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Archive for the ‘May 2009’ Category

Seducing an Angel

The recently widowed Cassandra Belmont, Lady Paget, has arrived in London during the social Season. But she receives neither welcome nor sympathy from society. Quite the opposite. There are questions surrounding the death of her husband, and rumor has it that Cassandra murdered him. Her son-in-law has used threats rather than law to cut her off without a penny. But she had dependents as well as herself to support. Her situation is desperate indeed when she decides there is only one way to save them all from destitution. She goes in search of a wealthy, well-connected protector-and she settles upon the Earl of Merton.

Stephen Huxtable, Earl of Merton, is now twenty-five years old, handsome, popular, and carefree. He is one of England’s most eligible and desirable bachelors. He has no interest in marrying just yet, but he is quite open to the idea of taking a mistress. When the beautiful Lady Paget appears very willing indeed, Stephen sees no reason to resist his attraction to her, despite her scandalous reputation. Until conscience sets in, that is, at the same time as he understands how Cassandra has deceived him.

The affair would seem to be over almost before it has begun.

Stephen’s conscience, however, moves him in more than one way, and he has a proposition of his own to make to the conniving, near-destitute widow. Suddenly the tables have been turned.

LITERATURE AS A VEHICLE TO TRANSPORT US INTO AN ENCHANTED WORLD

When I was growing up in Wales, I, along with almost every other child in the British Isles, absolutely adored the books of Enid Blyton. She was, fortunately enough, a prolific writer and wrote for all ages of children and for both genders. Even so, there never seemed to be enough of her books to go around. We used to haunt the library in the (usually vain) hope that someone would be returning one of her books when we were there. And if ever we were given money as a birthday or Christmas gift, chances were that we would rush out to spend it on an Enid Blyton book.

I idly googled her name a while ago and was astonished and delighted to discover that she has had something of a renaissance and that many of her books are in print once more. I felt like a child again as I picked out what I remembered to be my favorite of all those wonderful adventure books—THE MAGIC FARAWAY TREE—and ordered it. I wanted to see if it still held something of the old magic for me all these years later. And I wanted to analyze what it was about her books that had so enthralled a few generations of pre-television, pre-DVD children.

I found my answers. Yes, the story was still fun to read, though I was somewhat taken aback to find how very simple it is. All the human characters are very stereotypical—the perfect two-parent family with working dad and housewife mom and children who are good and obedient with just enough mischief thrown in to keep them interesting. There is little or no attempt to show any depth of character or any realism. And non-human characters and fantasy situations abound without any attempt to make them believable. The premise of the book is that three children living on the edge of a dense wood find, at its heart, a tree so tall that its top is always among the clouds. When the children climb it, they meet all sorts of characters who live permanently in the tree. And they discover that above the cloud there is always an exciting land but that it does not stay for longer than a few days. The trick is to see and experience that land and get back down onto the tree before it moves on to give place to another. There is always the danger of being taken away with the land and being unable to return. And some of the lands are good while others are evil.

Can I see what the appeal was to a child? You bet! Enid Blyton’s were the type of stories that went straight for a child’s imagination. We were transported by these adventure stories, which did not have to be realistic, which did not have to teach a lesson, which could scare us and make us laugh and enchant us and never ever bore us. And there was always the secure knowledge that everything would be all right in the end, that the world and the family were unassailably secure, and that there was unconditional love awaiting all of us in the real world as well as in the fictional one.

Why have I reminisced about these books here? My own books are very different from Enid Blyton’s. I write for adults. I set my stories in Regency England and try to bring that world alive as it really was. I dig deep into my characters in an attempt to make them real. I deal with real-life problems and force my characters to fight for love and happiness.

But oh, goodness me, I learned a lot from Enid Blyton even if I did not realize it at the time. I learned that for me as a reader the primary indicator of a good novel is that I lose myself in it, that I am enchanted by it even if it puts me through some agony before it leaves me thoroughly happy and satisfied, that until I turn the last page I almost forget that I am a reader holding a book, so deeply have I been drawn into the story. I become the characters and live the story with them. I don’t want to put the book down. My imagination has been fully engaged. And this is my primary aim as a writer too. If I can offer my readers this sort of total involvement and enchantment, then I can be satisfied that I have written the best book I am capable of writing.

Thank you, Enid Blyton, who was much maligned by educators in my time (just as romance often is in our time) and was correspondingly much beloved by droves of children.

