Author Speed Dating – Carolyn Hector

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Carolyn Hector

15 Questions

1. Name the best New Year’s Resolution you have ever broken, and how quickly did you fall off the wagon?

It depends on when the New Year’s Day begins because my Go-To resolution is to lose weight. Like if it’s on a Monday, I’m good for a week. If it falls pretty much any other day of the week I’m like, “I’ll start it Monday”.  

2. Hottest “The Avengers” actor: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlet Johansson (Black Widow) or Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye)?

Actor… Chris Hemsworth. Hottest Avenger…from this list… The Hulk. 1- he’s technically a POC… (green is a color) and 2- he’s smart.

3. What are the highest and lowest moments you’ve had as a writer?

The highest moment for me would be getting “the call” from my acquiring editor. I remember sitting in my office for an extra hour trying to fix my face after crying from excitement.

The lowest has been finding out that my line, Harlequin Kimani, is going to be dissolved in the next year. This is my home.

4. Please let us in on a few of your writing plans for the brand new year 2018. Any new books in the pipeline?

This year I’m still crowning my heroines with my Once Upon a Tiara series. June you will be able to read TEMPTING THE BEAUTY QUEEN and this winter I’m coming out with HER MISTLETOE BACHELOR.

5. If you could only have one type of candy for the rest of your life, what treat would be satisfying your sweet tooth?

TAKE 5. This candy bar hits all my cravings for salty, crunchy, peanut buttery, and chocolatey. 

6. Which is your preferred writing location: home office with favorite music, coffee shop with white noise or library in total silence?

I prefer to write at home, in recliner, with pillows propped up under my elbows and on my lap. I honestly write best with the television station on something that I have no interest in (usually when my husband is watching football) and I have my headphones on, listening to music.

7. What’s the worst piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

1st—I have 3 moms… and they’ve all given horrible advice/wisdom/words of comfort.

Adopted mother- You’ll get along better in life if you accept the fact the world doesn’t revolved around you.

Step-mom – he’s just picking on you because he likes you.

Bio-mom—sorry about your curves, you’re Italian and we’re just naturally big people.

8. In which sub-genres are you published, and what does the wide or narrow focus say about you?

I am published in/with contemporary romances. I like to write action-adventure kick-ass women romances, but so far I only have one book published in that area (Check out MR. AND MRS. ROSSI). I like to dabble with historical romances. I have one written, but it’s sitting on my digital shelf. All this says about me is I’m chicken @#^$^* to put myself out there in the world.

9. Name two of your favorite authors, one living and one no longer with us. How have their books impacted your writing?

My living favorite author… geez… I can’t pick just one. Can I cheat? First name—BrendaBeverlyRochelle—last name—JacksonJenkinsAlers. [Editor’s Note: For those who need a key, the answers would be Brenda Jackson, Beverly Jenkins and Rochelle Alers. :)]

No longer with us, Francis Ray.

I wouldn’t be published if it weren’t for these ladies. Back in the ’90s, I was so excited to find books with familiar faces on the cover. I mean, I’d been writing for years basically for myself (and my Barbies, but that’s a whole ‘nother story), but seeing them meant there was a demand for stories with POC (people of color… in case anyone wondered).

10. When you are starting a new book, what are some of the activities you do to get know your characters and develop your plot?

So for me… I have to cast my characters. Usually by the time I have story in my head, I’ve already seen the characters. If they’re an actor/actress or a model… I do the typical stalking research on them. I’ll follow them on IG or Twitter or binge watch everything they’ve acted in to get certain mannerisms. 

11. Preferred winter activities: ice skating, ice fishing and anything involving snow or Couch Potato Olympics?

I’m more of a gold medal Couch Potato. I take that back. I love to bake and cook when it’s cold.

12. Which character from one of your books is most like or most radically different from your significant other?

Most of my books are about beauty queens and the drama/non-drama between them. I’ve never been a beauty queen, but I would have to say I’m most like Waverly Leverve. Sometime my big mouth gets me in trouble.

13. What is your most ridiculous fear?

I fear that if I drive around with the windows rolled down, a bird is going to fly into my car and attack me.

14. What is your favorite social-media activity: watching cat or dog videos on Facebook, Tweeting #amwriting when you’re not or Snapchatting your face with kitty whiskers?

Promise not to judge me? I am still playing Candy Crush. I am years invested in this game. As of this date I am on level 2142. I have yet to break out my wallet for anything. It’s a habit for me…part of my writing routine when I am trying to work out a scene.

15. Who were some of the other authors who helped you on your writer’s journey, and how did they make a difference for you?

Brenda Jackson, Beverly Jenkins, and Rochelle Alers. Picture it, Romance Slam Jam-2001. I’d just won 2nd and 1st place for their aspiring writers contest. Brenda’s family told me to always keep writing no matter what. Beverly’s book saved my marriage (I just knew my husband never paid attention to me and he surprised me with her book… and this was way before going on line to Amazon and ordering a book. He made a big effort). Rochelle once told me to never make a story line out of a situation that could have easily been solved by a conversation… and that gave me the Ah-ha moment …plus, she impacted my life by writing my favorite hero… I loved him so much that I named my son after him (check out VOWS).

 

 ***

 

 

 

A Tiara Under the Tree

By Carolyn Hector

 

“Dominic Crowne?” Waverly breathed the man’s name and hoped to slow down the quickening pulse zipping through her veins. Since she’d seen him last, he’d shed the tailored suit and replaced it with jeans—a pair of well-fitted jeans—and a T-shirt. Tattoos covered his forearms. She tried not to stare too hard. He might as well have come with a neon sign that read DANGER. Excitement coursed through her veins.

Dominic leaned against the door frame with a pizza box propped within the crook of his arm and against his hip. A dangerous smile, accompanied with a quick wiggle of his brow, crossed his face. “You’re not Lexi.”

“This is her place,” Waverly explained. “Lexi is letting me crash here for a while.”

“Crash here for a while?” He frowned. “Is your place being painted or something?”

Waverly shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Are you volunteering or something?”

“Maybe the ‘something’ part,” Dominic licked his lips, and Waverly forgot about the howling in her stomach from a few minutes ago before pizza arrived. She stepped backward into the foyer of her apartment and caught a glimpse of her pink-tinted cheeks in the large, gold-framed mirror by the door.

Waverly cleared her throat. “So, do you normally walk the halls with pizzas?”

“Oh, my bad.” He shoved the pizza toward her. “You haven’t looked at yours yet, have you?”

“I was about to sit down.”

“Right after the crowning?” Dominic asked and pointed toward the top of her head.

Heat filled her cheeks. She cocked her head to the side, untangled the combs holding her tiara in place and released her unruly hair. “Sorry, I was just…”

Dominic held up his free hand. “It’s okay. You had that second cupcake today—it was worth celebrating, I understand.”

Waverly decided not to expose her greed and tell him she’d eaten a total of three cupcakes today. “Thanks.” She laughed lightly. “You said something about a pizza?”

As if remembering the food in his arms, Dominic blinked and inhaled deeply while he nodded. “The delivery guy mixed up the apartment numbers. My sister lives across the courtyard and she’s going to kill me if I don’t leave her any leftovers. She only bought the one, even after I’m here to do a favor for her.”

With widened eyes, Waverly bobbed her head from side to side. She took a step forward into the hallway and peered into the steaming-hot box for a peek of a double pepperoni pie. “I wonder what I got. What other pizza could there be?”

“Jesus, now more than ever I need to know your name,” Dominic groaned, pressing his hand against his chest. “At least I need to know your first name. Your last name isn’t necessary.”

She cocked her hand on her hip and laughed. “Why is my last name not necessary?”

“Because it’s about to change to mine.”

 

***

A TIARA UNDER THE TREE, part of the Once Upon a Tiara series and an October release from Harlequin Kimani Romance, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM!, KOBO, Harlequin, Google PlayiTunes, Walmart, IndieBound and Target.

 

 

***

 

About Carolyn

Carolyn Hector was destined to become a writer when she wrote scripts for her Barbies and passed them out to her friends prior to play dates. In 7th grade she wrote–what is now considered fan-fiction–story based on her disappointment of the ending to “Streets of Fire.” When she later watched “Romancing the Stone,” she finally knew what she wanted to be when she grew up–a Romance Writer!

She currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where there’s never a dull moment of college sports, politics, and Southern heat… aka… #BookFodder. A fan of ’80s Pop Culture, you can find Carolyn around town at a football/soccer/track/basketball game or PTO meeting for her five boys with her headphones on and a notebook hand.

