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He presses his palm against her flank, feeling the liquid warmth of her blood, hotter than her skin. Hot, like the passion that burns inside the human beast. Hot, like the life force he has claimed.

Someone is murdering women on South Carolina’s college campuses: three women, three different schools. The Governor’s order to State Law Enforcement Agent Mick O’Shaughnessy is simple: make it stop. More political maneuvering diverts Mick to nearby Douglass College. There, instead of another dead body, he finds Meg Connelly, grad student and faculty advisor for the latest victim.

Determined to finish her master’s degree, Meg doesn’t need anybody’s help – including her estranged family – to succeed. There’s something irresistible about Mick, but the last time she let someone get close to her, she lost everything except her self-respect.

As the investigation heats up, so does their relationship. But Mick’s interest in Meg doesn’t just endanger her heart—it puts her in the sights of the killer.

Once he gets her alone, he can take all the time he needs…

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

“Ball of Confusion” – a song about people overwhelmed by a changing world, changing technology. The music world has changed dramatically. How many of you are old enough to remember phonograph records? Big round disc of vinyl? Played music, sometimes with hisses and pops, but the purists insist the sound was better.

 

Remember the flap over CDs and digital music? I have a big box of albums—the vinyl kind—in my store room. I carry about 10,000 songs—and a couple of audiobooks—with me on my iPod.

 

I’ve watched the same uproar over the shift to digital books. Have you heard this? “I only read real books.”

 

It usually comes from someone vehemently refusing to consider a digital book but hmmm, isn’t the “book” the story? The rest is just a delivery mechanism.

 

I chose to accept an offer for my Golden Heart finalist, The Professor, from Carina Press. Carina was just starting as the new digital imprint from Harlequin. Why would I want to publish an E-book when—to be honest—I’d dreamed of seeing my book on a shelf? Simple. I wanted to share a story I loved with readers rather than leave it stuck under the bed.

 

Carina offered a chance to learn some of the crazy new world and expectations of a newly published author, with Harlequin’s resources available. The author loop is hugely supportive and the staff at Carina provides everything from cover art (aren’t the Carina covers great?) to webinars on Social Media, website design and marketing updates. My editor, Denise Nielsen was a joy to work with.

 

Let me dust off my murky crystal ball and peer into the future. Looks like there will always be physical books, but the digital revolution will keep moving forward. Readers want stories.

 

It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. I have a few minutes before my next appointment. I think I’ll pull out my Nook. Which of the 247 stories on it am I in the mood for today?

 

What’s on your reading list – today or this summer?

 


Excerpt

Frank dropped the Greenville News onto the kitchen counter in Mick’s condo. “I got your paper.”

“Thanks.” Mick didn’t lift his eyes from the laptop on his dining room table. Normally he worked in the small bedroom he’d converted to an office, but the case files had outgrown the space. He typed in his password and waited for the computer to finish loading.

“Man, does your neighbor always dress like that to get her paper?”

Oh, jeez, Mrs. Wilcox strikes again, he silently groaned. The good mood that sleeping in his own bed and an hour at the gym had produced evaporated. He stared at the computer, urging it to start faster.

“It wasn’t so much what she was wearing, as what she wasn’t.”

He sighed. Frank wasn’t going to leave it alone until he responded. “What was she wearing this time?”

His partner rocked on his toes. Enthusiasm lit his voice. “She had on this little-bitty robe over a baby-doll gown. It was that kinda sheer material, you know, where you can see, but not really.”

“Hmm.” He focused on the laptop and launched the database program.

“That’s the best you can do? ‘Hmm’? What is wrong with you, O’Shaughnessy? She’s hot. I mean, she has these tits…”

He rolled his eyes. Frank was pantomiming cantaloupes or maybe watermelons. “Go for it. She’s not my type.”

“Your type?” Frank asked, incredulous.

“Yeah. As in Barbie has no brain.”

“Who cares?” The man’s hands rose and fell in exasperation.

Mick ignored him and opened the car file.

“Christ. Sexy woman throws herself at him and he bitches ’cause she isn’t a nuclear scientist.” He opened a cabinet, grabbed a mug, and poured coffee. “You’re out of sugar again.”

“There’s Sweet’N Low.”

Frank made a face, but emptied several packets into his mug. He moved to the refrigerator and stood in front of the open door.

Mick shot a concerned glance into the kitchen. Frank had been making too many comments like that lately. But what was he supposed to ask? Was everything okay between Marilyn and him? Was he thinking about having an affair? Their relationship didn’t work that way. Frank meddled in his life, not the other way around. His partner was supposed to be the solid, married man.

