Archive for the ‘Carina Press’ Category

CARINA_0614_-9781426898518_UpToMe (1)Ella Mayhew’s always appreciated the beautiful view of Seneca Lake from the spa window of her family’s hotel. But the view improves dramatically when a hot stranger runs across the grounds—shirtless. He’s the first man to kickstart her hormones in the three years since she lost her parents, and she doesn’t even know his name.

Graydon Locke’s on his umpteenth undercover assignment. The routine’s always the same: assess a business, recommend it for closure, then roll out before anyone discovers his decisions impact hundreds of lives. He’s always believed nothing good comes out of small towns. Why would this one be different? Then he makes two classic rookie mistakes—falling for the sweet, sexy girl who owns the very business he’s on the verge of axing. And letting the town’s residents get involved in both his life, and his relationship with Ella.

Ella’s the best thing to ever happen to Gray, but he’s lied to her from the start. If he pulls the plug on Mayhew Manor, the entire town may crumble. Ella couldn’t save her parents, but it’s up to her to save their hotel. Even if that means turning her back on true love.




The Good, Hard Fun of a Trilogy

I think writers love starting a new book as much as readers do. There’s all that initial rush of excitement over the idea, and all the possibilities and the fun of scrolling through fifteen websites full of hot guys to base your hero on (at least, that’s my process). A million decisions start to crowd your brain, the plot being the least of them. Choosing what sort of houses your characters live in, and the color/design schemes of them, and what does the bedroom look like (super important) and what do their offices look like? Where did they go to college and what year did they graduate, because there will be a single sentence hidden somewhere in 100,000 words that will mention this and your editor will notice and the timeline will be wrong. And coming up with outfits for every character (including the single paragraph walk-ons) in every scene—it’s just like costuming a movie.

But all of that happens with every book. Today I’m chatting about the difference it makes when you’re kicking off a trilogy with that new book. It boils down to two things: planning ahead and keeping track as you go. Because you’re going to write all these awesome personal tidbits into book one…and then maybe go write something else. A Christmas book. A proposal for another series. Or – shock/gasp/double eye blink – you might even take a vacation. Or the most basic reason – when you write a book of 100,000 words, you don’t actually remember all of them.

A trilogy = three main love stories. In all of my books, those revolve around a tightly-knit group of friends. In my new Shore Secrets trilogy, Piper and Ward are the main love story for book 3. Tiny spoiler alert: they dated in high school, had an epic, not-revealed-until-book-3 breakup, but are still friends ten years later, when book 1 begins. Why does that matter? Because from the very start of Up To Me (#1), Piper and Ward snipe at each other. All their friends know to sit in between them at lunch, or to let them snarl it out instead of getting involved. This rubbing each other the wrong way’s got to continue and be somewhat re-introduced in book 2, before rolling out the full story in book 3. Does it matter at all to the main love plot between Ella and Graydon of Up To Me? Heck, no. But I had to plan ahead, and start sowing the seeds, in order to give the reader more of a payoff when I finally get to Piper and Ward’s book. I do it ALL for you guys!

As for keeping track of things, here’s a snippet of an example:

Ward pushed off the couch, gingerly tested his jaw. “‘Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.’”

Surprise almost tripped him halfway to the door. Not what Gray expected from the small-town, flannel-wearing man with muscles that looked like he could bench press a dump truck. “Did you seriously start the night with a bar fight, and now you’re ending it by quoting Robert Frost?”

“I’m a man of many sides.” Ward stroked his neat beard, a cartoonish impression of an ancient philosopher contemplating the human condition. Then he burst out laughing. “My friend Casey thinks I don’t read enough. She gave me a quote-a-day calendar for Christmas. That’s today’s. No clue if I’ll remember it by next week. Impressed you recognized it, though.”

“In college, I used to memorize lines of poetry to impress women.”

“Did it work?”

“Often enough that I still remember most of them.”

That’s a total throw-away, funny thing I stuck in waaaaay at the beginning of Up To Me. And yep, I forgot about it until I did copy edits on that book. Whereby I promptly made a note to be sure to have Ward spout off at least one more funny quote in book 2, and a whole bunch of ‘em in his book. This will be super fun for me to weave in, and hopefully fun for the readers as well. So while it is definitely more work to connect all the dots throughout a trilogy, the satisfaction on all sides makes it worthwhile.

What’s your favorite part of a trilogy?



“Come do yoga with me tomorrow.”

“I’m a guy. We’re all about being hard and stiff, not soft and bendy.”

Ella blinked rapidly to clear the images of a naked, hard-muscled Gray that popped into her mind. And hardness…other places. “Don’t be so close-minded. Didn’t you end up enjoying the massage I gave you?”

“Yes.” He sounded adorably sulky at being forced to acknowledge it. Why was it that men found it so hard to admit when they were wrong? Definitely a topic of discussion for her next margarita night with the girls.

“See? You can’t dismiss something out of hand without at least trying it.”

Gray wrinkled his nose. “Do I have a choice?”

“No.” Ella brought up her other hand to cup his face. “You deserve to be looked after. It’s not much, I know, but let me help you in the only way I can.”

“I’ll do it—”

Ella bounced a little. “Terrific.”

