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October 31 in the Medieval World by Barbara Bettis – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Barbara will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

October 31 in the Medeival World

10_30 October- Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry octobre detail-Wikipedia CommonsHere it is, the day before Halloween. Have you stocked up on goodies for the little goblins? Got your costume ready to party? Sir Stephen and Lady Evelynn may not don costumes, but three months after their wedding, they are all set to party—to celebrate the traditional end of summer with their people in Nottinghamshire. Oct. 31 was a major holiday in the medieval world.

In one of the early Christian church’s ubiquitous moves, sometime in the 9th Century the celebration of All Saints Day officially was moved to Nov. 1, the day after the Celtic end of year. That’s Summer’s End, also known as Samhain (pronounced “Sah-win”). Samhain, Oct. 31, was to become known as All Hallow’s Eve or as we call it, Halloween.

10_30 medieval harvest 2Medieval England’s Midlands celebrated the end of harvest at this time, and likely some of the old traditions crept in even through the area wasn’t primarily Celtic. In the “old” religion (before Christianity), a commonly held belief was that on this night, the curtain between Earth and the spirit world was thinnest. Mortals had to be wary of mischief from restless spirits.

As Dr. Madeleine Pelner Cosman writes, “More Halloween divinations ask[d] spirits about love and life than on all other holidays together” (81). Masked children would roam from home to home “singing and begging for soul cakes for wandering spirits” (82). And if no food was forthcoming, “beggars or souls [would] play pranks” (82).

That sounds an awfully lot like some of the Trick or Treat tales from my childhood. At least one home in our rural community had windows soaped or trees T-P’ed every Halloween.

But back to the 12th Century. Many of our other traditions are marked from that time: apple bobbing, music, dancing, bonfires. Lights welcomed good spirits and discouraged bad ones, so tables contained the medieval version of Jack o’lanterns carved from turnips or squash. (Pumpkins came from America, so weren’t known in medieval England.)

Spirits or not, the partying also was considered a celebration for the end of harvest. October saw the end of ploughing, planting, and harrowing of fields for winter crops. It saw the pigs loosed in the woods to fatten up on nuts for six weeks until mid-Blood Month, or November, when animals were slaughtered for the winter.

So whether people were celebrating spirits or winding down a long, hard, year of labor, Halloween was a party. And if things got too out of hand, the church had it covered. Folks could look forward to two days of intense prayer: All Saints Day, Nov. 1 and All Souls Day, Nov. 2.

European Farming During the Middle Ages to 1800s.
Cosman, Madeleine Pelner. Medieval Holidays and Festival: A Calendar of Celebrations. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981.
Staples, Andy.

10_30 Cover_The Heart of the PhoenixSome call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart.


Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen’s cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.

Can be cruel

Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.

And deadly

When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason.

Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“You were able to find a ship?” she asked.

“Yes.” He gestured with the empty wooden spoon. “We won’t be alone. An emissary for King John bespoke it, but he agreed to share quarters with us.”

Her head tilted to one side. “How did you manage that? I can’t imagine a knight with such authority condescending to share anything with strangers.”

“I told him your brother had ordered you home and would be furious if you delayed. You and the maid will share a small cabin, while the lord occupies the captain’s quarters. I have no idea how large your chamber will be, but we’ll make the best of it.”

“We?” She didn’t look up as she took another bite.

Damn her, what did she find amusing in what he’d just said, for there was no mistaking the humor in her voice. She looked up as he stalked toward the bed. Yes, a mischievous light glimmered in her eyes. He loomed above her and slowly leaned in.

“You’d best try to appear the anxious maiden, in fear of her brother,” he warned. “Or questions might arise that none of us want to answer.”

The amusement faded. “What questions?” Her breath caressed his cheek.

He reared back. “Just behave yourself during the passage.”

“This is the second time you’ve warned me about my conduct. Do you fear I will ride off with one of the guards?”

He clenched his teeth to hold back a retort. Let her have her say. She’d be easier to deal with on the morrow if all her complaints were aired.

“We both know my behavior has been perfectly appropriate. And I’ve accepted each of your edicts calmly.” Her gaze flicked away, as if she knew that statement stretched the truth.

“But that’s not the problem, is it?” she added, her voice low, intent. “Why are you really on this journey, Stephen? We both know it’s not to protect me.”