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Leave a comment to enter a drawing for a signed copy of Seducing an Angel–just out in hardcover from Delacorte. Seducing an Angel is the much awaited fourth title in Ms Balogh’s Hustable’s quintet. Visit Ms Balogh’s website for excerpts, upcoming titles and information on her extensive backlist.

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A romantic game of chicken—and they’re both too stubborn to flinch.

Lucy Fairchild, lawyer and heiress to the Fairchild fortune, has just had the worst day of her life. Her father has found the perfect man for her to marry. Yes, she’s thirty and single, but that doesn’t give her father the right to run her life. She’ll choose her own husband—someday.

Jake Dalton is struggling to make his fledgling construction company a success. Ever mindful of his father’s derogatory comments that he’d never amount to anything, he’s spent his entire life trying to prove he’s not a failure.

From their first meeting on a construction site, verbal sparks fly. Their argument escalates into a dare for a date—and the game is on. Lucy thinks Jake is the perfect fake boyfriend to parade around in the hopes of getting her father off her back. Jake is amused by the chance to annoy both Lucy and her dad—he doesn’t intend to take the dating thing seriously.

But the heart is a fickle thing, and not above playing dirty. In their quest to prove something—to each other, or maybe to themselves—they find themselves building a case… for love.

And suddenly all the rules have changed.

It’s all about the characters.

When I sit down to write a book, whether it’s an erotic romance, a paranormal romance or a contemporary romance, the first thing I think about are the characters. They’re what drive me, what compel me to create a story. It doesn’t really matter what the setting is, the time period, what’s going on around them. The first question I ask myself is: Who are these people? What is their story? How do they relate to each other? From there, I plop them into a setting, into a scene, and gradually build a story around them. That’s where the plot comes from.

In my Samhain Publishing contemporary romance, Dare To Love, I had this idea about two people who came from completely different worlds. Lucy Fairchild is a lawyer, born into wealth and privilege, who works for her daddy’s law firm. Jake Dalton owns a construction company he built from the ground up. He came from nothing, knows what it’s like to be poor. I couldn’t think of two people with less in common.

So of course I thought they’d be perfect for each other. Heh.

Why? Because Lucy isn’t spoiled or privileged. She loves her father, even though her father is a snob who thinks she shouldn’t marry beneath her. But she isn’t blind to his faults. And she also isn’t happy with her life, senses there’s something missing.

Jake sees something in Lucy that no one else sees. He’s the first one to see the loneliness, the need within her. He’s also the first one to make her realize that what she’s doing with her life isn’t making her happy. And he accepts her, just as she accepts him, on a base level. Because Lucy does the same thing for Jake, breaking the social barrier, making him see that he is good enough for her—for anyone he chooses to be with. They are drawn together not for social standing or for what they can do for each other, but because of what they become to each other. It’s a fundamental love story about opposites attracting that I so enjoyed writing.

I love characters who are polar opposites of each other. I think it makes sparks fly and provides barriers that only real love that overcome. What are some of your favorite stories of opposites attracting?

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Visit Ms Burton’s website for an excerpt and browse her site for information on the rest of her backlist. Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Dare to Love!

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Anyone who’s followed my writing career for a while has probably learned that the heat level of my sex scenes ranges wildly depending on the story. Just as I weave back and forth among historical, contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal, I also go light or heavy on the sex depending on what a particular story calls for.

A Gypsy's Vow“A Gypsy’s Vow” is a traditional, old-fashioned tale about a traditional, old-fashioned girl without any sexual experience. Just moving her from virgin to non-virgin was about all the heat level the woman could take. But I believe a story can be plenty sexy even without very explicit sex scenes. The heat of a man’s glance, the timbre of his voice, the light stroke of his hand against your skin—what could be sexier. Hey, how many of you watched Prison Break back in the first season when it was still actually interesting? There was no sexual contact between Michael and Sarah but their telling glances and tiny little touches had all the more significance for it. No wonder Victorians used to go gaga over the mere flash of an ankle!

Anyway, the point is there are only a few sex scenes in “A Gypsy’s Vow”, the story of Bess the innkeeper’s daughter who falls in love with a wandering rogue named Alexi and must decide if she dares to give up her safe, sane life to go with him. Some might consider the scenes mild, but they certainly fit the story. “A Gypsy’s Vow” is available now at Liquid Silver Books.

