A Cat and a Fish by Amy Lane – Guest Post

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Amy Lane whose newest book Fish Out of Water releases today.

A Cat and a Fish
By Amy Lane

So I’ve got a thing for animal metaphors—sue me.

I think it’s only natural, though—we tend to anthropomorphize animals and give them human traits and human motivations. Why wouldn’t we practice zoomorphism on the humans we know? (Yes, that’s a real word—I swear!)

We have the vocabulary built into our every day, right? We slink like a cat, hiss like a snake, prance like a pony and swim like a fish, an otter, or an eel. A sycophant is a loyal lapdog, a leader is an alpha wolf, and a formidable female opponent is a dragon lady. It seems that the more human people are, the more we need animals to help describe them!

In the case of Fish Out of Water, both the characters are the fish—but only one is the cat.

Ellery Cramer was born well off. He became a defense attorney so he could—in his mother’s words—do an acceptable job that allowed him to be of service. He’s used to defending guilty clients—but he’s also used to interacting with lawyers, court officials, and judges.

Jackson Rivers throws him for a loop—and so does the client Jackson brings him.

For one thing, Kaden is unequivocally innocent.

And for another, they’re both from the crap side of town.

Kaden—who has spent his entire life trying to do better for his family—is okay with his poor roots, but Jackson, who was a cop, is a little bit defensive.

So Ellery is out of his element when dealing with Kaden and Jackson, and that makes him a fish out of water.

Jackson, on the other hand, deals with judges, law enforcement, lawyers and criminals all the time—even though he never thought he’d find Kaden on the wrong side of the law, Jackson is in his element. Right up until Ellery starts showing some serious affection.

And this is where Jackson becomes our fish—because nothing in his life has prepared him for a lover who’s serious—and who won’t take Jackson’s relationship avoidance without question.

So Ellery doesn’t understand all the players in his bowl but Jackson doesn’t understand the rules of the pond, and that makes things interesting.

It’s not made any easier by the fact that, before Jackson was a fish, he was a total and complete tomcat.

Now the things that motivate Jackson’s promiscuity are understandable—but I don’t think I’ve ever written a character who’s taken quite so much pride in sleeping around, either. Jackson’s foil is his beloved cat, Billy Bob, who, like Jackson, pretty much fucks anything that moves. (Yes, I know—Jackson needs to get the damned animal fixed—that becomes a theme of the story!) So Jackson is an unapologetically slutty kitty—who is now swimming with an affectionate shark.

Yeah—this only works with metaphors, I get that, but it’s sort of fun to think about, right? Of course it’s even more fun when the people I’m writing about shed their fishy and furry metaphors and become human.

Suddenly the metaphors are symbolic of the armor both of them wear to keep the world from hurting—and when they’re skin to skin, they’re no longer a fish and a cat, they’re hurt human beings who suddenly need each other.

And while the shark and the cat might not work in the natural world, the needy humans are the stuff of romance books.

So while this book has a great deal of murder and mystery and mayhem in it—and I’m not going to lie, I had fun writing about bullets flying and car chases and Jackson beating the crap out of bad guys—at it’s heart it’s about a fish and a cat.

Who are really two people with a more complicated than usual route to falling in love.

7_29 amy lane book coverPI Jackson Rivers grew up on the mean streets of Del Paso Heights—and he doesn’t trust cops, even though he was one. When the man he thinks of as his brother is accused of killing a police officer in an obviously doctored crime, Jackson will move heaven and earth to keep Kaden and his family safe.

Defense attorney Ellery Cramer grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but that hasn’t stopped him from crushing on street-smart, swaggering Jackson Rivers for the past six years. But when Jackson asks for his help defending Kaden Cameron, Ellery is out of his depth—and not just with guarded, prickly Jackson. Kaden wasn’t just framed, he was framed by crooked cops, and the conspiracy goes higher than Ellery dares reach—and deep into Jackson’s troubled past.

Both men are soon enmeshed in the mystery of who killed the cop in the minimart, and engaged in a race against time to clear Kaden’s name. But when the mystery is solved and the bullets stop flying, they’ll have to deal with their personal complications… and an attraction that’s spiraled out of control.

About the Author: Amy Lane dodges an EDJ, mothers four children, and writes the occasional book. She, her brood, and her beloved mate, Mack, live in a crumbling mortgage in Citrus Heights, California, which is riddled with spiders, cats, and more than its share of fancy and weirdness. Feel free to visit her at www.greenshill.com or www.writerslane.blogspot.com, where she will ride the buzz of receiving your e-mail until her head swells and she can no longer leave the house.

Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press or Amazon.