“—on one condition. I’ve just come up with a good plan for stress release. Let’s try my way first.” Gray wove his fingers through the loose knit of her turquoise sweater. In one swift move, he pulled it off over her head and tossed it into the corner. “Come swimming with me. Right now.”

Was he serious? To stall for time while she processed the preposterous suggestion, Ella stammered, “We…we don’t have suits.”

“You said the pool’s still officially closed. No one will interrupt us.” He toyed with the strap of her matching tank. “You’ve got this thing. I’m wearing boxer briefs. We’ll be more covered up than in suits. Unless you don’t think you can control yourself around me?”

That was it in a nutshell. Not that she’d admit it to Gray. Not when he had that sharp eyebrow arched and a smug quirk to his lips. If he was trying to shock her…well, he had, no denying that. But what better way was there to embrace life fully than to embrace a dripping wet, mostly naked Gray? While she’d never work up the courage to tell him, this was the kind of activity Dr. T. would probably applaud. Or at least give her a gold star. He had asked her to email him with progress reports if anything big happened. Unable to resist, she glanced down at Gray’s crotch. Ella expected something very big, indeed, was about to happen.

“Water’s extremely therapeutic,” she said in her most serious, I’m massaging you but not judging your naked body in any way professional voice. “Swimming is a good counterpart to yoga. They use the same long muscles.”

Yup. Her matter-of-fact delivery dropped his eyebrow back to its usual straight line and wiped the smug from his lips. Ella kept the surprises rolling. She stood, unbuttoned her skirt and let it slide the floor into a big blue puddle. Then she reached out, grabbed his wrist, and yanked him sideways into the pool with her.

The simultaneous body flops slapped noise and water all around the room. Ella recovered first, treading water while waiting for Gray to get his bearings and surface. Keeping her head above water was easy. Breathing, however, was not, as she was laughing her head off at catching him off guard. Finally, with much thrashing and churning of the water, Gray popped up near the middle of the pool.

“What the hell?” he yelled, his voice bouncing off the rocks with a hollow echo. “I’m wearing clothes!”

“So take them off,” she yelled back. Geez, it was his idea. Ella had just implemented it without talking it to death first. She’d thought he’d appreciate her spontaneity.

Gray stared at her for a minute, totally unreadable. Then his head disappeared beneath the water again. In fact, he sank straight to the bottom. It worried her. But just until a heavy, sodden pair of jeans landed like a giant blue spitwad in front of her. Laughing, she tossed them over her shoulder in the general direction of their shoes. Then Gray’s shirt appeared, floating near the filter. Something she’d have to remember to retrieve before morning when maintenance would make their final sweep before reopening the pool.

She felt Gray first. His head brushed against her stomach. Using her body like a swim ladder, he climbed it with his hands until just those brilliant blue eyes broke the surface. Blinked at her once. Then he tilted his head back and arced a stream of water from his lips to the dead center of her forehead. Laughing even harder, Ella reached under his shoulders to pull him the rest of the way up.

That’s when the laughter stopped. When buoyancy slammed his oh my God so hard cock right against her. When it was the most natural thing in the world to wrap her legs tight around him to keep him nestled against all her heat and what felt like every freaking nerve ending in her body. And when she twined her arms around his neck just for the thrill of rubbing her breasts across his chest.

With two powerful kicks, Gray propelled them to the wall. He sandwiched Ella against it and hung on to the rocks to keep them both afloat. “I’m on board with your idea. As you can tell.” He ground against her in a way that absolutely proved not only that he was enthusiastic about stripping, but that there was definitely nothing between them other than two thin, skintight layers of cotton. Gray’s impressive length was no longer just an impression or wishful thinking. It was hard and long and she couldn’t wait to impale herself on him. For now, she locked her ankles together and let the water do most of the work of bobbing her up and down in a rhythmic, full-body caress.

Water glistened at the tips of his lashes. Ella kissed it away, then just kept heading south. Over his early-evening stubble. Down past the Adam’s apple that jerked reflexively. She’d always thought them sexy. So uniquely masculine.

A nibble in the hollow of his collarbone. Down till her lips were just underwater, closed around his nipple. Ella flicked it against her teeth. Gray…growled? Whatever the noise was, it came from deep inside him and turned her core body temperature up by about twenty percent.


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Bio: Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.  A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning.  Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance.  Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband.


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Book two of Men of the Show


CARINA_9781426898204_TheAce (1)“Love ’em and leave ’em” has been real estate agent Karen Bently’s motto for as long as she can remember. She doesn’t need a man, except to make her toes curl. Or so she thought, until her longtime crush, Ace pitcher Jerry Smutton, sets his sights on her.


After signing one of the largest baseball contracts in history with the Detroit Rockets, Jerry enlists Karen to help him find the house of his dreams. Their connection is instant and electric, but neither of them is the relationship type. When Jerry proposes a friends-with-benefits arrangement, that suits Karen just fine.


Passionate sleepovers soon turn into long, romantic evenings… Still, Karen and Jerry refuse to acknowledge they’re a couple. Karen insists that she’s immune to Jerry’s heart-melting charm. Jerry’s not ready to settle down. Denial is the name of the game, until one pitch changes everything…


Meet Jerry’s teammate Chase Patton in The Changeup!


