Archive for the ‘April 2012’ Category

I wouldn’t change you for the world but I would change the world for you.

If you were reading this blog last year, then you know that my oldest son has Aspergers Syndrome and autism advocacy is very dear to me. (2012 Autism post.) I’ve slacked off on doing one this year for Autism Awareness Month and that’s not like me. It took a while for me to figure out why but now I know. My goal is no longer “awareness.” Awareness isn’t enough. Change has to happen.

I can put the statistics out there. 1 in 88 children have autism. 1 in 54 boys. But this country is already aware of that. However, this year showed me that awareness is not equaling a difference.  My son is in 6th grade now and in 8 months, he’s been bullied by 5 children. 2 of them physically assaulted him. All because he is different. Their parents are aware of autism. I watched the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut unfold and I watched as a speculation ran rampant that the shooter was on the spectrum. Then I watched as people who should know better went on social media sites demanding that these children be locked away for the safety of society. My little boy, who won’t let me kill a spider, and thousands like him were suddenly villains to many people who are aware of autism.

The biggest realization came last month as I saw someone that I know is aware of autism complaining because a mother in front of her in line at a fast food restaurant ordered a hamburger, bun only, for her child. This person believed that mother shouldn’t bring the child to restaurants if she had to do this. I wanted to be angry but I was mostly sad. I’ve been that mother. My son has food aversions. For over a year, he would only eat peanut butter and fruit. I’ve ordered many happy meals, bun only, with apple slices. I carried a jar of peanut butter in my purse at all times and I would use the disposable knife to spread that peanut butter on the bun. My child has the right to be in public and I, as his parent, have a responsibility to take him to public places and teach him about the world.

So what’s my solution? I don’t know. Just like everything else in the autism journey we’ve been on for 7 years, it’ll be trial and error. I know the key is education. And I know I’m going to take a no excuses stand. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired or frustrated, I have to take the opportunities when they come. Regardless if they are friends or family or if I make some people angry, my child matters and I will fight for him. No more “well, they didn’t know” attitude. Who cares if it causes a scene. If Nathan is stimming in Cracker Barrel and people are already staring, I might as well teach them about my child.


You may be wondering, if you’re not close to someone with autism, why you should care. The numbers are clear. 1 in 88 and those kids are growing up. Look at your company and think of 1 in 88. Your customers. Your neighbors. Possible spouses of your children. These kids are here and they are part of our future. Your life will be touched by autism. They only question is, how will you handle it? And will you look back with regret at your past actions.

So that’s my April is Autism Awareness Month post. It’s not happy and uplifting but it is honest. And I think this world could use a little more honesty.

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Hi Novel Thoughts – thank you so much for having me on your blog today!


I’m here to tell you a bit about my new release from Samhain Publishing, called Seven Sexy Sins. Here’s a blurb from the book:


The road to passion is paved with guilty pleasures.


Faith Hillman is in a bit of a pickle. She’s been commissioned to write a series of magazine articles on spicing up your love life. She’s got the theme—the “Seven Sexy Sins”—but there’s one major problem. She hasn’t experienced any of them.


Ever since Faith’s older brother gave Rusty Thorne a black eye for kissing her on her eighteenth birthday, he’s kept his distance, waiting for the right time to make his move. This is it. She needs a research partner? He’s the man for the job.


When sex-on-legs Rusty offers his services, Faith is all over it—with one caveat. The notorious heartbreaker must sign a confidentiality contract. Just to keep him safe from her brother’s wrath, of course….and her heart off Rusty’s long list of conquests.


As they work their wicked way through the list, the implications of the contract hit Rusty as hard as the handcuffs binding his wrists to the bed. For it isn’t just Faith’s touch that rocks his world. It’s the way his heart likes it that blows his defenses out of the water. And makes him wonder, when the contract ends, if he can bear let her go.


Warning: Includes rebellious hero who enjoys inserting Tab A into Slots B, C, and even occasionally D. Also includes highly inappropriate use of a Mars Bar.



That warning even makes me blush, and I wrote the damn book. Anyway, hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea of what it’s about.


