Winter Blogfest: Emily Carrington

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win one copy of A Very (Psychic) Vampire Christmas, which comes out right before Christmas. I will choose a randomly drawn person from the comments.

The Point of a Parrada

The point of a parrada is to sneak up on your friends. What’s a parrada? It’s a group of friends armed with guitars, maracas, and other instruments who surprise others with their sudden music during the Christmas season. The songs aren’t necessarily religious, but occassionally Jesus is mentioned.

This tradition is most common in Puerto Rico and Cuba. I stumbled upon it while doing research for my Puerto Rican-based psychic vampires. Although the story takes place a little south of Buffalo, New York, these psychic vampires bring their customs with them. Some, like piñatas being used mostly for a child’s birthday, are captured and rewritten by the werewolves who live in New York. Others, most notably the parradas, grow with the werewolves to lend their spirit.

The werewolves of Charles McLaughlin’s pack aren’t exactly celebrating Christmas since they follow the moon goddess and are rejoicing at the coming of the longest night of the year. But they learn to embrace new traditions. They have to. Charles’s mate, Luis, is a psychic vampire and brings with him a whole island’s worth of habits.

For me, singing is a crucial part of each Christmas season. I sing at the Protestant version of midnight mass after opening one Christmas present early. Please share your traditions with me. I will randomly select a comment and award that person a copy of A Very (Psychic) Vampire Christmas on January 3rd.

Happy Holidays!

Peace,

Emily Carrington

A werewolf and a psychic vampire, mated for two years according to werewolf custom, are planning to get married to comply with psychic vampire tradition. Unfortunately, as much as they want to participate in a sexualized version of a Catholic wedding, they are cock blockd by the psychic vampire matriarch. She wants her son to stay away from his werewolf lover—and she’ll stop at nothing to break them up.

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Hi, I’m Emily. Welcome to my SearchLight world full of magical creatures, inclduing dragons, genies, and psychic vampires. If you’re curious about how dragon politics work over in China, check out my website: www.emilycarrington.com

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Winter Blogfest: Aidee Ladnier

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

The Three Best Things About Going Home for the Holidays


With the holidays fast approaching, I’m looking forward to a few of my favorite things I get to share with my extended family.

1. Getting to drink guilt-free hot cocoa with marshmallows. I’m a hot chocolate fan. And I love to sip it in hot and cold weather. But I never, ever, ever buy marshmallows to go in my cocoa because while staring at them in the grocery aisle, all I can think about is the extra calories that the cocoa will already be providing. But when my mom hands me a warm cup of cocoa, she has already sprinkled marshmallows on top and I couldn’t possibly be rude enough to dip them out. I just enjoy them to the fullest.

2. Taking a drive around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. Full disclosure – I’m related to the person, you know who I’m talking about, who spends a month or more putting up outside decorations and has to take up a collection to pay the electric bill. So a visit to drive through my cousin’s twinkling wonderland complete with holiday music is a must. And it’s also wonderful to see every other house in the neighborhood just as brightly lit with trees, Santas, and plastic snowmen. And when we get back, everyone piles out of the car and my mom serves another round of cocoa!

3. Hearing all the great stories of holidays past. I come from a family of storytellers. Which means anytime everyone gathered, someone would have a funny story or a poignant one to pull out for the rest of us. My favorite stories were my grandmother’s. She regaled my sister and me with stories of riding on the buckboard to church, cutting paper dolls out of the discarded Sears catalog, and waking up to a special breakfast just for Christmas. And now that I’m one of the storytellers in the family, I’m passing those stories down to the newer members myself.

I love writing about family traditions and this year I’ve even written a story set at Christmas. I hope you’ll check out A Hundred Promises of Love and may you have a wonderful holiday!


For Ethan and Nico, a broken millefiori ornament is more than a few shards of glass−it’s a chance at finding love at Christmas.

Ethan Carson wants to treat his mother to the perfect Christmas while she’s visiting over the holidays. He’s spent all his savings on presents and bought an enormous tree that takes up half his living room. But when he starts to trim the tree with the family heirloom decorations, he finds her favorite ornament, the one his late father bought on their honeymoon, is broken.