Frank pulled out the milk carton, sniffed and grimaced. “This is pathetic.” He examined and replaced a carton of orange juice. “What’s this?” He lifted a white container as if it might contain anthrax.

He leaned back so he could see what the guy held. “Probably leftover Thai. You might not want to eat it.”

“Do you have anything in here that didn’t die last week?”

“I haven’t been here. The apples and those little carrots in the bottom drawer are okay.” He’d had a handful for breakfast, along with a bagel he found in the freezer. “I need to go to the grocery store this afternoon.”

Frank grimaced and closed the refrigerator. He opened cabinets and finally found a box of Triscuits. “You want more coffee?”

He shook his head, his eyes never leaving the DMV records scrolling down the screen. “There are over two hundred thousand lines in this file. I had no idea there were so many old cars around here.”

“Half of them are in my neighbor’s yard,” Frank replied around a mouthful of crackers. He leaned against the counter, scanning the front page while he crunched noisily. “You see this?”

“You just brought the paper in.”

Frank held it up and Mick glanced at the headline.

“The Professor, huh?”

“Yeah, he’s made the big time. Bastard has a name now. I’m sure he’s rejoicing, wherever the asshole is.”

“Damn. If the TV people use it on the news tonight, we’ll be stuck with it. Anything interesting in the article?”

“Let’s see…rehash of the press conference. Wasn’t that fun? Here we go, unnamed sources…believe he’s a professor at one of the local colleges. Is that official now?” Frank looked up, an amused expression on his face. “Where do they get this stuff?”

“Did Terri Blankenship write the article?”

Frank glanced at the paper. “How’d you know?”

“Rumor has it Andersen’s sleeping with her.”

“Ouch. Talk about sleeping with the enemy.”

“No kidding. I wonder what else he’s leaking to her. And don’t even say what you’re thinking.”

“Yeah, yeah. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.” Frank dropped the newspaper on the counter. “How do you want to tackle the car?”

“All we have are reports of a coupe or sports car and a big engine. No one actually got a real description.” Mick’s fingers tried to smooth the tension from his forehead. He’d had a headache for days. He propped his elbows on the table, thumbs at the hinge of his jaw, fingers cradling his head. Their one clue was turning into a grain of sand on a wide Carolina beach.

Frank wandered into the dining room and peered over Mick’s shoulder.

He angled the screen so Frank could see the information. “Let’s see how many we can get rid of. If we ignore the generic Chevy and Ford four-door sedans, that cuts it nearly in half.”

“Get rid of all the trucks too,” the other agent suggested.

Mick further narrowed the list by excluding the foreign cars. He paged through the remaining records. “Corvettes didn’t have big enough trunks to conceal a body.”

“Thunderbirds were clubby boats by then,” Frank said. “They had big engines, but they weren’t cool enough for our guy to be driving one now.”

“The clerk did say it was a coupe.”

“You were what in the eighties? Two? Three? I was in college. I can’t believe that was thirty years ago.” Frowning, Frank drummed his fingers on the table. “What were the tough guys driving?”

“British cars were hot when I was in high school.” Mick stretched, remembering a time that seemed so simple in retrospect. “Old Triumphs and MGs. Jeeps and Blazers were big. Lots of four-by-fours. As far as domestics went, we’re talking Mustangs, Camaros or Trans Ams.”

“They’ve been around a long time. Seems like they were big when I was in high school too.”

There were thousands of them. He cursed the mild South Carolina climate that didn’t turn cars into rusting hulks, eaten away by salt like the cars of the Northeast and Midwest. They’d have to find and investigate the owners of each car.

Frank hung over his shoulder. “It would help if they’d included the exterior color.”

Mick’s attention caught on the Vehicle Identification Number. “The manufacturer would have everything—including the original body color and interior package. Clark said the fibers were old. They could be the original carpets.”

“Good idea,” his partner nodded. “It’s possible he repainted the car, but we can at least start with the shorter list.”

Mick’s fingers danced over the keys, sorting the remaining cars by maker, then model, and sent each manufacturer the relevant VIN list, requesting specifications. As much publicity as this case had generated, he knew he’d have no trouble getting the information.

The message list refreshed with the outgoing requests, and the incoming message tone sounded.

“That was quick.”

“‘File received’ confirmations,” Mick said. He pointed at the screen. “Who’s Kevin Rynd?” The message subject line read, “Investigation.”

“Agnes Scott address. Did we talk to him when we interviewed people at the college after Baldwin’s murder?”

“I don’t think so.” Mick opened the message.

 

Miss Geiger—Emily, since I have been intimate with her—is not young and beautiful any longer. Such is the cost of war. Soldiers die, women break. She is not the first, nor will she be the last.

 

What the hell was this?