About the Author: 10_30 AuthorPicAward-winning author Barbara Bettis has always loved history and English. As a college freshman, she considered becoming an archeologist until she realized there likely would be bugs and snakes involved. And math.

A former health insurance claims adjuster, a former journalist, a former journalism teacher, Barbara Bettis plans never to be a “former” author. Currently, she supports her writing habit as an adjunct English instructor at a community college near her home in Missouri.

She now lives in Missouri, where by day she’s a mild-mannered English teacher, and by night she’s an intrepid plotter of tales featuring heroines to die for—and heroes to live for.

Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Buy the book at Amazon or The Wild Rose Press.

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Five Things We May Not Know About Shelley Coriell – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a copy of THE BURIED.

Five Things We May Not Know About You
1. I am fascinated with cemeteries and like to visit them while on vacation. There’s so much history and story found in the places where we bury the dead and celebrate their lives.

2. I’d planned on being a veterinarian until right before college when our family vet invited me to scrub in during surgery for Blue, my family’s beloved blue tick hound. Thirty seconds into the surgery, I fainted. I woke up on a gurney in the operating room next to Blue’s with my dad leaning over me and saying, “Sissy, maybe you should become a writer.”

3. As a child, I had reoccurring nightmares about being buried alive. Writing THE BURIED was both terrifying and therapeutic.

4. I once interviewed Pope John Paul II.

5. The best job I ever had: restaurant reviewer.


“It’s cold. And dark. I can’t breathe.”

Successful, ambitious state prosecutor Grace Courtemanche is at the top of her game. Then she gets a chilling call from a young woman claiming to be buried alive. Desperate to find the victim before it’s too late, Grace will do whatever it takes . . . even if it means excavating the darkest secrets of her own past and turning to the one man she thought she would never see again.

10_31 Coriell_TheBuried_MMFBI agent Theodore “Hatch” Hatcher is a man without roots-and that’s the way he likes it. But when a grisly crime shatters Cyprus Bend, Florida, Hatch is dragged back to the small town-and the one woman-he hoped was in his rearview for good. Forced to confront  the wreckage of their love affair, Hatch and Grace may just find that sometimes the deepest wounds leave the most beautiful scars-and that history repeating itself may just be what they need to stop a killer . . . and save their own hearts.

Buy Links:
10_31 Shelley_CoriellAbout the author:
A former newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and restaurant reviewer. These days Shelley writes smart, funny novels for teens and big, edgy romantic suspense. A six-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, she lives and loves in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue Weimaraner. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her baking high-calorie, high-fat desserts and haunting local farmers markets for the perfect plum.
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What I Love About Writing a Series by Shona Hust – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book (US/Canada only)

What I love about writing a series

While I have written several standalone books (Ruby’s Ghost and How to Breathe Fire) writing in a series offers a very different experience. The world can be more expansive, more detailed and grow with each book.

Because in romance each book in a series features a different couple; it is a chance to explore different angles of the world–the changeling son of the fairy Prince sees Annwyn very differently to his father. The Lord of the Hunt experiences a different life at Court to the King or the ingénue. It’s this variation in view point that allows a series to be fresh and interesting with every visit—for me and the reader.

I build the world as I go. So while I know the main structure I don’t discover the details until the character is in place and interacting with the world. This means I have to keep a close track of what is going on, especially once all of Sulia’s schemes started appearing!

While the world building is fun and I love creating new details, I also love to see how older characters are going. Yes they got their happily ever after…but what does that mean as not every character dreams of white picket fences and babies. Some want their freedom (Verden in Lord of the Hunt) others just want to get home (Ella in The Changeling Soldier).

In To Love a King the readers get to see Caspian and Lydia, Taryn and Verden and Isaac again. It is no easy task for Felan to claim the throne and heal Annwyn and our world. But fortunately he had friends who are willing to risk their life and happiness to help.

While writing a series is more complicated than writing a standalone story, being able to explore the world more fully and with various characters is well worth the extra work.

You can check out the Court of Annwyn series on Goodreads.

10_29 shona book coverHe’s Trying to Reclaim His Past

To keep the balance between good and evil at the court of Annwyn, Prince Felan ap Gwyn has two weeks to marry and take the crown. But he wants more than just power—he wants love; a love he once had but was too stubborn to hold on to.

