Wagon Train Sisters by Shirley Kennedy – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Shirley will be awarding a digital copy of Wagon Train Sisters to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

7_25 Cover_Wagon Train SistersAfter the death of her abusive husband, Sarah Gregg is free to join her family along with thousands of others in the nation’s westward march for gold. But in the middle of the hard journey, Sarah’s younger sister, Florrie, disappears. Devastated by the family’s failed attempts to find her missing sister, Sarah now wants only to settle into a quiet, uneventful life when she reaches California . . .

But Jack McCoy, a drifter and one-time gambler riding along their wagon train, sees so much more for Sarah. In the roaring mining town of Gold Creek his attentive persistence points Sarah toward new vistas. Then unexpected news of Florrie arrives—and it’s worse than anyone expected. But driven by a new hopefulness, Sarah seeks help from Jack, despite his troubled past. The two have traveled a rough road together, and only their hearts can tell them where they are headed . . .

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Has anybody seen my sister?”

Lined along the bank, the ladies of the train dutifully halted their labors. “Haven’t seen her since this morning.”

“Haven’t seen her all day.”

“Maybe she ran away.”

Everyone tittered at that last remark. After weeks living in the forced closeness of a wagon train, they knew each other well, and in some cases, better than they wished. Sarah was known to be the hard worker of the family. Her sister-in-law, Becky, was the one with the sharp tongue. Florrie was the quiet one, hadn’t made many friends, and stayed close to their wagon. She’d be the last person in the world who’d run off. Besides, where would she go? Two days ago they’d left the last vestiges of civilization at Fort Hall and were now in a land where rivers raged, wild animals roamed, forests stretched to the horizon and beyond.

So where was Florrie? Come to think of it, Sarah hadn’t seen her since right after they stopped for the day, and that was hours ago. It wasn’t like her, but she must be visiting at one of the wagons. She’d surely appear in time for supper. Nothing to worry about.

About the Author: 7_25 AuthorPic_Shirley KennedyShirley Kennedy was born and raised in Fresno, California. In her early career as an author, Shirley wrote traditional Regency romances, one for Ballantine, the rest for Signet. Later on, she branched into other genres. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her older daughter, Dianne, and Brutus and Sparky, her two editorial assistants who love to nap in the sunshine next to her computer while she works on her next book.

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The Story of Us by Ariel Tachna and Nicki Bennett – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna, the authors of Checkmate.

The Story of Us

Ariel:

People ask us occasionally how we met and came to write together. Since it never ceases to make me smile, I thought it might be a fun story to share.

About thirteen years ago, Nicki and I were both very active in the Lord of the Rings fandom, but we hadn’t really interacted. Then I posted the next chapter of the opus I was writing, and I got this e-mail. “The characters you’ve spent 120 chapters lovingly creating wouldn’t act the way they did in chapter 121.” It then went on to explain in great detail why the author of the e-mail felt that way. It turns out she was right (she’s always right). So I rewrote the end of chapter 121, sent it back to her, and asked if that was better. She agreed that it was, so I issued a correction on the forum where I shared the story. Then I wrote chapter 122 and sent it to her, asking if she’d like to read it before I posted it. She said yes.

Since then, I have written all of four things that she hasn’t read first, sometimes as I’m writing them (quite literally—I write a paragraph and post it in a chat window and then write the next one), and all four of those things were gifts for her: Testament to Love, two chapters of Partnership in Blood that were birthday presents for her, and an unpublished retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac with a male lead in place of Roxane.

For all that the story of how we met is fun and funny, it’s also very telling. Nicki has an eye for detail and characterization that makes her an invaluable beta reader and writing partner, and that wasn’t something I had to learn through trial and error. From our first interaction, I knew she cared about my story as much as I did, because when I say she gave me a detailed explanation of the characterization error I made, I’m not kidding. The e-mail was almost as long as the chapter! She had clearly put so much thought and care into her e-mail that it resonated with me. Here was someone who was as passionate as I was, not just about Lord of the Rings, but about my specific take on them. The jump from beta-reading to writing together was, for me, a no-brainer.

Nicki:

What Ariel left out of her side of the story is that the reason I felt so passionate about her opus was that she had made the characters come alive, not just retelling their actions during the LOTR trilogy but envisioning their lives and relationships before and after the fellowship, in original and entrancing detail. (Those of you fortunate enough to have read The Price of Pride know exactly what I mean.) I was incredibly nervy sending that e-mail, but I’d come to respect her and the characters she’d made her own, and the scene just felt wrong. I honestly expected her to either ignore me or tell me she knew her characters better than I thought I did. I never expected her to rewrite the chapter based on my comments! But that’s the thing about Ariel—even though we rarely disagree (the whole sharing-a-brain thing), she’s always open to listening to another viewpoint and changing things when it will make a story stronger.