 

Emily foolishly believed in her own abilities. Women have neither the strength of mind nor body to compete with men. Soon they will recognize this and return to their subservient position—the one they have held throughout history as man’s property and indulgence.

 

“My God,” he murmured. “Read this.”

He turned the laptop so Frank could see the screen. “The asshole’s sending me e-mail now.”

 

At the end, Emily’s struggles were pathetic, but her fear, her terror, was very real.

 

Anger clamped Mick’s jaw like a vise. The contemptuous bastard.

 

You understand the exhilaration of wielding authority over others.

 

What? Was this scumbag trying to draw a comparison with what the police did?

 

But you can’t imagine the bliss, the rapture, of holding the scales of life itself. Will Emily die today? Or tomorrow? Or should I show mercy to the vanquished? Why should I? Emily signed her own fate when she haughtily assumed random, genetically provided features afforded her special compensations.

What about the next one? Shall she die, as well? It is not her decision. It is up to you. It will be on your conscience, not mine.

 

Don’t lay that on me, you asshole. Even as he rejected it, Mick felt the taunt hit home.

 

How confident are you of your abilities? You stand at the fringes of my battles, my successes, looking manly and proud, but we know it is a charade. You follow my lead, waiting for any bread crumbs I deign to throw your way. I have the upper hand—and I’m laughing at you.

 

“Jesus,” Frank said.

“Amen,” Mick answered.

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

To find out more about Cathy Perkins, visit cperkinswrites.com. And for a chance to win The Professor, let Cathy know what’s on your reading list!

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Lillie and I decided to join this giveaway hop since it’ll be our first time joining something like this. A blog hop for giveaways? We’re there! 🙂 I figured this would be a great time to share some of my books again. 🙂

Are you ready to see the goodies up for grabs?

From the *always fabulous Lauren Dane* comes her new novel of a treacherous family legacy, a temptation just as dangerous, and an evil so depraved it can only be spoken of in whispers

The life of Lark Jaansen, hunter in Clan Gennessee, has been shaped by violence and unrest and it defines her future. Well-trained and resilient, she’s met her militaristic match in Simon Leviathan, a warrior not of this world. Locked in mutual admiration, and a desire so hot it burns, Lark and Simon have something else in common: they love the dark, and as a shadow is cast over their world, they’re each coming into their own.

A mysterious war has been waged among the Others. As witches and humans turn against each other, as fae retreat in fear, and as vampires rise, Lark and Simon discover that an unseen force is behind it. A single, hungry entity older than recorded history has returned to gorge on the magick of his victims. He is the Magister, nothing less than the end of time. Finding him is Lark and Simon’s first hope. Surviving him is their last.

He’s big, burly, and way smarter than your average shapeshifting bear. He’s also about to get trapped by own his game. . .

Lou Crushek is a reasonable, mellow, easygoing kind of guy. But once someone starts killing the scumbags he works so hard to bust, that really gets under his fur. Especially when that someone is a curvy she-tiger with a skill set that’s turning Crush’s lone-bear world upside down—and bringing his passion out of hibernation. . .

As a member of an elite feline protection unit, Marcella Malone has no problem body-dropping anyone who hunts her kind. But Crush is proving one major pain in her gorgeous tail. The only reason she’s joined forces with him is to track down the wealthy human who’s got her entire species in his ruthless sights. It sure isn’t because Crush’s stubborn and contrary attitude is rubbing Cella in all the right ways. . .

(more…)

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It wasn’t that she feared death. She just despised losing.

Genetically engineered warrior Sephti would go to any lengths to destroy the fae that made her their killing machine. Finally escaping servitude, she has meticulously planned revenge against her former masters, and time is running out. The last thing she needs is to be taken captive by a man who hates the fae as much as she does—and thinks she’s one of them.

Sephti learns her captor is Koda, an ancient Native American guardian determined to save his people from annihilation by the fae. Though he seems to loathe everything …

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

My path to being published started with getting angry during a tour of an equestrian center – long story – and ended with an 82,572-word rant. It occurred to me after I wound down, that my diatribe about exposing children to unsafe training conditions might make a decent book. So I queried the top U.S. equestrian publisher, figuring it was like buying just one lottery ticket. If I was meant to win, fate or karma or dumb luck would do its thing. An unheard-of three days later, Deborah Burns at Storey Publishing contacted me and my horse book began its path toward publication. Cue the happy dance.

I blissed-out, focusing on nonfiction – what could be better than writing about horses? Then, in late 2008, two short sentences sprang into my head. Through mid-January, these words repeated like the lyrics to “100 Bottles of Beer,” over and over and over:

 It wasn’t that I wanted to live forever. I just didn’t want to die.

Mowing the yard?

It wasn’t that I wanted to live forever. I just didn’t want to die.