Jigsaw by Stella Barcelona – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stella will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_JigsawForaging the cyber-world for puzzle pieces…

Zeus Hernandez, a Black Raven partner, is pulled away from a top-secret project to be the personal bodyguard to lawyer Samantha Fairfax. Terrorists have rendered the future frightening and uncertain, but Zeus and Samantha’s past makes two things crystal clear: she’ll be furious to see him and he can’t refuse the job.

Sorting pieces as stakes rise…

Danger surrounds the International Terrorism Tribunal, a court convened to combat terrorism. Samantha is thrust into the limelight when her mentor dies as the trial convenes in Paris, France. Her role requires steadfast focus and nerves of steel. She’s determined to do her job and move her life ahead, according to plan…without Zeus. He’s determined she’ll reconsider.

Completing the puzzle as their worlds collide…

As personal drama escalates behind closed doors, terrorists take aim at an Achilles’ heel that is capable of crippling Zeus, Samantha, and Black Raven. While forcing puzzle pieces to click into place, a personal reckoning looms for these two strong-willed people. There’s no denying they might be better off apart…but they fit together so well.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Black Raven was her grandfather’s go-to security company, and he’d already made the hiring call by the time he first told her his idea. With steadfast insistence, and continued reference to the horrors of terrorist acts that the ITT was examining, he’d worn her down in repeated phone calls. She’d given her grandfather one stipulation; she’d agree to Black Raven protection, but she did not want Jesus Hernandez to have anything to do with her on-site security detail. She didn’t want to see him or hear from him, and she damn well expected her grandfather to make this happen without it becoming an issue.

Jesus Hernandez.

Zeus to anyone who knew him.

Once, years earlier, she’d known him well. Or so she’d thought. Turned out she hadn’t known him at all. She focused her gaze on the intricately cut crystal water pitcher that the waiter placed on the table. In the last twenty-four hours, she’d been too busy with work to worry about whether her grandfather had truly understood the gravity with which she’d made the stipulation. She hadn’t intended the demand as a request. She hadn’t intended it as something her grandfather could consider and reject.

Now, with the hard knock marking the arrival of the private security company and the literal changing of the guard for the amicus team, her stomach twisted into a hard, nervous ball. Samuel knew the reasons why she didn’t want Zeus there. At least he knew some of the reasons why. Surely her grandfather had damn well listened to her?

Knock. Knock. The email notification finally flashed that the message and the attachments were ‘sent.’ The cc copy that she’d sent to herself appeared in her inbox, with an accompanying ding, just as Lorenzo put a vase of fresh flowers on the worktable that he’d transformed into a dining table.

“Done,” she said, shutting down her laptop and standing. “Thank you for all your hard work today.” As Lorenzo stepped away from the table, she said, “Lorenzo, the table is beautiful. Merci beaucoup.”

Knock. Knock. Knock.

She walked across the room as Charles signed for the room service. She opened the door. Zeus, arm lifted and fingers curled together as he prepared to rap on the door again, towered over her five seven by a good ten inches. Dropping his arm to his side, he gave her a cool nod, his brusque manner suggesting a nod was all that was needed to bridge the gap between his decision to leave her and the intervening seven years. “Hello, Sam.”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_JigsawStella Barcelona has always had an active imagination, a tendency to daydream, and a passion for reading romance, mysteries, and thrillers. She has found an outlet for all of these aspects of herself by writing romantic thrillers.

In her day-to-day life, Stella is a lawyer and works for a court in New Orleans. She lives minutes from the French Quarter, with her husband of seventeen years and two adorable papillons who believe they are princesses. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Southern Louisiana Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Her first novel, DECEIVED, was inspired by New Orleans, its unique citizens, and the city’s World War II-era history. Her second novel, SHADOWS, began her Black Raven series.

She is currently working on her fourth novel, CONCIERGE, another Black Raven novel, which will be released in 2017.

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A Simple Vow by Charlotte Hubbard – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Charlotte will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A Simple Vow.inddHoused in a rustic red barn, the Simple Gifts crafts shop celebrates the talents of the Amish of Willow Ridge—and the faith that inspires them. For the acceptance of simplicity opens the path to love.

As far as Edith Riehl is concerned, the baby twins thrust suddenly into her arms are a heaven-sent gift. Unable to conceive, she longs to be a mother with a home of her own. She’s going to abide by her promise to handsome Asa Detweiler to take care of them while he looks for their real father. And even if her domineering dat Cornelius refuses to countenance Asa’s suit, she can only pray the bachelor’s honesty and persistence will uncover the truth—even as he’s kindled an impossible hope for a love of her own…

Asa can’t understand why anyone would think he would be so dishonorable as to father babies and then abandon them. He’s determined to clear his name—but Edith’s caring ways also inspire him to help heal her wounded spirit and earn her trust. In the face of heartbreaking deception, he and Edith must find the strength to understand, forgive…and claim their own hearts’ joy.