So what are the Seven Sexy Sins? I’ll be around the Internet over the next few weeks promoting the book, and talking about the Sins on different sites. So if you want to find out about all seven, you’ll have to hunt me down! Check out my blog for more details about where I’m appearing. (http://serenitywoods.blogspot.co.nz/)


Anyway, Faith relates the Sexy Sins to the seven deadly sins, and the first one she comes up with is Envy. She equates this to watching sexy movies and looking at sexy magazines, thinking that women who are finding their love lives a bit predictable might discover some ideas to spice up things in the bedroom. It’s certainly an eye opener for her, as she’s never watched a porn movie before. This is what happens when they first put the DVD on (it’s called Ocean’s Eleven Inches, by the way):



They watched for a few minutes in silence. Eventually Rusty looked down at her and started laughing.




“You know those glasses you can buy in joke shops, where the eyes are on springs and fall out as you lean forward?”


She glanced at him before looking back at the screen. “Are you surprised? I mean…this is my first porn movie. It’s a bit…”


“What?” He ran a light finger along her jaw and she looked up at him. His eyes were tender. “You okay? You want to turn it off?”


“No, no…” He totally had the wrong idea. “It’s just… It’s more…um…explicit than I thought it would be.”


“You thought they’d be having tea and crumpets? You know the definition of porn, right?”


“Don’t make fun of me. I thought it would be more…suggestive and arty. Almost, I don’t know, kind of pretend. This is very…real.”


“I’m not making fun of you, sweetheart.” He bent his head and kissed her. “There are some films like that. And I think they probably appeal more to women. Slightly more romantic. But I think guys prefer this sort of stuff.”


She pressed her lips together, still feeling the brush of his mouth. “Do you?”


“We’re a pretty basic species.”



In spite of the fact that he’s fancied Faith for years, Rusty’s a bit nervous about their first time together, until she takes off her shirt, and then he pretty much forgets his nerves and thoroughly enjoys himself—so much so that they actually fall off the bed at one point. But I don’t want to spoil the story for you. Want another, sexier, snippet?



Faith gasped as he stretched her, filled her. He stopped moving, his mouth millimetres from hers, exchanging breaths with her. Their eyes met. All amusement fled, and a deep, dark desire clawed its way up her, a hunger she’d never felt before. She’d never, ever wanted a man this much, never craved someone with this intensity.


He breathed out in a long, controlled exhalation. Lowering his lips to hers, he kissed her deeply. Then, very, very slowly, he began to move.



It’s probably best if you read the book with the air conditioning on, by the way.


Serenity x



To find out more about Serenity Woods, visit www.serenitywoodsromance.com. And for a chance to win a digital copy of Seven Sexy Sins, just leave a comment below. Good luck!




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The blurb:

After two years in a war zone, werewolf Felicia Serna has finally returned to find another pack has taken over her territory…and the new second-in-command is the very man who haunts her fantasies.

Alaric has wanted Felicia from the moment he laid eyes on her, and now he’s ready to claim her. When a threatening shifter begins stalking them, he’s determined to protect her…even if it means putting his seduction on hold. But even in the heat of danger, their red-hot passion cannot be denied.




The review:

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the pro side, I loved the romance. Felicia was a heroine that was easy to like and relate to. Because of her past, she has a lot of insecurities and fears yet she still left everything she knew to go to Afghanistan and help others. When she comes back and everything goes crazy, she tries not to let those insecurities impact the present.

Alaric was equally great. He had known for years that Felicia was his mate but he also knew she was too young so he stepped back and watched her live her life without interference from him. The love scenes are both steamy and sweet. Alaric takes the time to earn Felicia’s trust and to make sure she knows how much he needs her. I adored these two together and I believed in their HEA.

On the con side is the suspense aspect. I didn’t get it. Heroine in danger and hero forced to protect her is a storyline I love and it worked in the beginning. However, after everything was revealed I felt lost. I went back and reread that scene but I still don’t understand what the motivation was behind the stalking and what it was supposed to accomplish. That took a little of the shine off of what was otherwise a really good book.

That being said, I’m glad I read it and I’m looking forward to reading more about this pack. Katie Reus has a knack for writing a romance that I can become invested in.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Format: eBook & audio
Length: novella length

Purchase Info:
Amazon (Kindle)
Audible (audio format)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Books on Board

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also wins a copy of Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr!



wins Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

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.

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Cindy Overton

wins Darkest Caress by Kaylea Cross. Please email Kaylea at info@kayleacross.com to claim your prize.