Standing in line at the grocery store?

It wasn’t that I wanted to live forever. I just didn’t want to die.

Developing an analytical strategy for identifying the necessary human capital to meet a Fortune-100 company’s enterprise-wide goals?

Yammer yammer yammer.

I began to wonder:  who would say such a thing? Under what conditions would this sentiment make sense? And did I need professional help?

“Passing Time,” the first of three versions of what would become Stealing Time, was born when I gave in and started writing:

It’s funny looking back, but right up to the moment the doctors diagnosed the sharp pain in my stomach and gave me their shocking news, I’d never thought about my own mortality. Not even once.

Like my nonfiction rant, this effort didn’t begin with an eye toward publication. I just wanted the friggin’ voice in my head to shut up. But somewhere along the way, I got hooked on story-telling. Maelstrom was the next in what was meant to be a trilogy, along with Shadowplay. But then a series of events led me to readjust my plans. After coming this-close to selling Maelstrom to a large publisher, BookStrand picked it up, first distributing it digitally and then in mass market paperback. They also published the sequel, Shadowplay. At about the same time, Carina Press gloriously accepted Stealing Time. After it was distributed digitally and in audio, Carina signed its sequel, Killing Time, which was published in August 2011, also in digital and audio formats. All the while, I continued to write and query agents. My manuscript, “Honor Bound,” went through the query wringer and wound up getting signed with the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. Cue the heavenly choir.
I’ve had the great fortune to meet some amazing people, like Stephen King’s former editor (fan-girl sigh) who did me the honor of reading Shadowplay pre-publication and giving a few treasured pointers. I’m a huge admirer of Carina’s Angela James and am so grateful for the way she champions writers, especially us newbies. Melissa Johnson at Carina and Lisa Hiley at Storey are the kinds of editors – intuitive, wildly talented, and wicked-fun – all writers dream about, and I’ve been blessed to work with both. It’s an understatement to say that I’m thrilled to be repped by Ethan, along with the likes of John Scalzi, Christine Warren, Andre Norton’s estate, Amanda Ashley, and James Tabor.

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

To read more about Elisa Paige and all her books, visit www.elisapaige.com. And for a chance to win a pdf copy of Killing Time, just leave a comment below. Good luck! 😀

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What, exactly, is a romance novel?

I remember that section in the English Lit text book in high school that was called “The Romantic Period.” Romantic novels, the text books said, were associated with wild nature, free thinking, resistance to rationalism.

I have to confess that even back then, that’s not what I thought a romance novel was. I can still remember how surprised I was that Edgar Allen Poe was considered a writer of romantic novels. A romance novel to me was a love story and it had the classic formula of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl reconcile and live happily ever after.

I know, I know, there’s more to it than that. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it, right?

My newest novel, Sins of the Empress, certainly doesn’t follow that formula, but it is, nevertheless, what I consider a very romantic novel. It’s the fictionalized story of Catherine the Great of Russia. It is set in the lavish courts and stark battlefields of eighteenth century Russia and Germany, full of political intrigue, love, and betrayal. Of course there’s sex, after all that’s the first thing many people associate with Catherine, but, like my original perception of romance novels, there was more to her than that. The story is based on exhaustive research not only of Catherine, but of Russia, the books she read, and the people with whom she associated.

In the novel, you’ll see her growth from a very naïve German girl to the most powerful woman in Europe. She had to learn to think for herself, break some rules, and learn to play a man’s game along the way.

Here’s the way Catherine perceives it in an excerpt from the book:

 

I was on my way to depose Peter on the eighteenth anniversary of the day I was officially betrothed to him.  Once again I remembered the young girl I had been, the one who was so eager to understand him and to please him, so eager to be Russian.  I had to acknowledge that girl was gone forever.  I didn’t mourn her passing.  Somehow I had always known that she was destined to become what I had become.  Now that the moment had arrived, however, I couldn’t help but be saddened by what the journey had entailed, what it had inevitably done to Peter.  No, I didn’t mourn her passing, but I did miss her innocence.

 

Peter III, the heir to the Russian throne and the man Catherine was chosen to marry made life difficult for her. He was both emotionally and physically immature. Modern researchers now say that was probably caused by the fact that he began heavy consumption of alcohol at approximately the age of nine. Here’s another excerpt and an example of their interaction. Peter is a grown young man, and Catherine is approximately sixteen and being pressured to produce an heir.

 

“Why do you not take me as your wife?” I asked.

       

“What a silly thing to say,” he said without looking up from playing with his toy soldiers which he’d brought with him to bed. “I took you as my wife months ago at that long ceremony in the cathedral.”

       

“I am speaking of the physical sense of things.”