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt:

After taking a hot shower to soothe his aching body, Asa put on one of Luke Hooley’s plain green shirts and then pulled on a pair of his trousers. He and Luke were nearly the same size, and Asa was grateful that his host had loaned him some clean clothes. Despite a killer headache, he chuckled at the assortment of bold prints hanging in the closet—and the fact that some of Luke’s shirts and Nora’s dresses matched. Not every Mennonite husband would be pleased that his woman had sewn such striking garments for him, but Asa suspected Hooley was too enamored of his attractive redheaded wife to fuss about it.

Nice people, these Hooleys. Luke offered me a room and Nora brought me food from the wedding.

Asa gathered his grass-stained clothes from the bathroom floor. He eased down the wooden stairs in his bare feet, aware of every aching muscle and joint in his body. Andy Leitner had told him he was awfully lucky he’d landed in tall grass rather than on gravel, and that he hadn’t hit his head on a nearby tree. Even so, Asa chafed at the local nurse’s order to lay low for a few days until they could assess how bad his concussion was—and until his horse was checked out by a vet. He had an entire set of antique bedroom furniture waiting to be restored in his shop—not to mention his mission of finding some Gingerich guy . . . whose first name had escaped him.

Asa shuffled carefully between the tightly arranged pew benches that filled the main level of the house, in awe of how many guests must have attended the wedding this morning. When he got to the kitchen, he lifted the foil from a glass casserole pan sitting on the counter. He inhaled the rich aroma of sauced pulled pork, several pieces of grilled chicken, and a huge mound of mashed potatoes that had been hollowed out to hold enough baked beans for three men. Next to the casserole pan sat a plate with two pieces of peach pie and a big wedge of wedding cake.

These people know how to put on a party. Asa tossed his dirty clothes aside and then opened drawers until he found a fork. He closed his eyes over a mouthful of the pork and let out a blissful sigh. It was an effort not to wolf down the food as a dog would, hungry as he suddenly was. He didn’t bother finding a plate or taking his meal to the table. As he bit into a chicken leg, he didn’t even care that juice dribbled down his chin—

“Anybody home?”

Asa stiffened, the chicken leg suspended in front of his mouth. Had someone called to him through the screened front door, or was he hearing voices as a symptom of his concussion? Maybe someone had come looking for Nora or—

“Asa? Are you in there?”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ASimpleVowMany moons ago—like, in 1983 while she was still a school librarian—Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. This launched her into writing around seventy of those “true confessions” stories over the years, and she’s been a slave to her overactive imagination ever since. Over the course of her writing career, she has sold nearly 50 books—most recently, Amish romance series she’s written as Charlotte Hubbard or Naomi King.

Charlotte lived in Missouri for most of her life, so her Amish stories are set in imaginary Missouri towns. These days she lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband of 40+ years and their Border collie, Ramona.

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Forbidden Fling by Skye Jordan – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card (over $275 worth of gift cards are available). In addition, leave a comment or ask the author a question to win a digital copy of the book.

7_28 skye Jordan-ForbiddenFling-21747-CV-FT-V3Forbidden Fling, Book 1 in the Wildwood Series by Skye Jordan

Delaney Hart has come a long way from her wild youth, dating tattooed bikers at her father’s bar, The Bad Seed. But when his death pulls her back to Wildwood, California, she must stay to renovate the dive he left her. And also face the lies and secrets that sent her running ten years before.

When Wildwood’s chief building inspector, Ethan Hayes, shows up on the property, Delaney doesn’t recognize him. The last thing he wants to do is save the bar where his cousin died in a brawl. But the good boy from her past is all too willing to remind her of the bad girl she used to be. And one night of passion leaves them both in a compromising position.

The last place Ethan should be is in Delaney’s bed. Guilt, family pressure, and plans for a brewpub of his own make shutting down The Bad Seed his top priority…until his feelings for Delaney interfere. Because her future depends on the success of the bar’s renovation and his dreams are rooted in its failure, their forbidden romance may be destined for heartbreak.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Here’s the thing.” She was done with the push and pull. Time for her line in the sand. “You may be the only game in town, but you’re not the only inspector in the county. And if I catch you in one more lie—just one—I’ll not only file a formal complaint with the city, I’ll go over your head and demand the city manager bring in an inspector from one of the cities nearby. If I have to, I’ll go over the city manager’s head and bypass the mayor by going to the city council, because we all know how tight the Hayes and Ryan families can be when things go bad. And this time, I’m not leaving until I decide I’m leaving.”

She stabbed her index finger toward the floor. “This is more than a building renovation. This is my entire life savings. This is money I’ve worked the last decade of my life to put away. This is my future, Avery’s future, Chloe’s future. This, Ethan, is business. And in business I play straight, clean, right up the middle. I’m good at what I do, so I don’t need to play dirty. But even better, I know how to beat dirty with good business. So I’m more than happy to take dirty and meet it head-on, and I can guarantee those on the dirty side won’t like the outcome.”