Catch Carolyn on her blog, carolynhector.com, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

                             

Author Speed Dating – Shae Ross

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Shae Ross

 

16 Questions

1. If you celebrate, name a holiday food you would eat your weight in if you could do it guilt-free.

Green bean casserole. My brother and I used to hide the leftovers from each other in the back of the fridge!

2. Give the title of the first manuscript you ever wrote. How many years ago did you pen this masterpiece, and whatever happened to it?

CRUSADE. I wrote the first scenes of CRUSADE the summer between college and law school, which is to say, a long time ago! When I left my job to pursue writing, I had intended to publish CRUSADE, but in 2015 the new adult sub-genre was much more popular than medieval historical. Rather than finish CRUSADE, I let myself get distracted by Jett Trebuchet and Ryan Rose. I wrote their story in, PRETTY SMART GIRLS, LACE UP and sold it on my first pitch. I still plan to publish CRUSADE, someday soon. 

3. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

Gosh, what a question! It makes me sweat to think of only having two books. I would pick my third book, RUSH, because characters from my first two books appear in RUSH—that way I’d kind of have them all with me, right? As for the other title, it’s a tie between PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, by Jane Austen, and OUTLANDER, by Diana Gabaldon. (I’d give up at least one pair of shoes to add in a third book though!)

4. In the winter, would you rather be zipping through powdery snow on skis or a snowmobile or escaping to a sandy beach? Now how do you really spend most of your winter?

Hmmm. I’m not crazy about either. Cold weather sports set off warning signals in my mind. I like the beach, but I don’t like to sit still that long. My idea of dream land is wandering through a city that has historical sites to explore, great cafes, and shopping markets!

5. Which character in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”  is your favorite, and what does that say about you?

I haven’t watch RTRNR in so long, I can’t remember the personalities. If there’s a reindeer who’s slightly rebellious and bossy in a non-offensive sort of way (usually), who likes to sing and dress fancy, that’s me! 🙂

6. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which others do you plan to add to the list in the next two years?

I’m published in Contemporary, New Adult and Romantic Suspense. I’ll publish another Romantic Suspense next, then likely another New Adult. After that I’d like to publish my Historical and a Women’s Fiction book with strong romantic elements. I have all of these books in progress at various stages. It’s just a matter finding the time to finish!

7. If you could visit the studio and hang out with any visual artist, past or present, whose creative space would you be invading? Why?

I’d love to hang out with Nora Roberts for a day and see what her writing process is like.

8. Do you listen to music when you’re writing? If so, name some of the artists whose work you use to get you creative juices flowing.

YES! Music inspires me, and I love listening to music almost as much as I love reading and writing. I make playlists on Spotify and listen to mixes on Pandora. I’m more of a genre listener than a specific artist listener. Some of my favorites include Miranda Lambert, The Band Perry, Carla Bruni, Melody Gardot, and Madeleine Peyroux.

9. What are you reading now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

I’m reading MOLLY’S GAME, by Molly Bloom, and NO EXCUSES, by Brian Tracy. One of my favorite recent romance reads is BLUE-EYED DEVIL, by Lisa Kleypas.

10. What is your strategy for writing over the holidays?

On busy days, I still try to squeeze in three hours of writing. I like to write every day, and I’m incredibly irritated with myself when I don’t. I look at the week ahead and try to time block out writing sessions.

11. Name three things that are in your purse or pockets right now.

Biofreeze, for neck and shoulder relief, a permission slip for my son’s next field trip, and a can of cherry vanilla soda.

12. Do you write a synopsis before you write a book, and, if so, does your finished product look anything like that road map?

I do write a synopsis. The finished product follows the synopsis, but has a lot more twists and turns in the road.

 13. Are you a fan of reality TV, or could the current Bachelor marry every contestant on Cake Boss and then sing his lungs out on The Voice for all you care?

Yeah, not really a fan.  I much prefer drama, especially if there’s a romantic element or historical setting. Right now, I am loving, Good Behavior on TNT, The Crown on Netflix, and Knightfall, which just began on the History Channel.

14. What is your biggest dream for your writing career? The New York Times bestseller list? A movie deal? Your own island in the Caribbean? All of the above?

My biggest dream is to keep writing and continue to balance my other priorities effectively—time with my husband, kids, extended family and friends. The above mentioned honors would be thrilling, but none would feel like success unless the people I’ve signed up to  love, honor, and cherish are with me and they know that I’m with them. So far, so good!

15. What is your biggest hope for a reader when she opens one of your books?

I hope my readers experience what I want to experience when I read a book. I want to feel the characters’ emotions. I want to laugh, cry, think, learn something I didn’t know, be captivated by the hero and completely immersed in the story. Oh, and of course, I want the happy ending. Always.

16. Are you more a Times Square-ringing-in-the-New Year-type on New Year’s Eve, or will we find you at home, tucked into bed by nine o’clock?

My husband and I are pretty social. We enjoy going out as much as we love chilling with our neighbor pals at home, but we’ve never been big on going out on New Year’s Eve. We’ll be home.

 

***

 

 

 

 

Bottom of the Sky

By Shae Ross

 

 

He stops and flips upright in the middle of the moonlit river. His hands hold my waist as our feet cycle. “Why are we stopping?” I ask.

“So you can kiss me.”

His hands catch my ribcage lifting me as he tows me in.

My palms flatten against his slick, hard chest. “I make the rules, right?”

He shakes his head, and a wicked smile sprouts from the perfectly shaped lips. “This is no man’s land…the river is ruled by nature.”

His grin widens, ripping something open in my heart, and I think maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. He obviously needs the distraction and so do I.

I meet his kiss. His head slants over mine, and I open for him, sucking him in. Our bodies bob from the force of his treading feet, keeping both of us afloat. His hand slides to my back, slinging me in flush to his body. My breath jams in my throat when I feel him, thick and hard against my stomach, teasing the nerves gathered low in my belly.

“John…” I break the kiss and gasp a short breath. “I need to conserve some energy if I’m going to make it to the other side.”

He chuckles softly, twirling our bodies until we’re in the current again, but when I stroke to swim beside him, he glides underneath me, looping one of my hands over his shoulder and the other under his chest. I surf his back as he swims, resting my cheek on the wet strands of his hair, feeling the muscles of his chest moving under my fingertips with each stroke. Weightless and languid, water floods my limbs, caressing my bones. I’m floating through the Sky as if I’m on my way to heaven..

After several moments, John’s body shifts and his arm contracts. He’s caught the ladder to his dock, supporting our weight with one hand. He dips a shoulder and swings me in front of him. I point my toe and find a slippery rung. The ladder sinks as he steps onto the rung below mine, brushing my back with wet skin, gripping the rails and cocooning me with warmth.

Everything about this moment makes me want to stop and take it in.

I sway into him feeling his cheek brush my temple. He curves around me, dropping a hand to my stomach. I arch as it travels up and his knuckles graze my cleavage, prickling the sensitive skin. A voice inside echoes this isn’t me as his fingers continue upward, sliding to the side of my neck, but this is me with John.

“If you don’t want this, Gianna…” his voice sounds almost tortured. “Climb up.”

My toes curl, standing firm on the rung, submerged like anchors. His mouth lowers to the side of my neck, and I tilt giving him full access.

“If you don’t climb up now, I’ll keep touching you…”

 

***

BOTTOM OF THE SKY, a March 2017 release, may be purchased from Amazon.

 

***

About Shae

Shae Ross grew up in Ferndale, Michigan. She attended Michigan State University and continued her education at Detroit College of Law. Prior to 2014, she spent the majority of her career practicing corporate law and engaged in entrepreneurial ventures.

After having too many stressful days at the office, Shae began to pursue her dream of writing and signed a contract with Entangled Publishing. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes who deliver stories filled with sass, smarts and sizzle.

Learn more about Shae through her websites, www.shaeross.com, or through her Amazon Author Page or Goodreads. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, and join her newsletter here.

 

Author Speed Dating – Lonz Cook

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Lonz Cook

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Are there any traditional Thanksgiving dishes that you can easily resist or dishes you refuse to even sample during your family’s holiday meal?

Well, a bean casserole will push me to any corner of the room. It’s simply because you never know what was added, and its dependent upon who made it. So not to be disrespectful, I run for the hills avoiding that dish.  

2. As a reader, name a few of your favorite books of all time. How have these books influenced your writing?

MILK IN MY COFFEE by Eric Jerome Dickey, RED STORM RISING by Tom Clancy and books by James Patterson, as well as books focused on social issues, have all influenced me.

I love how these authors tell a compelling story, grabbing you from the initial paragraph and capturing the imagination along the story. Then there’s the detail in suspense, Clancy and Patterson do this with a unique stroke of the pen. Both authors show enough before telling to ensure you’re a part of the scene and not simply an observer.

