of pizza.  Want to join me?”

Her eyes flickered in surprise.

She couldn’t be any more shocked then him, since he had dinner at his brother’s house in an hour, Dare thought.  But he wasn’t ready to let her go.

“Umm … “ She seemed to struggle with the decision and he knew he’d bail on the family if it meant the chance to go out with her.

“I can’t tonight.  I have to work.  I need to put the final touches on a presentation I have in the morning.”

He nodded, understanding but still disappointed.   “No problem.”

He wondered if he should take it as an outright rejection, then realized she hadn’t said I can’t.  She’d said I can’t tonight.

“Maybe another time then.”

Her eyes widened, as if she couldn’t believe he’d push the issue.

“Maybe,” she said softly.

His heart jump-started inside his chest and his thoughts immediately turned to what Cara had said about turning things around.  He’d always judged Liza harshly but now he’d treated her to the real Dare and she’d softened.

“Can I walk you anywhere?” he asked, reluctant to let her leave.

She shook her head.  “My car’s parked by my office,” she said, pointing down the tree-lined street.

“Be careful.”

“Always,” she said and treated him to a full-fledged genuine smile.

As he watched her jog towards her office, he realized something had shifted between them.  And suddenly it didn’t matter who her brother was or what he’d done, Dare needed to get to know Liza better.

 

The Blurb

Police Officer Dare Barron has had a crush on Liza McKnight ever since he was a teenager. But despite his lifelong attraction, the closest he’s ever come to interacting with her is watching Liza regularly bail out her brother at the station.
 
Dare’s dark past with Liza’s brother, Brian, has always kept him from pursuing her. But suddenly Liza finds herself in need of protection and Dare appoints himself as the man for the job.  And while the sizzling attraction between Dare and Liza draws them together, the past that Dare and Brian share threatens to keep the two apart forever.

 

Available May 1, 2012

www.carlyphillips.com

 

 

 

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