Glassblower Nico Kazan doesn’t celebrate Christmas—unless you count trying to sell the art glass in his gallery to holiday shoppers. When Ethan, the object of his secret crush, asks him to recreate a broken Murano ball, he knows it will take more than his skill and time. Can he risk his heart to give Ethan back a symbol of love and family for Christmas?

About the Author: Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, began writing at twelve years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, fold origami, and send ping pong balls into space. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee’s to write both romance and erotica with a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

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Winter Blogfest: Darragha Foster

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest.

This author is also a professional card reader!

Norse Mythology inspired, Buddhist concept interpreted intuitive readings—and the first twenty who email darragha@gmail.com with the subject line: NEW YEAR’S READING, will get a free 3-card “general” reading about your brilliant 2018.

My mama taught me how to “read” for people (psychometry and tea leaves) when I was 12 years old. Her mother had taught her. So…not to give away my age, but I’ve been doing professional readings for over 40 years.

Let’s do this!


Death. It is the only constant in her life. It comes with little to no warning. When you’re raised in the Red Zone, you know it’s only a matter of time before it cuts you down. A harsh environment breeds harsh people. Reggie has made a life for herself by being the best of the worst—a pit-fighter.
Her right fist is all that matters, until she meets a shape-shifter, whom she first bests in a fight, then makes love to him. Is the only constant really death?
On the eve of the most important battle of her life, Reggie is forced to choose between her will to survive, and her need to love.
It all goes back to the three rules of the pit. Sharpen your wits. Watch you back. And don’t fall in love.

About the Author: Darragha Foster is the author of a myriad of strange and wonderful romance novels featuring such unique heroes and heroines as shape-shifting orca whales and vampiric bed and breakfast owners.

She lives and loves in Bellingham, Washington, a city with a claim to fame for having had way too many serial killers visit due its proximity to the Canadian border. She thinks the best place to get fried oysters is, unfortunately, the local establishment known to have served drinks to at least three notorious murderers. Got to be a story in there somewhere!

Darragha lives outside the city limits with her husband and several animals.

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Winter Blogfest: Matilda Janes

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $20 electronic Amazon gift card emailed to the winners email.

How Can You Go Wrong with Deep Fried and Drizzled in Honey!

For the holidays my family makes a traditional Christmas dessert using my great-grandmothers recipe from her hometown located in the Puglia region of Italy. In her dialect the dessert is called Purciddi. It’s deep fried dough flavored with anisette or Sambuca. Add toasted almonds and drizzle it all with warm honey. Top with cinnamon and colored sprinkles.Yum!

She loves to frost cookies. Now he’s going to frost hers.

Santa’s eldest daughter Chrystal Claus is curvy, cute and loves to bake. Opening her bakery has been a dream come true. She loves to watch her customers smile after they’ve eaten one of her treats. It’s her gift and she’s never been happier. That is until Jack Frost comes back in to town, seemingly intent on disrupting her life with his scowling eyes and his grumpy growls and all his bulging muscles she can’t help but notice. After he embarrasses her she decides she can’t stand the handsome jerk. But when she’s kidnapped, Christy discovers not all is as it seems.

Jack Frost has been waiting for Chrystal Claus for an eternity and when she comes of age Jack wants to claim his mate. But it isn’t to be, bound by a promise; Jack reluctantly leaves Christmas Town. When he returns years later he can barely contain himself. He wants nothing more than to claim his mate and no one will stand in his way. Or so he thinks.

Can Chrystal accept being Mrs. Frost? Will Jack convince Chrystal that being naughty can be nice?

About the Author: I’m a wife, a mother and a lover of paranormal and erotic romance. When I’m not hanging out with my family or working, you can find me at my computer writing or with my phone in my face reading.

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Winter Blogfest: Cynthia Sax

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 US Amazon Gift Card.

Put Your Name On Your Gift List

This is the time of year when we often think of others. We’re trying to make holiday dreams come true. We’re baking cookies for loved ones, giving to toy drives (something the Dear Wonderful Hubby and I LOVE to do), buying presents for the people and furbabies who matter the most to us.

One of those people should be you.

If you’re reading this, you’ve survived all of the challenges this year flung at you and, if your year has been anything like mine, there have been quite a few of these. You’re a little bit older, a little bit smarter, a little bit stronger. You might have done things and tackled situations you never thought you could. You might not have handled everything perfectly. You ARE human. But you handled it and that’s the important part.