Butterfly UnpinnedMy other May release, available from Samhain on May 25th, is Butterfly Unpinned, co-written with Laura Bacchi. You couldn’t get farther on the spectrum of sweet to steamy than Butterfly Unpinned is from “A Gypsy’s Vow”. This BDSM romance is about a woman called Butterfly who lives an extreme, 24-7, master-slave relationship. The story contrasts the difference between BDSM practiced between reasonable, consensual partners and the twisted, abusing variety inflicted by Butterfly’s self-styled Master.

The woman has locked herself into a little box and needs some help to gather enough self confidence to fly free. That help comes in the form of Bryan Lapahie, a Navajo carpenter hired to sculpt all the women in the Master’s harem. Bryan is entranced by Butterfly, wins her freedom, then gives her the space to grow and change into the woman she wants to be. The pair enjoys some sexy bondage and discipline scenarios of their own along the way. And in the end the heroine is strong and proud once more.

So, whether you like sweet and sensual or cutting edge steamy, check out my upcoming releases for 2009 at http://bonniedee.com. See my backlist of books or the coming soon page which includes soon to be released Prime Passions, A Hearing Heart and The Thief and the Desert Flower, among others.

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Thank you for visiting, Ms Dee!

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First in an all-new paranormal romance series

CAUTION : readers MAY feel the heat coming off the pages.

They are the Sentinels…

Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes—the Synestryn. Now, one warrior must fight his own desire if he is to discover the power that lies within his one true love…

Helen Day is haunted by visions of herself surrounded by flames, as a dark-haired man watches her burn. So when she sees the man of her nightmares staring at her from across a diner, she attempts to flee—but instead ends up in the man’s arms. There, she awakens a force more powerful and enticing than she could ever imagine. For the man is actually Theronai warrior Drake, whose own pain is driven away by Helen’s presence.

Together, they may become more than lovers—they may become a weapon of light that could tip the balance of the war and save Drake’s people…

NT: Hi Shannon! Thank you for being my guest today. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Shannon:  Hi!  It’s great to be here!  Thanks for having me.

I’m an engineer turned writer.  After traveling around the country with my engineering career, we finally settled in the KC Metro area, surrounded by family.  I live with my #1 NYT bestselling author husband, Jim Butcher, our teenage son who does his best to give us aneurisms with his choice of clothing, and our ferocious Bichon Frise.

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

Shannon:  It wasn’t my plan to be a writer.  In fact, I never thought it would even be possible for me to write a book, much less one that anyone would want to read.  As Jim was working on his books, he’d hit a rough spot and I’d want to help him get through it.  So, I’d read his work, figuring I’d use my massive troubleshooting skills to find the problem.  I saw none.  When I told him, he said it was because I didn’t know what to look for.  I told him to teach me so I could help, and after a few years of hearing all the craft lessons, they sank in and I realized that writing a book is like building with blocks.  It’s less art than science, which was up my alley, so I gave it a shot.  It took me three years to write a book that was sellable.  In those three years, I’d started 36 awful books and finished 8 of them, but I knew none of them were of publishable quality.  Finished book #9 did the trick.

NT: You have a new release this month, can you tell us about BURNING ALIVE?

Shannon: Burning alive is about a woman who has been seeing visions of her own death for as long as she can remember.  In those visions, a man watches while she burns alive, smiling, doing nothing to stop it.  One night, she sees him sitting in a diner, only a few feet away from her and knows her time is up.  She’s going to die.  She’s tossed into a world where magic and monsters are real, and an ancient, dying race of hot sword-wielding warriors need her to survive.  She knows that helping them will mean her death, but she falls for Drake and can do nothing less.

NT: What inspired the idea for this story?

Shannon:  Gosh.  I don’t know.  It’s likely bits and pieces from all the sci-fi and fantasy books I read growing up, but I don’t think I could put my finger on any one source of inspiration.

NT: Which of your characters’ story was the hardest to write? Which was the easiest?

Shannon: I think Grant Kent’s story was the hardest to write.  He’s a player, which is not only at the opposite end of the spectrum from me, I don’t even know anyone like that, personally.  So, NO ESCAPE was a lot more difficult to write than NO CONTROL, which featured my favorite hero, Caleb Stone.  Caleb was by far the easiest character to write.  He fell out of my brain, fully formed with a history and a family and roots.  Usually I engineer my characters, designing them to fit a specific purpose, but Caleb sprang to life in a way no other character has so far.

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

Shannon: I have two modes.  During writing mode, I fall out of bed, caffeinate and start writing until I can’t any longer.  I knock out a rough draft in about a month, which makes it necessary to recharge with my non-writing mode, which is when I do revisions, travel, promotional stuff and all of the other business-related tasks that tend to suck up a lot of time.

