Interview and Giveaway: Jo Richardson

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jo Richardson, whose latest book Cookie Cutter was recently released. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card plus a digital copy of Cookie Cutter.

Cookie Cutter is about a single mom who struggles to deal with her new status, a new job, an ex-husband who still wants to control her, a teenaged daughter her own issues, all while supporting the community she’s come to know and care about. She thinks she’s got it all together, but really, one slight pull of the thread, and it could all crumble around her. She’s come to grips with the fact that this is her life until Carter Blackwood moves in across the street. That’s when the fun starts. That’s when Iris’s fun starts.

Jo actually wanted to be an artist when she grew up, originally taking art as her major in college, with English as a minor. Life took her in a different direction (and major) but she never stopped be creative.

“I’m glad I finally took the plunge in getting something published,” she admitted. “It’s pretty awesome to see a story you’ve written in book form.”

Jo found her favorite author by accident one day while browsing in an aisle at Barnes and Noble – Jim Butcher.

“I was looking (desperately) for something new to read, and this woman noticed that I was there a while. She came right up to me and handed me one of his books. She said, just do it. So I did. And I’ve been hooked ever since,” Jo told me. “I love him because he writes about a wizard (but not the Harry Potter kind) who is forever having one bad day after another. He’s snarky, sarcastic, a hard ass, and he gets up every time he’s knocked down. He makes some bad decisions but he is always trying to rectify those mistakes. He taught me that when writing a story, you don’t always have to have perfect grammar, perfect characters, or perfect endings, you simply have to have a great story to tell.”

For Jo, in her writing, her characters come first. She will usually have an idea on the type of person she wants to write about. She starts to see and understand who they are, what makes them tick, what’s happened to them in the past? Then she starts working on the story she want to surround them with.

When it comes to titles, she likes to do play on words and wants the title to mean multiple things with regards to the story. For example Cookie Cutter doesn’t just reflect the type of neighborhood Iris lives in, it refers to her love of baking, and it also, in some ways, resembles how her day to day life has become. Or at least how she perceives it.

I asked Jo to describe her writing space.

“It’s pretty neat and organized. I’ve got a desk set up in the front room of my house, a laptop, windows so I can remind myself there’s life going on outside, and a notebook to jot ideas down into. There’s usually a black lab hanging out at my feet and two kitties who pop in and out of the area throughout the day, reminding me to feed and love them.”

It’s hard for her to find time to write, though, since she works full time, has a husband, and two daughters with school and sports going on.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to write when I’m hit with some inspiration for a scene or need to finish up my edits,” she admitted. “I make the time though, because I love what I do, and even though it might take me a year to finish a story, I’m going to finish the story.”

She writes early morning, before work, during lunch, and late afternoons when everyone is home from school, but still working on homework.

“Aside from that, we have a lot things going on at any given moment. Sometimes, if my husband happens to take the girls somewhere and I’m left alone (gasp) I take full advantage of the time I’m given.”

She was surprised to discover how much additional work is involved in getting books published, and then how much work is involved in marketing after publication.

“It’s a never ending circle of making time to write, while pimping yourself (something I am personally horrible at) and making sure you search for the write audience to pimp yourself to,” she said.

“Ebook or print?” I asked, “And why?”

“This is an interesting question. I’m not sure if it’s referenced to my own books or any books I’ve read. For my stuff, if I had to choose? Print. Because I love holding something in my hands that I’ve written, and putting it up on my shelf and remembering I DID THAT. For most books that I read, I like eBooks because it’s so easy, and convenient, but there are books that I buy in print that I’ve read in eBook. Because when the story is that special to me, I want it on my shelf.”

Finally, I asked, “If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?”

“This might have been a different answer a year ago, but today, I would pick Robin Williams. And I would ask him to please reconsider his decision to end his life. I would make him see how much he impacted so many people by leaving us too soon. I still get choked up when I think about it. He has been a role model for me since the very first time I saw him on Happy Days. He’s made me laugh through good times and bad, and I just wish he understood how important he was. It breaks my heart that he felt so alone in the end.”

4_24 coverfinalcovercookiecutter copyIris Alden and Carter Blackwood couldn’t be more different. Change-averse Iris likes her life neat and organized, while Carter’s itchy feet mean he doesn’t plan to stay in the same place for long.

When Carter moves into the house across the street from Iris, to renovate it, she fights the disruption it causes in her life. Before long, though, it’s not simply the house Carter’s rebuilding, but Iris’s heart, too.

About the Author:4_24 jo richardson BIO200x230 A movie fanatic, a writer of stories, a lover of life.

Jo grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity – but it was too cold up North for this thin blooded girl. So today, she lives in Florida with her two girls and a husband that shares her same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.

Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.

Jo tells contemporary stories with romance, humor, the supernatural, the paranormal, suspense, mystery, action and anything else she can think up.

In 2012, she wrote Cursed be the Wicked, a character driven, paranormal mystery romance that was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing and released in March of 2014. Jo has also written a couple of short stories as well, and her most recent full length novel, Cookie Cutter, released through Little Bird Publishing in March of 2015, broke into the top 100 contemporary romantic fiction category on Amazon during its first week of publication.