Dickey took me into relationships that I either experienced or was a bystander. He impressed me so much that I took pen to paper and became confident to do the same – share a true story through fiction.

3.Which Scooby Doo character are you most like? Bonus: How are you at solving mysteries?

I’d guess Shaggy [Rogers], the clumsy discoverer. I tend to focus on other things and slip upon key elements in solving mysteries. Or simply put, a fluke is my norm.

4. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which was the hardest and easiest to write?

Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense. I had no idea I wrote in the genre when GOOD GUYS FINISH LAST was published. To me, it was a realistic and pure story of character and behavior. The love relationships in the story were essential, but the connection between family and friends were detrimental to the story. This was the easiest book because I had no idea what I was doing, and simply wrote what’s in my heart to share.

The most difficult book to write was CROSSED EXPECTATIONS. I had to dig deep into an area I didn’t like to explore nor remember. It’s a story of military challenges I endured, but not to the extent of mirrored events, just edges where you feel the agony of death through the journey. It was the memories I visited, the pains I shared, and the carnage I saw while in the Marines. Yet, it seems I put together a good novel.

5. If you could serve as a roadie for any band, past or present, for which group would be you be schlepping speakers and testing audio equipment?

I think I’m torn on this question. I’d think for R & B I’d consider The Commodores and yet for Jazz, I’d love to be with the Jazz Crusaders.

Both bands have a unique sound, and what an influence for music lovers around the world. It would have been a life-changing experience if I were fortunate enough to do so. 

6. If someone has never read one of your books, which title would you recommend she read first?

For the story line, I’d suggest my first novel, GOOD GUYS FINISH LAST because the story is raw, and it’s unfiltered. I get many readers coming back saying how pure and touching it is.

Besides, GOOD GUYS FINISH LAST is the first in the Sisters and Romance Series, followed by WHEN LOVE EVOLVES and CROSSED EXPECTATIONS.

7. As a shoe shopper, are you all about the shoe warehouse where more is better, a discriminating shopper of only designer brands or a devotee of comfort with little concern for fashion?

You know, men (some men) are just as particular about shoes. However, in my case, I choose comfort and style over designer brand.

My lesson was attending a formal event and having Italian made fashion shoes for 20 hours. Oh my goodness, that was worse than working in boots as a Marine during 96 hours of operation.

Comfort any day 😊!

8. Favorite octogenarian actor: Robert Redford, Judi Dench, Diahann Carroll or Morgan Freeman?

Morgan Freeman – Class act and impressive with his story to fame.

9. Which one of your own fictional heroes would you have taken home if you could?

Not home, but surely to hang out as a best friend. Rodney the Marketing Genius!

10. What would you choose as your super power, and what would you do with it?

I’d have to choose anything that impacts the mind. I think reading minds and influencing decisions would be the super power I’d love having. Let’s say I’d at least increase human understanding and encourage love across all humankind.

11. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring writers.

Study the craft and write your heart’s desire. Be unique.

12. Sitcom in reruns: Seinfeld or Friends?

Seinfeld – it addressed lot of social issues.

13. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? What have you done to become a better storyteller?

My strength is creating characters who are common in behavior, where readers get to acknowledge similar actions that they either perform or know someone who has.

My weakness is finding the right balance in show and tell. There are times I tell too much and not show enough or show more than needed before telling the story.

Improving is understanding how to get the point across when telling enough to include the imagination of the reader. I’m advancing on that combination with each book I author.

14. Preferred activity in the fall: outside at the apple orchard or a leaf tour while inside a warm car?

I love watching football. I’m a sports fan of the game and enjoy attending professional and college-level events.

I grew up in the game especially when being younger. Emerson Boozer (NFL running back for NY Jets) was from my neighborhood and would play with us kids when he was home. That got me hooked. I’ve played, coached, and supported the game ever since.

15. Name your favorite compliment you ever received from a reader or reviewer.

You are as good a writer as those who inspire you. Keep writing and don’t stop using your voice.  It’s a matter of time before you’re discovered.

***

 

A Cyber Affair

By Lonz Cook

 

Chapter 1

Though she had held video chats with Manny over the span of three months, Tiffany wasn’t certain if they would be physically attracted to each other. She realized that looks could be deceiving: what’s viewed on screen isn’t always what appears in person. She wanted the excitement, the candlelight dinners, the slow dance amongst a disappearing crowd, and to feel her heart race at his gentle touch on her lower back. Tiffany imagined every moment Manny as they had been described in their many conversations.

It was a male passenger’s voice two seats over, the rolling tongue and spicy mellow tone of his soft delivery, which caressed her ears and reminded her of Manny. Her imagination walked the runway of sensuality over the fantasy about Latin lovers. Thoughts about them managed to sweep her into a frenzy: of how their passion and focus could raise a woman’s awareness with every affectionate touch, of their rhythmic movements and suave demeanors, and of their romantic language, designed to match the pace of their victim’s heart with a cadence of mystical influences. The thought of Manny made her soul quiver.

She stared out of the window at the ground as the plane taxied to the runway and leaned back for the takeoff. Tiffany thought about her reasons for going and how she had arrived to this point of no return.

She reached for her backpack and pulled out her computer. Tiffany looked out of the window again before she opened the laptop, booted up, and scanned Manny’s very first email. He had written: ‘…I read your profile and find you interesting…’ Next, she opened a more recent email: ‘…I’m going to kiss you all over, from head to toe. We’ll share ourselves, like we talked about last night.’  Her heart fluttered.  They had exchanged flirtatious banters during many conversations. ‘I can’t wait to share our first-morning kiss.’

Tiffany clicked on Manny’s profile picture and smiled as his appearance gave her a tingle, a twinge, and caused her heart to race. His body, shirtless and sporting swim trunks, was that of a masculine man built with abs of steel and a V-span torso. His arms were defined, and looked perfect for making a woman feel secure and comfortable whenever he held her. Tiffany released a sigh when she looked at his dark eyes, perfect mouth, and caramel skin. She imagined feeling his chiseled cheek next to hers.

Tiffany read one more email and Skype conversation before closing the laptop. She then sat back and imagined their first kiss. Her body felt excited while her mind settled on her decision to invest herself in the coming days.

Tiffany reminisced about the night she had received Manny’s first email. It was months earlier and the season was cold and wet, a typical winter. Tiffany looked at the flight attendants who were passing out goodies from their cart and raised her hand to get their attention.

***

A CYBER AFFAIR, a June 2016 release from Elevation Book Publishing, LLC, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

 

***

About Lonz

From warrior to romance.  Lonz Cook is a Marine Corps veteran of 20 years and the author of numerous romance novels. He’s a screenwriter, an Adjunct Professor of Management, and a technology specialist.  Stay in touch with Lonz through his website, www.lonzcook.net, and his blog or through Facebook and  Twitter.

Author Speed Dating – Sylvia Hubbard

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Sylvia Hubbard

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Are there any traditional Thanksgiving dishes that you can easily resist or dishes you refuse to even sample during your family’s holiday meal?

If there is the stuffing, I can’t resist. I’ll get a plate right by itself of stuffing, and then I even bring extra containers because I’m ghetto like that. (And proud of it.) What I won’t eat… chitterlings. Not in a infinity will those things ever touch my lips.

2. As a reader, name a few of your favorite books of all time. How have these books influenced your writing?

DESPERATION, by Stephen King; SECRET FIRE, by Johanna Lindsey; and BELLE AND THE BEAU, by Beverly Jenkins. My all out favorite is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by the Godmother of Romance, Jane Austen.

 3.Which Scooby Doo character are you most like? Bonus: How are you at solving mysteries?

I’d be Fred, the leader of the group. I don’t think I’d be as cool, but I’d definitely be the leader and be able to put together all the clues. I’m pretty good at solving the crimes, but I don’t count myself as smart as Velma.

4. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which was the hardest and easiest to write?

I’m published in Romance Suspense. The sub-genres would be psychological, crime, drama, contemporary and erotic. The hardest is contemporary straight romance. I love the characters just falling in love, but then I get bored and always have a really saggy sappy middle. I’m so tempted to throw a murder or drama in there, but I fight it and finish the book.

5. If you could serve as a roadie for any band, past or present, for which group would be you be schlepping speakers and testing audio equipment?

Jill Scott. Omg, her music makes me want to write love scenes until the cows come home. And I know she’s not a band, but she’s really the only one I’d be a roadie for just so I could go to her concerts over and over again.

 6. If someone has never read one of your books, which title would you recommend she read first?

DARK FAÇADE. I seriously think that would definitely get you to understand how I make sin look good. And you’ll meet other characters that pop up in other books and really get an understanding you’re not in for a regular read.