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Jerry pulled into a small parking lot that sat next to a dark brick, nondescript building and shut off his car. Since there was no sign or any markings on the squat structure, Karen thought that she could have easily passed it on a daily basis without ever noticing it. Cars packed the lot, however, so it was obviously popular.

“Is this some private gang hangout or something?” she asked.

He gave her a look that said she was out of her mind to question where they were. “What? This is Hannigan’s.”

“Hannigan’s,” she repeated and looked out the window, searching for anything that might help her recall if she’d ever heard of the place. He’d said it like everyone knew what Hannigan’s was. “And I should know what that is?”

He looked at her in shock and sat back in his seat, which was already reclined as far as it could go to accommodate his long legs inside the small confines of his Porsche. “How do you live and work in Royal Oak and not know Hannigan’s?”

“I don’t know Hannigan’s, so sue me or something.” A thought suddenly occurred to her and Karen turned back to him. “Is this a boob joint?”

He laughed as he opened his door and climbed out. “Let’s go. Make sure you bring your singles.”



The Makings of The Ace


When I set out to write The Changeup (book one of Men of the Show), I had an inkling about a second story, but it wasn’t until Karen and Jerry’s personalities fully flushed themselves out, did I think, “Now these two would create fireworks together!” Their story eluded me, however.


One day while watching ESPN, they happened to be talking baseball contracts for pitchers. The amounts of money discussed were staggering. It got me thinking. If my day job ever offered to pay me a salary of that magnitude (Ha!), what kind of pressure would I feel? Definitely the need to be perfect all of the time, never able to make ONE mistake, no matter how small, for fear of the repercussions. The stress would be staggering. Add in the media and thousands of fans watching your every move, and I had Jerry’s story.


Karen, however, was trickier. She’s not a fragile flower; she knows her mind and she’s going to go for what she wants regardless of what anyone else says. She also had to have a believable softer side. I couldn’t have her set in her ways of never being in a relationship again only to turn to mush and roll over once Jerry entered into the picture, despite the fact she’d been crushing on him. No, she needed to stick to her guns and the change within her had to be gradual.


Since the two of them were commitment-phobes, they had to come together in a way they would both agree to, which ended up being a friend-with-benefits scenario. They could get what they want while keeping their distance…but as we all know, and it was no different for Karen and Jerry, things get sticky and surprise! You’re in a relationship.


What’s your favorite romance trope?


Author Bio


Author_RShawAfter writing one mind numbing technical document after another, Rhonda Shaw decided to combine her love of writing with her love of reading romance. Born in California, but transplanted to the Midwest, Rhonda is a warm weather girl to the bone. She works in the software development industry and was a lifelong dancer until her body told her it was time to come down off her toes. For more information about Rhonda and her books, please visit her website at http://www.rhondashaw.com.


Rhonda’s social media accounts:

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1dwyr4j


Website:  http://bit.ly/1jomnKL

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takenwithyouHailey Genest has seen most of her friends marry and have babies, and she’s happy for them, but it was a lot easier before she hit forty. She’s spent her entire life in Whitford, Maine, and if she hasn’t found her Prince Charming by now, she has to accept she’s probably not going to. When a new friend suggests they go on an adventure and embrace being single, Hailey agrees.

Surviving in the woods is game warden Matt Barnett’s idea of a relaxing vacation. But when he meets two women in need of help, he leads them back to safety—a task that proves more fun than expected, thanks to a certain hot blonde. He can’t resist pushing her buttons, even though she’s made it clear that the rugged, outdoorsy type just isn’t for her.

Hailey is glad to see the back of her tempting-tour-guide-slash-pain-in-the-ass. When he shows up in her life again, she’s determined to avoid him, no matter how good he looks in his uniform. But that’s easier said than done in Whitford, especially when he’s renting the house right next door…



Meet Bear

There are two things that set TAKEN WITH YOU apart from the first seven books in the Kowalski series. I guess the first, and most obvious, is that neither the hero nor the heroine has the last name Kowalski. But Hailey, the heroine, has been a big part of the series and, not only did readers want her to have a happily ever after, but I did, too. And there are plenty of Kowalskis running amok in the book.

The other major difference is Bear. He’s a black Lab and, if you’ve read the blurb and know Matt Barnett (the hero) is a game warden, you might think he’s a K-9. He’s not. Bear just doesn’t want to work that hard. He does, however, have the distinction of being the first pet in the Kowalski series.

I never gave any deliberate thought to the having or not having of pets in the series. Two of my non-Kowalski holiday novellas have pets—Kojak the German Shepherd in Holiday Sparks and Moxie the cat in Mistletoe & Margaritas—but for some reason none of the Kowalski books have had four-legged secondary characters.

Matt Barnett, the new game warden in Whitford, came to me complete with his sidekick, again without any deliberate consideration on my part. Matt and Bear were a package deal and that was that.

I have pets, so it surprises me a little there aren’t more furry friends in my books. I have two cats (Gizmo and Jinx) and two dogs: a Shih Tzu (Mini) and a Bolo-Noodle (Taz). (He’s Bolognese and toy Poodle.) But there’s also a part of me that thinks juggling romance and animals is not easy.