After doing all of that, you deserve a present, a gift from you to you, a thank you for being so freakin’ awesome. This present doesn’t have to be huge. It could be your favorite hot chocolate topped with those tiny marshmallows or an hour on Saturday morning for yourself or a Wonder Woman ornament for the tree. The important thing is you show yourself the love and caring you show others.

It might feel selfish but it is often necessary. It takes energy to care for others, to turn holiday wishes into reality. We should ensure we are in the right place, have enough strength, to do this. If, for example, a quiet moment looking up at the stars on a snowy night gives us that strength; that’s a great use of our time.

Love yourself this holiday season. Put your name on your gift list.

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers.

Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals—kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience.

Until he meets Joan.

Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal—survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice.

When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?

FREE at all booksellers, my gift to you.

About the Author: USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

She lives in a world filled with magic and romance. Although her heroes may not always say, “I love you,” they will do anything for the women they adore. They live passionately. They play hard. They love the same women forever.

Cynthia has loved the same wonderful man forever. Her supportive hubby offers himself up to the joys and pains of research, while they travel the world together, meeting fascinating people and finding inspiration in exotic places such as Istanbul, Bali, and Chicago.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at www.CynthiaSax.com

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Winter Blogfest: Gail Koger

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Locked Out On Christmas Eve!

I put the finishing touches on the tree, and noticed that the outside lights were off.  I flipped the switch for the porch lights, and nothing happened. Hmmm. Had I overload a circuit breaker?  I had gone a tiny bit overboard with the decorations.  Pulling on my slippers, I went outside to check the circuit breaker panel. Nope, everything was good.

Then it hit me. Those pesky gophers had chewed through my power lines again. I headed for the front door and turned the handle. Crap! The door was locked. My dogs looked out the window, and innocently wagged their tails.

Just friggin’ terrific. It was midnight, colder than a grave diggers’ ass, and I was wearing a ratty nightgown. Thankfully my friend, Chris, had a key to my house. The bad news was she lived several miles away.

My teeth chattering, I hurried down the sidewalk, and suddenly my residential street was busier than the freeway at rush hour.

A kid stuck his head out the driver’s window and hollered, “Hey baby, need a ride?”

I increased my pace and yelled, “No thanks.”

Another car slowed to a crawl and kissy noises emitted from the interior. Really? My granny gown wasn’t the least bit sexy.  I gave him the one finger salute.

Tires squealing, they took off yelling naughty words.

They were definitely getting coal in their Christmas stockings. Trying to keep to the shadows, I stepped on a beer bottle, and the next thing I knew I was face down in a prickly bush. Ouch!

I wiggled out of the bush.  God, I hated idiots who felt they had the right to toss their trash anywhere they pleased.  My hand closed over the bottle, and I was suddenly blinded by a brilliant white light. Shading my eyes, I waved the beer bottle at the nice cop.  “Hi there. Kinda nippy tonight, isn’t it?”

“Are you drunk ma’am?”

I babbled nervously, “Do I look drunk?”

Laughter in his voice the cop answered, “Yes ma’am you do.”

He dangled a pair of handcuff in front of my face before I realized it was Chris’s husband. “You’re such a jerk, Ed.”

“So I have been told. You lock yourself out again?”

“Yes, could you give me a ride?”

He opened the back door on his patrol car, and gestured. “Climb on in.”

I let out a long sigh. “Why can’t I sit in the front seat?”

Ed grinned. “Not while you’re wearing that god-awful nightgown.”

“Very funny.” I climbed in.

Before he shut the door, Ed quipped, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you…”

“Shut up, Ed.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He shut the door and proceeded to drive all the way back to my house with the overhead lights flashing psychedelically.  Ed parked in front of my house, and hit the siren for a long ten seconds. “Whoops!”

Faces appeared in my neighbor’s windows. “You’re a real riot.”

Laughing, Ed opened the car door, escorted me up to my front door, and unlocked it for me.

“When did you start carrying my key with you?”

“Right after you locked yourself out of the house for the eighth time.”

“Oh. Thanks.”

He plunked a Santa hat on his head. “I live to serve. Ho. Ho. Ho.”

“Boring night, huh?”