I have to laugh at her casual statement that “the jump from beta-reading to writing together was, for me, a no-brainer.” What she neglects to mention is that I wasn’t a writer before knowing her. Oh, I’d written job-training aids and technical manuals for my evil day job, but the only creative writing I’d ever done was a truly horrible Mary Sue fantasy short story when I was twelve (blessedly long lost). I learned the craft of writing from Ariel, so that when she prompted me to try my hand at writing something myself a few months after we “met,” I knew I could rely on her to help me develop my skills, until I improved to the point that we started writing together. I’ve written a few things on my own since, but I still think the strongest writing I’ve done are the things I’ve written with her. We bring out the best in each other.

Ariel:

What Nicki isn’t telling you is that the first thing she sent me was so powerful that I went running down the hall at the school where I was teaching at the time to show it to two friends because they absolutely had to read it right now! I may have convinced her to try her hand at writing, but I didn’t have to teach her anything.

Tell us about how you met your best friend—we’ll choose one comment to give away an eBook copy of any title from either of our backlists.

7_25 CheckmateFS_v2When sword-for-hire Teodoro Ciéza de Vivar accepts a commission to “rescue” Lord Christian Blackwood from unsuitable influences, he has no idea he’s landed himself in the middle of a plot to assassinate King Philip IV of Spain and blame the English ambassador for the deed. Nor does he expect the spoiled child he’s sent to retrieve to be a handsome, engaging young man.

As Teodoro and Christian face down enemies at every turn, they fall more and more in love, an emotion they can’t safely indulge with the threat of the Inquisition looming over them. It will take all their combined guile and influence to outmaneuver the powerful men who would see them separated… or even killed.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Esteban stared out at the street from the window of la taberna Castellán, as he had for most of the past three days. Teodoro did not like him to visit the tavern where they sometimes took meals when they were in funds, but the small window in their rooms at the parish residence did not give much view of the street, and after three weeks had come and gone and Teodoro had still not returned, Esteban could no longer sit upstairs and pretend to study the lessons his tío, Inocencio, had left for him. If he had known exactly where his guardian had gone, Esteban would have set off in search of him, but since Teo had neglected to provide him with that information, he could do nothing but wait, watch for him, and worry about what would happen should he not return.

It was growing dark, and Beatriz, the tavern owner’s wife, had started throwing him looks (which he was doing his best to ignore) to indicate it was time to return home before the night’s heavy drinking began, when Esteban caught sight of a figure in a familiar wide-brimmed hat and worn brown jerkin. When he was younger, he might have run out the door, crying out to anyone with ears to hear that Teo had returned, but with age Esteban had learned some discretion and also some self-preservation. Slipping quietly outside, he tried to appear as if he were simply strolling the street to take some air and just happened to notice that Teodoro was approaching. He was so relieved to see Teo that he did not at first realize he was not alone.

Christian had sighed with relief when Ciéza pulled the horse to a stop. He was sure this was Madrid, though he had never been there before, which perhaps meant they had reached the end of their journey. Even if they had not, they were stopping for the moment, giving him a much needed break from Ciéza’s proximity. The last near fortnight had been… difficult, the Spaniard’s nearness a constant prod to Christian’s libido, until his erection seemed to nag at him day and night. Ciéza had not seemed to notice, but Christian needed a respite. Fortunately, they had left the horse at a livery stable and were now on foot. He glanced around to see an inn of slightly lesser quality than the one he had inhabited in Valencia, but that seemed to be their destination. A youth some years younger than Christian’s own age lounged against the wall, pushing off when he saw them and approaching eagerly. Christian frowned, wondering who this was.

“You’re late, Teo,” Esteban said accusingly, stopping in his tracks when he noticed the gentleman accompanying Teodoro. The man was elegantly dressed, if somewhat dusty and rumpled, and he was undeniably handsome, but something about way he dogged Teo’s steps like a shadow set Esteban’s teeth on edge. “Who is this?” he demanded, nodding at the stranger.

“My commission,” Teodoro answered shortly, amused that Esteban sought to distract him by taking the offensive. “Your Excellency, this whelp is my son, Esteban. Esteban, this is Don Cristian Blackwood.” He didn’t bother with the Englishman’s full title; it wouldn’t mean anything to Esteban, and if all went well he wouldn’t be around long enough for it to matter in any case. The younger men bowed to each other with the air of two dogs sniffing each other warily.

Christian had already discovered a weakness for Ciéza’s voice, but hearing his name spoken, not with boring English rhythm, but with the Spanish flair that made everything more alluring—Cristian, not Christian—only increased his susceptibility.

“Now, since you’ve obviously made yourself familiar with the tavern in my absence, make yourself useful and have Beatriz send us some food—and a bottle of wine.” Teo gestured to Blackwood to precede him into the taproom, his gaze following the graceful sway of the younger man’s backside as they entered. “Better make it two bottles,” he called to Esteban, forcing his gaze away.

About the Authors:

Growing up in Chicago, Nicki Bennett spent every Saturday at the central library, losing herself in the world of books. A voracious reader, she eventually found it difficult to find enough of the kind of stories she liked to read and decided to start writing them herself.

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When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press.

26 Hours in Paris by Demi Alex – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a viruatl book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Demi will be awarding a digital copy of 26 Hours in Paris to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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One day to see the sights.