When she stopped and took a breath, Ethan looked both shocked and awed. For a long moment, Delaney didn’t think he was going to say anything, but he finally said, “All this arguing is useless. You’ve only got twelve days to start renovations. There’s no way any architect is going to be able to get all the required documents together for the building permit by then, let alone begin working on this place.”

She smirked. “Keep telling yourself that, Hayes. Tell your dad, too, while you’re at it. Maybe it will keep him off your back while I’m weighing all my options. Thanks for your time. Sorry we called you in on a Saturday.”

She slid her hands into her back pockets again, turned on her heel, and sauntered toward the door, avoiding the divots in the floor that Phoebe had marked with fluorescent sticky notes. But she didn’t feel vindicated or triumphant for standing up to Ethan. Nor did she feel hopeful or excited the way she always did when she was on the brink of a new project.

She felt mean and thoughtless and bitchy. When she’d left Ethan’s bed this morning, she’d hoped they could be friends while she was in town. Maybe even have an occasional hookup and keep it quiet.

Now they were enemies. On opposite sides. The very last place she wanted her building inspector or her lover.

She’d only gotten halfway to the door when Ethan’s hand closed on her bicep. He swung her around so hard she hit his body, and his arm closed at her waist, keeping her there. His eyes burned a deep, smoky green, his mouth firm with frustration.

Delaney saw a little of that wild side he’d shown her last night. Intensely passionate, demanding, edgy. Lust rolled through her body in waves. God, she wanted that again.

“This,” he said, breathing hard, his voice rough, “is going to be a fight every step of the way. You know that.”

It wasn’t a threat. Wasn’t even a warning. Not exactly. It was more like the voice of reality. Making sure she realized just how dicey it could get. But she’d lived here. Part of her had died here. She knew how wild Wildwood could get with the Hayeses and the Ryans at the helm.

She curled one hand into the tee at his shoulder. The other into the cotton at his side. “Are you talking about you and me? Or this project? Mr. Hayes.”

His gaze lowered to her mouth, and the sight kicked up an urgent need to taste him, to have him taste her . . . “Both.”

She let the tension slide from her body and softened against him. He was as hard and warm as she remembered. Lifting her hand from his shoulder, she ran her thumb along his lower lip. “Then I think you have a few problems on your hands.”

About the Author:7_28 skye Joan Author PhotoSkye Jordan is a pseudonym for New York Times bestselling romantic suspense author Joan Swan. Skye’s novels are about enjoying that little wild streak we don’t let out often enough. About those fantasies we rarely get the opportunity to indulge. About stretching limits, checking out the dark side, and maybe even acting a little naughty. They’re about escape and fun and pleasure and romance. And, yes, even love, because while wicked-great sex is good, happily ever after with wicked-great sex is even better.

When she’s not writing, Skye loves to read, knit, craft, row, ride, and dabble in photography.

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Love Blooms on Main Street by Olivia Miles – Spotlight and Giveaway

7_28 Love Blooms on Main Street Banner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of Love Blooms on Main Street. Enter the Rafflecopter to win a copy of the book.

7_28 Miles_LoveBloomsonMainStreet_MMLove is always in season . . .

Florist Ivy Birch fantasizes about the day a man will surprise her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Especially if that man happens to be Brett Hastings. One stolen kiss at her best friend’s wedding and Ivy can’t get the sexy ER doctor out of her head.

In the small town of Briar Creek, you can’t avoid anyone for very long. Not that Brett has been trying to avoid Ivy. He just can’t afford to let anything distract him from his work-not again. So when a hospital fundraiser throws them together, love is the last thing on his mind. But with her quick wit and sweet laugh, soon the one woman he’s tried to keep at arm’s length is capturing his heart…

Enjoy an Excerpt:

A small gasp escaped from her but was quickly silenced by the firm press of Brett’s mouth on hers. Unlike their last kiss, which had felt so tender, this time Brett was leaving no room for confusion about his intentions. She stiffened against his touch, trying to resist him, but pleasure pooled warm in her stomach and the space between her legs began to ache as he wrapped two arms around her waist and pulled her to his chest.

Oh, God. She wanted to fight this. The feeling he was stirring within her. The need for more. She opened her mouth to him, letting him in. He kissed her deeply, not giving her a chance to break away, and she wasn’t so sure she could, even if she wanted to. Her hands, which had been pushed off her hips by the strength of his arms, hung loosely at her sides, as if determined to stay out of this drama she was creating for herself, but, like her mouth, they lost the fight. She slid her hands up onto Brett’s arms, taking in every curve of his hard muscles, and up onto his shoulders as she leaned into him. His breath was heavy as he kissed her harder, and she parted her legs to let his slide between and press against the tightness that was building within her.