“Yup, Merry Christmas.”

Tihar travels to Earth to find and claim a Jones’ female. He knows they are fearless, psychic warriors and talented in bed sport. Ten minutes after meeting Sarah, Tihar knows the feisty, little human is the one he has been searching for. Now he must convince Sarah, she’s meant to be his.

The first-time Sarah sees Tihar, she’s a bit freaked out. The Askole warrior has tentacles, snakelike features and black armored-plated skin. Even weirder she finds him strangely attractive. Tihar’s torso is sculpted perfection and his black scales are kind of sexy. Who knew challenging Tihar to combat would start the Askole mating dance. He thinks Earth girls are easy and he’s about to learn messing with a Jones female is never a good idea.

As the two grow closer, their romance comes to a screeching halt when Askole rebels attack Tihar’s home world. He tells Sarah she is his heart’s destiny and he will love her to the end of time. He abruptly severs their mental bond and disappears. Reeling from shock, Sarah won’t let a galactic war stop her from hunting him down. Can the two of them find their way back into each other’s arms?

About the Author: I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for thirty-one years and to keep insanity at bay, I took up writing. Not to worry. The insanity isn’t catching – much. Other than the addiction to chocolate and the twitch in my left eye, I’m good. Next up in the Coletti Warlord series is Crossing Quinn.

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Winter Blogfest: Tina Donahue

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a back list e-book.

It’s the Most Romantic Time of the Year…Eventually

When I was newly married, I couldn’t wait for my first Christmas together with my hubby. Although we’d dated a few years, I thought this holiday season would be wildly romantic. You know, chocolate, champagne during a candlelit dinner, lingerie from Vicky’s Secret, maybe a bauble or two.

Wow, was I wrong.

On the day in question, he gave me a top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner. His eyes lit up at all the gadgets on it and the accompanying manual (he loves manuals). My eyes glazed over. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but a vacuum cleaner? Talk about feeling like a drudge.

He finally caught on and asked what he’d done wrong. Gently, I told him I wanted romance, passion, maybe a box of chocolates from the supermarket. You know, girly stuff. BTW: I won’t apologize for that. I want my romance!

As the following Christmas rolled around, I expected to get cooking utensils with manuals that would teach me how to do more than open up a can and heat up the contents. Braced for the worst, I got to work early on Christmas Eve at the small-town newspaper we owned together. We had a very small staff that hadn’t arrived yet. Taped to the receptionist’s desk was a bright purple envelope that said ‘OPEN ME’. I figured it wasn’t for her, so I opened it. The card was decorated with glitter and ribbons and wished me Happy Holidays. I teared up. It was so pretty and romantic. On the inside, he’d drawn an arrow pointing to the back offices.

Long story short – with beautiful cards directing me, he led me on a scavenger hunt through the office. There were chocolates, sexy lingerie, and even a new thesaurus. This was before the internet. He hit all the right buttons. Teary, I blubbered my thanks and kissed him for trying so hard to make the season special for me since it had always been just another day to him. He gave me an odd look and was kind of subdued in his response. I asked what was wrong. He said “nothing” and to ditch my bounty in my desk. He’d take me to breakfast.

In my office, I stopped dead. A new leather briefcase that I’d coveted lay on the desk with a big red bow on it. I squealed.

He shouted from his office, “Open it!”

Who was I to argue? Inside the briefcase was a sapphire and diamond ring I’d admired for what seemed forever.

It’s a Christmas I’ll never forget. Granted the gifts were great, but it was the time and thought he put into the ‘event’ that moved me the most. And that my wanting romance mattered to him.

Although my latest release The Craving, erotic paranormal, isn’t a holiday tale, it is romantic. My hero Lucian is to-die-for. He and Erica (my heroine) find romance, danger, and suspense in book two of The Wanderers series.


She’s everything he’s desired… He’s the one man she shouldn’t crave.

Knowing the danger the Wanderers pose, Erica Vega intends to hunt down the mysterious group steeped in dark magic, curses and mind control. As a Deputy U.S. Marshal she has the law behind her, along with her telekinetic powers. Let the chase and battle begin.

Not so fast. Her superior forbids her to go after any Wanderer, instead ordering her to work cold cases with her new partner Lucian Navari.