She’s Struggling to Face the Future

It took years for Jacqueline Ara to put her life back together after Felan abandoned her. She’s moved on, even if her heart still burns for him. But with war in Annwyn looming and death bleeding into the mortal world, Felan and Jacquie will need to heal old wounds and rekindle the passion that once welled between them…or face losing everything.

Buy the book at Amazon, Apples, Books a Million, Barnes and Noble, Chapters, IndieBound, or Kobo.

About the Author:Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she writes contemporary, paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi romance. You can find out more at, Twitter, or Facebook. Sign up for Shoa’s newsletter here.

The Tithe by Elle Hill – Q&A and Giveaway

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

Welcome to Long and Short Reviews, Elle. What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve never not written. I wrote stories in grade school. I moved to very, very bad novels in junior high. In high school, I penned angsty poetry. I stopped writing during the college years – you know, since getting five hours of sleep a night was a luxury. After finally graduating, though, I started whining about how I wanted to write but, you know, was I good enough, and would people buy my books, and I don’t even know how to publish or market a book. My wise oldest sister, also an author, told me to shut up and start writing. Best advice ever.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Don’t quit your day job. Fortunately for us newbie writers, indie and self publishing have opened up new doors and allowed many new voices and opportunities. Unfortunately for us, this means the market is saturated with books. This in a time when fewer Americans are reading. It means writing isn’t a lucrative field. Then again, if you’re a writer, you probably don’t do it with dollar signs flashing in your eyes.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

On an everyday level, I try to prevent this by stopping for the night in the middle of an exciting scene. It’s really hard, but it makes coming back to the writing the next day an exercise in joy and excitement.

That said, I sometimes do get a little stopped up. This usually happens after I’ve taken a break from writing and have read several amazing books by my favorite authors. I start down the unfortunate but understandable path of “Am I as good as her?” and “But I don’t write action scenes like he does” and such. I usually move beyond this after a few days or weeks by consistently reminding myself everyone is better than someone. Still, it stings.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I hate to say it, because he’s relentlessly preachy and political. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, because I can be pretty preachy, too, especially when teaching a class about social justice issues. I just happen to clash with his politics. Anyway, my favorite author is Dean Koontz. He writes paranormal stuff, which I find sexy, but most importantly to me, he uses the most beautiful and poetic language to do so. Also, his vocabulary is pretty awe-inspiring. When it comes to writing, vocab size does matter!

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

The dance of language. Yes, a novel needs a good plot, relatable characters, and a powerful message. What truly seduces me, though, is the movement and rhythm of words, the way they fit or crash together, the hypnotic combination of words, ideas, and sounds.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Joshua Barstow, the main character, has a condition known as Charcot Marie Tooth Syndrome. Her love interest, Blue, has blindness, and her best friends experience schizophrenia, a larger body size, and wheelchair use. The Tithe is a story in which people with different bodies and minds take center stage and simply live their lives, challenging readers to question why we define “disabled” the ways we do. It is an intellectual and political novel as much as a science fiction romance.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?

I’m actually penning my first lesbian paranormal romance. Woot! Here’s the premise: A security guard, Jacqueline, is paid big buckeroos to escort and protect a leader, Marin, from Florida to South Dakota to attend a summit. They’re hunted by creatures who look human but clearly aren’t. The more she gets to know her charge, the more Jack thinks Marin might not be entirely human, either.

What are you reading now?

I just (as in hours ago) finished rereading Dean Koontz’s Phantoms. Before that, I read a lesbian romance by Meghan O’Brien. Who knows what’s next?

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

At risk of sounding like a foaming-at-the-mouth Dean Koontz fangirl, the novel I’m currently writing, a paranormal romance that centers around a road trip from Florida to South Dakota, was inspired by Koontz’s Innocence.

Another book series that helped show me how racial, sexual, gender, ability, and geographic diversity can create the most beautiful literary mosaic is Tad Williams’ Otherland Series.

Between you and me (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!), The Tithe was mostly inspired by Katy Perry’s “E.T.” song. Don’t judge me. That said, and although I’d already planned my plot when I read the book (you’ll notice some similarities), I found inspiration for its tone in The Hunger Games Series.

Describe your writing space.