NT: What aspects of your life have you found creeping into your stories?

Shannon: For me it’s the little things.  I write about guns I’ve handled, food I’ve eaten, quirks in people I see, etc.  Thankfully, the big horrible things that happen to my characters are mostly not drawn from personal experience.

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

Shannon: Sure.  Jim is awesome for that.  We talk shop all the time, plotting out stories or fleshing our characters.  I also have a great group of beta readers who help me make sure my work is as suck-free as possible.

NT: What was the most interesting thing you had to research and what was the hardest thing to research?

Shannon:  I loved doing all the research into cutting edge military stuff.  I watch the Military Channel all the time (‘cause it’s one of the things Jim likes, too) and love to see what’s new.  The hardest stuff to research are all the small details that come from actually living a lifestyle or doing a specific job.  I write about cops all the time, but I’m sure that there are small things I’ll never know because I’ve never been a cop.  Some of those details you can get by talking to folks who do the work, but there’s no real substitute for actually *doing* the work.

NT: What was the most memorable reader reaction you’ve received about your books?

Shannon:  I had a woman’s husband email me once.  He said he’d never read my books and never planned to, but he wanted to thank me for writing them.  Apparently, his wife read them and he reaped the benefits of the sexier bits. 🙂

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

Shannon:  I love beads.  Any bead, anywhere, anytime.  I often refer to myself as a bead whore for obvious reasons.  I also have been known to quilt on occasion, though not for a while.  And my new obsession is City of Heroes.  Jim sucked me into that, and we go adventuring far more often than we should.  He plays Harry Dresden, and I play Helen Day (the heroine from BURNING ALIVE).  We fight crime!

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

Shannon: I’m reading MAVERICK by Lora Leigh right now.  I have a Suzanne Brockmann book on my bedside table and looking forward to the next J.R. Ward novel.

NT: Any advice to aspiring authors? What craft books helped you that you would recommend to aspiring writers?

Shannon:  My advice is very practical.  If you want your work to improve to the point you can sell it, you need to write a lot.  And then write more.  And then some more.  Once your work is ready to sell, then I highly recommend getting out to meet people.  The it’s-who-you-know-thing goes for the publishing world, too.  Find an agent you love and see where they’re going to be.  Go to conventions or writers’ meetings and get yourself out there.  Once you’re more than just a name on a query letter, the time you get for consideration by an agent or editor will go up.

If you want to learn more about writing craft, check out Jim’s Live Journal.  There’s a link to it on my website (www.shannonkbutcher.com), and the lessons there are the same ones he taught me that allowed me to go from engineer to published author.

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

Shannon: I’ve got a stand-alone romantic suspense coming out in October.  It’s called LOVE YOU TO DEATH, and is some of the creepiest stuff I’ve ever written.  January 2010 is when book two of The Sentinel Wars comes out.  It’s called FINDING THE LOST and features another one of the sexy Theronai warriors.  The third book (which is not yet titled) is scheduled to come out in September 2010.

I’m currently working on a short story for an urban fantasy anthology (DARK AND STORMY KNIGHTS), followed by another paranormal, and the beginning of a new romantic suspense series.  It’s too early for details on those, but check my website in the future and I’ll post updates.

NT: How can readers contact you?

Shannon:  There’s a contact link on my website where readers can email me.  I love to hear from you all, so feel free to drop me a line.  I also have freebies I give away if you send a SASE.  Bookmarks, book thongs, autographed book plates are all yours for the asking.

NT: Thank you so much for blogging with us here at Novel Thoughts!

Shannon:  Thanks!  It’s been fun!  I appreciate you asking me to play along.

Happy reading!

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a signed copy of BURNING ALIVE. Good luck! 🙂

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With Theron’s book out this month and Damon’s book, SWEET PERSUASION, out next month, Maya is swamped with deadlines. Which is fine with me because it just means more books for us, right? 😉 Even though she couldn’t be here today, Maya generously offered a giveaway of Theron’s book. Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of THE TYCOON’S REBEL BRIDE. Two winners will be chosen. Good luck! 🙂

MB_TheTycoonsRebelBride

Tycoon Theron Anetakis had only one problem—and she just walked through his door. With his business takeover complete, he’d intended to arrange a marriage for himself to further secure his future. However…

Little Isabella Caplan had blossomed into a voluptuous vixen with plans of her own, and they didn’t include letting the executor of her father’s estate also arrange a marriage for her to another man! She had pined for Theron long enough. Now it was time to seduce her hot-blooded hotel tycoon and bring him to one bended knee.