       

He gave me a puzzled look.

       

“We should join our bodies and produce a child. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

       

His expression changed from puzzlement to terror.

       

I reached under the covers and took his small, withered penis into my hand. “I want you to put this inside me here,” I said pointing to my vagina. 

“When you do that and release your seed, that is what produces a baby.”

       

He hastily pulled himself away from me and got out of bed. “You are disgusting!” He left my bedchamber without noticing that he had knocked several of his toy soldiers to the floor.

 

Catherine took many lovers after that, not only because she was pressured to produce an heir but because she was seeking love and affection. She found it in more than one of her lovers. The people of Russia were less shocked by her romantic exploits, however, than they were by the fact that she started schools to educate women, that she had intellectual discourses with the likes of Voltaire, that she espoused doing away with serfdom, that she took it upon herself to rewrite all the laws of Russia to bring it into the modern era of eighteenth century Europe.

Sins of the Empress is the story of a woman of passion who wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. That’s what I call a romance novel.

 

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

To find out more about Paula Paul and her books, visit www.paulapaul.net. And for a chance to win Sins of The Empress, just leave a comment below. Giveaway open to U.S/Canada only.

 

*Giveaway sponsored by the author

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

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

Where do I create? I don’t get asked that question all that often, but I do wonder about what other authors do, where they write, what they need to get the Muse going.  I learned a long time ago that all I need is a computer/keyboard.  That’s it.

I always worked to noise, whether it was music back in high school or television as I evolved.  These days, it’s definitely TV. Then I had kids and dogs and I learned to work around distractions.  I had to or I’d get nothing done.

When I started writing, I began in our bedroom in a small corner.  The clicking noise kept my husband awake, so I moved to a small room off my baby’s bedroom.  Same problem.  Next stop? A corner in the kitchen where I put my massively large computer, but the space was MINE.  Over the years, if we moved houses, I carved out other areas that were mine alone.  I added a nik-nak or item that made the space seem personal and important to me.  And I kept at it.

I currently have a full bedroom that is right off the master.  I have a desk that’s always messy and a recliner where I do my writing during the day.  In the evenings, I move to the bedroom and keep the laptop with me in the bed if I’m working.  I’ve long since given up a large computer in favor of a Macbook Air and it travels with me everywhere.

The kids are old enough to basically do their own thing.  One is away at college, and my youngest is 16 so unless she needs a ride, she pretty much leaves me alone.  That leaves me with the dogs.  Two.  One Wheaten terrier and one Havanese.  They share my space.  Actually, they think they own it.

The Wheaten, Bailey (girl, 5 yrs old), lays behind the recliner chair, Brady, the Havanese lays on the floor in front of it.  Occasionally they chase each other around the office, or wrestle there.  The other day, the Wheaten (the wheat colored one <g>) and the biggest one, jumped straight into my lap on top of the computer.  They know no boundaries and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  When I’m writing in bed, they’re lounging or fighting with each other right next to me.

Writers write.  It’s not about where, it’s about sitting down and making it happen.

Carly’s Bio

N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips has written over 30 romance novels with contemporary characters and small town settings that today’s readers identify with and enjoy.  She’s a writer, a knitter of sorts, a wife, and a mom to two daughters (16 and20!) and two crazy dogs (a 1 year old Havanese named Brady and a 4 year old wheaten terrier named Bailey).  In addition, she’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers.   Carly lives in Purchase, New York and would love for you to like and follow her on the ‘Net!

Find Carly on the web:

Carly’s Website – www.carlyphillips.com

Carly on Twitter – www.twitter.com/carlyphillips

Carly on Facebook – www.facebook.com/carlyphillipsfanpage

Carly on Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/carlyphillips

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

Carly is giving away a book from her backlist to one lucky reader! We are also giving away a print copy of Karma. To be entered in both giveaways, just leave a comment below. Winners will be drawn on Sunday. Good luck!

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The Book

 

 

The Tease

 

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

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

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

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

His body registered that fact and reacted accordingly.

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

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

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

“You,” she said at the same time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silence descended and she shifted from foot to foot.

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

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

Her eyes flickered in surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

“Maybe another time then.”

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

“Maybe,” she said softly.

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

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

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

“Be careful.”

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

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

 

The Blurb

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

 

Available May 1, 2012

www.carlyphillips.com

 

 

 

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Jake King is one of the best bounty hunters in the country, but now he’s been hired to protect a beautiful private eye who’s flirting with danger. Her name is Angela, and the last thing she wants is hired muscle getting in the way of her investigation. But this time she’s so deep undercover, she could use all the muscle she can get her hands on.