One night to change your life.

Magazine writer Kathryn Taylor is traveling from New York to Paris for work. But the flirtatious Frenchman she left long ago is waiting at the airport–and he wants to play. . .

No one can guide Kat through the sensual city’s delights like Marko Renard. He let her get away once, and now he’s determined to make her stay–even if he has to tie her down. He will wrap her in cashmere, tease her tongue with chocolate, and take her to the peak of the Eiffel Tower . . . But can he convince the bohemian beauty she belongs with him, in his luxuriously decadent world? In business, he’s the master–but it’s Kat’s body and soul he truly longs to rule. He has just enough time to show her the pleasures of the boulevards, the boulangeries–and the bedroom. To finally get her to just say oui, he’ll have to seize the day–and the night. . .

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Why do I need to go to Paris?” Kathryn asked, rubbing her temple with more force. “I’ll be looking over my shoulder for him at every turn. What if I bump into him? What happens then?”

“You mean, how do you research the perfect place to find love when love finds you?” Paul folded his muscled arms over his chest and leaned back in his seat. “You could even have a true Parisian show you around all the hot spots. Why is that so bad, Kittykat?”

“Because Marko is not an option. He’s loaded, cultured, and out of my league.” Even worse, he’d insist on introducing her to his family like he had that Christmas years ago. “I’ve worked real hard to establish myself as a competent professional. It would kill me to have the mighty Renards look down on me.”

“Why would they look down on you?” Paul asked. “You’re being ridiculous.”

“You could never understand, Paul. You’re rich and entitled, cut from the same cloth as Marko. I’m a girl from Long Island that had to take online classes for eighteen months to finish my last semester and get my degree, all while keeping my dad’s aluminum-siding business afloat to save my childhood home. Could you picture a woman in Marko’s family with chipped nail polish and callouses on her palms?”

“Marko stayed by your side. You were the one that ran away from him.” Paul’s jaw was set, but his gaze was full of compassion. He’d seen what her father’s passing had done to her and her mother, and he’d also been there for her in that difficult time. She hadn’t turned away from him. The difference was that Paul was her friend. Marko was her soul mate.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_26HoursInParisDemi Alex writes steamy romances, blending emotional fulfillments of the heart and carnal desires in her work. Born in Athens, Greece, and raised in her own version of a big fat Greek life in New York, Demi was infected with book and travel bugs early, and currently admits the only therapy for this condition is to combine the two in fictional stories that allow her characters to let loose and experience all they crave. She attended SUNY at Stony Brook, and after changing her major numerous times, graduated with a degree in Public Policy and International Studies. Her characters are loosely based on people she encounters while she travels or during the time she spends matching homes to owners as a Realtor. She simply has a passion for matchmaking that can’t be put to rest.

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Hair Power by Piers Anthony – Spotlight

NEW RELEASE from Piers Anthony
Dreaming Big Publications brings you a new fantasy/sci-fi story from nationally bestselling author of the Xanth series, Piers Anthony. With about 175 books in print, Piers Anthony continues to bring fans stories with magic, a little naughtiness, and full of the humor they have come to expect.

7_22 piers anthony book coverTerminal cancer patient, Quiti, walks into an abandoned building planning on taking her life.

Instead, she encounters a telepathic ball of hair that insists it is an alien seeking to facilitate diplomatic communication on Earth.

Quiti assumes it is all a hallucination conjured up by her brain tumor.

Because of this assumption, when she saves the alien’s life and it insists on doing Quiti a favor in return, she only asks for her hair back. She soon discovers, however, that the creature’s gift extends much further than her new locks that can change color with a thought. As her powers grow and her deadly illness goes into remission, Quiti quickly realizes that there are those that would want to use her for her abilities and is forced to leave behind everything that she knew.

Will this blessing curse her to a life on the run, or does the mysterious hairball have more in store for her?

About the Author: 7_22 piers anthonyPiers Anthony, critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestselling Xanth series, brings together humor and adventure in this original story of loyalty, friendship, extraordinary powers, and hair.

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Her Unexpected Affair by Shea McMaster – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding digital copies of all books on the tour 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_HerUnexpectedAffairThis was a detour worth taking . . .

For as long as she can remember, Meilin Wu has had her life mapped out, and she’s well down her chosen path–which had no warning signs about a tall, golden Brit who would bowl her over the night before her arranged marriage . . .

Drew Robinson has nearly finished his formal education and is ready to face the world when he meets Meilin, an exquisite beauty with Chinese ancestry. He doesn’t mind she’s ten years older, and the fact she knows Mandarin only makes her that much more a perfect fit for his upcoming adventures in China. He just has to get her to dump her fiancé and convince her that a trip in
China will only enhance her established design business.

Easy for a guy who’s known for seeing sunshine wherever he goes. Right?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

A stab of jealousy knifed Meilin in the heart. Other people found grand passion, and here she was about to commit the rest of her days to a union with a man who failed to inspire the rush of heat she’d experienced by just shaking Drew’s hand. Insane. She didn’t know these people well enough to envy them so fiercely. And yet, that emotion was a thousand times stronger than any emotion she’d ever felt for Shan.