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COMING HOME IS MURDER…

Revenge. Edie Swann has hungered for it since she fled her hometown as a little girl. Now she’s returned, ready for payback. Armed with a list of names, she leaves each one a chilling sign that they have blood on their hands. Her father’s blood. What happens next turns her own blood cold: one by one, the men she’s targeted start dying.

Sheriff Holt Drennen knows Edie is hiding something. She has a haunted look in her eyes and a defiant spirit, yet he can’t believe she’s a murderer. As the body count rises and all evidence points to Edie, Holt is torn between the town he’s sworn to protect and the woman he’s come to desire. But nothing is what it seems. Long buried secrets begin to surface, and a killer won’t be satisfied until the sins of the past are paid in full–this time with Edie’s blood.

WHO DO YOU LOVE?

One of the most fun aspects of writing fiction is living vicariously through my characters. This was especially true with my heroine in One Deadly Sin, Edie Swann.

Edie is a Harley-riding, tattoo-sporting, mascara-wearing tough guy. In short, your average biker chick. She tends to leap before she looks and speak before she thinks. Which is how she finds herself caught in the trap she sets for others.

But she’s also real, with an unexpected soft spot for a five-year-old and lots of regrets. Over the course of the book, she discovers a lot about herself and her thirst for the truth. And especially about that old adage to be careful what you wish for.

What was fun about writing Edie was that I could live her life without having to live it. I could be reckless and wild. I could zoom off in her Harley, look as good as she does in leather, and not care a whit what other people think of me. Being Edie was fun, even when things got dark and dicey (maybe because I knew, somehow, it would all end up all right…)

So that got me wondering. Who do other readers wish they could be? Would you trade places with Edie? How about with Clare Randall in Outlander, or Eve Dallas in J.D. Robb’s books?

Clare gets that fabulous Jamie (sigh), and Eve gets the equally fabulous Rourke (double sigh). Who wouldn’t want to be them, if only for a night?

And then there’s real life. We all have people we hold in esteem and admire. One of mine is Florence Nightingale. Today she’s become a bit of a punch line, but she truly changed the world. She singlehandedly created nursing as we know it as well as the modern hospital. And she did it during war, fighting The Powers That Be every step of the way.

I’m not sure I’d want to be Flo, but I sure as hell would have loved to be there watching her work. Which is why I enjoy the character of Hester Latterly in Ann Perry’s historical mysteries. Hester worked with Nightingale in the Crimea and returns to Victorian England stronger for it.

So there they are—some of my fantasies. Who are yours? If you happened upon a magic genie who’d let you become anyone in fact or fiction, who would you choose?

–Annie

www.anniesolomon.com

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a signed book by Annie! Winner will get the choice of either LIKE A KNIFE or DEAD RINGER. Good Luck! 🙂

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A werewolf searching for her past…a Drakkyn fighting for his future…and the secrets that could destroy them both.

Bastian an Morgaine has always been a man apart. The only male ever born into the Dyadd Morgaine, Tribe of the Goddess, his unusual powers and silent strength have kept him a mystery even to those closest to him. But Bastian hides a dark secret, one that drives him to isolate himself on the remote Highland estate of the MacInnes Wolves: he carries a terrible curse, one he knows he must either find a way to remove, or make sure dies with him alone. Iargail seems the perfect prison for himself, and the ornery, ailing dragon whose help he desperately needs, until he knows which it will be. But this year’s Pack gathering brings Bastian more than he bargained for: a beautiful werewolf who refuses to let him keep his secrets in peace. And if he isn’t careful, she’ll discover all the dangers of his tightly-locked heart.

Catriona MacInnes, the daughter of the powerful Pack Alpha’s long-estranged brother, has only just begun to discover her family’s rich legacy. Worried about her father’s increasingly strange behavior, Cat hopes that Scotland might somehow hold the answers to all of her family’s problems. But upon Cat’s arrival, it’s the reclusive stranger with the face of a fallen angel who consumes her thoughts and fires her blood. Despite Bastian’s determination to keep her at arm’s length, she’s never been one to accept “no” for an answer. But when the darkness surrounding him turns its attention to her, Cat begins to suspect that her father isn’t the only one with secrets. If only her every instinct wasn’t telling her that Bastian must be hers alone, no matter the cost…

In the western Highlands, as the Wolves gather, an ancient evil watches, waiting to reach from the shadows to fulfill its dark destiny. A daemon’s curse has terrible power. But the love of a Wolf might just be stronger…and as Bastian and Cat are about to discover, the Highland moon has a magic all its own.