Tall, dark and hotter than sin, Lucian doesn’t play by the book. He has his own agenda and agrees to help Erica hunt Wanderers on the sly where he and she can be up close and personal.

Erica’s not one to mix duty with pleasure, but he’s impossible to resist in too damn many ways.

As they investigate an elusive Wanderer, nothing is as it appears – she can’t trust what she sees or believes. Lies masquerade as truth, deception rules while she and Lucian grow closer in a carnal dance that will change their lives.

About the Author: Tina Donahue is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist who writes passionate romance for every taste – ‘heat with heart’ – for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. She’s won Readers’ Choice Awards, was named a finalist in the EPIC competition, received a Book of the Year award, The Golden Nib Award, awards of merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competitions, and second place in the NEC RWA contests. She’s featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction.

On a less serious note: She’s an admitted and unrepentant chocoholic, brakes for Mexican restaurants, and has been known to moan like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally while wolfing down tostadas. She’s flown a single-engine airplane (freaking scary), rewired an old house using an ‘electricity for dummies’ book, and is horribly shy despite the hot romances she writes.

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Buy the book at Loose Id.

Winter Blogfest: Deanna Wadsworth

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win one ecopy of my first holiday erotic romance, SECRET SANTA.

A Cookie Recipe and a Giveaway!

December is such a hectic time of year for me. As a professional hair stylist and nail tech, my day job is twice the workload as usual. So I don’t do the whole Christmas cookie extravaganza. I don’t even get as fancy cookie making as Daniel and Clay do in my latest book WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER. Thanksgiving is more my jam, I host it every year and pick up a lot of stragglers who don’t have family plans. I leave Christmas to the friends with kids.

But one thing I always do is make is my great-grandmother’s Scotch shortbread. Have you ever had shortbread? It’s kind of like a snowball but creamier. Probably because of the powdered sugar. I’m not much of a baker so I won’t pretend to know the science of why these cookies melt in your mouth, but they do. And this recipe is crazy easy! So from my home to yours, here is the recipe:

Scotch Shortbread

  1. Cream 1 cup butter and ¾ cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy
  2. Stir in 2 ½ cup flour
  3. Press into 8×8 pan
  4. Bake 300 for 25-30 min
  5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut warm

I hope you try this recipe. Perhaps my family’s shortbread can become a holiday tradition for your family too. Enjoy this excerpt from WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER, one of the thirty holiday romances in the Dreamspinner Holiday Advent collection.

WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER

Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.

Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride. The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas

EXCERPT

“Want some coffee?” Daniel said to avoid blurting, Damn the years treated you well!

“Sure, I’m freezing.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t know about the storm. It’s been all over the news.”

Clay grinned. “You know me. I never think things through first.”

He chuckled. “Since you’re here for the evening, do you want to help me make cookies? It’s sort of a cliché Christmas thing to do, but….”

“Sure.” The grin splitting Clay’s face was electric, and Daniel’s belly fluttered.

Daniel had not forgotten Clay’s toothy grin and those dimples. Back during Desert Shield, the dusting of a youthful beard had hidden his dimples, much to Daniel’s chagrin. But now Clay was clean-shaven, his cheeks a little pink from the elements. The long lean line of his throat, his solid Adam’s apple that bobbed when he talked—all exposed for Daniel’s viewing pleasure. He’d always had a thing for Clay’s neck. Weird, but he couldn’t help it. Clay had stayed in great shape too, unlike the twenty pounds Daniel needed to lose.

Making cookies isn’t helping that! And you were probably going to eat them all yourself!

Well, George would’ve gotten his share. But still….

And here Clay was, looking like some sort of body-building Daddy.

Once Daniel got Clay a mug of coffee to warm up, he busied himself placing the fresh cookies on a cooling rack.

“What? No cutouts?” Clay said, startling Daniel with how close he stood.

He hadn’t realized Clay had come up beside him. Swallowing hard, he glanced over his shoulder and up. Clay was bigger, wider than he used to be. And damn, the gray hair looked good on him.

Daniel managed to sound calm, though Clay’s nearness made his heart race and his skin warm. “Nah, a cookie’s a cookie.”

“But it’s Christmas, Danny. Shouldn’t we make Santa or candy-cane cookies?”