It confused her.

And when confused, she turned to small talk. “I detect more than a little pluminess in your accent, sir, but none in your sister’s. I’m guessing you were raised in England? Father and mother both British?”

“Good ear, not that it’s hard to decipher. I did the whole boarding school with proper elocution thing while Courtney was raised here in California as wild and free as a bird.”

“How very interesting. Are you to the manor born?” She did her best to say it in a British accent. Not that she’d had much practice, but who didn’t love a good BBC program from time to time?

Drew laughed. “No fancy titles in our branch, but we do have the biggest house in the district. My father likes to pretend he’s a lord of some sort at Christmas.”

The notion wasn’t foreign to Meilin.

Junlei arrived with the second round of drinks for her table and turned to Jack’s party to take their orders.

Her own father, directly descended from minor nobility turned laborer in California, liked to do the same. The reminders of how the family had started high born, fell to the lowest depths of society, then rose to the upper ranks were drummed into them all, chapter and verse at each large gathering. Come to think of it, at almost any gathering, large or small. The ancestors were well revered.

“Tell me about yourself,” Drew said. “Jack has told us nothing about you.”

Before she could open her mouth to politely turn the conversation again, Jack leaned across the table in order to be heard. “She’s an interior designer. One of the best in the city. Possibly in all California if not the west coast. Big time bigwig woman.”

Frowning at Jack did no good. She always let her work do her bragging for her, never did she need to toot her own horn. The wave of girls, fluttering like butterflies, returned to their table, relieving her from answering.

“Jack, what a surprise.”

“Hey, cousin.”

“Jack, you mangy dog, what are you doing here? Spying on Meilin’s last night out? We should kick you out of here.”

“Not while he has friends here.” Sunchu, one of her few remaining single friends, leaned over from the far side of the table to extend her hand to Drew. “And who might you be, tall, golden, and handsome?” Drew stood and exchanged handshakes all around as the entire group of five women settled at the table. Sure, they included Courtney, but Drew had ninety-nine percent of their attention. And why not? Exactly as Sunchu had said, he was tall, golden, and very handsome. Not only did he have a perfect tan, but he smelled good too. Not one whiff of heavily scented aftershave teased Meilin’s nose. He was as fresh as a forest. Clean water and towering pines came to mind. Maybe a hint of citrus, possibly lime, but his scent was light and refreshing. She’d have to find out what he used.

What in the hell was she doing sniffing him up like that? No, she would not ask him what scent he wore. Especially because his proximity made her pulse thrum wildly in her veins. His thigh brushed against hers and she swallowed a gasp, as the contact acted like a raindrop landing on a smooth lake, sending ripples of goosebumps down her leg and up her body.

It took only a second to drain her first drink, set it down, and reach for the second. This was all she needed. A short, intense attraction to a foreigner on the eve of her engagement. Sort of like a very short-term foreign exchange. Surprised at her comparison to a semester abroad, she laughed to herself.

Not happening. Not now, not ever.

And then he had to ask, “Would you like to dance?”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_HerUnexpectedAffair

Shea McMaster lives for traditional romance. Born in New Orleans, raised in California, Shea got moved to Alaska in 1977, where she attended high school before running back to California to get her English degree from Mills College. Alas, once back home she met and fell in love with her own forever true hero, a born and raised Alaska man. Since then she’s had a love-hate relationship with America’s largest state.

With her one and only son half way through college, and mostly out of the house, Shea is fortunate to spend her days engaged in daydreaming and turning those dreams into romantic novels and novellas featuring damsels in distress rescued by their own brains and hunky heroes. She also writes under the steamy romances under the name Morgan O’Reilly.

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Mean Girls by Lucy Felthouse – Spotlight

Out Now! Mean Girls – M/F BBW Erotic Romance by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985)
Mean Girls, a M/F erotic romance by Lucy Felthouse, with Rubenesque and body confidence themes, has been re-released with a stunning new cover and a lower price! Please note, however, if you’ve read it before, that the content hasn’t changed.

7_21 felthouse meangirlsAdele Blackthorne is a big girl, a curvy chick. She knows it, and she’s been picked on all her life because of it. But she’s gotten to the stage where she doesn’t care. She may be Rubenesque, but she’s healthy, too. Much healthier than the mean girls at the leisure center that point and stare and say spiteful things about her. Adele rises above it all, and simply enjoys her secretive glances at the center’s hunky lifeguard, Oliver.

As the bullying of Adele becomes worse, Oliver finds it increasingly difficult not to intervene. He doesn’t want to get into trouble with work, but equally he can’t stand to see Adele treated in such a horrible way. Especially since he doesn’t agree that she’s fat and unattractive. He thinks she’s a seriously sexy woman, and would like to get to know her better. Much better.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

As usual, Adele Blackthorne felt the weight of gazes on her as she walked from the changing room to the steps to get into the swimming pool. She was used to it by now, and had learned not to react, to just carry on as though she hadn’t noticed people staring and not-so-subtly pointing at her.