I bought my first house a few months ago, and for the first time in my life, I have an office. I’m tickled fuchsia! I packed the room with my desk, a bookcase, my work materials, and various cat toys (in a vain attempt to get the cats not to lie on my keyboard while I type). Take that, add coffee, and I, per Virginia Woolf, now have a room of my own.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Since writing doesn’t pay for most authors, I have a day job. I teach sociology at a local university, a job I often remark is the best one in the world.

When I’m not teaching, I’m usually either reading or cuddling with pets or my romantic partner. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I can do all three.

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

When I first started writing, everyone’s advice was to avoid politics and make my novels as bland as rice pudding. I have my PhD in sociology, wrote my dissertation on the politics of fat, and have published and performed some very political poetry. Erasing politics from my work didn’t come naturally to me, but I did it.

I’ve since recovered. For The Tithe, I figured if I was writing a fundamentally sociological novel that explores social mores, governmental structures, and religious institutions, there was no way I could divorce myself from my progressive politics. Letting myself explore this universe – its version of utopia, its familial structures, its policing of sexuality and reproduction, the very nature of religious belief systems — was absolutely the best part of writing this novel.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

So far, I’ve published four books: Hunted, Hunted Past, Hunted Dreams, and The Tithe. I know I should say it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite, since they’re all my babies; however, that’s, you know, a big ol’ lie. By far, The Tithe is my favorite. It’s a marriage of the things that mean the most to me: sociological ponderings, political analyses, theology, social justice issues, and vivid literary characters. Okay, that makes it sound dry and academic. I promise everything is mixed in with plenty of romance, intrigue, and supernatural weirdness.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

First, I wanted to be a writer. Later, I wanted to be a teacher. Here I am, doing both. It’s a good life.

Where are you from and what do you love best about your hometown?

I was born and raised in Nampa, Idaho, a town about 20 miles away from Boise. In fact, I got my undergraduate degree at Boise State University. I moved to California to attend grad school and only occasionally visit Idaho to see one of my sisters.

What do I like best about my hometown? My friends and family, of course!

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

I developed my pen name because I started publishing my books right after I earned my Ph.D. and was searching for academic jobs. I figured a Google search that turned up my name connected with bodice rippers might not bode so well for me.

My nom de plume, Elle Hill, is super simple. The first name, “Elle,” is my real first initial (L). My last name is my favorite’s middle name.

Interestingly, for me at least, is that when my oldest sister, who is also a writer, independently constructed her own nom de plume, she came up with “Layne Hill,” which is our mother’s and father’s middle names. We laughed when we shared our new names, although she eventually discarded hers and now publishes under her real name.

What are your favorite TV shows?

I’m super boring, I know, but I don’t engage very much with popular visual media. As a sociologist who studied media for her Master’s thesis, I read a lot of studies that talked about the effects on women’s senses of self when engaging with unrealistic beauty standards as represented in media. I decided to stop watching TV and movies and never read another popular magazine. It’s actually a big relief for me.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?

My mother, oldest sister, and nephew live in Arizona. Another sister lives in Idaho. My best friend and her partner are in California. My fiancé’s entire family resides in Florida. Given how much I hate driving and flying, I would pay anything to be able to teleport.

What is a talent you wish you had, but don’t?

I have such a burning need to express myself. I blame it on being such an introvert. Anyway, I wish I could paint gorgeous pictures, shoot artistic photos, sculpt luscious figures, craft and sing songs fit for divas. I can’t do any of those things, but I do have a talent with the written word, thank goodness.

10_29 tithe Cover_TheTitheEvery seven years, the towns sacrifice their sick and disabled. No one has ever survived the angels’ harvest. Until now.

“Every seven years, seven persons from each of the ten towns must go into the desert, where they will enter into the realm of Elovah, their God.”

No one knows exactly what happens to these seventy Tithes, but everyone knows who: the “unworkables,” those with differing physical and mental capacities. Joshua Barstow, raised for twenty years among her town’s holy women, is one of these seventy Tithes. She is joined by the effervescent Lynna, the scholarly Avery, and the amoral Blue, a man who has spent most of his life in total solitude.

Each night, an angel swoops down to take one of their numbers. Each night, that is, except the first, when the angel touches Josh… and leaves her. What is so special about Josh? She doesn’t feel special; she feels like a woman trying to survive while finally learning the meanings of friendship, community, and love.