There’s a good chance if I’d had this crew before I met my husband, I’d still be single. Cats are notorious for not liking strangers, and mine are no exception. They also like to walk by your mug of fresh, hot coffee and give themselves a good shake. My husband is not really a cat person and is very much a coffee person, so that could have been the end right there. And little white lap dogs are notoriously excitable and resistant to training. Mini obeys one command: “Get out of my seat” and Taz responds to “Get your ball” (though not to “Drop the ball”) and “For goodness sake, Taz, let her finish peeing first!” It takes many, many visits to my house before the incessant yapping stops. They also own the bed, so that’s a problem. And Taz demands any and all affection be given only to him. The last time my husband gave me a quick hug, he got bit in the butt by a very jealous Bolo-Noodle. I can only imagine trying to set a romance in my house would lead to the hero yelling “What is wrong with you and your dogs? And your cats?” and leaving.

It’s probably no accident my two fictional dogs have been a German Shepherd and a black Lab. I’ve known and loved several dogs belonging to those breeds, including the real Kojak, who was my aunt and uncle’s Shepherd, and Dixie, my sister and her family’s Lab. Great dogs. So awesome and well-behaved. They don’t freak right the heck out if you tell them to go to their beds so you can have a little cuddle time with your man. (Also, they have their own beds because they’ll settle for less than owning the master bedroom.)

While I wouldn’t trade my babies for anything, I did find myself wishing a few times while writing TAKEN WITH YOU that Bear was real. And mine. When I first started writing, I had a note on my plotting graph that said in big letters DON’T FORGET THE DOG, but I needn’t have worried. Bear’s a great dog and the book wouldn’t have been the same without him. I hope you all love him, too!

How do you feel about pets in books? Do you like them? Dislike them? Neutral? And do you have a preference of dogs or cats? Goats? Ferrets?




For the chance to win a $50 gift card to the online bookstore of your choice just leave a comment below answering Shannon’s question. Good luck! And to read an excerpt and find buy links for Taken With You, visit shannonstacey.com.

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CARINA_1213_9781426897559_TinselMyHeartBecca Huntley’s produced the Lyndale Park Player’s over-the-top Christmas pageant for ten years. The beloved Minneapolis tradition is the theatre’s main fundraiser. But this year’s production is almost canceled when their director disappears into rehab at the last minute. Good thing his directing partner steps in to save the day. Except for the minor fact that he hates everything about Christmas.

Jack Whittaker wiped the Twin Cities off his shoe with his graduation tassel and never looked back. But duty compels him to fulfill Tyler’s promise to direct the show. Even though it means working side-by-side with Becca, the girl he always wanted, lost to Ty, but never forgot.

It’ll take more than a few handfuls of tinsel to soften Jack’s heart toward Becca’s favorite holiday. Steamy kisses that melt the snow right off his boots are a step in the right direction. They’ll both discover that Christmas is about making each other’s dreams come true. But will doing so destroy their chance at a happily-ever-after together?


One of my favorite guest posts to write for every release blog tour is the research post. Yes, I’m a contemporary romantic comedy author. I write about people living in today’s world, with today’s clothes and smart phones and bar food. Sounds uncomplicated, compared to my ever-toiling historical author friends, right? Well, we contemporary authors have to do research, too.

Some of my research is quite serious. Every book has a conflict. In my latest release Tinsel My Heart (which I promise is entirely lighthearted, funny and sexy!), the hero’s best friend and partner just got sent to rehab. I had to research how long an initial stay is supposed to be, what sort of contact with friends and family is allowed, if at all, and after how much time has elapsed. The entirety of that knowledge probably takes up three paragraphs, at most. But it is too important not to spend the time to get right.

Then there’s the research I do just for the sake of a punch line. Given the style of books I write, that probably accounts for ninety percent of my research. But when you write funny books, even the throwaway lines have to ring true. Here’s a long-winded example of why I had to research the different Defcon levels:

“Sweetheart, I’m about to start rehearsing a cast of amateurs, kids and goats. I’m gonna do nothing but worry for the next ten days.”

Three hours later, Jack was considering changing his tune. Oh, he’d still worry. Any director worth a damn maintained a certain level of rampant panic over every last second of stagecraft right up until the first curtain. Worry that the actors might forget their lines. Forget their blocking. Hell, this show was a musical, so that brought in a whole other level of problems. No dancing—not a lot of polka numbers in the old King James version—so that was good. But the microphones might crap out. The recorded orchestra track might blip. And yes, for the first time, Jack actually had to worry about a goat taking a dump in the middle of the stage. That was a new one.

But his worry wouldn’t be at Defcon Ten. Threat Level Midnight. Code Red. Whatever. Turned out that this ragtag bunch of rank amateurs actually knew their shit.

Yup. Talk about a tossed-off line. Inner monologue, no less! But I still took the time to make sure it was accurate. Here’s one more example of my painstaking research. This one was to pin down a fancy and famous shopping district in Italy…and to be able to describe it to my readers:

Jack picked up his clipboard, then twisted in the seat to look for her. And had to grip the armrest to keep from launching into the aisle when he saw a man swaggering toward him. A man in those stupid, skinny-cut pants that screamed Eurotrash paired with a freaking bolo tie and a leather duster that matched Jack’s.