“What are we doing?” she asked when they finally came apart. She blinked up at him and resisted the urge to flatten his disheveled locks. I did that, she realized with a flutter.

“I don’t really know.” Brett’s voice was low and coarse. “But I like it.”

She firmed her mouth and smoothed her dress. Not good enough.

Turning to stare at the folding table, she felt her spirits begin to sag. She’d let him in again. Let him take her to places she’d wanted, to dream dreams that should have stayed in her unconscious. And nothing had changed. Men don’t change, Ivy. That’s what her mother had always said. When would she learn?

“Well, it can’t happen again,” she insisted.

“Oh no?”

She glanced back to see that slow, sexy smile. “No.” But even as she said it, her body was saying yes.

About the Author:7_28 Olivia MilesOlivia Miles is a Chicago-based romance writer. Having grown up in New England, Olivia attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec before settling in Chicago where she lives with her husband, their daughter, and two ridiculously pampered pups.

When she is not chasing after her little ones, she is hard at work creating feisty heroines and alpha heroes with a heart. A city girl with a fondness for small-town charm, Olivia enjoys highlighting both ways of life in her stories.

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A Gentleman and a Rogue by Stephanie Burkhart – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stephanie will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_AGentlemanAndARogue Lady Keira Russell is destined to bring compressed natural gas to Britain. Her inner courage and mental toughness rarely falter – except when Prince Edmund Windsor is involved.

Edmund of Wales is from the future. His last jaunt through history muffed up the time line. Now, he’s here to set it straight and win Keira’s heart.

For Keira, if it isn’t one obstacle, it’s another. Queen Victoria has sponsored a competition to find a cleaner fuel source than coal. Keira’s father is trying to build a windmill and the Ridgecrofts are working with gasoline. Then there’s Edmund, whose sensual kisses and heated stares distract her down to her bones.

Keira has a choice: trust Edmund’s notorious mischief-making or put her faith in Queen Victoria to make the right decision, but if Keira makes the wrong choice, the future of Great Britain will be changed forever.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The song ended and Edmund grabbed her hand, tugging her toward the nearest hallway. At first, she wanted to protest; call out for her father and defy Edmund’s wishes, but then reason kicked in. She wanted — no, needed — answers. And, she had plenty of questions.

They entered the main wing, and passed two rooms before Edmund opened a door and dragged her inside. Books littered the shelves. The library. A beam of light from a full moon shined through the window, casting Edmund’s features in sharp, contrasting shadows. He leaned against the door and crossed his arms. His eyes narrowed, giving his expression a dark, hard edge. He looked like a devil in this moment. She steeled her shoulders, ready to do battle with him.

Silence grew between them as they both set their postures. Damn Edmund. She wanted to kiss the devil senseless. Thankfully, she still had her wits.

“What are you doing with Jonas Byron?” Edmund’s voice was cold and exact.

“Dancing.” She surprised herself with the ease of her retort.

“Looked more like flirting to me.”

“Jealous?”

A muscle twitched in his jaw. “No.”

“You are a horrible liar.”

“Keira, you can’t trust him.”

She placed her hands on her hips. “Curious, you’re the second man tonight to tell me that.”

“Grayson has your best interests at heart. You need to listen to him.”

“He’s been missing for four years.” She paused, glaring at him. “Like you have. And I thought you weren’t coming back.”

“I’m here now, and I’m not leaving you again.”

She tilted her head and laughed. Oh, yes, he’d leave her again, and she had no intention of letting her heart get broken.

Edmund lunged forward, placed his hands on her waist, and pulled her against the length of his hard, muscled body, trapping her arms between them so her hands rested on his chest. His emerald eyes flamed with desire. Her heart turned over in response. His unique scent, spice and currants, weakened her resolve. As her memories flooded through her mind, her lips ached for his.

“God, Keira, don’t test me like this.”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_AGentlemanAndARogueAuthor Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. After serving 11 years in the US Army she currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate, is addicted to coffee and enjoys early morning walks. She’s also an assistant den leader for her son’s Cub Scout den and is a Boy Scout mom. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children’s books published with 4RV Publishing.

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Buy the book at Desert Breeze Publishing, All Romance eBooks, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.

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Deliberate Choices by Nicole Forcine – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nicole Forcine, whose latest book Settling Down released today.

Deliberate Choices

I know a lot of authors talk about the characters having a mind of their own. Hell, my own bio mentions characters talking loud enough and BAM here’s a story idea. But, because I am vast and full of contradictions (at least my partner says so about the latter, the bathroom scale confirms the former), my opinion of that has changed.

Sure, I had two people and a plot when I wrote Shaken Up, but who they are and what their personalities are were deliberate choices. I choose to make the Dom a hot Korean man that looks smashing in a suit. I chose to make the sub a Southern fried queen. I chose to put abuse in the BDSM community one plot point.