How funny that she had to be sacrificed to find reasons to live.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Josh shook her head. “It sounds so sad.”

“It wasn’t. You can’t have sadness unless you know happiness. I knew neither.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes.

Finally, in a voice mere decibels from a whisper, Josh asked, “What about now?” Shameless, she knew, but maybe voicing the question would exorcise it.

“Why are you asking a question you already know the answer to?” he asked in his inflectionless voice.

“I don’t,” she insisted.

“Everything changed when you touched me,” he said.

After a confused moment, and with many darting glances, she asked in a low tone, “In bed?”

“In the hallway. You touched me, and my life cleaved into a before and a now. Before, I existed, and it was fine. I was content. And then, you. Everything cracked open, and I felt as if I’d just reminded my senses to function. Now, everything feels so raw. Sometimes just the passing of time abrades my skin. Being with you is exquisite and real. And painful.”

Very carefully, Josh put her hands on her knees and leaned forward. She stared at the wall opposite them, against which Taro no longer pressed himself. In she breathed, and out. In and out.

Josh straightened her posture and rubbed her calf with her other foot. “What can I do to make it hurt less?” she asked him.

Blue’s lips thinned into a smile. “I don’t want it to hurt less. Every second that scrapes my skin is another one I spend with you.”

About the Author: 10_29 tithe AuthorPicBorn in Idaho during the height of disco, Elle Hill now chicken-pecks at the keyboard while rocking out to Donna Summer and KC and the Sunshine Band. She worked in Idaho for several years as a secretary and journalist before moving to California and selling her soul to academia. After receiving her PhD in Sociology, Elle Hill became a not-so-mild-mannered college instructor by night and a community activist during the remainder of her waking hours. Always a journalist and writer at heart, one of her favorite pastimes includes publishing commentary on the political and social state of the world; some of her thoughts are posted on her blog at

Elle welcomes visitors to her website at She also urges everyone to become a superhero and adopt their next non-human companion from a local animal shelter.


Twitter: @ellehillauthor

Buy the book at Amazon.

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The Sins of a Few by Sarah Ballance – Spotlight and Giveaway




This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sarah will be awarding a $25 Amazon or BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Salem, 1692

The moment he steps off the boat and into his hometown of Salem, Nathanial Abbot knows the rumors about Salem are indeed true. For in the two years since he’s left Salem—disowned by his family and seeking a fortune of his own—the town has changed. It is dark with discord and suspicion… and accusations of witchcraft. Now all that remains for him is the woman he’s never forgotten.

But Faith Downing isn’t happy to see Nathanial. In his absence, his younger sisters have ignited the chain of hysteria that resulted in twenty deaths—including Faith’s aunt, to whom Nathanial owed his life. Yet through her acrimony, Faith can’t prevent herself from responding to the man Nathanial has become, handsome and kind. A man who kindles something in her that speaks of sin.

Enjoy an excerpt:
“Tell me,” he said, his voice coarse to his own ears. “Tell me how I dishonor a woman when I chose to forsake my own family to pay my respects.”

The look of utter disdain she passed him was somewhat lost by their proximity. They were trading breaths now, as close as lovers. But their positions could not douse the venom in her tone. “You have hardly forsaken your family,” she spat. “Not unless you’ve pushed them piecemeal into the harbor, which is an event I dare say few would mourn. Do they not await your return, alive and well? That is more than anyone can say for my aunt and the remaining nineteen murdered…or the rest who died awaiting trial.”

Mid diatribe, her attention had fallen to his lips. He touched her chin, knowing that in doing so he risked the welfare of his finger, and didn’t speak until her liquid gaze found his. “I crossed the ocean and I came here first,” he said. Quietly. Fiercely. “Tell me what more I could have done.”

“You could have been here. You could have stopped them.” A single, heart-wrenching sob escaped from her throat. “You could have saved her.”

About the Author:

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids.) When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or in search of that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her. To learn more about her work in contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense, please stalk accordingly.







Buy the book at Entangled Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or Google Books.

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Launch Day: Shooting Scars by Karina Halle – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a Launch Day Blitz sponsored by the publisher. Enter to win a print copy of the book.

