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Archive for June, 2012

Feeling almost like a character in a bad cop show, Lt. Gibson studied the two women in front of him. They were as different as two creatures of the same sex, race and economic status could be. The widow small, dark and birdlike, but with an indefinable charm; the ex-mistress blonde and beautiful with a pulchritudinous charm of the kind that gave men wet dreams.

Tony Brayton had been loved by both. If he weren’t dead Gibson would have called him a lucky bastard.

On the table was the necklace, spread in solitary splendor and winking sullenly under the fluorescent lights. Lucinda stared at it as if mesmerized; Anne could barely look at it.

“The necklace is a fake,” the lieutenant said without preamble. “I took it to a jeweler just to be sure. It’s a good copy made by a good artist, but still a fake.”

Both women stared back at him. Gibson knew he had to be crazy to do this, but he had nothing else. He was pretty sure he knew who had killed Tony Brayton, but the one piece of hard evidence he had wasn’t really evidence at all, just an interesting tidbit of fact. The prosecutor would laugh him out of court even if the case got by the Grand Jury. If he couldn’t get the murderer to confess, she’d get away scot-free.

from The Breighton Emeralds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a boy, the old Cavanaugh mansion was out at the end of Larkspur Road. It was invisible from the road, of course, having been built in the years when privacy was a privilege and the upper classes kept themselves from the prying eyes of the lower.

Now, of course, the old house is almost naked to the gaze of the world since the interstate went in, cutting through the parkland and exposing the back of the house to any who happened to glance that way.

For a while the Cavanaughs tried to maintain the old ways, even though their finances were badly shrunken. They planted tall bushes along the edge of their property, but none of them lived. Pollution, I guess. After a year or two the travelers, if they wanted to look, could be treated to the sight of old Miss Maudie hanging out the wash, or her brother Mr. Wilbur mowing the grass with an ancient pushmower.

Once it would have been unheard of for any Cavanaugh to do any kind of labor at all, but habits die hard in small towns. Even though they now had to work at keeping their lives going like the rest of us common folk, they were still called Miss Maudie and Mr. Wilbur.

Until they disappeared.

Strange how it happened, and the fact that it happened on Halloween didn’t make it any less so. That afternoon Jonas Hawke from the hardware store had gone out to drop off some nails Mr. Wilbur had ordered. Jonas didn’t make a habit of delivering, but Miss Maudie had never learned to drive and Mr. Wilbur had just had his license taken away by the judge after his fourth accident in three months, so the town sort of agreed that they’d become everyone’s responsibility. After all, these days the old place wasn’t more than half a mile out of town.

When Jonas got there everything was as it had always been. Mr. Wilbur was friendly but reserved like he always was and Miss Maudie offered lemonade and cookies. She always made real good cookies. Jonas got his lemonade and cookies (chocolate chip and sand tarts, he said) and his $4.73 for the nails and left, jokingly telling them to watch out for goblins.

The next day Mrs. Gimble and Mrs. Pierce, two ladies from the Methodist Church Sunshine Committee, took out a big box of groceries, one that contained a lot of baking supplies. They were, they said, kind of hoping that Miss Maudie would teach them some of her cookie baking secrets.

Except that Miss Maudie wasn’t there. Neither was Mr. Wilbur.

The front door was unlocked, so they went on in, calling all the time. They searched the house, but there was no sign of either of the old people. The beds were neatly made, the kitchen clean and tidy. Mr.Wilbur’s trademark straw hat hung on the hall tree by the front door; Miss Maudie’s purse sat beside her chair in the parlor. Everything was just as it was supposed to be, except that the two old people were nowhere to be found.

from The Cavanaugh Cellar

www.janissusanmay.com

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On her deathbed, Lady Jane Worthington makes her eight-year-old daughter, Tarin, promise her three things: live life as she pleases, do not allow her father to arrange her marriage and, most of all, marry for love.

After witnessing her mother’s suffering and subsequent death, Tarin is determined to save others from the same fate. And nothing, not her noble status, nor society’s belief that women cannot be doctors, will keep her from making Gregory’s first female medical college a reality.
 
Rafe Sutherland, long-lost Brahmin rogue turned Texas Ranger, returns home after his father‘s mysterious death, bearing secrets. Rafe’s wildly virile and arrogant persona, as well as his animosity with a college-supporting suitor, threatens Tarin’s plans. And her father’s continual matchmaking with the national hero makes Rafe completely out of the question.
 
What Tarin doesn’t realize is that Rafe comes with a little help from above, and what mother wants, mother gets.

~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~

What Makes a Hero, a Hero?