Why?

Because the ideas made me smile. I wanted to see an Asian character as a dominant ‘top’. And I adore writing gay men who are the hand on the hips ‘stereotype’, because those men are brave as hell and wonderful to write about. It takes some serious spine to embrace who you are. Put them together with a little known kink and it went from “smile worthy” to “hot as hell”. The decisions made where all me, all mine. It feels as if I’m taking more responsibility in what I pen down, which I found makes writing a character oddly more satisfying.

So, here I am at the sequel, six months after Shaken Up ends. My choices were also deliberate, downright contrived at moments (let’s get the ‘meet the parents’ thing out of the way at the same time! It’ll be great!), but I liked figuring my way out of such situations in a way that hopefully doesn’t leave the reader bored. It’s the twist that I really enjoy plotting and writing. My readers seem to enjoy it as well, and I hope you do, too.

7_27 forcine SettlingDownFSIt’s been six months since Tim and Jae got together, and they’re giving Domestic Discipline an honest try. But when conflicting events conspire to interrupt their life, Tim starts to fray at the edges. He’s doing his best to handle everything, but he still struggles with unaddressed issues, both past and present. And seeing Tim trying to hold it together is breaking Jae’s heart.
There has to be a breaking point, and when it arrives, it’s Jae’s turn to take the reins, to provide them both with what they truly need.

About the Author: Nicole Forcine was born a strange child and former Georgia peach. When she was younger, she was never far from a composition book, a pen in hand, and way too many people in her head (she’s even been known to talk back to them). When two or more of them talk loud enough to overshadow the rest, a story is born. After years of writing and storing her tales in those books, she had a revelation: man, there are a lot of dudes kissing in these stories. Her stories include themes of creating families of choice, how love can come in all forms and supersede all boundaries, and the joys and sorrows of earning a happily-ever-after. Currently, she resides in Minneapolis with one of the most laid-back men in history and his even more laid-back cat. When she’s not writing (ha!), she’s saving the world/galaxy/humanity as we know it in the world of video games and general geekiness.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press.

My Go To Place to Write by Kari Lynn Dell – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kari Lynn Dell, whose latest book Reckless in Texas, the first book in the Texas Rodeo series, releases August 2. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a print copy of the book (US only please).

Where’s your go to place to write?
I live in my mother’s backyard.

When my husband and I and our three-year-old son moved home to the family ranch in 2008, we took up residence in the bunkhouse, which was designed for one single man. With a grand total of 400 square feet, we were way ahead of the curve on the tiny house craze. We had a ten gallon hot water tank and ate all of our meals with my parents because we didn’t have room for both appliances and a bed for our child.

That fall we dragged my grandfather’s old wooden granary over and bolted it onto a concrete pad to make a living room, and reclaimed the kitchen by parking the kid’s futon beside the couch. The next fall, we began a three-year process that bumped the south side out a dozen feet to add a porch and a second bedroom, which brings us to our current grand total of 1100 square feet.

Suffice to say, we are a very close family, whether we want to be or not. There is no place in this house I can go to escape the sound of the television. Or video games. Or my son’s absolute favorite audiobook series, The Tapper Twins, which he has listened to so many times we can both quote whole chapters word for word.

During the school year, I do most of my writing at the kitchen table, starting at six-thirty in the morning after I’ve shoved husband and child out the door for the school bus run (twelve miles each way on gravel roads, so I get in a good forty-five minutes before hubby is even back to make himself breakfast). But during summer vacation…aiieeee!!

7_27 LASRThank the stars for my summer office, also known as my mother’s tipi. Yep, an actual full-sized tipi, planted on the lawn between our two houses. Close enough that I can pick up the WiFi, but far enough from the couch that my son has to really want something before he wanders out to bother me.

And I have to really want that cookie before I hike all the way into the house to get it. Check out the office here.

I am the only writer I know whose office has been officially blessed. When this tipi was new and first erected, a friend came and performed a smudging ceremony, burning tobacco as an offering for good fortune and sweetgrass for cleansing. Then all of the people present made a handprint on the front door flap to symbolize their blessings.

All of the various design elements on a tipi have meaning. The dark band around the bottom symbolizes the earth, and the rounded bumps at its upper edge represent fasting or prayer places. The broad dark band at the top represents the sky, with a quarter moon. The smaller stripes can be rainbows, or the trails of spirit animals. The white dots in the stripes are stars.

The blank space between ground and sky was traditionally reserved for images of the tipi owner’s vision painting, usually an animal. This space is the other world the tipi painter entered during his vision. As you can see, ours is empty.