“I just wanted cookies.” Call me Danny again, please! “No need for theatrics.”

Theatrics? C’mon, you gotta have cookie cutters around here somewhere.” The hopeful glint in his expression tugged at Daniel’s heart.

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Come on, Danny.”

And then, just like old times, Clay took over, tossing Daniel’s practical plan out the window and making everything more complicated.

But definitely more fun.

With a mismatched collection of cookie cutters, and Clay armed with the rolling pin and leaving a flour mess all over the counters and floor—which George happily licked up—soon they had a tray of hearts, moons, and trees ready to go into the oven. Clay insisted Daniel add food coloring to the frosting, one bowl of green and another of red, which turned out pink. Though he didn’t think it necessary, it was impossible to say no to Clay.

Especially with those dimples and that sexy throat, and the way Clay called him Danny with his now-rougher voice.

You’re hopeless!

Thanks for hosting me and if you share a comment (or better yet a cookie recipe of your own) then you will be entered to win my first Christmas story: SECRET SANTA—Just who was it that came down Adam’s chimney? Find out in this superhot holiday story!

Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.
Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride. The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.

About the Author: Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and is the current President-elect 2017 for Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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Winter Blogfest: Ravon Silvius

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of The Storm Lords.

Christmas Without Snow 

Ravon Silvius here, author of The Storm Lords. You may have heard of it as that fantasy M/M romance that revolves around the weather. So today I want to talk about the weather a little bit, and how it can set a mood—even if it doesn’t quite seem to fit the mood at first glance.

I love Christmas time, but where I grew up, it was a little different from what you see on TV.  The iconic image of a Merry Christmas is a blanket of snow over everything, with a warm fire burning in the hearth and gifts piled under a pine tree. Check out most Christmas logos—chances are, they’ll have snow or a wintery theme. I distinctly remember an old cartoon where the child character was very worried that Christmas wouldn’t happen without snow. The episode resolved with a magical snowstorm that made it a white Christmas.

But it doesn’t snow where I grew up. In Northern California, we were lucky if it even rained. And there are plenty of places where the weather is far from Christmasy—I spent a week before Christmas last year in Mexico. The hotel had a huge Christmas tree in the lobby, but outside it was 80 degrees and there were cacti everywhere. People don’t ordinarily think of Christmas time as being good for a beach vacation, but it was certainly enjoyable!

In my writing, I love using the weather to set a scene and enhance the mood. It’s a fairly common thing for writers to do—after all, nothing makes a spooky scene spookier like a thunderstorm, and a nice soft blanket of snow makes everything feel cozy when two characters are intimate.  But sometimes, like a desert Christmas, it can be fun to have a setting not quite match the mood. The contrast can somehow, paradoxically, make things even more intense. A scary storm can make a few grabbed moments of intimacy feel even sweeter. Maybe there’s a nice layer of snow, but the angry conflict between two characters is hot enough to melt it. Having the setting not fit with the action can enhance the scene and make people pay close attention to what the character are doing and thinking.

Think of it this way—a family is opening gifts in a nice warm house and a roaring fire is offset nicely by snow falling outside the windows. It’s a picturesque scene that you’d find on a hallmark card. But what if outside the windows there was a bright sunny day, and the people inside opening gifts were wearing swimsuits after just getting back from the pool? That was my Christmas as a child. Its still a nice, happy family setting. But its unusual, and that can tell a story by itself and make readers take notice.

The heat took everything from Rowen: his parents, his voice when the local cure for heatstroke poisoned him, and the trust of his fellow villagers, who branded him a water thief. It would have claimed his life when he was deemed unworthy of precious resources and left in the sun to die, had not a strange man named Kristoff ridden in on the wind and told Rowen he had power.

Rowen works hard to become a Storm Lord, one of a secret magical group that brings storms to break the heat waves overtaking their world. But Rowen is starting his training at a disadvantage since he cannot speak and is much older than the other novices. The desire to please Kristoff inspires him to persevere even more than the threat of being sent back to his village to die should he fail. Still, he cannot gather rain, and when his abilities manifest, they are unlike anything known to the Storm Lords. Unless Kristoff can help him control his deadly powers, the entire world will be in danger.