11_28 Halle-ShootingScars

Sometimes the right choice can be the deadliest.
When Ellie Watt made the ultimate sacrifice for Camden McQueen, she never thought it would be easy. But walking away with her ex-lover, Javier Bernal, in order to ensure Camden’s safety has brought a whole new set of dangers. With Javier’s plans for Ellie growing more secretive by the moment, Ellie must find a way to stay ahead of the game before her past swallows her whole. Meanwhile, Camden’s new life is short-lived. Fueled by revenge and pursued by authorities, he teams up with an unlikely partner in order to save Ellie. But as Camden toes the line between love and retribution, he realizes that to get back the woman he loves, he may lose himself in the process and turn into the very man he’s hunting.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I hadn’t had a panic attack in weeks so it snuck up on me, like a hand reached around from behind me and began squeezing my lungs until there was no breath left. I started gasping for air, my hand at my throat, trying to take nothing in. Tears filled my eyes and spilled down my cheeks in dirty rivulets and my body began to shake.

“Jesus Christ,” Javier swore, nearly taking the car off the road. “Ellie, Ellie. What’s happening?”

I gulped and gasped unable to stop from crying, panic seizing me all over from my shoulders to my feet and I thrashed back and forth in order to get free.

Next thing I knew, he’d pulled the car down a private dirt road that ran between two orchards and he was undoing my seatbelt. He came around to my side and took me in his arms and away from the car. We disappeared into the orchards, the smell of orange blossoms in the air.

He put me down, propped up against a tree and smoothed the hair off of my face. His sunglasses and baseball cap were gone, his hair mussed, his worried eyes searching me.

“Hey, Ellie,” he said gently, running his hand down the side of my face and feeling the pulse under my jaw. “It’s okay, it’s all going to be okay.”

I shook my head, feeling disgusting and messy and lost. I sobbed. “It’s not going to be okay. I can’t do this, I can’t do this.”

He cupped my face in his hands and forced me to look at him. “You can. And you will. You are strong. You are very strong. Right here.” He lay his hand in the middle of my chest. “You will do this and you will succeed.”

I finally found my breath again, the fresh air flowing down the sun-streaked orchard coming into my lungs. “I will fail.”

“You won’t.”

I sniffed. “I don’t even want this,” I admitted.

He cocked his head and let go of my face. “Then why are you doing this?”

“Because you’re making me!” I cried out. “You’re forcing me to!”

His head jerked back. “I am doing no such thing.”

“You are! You’ll kill my Camden if I don’t.”

I didn’t see the outburst coming. Suddenly Javier was in my face, his skin turning red, his eyes narrowing into viper-like slits, all yellow and full of hate.

“He is not your Camden!” he screamed. I closed my eyes.

“He isn’t here with you now,” he went on, words harsh and short, like bullets. “I am here with you.”

“I know!” I screamed back. “And I hate it! I hate it! I hate you!”

Then before I knew what was happening, I had wound up my hand and slapped him hard across his face. The sound ricocheted down the groves.

I waited, surprised at myself, breathing hard. I watched as his face contorted in the same type of shock. And then something odd flashed across his brow. Something like betrayal. I knew betrayal all too well. I knew it had been on my own face when I found out what Uncle Jim was planning to do.

My dead uncle.

I slapped him again, harder this time, my palm stinging like I was being stabbed with a million tiny knives. “That was for my uncle!” I cried. “You killed him.”

Now I wound up for a punch and decked Javier right in the side of the head. “You killed him,” I repeated, tears streaming down my cheeks again. “You keep taking everyone I love away!”

The whole time, Javier just stayed there. Not ducking my hits, not getting out of the way. He just let me, watching me with that same look upon his face.

“Well, come on!” I screamed. “Hit me back. You know you want to!”

I got up into a crouch and decked him in the head again, my knuckles exploding in pain. “Come on!” I pushed my hands into his shoulders and tried to throw him to the ground. He fell easily, and I threw myself on top of him, throwing punch after punch after punch until he finally reached up and grabbed my wrists with both his hands.

“I’m not going to hit you,” he said, gazing deeply at me with wild eyes, his lip bleeding. “You can hit me all you want but if you’re doing it so I can hit you back, it won’t work. You’ll just break every part of me.”

“I want to break every part of you!” I exclaimed but gave up and collapsed on him. “I want you to break,” I whispered, my head on his chest, my eyes focused absently on an orange tree.