Your car has broken down – again.  You’re stranded on the side of the road, your cell phone battery has died, and it’s a hundred and eighty degrees outside.   Your hair, which is in desperate need of highlights, is plastered to your forehead like seaweed, and your makeup has slowly made its way down your face to hang off your chin.   And of course, you’re wearing that outfit that fits a little too snug around your middle, but you refuse to buy up a bigger size.   You’re going to lose those five pounds – as soon as you get out of this mess.

And as soon as Blue Bell quits making Banana Pudding ice cream.

You hear the speed, the whine as it races towards you.   A sleek, black Porsche Boxster skids to a stop in front of you along the gulf shore highway.  Waves pound the beach as the wind whirls sand through the air and into your face.  Heat rises from the concrete in waves as the driver door is thrown open against the setting sun.  A man emerges, long, lithe, muscular.   Shutting the door, he stops to check his hair and teeth in the side mirror before turning towards you wearing a pale pink polo, deck shoes and plaid shorts.  He yells at you across the distance that he is calling a tow truck.

Skreech.  Wait.  What?

Stop the presses.

OK, a show of hands:  When you were a little girl, did you say, “One day my prince will come.  He will be tall, handsome, wear plaid shorts and have the ability to call tow trucks in a single speed dial.”  Swoon.

Odds are, that would be a no.

In the distance, you hear a rumble.  Nothing too loud, but you know, instinctively, power is near.   Shading your eyes with your hand, you make out a motorcycle in the distance.  A lone rider, with shoulders as wide as the street lane and hips as lean as the seat his cheeks rested upon, rolls to a stop beside you.  Was that sizzle coming from the pavement, or from him?  Biceps the size of tree trunks catch your attention first: hard, taut, straining as though they laugh at the tight black tee sleeves trying to confine them.   The rider unfolds from his bike, pulls off his helmet.  You gasp.  Midnight black hair cut stylishly long whips around his face, while his piercing, sky blue eyes sparkle with knowing confidence.   He takes in your appearance in a single, hot glance, paying particular attention to the one area you know always got you attention no matter what blouse you wore – your smile.   He looks under your hood and knows exactly what to do.   He tells you he can take care of it.  But suddenly, he tosses the keys to the guy with the Porsche, grabs you around the waist, and tosses you onto the motorcycle seat in front of him.  You ride off into the sunset, leaving the Porsche owner and his plaid shorts behind.

Sigh…

Which is the hero to you?

I know what you’re thinking:  is she so shallow that she thinks it all about a hero’s looks?

 

No.

 

Not at all.

 

I’m not like that.

 

Really.

 

But, it is a scientific fact that women subconsciously want to be dominated.   They want to be taken care of, whether they admit it – realize it – or not.

So, you’re thinking:  the guy in the Porsche was going to take care of you.  He called a tow truck, didn’t he?

The difference between he and the loner?

He didn’t take charge.

You could have called the tow truck, if he had just handed you the phone.

The loner, on the other hand, rode onto the scene, assessed the situation, and made a decision.  He decided the other guy was an idiot for wasting time calling a tow truck when there was beautiful woman standing in front of him.  He realized the car wasn’t worth the time, but you were.

You had only thought you were having a bad day.   But, your subconscious dreams had come true.  A hero had stepped in and taken care of the situation.  You were no longer stranded.  He made the decision for you that the car just wasn’t worth the time and effort anymore.   He would handle your ride from now on – if you know what I mean.  He thought you beautiful despite your bedraggled appearance.  And you realized you didn’t have to look like a cover model to win a hero.

What’s not to love?

Yes, Mr. Polo ad may have had some potential, but with a face that was prettier than yours and a skin care regimen that rivaled Christie Brinkley’s, what would you gain other than some competition for the bathroom mirror?

Sometimes, a woman just doesn’t want to have to think.

And that’s where romance novels come in.  They carry you away from reality better than any bubble bath ever could.  To a place where you don’t have to make the decisions.  Where a hero can actually decide what to do for dinner and how to get the car fixed.

I can assure you, you will never find a hero in any of my books that wears a pink polo and calls tow trucks.  Alpha rules in the House of Greyson, and alpha is looking pretty darn fine while he’s in residence, too.  So, yes, maybe I am a bit partial to hot heroes.   Like that’s a bad thing?

I hope you will pick up a copy of my premier novel, Heaven’s Scent, available now in e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.  My hero, Rafe, is smokin’ – the ultimate alpha male.  My heroine, Tarin, has her hands full him.   As a reader, you may not have to think, but poor Tarin’s brain is on overload.

So, sit back, relax the mind, and enjoy some down time in the 19th century.