My Sizzling Almost-Hero

Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by today!  I’ve been blogging a lot lately about the hero and heroine of my new book, Wild Highland Magic, which is the last in a trilogy about the MacInnes werewolves and their otherworldly counterparts, the Drakkyn.  Bastian and Catriona are awesome, and I hope some of you decide to pick up a copy and meet them, but today I want to talk about another featured character who’s near and dear to my heart.  He’s appeared in each of the three books in the trilogy, and in this one, he finally gets to be front and center, utterly necessary to Bastian resolving his life-threatening issues as he is a constant thorn in his side.  He’s the book’s almost-hero, with a story arc of his own that I thoroughly enjoyed writing, so I wanted to share him with you today.

I’ll admit, I have a big soft spot for dark and brooding men with a morally ambiguous streak. Lucien Andrakkar is like that, a dragon-shifter prince who, despite his power, is reviled by his father as a weakling and was raised on a steady diet of everything in the range between indifference and cruelty. He was once under enormous pressure to produce an heir to continue his dying line and revitalize the ailing empire of the dragons, and lived in secret fear of having to breed with the only dragoness his age, who is both hideous and half-mad. Females don’t do very well in the Black Mountains, dragon or otherwise. Then he met Rowan an Morgaine, with whom he felt an instant connection. Was it really love?  Never having known the emotion, Lucien simply assumed it must be. And Lucien, driven by that faint, intoxicating connection he felt to her, a spark of feeling that thawed a heart he had believed cold and dead, sets in motion events that led to Rowan finding heart-stopping, breathtaking love like none she’d ever imagined existed in my book Dark Highland Fire.

Just not with him.

Feel a little sorry for my violet-eyed, raven-haired dragon shifter? I do, and a bunch of readers have written me to tell me they hope Lucien gets his own story.  Well, in Wild Highland Magic, he does.  After a year of torture in the dungeons of the black-hearted daemon of the otherworld of Coracin, the dying Lucien finds himself rescued by Rowan’s powerful, unnervingly quiet big brother, Bastian.  Since Lucien willfully hunted Bastian and his sister to near death, he’s a little surprised to see the fair-haired sorcerer again, and not at all pleased despite his current living conditions.  But Bastian has ulterior motives for the rescue, and before long, Lucien is ensconced in a little cottage in the remote Western Highlands with one of the people he least wanted to see again (and on the land of a pack of werewolves who would kill him on sight if they knew he was being hidden there), expected to heal and help Bastian defeat the curse that has plagued him most of his life.

Considering that even a death’s door, Lucien’s temper and sharp tongue are in full form, you can imagine how well that goes.  But he isn’t counting on the arrival of not only Catriona, the heroine, but one of her sisters, who has both healing ability and a mouth as big as his own.  He’s spent a long time wanting to die out of spite, but he might just have found something to live for after all…though his one chance at redemption is a lot more precarious than even he thinks.

Someone asked me which of my heroes I’d choose for myself, if I had to. That’s a toughie, because I love them all (and wouldn’t complain regardless), but I think I might just pick Lucien. No, he’s really not a traditional hero (though he is capable of heroics, I promise!) but he’s pulled at me since he wandered into my imagination a couple of years ago. He’s dark and wounded, dangerously powerful and searching restlessly for something to make him whole.  Does he find it?  Well…you’ll just have to read and find out!

Thanks so much to Fatin for having me back at Novel Thoughts! I’ll be in to chat all day.  And my question to you is: do you have a favorite dark hero, anti-hero, or just a villain you’d love to see redeemed?

Kendra Leigh Castle is the author of the MacInnes Werewolves trilogy, as well as the upcoming series The Fallen, coming from Harlequin Nocturne.  She lives in Maryland with her husband, three kids, and menagerie of pets, and loves to be visited online at www.kendraleighcastle.com

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of WILD HIGHLAND MAGIC by Kendra. Good Luck! 🙂

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CAN A WOUNDED BEAST . . .

Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he’s kept suppressed for years begin to awaken.

TRUST A BEAUTY WITH A PAST . . .

Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle . . . and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won’t let dust-or a beast of a man-scare her away.

TO TAME HIS MOST SECRET DESIRES?

Beneath Helen’s beautiful façade, Alistair finds a courageous and sensual woman. A woman who doesn’t back away from his surliness-or his scars. But just as he begins to believe in true love, Helen’s secret past threatens to tear them apart. Now both Beast and Beauty must fight for the one thing neither believed they could ever find-a happy ever after.