“You have,” he said softly, his hand stroking the back of my head. “I told you that you broke me when you left. And you did. I’m not lying to you.”

“You always lie.”

“No. Not now.” His voice dropped a register.

I raised my head to look at him. He brought his hands on both sides of my cheeks and held me there, his eyes searching me for something.

“Angel,” he said through a breath.

He pulled my face to his, my lips meeting his, slowly. Just a taste of blood and tears. Lips and tongue. The sensation pulled me under, the heat that spread from him and through me, the memories mixing with the smell of orange blossoms. All the pain disappeared as our kiss deepened, all the worry, all the danger melted like my lips and his did together.

It was wrong. So wrong. And I didn’t care. Like I had so many times before, I was willingly bad.

About the Author: 11_28 HalleKarina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and the USA Today Bestselling author of Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, and other wild and romantic reads. She lives in a 1920s farmhouse on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

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Five Unusual/Funny/Interesting Things About Lauren Layne – Guest Blogs and Giveaway

10_28 Made-For-You-Blog-Tour[1][1]This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter to win a copy of Made for You.

5 Unusual/Funny/interesting things about the author

– I’ve never seen a movie with Molly Ringwald in it. Don’t hate. I just haven’t gotten around to it!

– According to various hairdressers, my hair is “incredibly fine, a weird combo of curly/wavy, but there is a TON of it.” This translates to being both frizzy AND thin. Awesome.

– I totally have a “voice” for my dog. Which probably isn’t that unusual, but when my husband’s not around, I talk to her. In my voice. And then answer myself. In hers.

– I find ketchup creepy and repulsive.

10_28 Layne_Made for You_MM[1][1]Three years ago, Brynn Dalton made a rare error in judgment and had a one-night stand with the one man she swore would never get into her designer panties. Will Thatcher was exactly the type of sexy playboy that good girls like Brynn stayed away from. And when Will moved across the country just days after their fling, Brynn vowed to put him behind her, even as the memories haunt her.

Now Will Thatcher is back, and just in time to see Brynn’s perfectly structured life begin to crumble. Her job is dull, her social life is tedious, and Brynn’s perfect cardiologist boyfriend doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get to Tiffany & Co. More than ever, Brynn needs her childhood nemesis to keep his distance.

But Will isn’t content to be Brynn’s dirty little secret any longer. This time, he’s out to show Brynn Dalton that the imperfect man might just be the best mistake of her life.






About Lauren Layne:Lauren Layne writes contemporary romance for Grand Central Publishing (Forever) and Random House(Loveswept).

After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Lauren moved to New York City where she now writes full time.

Lauren graduated from Santa Clara University with B.S. in Political Science that she has yet to put to good use. She lives with her husband and plus-sized pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.




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The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Brenda will be awarding a $100 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn host. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Just call her Christmas Eve…

Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn’t have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that’s what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B-and-B she manages and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining.

As Eve turns thirty-five, she’s worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. She’s dated all the eligible men in the area. There’s no one she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve’s definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve’s happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. Just when she’s counting on the best Christmas of her life!

Enjoy an excerpt:

Moving slowly to compensate for her hangover, she managed to prop herself against the headboard and, once there, frowned at her bedmate.

Who the heck was he?

She had no idea, but she was relieved to see that he was no bum off the street. He wasn’t even one of those “he looked a lot more attractive last night” kind of pickups everyone joked about. This guy was so far above average that she began to wonder why he wasn’t already taken. Heaven forbid that was the case! She didn’t see a ring on his left hand, which rested on the pillow above his head. But he had to have some story. If he looked this good sleep-tousled, she could only imagine what he’d be like once he had a chance to clean up.

It was his bone structure, she decided. Those pronounced cheekbones. The narrow bridge across his nicely shaped nose. The distinct ridge of his upper eye sockets. He also had a strong chin and a manly jaw, which certainly didn’t detract.

So maybe she couldn’t point to just one or two features. With his long, sandy-colored hair spread across his pillow, he resembled a fallen angel—and his body further enhanced that image. Although bedding covered his lower half—thank goodness—she could see his torso. He was built like a greyhound or panther, lean and sinewy and ideally proportioned with very little body hair. What body hair he did have was golden and downy, as appealing as his tanned skin.