 

Jake agrees to play by Angela’s rules—and lay low while she gets close to one of the deadliest crime lords to have entered the States. But the closer Angela gets to her target, the closer she feels to Jake. As her bodyguard, he has more than just a professional interest in her body. And he’ll do anything to keep her safe. But Angela is playing a dangerous game with a criminal mastermind who can make any woman his slave. And she could be next.

 

Once again, Jake puts his bounty hunting skills to the test as he goes after his deadliest target yet. This time, the game will end!

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In 2003, I began a series of books in the usual way. The first book introduced a family of characters along with their close friends. Each following book in that series focused on one character from that first book. When I started writing the third book in that series, my readers complained loudly about who my heroine was in that book.

“You can’t make the bad girl the heroine,” they complained. “No one will want to read about a lady who has caused everyone grief and has such a terrible reputation.”

“But even people who have created bad reputations have stories to tell,” I retorted. “Maybe my character wants to redeem herself.”

To this day, that particular book in that series is still one of my best sellers. And if you’re curious, or haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about the book In Her Nature from the lunewulf series.

Stay Hungry is not about werewolves. 🙂

Stay Hungry is about the bad boy in the King family. Jake King is a playboy. Life for him just isn’t complete if he doesn’t have at least two or three booty calls, or these days booty texts, in one day. He bounces from lady to lady with no thoughts for anything but having a good time–and lots of sex!

Now we can sit and argue on how it’s different when a lady plays the field compared to when a man plays the field, but that isn’t my point here. Or to an extent, maybe it is. As a woman, when I know a man who is sleeping around, my opinion of him lessens. So why bother writing Jake’s story?

(At least one of you is asking me that. I know you are.)

The answer is the same as it was eight years ago. Jake had a story to tell.

Stay Hungry is about the youngest King son, a notorious playboy, who is complaining about how hard he’s working and how little time he has to respond to all the women texting him for sex. He has a particular lifestyle he’s worked hard at establishing and has found ladies who don’t want anything more than a young stud to come by from time to time and giving them the time of their lives (in essence, wham, bam, thank you young man!)

The Kings are approached by a private detective out of Chicago. This detective knows the Kings are familiar with the game, a terrible, despicable game created by a monster (saying monster is an understatement), who wants to take crime to the next level. Instead of committing crimes, a drug called slave juice has been developed. When someone is given slave juice, their will is no longer their own. They will do whatever they are told to do. Its a really, really bad drug. Crime lords have their hands on this slave juice and create armies using this drug. Their “slave juice zombies” will commit whatever crimes their told to do.

Jake agrees to go to Chicago to assist the detectives daughter in taking out the game. Once Jake arrives in Chicago and starts working with Angela, he’s sure they can finally stop the game. What Jake isn’t sure about is how much bossing around he can handle from Angela. He also isn’t sure how long he can continue ignoring the text messages he is receiving without losing all of his women back in LA.

Now at this point, you would think Jake wouldn’t care when Angela calls him a slut. She informs him there is no way he is going to lay a hand on him, not when she isn’t sure how many other women he’s been with in the recent past.

The story line is now laid out. Jake is challenged not only by one of the most intense criminals he’s ever come to a head with, but also by a sexy young lady who isn’t affected by his playboy charms. What’s the poor guy to do?

I’m sure at this point you think you’ve got the entire story line figured out. Playboy gone bad turns into loyal and loving man while capturing all the bad guys. Well if the story line were that simple, it would be boring. And I probably would have scrapped it before it was half-way written.

I will leave the explanation of the book at that for now. But I would like to ask you this, would you consider going out with a guy who had a jaded past like Jake’s? (and if you’re married just pretend you aren’t for the sake of the questions LOL) What if you’re attracted to a man who is known for going out with a different woman each week and is basically, well, whoring around? Your family and friends are disgusted by him. You know we’re all affected by what those around us think. Would you keep going out with him?

Also, have you ever worked hard and played harder only to find that your family and loved ones are starting to judge you in a not so friendly way? If you aren’t harming anyone, why is it a problem? Right? Would you change your ways just so those you care about don’t start labeling you as a bad person? Would you try hiding who you really are if, and when, you found someone who really mattered to you?

Let me know your thoughts. Let’s see if we can figure out how Jake and Angela might possibly be able to get over their opinions of each other and come together.

 

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A big thank you to Lorie for joining us today!

To learn more about The Bounty Hunter series, visit www.lorieoclare.com.And for a chance to win a signed copy of STAY HUNGRY, just leave a comment answering Lorie’s question. Good luck! 😀

 

 

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Caleb Talbot has been lost since the moment he found out he was a bastard. He ran from everything in his life, including Marah Farnsworth, a woman who tempted and terrified him. But now he’s back in London as the man he called father his whole life is dying. And Marah is back, too… with a new beau. Can Caleb overcome his demons and Marah’s resistance too late? Or will they discover it’s never too late for second chances?