Sophie Greyson

Connect with me online!   www.sophiegreyson.com , www.twitter.com/sophiegreyson or www.facebook.com/sophiegreyson.

Leave a comment on this blog between now and midnight, June 30th, and you could win a free copy of Heaven Scent!

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I’ve been writing for forty years, and it’s a whole new world out there.  I spent the first five years as a newspaper feature writer, then gradually moved into books, both novels and cookbooks.  For the next thirty years, my writing had to conform to what publishers were looking for.  I’m still writing for traditional publishers, but I’ve added a new dimension to my career–e-publishing.

For a long time, I kept thinking that e-books would never catch on.  But I’ve seen them gradually taking more and more of the market.  Two years ago when I went to the Novelists, Inc. conference, where many of the speakers were talking about the e-book market, I realized I needed to get into that new arena.

I decided to try two approaches.  I wrote a medieval fantasy novel, submitted it to Carina Press, and was accepted.  DARK MAGIC was published last year.  (I’ve since sold them another similar novella, SHATTERED MAGIC, and I’m working on the proposal for the third story in what I’ve called THE CHRONICLES OF ARANDAL.)

Because Harlequin has the rights to most of my backlist, republishing old books wasn’t available to me.  So I started writing a contemporary series called DECORAH SECURITY.  It’s set around a security company run by a crusty old Navy SEAL named Frank Decorah. All of his agents have paranormal powers or take on paranormal cases.  I launched the series in December with a novel, DARK MOON, a novella, CHAINED, and a short story, AMBUSHED.

It’s been fantastic fun writing stories where I didn’t have to conform to an editor’s guidelines, where I could make the stories any length I wanted, and where I could keep a bigger percentage of the earnings than a traditional publisher allows.

I’m the queen of juggling projects. I’ve got another Decorah novel, DARK POWERS, almost finished.  I currently have three romantic suspense novels under contract to Sourcebooks and another Harlequin Intrigue also under contract, which puts me in the perfect position to judge which segment of the market is going to work out best for me.

But there’s one thing that’s still true in the publishing industry.  You don’t know which decision was the right one until a couple of years later.

I will give away a copy of my latest Harlequin Intrigue, SUDDEN ATTRACTION, to one commenter.

rebeccayork.com

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A year after their family was brutally torn apart, the Graham siblings begin to put their lives back together at their ranch in East Texas. With their parents gone, their bonds will truly be tested…

Olivia Graham has worked hard to take care of her family at the Circle Eight Ranch. But their family circle was broken when their young brother Benjy disappeared. Liv can’t shake the feeling that he must be out there, somewhere.

Brody Armstrong, a handsome but rough-around-the-edges Texas Ranger, has been working on their case for months, and now he has a promising lead.

As Liv follows him across the rugged Texas landscape and into Mexico, she’ll begin to find the answers she needs—as Brody finds a passion he didn’t know he wanted…

 

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A spine of steel, a heart of gold.  I tend to have strong-willed heroines in my books, sometimes they are more than stubborn, they can come across as rough around the edges. Sometimes really rough, like a diamond waiting to be tumbled around until it shines. Yet they are all women with integrity, honor and a heart of gold.

The heroine in my newest release, CIRCLE EIGHT: BRODY, is definitely one of those gems. Olivia Graham has suffered through some tragedies in her life, not the least of which was losing her parents to murder, her brother to kidnappers and her fiancee because he was a lousy jackass. It’s made her somewhat hard, the wall she’s built up around herself is nearly impossible to breach. She fires on anyone who tries. Yet Ranger Brody Armstrong doesn’t want to scale her walls or be subjected to her sharp tongue. Yet she sticks to him like a cockleburr, determined to find young Benjy Graham.

Thus begins a road romance that brings back fond memories of THE BOUNTY, my first book and road romance between Nicky and Tyler. Yet Olivia and Brody’s story is darker, more violent and much hotter. Olivia doesn’t give in or melt into a puddle. Oh no, she takes what she wants, never giving an inch but taking a mile. Brody is as strong as she is, but he isn’t prepared for the force of nature called Olivia.

I know it was atypical for women to be so strong-willed in the 19th century, but I’d like to think there were ladies like mine. Those who led the suffragette movement, argued for women’s rights and pushed their way into the “men’s club” of medicine and law. While Olivia isn’t a famous woman, she is stronger than steel, made to survive the harsh realities of life in the Republic of Texas. Made to be a fitting mate for a Texas Ranger like Brody Armstrong. My favorite strong woman in history has to be Eleanor Roosevelt. What about y’all? Who is your favorite?