He’d make a nice subject for a painter, she mused, someone looking for refined masculine beauty—a man who could even be called elegant.

But not everything about him was elegant. When she looked closer, she could see that he had some very unusual scars….

What types of injuries could’ve caused those? she wondered. It seemed to her that he’d been shot, and more than once. Several round, bullet-size marks dotted his chest. Then there was a long, jagged scar on his side that must’ve come from something else….

Out of nowhere—he didn’t open his eyes first, so she had no warning—he grabbed her wrists in a crushing grip and slammed her onto her back.

Eve gasped as she stared up at him. Gone was the image of an angel, fallen or otherwise. Shocked at being so easily and unexpectedly overpowered, she couldn’t even scream. His fierce expression, as if he was intent on causing her bodily harm, made it worse.

Had she brought home a homicidal maniac? Was he about to kill her?

The terror that surged up must’ve shown on her face because he suddenly came to his senses. He gave his head a shake. His expression cleared and, letting go, he eased off her and slid back onto his side of the bed.

“Sorry about that. I thought…” His words trailed off, and he covered his eyes with one arm as if he needed a moment to pull himself together.

Her heart was now pounding in unison with her head. But once she could speak somewhat normally, she prompted him to finish his sentence. “Thought what?”

His lips turned down. “Never mind. I was dreaming.”

She pressed a hand to her chest as though she could slow her galloping pulse. “It couldn’t have been a pleasant dream.”

“They never are,” he muttered.

About the Author:

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than fifty books. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised over $2 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.BrendaNovak or visit with her on Facebook.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes.

In addition check out Brenda’s The 12 Days of Christmas Contest where she is giving away TWELVE really awesome prizes to ONE lucky winner!!

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Sean’s Sweetheart by Allie Kincheloe – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Allie will award a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to one randomly selected winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sean has spent five years cleaning up his life. He’s shoved his past behind him and built a profitable business in the town’s most popular dance club. Falling in love with a college sophomore wasn’t in his plans. But, from the moment he rescued Talia, she brings out his every protective instinct. He tries to resist getting involved on a personal level. Talia’s persistence, however, is stronger than his will.

Despite just ending an abusive relationship, Talia finds an instant connection with a man unlike any she’s dated before. Older, tattooed, and totally inappropriate for her, Talia couldn’t keep Sean off her mind, especially once he calls her “sweetheart” in that deep drawl of his.

When Talia is in danger, they discover just how strong their relationship is. Can Sean and his sweetheart make things last when horrors from their pasts come back to haunt them and family seems determined to keep them apart?

Enjoy this excerpt:

Sean tried to call Talia for the sixth time that week.

“This is Talia, you know what to do.” But obviously she doesn’t or she’d answer her damn phone!

He hung up without leaving a message. He’d left messages earlier in the week. Sent a couple texts. No response. She was still pissed. But damn it, she’d kissed him. He just wanted to explain himself. Explain his reasons for pushing her away. But she wouldn’t answer his call. Again. Sean pulled his arm back to sling the damn phone at the wall, but he’d just have to replace it. His hand itched for a handset to slam down. Jabbing at the touchscreen would never satisfy like slamming a receiver down so hard the phone rang.

Sean tossed his phone on the table and sank down onto his couch with a sigh. One kiss and he acted like a lovesick puppy. Frustrated the hell out of him. He was a grown-ass man who should have better control over himself than that. Maybe it was a side effect of two years of self-imposed celibacy, you idiot, he chided himself. Not dating for five years while he got the club going seemed like a good plan. Until a beautiful, soft woman pressed her lips to his.

He never should have kissed her back. He should’ve shoved her away the moment she stepped between his legs. Should have, but didn’t. Oh, no, he pulled her tight to his chest and kissed her until they both gasped for air and he thought his lungs might collapse from lack of oxygen. Then he’d moved to that delectable throat, savoring the feel of her pulse beneath his lips. He’d marked her, leaving evidence of their passion on her pale skin. He’d thoroughly enjoyed her soft curves pressed against…

He had to get out of this apartment.

About the Author:

As a busy mother of five, Allie sneaks time to write between breakfast and tickles. Always a Kentucky girl at heart, she currently makes her home near Nashville.

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Buy the book at Secret Cravings Publishing, All Romance eBooks, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

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