 

 

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

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Jenna: I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, from the time I was a kid. I have certainly always written stories, so now I just get the chance to share them.

 

NT: You have a new release this month. Can you tell us about A Scoundrel’s Surrender?

Jenna: A SCOUNDREL’S SURRENDER is the last in my series “The Billingham Bastards” about three men who discover they are brothers. It also features characters from a much earlier story, LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN, Caleb and Marah.

 

NT: What inspired the idea for this story?

Jenna: After I wrote LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN, I had a lot of people wanting to know the rest of Caleb and Marah’s story and since Caleb had discovered he was a bastard at the end of that story… well, it sort of fit perfectly into the concept of “The Billingham Bastards”.

 

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

Jenna: Right now I’m in the midst of moving, so chaos is my average day. But when things are normal, I write every weekday and have a page goal rather than a time goal. I also work on promotional stuff every day too. Since I write under two different names (Jenna Petersen for romance and Jesse Petersen for urban fantasy) I’m generally booked out to a full-time day by the time I’m done.

 

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

Jenna: Since I’ve written in the Regency period for so many years (over 15 books) the kind of research I do now is very different. It’s more spot research about a specific event during the time or something my character says or does or references.

 

NT: When not busy writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Jenna: Ha! Spare time is pretty nonexistant currently. But when things are normal, I like to read, play video games, I’m a huge UFC fan and I love to spend time with my husband and nephews.

 

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

Jenna: I’ve moved away from traditional publishing and am now publishing independently via Kindle and Nook (as well as Smashwords when I can get it to work). This means more books from me and closer together! My new series will be availalbe on September 1st, it’s about a family called The Jordans who are not your average Regency family. The first book, THE SECRETS OF A LADY is September, THE TEMPTATION OF A GENTLEMAN is October and THE DESIRES OF A COUNTESS is November.

 

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

Jenna: Several of my books are available from 2.99 or .99 on Kindle/Nook, so they’re a great place to start for a new reader because the output on their end is much lower.

 

NT: How can readers contact you?

Jenna: Email is really best for direct contact, jenna@jennapetersen.com

I’m also on twitter as @jennaromance and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/AuthorJennaPetersen and I update those all the time so they’re a great way to stay connected.

 


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The second volume of The Embers Series (begun with Fallen Embers) continues the saga set in an alternate Alaska, where those born with the power to control the elements rule as nobility over those who cannot — for now. As Blowing Embers begins, the shapeshifting slaves of Fairbanks have broken their chains with the help of Kiera, the Fire Mage mysteriously transported into their realm with her young nephew, and then lifted her to govern their city. But Kiera and her co-rulers struggle to integrate the former slaves and the remaining mages. A worse threat outside Fairbanks waits to fracture the fragile peace. Governor Vrishka, the Skani Water Mage of Barrow, has marched an army from the North, and sends terms: Surrender Fairbanks and restore the Skani mages to rule, or he will raze the city and kill all the shifters. He gifts them ten turns of the sun to make their decision. Halfway through the armistice a devastating blow steals all hope for Fairbanks’ victory, and crushes Kiera’s heart. Can she summon the strength to transcend her grief and find a way to defeat Vrishka? If so, what price is she willing to pay? Five days — and a city — await her decision.

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How many books do you put aside when you’ve finished them, and never think of them again? I’ll bet a lot. Too many.

 

What makes a book memorable, loveable, is most often the characters. One, or more. They are people you like. Care about. Struggle and cry and triumph with.

 

In order to do that, you have to be able to identify with the characters. Know them. Like them. See yourself or someone you know in them. Maybe even fall in love with them. You can’t do that if you can’t remember who is who. And, too often, that is precisely what happens in stories.

 

Authors forget that readers don’t know their characters the same way they do. Authors, of course, spend hours and hours developing each one of their characters. But it isn’t until the reader actually begins reading the text that they get to meet each story’s featured people, and since readers can’t see the characters, the writer has to provide some mechanism to make each character stand out, right from the start.

 

In other words, an author has to make each character memorable. I’ve heard this practice called a “hook,” but whatever you call it, it’s more important than worldbuilding, or a killer ability to write description. Who cares, really, if you visit a beautiful alien planet, or a magnificent tenth century Welsh palace, if you can’t remember who you’re visiting it with?