He remembered the day they’d bought the coats in a little shop on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. They’d been celebrating their win the day before of the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It had been a surreal feeling, strolling along the ancient bridge with his best friend and the new phenomenon of a shitload of cash in his pocket.
The whole book takes place in Minneapolis. Do my readers have to know what it feels like to shop in Italy? Technically, no. Was it intrinsically important to the plot? Heck, no. But if I want them to thoroughly experience the point of view of the hero, a mega-star of a director who jets from movie sets to red carpet premieres, then yes, I do have to show them details like that. I have to immerse them in the life of the hero. All of it. Ultimately, I do the research to make the best book possible. And if it quirks somebody’s lips up in an extra smile for a couple of seconds, it’s worth it!

Purchase at * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Carina Press

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Bio: Christi Barth earned a Master’s degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.  A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning.  Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance.  She is the award-winning author of the Aisle Bound series. Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband.


For the chance to win a digital copy of Tinsel My Heart, just leave a comment below. Good luck!

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kissing-her-scrooge-coverEvery 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…

He may sell trees, but Griff doesn’t do Christmas. He’s known as the town humbug—and he likes it that way. Which is why he’s been avoiding Hannah, despite the sexy visions of her that have been dancing through his head. When a surprise visit leads to a passionate kiss, he can’t deny the attraction any longer.

When Hannah discovers Griff isn’t the Scrooge he pretends to be—and she exposes his secret to the whole town—it may take a holiday miracle for their budding relationship to survive into the new year.


When the holidays are hilarious


I finished holiday shopping for my husband and my parents and I probably went about it wrong. Mostly because I giggled the whole time. And there might have been the occasional cackle.


It started out innocently enough, but it quickly went downhill. I started by searching for something simple, but then it would show an example of other things I might want and it was totally me looking at the picture and thinking, YES! That is much better.


That’s hilarious and I have to get it! *insert cackle*


My husband basically watched me the whole time I was doing this because he was at his desk and we were in the same room.


He would just give me that look. He has this look he gives me that goes beyond the realm of words. He doesn’t need to say anything. He just needs to look. It perfectly summarizes his feelings which are basically, You’re crazy/How did I end up here?/Why is this happening to me?


With love, of course. Don’t forget the love.


I really wish I could share how I managed to take something completely appropriate and make it full of innuendo, but on the off chance my husband reads this blog, I don’t want to spoil the surprise.


He honestly is ridiculous when it comes to guessing presents. I’ll make one offhand comment and he’ll be like, “Seahawks’ pool cue.” I will be like… how did you even…?


I mean that is a very specific guess. Maybe I’m super obvious. That wouldn’t surprise me. But if you want to know what I got after the holiday season, there’s no way I won’t be blogging about it at http://kinleybaker.wordpress.com.


Then my husband had the sobering reminder that went something like, “Your mom better be as amused as you by these presents.”


And I got to thinking… They won’t possibly be as amused as I am. Maybe I did this whole gift buying thing wrong.


But I do think they will like their presents! They’re just going to have a little patience and remember that they chose me.
Well, my parents, bless their hearts, didn’t choose me but I constantly have to remind my husband he chose to be here experiencing this moment which is inspiring the look.


Relationships are so strange to me and the dynamics have always intrigued me. You basically choose someone who you will be with (in theory) everyday of your life. It’s kind of like forcing two people who don’t know each other to share a room in college.


If you really thinking about it, it’s bizarre. But that’s why I love romance and exploring just why two people could possibly want to be together.


I’m a romantic and happy endings are a necessity. Writing contemporary romance has really given me an appreciation of the power of a relationship.


Even if at the end of the day, all you’re left with is the look. I admit I am amused by the look.


Don’t tell him though. It will be our secret.


Have you ever bought a gift for someone else that amused you? It worked out well, right…?




Kinley Cade has a terminally tender heart and an inconvenient sense of humor. She loves puppies and cries at celebrity weddings. Kinley believes “happy ever after” isn’t only for the normal. Kinley Cade’s contemporaries are known for their sexy heroes, resilient heroines and memorable characters, however, she also writes sexy paranormal heroes, resilient heroines and memorable characters as Kinley Baker. To learn more about her contemporary romances please feel free to peruse http://www.kinleycade.com. To check out her paranormal romances visit www.kinleybaker.com. And for just Kinley you can visit her at her blog kinleybaker.wordpress.com or on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kinleycade. Find out more about her latest release, Kissing Her Scrooge, on her website.


For a chance to win Kissing Her Scrooge, just leave a comment below. Good luck!

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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.

Kevin is less than thrilled when Rachel shows up at his doorstep. She’s his best friend’s little sister and officially off limits. Besides, he’s staring early retirement in the face, a one-man pity-party with no interest in anything more serious than quick flings on the road. Until an icy mishap lands Rachel cozied up on his sofa, irresistible in his practice sweats.

A little game of Truth or Truth reveals much more than Rachel had ever dared to hope and leads to a midnight make-out session that leaves them both panting. But can she trust that he’s truly changed his ways? This Christmas, Kevin will do whatever it takes to make Rachel understand she’s the only one for him.