With a polite nod to Oliver, the lifeguard, as she passed him, Adele was grateful for his much more favorable reaction. If he thought she resembled a beached whale, he hid it much better than everyone else did. The warmth in his eyes as he nodded back even looked genuine. But she had no illusions, he probably slagged her off the moment he got into the staffroom, or home, talking about the fat woman who went swimming three times a week without fail. But for now, she’d pretend he didn’t. Pretend he thought she was sexy, and wanted to get lost in her abundant curves. God knows she’d like him to.

It was true, she was a big girl and she was most definitely aware of it. Ever since she’d gotten to the age where her excess weight could no longer be called puppy fat, she’d tried to do something about it. Every diet under the sun, ridiculous amounts of exercise… nothing worked. Adele had grown so depressed in her teens that she’d become bulimic. Naturally, she’d lost some weight that way, but she’d also made herself so ill that she’d had to be hospitalized. It had terrified the life out of her, and ever since, she’d resolved that she’d much rather be healthy than skinny.

Which was why she visited her local leisure center three times a week. She used the gym and sauna, and went swimming. And every single time she went, she’d catch someone gawping at her. But because of the years she’d spent—especially at school—being called all the names under the sun, she’d developed an incredibly thick skin. She was happy and healthy—so healthy in fact that she could probably beat all of those skinny bitches at a swimming race. Of course she never offered, never called anyone out on their rudeness and ignorance, but it made her feel better to know that she was fitter and much more polite than them.

Slipping into the fast lane, she settled her goggles carefully into position—she hated getting water in her eyes—then lifted her legs to rest the bottoms of her feet against the end of the pool. Looking at the clock on the wall that counted seconds, she waited until the hand reached the top, then pushed off from the side and launched herself into the lane. It was quiet, so she had this section of the pool to herself. Her arms cut through the water, her legs flapped wildly and she did ten laps without losing any speed. Emerging from the water, she checked the clock again and was pleased to note she’d beaten her previous time.

She was just about to start another ten laps, when she heard voices from the other side of the pool. Voices that clearly forgot how well they carried on water. It was as though they were right next to her.

“God, I’m surprised all the water doesn’t jump out of the pool when she gets in. And the way she swims—she’ll cause a tidal wave one of these days.”

The spiteful words were followed by a trio of sniggers, and Adele gritted her teeth. Part of her wished that she could create a bloody tidal wave, so it would sweep those bitches under water and drown them. The other part of her tsked at the thought. Ideas like that made her just as bad as them, just as unpleasant, just as cowardly.

Because they were cowardly—the way they spoke about her behind her back proved that. If they ever passed her somewhere in the leisure center or its car park, they never said anything, not one word. They’d just scurry away as fast as they could, then titter when they thought she was out of earshot. She hoped that just one time, someone would say something to her face, so she could retaliate, speak up for herself. There was no way she’d start anything—she didn’t want to add confrontational to the list of faults that the mean girls had obviously compiled about her.

Sucking in a deep breath, Adele launched into another ten laps, allowing the chilly water and the exertion of powering through it to burn away her irritation. Because that’s all it was—irritation. She wasn’t angry. Anger was too powerful an emotion, and one that was totally wasted on those ignorant women. She almost felt sorry for them, actually. If they had nothing better to do than to stare at her and slag her off all the time, then they clearly had very dull lives.

The thought cheered her considerably and when she completed her twentieth lap, she lay her forearms on the edge of the pool and hoiked herself up. Her back was pressed against the side, and from here she had a perfect view of the rest of the pool. Tugging her goggles down so they hung around her neck, she had a damn good look at everyone else. The small children and their guardians in the kids’ pool right at the other end of the enormous hall, the old people who swum so slowly as they chatted that she was surprised they stayed afloat, the relentless movement of the man in the medium-speed lane and, of course, the mean girls who were in the same sort of position she was, but at the side of the pool rather than the end. The side which faced the lifeguard station.

Adele narrowed her eyes and watched them—the two waif-like blondes and a brunette—as they chatted and giggled, and it seemed for a change, not about her. They’d clearly changed the subject since their previous spouting of vitriol. Their focus was very firmly on Oliver as he sat on his lofty perch, surveying the pools before him, ready to jump in should anyone get into trouble. She often toyed with the idea of faking a problem, just to get him into the pool and his strong arms around her. However, she knew that although he’d undoubtedly do his duty and help her, he’d never believe such a strong swimmer would need his assistance. Then he’d lose all respect for her, and probably stop hiding his disdain for her so effectively. And the polite nods and smiles she got from him were the only thing—aside from the center’s top-notch facilities—that made the place bearable. She was sure that if the three witches—a nickname she’d secretly come up with for the women—had their way, there would be a sign on the main doors to the building saying ‘No Fat People Allowed.’

About the Author: Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller) and Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller). Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 140 publications to her name.