 

A particular physical trait can be a hook, or a way of speaking or a tendency to do something. In my books, which are set in a magical Alternate Alaska, each of my characters has something special that sets them apart – and makes them easy to remember. For example, Kiera, my main character, is a plus-sized woman with long dark hair. As we go along, we learn that she holds a brown belt in tai kwon-do. Laszlo, her love interest, is the biggest man she has ever seen – a big man with umber skin who doesn’t seem to mind even extreme cold. Marco, the teenage boy Kiera befriends, has icy blond hair, bad judgment, and a quick wit. And Mosha, the slave healer in the army Kiera travels with, sports an odd accent.

 

What sorts of things have you found memorable in books? What’s made you want to read more by the same author?

 

(Leave a comment to be automatically entered into the contest for a free copy of Blowing Embers in kindle format!)

(This video can also be seen at http://www.lauriowen.com/be.html)

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A big thank you to Lauri for joining with us today!

Please visit www.lauriowen.com to learn more about The Embers series. And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win. Good luck! 😀

 

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For a thousand years she has haunted him—Ariana, queen of the Ilinas, a beauty of mist and light. His love, his life mate… Kougar believed her lost to him forever until the truth of her stunning betrayal left him bitter and hungry for revenge. Now she alone holds the power to save two trapped and desperate Feral Warriors.

Ariana, caught in a deadly battle of her own, is neither the soulless creature Kougar believes her to be, nor the savior he seeks. And when darkness threatens to annihilate both races, the greatest danger of all becomes the glorious love Kougar and Ariana once shared. A love that must never rise again. A love that has never died.

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People often ask me how many books I’m going to write in the Feral Warriors series. It seems like an easy question on the surface. After all, the series starts out with nine Feral Warriors, right? Which would translate nicely into a nine-book series. Except…for Foxx. I won’t say more in case you haven’t read the first few books, but suffice it to say, Foxx won’t be getting his own book. So eight books? Or will there be nine anyway?

Well…

Oh, and what about the Seventeen? (Centuries ago, seventeen Feral Warriors walked into an enchanted cave and died. Their animals never returned to mark another.) Readers are always asking me if any of the seventeen might come back. The answer? I’ve hinted at it long enough, so I might as well just spill. Yes, at least a few of the Seventeen will return. When? That, I’m not willing to tell just yet.

Every writer is different. While some plot and plan their series in advance, sometimes down to the chapter, others don’t. I don’t. I follow where the story leads. In a lot of ways, I’m discovering this story right along with my readers. A bit ahead of you, since writing takes so much longer than reading, plus there’s the whole editorial and publication phase that typically takes about a year. But I don’t know everything ahead of time. I’ve learned the hard way that trying to figure it out before I get there is a waste of time.

For example, I had no idea, when I wrote the first three books in the Feral Warriors series, that Kougar had once been mated…to an Ilina. What in the heck is an Ilina? They’re a race of women who can turn to mist at will and are quite dangerous. In one of the earlier books, one of the warriors mentioned that there used to be other immortal races but they were all extinct. In writing this anthology, I thought, what if they weren’t all extinct, everyone just thought they were? And what if they would do anything, even kill, to keep that secret? The questions, ignited by that throwaway comment in an earlier book, intrigued me. And came back to me when I was brainstorming the novella Hearts Untamed for the Bitten By Cupid anthology I did with Lynsay Sands and Jaime Rush.

I realized that the Ilinas’ determination to keep their existence a secret was going to endanger the heroine of the novella. But I was totally surprised when Kougar walked into one of the scenes, saw the Ilina who threatened the heroine’s life, and not only knew what she was…he knew her by name. As she knew him. I’d always known Kougar had a mysterious past, but that was the first time I realized he had a connection with the Ilinas. And it wasn’t until I was in the middle of Jag’s book, Rapture Untamed, that I realized what that connection was, that Kougar had once been mated to their queen, Ariana, that he’d believed her dead for over a thousand years. And that he hated her bitterly for her betrayal. And I had my story! Or, rather, I had Kougar’s story. At least the germ of the romance.

With each new book, as I delve deeper and deeper into the world of the Feral Warriors, I discover new things, new truths that open up doors and lead the story into different directions, pouring light into shadowy areas I’d never explored.

So, no, I don’t figure it all out ahead of time. If I tried, if I’d created a plan from the beginning and insisted on sticking to it, the series wouldn’t be nearly so interesting. Certainly not for me. I do know where the story ends, eventually, but I honestly can’t say how many books it will take to get there. I guess we’re going to have to find out together.

Now, I have a question for you. What’s the longest series you’ve read or are currently reading? Answer for a chance to win a signed copy of Desire Untamed, book 1 in the Feral Warriors series.

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A big thank-you to Pamela for joining us today!

To find out more about Pamela, please visit www.pamelapalmer.net. And don’t forget to answer the above question for a chance to win DESIRE UNTAMED. Good luck! 😀

 

 

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