For the chance to win a digital copy from Amazon or B&N, just leave a comment below. Five winners will be drawn on Sunday.

*Giveaway sponsored by Novel Thoughts

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Thanks to Novel Thoughts for inviting me to be on their blog today to talk about my newest book, Slow Ride Home. Yes, it’s a story about cowboys living on a huge ranch in Texas, but it’s also about lost love and lost dreams and whether they can be found again. The older generation of Gradys have created a lot of drama that Ben Grady and his brother Jake are now having to clean up. With a little help from Ben’s old girlfriend Allie—a woman he once loved but who his family destroyed. So there’s a lot of angst for those two to overcome. I decided to take a different approach to today’s post and borrowed a few questions I found in older Novel Thoughts posts, along with a few others that readers have asked lately:


In 5 words describe Slow Ride Home:


Cowboys. Reunited Lovers. Regret. Secrets. Hope.


What’s your favorite place to write?


Although I spent a great deal of effort setting up an office, I find I write best away from the desk. There’s something about sitting down at the desk, surrounded by the pile of receipts waiting to be entered, the sticky notes reminding me of blog posts to be written and administrative things to be done that diminishes my creativity. So I set up a comfortable wing chair with its own monitor in the corner, and have a special computer that I can easily turn off the net so I can’t “just pop over to FB to check something” that forces me to concentrate just on my story. Now to get over there more. Ideally I’d have two rooms for my office, one that has a huge 60 inch flat screen hooked up to my lap, a wireless keyboard for me to sit in a big comfy chair — or even better a chaise longue or day bed, and that’s it. (Except for all the plotting boards/sticky notes that ONLY talk about my story, not administrative stuff.)


What do you have on your desk?


Far too much. Mainly piles of paper — things like a printout of my latest manuscript, invoices for swag, the inevitable bills, at least a half dozen sticky pads, my regular glasses (I wear a special computer-distance set when working at my computer), a glass case, coffee cup, an extra mouse, a jar of hand cream, and (don’t laugh too hard) a single sock that I took away from my puppy (who loves to raid my laundry basket.—at least it wasn’t my underwear this time.)


What things do you need to write?


The main thing I need is quiet—no interruptions of puppies or cats clamoring for attention, no phone calls. Oh, and a laptop — I rarely write by hand since my writing can’t keep up with my brain, and when I try I can’t read my writing afterward. (Found that out after I wrote ten pages by a river one day and then tried—unsuccessfully—to decipher it the next day.)


5 random things about yourself


  • I’m terrified of glass elevators, and heights for the most part.
  • I suck at small talk or going up and introducing myself to strangers, especially in large crowds. I just don’t know what to say so I tend to be a wall flower so if you meet me at a conference I’m not being offish.
  • If there’s a choice between chocolate or something salty like chips, I’ll choose salty 9 times out of 10.(though I am intrigued by the chocolate coated chips that are now available.)
  • I make a killer chocolate macaroon that my hubby and kids will fight over. (I added the recipe below)
  • I’m a champion procrastinator.

Chocolate Macaroons

2 cups white sugar

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter

3 cups rolled oats

½ cup cocoa

1 cup coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla


Boil sugar, milk, salt and butter for 5 minutes.  Bring to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat to keep it rolling but don’t over-boil or the mixture will be too dry. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Add oatmeal, cocoa and coconut mix.

Using a teaspoon (or for teen boys, a tablespoon), drop on wax paper to cool.  Work very quickly as mixture dries fast.



The only woman in a houseful of men (even the cat and dog are male), Leah Braemel loves hiding away from all the dust bunnies while she writes sexy heroes and heroines finding true love. To read more about Slow Ride Home or any of Leah’s other books, you can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Slow Ride Home


Losing his father was hard enough, but now Ben Grady must face the fact that he and his brother may not be sole owners of their beloved ranch. To protect his family’s legacy, he’s forced to rely on the legal prowess of the woman who stars in his erotic fantasies: Allie O’Keefe. Ben’s never forgotten the illicit encounter they shared fifteen years ago—or forgiven himself for letting her go.

Allie thought she’d moved beyond the scandal that cost her Ben in the past. But working so closely with the seductive rancher arouses the wild child within the cautious woman she’s become. Though she tries to keep business and pleasure separate, Allie soon gives in to temptation, and discovers Ben’s sensual skills surpass even her X-rated memories…

Allie has every intention of leaving Bull’s Hollow forever after her investigation is complete. But there are a few complications. Not the least of which is that while saving the ranch, Allie’s lost her heart.

Want to read more? http://leahbraemel.com/books/the-grady-legacy/slow-ride-home/slow-ride-home-excerpt/

Buy it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EFPNV5W/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00EFPNV5W&linkCode=as2&tag=offiwebsoflea-20

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/slow-ride-home-leah-braemel/1116394183?ean=9781426897351

Carina Press: http://ebooks.carinapress.com/92B6C96A-B4E1-4C7C-B8F6-96CF911A92B0/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=3AE90FE4-FD3F-4435-B694-0CB1992C6C01

Or buy the audio book from Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Slow-Ride-Home-Audiobook/B00GA5KR16/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1383444529&sr=1-1



For the chance to win an ebook from Leah’s backlist, just leave a comment below. Good luck!