So my latest book, To Beguile a Beast is out and it features not one but two canine characters. What’s up with that? Well, the short answer is I just like dogs so it’s easy to put them into my books. The longer answer is that dogs (and other animal characters) can be a way for the writer to highlight a human character’s personality. How a person reacts to their dog—are they cuddly, domineering, impatient?—can show a great deal about them as a human being.

For instance, in To Beguile a Beast, my hero is Sir Alistair Munroe. Sir Alistair was terribly scarred when he was captured and tortured during the French and Indian War. As a result of that trauma—and because little children scream when they see his face on the street—he’s hidden himself away in an old castle in Scotland. Sir Alistair is gruff, rude, and surly (he’s the “beast” of the title.) At the beginning of the book readers don’t know much more than that about Sir Alistair and they might write him off as a jerk. But wait a minute: Sir Alistair has one constant companion—his Scottish Deerhound, Lady Grey. Here’s a portion of a scene in which Sir Alistair helps Lady Grey up to his tower study:

Alistair sighed and climbed back down the stairs to Lady Grey. “Come on, lass.” He bent and gently scooped her against his chest. He could feel her heartbeat under his hands and the trembling in her legs. She was heavy but Alistair held the big dog in his arms as he ascended the tower stairs. Once in the tower, he knelt and set her in her favorite place on the rug before the fire.

“Nothing to be ashamed of,” he whispered as he stroked her ears. “You’re a brave lass, you are, and if you need a bit of help up the stairs, well, I’m glad to oblige.”

How Sir Alistair responds to Lady Grey is his saving grace as a character. He may be rough and hard in the way he treats other people, but he loves his dog. How can a reader—and the heroine—not respond to such a hero?

I hope you enjoy both Alistair’s and Lady Grey’s story in To Beguile a Beast!

–Elizabeth

www.elizabethhoyt.com

******Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of TO BEGUILE A BEAST. Good Luck! 🙂

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thediamondsofwelbournemanor

Justine and the Noble Viscount by Diane Gaston Guardian to the unconventional and newly orphaned Fitzmannings is not a role that brooding Gerald Brenner relishes. But Justine, the illegitimate daughter who strives to hide her shame, calls powerfully to something deep within him….

Annalise and the Scandalous Rake by Deb Marlowe House party guest Ned Milford can see the inner passion and beauty that Annalise Fitzmanning hides. But how close should they become when his reason for being at Welbourne Manor would prompt a society scandal, not a society marriage!

Charlotte and the Wicked Lord by Amanda McCabe Charlotte may be the youngest Fitzmanning girl, but she knows her own mind—and she wants Lord Andrew Bassington! Drew requires an eminently proper bride, something free-spirited Charlotte has never been. So how can she make him see the beautiful woman she has become…?

Hi everyone!  Deb Marlowe here.  Diane Gaston, Amanda McCabe and I are thrilled to be with you today to discuss our anthology, The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor. We had a great time creating this chaotic and rambunctious family in Regency England.  Readers might be surprised to find a blended family during this time period, but we were inspired by real life examples, such as Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, her sister Lady Bessborough, and their exuberant, mixed broods.  I think we were all excited to have the chance not only to write connected stories, but also to explore the rewards and the challenges that come with a large family.

The Fitzmanning girls have their share of both.  Our three heroines have the camaraderie and support that come with a house full of siblings and half-siblings, but they also have to deal with the repercussions of their parents’ scandalous past—not to mention the antics of their rowdy brothers.

I found it very easy to relate to Annalise, my heroine in Annalise and the Scandalous Rake.  Like her, I grew up in the midst of an extended family.  With two sisters, plus 5 cousins who all lived minutes away, I have many happy memories of family gatherings, celebrations, and the experience of being daily in and out of each other’s houses—and constantly in each other’s business!  Also like Annalise, there were times when I just needed to be alone.  Only our means of withdrawal are different.  Annalise retreats to her sunny studio to pour her emotions onto her canvases.  I hid away with a good book—or spent hours dreaming up my own stories.

Diane Gaston: It is funny you should mention rowdy brothers, Deb. I came from a family of all girls. I was the youngest of three daughters and I’d always wished for an older brother. Brenner, the hero in Justine and the Noble Viscount, would have been the perfect older brother, I think, so steady and dependable, a brother to lean on. My sisters and I didn’t need a brother to get us out of scrapes, though. We were quiet, well-behaved little girls, not at all like the Fitzmannings. In fact, Brenner probably would have thought us good examples for his half-sisters. I must have been a rowdy girl just dying to bust out, because I yearned for more excitement, more adventure, more romance. Books fed those yearnings when I was a kid.