Kathleen O

wins Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr


Jill M.

wins all four of Stefanie Sloane’s Regency Rogues books


Simply Ali and Shelley Bagby

wins a digital book from Chloe Cole’s backlist


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.

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After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilled…even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.


Having to fend for herself for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLC…




One of the things I love about this story is that my hero and heroine are kind of trapped together. Oh, it’s not a mountaintop cabin a snowstorm—it’s a tiny cottage on the northern coast of Maine, in the middle of summer, and no one is being forced to stay. But Parker has a job to do: patch up the cottage so she can sell it as soon as humanly possible. When her father’s personal attorney shows up, she’s torn: he’s the last person whose help she wants, but she’d be silly to turn away the help. James worked as carpenter during college; Parker has never been to a hardware store before. But she’s not a prima donna…she’s willing to get down and dirty. Her afternoon swims are torment for James (even after a kid, she still rocks a bikini), and Parker finds herself with a bad case of ogling-the-hottie syndrome.


Parker, at least, tries to pretend to be unaffected by James, who is far too appealing. He’s been sent up to watch over her, she thinks, and clearly the last thing she needs is a relationship (especially with him), even if her plans did kinda sorta include a summer fling. Meanwhile, James is doing his best to get under Parker’s skin…and remind her about that one time they hooked up a couple years ago.


I’d love to give away a copy of Until There Was You, which was listed as one of Barnes & Noble’s six best romances of 2011, to a commenter. And thanks for stopping by today!






*Giveaway open to US contestants only

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Micah’s new living arrangement with her best friend is quickly becoming unbearable. Not because Tomas isn’t a good roommate. When they’re alone, he shows her his sweet, loyal side. It’s just that he shows the rest of his parts to half the women in town. If she can’t scrape together the money for her own place soon, witnessing the aftermath of his late-night carousing is going to break her heart.


Then again, if it’s going to break anyway, maybe she should just go ahead and make a move on the man she’s loved since high school. And risk his rejection a second time.


It hasn’t been easy for Tomas to share space with the one damsel he can’t bear to see in distress. To have her within easy reach has been torture. His foster mother’s words echo in his head: a classy girl like Micah deserves more than the likes of him. But lately Micah’s been rattling his cage. If she does it one more time, she’d better be ready for the animal she awakens.


Unfortunately for him, Micah’s hot little hands are already wrapped around the bars…


NT: Hi Chloe! Thank you for being my guest today.

Chloe: Thanks for having me! Very excited to be here.

NT: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How long did it take for you to make your first sale?

Chloe: Oddly enough, I always wrote, but I never really thought of writing as a career. It just didn’t seem possible that something I loved so much could be the thing I did to earn money. When I returned to college at 35, I was encouraged by my creative writing professors to pursue it seriously. So I did. I wrote my first manuscript, a shifter romance novella called Pray in December of 2009 and just kept going from there. My first sale was in August of 2010, so it took about eight months for me to be published. I have 20 books to date (either published or under contract) and it’s been the most awesome, rewarding experience of my life.

NT: You have a new release this month, Just One Night. Can you tell us about it?

Chloe: I love this book. I don’t always say that, either. It’s about two best friends, Tomas and Micah, who have been in love with one another since high school, but have never managed to connect as a couple for various reasons. Tomas has lived a tough life and doesn’t want get any of his “dirt” on Micah. And, as what I call a “Bedroom Dom”, he also has some intense sexual preferences that he doesn’t think she can handle. Micah, on the other hand, never thought Tomas wanted her, and has sort of suffered in silence while he lives it up as the town playboy. Little does she know he wishes every one of those women was her. I really love their banter and when they finally do hit the sheets? *fans self* It’s super hot.

NT: Do you have a writing routine? What is your average writing day like?

Chloe: I have a full time job right now, so my writing day is weird. I do what I call “Writerly extras” for about an hour in the morning before work. That means anything writing related but not writing. Could be updating my website, interviews or blog posts, filling out cover art forms, blurb forms, updating royalty spreadsheets etc. On my lunch hour at work, I write. Then, in the evenings I spend a few hours with the family (I have a husband and four older boys). At about 10:00 pm, that’s when things get popping! I usually write from 10-1:00, sleep for five hours, repeat. Of course, if I’m under a tight deadline, this all goes out the window, hubby takes over the house duties and the kids and I hole up, sometimes for two or three days, and write. It’s great having a supportive partner and I’m hoping this year will be my last year writing part time.