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CARINA_1213_9781426897566_ChristmasCurveballWhen 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.

Kevin is less than thrilled when Rachel shows up at his doorstep. She’s his best friend’s little sister and officially off limits. Besides, he’s staring early retirement in the face, a one-man pity-party with no interest in anything more serious than quick flings on the road. Until an icy mishap lands Rachel cozied up on his sofa, irresistible in his practice sweats.

A little game of Truth or Truth reveals much more than Rachel had ever dared to hope and leads to a midnight make-out session that leaves them both panting. But can she trust that he’s truly changed his ways? This Christmas, Kevin will do whatever it takes to make Rachel understand she’s the only one for him.



Fatin was my very first book friend and the first person I got to meet in person from the book world, so getting to write my first blog post for my debut book for her just seems right. Since I’ve never done this before, I asked her if there was a particular topic she wanted me to write on and she asked me to answer the question: How did I come up with the story idea for Christmas Curveball?

Oh, sure. Dive right into the convoluted workings of my brain, why don’t you, Fatin?

I first came up with a particular scene, and not even a scene. More like a picture, or a moment, as part of a scene. And the funny thing is, that scene didn’t make it in this book. I tried writing that scene several different ways, but it just wasn’t right for this particular story. And no, I’m not going to tell you what that particular scene is because I hope to still include it in a book down the road someday.

But right after I had that scene in my head, I had the idea for the hero’s job and why he was in a cabin by himself—he was a professional baseball player recovering from a career-ending injury. At first I saw him on crutches, but trying to orchestrate the kind of set-up that would be needed to create such a devastating injury was a little much for a holiday novella. Which meant he had to be a pitcher. That was all there was to it. My next problem, though, was then figuring out exactly what kind of injury he’d need to suffer to truly end his career.

For that, I turned to Sierra Dean. If you don’t follow her on twitter or only know her through her Secret McQueen books, you might not realize just how much of a baseball fan Sierra is. I wouldn’t call her obsessed…well, maybe I would. She definitely knows her baseball facts and she reassured me that I didn’t need anything elaborate to take out poor Kevin.

Baseball pitches are fast. Like 90 mph fast. That means return hits are fast. By the time the pitcher has thrown the ball, the ball has traveled 60 feet to home plate, and the batter has hit the ball back toward the pitcher, only two seconds has passed. There’s always a chance the ball could come straight back at the pitcher (line drive), and if the ball hits the pitcher’s arm, causing a bone bruise or shatters his elbow—which is what happened to our hero—his career is done.

For a couple months after Angela James’s holiday anthology submission call, I struggled to make the story that wanted to be written fit with the original picture in my mind and they just wouldn’t gel. There were several reasons for this. One was the tone. The original idea wasn’t as easy-going and probably not as natural to my voice as I’ve since learned. Another was the actual sub-genre. My original idea would’ve had me submitting to a different anthology, but the story that wanted to be written was solidly contemporary, so that’s what I wrote.

The original idea for my heroine, Rachel, wasn’t anywhere close to how she ended up. She’s a completely different person and was born from a twitter conversation based on a blog post about favorite tropes used in romances. I enjoy so many different ones and in love with my best friend’s little sister is one of my favorites. Since my heroine needed to be a completely different person and I was writing the story, I decided I could write one of my personal favorites and hope it goes over well with readers.

Even though this isn’t a true sports story, I did find out that there is such a thing as groupies for professional baseball players, and depending on the position of the player, the better chance he has of getting some after any and every game. Pitchers rank very high on the ladder for being able to have a woman in their bed every night.

So I married a little bit of a sports theme with a guy who has the reputation for being a manwhore with the in love with the best friend’s little sister trope. Favorite tropes are talked about all the time, but for this giveaway, I want you to tell me: if an author were going to write a book for you, what theme would you want married to which trope?



For more information and buy links, visit www.sharimikels.com.  And for the chance to win a digital copy of Christmas Curveball, just leave a comment below answering Shari’s question. Good luck! 😀

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sideways200Liz Kowalski is heading home to Whitford, Maine—this time for good. Eager for her family, a fresh start and some fun, she doesn’t count on being rescued by the chief of police her very first night back in town. Drew is everything she’s not looking for…so why is she still so attracted to him?

After a brief, forbidden rendezvous at her brother’s wedding, Drew Miller expects Liz to return to New Mexico and stay there. He’s searching for someone to settle down with, not a casual fling with his best friend’s sister. But when they’re stuck together on the annual Kowalski camping trip, things start going a little sideways. Keeping their hands off each other proves just as impossible as keeping their secret from becoming public knowledge.

Amid family, mud and melted marshmallow, Liz and Drew try to fight what’s growing between them. But a little time alone, a lot of chemistry and too many opinions might be just what it takes to bring together two people so determined not to fall in love.

~*~camoI’m often asked about my inspiration for the Kowalski series and/or whether or not it’s drawn from my real life. Well, they say to write what you know, and I know the Kowalskis. Not literally, of course, because that would mean either I’m crazy or there’s a real Kowalski family that’s probably pretty mad at me by now.