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To find out more about Emma Lang, visit www.bethwilliamson.com.

One lucky reader will win both MATTHEW and BRODY in paperback. To be entered, leave a comment answering Emma’s question. The winner will be drawn on Sunday. Good luck!

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A human skeleton is the last thing Thea Campbell and fiancé Paul Hudson expect to find buried in their own yard. Neither do they expect the town of Snohomish, Washington to erupt with excitement over a fictional pirate treasure the dead man is rumored to be guarding. This is obviously an old murder, and the police need to solve it.

 

Unfortunately, the disappearance of the bones hardly slows down local excitement as family and friends abandon any good sense they previously possessed. Some hold a séance, hoping for guidance to the treasure from the hereafter. Others take a more straightforward approach and dig up Thea’s yard with an unwavering persistence.

 

Someone, however, has not forgotten the decades-old crime, and that someone wants all the evidence destroyed, no matter the cost.

 

Thea and Paul are drawn into the mystery by earthly and unearthly forces, headed for a trap that, if sprung, could be their final rest.

 

~~~*~~~*~~~

Two years ago I believed in the honing fires of rejection.

Two years ago I believed if I wrote well enough my books would be published.

Two years ago I believed someone else’s opinion was more important than my own.

 

Then I asked myself why I believed these things, and I didn’t like my answer.

What was my answer? The same as many people’s: I believed those things because that’s the way it had always been.

 

Two years ago the changes taking place in the publishing industry were getting harder and harder to ignore. If you raised your eyes and looked around you could see authors who were beginning to take charge of their careers, putting their out-of-print work up for sale on Kindle and Smashwords, Nook and Kobo. And they were doing well – often better than when the original publisher marketed their books. I started asking questions and investigating the process of digital publishing and found it looked deceptively easy to do. There had to be a catch and, of course, there was: digital publishing is very easy to do.

I’m a cautious person by nature, suspicious of things that are easy. I had a heart-to-heart with myself and hammered out the goals for my career. What I found was that digital publishing, despite the myriad of warnings from those with more industry experience, suited me. The creative decisions and the business aspects were areas where I felt comfortable. Marketing and promotion, on the other hand, was another story — and a rather scary one at that. But the truth was all authors (except for a very lucky few) were being asked to shoulder that burden solo, especially previously unpublished authors. I’d have to learn to do those things, regardless of the path I took to publishing.

Armed with self-knowledge and a plan, I put the final polish on my first publicly offered book and announced to the world I was going to jump off a cliff.

Surprisingly, I found out I could fly. Not well at first, but by continuing to educate myself in all aspects of my chosen profession I find it is getting easier. Now, with my fourth book coming out, I feel I am hitting my rhythm. Am I wildly successful? No, but I am a working author. People read and enjoy my books and will continue to do so as long as I choose to continue.

 

You may ask, in light of my answer to my original question, what do I believe now?

 

I believe in the constructive criticism of good editors.

I believe if I write well enough my books should be published.

I believe my opinion has as much merit as anyone else’s, and my reader’s opinions are the ones that matter to me the most.

 

And finally, I believe the changes that continue to take place in the publishing industry are good. If we stay active and involved we will all benefit. Have I looked back? Sure, but not with regret. I’m still happy with my decision and excited about a future that continues to defy the predictors.

***

Susan Schreyer is author of the Thea Campbell Mystery Series: Death By A Dark Horse, Levels Of Deception, An Error in Judgment and, just released, BushWhacked.  She lives in Washington State with her husband, two teenage children, an untrustworthy rabbit and the ghost of a demanding old cat. Her horse lives within easy driving distance. Occasionally, she makes a diligent effort at updating her blogs “Writing Horses” and “Things I Learned From My Horse,” and writes articles for worthy publications. Mostly, she works on stories about people in the next town being murdered. As a diversion from the plotting of nefarious deeds Susan trains horses and teaches people how to ride them, and when the weather gets to her she works in a veterinarians’ office. She serves on the steering committee of the Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime and is co-president of the Puget Sound Chapter of SinC. When she has a minute she cleans her house and does laundry.

 

Susan loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted at any of these sites:

 

Susan Schreyer Mysteries web site

http://susanschreyer.com

Things I Learned From My Horse – blog

http://thingsilearnedfrommyhorse.blogspot.com

Writing Horses – blog

http://writinghorses.blogspot.com

Twitter: @susanschreyer

Facebook: Susan Schreyer Mysteries

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GIVEAWAY