 7. As a shoe shopper, are you all about the shoe warehouse where more is better, a discriminating shopper of only designer brands or a devotee of comfort with little concern for fashion?

I was raised by my father. He wasn’t much of a shopper for anything except when we went into the hardware store. We spent hours in there, but everything else it was in and out. I’m just a devote of comfort with little concern for fashion. If it fits, it’s comfortable and I look decent in it, I’m wearing it.

8. Favorite octogenarian actor: Robert Redford, Judi Dench, Diahann Carroll or Morgan Freeman?

Oddly enough, I’ve had a crush on Robert Redford since “The Sting” That was the movie that made me fall in love with deceit, con artists and sweet talkers.

9. Which one of your own fictional heroes would you have taken home if you could?

Lethal Heart, if I could.

10. What would you choose as your super power, and what would you do with it?

Infinite Wisdom. EVERYTHING!

11. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring writers.

Don’t stop, get it, get it.

12. Sitcom in reruns: Seinfeld or Friends?

Seinfield.

13. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? What have you done to become a better storyteller?

My strengths are my abilities to weave erotic romance around a crime suspense. My weakness is procrastination. It takes me forever to sit in a chair and get it done. To become a better storyteller, I study my craft every year by taking a class or reading a book.

14. Preferred activity in the fall: outside at the apple orchard or a leaf tour while inside a warm car?

I love to see it snow, but I really hate being outside in the cold. I will tour leaves and Christmas light displays all within the warmth of my car in a heartbeat, with a warm cup of Starbucks Macchiato extra whip and caramel.

15. Name your favorite compliment you ever received from a reader or reviewer.

“I burned dinner for two nights in a row because I couldn’t put your book down. My husband was angry but I didn’t care. I just needed to know what was going to happen next.” That was so the sweetest. That came from a reader who had picked up HIS SUBSTITUTE WIFE…MY SISTER.

 

***

 

 

 

 

Beautiful

By Sylvia Hubbard

 

Running to the bus stop, she missed the first bus and groaned, knowing she was going to have to wait for the second one.

“Psst,” someone hissed behind her.

She looked and gasped at the Lincoln, which was parked perpendicular on the side of the abandoned buildings. Turning around quickly, she pretended she hadn’t heard a thing.

In the past, Nikki told her Detroit was strange and to be careful.

“Psst,” the driver said again.

Madison tried to fight not looking, but being able to see the driver close up was what she had longed for.

Her curiosity won out. She turned to him and took in his features as she warily walked up to the car.

He was handsome. Too handsome.

“I shouldn’t talk to strangers,” she said sternly.

The stranger cajoled, reaching out to touch her sleeve innocently. “What’s the harm in talking?” His hand moved down to her hand and rubbed on her knuckles.

He was touching her. Were his eyes bad? She wondered. She looked down at her hand where his fingers rubbed against her fingers. “N-No, harm, I guess.”

“How old are you?” he inquired.

Looking back at his face, she answered. “Twenty-eight. Umm, my birthday’s coming up next week.”

She didn’t know why she told this stranger personal information, but she hadn’t told anyone about her birthday coming up, and rambling through her nervousness with a cute guy looking at her so closely made her less anxious.

He licked his thick bottom lip slowly. “Really?” he sounded fascinated by that information. “You on your way to school or work?”

Too nervous to talk, she only nodded.

He chuckled. It was a sensual sound that made her ear drums tingle. “Which one, little girl?”

“S-School… College,” she said trying to correct herself and not seem so nervous.

He gently started to massage her hand. His touch felt like warm electricity. “I could give you a ride,” he offered.

***

BEAUTIFUL, a July 2017 release, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords.

***

About Sylvia

Detroit Author & Founder of Motown Writers Network, Sylvia Hubbard has published over 40 books in suspense romance. As a happily divorced mother of three, Ms. Hubbard has received numerous awards and recognition for her work. An avid blogger, Ms. Hubbard has had five #1 Best Sellers on Amazon. Her current work is called BEAUTIFUL, and she has two more books coming out before the end of 2017. Learn more about Sylvia through her website, www.sylviahubbard.com, and through these social-media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , YouTube, Periscope, Snapchat and Goodreads.

Author Speed Dating: Sage Spelling

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Sage Spelling

 

 

15 Questions

1. Are there any traditional Thanksgiving dishes that you can easily resist or dishes you refuse to even sample during your family’s holiday meal?

Yes – I’m really don’t care for pumpkin or sweet potato pies.

2. As a reader, name a few of your favorite books of all time. How have these books influenced your writing?

Out of the classics, JANE EYRE [Charlotte Bronte] and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE [Jane Austen]. I loved the brooding male that becomes a mush for the lady he loves, and I like using that in my stories. Though they are all different in genre, all of Kristan Higgins books and J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series have influenced my writing with the relatable characters, heart-wrenching stories and gratifying endings. J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series because she reminded me that love conquers all and everything is always better with a little magic.

3. Which Scooby Do character are you most like? Bonus: How are you at solving mysteries?

Fred – Because I tend to believe in crazy legends.

Bonus: Fact – I’m the queen of conspiracy theories, and they’re only right about 20 percent of the time.  

4. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which was the hardest and easiest to write?

I’m published in Erotic Romance and New Adult – I think I find writing Erotic Romance the easiest because my characters tend to drop their guard when they drop their pants.

5. If you could serve as a roadie for any band, past or present, for which group would be you be schlepping speakers and testing audio equipment?

New Kids on the Block – They (the entire band) were my first real crush.  

6. If someone has never read one of your books, which title would you recommend she read first?

HIGH STAKES.

7. As a shoe shopper, are you all about the shoe warehouse where more is better, a discriminating shopper of only designer brands or a devotee of comfort with little concern for fashion?

Shoes have to be cute as well as comfortable. Sometimes I am a little discriminating with shoe brands and will buy certain designer brands because they are both fashionable and comfortable.

8. Favorite octogenarian actor: Robert Redford, Judi Dench, Diahann Carroll or Morgan Freeman?

I love Morgan Freeman!  

9. Which one of your own fictional heroes would you have taken home if you could?

Dex Cane in “Inked Hearts” from the MY SEXY VALENTINE anthology.

10. What would you choose as your super power, and what would you do with it?

Power to move objects with my mind. I’d use it to clean the house and do the laundry.

11. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring writers.

Learn. Nurture your craft. Write the stories you would love to read. Believe in you. Never give up. 

12. Sitcom in reruns: Seinfeld or Friends

Friends! #WeWereOnBreak #PoorRoss.

13. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? What have you done to become a better storyteller?

I’ve attended countless writing workshops and attained my BA in English and Creative Writing. Still, grammar will be the death of me – thank God for editors!

14. Preferred activity in the fall: outside at the apple orchard or a leaf tour while inside a warm car?

Apple Orchard – cider donuts, spiked cider, and hayrides! Oh, baby!

15. Name your favorite compliment you ever received from a read or reviewer.

I was recently told that my stories are like Hallmark movies with sex. Since I’m obsessed with Hallmark movies, I was thrilled!

  

***

 

 

 

High Stakes

By Sage Spelling

 

Blake refused to let me walk back to my dorm on my own when we left the bar. My one-hour dinner had turned into three hours alone with Blake. He walked really close to me, and I enjoyed the warmth of his body shielding some of the gruesome wind. He insisted I wear his scarf again, and his scent made my insides warm. When we reached my door, I stood one step above him so we were at eye level. I took off his scarf and wrapped it around his neck.

“You can keep it.” he insisted, placing his hand over mine.

“Thank you, but you have a long walk yourself.”

“No, it’s not that far.”

“Aren’t you at the frat house?”

“Nope, I have a condo right down the street with Miles and two other roommates.”

“Oh.” I stared down at his chest, too embarrassed to look him in the eyes. He lifted my chin with his finger and his stare burned into mine. My heart pounded in my ears. He was so close I could smell the mixture of beer and mint on his breath, and the sensation of the warm air of his mouth on my chin made my stomach do that flip-flop thing again.

“Are we ever going to talk about the night of the party?” His question took me by surprise. I’d been hoping he wouldn’t bring it up.

“No.”

“Was I that bad of a kisser?” he whispered.

“No . . . it was a mistake, Blake, and since I’m your tutor now, it can never happen again.”

“So you liked kissing me?”

He was so close I couldn’t think straight. “Yes . . . I mean . . . Blake, please, can we forget about that night?” Heat flushed my face.

“Anything you want, Supergirl.”

He leaned in and kissed my cheek. “Goodnight.”

“Night,” I managed to mumble. My legs wobbled toward the door and I looked back to see him still there, waiting for me to be safely inside. I gave him a small wave and closed the door behind me. I leaned against the door and attempted to catch my breath. There was some serious chemistry between us, and even with my inexperience, I sensed it. And it scared the hell out of me.