Something about the tipi—the isolation, the ambiance, the lingering scent of sweetgrass—seems to make it easier to immerse myself in my fictional worlds. I wonder, sometimes, if my process of creation is so different than the visions of my ancestors. After all, we both set out on a quest to visit a place that doesn’t exist in this physical realm. Then we come back and share what we found. And my family will tell you that my brain is most certainly occupying a separate plane than my body after a really intense writing session.

If what I do counts as a vision quest, what spirit animal should I paint on my tipi? A porcupine, perhaps, since I tend to get prickly when interrupted. Or maybe a black bear, burrowed in my cave.

On second (or is that third?) thought, it’d probably be a turtle. I’m happiest inside my shell. And on most days, that’s about my speed.

7_27 dell book coverViolet Jacobs is fearless. At least, that’s what the cowboys she snatches from under the hooves of bucking horses think. Outside the ring, she’s got plenty of worries rattling her bones: her young son, her mess of a love life, and lately, her family’s struggling rodeo. When she takes business into her own hands and hires on a hotshot bullfighter, she expects to start a ruckus. She never expected Joe Cassidy. Rough and tumble, cocky and charming, Joe’s everything a superstar should be—and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out he’s way out of Violet’s league.

Joe came to Texas to escape a life spiraling out of control. He never planned on sticking around, and he certainly never expected to call this dry and dusty backwater home. But Violet is everything he never knew he was missing, and the deeper he’s pulled into her beautiful mess of a family, the more he realizes this fierce rodeo girl may be offering him the one thing he never could find on his own.

About the Author: Kari Lynn Dell is a ranch-raised Montana cowgirl who attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in her parents’ bunkhouse along with her husband, her son, and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on her lawn, Glacier National Park on her doorstep and Canada within spitting distance. Her debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was published in 2015. She also writes a ranch and rodeo humor column for several regional newspapers and a national agricultural publication.

Buy the book at Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, iBooks, or Indiebound.

A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen – Release Day and Giveaway

7_26 kelly bowen A Duke To Remember blitz banner_

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of A Duke to Remember. Enter the Rafflecopter to win a copy of the book.

7_26 kelly bowen A Duke To RememberLove takes the stage . . .

Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements-that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity-and her true feelings for him-the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“You’re not going to die on me, are you?” The voice came from lower, almost directly in front of her this time, and Elise opened her eyes, staring up at a collection of clouds scudding across the blue sky.

“Not yet, I think.” She struggled to sit, her tired muscles still refusing to obey.

A warm hand caught hers and pulled her forward, and Elise was suddenly presented with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.

They were smoky green, the color of pine wreathed in mist, the color of still waters that hid great depths. They were ringed with blond lashes, set in a strong, rugged face that spoke of hours spent outdoors. Pale blond hair fell around his ears in careless waves, the ends damp where they brushed his bare shoulders. Incredible shoulders, wide and powerful, droplets of water sliding over the ridges of muscle to disappear down the front of his chest.

Her mouth went dry, and whatever breath she thought she had caught deserted her once again.

He was crouched before her, a look of concern tempered with a half-smile stamped across his striking features. “Hmmm. Well, if you die, can I have your horse?” he asked. “As fine an animal as I’ve seen in a long time.”

“My horse?” she repeated. Good Lord. Her wits had completely scattered under that smoky gaze.

He glanced over her head up in the direction of the road. “One of the boys brought it off the bridge for you.”

Elise struggled to draw a normal breath and formulate a thought. The man was trying to put her at ease. It wasn’t his fault that he looked as he did. It wasn’t his fault her body was threatening to make an utter fool of her because of it.

But clearly, it had been too long since she had invited a man to share her bed because she was shamelessly staring at the way his body moved as he shifted. Subtle shadows carved their way across his torso, created by lean muscle rippling under golden skin. A scattering of dark blond hair covered his chest and trailed down past his navel. Her eyes dropped further south, and she let her gaze wander over the sharp ridges of muscle that formed a V over his hips before disappearing into the front of his breeches. His free hand rested on a powerful thigh, long, capable-looking fingers spread out over the top of his knee. She imagined what those fingers would feel like against her bare skin. Because she already knew what his arms had felt like beneath her, the hard strength of his body against hers.

When he was pulling you from the water like a drowned river rat, you fool, not drawing you into a lover’s embrace.

A terrible realization struck her with the completion of that thought. Without needing to check, she knew her cap was gone. Her braid had come unpinned, and she could feel the heavy weight of her sodden hair on her back. A glance at her water-logged clothes plastered to her body confirmed her worst suspicions. When she’d bound her breasts tightly beneath her loose, baggy shirt, they were unnoticeable, but there was nothing unnoticeable about them now. The bindings had come loose and slid down to bunch at her waist. Worse, the threadbare fabric of her worn shirt was almost transparent, and stuck to her skin as it was, she may as well have been wearing nothing. The curves of her breasts were clearly visible, as were the dark areolas of her peaked nipples.