NT: I know you write under two pen names. What should readers expect to be different (or the same?) in a Chole Cole novel versus one written as Christine Bell?

Chloe: I would say it’s mainly a heat factor thing. Chloe Cole books are very very steamy, no holds barred sexual, whereas Christine Bell books, while they do have open door sex scenes, are less graphic and less plentiful. Books under both names almost always have a thread of humor running through them. I think the key to a truly happy relationship is to have a partner you can laugh with, so that belief comes through in my writing for sure, where my characters tend to have a lot of banter etc.

NT: When not busy writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? (If there is such a thing 😀 )

Chloe: I love to read, play board games and go to the movies with my kids. I also love to play tennis and Texas Hold ‘Em poker. Oh! And my husband is in a really cool Dave Matthews cover band and I have a great time going to see him play gigs as well.

NT: What can your fans look forward to from you in the near future? What are you working on now?

Chloe: Near future, let’s see. On May 28th The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale, the next book in my steampunk romance series, comes out with Carina Press. That’s a really fun, swashbuckler that takes place right after the Salem Witch Trials. Then, in July, Dee Carney, Cari Quinn, Dee Tenorio and I have sort of gotten the band back together for another summer anthology. Last year we released Undercover Lovers and got a great response, so we’re hoping people will enjoy this one as well. I also have a superhero novella called Scarlett Fever coming out with Entangled Publishing, tentatively scheduled for August.

The second part of this question literally makes my stomach hurt, lol. I have six *wince* projects in the works at one stage or another, so if I think about it too much, I send myself into panic mode. Mostly filling up end of 2012 and first quarter 2013 slots. My goal is one release per month, or close to it. Since I typically write novellas or category length, it’s very achieveable as long as I make my 2k word a day minimum writing goal.

NT: How can readers contact you?

Chloe: I love reader mail and I love interacting with people on Twitter. I have a contact page at my website www.christine-bell.com and my twitter handle is @_christinebell

NT: Thanks for being our guest today

Chloe: Thanks for having me, it was fun!


For a chance to win any book listed on Chloe’s website, leave a comment below. Two winners will be drawn Sunday. Good luck!

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NT: Hi Stefanie! Thank you for being my guest today.

Hi Fatin! It is so lovely to be back with you here at Romance Reader at Heart. Thank you so much for the invite.


NT: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How long did it take for you to make your first sale?

In my mid-twenties to early thirties I worked as the Amazon.com Romance editor. It was while working there that I began to play around with the idea of writing a book. Add in the fact that my best friend is a romance writer as is my mom, and, well, I think fate did its thing.


The first book I wrote, back in 2003, did not sell. I took some time off to lick my wounds, raise my girls, and pretend to do housework. I started work on The Devil in Disguise in January 2008 and sold it in October of that same year. Apparently, the second time, not the third, is a charm!


NT: You have a new release this month, THE SAINT WHO STOLE MY HEART. Can you tell us about it?

Thank you so much for asking! Here’s a quick description:

Possessed of a brilliant mind and a love for puzzles, Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, is a crucial member of the elite Young Corinthians spy league. Assuming the façade of an addle-brained Adonis, he hunts for a notorious London murderer known as the Bishop. When fate causes him to cross paths with Miss Elena Barnes, Dash discovers an enigma that will prove delightfully intoxicating to unravel: a voluptuous beauty as intelligent as she is fearless.

Only the lure of a collection of rare books bequeathed to her family by Dash’s late father could tempt Elena from her cozy rural life to the crush and vanity of London. But if Elena finds his lordship to be the most impossibly beautiful man she’s ever seen, he also seems to be the stupidest. Which made her body’s shameless response to his masterful seduction all the more unfathomable. Yet when she discovers Dash’s mission to track the dangerous Bishop, she willingly risks everything—her trust, her heart, her very life—to join him.

I have to say that this is my favorite book I’ve written so far. I learned a lot about myself as a writer during the process and am inordinately proud of the finished story.


NT: Do you have a writing routine? What is your average writing day like?

I tend to do my work around others—in some cases, literally, if the dogs are trying to block me from reaching my desk. I grab a couple hours in the morning then a few more in the evening to do the bulk of my work. And when I’m under deadline? I lock myself in the bathroom with my laptop and pretend not to hear the knocking.