***

HIGH STAKES, a March 2016 release, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

***

About Sage

Sage Spelling’s love affair with romance started when she was a child and her mother told tall tales of faraway worlds filled with magic, mystery and happy endings. Whatever hardship the characters suffered, in the end they were granted a happily ever after. It was guaranteed, and she knew her investment in the characters and the story was going to be rewarded. Growing up in a strict Chaldean Catholic family, she found freedom in-between the pages of a novel. While she read, she wasn’t confined to her family’s rules and principles. She could be anyone . . . anywhere.

Though Sage loved reading, she hadn’t found her passion for writing her own stories until she was an adult. She remembered that very moment when her world felt completely out of her control and she found herself rewriting her own story. Nowadays, she tells tales of the happily ever after, but with a sexy and passionate twist. A believer of love at first sight, and that love conquers all, she aims to create stories and characters that are three-dimensional and investment worthy.

Sage obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing with a concentration on Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University and is a contributing blogger for Heroes and Heartbreakers. During the day, she analyzes boring spreadsheets and can’t wait to get home to work on her steamy stories. Stay in touch with Sage through her website, www.sagespelling.com, and through these social-media channels: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Tara Eldana

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Tara Eldana

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Halloween or Harvest celebrations: Are you an enthusiast or noncommittal in these fall events? And if you celebrate, what are your favorite activities?

Halloween costume parties are fun. I decided to go to one a few years back at the last minute and grabbed a lampshade and wore it on my head. I was the drunk person at the party who wore a lampshade on their head.

2. If you could single-handedly bring back one fashion trend just because it fits your personal style, what trend would you return to the runways of Paris and Milan and why?

Hats with the little veils that came down in front of your face, ’50s style. I think Audrey Hepburn wore one in one of her movies, and it’s just so crazy cool.

3. How many full manuscripts did you have to write before you were first published?

Too many, five, not including a half dozen short stories.

4. Name your favorite celebrity crush from high school. What made that performer/athlete/political leader so dreamy?

I’m really dating myself, but when I was a freshman The Partridge Family was still on TV, so it was David Cassidy. “I Think I Love You.” And his hair. 

5. Preferred writing location: home office with total silence, public place with plenty of white noise or some other combination?

Home office with total silence.

6. Favorite more recent popular fiction heroine: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Eve Dallas (Eve Dallas/In Death series by Nora Roberts) or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)?

Katniss in the first book.

7. Name your favorite way to stay in touch with your readers.

Facebook and blogs on my website.

8. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Lots of perfect squares of dark chocolate with sea salt.

9. Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten that one of your characters was…you know…fictional?

One of the characters, the heroine’s best friend Liz, in my novella Cabin Fever,” under contract, but not released yet, came through so strong, she’s the star of her own novella “Double Dare,” which my pub house, Black Opal Books, released first. A woman I know, named Liz, inspired her, so that may be why.

10. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now describe what you’re doing right now: cheering in a victory stance, leaning over for a better view, turning pale and curling into a fetal position as far as possible from the edge?

Cheering in a victory stance.

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

        Big Bang.

12. Which character from one of your own books do you wish you were more like?

I’m going back to Liz from “Double Dare.” She can’t resist a dare and she’s a bad-ass. 

13. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

It’s a tie. “Casablanca” and “Moonstruck.”

14. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

I first decided I was a writer when I was pregnant with my son (eek, 33 years ago) and took my first creative writing course at my community college. My first book was published in 2015.

15. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

UNDER THE RIPTIDES, a story I wrote about a human woman who is really a mermaid whose destiny lies under the waves with the (mer)man literally of her dreams. This is the first in my series of mermaid stories. I’ve always loved the sea and wanted to change the ending of THE LITTLE MERMAID, which our teacher read to us when I was in third or fourth grade in Catholic school and make it a real happy ending.

          The other one would be Alice Munro’s DEAR LIFE because nobody will ever be as good as she is.

 

***

 

 

 

 

Into the Depths

By Tara Eldana

 

 

Someone tapped on the window.

She jumped. Cold sweat trickled down her back. How could she have left herself so vulnerable? She kept her hand on her cell phone.

The police she talked to on the crime part of her beat always said not to fight for property.

She turned her head to look at the person who knocked.

It was him—the guy from her dreams.

Was she falling prey to her mother’s mental illness?

“No,” she screamed.

Another car pulled next to her and the guy standing beside her car was gone.

The older lady in the other vehicle didn’t spare her a glance as she got out of her car, her ear glued to a cell phone.

Shaking, Becca got out of her car, stood on unsteady legs, grabbed her stuff, walked into the building, got on the elevator, and made her way to her third floor apartment. She dropped her stuff on her tiny kitchen table.

She didn’t think her dreams could be a sign of psychosis. Her dream man did not ask her to harm herself or others.

The last thing she wanted now was to shut her eyes. She sank into her couch and did a search on her cell phone on symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Was she experiencing a brief psychotic episode? Some of the symptoms fit—seeing and feeling things that weren’t there. The information said these episodes were triggered by severe stress, such as death of a loved one or a natural disaster. A cranky editor didn’t qualify.

Her heart, which had been hammering in her chest since the knock on her car window, slowed and against her will her eyes closed, pulling her into a dreamless sleep.

***

Ethan paced the great hall of the Garnet City.

What was he thinking startling Becca like that when she was so mentally exhausted? His sire Thobian said he was impatient and told him to wait, but his need to touch her in her waking state was too strong.

It was easy to slip through the portal and bridge time and space because the autumnal equinox drew near. He’d looked into the quartz crystals a full earth year ago and saw Becca, his twin flame. His life and world had come alive and made sense.

She didn’t know her destiny was with him under the vast expanse of ocean that she feared. He had taken her in her dreams, repeatedly, to their mutual delight.

Lovion, the ranking member of the Ruling Council, smirked. “She screamed at the sight of you. She must come with you willingly.”

“Her mother’s illness makes her fearful,” Thobian said.

Ethan’s sire held a seat on the Ruling Council but cast only one vote. In cases of deadlock, Lovion cast the deciding vote, and he hated land dwellers, even those who could take sea form.

“She is mine,” Ethan said it quietly and calmly. The members of the council, except for Thobian, looked shocked at Ethan’s words. Lovion sneered.

***

IN THE DEPTHS, an April release from Black Opal Books, is available from the retailers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

***

About Tara

Tara Eldana is an award-winning staff writer for a weekly community newspaper chain in metro Detroit. She became hooked on romance fiction when her 11th grade English teacher rejected the book report she wrote, saying the book was much too easy for her and insisted she read and report on Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA. She read Margaret Mitchell’s GONE WITH THE WIND that previous summer.

She took a long road through journalism school, graduating from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, in 1995, just shy of 20 years after she finished high school, raising a couple kids, working part-time and doing homework while her husband and kids watched TV. Still she found time to read what her kids called her “mush books.”

Tara loves the romance genre and loves letting her characters take control of their stories. She is a member of the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America. Stay in touch with Tara through her website, www.taraeldana.com, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Lisa Dyson

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Lisa Dyson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Halloween or Harvest celebrations: Are you an enthusiast or noncommittal in these fall events? And if you celebrate, what are your favorite activities?

I’m not that into Halloween for myself, but I love watching the kids (especially my grandbabies) at our church’s Trunk or Treat event. It’s fun to decorate my car and chat with everyone. Oh, and then there’s the candy…

2. If you could single-handedly bring back one fashion trend just because it fits your personal style, what trend would you return to the runways of Paris and Milan and why?

My personal style is comfort, and I’ve never been one to be on trend. I prefer denim with sweaters and boots, which never seem to go out of style.

3. How many full manuscripts did you have to write before you were first published?

That’s a tough one to answer. I wrote and submitted for fifteen years before I sold to Harlequin Superromance®. I completed at least seven manuscripts and countless partials, but I learned more with everything I wrote. And I was determined to “never give up!”

4. Name your favorite celebrity crush from high school. What made that performer/athlete/political leader so dreamy?

Where to begin? Paul McCartney, Ricky Nelson (loved when he sang at the end of the Ozzie and Harriet show!), Bobby Sherman, Davy Jones. So Paul and Ricky were my elementary school crushes, but they’re definitely worth mentioning. I’m not sure what made them dreamy, but I wasn’t the only one thinking that at the time!

5. Preferred writing location: home office with total silence, public place with plenty of white noise or some other combination?

Even though I have a home office with a new desk that can be adjusted so I can either sit or stand, I end up doing most of my writing on our family room couch. I also enjoy writing on our screened-in porch when the weather permits. And when our critique group needs a kick in the pants to stay on deadline, we write at our local library a few days a week.