The man’s eyes were still on her face and not on her chest, which Elise was choosing to interpret as a testament to his chivalry, but no one in their right mind would mistake her for anything other than what she truly was. A woman dressed as a boy.

“No, you can’t have my horse,” she muttered, attempting to peel her shirt away from her breasts with her free hand. “I need it to flee a lot of awkward questions.”

The man was watching her again. “They are going to want to know who you are,” he said quietly, jerking his chin in the direction of the voices beyond them. The understanding she saw in those incredible eyes made her blink.

She managed a weak smile. “Do you suppose anyone will notice if I just swim back to where I came from?” She was trying to make her mind work, but like her muscles, it seemed lethargic, her usual ingenuity depleted. “You can tell them that I was a mermaid.”

About the Author:7_26 Kelly bowenKelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.

But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

 

 

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How Do You Celebrate Release Day by Lillian Marek – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Lillian Marek who is celebrating the release of the third book in the Victorian Adventure series, A Scandalous Adventure which will be coming out on August 2. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a copy of the book (US only please).

How do you celebrate release day?
Well, I would love to say that I celebrate with champagne and caviar in a glamorous setting, or that I hop on a plane for a weekend in Paris. Unfortunately, that would be—let us say, an exaggeration.

Release Day is less a celebration than a panic attack.

The real temptation is to run to the computer, check to see if anyone is buying the book or posting reviews, then jump up to make a cup of tea before I run back to the computer. Then I start to wonder if the rewrite on Chapter Four was really an improvement. Should I have left it alone? Or should I have rewritten it again? Do people hate the book? Repeat this sequence, with slight variations, until bedtime.

What I should do, of course, is get out of the house. Since it’s August, I could take myself to the beach with a couple of books from my TBR pile, a picnic lunch that includes delicious local peaches, and a gallon of sunscreen. I could just stay there until sunset. That sounds like a perfect plan—for any day except Release Day, when I will be much to nervous to sit still.

To be honest, I need something to occupy my hands and limit the peeks at the computer. There must be some authors out there who are so confident that they don’t have to look. But maybe not. Authors are, on the whole, a diffident bunch.

What I will probably do is cook. More specifically, I will bake. Because that’s what I do when I’m nervous. I bake.

Since it’s August, I will probably make some blueberry muffins and a peach cake or two like the ones my grandmother used to make, with a rich yeast dough base. And if I really want to keep myself busy, I will try something ridiculously complicated.

A dobos torte maybe—seven layers of sponge cake filled with chocolate cream and topped with caramel. Some people cheat on the cake and make two or three layers that they cut horizontally, but it takes more time if you draw circles on parchment and spread the batter to fill the circle. And then you have to trim the circles, because who can spread batter in a perfect circle? Definitely a time-consuming cake.

Or I could finally make a marjolaine from a recipe I cut out of the New York Times eons ago. That one has only four layers of a cake made with grated filberts and egg whites, but it has lots of fillings. There’s a chocolate cream made with crème fraîche and a rum cream and a praline cream, both made with pastry cream.

If sanity prevails, I will remember that in hot humid weather, cakes do not do well. That’s why my grandfather’s birthday cake—his birthday was July 25—fell more often than not. If I manage to remember that, I’ll stick to cookies. Snickerdoodles, because I love the name.

And me? By the time I’m finished, I will be completely exhausted. (That is, after all, the point of this exercise.) Since complete exhaustion means that I will not only be too tired to cook, but too tired to go out. That means we will have pizza for dinner. And since I get to choose, it will be sausage pizza from Luigi’s.

It may not be a champagne and caviar, but it’s just fine with me.

7_26 marekThey’re hiding a scandalous secret
When his monarch’s flighty fiancée disappears, Count Maximillian von Staufer is dispatched to find her. His search leads Max to discover not the princess, but a look-alike who could be her double. Desperate to avoid an international crisis, he conceives a plan that will buy some time—and allow him to get to know a beautiful Englishwoman.

And time is running out
Lady Susannah Tremaine and her young friend Olivia are staying at the Grand Hotel in Baden, where so far the most exciting part of the visit has been the pastries. But when a devastatingly handsome royal Germanic officer asks Olivia to impersonate a missing princess, Susannah finds herself drawn into a dangerous world of international intrigue as she tries to protect her friend—and her heart.

About the Author:Lillian Marek was born and raised in New York City. At one time or another she has had most of the interesting but underpaid jobs available to English majors. After a few too many years in journalism, she decided she prefers fiction, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve. The first book in her Victorian Adventure series, Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures, won first prize in both the Launching A Star and the Windy City Four Seasons contests. She was also a first prize winner in the Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot contest.

Buy the book at Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, iBooks, or Indiebound.