She owns Erotica For All, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter and Facebook. You can also subscribe to her monthly newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

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All In by Simona Ahrnstedt – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Simona will be awarding a print copy of ALL IN (US/Canada only) 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_AllInIn the cutthroat world of Sweden’s financial elite, no one knows that better than corporate raider David Hammar. Ruthless. Notorious. Unstoppable. He’s out to hijack the ultimate prize, Investum. After years of planning, all the players are in place; he needs just one member of the aristocratic owning family on his side—Natalia De la Grip.

Elegant, brilliant, driven to succeed in a man’s world, Natalia is curious about David’s unexpected invitation to lunch. Everyone knows that he is rich, dangerous, unethical; she soon discovers he is also deeply scarred.

The attraction between these two is impossible, but the long Swedish nights unfold an affair that will bring to light shocking secrets, forever alter a family, and force both Natalia and David to confront their innermost fears and desires.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Michel nodded. After all, this was what Hammar Capital did. Their team of analysts searched for companies that weren’t doing as well as they should be. David and Michel identified the problems—often incompetent leadership—and then vacuumed up shares in order to put together a majority holding

Then they went in, brutally, took over, broke the company into pieces and restructured, sold, and profited. They were better at this than almost anyone else—owning and improving. Sometimes it went smoothly. People cooperated, and Hammar Capital was able to drive its agenda. Sometimes there was a fight.

“I’d still like to get someone from the owning family on our side,” David said as southern Stockholm spread out beneath them. Having one or more of the big shareholders, some of the giant retirement fund managers, for example, on your side was critical for success in a hostile takeover this big. David and Michel had spent a lot of time convincing the managers, attended endless meetings, and run the numbers countless times. But winning over someone from the actual owning family had several advantages. In part, it would be an enormously prestigious symbolic win, especially with this firm, Investum, one of Sweden’s biggest and oldest companies. It would also automatically win over a number of other shareholders who would vote in favor of Hammar Capital if David and Michel could show that they had someone from the inner circle on their side. “It would make the process a lot easier,” he continued.

“But who?”

“There is one person who actually has gone her own way in that family,” said David as Bromma Airport came into view on the horizon.

Michel was quiet for a bit. “You mean the daughter, right?”

“Yes,” David said. “She’s an unknown but considered to be quite the talent. It’s possible that she’s dissatisfied with how the men are treating her.” Investum wasn’t just an old and traditional company. It was patriarchal in a way that would make the 1950s seem modern and enlightened.

“Do you really believe you can win over anyone from that family?” Michel asked hesitantly. “You’re not exactly popular with them.”

David almost laughed at the understatement.

Investum was controlled by the De la Grip family, and the company did billions of kronor worth of business a day. Indirectly Investum, and thus the De la Grip family, controlled close to a tenth of Sweden’s GNP and owned the biggest bank in the country. Family members sat on the board of directors of close to every major Swedish company. The De la Grip family was upper-class, traditional, and wealthy. As close to royalty as you could get without actually being royal. And with significantly bluer blood than any member of the House of Bernadotte, Sweden’s royal family. It would be unlikely for David Hammar, the upstart, to get anyone from the innermost circle— known for their loyalty—to change sides and join him, an infamous venture capitalist and corporate raider.

But he’d done it before, convinced a few family members to join forces with him. That often meant leaving a trail of broken family ties behind him, which he usually regretted, but in this case it would be a welcome bonus.

“I’m going to try,” he said.

“That’s damn near insane,” said Michel. It wasn’t the first time in the last year he’d uttered those words.

David nodded briefly. “I already called to set up a lunch meeting with her.”

“Of course you did,” said Michel as the helicopter started its descent for landing. The flight had taken less than thirty minutes. “And what did she say?”

David thought about the cool voice he’d gotten on the line, not an assistant’s but that of Natalia De la Grip herself. She had sounded surprised but hadn’t said very much, just thanked him for the invitation, and then had her assistant confirm the lunch appointment by e-mail.

“She said she was looking forward to our meeting.”

“She did?”

David laughed, tersely and joylessly. Her voice had been distinctive in that patrician way that almost inevitably triggered his disdain for the upper classes. Natalia De la Grip was one of about a hundred women in Sweden who had been born with the title of countess, the elite of the elite. He hardly had the words to express how little he thought of that kind of person.

“No,” he said. “She didn’t say that.” But then he hadn’t expected her to, either.

About the Author:

Simona Ahrnstedt © 2014 Fotograf Anna-Lena Ahlstršm +46-709-797817

Simona Ahrnstedt © 2014 Fotograf Anna-Lena Ahlstršm +46-709-797817

Simona Ahrnstedt was born in Prague and is a licensed psychologist, a cognitive behavioral therapist, and most importantly, a bestselling author. As her novels have swept bestseller lists in her native Sweden, she has become a spokesperson for books by women, for women, and about women. Her provocative women’s fiction has been sold in multiple languages as well as audio format. She lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her two teenagers.

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My Inspiration Behind Finished by Anne Holster – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Anne Holster will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My Inspiration behind Finished

Anyone who writes a novel is inevitably asked what their inspiration was. Of the many questions I have been asked as a fairly new writer, the most common are concerned with how the story came to me, how I created the characters, and how I chose my setting. Like most writers, I was inspired in large part by the books I love – you know, the ones you can’t wait to get home and read? The ones that make you ignore a ringing phone or stay up hours past your bedtime, even if it means you’ll be tired for work the next day?