6. Favorite more recent popular fiction heroine: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Eve Dallas (Eve Dallas/In Death series by Nora Roberts) or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)?

While all of these suggestions have their own unique qualities, I’d have to choose Stephanie Plum because who else could keep a hamster alive for that long?!

7. Name your favorite way to stay in touch with your readers.

Definitely Facebook. I use Twitter, but I can’t keep up with it. I do love getting emails from readers and starting a dialogue that way.

8. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Can’t I have both?! I’d have to say French fries if they’re from Five Guys or McDonald’s. Yes, I’m picky about fries and don’t want to waste the time or calories on bad ones.

9. Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten that one of your characters was…you know…fictional?

My husband is always telling people about how I’ll start telling him about a scene I’m writing, and he’s amazed how I talk about my characters as if they’re real people. 🙂 Of course they are!

10. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now describe what you’re doing right now: cheering in a victory stance, leaning over for a better view, turning pale and curling into a fetal position as far as possible from the edge?

Been there twice, the last time by train (highly recommend!). I was just in awe that it’s so big and each view is slightly different. But I do get nervous if people are too close to the edge.

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

Definitely Big Bang Theory. I’ve learned all I know about physics from that show. 🙂 And I’m a sucker for the developing relationships in it, both romantic and friends.

12. Which character from one of your own books do you wish you were more like?

I’d have to say Callie James from Prince Charming Wears a Badge. She’s my Cinderella character, who grew up with a mean stepsister and abusive stepmother, but Callie didn’t let that stop her. She made a good life for herself, and only when forced to face her past did she find her prince. I really like that she didn’t rely on her prince to save her.

13. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

Charade with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It has everything you want in a movie: romance, suspense, comedy, and a bunch of other great actors. I bought the DVD so I can watch it anytime I want!

14. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

In fifth grade, I got an “A” on a writing prompt and realized how much I enjoyed writing fiction. I never pursued it until the late 90s, and after fifteen years of hard work, my first book was bought by Harlequin Superromance® in September 2013 and published in June 2014.

15. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

Interesting question. First of all, I don’t re-read books (except by accident!). There are so many books to read that I’d definitely choose one that I haven’t read before, probably by a favorite author. Karen Robards is a must-read for me. As for a book of mine, I’d probably choose my first one, A PERFECT HOMECOMING, because I worked so hard to become a published author.

***

 

Can’t Help Falling in Love” 

Falling for You

By Lisa Dyson

 

 

Alyssa pulled her dead phone from her coat pocket and handed it to Joe. As her eyes fluttered closed, his brain went blank. He needed to keep her talking and awake.

“So you’re Tyler’s cousin?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And you live in the city?”

“Right.” She turned her head in his direction again and slowly opened her eyes. In the dim light, he couldn’t be sure exactly what color they were, but they were definitely dark. He found himself mesmerized by her mouth as she asked, “Are you a serial killer?”

He laughed. The question was about as random as you could get.

“What’s so funny? It’s a legitimate question.” She must be warming up because her speech was clearer, and she was no longer speaking in fragments.

“No, I’m not a serial killer,” he said as seriously as he was able. He turned off the engine.

“Of course you’d say that.”

He laughed again. “How can I prove it? Isn’t knowing Tyler’s name, as well as yours, good enough? No matter what I say, you probably won’t believe me.”

“So you’re headed to Tyler’s wedding?”

“I am.”

“Tell me where it’s going to be, and I might believe you.”

“Whittler’s Creek, Maryland.”

“How do you know my cousin?” She was full of questions now that she wasn’t freezing to death.

“He’s a college buddy. I’ve never met the bride.”

Alyssa closed her eyes again as she gently thumped the back of her head against the headrest. “Callie James is the bride.”

“Are you convinced now that I’m not a serial killer?”

She looked at him, her expression serious. “Even serial killers have friends who later say they had no idea what kind of sick person he was.” But then her lips twitched.

 

***

FALLING FOR YOU, a collection of fall-themed novellas from 10 Harlequin Superromance authors and an Oct. 17, 2017 release, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, iBooks and Kobo.

 

***

About Lisa

Lisa Dyson has wanted to create stories ever since she got an “A” on a writing prompt in fifth grade. She devoured the Nancy Drew series as much for the mystery as for the relationship between Nancy and Ned. So it came as no surprise to her that her stories revolve around romantic relationships.

Before she stayed home to raise her three sons and volunteer for every sport and activity her children participated in, Lisa worked as a medical assistant and a secretary/administrative assistant. She grew up in a small eastern Pennsylvania town and now lives a short distance from Washington, DC, with her husband and their rescue dog with a blue tongue, appropriately named Blue. She has three grown sons and a daughter-in-law, as well as four adorable grandchildren. When she’s not writing, reading, or spending time with family, she enjoys travel, volunteer work, and rooting for her favorite sports teams.

Be sure to visit Lisa’s website, www.lisadyson.com, to find out what’s coming next. She loves to hear from readers. Contact her by email or through Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Jo McNally

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Jo McNally

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had to wake to one song on your clock radio or cell phone dock every morning for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?

I’m a music lover, but my tastes and favorites change weekly. I guess today’s answer is “You Look Good” by Lady Antebellum. The upbeat rhythm and positive lyrics should help this non-morning-person get moving.  

2. Since one of our September guests is also the author of a nonfiction book on writing (Debra Dixon), name some of your favorite books to help writers.

ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King is the first book that gave me permission not to have twenty charts and outlines completed before I started writing – it set me free! I use THE EMOTION THESAURUS by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi to really think about my character’s motivations and body language. And, now that I’m writing to deadlines, I’m using GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT by Debra Dixon to help me do at least a little planning!  

3. Favorite TV hottie: Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) from White Collar, Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) from Grey’s Anatomy, Angel (David Boreanaz) from Angel or Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) from Criminal Minds?

I’ll have me some Derek Morgan, please! He’s gorgeous, and I’d melt into a little puddle of swoon if he ever called me “Babygirl” in the same voice he uses when he says it to Penelope.

4. In which genres and subgenres have you been published, and what does your narrow or sweeping focus say about you?

My October release, NORA’S GUY NEXT DOOR is only my second book, so small town contemporary romance is my current niche. But I like pushing out of my comfort zone, and I’m toying with writing a military hero series with some suspense elements.

5. Is social media a bad habit for you, and, if so, what is your favorite time drain?

SUCH a bad habit! My favorite for interaction is my Facebook page. The biggest time drain is Twitter–so easy to get dragged into drama, but it’s irresistible. 

6. Name the most embarrassing concert you’ve ever attended?

I’m not embarrassed by any concert I’ve been to, but I did leave a Marshall Tucker show at intermission back in the 80s (in my defense, I wasn’t the only one!). They were in a small venue not made for rock concerts, and it was so loud my ears hurt for days. I was also getting a contact high from all the pot and hash being smoked around us!

7. Which is your preference to write: love scenes or murder scenes?

I always feel whatever emotion I’m writing about, so definitely love scenes. 🙂 

8. Name one thing you wish you could change about yourself.

I wish I was less easily distracted. Remember those dogs in the movie Up? “Squirrel!” That’s me. I can’t foc….wait–what was the question again?

9. Favorite autumn activity: roasting marshmallows by a fire, driving miles for fall-leaf tours or cuddling with a special someone for an indoor movie marathon?

I’ll take marshmallows! I love the snap-crackle sound and smoky aroma of a bonfire. It’s so relaxing to watch the flames and embers die down, especially if you’re all wrapped up with someone you love. 

10. Name a theme you often see popping up in your stories.

Difficult past experiences don’t have to define who we are – we can rise above them.

11. If you had no audience, and no regrets would follow, what midnight snack(s) would you be gorging on tonight?

I hope there’s lots of tiramisu in the fridge! 

12. What was the lowest point in your writing career, and how did you recover from it?

I had a pile of rejections on my first writing attempt. They all said lovely things about my writing style, but didn’t like the story. I was so discouraged, until a friend wisely pointed out that it was better than hearing the opposite (“your story’s good, but your style stinks”). Personal writing style is pretty hard to change, but a story can be fixed. My next story was my debut novel with Harlequin Superromance, SHE’S FAR FROM HOLLYWOOD.

13. With no money limit, if you could construct the most perfect writing space, what would it look like?

The desk would be adjustable for sitting or standing. Room insulated for quiet from outside distractions. Soothing colors and a Bose sound system. A big, overstuffed chair to curl up in for editing/revisions (which I do with paper & pen). Big windows. And a door that locks (with a big doggy door for my dog to come and go)!