We have Death By A Dark Horse, Levels of Deception, and An Error In Judgement to give away! Click here to read blurbs for each. One person will win the grand prize of all three books and three runner ups will win one book of their choice from the list. To be entered, simply leave a comment below. Good luck!

 

 

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Sammael–call him Sam–was an angel once. An Angel of Death. But the dispassionate, watch-from-above thing just wasn’t working for him when it meant watching evil torture innocent souls day in and day out. It might have cost him his wings, but these days he gets to apply the direct method on the bad guys. Problem is, what’s making his life difficult is a bad girl…

Seline O’Shaw needs protection, and with the hounds of hell on her tail, she’s not going to quibble too hard about where she gets it. Sam’s virtue is questionable, but he’s smoking hot, massively powerful, and owes her a favor. So what if she’s getting a little case of angel lust? There are some damn deadly sins after her hide…

Wow. Just wow. I started reading Angel Betrayed fairly late at night and was resentful when I had to set it down at 3am to get some sleep. I couldn’t wait to get back to it! Seline had me intrigued from the beginning. She’s not your average heroine. As a half succubus/half fallen angel, she isn’t out to save the world, she’s just trying to save her own ass. When she is sent to kill Sam, the biggest and baddest Other around, she sees her chance to finally be free of the Other that commands her. It’s not often I get an anti-hero and anti-heroine in the same book and I loved it.

Both have been betrayed in the past and struggle with trust, while they slowly start to fall for each. As more is revealed about Seline, a vulnerable side starts to emerge from her tough-girl image. That side was just as fascinating to me as the succubus who will do anything to survive. And Sam’s ability to embrace and support her tough side while sheltering the vulnerable made me fall in love with him. Watching the ultimate badass lose his mind when the woman he can only describe as “mine” is in danger is both beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking.

The world building in this book is superb. It’s one I was able to step into easily and not want to leave. New Orleans and a cast of complex secondary characters sets the perfect backdrop for this over-the-top romance. If I could give Angel Betrayed more than 5 stars, I would.  I was hooked from page one and sighing happily at the end. One of my top five paranormal reads of the year.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: June 26th, 2012
Format: Print and digital

Preorder:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

 

*eARC received from NetGalley

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Happy summer, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying these long, lazy days. (And a big thanks to Fatin for inviting me over!)

I recently tried to explain my romance addiction to a friend.  As I talked to her, I realized that I have five main reasons for loving romance novels:

  1. The happy ending.  Come on, I love that feel-good ending! After watching my depressing local news stories, I NEED my happy romance ending.
  2. The emotion.  Romance novels take me on a roller coaster ride. I can laugh, I can cry, I can root for my characters…all from the comfort of my cushy couch.
  3. The heroes are hot. Um, do I need to say more on that?  No?  Okay.
  4. The heroines are strong and smart (and they’re hot, too!).  I love reading about capable heroines who can kick-butt and capture the bad-boy heroes’ hearts.
  5. The stories entertain me.

 

And you know what? It’s really item 5 on that list that I like the most. When I open a romance novel, I am looking for an escape from reality, for just a little while. I want an adventure. I want excitement. I want entertainment.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve got to experience hundreds of lives (thousands?) because I’ve had so many adventures within the pages of books.  I’ve traveled to exotic locales, had dozens of careers…all because I opened books.

What more could I possibly want?  So, this summer, when the sun dips low in the sky, you can find me in my hammock, swinging a bit (okay, for the ten minutes I manage to squeeze away from my family), and I’ll be reading my treasured romance novels. I’ll be escaping, even if that escape just takes place in my backyard.

Now, what about you? Why do you enjoy romance novels?  Tell me, and you will win a copy of my new release, ANGEL BETRAYED (digital or print copy—winner’s choice).

Here’s the blurb for ANGEL BETRAYED—this way, you’ll know what type of “escape” you’ll find in this book (warning—danger and hot fallen angels are dead ahead!):

***

Sammael–call him Sam–was an angel once. An angel of death. But the dispassionate, watch-from-above thing just wasn’t working for him when it meant watching evil torture innocent souls day in and day out. It might have cost him his wings, but these days he gets to apply the direct method on the bad guys. Problem is, what’s making his life difficult is a bad girl…

Seline O’Shaw needs protection, and with the hounds of hell on her tail, she’s not going to quibble too hard about where she gets it. Sam’s virtue is questionable, but he’s smoking hot, massively powerful, and owes her a favor. So what if she’s getting a little case of angel lust? There are some damn deadly sins after her hide…

***

I’ll post the winner tomorrow at noon.

Best,

Cynthia Eden

www.cynthiaeden.com

ANGEL BETRAYED—Available 6/26/12 from Kensington Brava

When you betray an angel, there’s all hell to pay…

 

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