That is the effect I wanted my own books to have on readers. I tend to be mostly drawn to stories that revolve around relatively ‘normal’ people and not the likes of professional athletes, billionaires or werewolves. I like the reader to think, hey, this could really happen; this could be me. That’s how Jess and Finn from my new novel Finished were born. Finn is just a regular college student, cramming for finals and working a part-time job. On the other hand, though, he’s also that dreamy guy who’s got the bad-boy edge to him that could drive any red-blooded American girl crazy.

It’s the same with Jess. She’s a regular girl who’s about to start her first year of college and works a part-time summer job just like so many of us have done at her age. Of course she’s also hoping to catch the eye of the bad-boy like I’m sure so many others have tried to do at her age.

As for the setting, I eventually chose the Jersey Shore simply because it was easy for me to relate to. The Jersey Shore is where I spent much of my youth, experiencing many of the same things that the array of characters in Finished are going through. When I began writing the book I wasn’t sure what the setting would be after the first few chapters which take place on a college campus. It just popped into my head one day and I decided to go with it. I’m glad I did because I loved the way it turned out!

MediaKit_BookCover_FinishedIt began with a drunken kiss, a furtive but passionate grope atop a pile of discarded winter coats. Downstairs, the party raged on, but all Jess hears is the pounding of her heart as Finn Evans – the guy she had fantasized about for God-knows-how-long – ran his hands along her body. It isn’t until Finn staggers from the dark room that Jess realizes she has not only lost her virginity, but her underwear as well. Things only get worse when she sees Finn again and realizes he doesn’t even know it was her in the bedroom that night! She heads to the Jersey Shore with her best friend, hoping a summer of fun will heal her broken heart.

Finn awakes with a colossal hangover and a pair of girl’s underwear jammed in his pocket. It’s not the first time he’s had sex at a party, but it is the first time he doesn’t know the girl’s identity. Thinking he’ll never see her again, he heads to the Jersey Shore for a summer of sun, sand and sex.

While down at the shore, Jess and Finn find themselves thrown together time and time again, eventually forging an unlikely friendship. By the time Finn realizes he’s fallen for her, Jess is with someone else. Will Finn be able to convince Jess that he is the one for her, or will his bad boy reputation haunt him forever?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Finn, you gotta see this,” Jess said over her shoulder, “Jill’s standing on the porch railing with a kazoo in her mouth. I think she’s using it to ref beer pong.”

“No shit!” I said, walking up behind her. “She’s gonna end up on her ass in the sand the way she’s teetering back and forth like that.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the vision of Jill sprawled across the sand in front of the house.

Suddenly I got a weird feeling of déjà vu, a vague impression of me and Jess in a room. It was the smell of her shampoo or soap or something… I chased the memory, but came up with nothing. I figured it was probably all the time we’d spent together over the summer.

We were both startled when someone yelled Jess’ name from the other room. She whipped around to see who it was and found herself staring right into my eyes. I could have stepped back, but I didn’t. Then again, neither did she. We just stood there for a minute, our faces nearly touching, and I knew if I’d had a few more beers in me I might’ve done something stupid like, I dunno, leaned in and kissed her or something. Instead, I just slowly pulled back.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_FinishedAnne Holster resides in Northern New Jersey with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, playing tennis and reading angsty romance novels. She is currently working on her third novel.

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Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Karin 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.

MediaKit_BookCover_SwordOfShadowsSisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a millennial tradition once forbidden to women. When war strikes, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.

Determined to defend her people, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.

Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.

“War propels the story forward, and the characters are at their best when circumstances are at their worst.” -Publishers Weekly

This is the second book in THE SILVER WEB trilogy. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, or as the sequel to the first book, EOLYN.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

A hush of wings on the windowsill interrupted Eolyn’s thoughts. She looked up to see a Great River Owl, its proud silhouette outlined by moonlight.

Eolyn rose to her feet in surprise, keenly aware of its penetrating gaze, though she could not see its round eyes in the dark. A breeze ruffled its feathers. Its aura was impossibly familiar: intense shades of gold, burgundy, and forest green, shot through with streaks of deepest indigo.

She held her breath and let it go in a whisper. “Akmael?”

More than a question, it was a hope, a fear, an invocation.

A shimmer passed through the owl, followed by a flash of white light. Suddenly Akmael was with her, the heat of his hand upon her throat, the strength of his fingers intertwining in her hair, the demand of his lips upon hers, warm and full of passion. The magic of the South Woods blew through the window in a humid gust, swirling about them, begging Eolyn to remember who she was and what she once meant to him.

Akmael kissed Eolyn until she had no more breath to give. Then he paused and held her close, their foreheads touching as her fingers traced the familiar prominence of his cheekbone, the line of his jaw, the curve of his full lips.

All she could hear was his desire, carried on the rhythm of his heart. She dared not speak, for if she did, she might stumble upon words of caution or prudence or common sense, and none of that had any place here. Not when he was so near, nearer than he had been in such a painfully long time, closer than he might ever be again.