NT: Is there anyone you use as a sounding board when you’re stuck on a scene?

I could not write without my mom, Harlequin author Lois Faye Dyer. She’s good at, well, everything when it comes to writing a book. And she’s helped me out of plenty of stuck scenes—and stuck plots, and stuck characters. I’m so lucky to have her in my corner.


NT: When not busy writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? (If there is such a thing *G*)

I’d really like to say exercise, but that would be a lie. I spend most of my free time with two ill-behaved dogs, two fiercely strong-willed children, and only one husband. Together, we attempt many family activities with moderate success, including biking, game nights, and cheering on the Seattle Sounders.


NT: What are the latest additions to your TBR? What are you most eager to read?

Gah, there are too many to count! But a few are Taming an Impossible Rogue by Suzanne Enoch, Monica McCarty’s The Saint, and Elizabeth Boyle’s Brazen trilogy.


NT: Any advice to aspiring authors?

My advice to aspiring writers is to write. You can think about writing a book. Talk about writing a book. But if you want to be published, you have to, you know, write and allow your voice and skill to grow. Practice makes perfect, after all.


NT: What can your fans look forward to from you in the near future? What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on revisions for the fifth installment in the Regency Rogues series, entitled The Scoundrel Takes a Bride. It features a somewhat tortured hero and the fascinating woman who saves him. I can’t wait for readers to meet Nicholas and Sophia!


NT: If someone has not read any of your books, which would be the one you’d recommend they try first?

I would start with either The Devil in Disguise or The Saint Who Stole My Heart. Both are Regency Rogues books, so they are set within the world of the Young Corinthians. But each is the first of three with a closely tied story that carries throughout.


NT: How can readers contact you?

Good question! Here are some helpful links:



NT: Thanks for being our guest today!

The pleasure was all mine! And I would like to offer your readers a parting gift: simply comment below and you’ll be automatically entered to win all four of my Regency Rogues books!

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Former marine Tom Cavanaugh’s come home to Virgin River, ready to take over his family’s apple orchard and settle down. He knows just what the perfect woman will be like: sweet, decent, maybe a little naive. The marrying kind.

Nothing like Nora Crane. So why can’t he keep his eyes off the striking single mother?

Nora may not have a formal education, but she graduated with honors from the school of hard knocks. She’s been through tough times and she’ll do whatever it takes to support her family, including helping with harvest time at the Cavanaugh’s orchard. She’s always kept a single-minded focus on staying afloat…but suddenly her thoughts keep drifting back to rugged, opinionated Tom Cavanaugh.

Both Nora and Tom have their own ideas of what family means. But they’re about to prove each other completely wrong…



A lot of readers have written to ask if Virgin River is based on an actual town, because they’d like to move there.  Unpack those boxes – the town lives only in my mind.


It didn’t take long for readers to reach out to me, to let me know what appealed to them about the series.  They have naturally enjoyed the strong, handsome, virile men of Virgin River; they’ve admired the beauty, inner strength and intelligence of the women.  But what I hear about most is a place where commitment is law – and not just romantic commitment, but the bonding of brotherhood, the fealty of neighbors, the loyalty in friendship.  It seems the number of people who have ties to the military is simply huge – and the fact that the Virgin River men have served their country in times of war has lent greatly to their appeal.  Not their sex appeal nearly as much as their emotional appeal.  They seem to embody those values that readers hold as admirable.  Honorable.


My readers like to watch the Virgin River characters work out their problems, cope with their challenges, get their lives on track again.  It begs the question – can we find answers and role models in fiction?  Well, considering one of the reasons we read fiction is for entertainment and we’re not very entertained unless the characters are up against a lot, must overcome great odds and evolve, I think it’s possible.


Virgin River is a town that not only exists in my mind, but can be created in any heart – it’s a place where the glass is half full, where burdens and challenges give us strength rather than break us, where fealty and friendship have more value than money, commitment is honored, and people do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do.  And there’s lots more to come from Virgin River.


Want to live in Virgin River?  Close your eyes….  Open your heart….



To find our more about Robyn Carr and the Virgin River series, visit www.robyncarr.com. And for a chance to win a print copy of Sunrise Point, leave a comment below. Open to US contestants only. Good luck!



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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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