14. If a director made a movie about your life, which actress (living or dead) would you like to portray you, and which one would more likely be cast?

Like to portray me? Katherine Hepburn – tall, sassy and classy. More likely? People say I look a little like Ellen Degeneres and I love her, so maybe she’d get the role? 

15. When you’re not writing (or working a day job), what are some of your favorite ways to spend your leisure hours?

We live in a tourist town near the North Carolina coast with great little shops and restaurants. Himself and I like to walk around downtown, and we usually end up at our favorite outdoor music venue for a nightcap. Just chilling on our back porch with a glass of wine, the dog and my Kindle is another favorite way to relax. And once in a while, he can coax me onto the golf course for a quickie…I mean, a quick round of golf.

***

 

Nora’s Guy Next Door

By Jo McNally

 

 

 

 

Nora turned to glare at him, knowing her annoyance was partially fueled by exhaustion and hunger, but she got no satisfaction from it. He was busy staring at the Dumpster with a great deal of concentration.

“You need a platform with a step or two to be able to reach the door.” He kicked at the frozen ground, and his voice dropped as if speaking to himself. “It would need to be level.”

“Yeah, well, until the garbage company decides to supply us with a trash bin with stairs, or even better, a door that someone under six feet tall can manage, I’ll just have to make do.”

“I could make something.”

“You…why would you do that?”

He looked at her in surprise. “Because I can build something that will make it safer for you…”

“I thought you hated me?”

His hands rose in a frustrated gesture. “I’ve never once said that. Look, it wouldn’t matter if it was you or if it was Carl at the liquor store. It’s not a safe setup.”

“So you don’t hate me?”

His head dropped until his chin almost hit his chest. “I have definitely forgotten the joy of trying to talk logic with a woman.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Never mind. I’m just trying to be a good neighbor. Don’t turn it into some evil plot.”

Nora crossed her arms. “Says the man who thinks my pregnant daughter and I are plotting to trap his son into marriage.”

Asher rubbed the back of his neck, his lips thinning in anger. “Let’s leave our dumbass kids out of this, okay? Christ, I’m sorry I even came out here.” He reached his hand toward her. “Why don’t you get off that…”

Nora finished the sentence in her head. He was going to tell her to get off her high horse, just like Paul always used to say. Get off that high horse you’re always on. Just because she was organized and liked things under control, didn’t mean she was some kind of uptight snob. She slapped his hand away.

Which was a bad idea, because she was still standing on black ice. The quick movement sent her feet skittering, and she threw out her arms to catch her balance. Asher muttered something and grabbed her. Instead of being thankful for the save, she struggled to pull away.

“Get your hands off me!” She pushed him away, resisting the urge to stomp her feet like a child. The man made her completely irrational. “And don’t tell me to get off my high horse, because I wasn’t…”

“What?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Asher Peyton. Here, take your damn coat and good night.” She whipped his warm jacket off her shoulders and moved to throw it at him, but, because this apparently was her life now, she stepped on the edge of the ice again and started to lose her balance.

“Careful!” The jacket hit him in the face and he tossed it off, grabbing her arm for yet another rescue. Could this night get any more embarrassing?

Flashing blue lights lit up the parking lot.

Yes, apparently it could get a lot more embarrassing.

“Oh, my God! It’s the police!”

***

NORA’S GUY NEXT DOOR, Book 2 in the Lowery Women series and an October 2017 release from Harlequin Superromance, is available for purchase through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harlequin.

***

About Jo

Jo McNally writes the kind of romances she likes to read – stories about characters facing real-life challenges with real-life consequences. The stories are emotional, but still have humor, and love always finds a way to pull the characters through together. She lives in coastal North Carolina with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – her slice of the bed is very small. When she’s not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed…), she can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends while listening to an eclectic playlist. If the weather is absolutely perfect, she might join her husband on the golf course, where she always feels far more competitive than her actual skill-level would suggest. Stay in touch with Jo through her website, www.jomcnallyromance.com, or through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

***

Bonus!!!

 

Jo’s novella, “Meet Me in the Middle,” will be featured along works by nine fellow Harlequin Superromance authors [including Dana 😉 ] in the anthology, FALLING FOR YOU, set for release Oct. 17, 2017. FALLING FOR YOU may be pre-ordered from these retailers:  Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Google.

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Jeannie Watt

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest:  Jeannie Watt

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

My family would call me the White Rabbit, because I’m always whining about being late. Personally, I feel like the Mad Hatter—a little crazed. 

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

I channel lots of people I know, but not purposely. They just kind of show up. One of my bull riders grew rather snide and full of himself after I binge-watched the Iron Man series while writing him.

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

 Jon Bon Jovi…I mean…come on… [Editor’s note: Couldn’t agree more about John Bongiovi, Jr. 😊]

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

I love to dress up! The hardest part about retiring and moving to the ranch is that I have nowhere to wear my fancy clothes! I save them for when I visit my kids in Reno and San Francisco, and for RWA Nationals, of course.

5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

This wasn’t in a fan letter, but one of my friends asked his wife which of their neighbors lost his backhoe in a fire, and she had to gently tell him that he was thinking of a scene in one of my books. (We do have a lot of range land fires, so it could have happened. 😊)

 6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

I write the first few pages of that story, then go back to it later. I’ve turned a lot of those quick-writes into books.

 7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

Kristan Higgins, Sherry Thomas and Jane Porter, of course.

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

When I was in sixth grade, my teacher was overwhelmed (polite description). She wasn’t very good at teaching math or English, but she could certainly assign creative writing. I wrote a lot that year and discovered that I liked to tell stories.

9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

Pet lover—there’s a cat on my lap right now. I have three cats, two dogs, two birds, three ponies, three horses. We have a bunch of cows. They’re not pets—they’re a little ornery, to tell the truth.

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

Hard question, Dana! I don’t think this is off limits, but there aren’t enough heroes and heroines with some serious age on them, and I’d like to see more body types included in mainstream fiction.

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

Brett Bishop, hero of my third book, THE BROTHER RETURNS. He was also my editor’s favorite, and the book has been reprinted, so I think he is one of the special ones.

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Vacation? What’s that? My husband and I have never taken and actual planned vacation that wasn’t tied to something else. However, when I was in high school, my dad ran a geological exploration camp in the Alaskan Arctic, so I spent part of two summer vacations in the Arctic. It was an excellent experience.

13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

I’m reading STILL KICKING by Judith Arnold. She’s a former Superromance author, you know. The best book I read in a long time is RODEO DREAMS by Sarah M. Anderson.

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

My current book is beating the you-know-what out of me. As far as I know, my wonderful editor will help me make it to the end. In general, the hardest books are those in which your characters confront issues you have a hard time facing yourself. When I write books like that I always ask myself, “Why?!”

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

Every single deadline!

 ***

 

 

 

Wrangling the Rancher

By Jeannie Watt

 

Call. Get it over with. Tell Grandpa the truth.

But since Taylor had rarely given her paternal grandfather anything but good news, this was not an easy call. She needed his help.

No. She needed to be bailed out.

Taylor’s throat started to tighten up as she reached for her phone, which was wedged under sixteen pounds of sleeping cat. Max twitched an ear as she tugged the phone out from under him, and then he stretched out to his full length. Telling herself that Max was a big eater so she needed help as much for him as for herself, Taylor dialed her grandfather’s number. It rang four times, which was the norm.

“Hello?”

Taylor froze at the unfamiliar voice, deep and somehow commanding, then held her phone out to check the number. The word Grandpa showed on her screen. Right number. Wrong voice. “Uh…hi. I’m trying to reach Karl Evans.”

“He doesn’t live here.”

Taylor blinked. “What?”

“He’s been gone for almost three weeks.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m renting his place.”

“Your name.”

There was a brief pause, and then the man said, “What’s your name?”

None of your business. Taylor bit her lip. In this day and age, how much information could she afford to give? “Could you please give me the number where I can reach Karl?”

“You don’t have his cell number?”

“My g—Karl doesn’t have a cell phone.”

“He does now.”

That was news. “Then give me the number.”

“Tell me who you are—”

“I’m his granddaughter.”

“Then why don’t you know that your grandfather has a cell phone or that he moved?”

“I—”

“Tell you what…you leave your name and number, and I’ll pass along the message.”

Taylor pressed her lips together to keep from telling this guy what he could do with his suggestion. “Tell my grandfather to call me. I’m his only granddaughter, so there shouldn’t be any mix-ups.”

“That,” the man said softly, “doesn’t speak well for you.”

Then, before she could suggest he take a flying leap, he ended the call, leaving Taylor staring at her phone.

What had just happened?

And more important, who was this guy and where was her grandfather?