But I know close-knit families who bicker and laugh and love one another no matter what. I know four-wheelers and mud and dodging flaming marshmallows at the campfire. I’ll confess that the snowmobiling that goes on in some of the books isn’t writing what I know, seeing as how my winter sport is reading, but my husband’s an avid sledder, so I nag him into helping me with the snow scenes.scenicview

We visit the scenic overlook that inspired the Kowalskis’ favorite picnic spot quite often. It’s a good place to sit and contemplate life. Or build those little piles of stacked rocks that, for some reason, makes us yell “Aliens!” every time we see them. I have no idea why we do that. You guys do that, too, right?

cautionCamp wouldn’t be camp without practical jokes, like the time I woke up to find my ATV wrapped in caution tape. (I believe the occasion was my 40th birthday and payback for that little stunt is still pending. But it will come.)

And what’s happiness? A Blackberry Merlot slushie in a frosted Boston Bruins mug with a Dunkin Donuts straw in front of the campfire at the end of the day.

So tell me, what’s your happy drink? Whether it’s summer or winter, outdoors or inside, what drink do you savor at the end of a long day? Or maybe one of each. I like that wine slushie after a summer ride, but nothing beats Dunkin Donuts Hot Cocoa K-cups on a cold winter evening. Tell me yours!campfire

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her favorite activities are writing romance and really random tweets when she’s not riding her ATV. She loves mud, books, knitting, football & watching way too much TV. She can also be found blogging (almost) daily on her website, www.shannonstacey.com and is often spotted running amok on Twitter and Facebook.


For the chance to win a digital copy of Love A Little Sideways and a $50 gift card to Amazon or B&N, just leave a comment below. The winner will be drawn on Sunday. Good luck!

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Hero's Homecoming cover smallSix months ago, being snowed in at Christmas with the amazing woman he met on R & R at Fort Riley would have been a dream come true, yet now, as a blizzard swirls outside Beth Tate’s house, Captain Chris Walker knows he shouldn’t be there. Blinded in combat and emotionally scarred, he never wanted Beth to know the man he’s become–but stranded by the storm, he had no one else to call.

Hurt and bewildered when Chris abruptly ended his faithful contact from Afghanistan, Beth tried to put him and their whirlwind romance out of her mind and prepared for a quiet holiday alone–until the phone rang. Now that he’s here, she’s more confused than ever, torn between love for the man she once knew and anger at the one who broke her heart.

A life with Beth was everything Chris wanted, but the wounds of battle are nothing compared to the agony of heartbreak. It will take more than mistletoe, but perhaps this holiday season Chris will find his way home.



The first time I wasn’t home with my family for Thanksgiving was when I was 20 and studying abroad at Oxford. I took a bus down to London to meet up with some college friends who were also away from home and we had a mid-afternoon Thanksgiving dinner hosted by an alumna. It was incredibly generous of her to open her home to us, but she had a real family to feed, and gently ushered us out around five o’clock. We drifted around the city for a while, had a subdued pizza dinner in Soho, and then I made the hour-long bus trip back to Oxford.


At that point, breaking two decades of Thanksgiving tradition felt like an irreparable sacrilege, and if you’d told me at the time that I only had one more hometown Thanksgiving to look forward to I would’ve been horrified. Yet sure enough, we grow and change and our traditions have to adapt. After college I worked in New York City and decided to hoard my vacation days for a longer break over Christmas, and then I moved to London, where trekking all the way home to Kansas was out of the question.


My holiday novella, Hero’s Homecoming, released yesterday from Carina Press as half of the Gifts of Honor military holiday duology. The heroine, Beth, is planning to spend Christmas on her own as her parents have retired and are on a Caribbean cruise, and her sister is stationed in Korea with her air force-officer husband. She has let go of old Christmas traditions and created new ones to suit her changing life – but they fly out the window when she gets a call from Chris, the infantry officer with whom she had a whirlwind romance six months prior, and who broke it off with barely a word.


Chris is heading home for a traditional family Christmas on his parents’ ranch in northern Kansas, and although the festivities will be the same, this year something is very different – two months earlier he was severely wounded in combat, and lost his eyesight as a result. When a blizzard strands him at the regional airport he has no choice but to contact the woman who meant everything, and whom he has to protect from the burden of his disability at all costs.


Neither Chris nor Beth end up having the Christmas they expect – but they both get the homecoming they need.


I had two major milestones this year that will shape my holiday season: I moved to South Africa, and I got married! So this will be my first Christmas away from Kansas, my first one with my husband, and my first one in the southern hemisphere – which means palm trees and 80-degree temperatures on Christmas morning! Of course I’m nostalgic for old traditions, but I’m excited about forming new ones. How have your holiday traditions evolved as you’ve grown older? Are there any you wish you could recapture – or any you’re so glad you created? One commenter will win a free copy of Gifts of Honor!


Hero’s Homecoming is available individually: Carina Press * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * ARe


And as half of Gifts of Honor: Carina Press * Amazon * Amazon UK * Barnes & Noble * ARe


Rebecca Crowley inherited her love of romance from her mom, who taught her to at least partially judge a book by the steaminess of its cover. She writes contemporary romance with smart heroines and swoon-worthy heroes, and never tires of the happily-ever-after. Having pulled up her Kansas roots to live in New York City and London, Rebecca recently relocated to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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