Kristoff might be among the mightiest of the Storm Lords, but he’s never been a mentor before. For a chance to be with Rowen, he’s willing to risk everything.

About the Author: Ravon Silvius lives in a tiny apartment with two tiny cats in a tiny town in the United States. Despite the cramped living quarters, Ravon enjoys coming up with big ideas for novels, with some plots coming from Ravon’s findings as a neuroscience researcher and others coming purely from Ravon’s imagination.

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Winter Blogfest: Megan Morgan

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

The Life of a Christmas Tree

What’s the best part about Christmas? The Christmas tree, of course! Many of us put one of these up in our homes. We enjoy decorating it, lighting it up, and stuffing presents underneath it. And, for households with a cat, we cross our fingers that our furry friend at least gives it 24 hours before their first attempt to climb it or knock all the bulbs off it.

I love putting up the Christmas tree. On the day I put it up, my son and I spend hours decorating it, playing Christmas music, and having some real family time. However, I’m rather pragmatic about my tree. I know a lot of people who put up their Christmas tree very early, people who put it up on Thanksgiving, and of course, people who leave it up well into January. While I like having a Christmas tree around, I feel like putting it up too early and leaving it up too long will just oversaturate the joy of it for me. I prefer to keep my Christmas tree around for a shorter time, so it feels more special.

I never put my tree up until it’s actually December. I figure that’s good enough, especially since the stores are already shoving Christmas down my throat as soon as Halloween is over. If I want Christmas before or after my allotted Christmas tree time, I only need to take a walk through town, as Christmas isn’t hard to come by in public as soon as November begins, and then sticks around well past Christmas, into the New Year. But inside my house, I only want Christmas in December! To me, it doesn’t “feel” like Christmas until December rolls around.

Am I being a Scrooge? Not at all. I love Christmas! I love decorating for it and I love having a tree up. I just don’t want to overdo it for myself and end up resenting it. As I said, having it around for a shorter time makes it feel more special to me. Just like summer—since I unfortunately live in a part of the world where summer is short and fleeting, and all the more precious for it, we get it in small doses and have to enjoy it heartily. If I lived in a place where summer lasts for ages, I’d probably be longing for winter. If Christmas lasted for months, I’d get tired of it.

Of course, I don’t mind when I go to visit friends and they already have their tree up by Thanksgiving. To each their own, and I’ll enjoy all your trees, lights, and decorations, whenever and for however long you choose to keep them up! It’s a joyous season and we should take the time to celebrate, especially with sparkles and lights. But if you’re already feeling like there’s too much Christmas being heaped on you as soon as the turkey is eaten, stop over at my place. 😉

How about you? When do you put your tree up? When do you take it down? Do you like having a Christmas tree around for a nice long while, or would you rather have a short engagement with it? No matter how long your celebration, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Witches and Lycans and hillbillies, oh my!

Lorena Mills is a witch, but she’s not very good with potions and incantations. Working for a government agency that puts down dangerous uprisings of supernatural creatures, she does much more paperwork than spell casting. When her less-than-magical job lands her in the small Appalachian town of Blue Ditch, Kentucky, in the shadow of Black Mountain, her life starts to get a whole lot wilder.

In the forests surrounding the town, Wolvites—twisted, bestial creatures who hunt and kill humans—are posing a threat. When handsome, charming, and altogether reckless local Deacon Kelley insists on taking matters into his own hands, Lorena has more than monsters to worry about. He won’t stay out of her way, and he won’t take no for an answer.

Deacon is a Lycan–in modern terms, the non-shifting descendants of werewolves–and he and his family have protected Blue Ditch for generations. But now, something too sinister to be controlled by their efforts alone is stirring, and the Wolvites are far more vicious than they’ve ever been. Will Lorena be able to stop the threat and uncover the deadly secrets surrounding it before it’s too late?

To keep the town, and Deacon, safe, she’ll have to—and she’s really starting to like this town.

About the Author: Megan Morgan is an award-winning paranormal and contemporary romance author from Cleveland, Ohio. She also writes urban fantasy. A mild-mannered bartender by day and purveyor of things that go bump in the night, she’s trying to turn writing into her day job, so she can be on the other side of the bar for a change. She lives on the often-wintry shores of Lake Erie with her spoiled cat and adult son, both of whom shed too much.

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