 

***

WRANGLING THE RANCHER, part of The Brodys of Lightning Creek series and a Sept. 1, 2017, release from Harlequin Superromance, may be pre-ordered through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-MillionGoogle Play, Harlequin, Itunes and Kobo.

***

About Jeannie

Jeannie Watt has written more than thirty books, twenty-two of which are Harlequin Superromances. She recently retired from teaching and moved from her northern Nevada home to the family ranch in Montana. When Jeannie isn’t writing, she enjoys hunting down vintage sewing patterns on eBay, sewing retro fashions, making mosaic mirrors and tending to her many animals. You can find out more about Jeannie and her books on her website, www.jeanniewatt.com, or through her Facebook author page, Facebook personal page or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Christie Ridgway

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Christie Ridgway

 

 

 

 

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

I immediately thought of the Cheshire cat because I’ll hold onto my grin no matter how deadly I feel about the deadline!

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

I have a friend whose (French) last name I used (because I needed a French last name), and he was certain he was starring in the book because I unwittingly used his real first name too! (I didn’t know he went by a different first name.) He bought several copies of the book and shared with his family too. Lucky for him (and me) he was a cheerful walk-on character with no bad traits. 

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

I suppose Bruce, because my dh and I are always quoting/singing the line from “Dancing in the Dark”: “I’m sick of sitting ‘round here trying to write this book.”

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

Of course it’s the clean yoga pants. And flip flops, not real shoes. SoCal resident, yo.

5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

Once someone mentioned my stories had “snappy today-ness” which my husband often delights in quoting back to me.

6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

Jot it down, of course. But usually a new idea pops in my head at the very end of finishing the current book. It’s weird, how you might think your brain is tired of creating, and yet a new idea just starts knocking on the door.

7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

Tough! I have many of my favorite authors as friends. So I’ll pick 3 I do not know personally, and all in the mystery genre, which I don’t write (so I’d enjoy picking their brains about their process).

Meg Gardiner (new to me, writes a series set in Santa Barbara where I went to college).

Loreth Anne White (who writes with a great sense of place).

Kendra Elliot (her heroine, Mercy Kilpatrick, has an interesting background that makes her unusual and compelling).

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

I don’t recall ever not wanting to write, but the bug bit hard when my mom typed up one of my stories for me at about 8 or 9. I was now in print!

9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

I love pets (we now have a dog, Hank, and a cat, Goblin). However, I told the family I banned anything that needed to be fed something alive. Need it be said that despite my ban, we had several pets over the years that needed to be fed live crickets or small feeder fish?

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

Yikes. Now I have to admit I can’t think of anything “off-limits” that I want to write about! The boundaries these days are so wide!

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

Poppy Walker, from ONE LOOK (One & Only series, Book 1). She’s an incurable optimist and I love her for that.

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Twice we’ve gone on a boat-bike tour in Europe (just got back from a trip between Bruges and Amsterdam). You ride all day and then hop back on the boat at night. It was great for the dh, who needs action, and you get to see beautiful sights and small towns up close. Also, meeting people from all over the world who are your fellow passengers on the boat. We became fast friends!

 13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

I’m reading ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE [by Anthony Doerr], which was recommended to me by fellow passengers on the aforementioned boat after I recommended to them THE NIGHTINGALE [by Kristin Hannah] (set in France in WW2). That was the best book I’ve read in a long time, and it hit me hard as I read it while visiting France. I recently finished GOING DARK, the start of a new romantic-suspense series by Monica McCarty, and I loved it!

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

Whatever project I’m currently working on is the book that gives me the most trouble. To make it through, I have writing friends who I call who talk me through it. They’re the best!

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

I remember submitting my first book to New York publishers. In those days, you sent a print book via mail. I had my (then) little sons “sprinkle” lucky “fairy dust” on the package just before sliding it into the slot.

***

 

 

 

The Secret

By Christie Ridgway

 

 

Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson returned to the kitchen to deal with the dishes and restore the pots and pans to their proper place. She liked tidiness and order in all things—emotions included. Her friend and fellow butler, Emmaline, sometimes accused her of capping off her feelings, and Charlie didn’t disagree. Or find anything wrong with it.

“In my book,” she murmured to herself now, “compartmentalizing isn’t a sin.”

“What’s not a sin?” a masculine voice questioned.

Charlie whirled around, instant heat crawling up her throat and cheeks. “Um, hi, Ethan.” Why hadn’t she taken the time to change into something other than cropped leggings and a matching T-shirt? When was the last time she’d brushed her hair?

Her boss, the man who employed her as a butler and as a caregiver for his young son, smiled, softening the lines of his lean and handsome face.

“Charlotte,” he said now.

She pretended to scowl at him and told herself that she found his use of her full name—he was the only one who ever did use it—irksome. It made her feel too…feminine, and she was supposed to merely be a functional feature in his life. A Charlie.

“I didn’t hear you come in.” He’d been on a business trip for two weeks.

“You were lost in thought.” A heavy pause. “Something about sinning?”

At the amused and inquisitive tone, she glanced up at him. He looked back, one dark eyebrow winged up and the hint of a smile on his firm lips. A shiver tried working its way down her spine, but she ruthlessly held back the sensation.

“It was nothing,” she said.

“I’m disappointed to hear that.” He laughed again, sounding slightly chagrined. “For a moment I thought one of us was breaking out of our rut.”

Meaning…? Then a clatter of running footsteps sounded on the stairs.

With a grin, Ethan braced and managed to catch his six-year-old son who launched himself into the air.

“Dad!” Wells hugged with exuberance.

Ethan placed his cheek against the top of his son’s hair and closed his eyes. “Wells,” he said, voice full of satisfaction. Then his eyes flipped open and they met Charlie’s. “Home.”

Wells chattered away about everything. “It sounds like Charlie took good care of you,” Ethan replied when the boy wound down. “I’m glad I brought her back a present from Paris.”

Charlie froze. A present? For her? From Paris? For some insane reason, her mind instantly leaped to thoughts of chocolate. Perfume. Then silk. Lace. Designer lingerie that would cinch her waist and give her small breasts actual cleavage. She swallowed. Surely not.

“Here.” Ethan crossed to shove a soft item into her hands.

She looked down, rattled. It took a moment for the words printed on the fabric to sink in. Je t’aime.

I love you.

“What did you get?” Wells asked.

Speechless, Charlie shook her head.

“She needs to unfold it,” Ethan said.

With unsteady hands, Charlie unfurled the fabric.

“It’s a sweatshirt,” Wells said, clearly unimpressed.

Je t’aime Paris,” Charlie read, now that all the words were exposed. “I love Paris.”

The hoodie material was a medium blue, and the inside surfaces felt buttery soft. She pulled it over her head and then slid her arms into the sleeves. They hung over her hands, almost to the tips of her fingers, and the hem hit her at mid-thigh.

She looked down at herself. The sweatshirt could fit two or three of her.

“Perfect,” Ethan said, beaming with approval. “It keeps you all covered up.”

“I…thank you.” She folded back the right sleeve, and the left. “It’s a thoughtful gift.”

One that you could give a maiden aunt, a kid sister, or that favorite niece her friends said Ethan treated her as.

Yanking it over her head, she called herself all kinds of a fool. Ethan didn’t think of her as someone who wore lingerie.

The man was a father first and a widower grieving for his late wife second. In his life, Charlie was a convenience, like a can opener or a toaster oven.

Not a woman.

***

 

THE SECRET, Book 6 in the Billionaire’s Beach series and an Aug. 15, 2017, release, may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo.

 

***

About Christie

Christie Ridgway is the USA Today bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances for Harlequin, Avon, Berkley, and Kensington as well as the indie-published Rock Royalty series and of KNOX (now a USA Today bestseller), book 4 of the very successful 7 Brides for 7 Brothers series. She is a six-time RITA finalist and the winner of awards for Contemporary Romance of the Year and Career Achievement from RT Book Reviews.

Connect with Christie through her website, www.christieridgway.net, or on Facebook or Twitter. Sign up for her newsletter here.

 

Praise for Christie’s sexy, sunny romances:

  • “Emotional and powerful…everything a romance reader could hope for.”  — Publishers Weekly (starred review).
  • “Ridgway’s feel-good read, with its perfectly integrated, extremely hot, and well-crafted love scenes, is contemporary romance at its best.”  — Booklist (starred review).
  • “Sexy, sassy, funny, and cool, this effervescent sizzler nicely launches Ridgway’s new series.” — Library Journal.
  • “Ridgway rocks romance!” — Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today Bestseller.
  • “Christie Ridgway writes a sizzling combination of heat and heart.” — Barbara Freethy, #1 New York Times Bestseller.

 

 

 

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