This is a gift from the Gods, Akmael had once said. To deny it would be an insult to them.

“Eolyn, I—”

She hushed him with a kiss.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_SwordOfShadowsKarin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands for over twenty years. Her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.

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Buy EOLYN, Book One of THE SILVER WEB and SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB at Amazon.

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How Do You Handle Negative Criticism? by Merry Freer – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Merry will be awarding a $20 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.

How do you handle negative criticism?

Assuming the critic is well-intentioned, it is my opinion there is no such thing as negative criticism. If all of the feedback an author receives sounds like it came from their mom, it does them a disservice as a writer. It is difficult to be objective about one’s own work. That’s why writers use content editors and beta readers….to get honest evaluations of their work. I always smile when a reader prefaces his/her opinions of my work by asking, “Will it bother you if I’m perfectly honest with you?” Bother me? Telling me what you think I want to hear will not be helpful to me at all. I need to hear about inconsistencies and missing information. I need to know if there are errors in grammar or typos.

It’s sort of like when you have a piece of broccoli stuck between your teeth or a rip in your pants. A good friend will tell you. Wouldn’t you want to know?

How do I handle negative criticism?

I say, “Thank you.”

Negative reviews are a different story. That’s where the thick skin you grew while writing has to get thicker after publishing. One of the most important and most difficult lessons a writer needs to learn is to take reviews with a grain of salt and NEVER respond to them. Many will contradict one another and some you will wonder whether the reviewer read the same book you wrote. It is never a good idea to engage with a reader regardless of the review the reader gave. Many or most readers appreciate a feeling of anonymity when writing a review. The only time a review should really be taken to heart (without comment) is when the reviewer finds technical problems with your work. Consider it to be free proofing. Otherwise, my advice is both simple and hard as hell. IGNORE! IGNORE! IGNORE!

MediaKit_BookCover_SpecialLevelsOfEarthlyHellDrew Collins experiences the world in black and white. As an educated man of science, he rejects belief in the paranormal and the existence of demons. Until an evil energy he calls “The Beast” repeatedly enters his bedroom at night and takes possession of his wife’s body.

What he witnesses at night in his own bedroom cannot be reconciled with science. And yet he sees it with his own eyes, feels its presence, ominous and evil, with his entire being.

Against every instinct, Drew reaches out for help. It is not just his marriage that’s at stake. The evil force has invaded his wife’s family, tearing them apart and culminating in bloodshed and murder. Drew must face a stark choice: sacrifice his belief that the world is a rational place and fight an entity he doesn’t understand and is reluctant to label, or abandon his wife and her family.

Author’s Note to the Reader: Sadly, the most frightening and brutal events in this book are factual. The story is loosely based on one family’s experience with multiple tragedies, some of them “ripped from the headlines.” It is also an excruciatingly factual account of one man’s experience with a loved one who is possessed by a demonic presence. However, it transcends genre and is as much a tale of romance, of cultural barriers, of abuse, and of family drama, as it is of demonic possession. The link between the introduction of an evil spirit and the heartbreaking misfortunes that are visited on the family is left for the reader to decide.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Drew didn’t remember falling asleep. He did remember waking up. Something was wrong. A chill traveled up his spine and enveloped him. With a sickening feeling of familiarity, sweat began to form on his forehead and trickle down his temples as fear overcame him. He quickly glanced at the digital clock on the table beside the bed. The blood-red numbers announced the time eerily – 3:00am – a haunting reminder of the first time.

Someone was watching him. He was certain of it. His eyes were immediately drawn to the window. A dark fear formed in his gut and sent out tentacles of terror that invaded his thoughts and squeezed his lungs, threatening his very breath.

The sensation of movement brought him to his feet but his trembling legs couldn’t support him and he allowed himself to fall back onto the bed next to his sleeping wife, Adriana. Turning his head toward the window, he looked closer at what appeared to be vapor, distorted lines of energy waving like the air in the distance over a desert highway in August. A terrifying feeling of knowledge washed over him. It was alive.

Drew’s mind flashed to the first time he had encountered the demon in the bedroom at his mother’s house, the night it hijacked Adriana’s body – at 3:00am. It was always at 3:00am.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_SpecialLevelsOfEarthlyHell

Merry Freer is an author of memoir and fact-based fiction. “Special Levels of Earthly Hell: The Story of One Family’s Chilling Struggle with Demonic Possession” was inspired by actual events that were experienced by her nuclear and extended families, tearing relationships apart and making national news headlines. This book comes on the heels of her first book, a memoir named “Doctor, Doctor.” While “Doctor, Doctor” is her debut novel, she has been a writer and editor for many years, including work with the San Diego Chargers and the San Diego Hall of Champions. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from San Diego State University and has been a featured speaker for classes dealing with medical ethics.

Her controversial memoir, “Doctor, Doctor,” topped the Best Seller List in True Crime/White Collar Crime for 10 months and received a “Best Books of 2014” award from “Suspense Magazine.”

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