Amanda McCabe:  LOL!  I was the opposite.  I had no sisters, only one brother, and he’s several years younger than me.  Plus my only cousins would much rather have played with their “Star Wars” action figures than read Anne of Green Gables with me.  It all ended up okay—my brother and I always got along well, and never had vicious fights over lipstick like my best friend and her sisters, but I always kinda wanted a sister.  I guess I get to live out those dreams in stories with families like the Fitzmannings (and they never borrow my clothes without asking, either!)

I really identified with my heroine in Charlotte and the Wicked Lord (even though Charlotte is the youngest of her family, and I’m the oldest).  We both felt like misfits in our teenaged world, preferring to hide away with a writing project, or go walking in the woods with the dogs.  I loved spending time with her and her family, and plan to revisit them very soon!  It should be more interesting than 5 page Christmas letters from relatives I haven’t seen in 15 years…

So what does your family look like?  Do you deal with daily chaos?  Or are you an island in an ocean of calm?  How often do you hide away with a good book?  Share your stories and one random commenter will win a copy of The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor!

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bk_daringtime

Passion and Danger make tempting bedfellows…

He sees her, wants her, needs her…

Chicago Detective Ryan Daire has many secrets: a love for Shakespeare, an appreciation for the all the finer things in life, and an absolute lack of restraint in the bedroom. Now he has an even bigger secret. In every shifting shadow of the sprawling mansion he’s recently inherited he can see her—tempting, ethereal, and untouchable. Hope Stillwater inhabited that mansion in 1906. Raw desire has formed a conduit between these two passionate souls who are separated by the barrier of time.

Now he has to have her.

Intoxicated by each other’s presence, Ryan and Hope are closer than ever to crossing that inviting boundary between two worlds. But there is one grave danger: Ryan’s job has put him on the trail of a depraved criminal in an investigation that’s risking Hope’s eternal fate and happiness. Now he must do whatever it takes to change history, protect Hope from harm, and set his own desires free.

Occasionally people will ask me where I come up with the plots for my books. There answer is ‘everywhere’ of course, but there are times when a story begins by a vivid scene that pops into my head, and the question ‘why would that be?’ or ‘what’s going to happen next?’ helps to create a plot.

For example, for my July 7 Berkley Heat release called Sweet Restraint, I envisioned a scene where a man breaks into a house where a woman resides. Although he’s intent and obviously attracted to the woman, he stealthily avoids her. He finds her jewelry box and takes out a fake emerald necklace, only to replace it by an exact replica, but this one is the ‘real’ necklace.

Then he quietly exits the woman’s life.

Why did the man do that? What happened before the bizarre necklace switch? Why is he so focused on the woman, yet never said a word? These are the kind of questions that eventually built an entire erotic romance with crime/suspense elements.

For Daring Time, which releases May 5 from Berkley Sensation, I similarly envisioned one scene in detail: a modern day man inside an elegant late nineteenth century mansion who ‘sees’ a stunning woman standing half-nude at the bathroom sink taking a sponge bath. Their eyes meet in the mirror. There’s more than just an erotic charge, but the chill of otherworldliness. The hero realizes he’s seeing a woman from the past who used to live in the house.

From here, the plot began to develop. I began to ask myself questions about the scene and fill in the blanks.

One of the problems I had with Daring Time is that I wanted to do a time travel, but I’d also contracted to do an erotic romance. I didn’t want to get caught up in complicated time machine contrivances or the scientific philosophies of time travel. Since I’d already envisioned the mirror, I decided to use that as not only a symbolic doorway between worlds, but as a means for the hero and heroine, who live in different time periods, to sexually commune.

So why not make raw, intense desire the method of breaching the barrier of time? After all, occult literature has long described vivid imagination as being the key to magic, and sexual fantasy creates some of the most vivid images in the mind. Add a dose of magic built into the magnificent mansion, and I had a time machine well suited to an erotic romance novel.

I have written in the historical, paranormal and contemporary genres, so for me it was a lot of fun to mix them, as a time travel allows an author to do. Part of the fun is always to see each character out of their time element.

Do you enjoy time travels? Have any favorites?

–Beth

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of DARING TIME by Beth. Good Luck! 🙂

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