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Red Tide Rising by Allie Gail – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Watch the video:

MediaKit_BookCover_RedTideRisingAges 18+. Contains strong language, explicit sex and elements of horror. This book is the final installment in the Immortal Touch trilogy.

*****
What good is immortality when every moment is agony?

The vampire Ash has returned from his watery grave, proving that death is merely a minor inconvenience. Picking up where he left off? That might not be as easy. Because someone else is vying for Sami’s attention – the last person he ever would have expected.

Fulfilling her desire for immortality seems the surest route to winning her favor. But for Sami, this gift will come at a terrible price. One simple lie of omission is all it takes to send her spiraling into a terminal state of madness. And as the last remnants of her sanity slip away, Ash can no longer deny that her maniacal behavior is putting them all at risk. His perfect angel has become a perfect liability.

But can he find it in his heart to destroy her?

RTR - Teaser 1

Enjoy an excerpt:

Almost simultaneously they blinked, the two heads bobbing about in disoriented confusion as they struggled to assimilate. Straightening, Ash took a step back and spread his arms open with a haughty smile.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the freakshow! I am your host and master of ceremonies. Tickets are nonrefundable and the rules here are simple. There are only two, so please give me your undivided attention as I will not, I repeat, will not be going over these instructions twice. Listen up, here we go. Rule number one. Do. Not. Scream. First motherfucker in here that wigs out on me gets their gray matter painted all over the walls. Unless you want this place redecorated with your brains, I suggest you take ol’ Sparky’s advice here and – how’d you put it? Oh, yeah. Keep. It. Down.

“Rule number two. I am in charge here. In case you illiterate hillbilly dumbasses don’t know what that means, I’ll clarify. You will do what I say, when I say it, without asking why. These rules are non-negotiable and subject to change at any time, without any warning, in accordance with my whim. Do we have any questions from the audience?”

Sami watched, enthralled, as the startled couple exchanged panicky looks. Once again almost synchronously, their bulging eyes returned to the gun being waved around in front of their faces. Neither of them seemed to know what to do.

The woman was the first to hazard a question. Bringing a shaking hand to her chest, she coughed twice before saying in a croaky voice, “P-please…I need a Xanax. I think I’m having a panic attack.”

“A panic attack? Really?” Asher’s free hand flew to his mouth in exaggerated dismay. “Oh, my. Now that is unfortunate. Regrettably, management won’t allow us to stop the ride and let you off once it’s started. However, we will have some nice parting gifts for you. May I have your name, please?”

“My…name?” Her cheeks grew even more wan if that was possible. She looked dangerously close to face-planting into the floor.

“Yes. Your name. What people call you. Comes above the street address on your mail. Generally the first line on your birth certificate. Any of that ring a bell?”

“Brandy,” she whispered before coughing again.

“What was that you were asking for, Brandy? A Xanax?”

“Yes…please. They’re in…in my purse. Over there.”

“My dear, you don’t need medication. What you need is a transfusion. Request denied. Next?”

At her side, Kemper seemed to suddenly spring to life. “What’s going on here?” he snapped indignantly. “Who are you people?”

“I apologize, but due to union rules we are only permitted to answer one question at a time. Kindly select just one.”

Not only baffled but clearly getting pissed off, Kemper gritted his teeth so that his lower lip protruded in a way that reminded Sami of Slingblade. “I said…who ARE you people?”

“Oh! That’s right! You don’t even know how to address me yet, do you? Please pardon the oversight. Let me introduce myself. I am known as Alpha to the fortunate, Grim Reaper to the unfortunate, and Total Prick to everyone else. You can simply call me Sir. To my left is my lovely assistant Samara. Take a bow, gorgeous.”

Smiling brightly, she gave a dainty little curtsey. “How do you do?”

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_RedTideRisingAllie fell in love with books from the moment she was issued her very first Sally, Dick and Jane reader. Born and raised in Alabama, she now resides in the sunny panhandle of Florida with her own blue-eyed Prince Charming and two fat, obnoxious cats. When she’s not busy obsessing over the lexicon of her latest project, she can usually be found watching B-movie horror (the cheesier, the better!), reading or playing online computer games while indulging her unhealthy Pepsi addiction.

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Buy the book at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

RTR - Playlist
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What the Duke Wants by Amy Quinton – Spotlight and Giveaway

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MediaKit_CommenterPrizeThis post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Amy Quinton will be awarding a heart shaped enamel, kiln fired copper charm on a leather corded necklace (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour (designed and made by Keri Sereika at Pink Lemonade). Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_WhatTheDukeWantsUpstanding duke desperately seeks accident-prone wife from trade…

England 1814: Miss Grace (ha!) Radclyffe is an oftentimes hilariously clumsy, 20-year-old orphan biding her time living with her uncle until she is old enough to come into her small inheritance. Much to her aunt’s chagrin, she isn’t: reserved (not with her shocking! tendency to befriend the servants), sophisticated (highly overrated), or graceful (she once flung her dinner into a duke’s face). But she is: practical and in love… maybe… perhaps… possibly…

The Duke of Stonebridge is an agent for the Crown with a tragic past. His father died mysteriously when he was 12 years old amid speculation that the old duke was ‘involved’ with another man. He must restore his family name, but on the eve of his engagement to the perfect debutante, he meets his betrothed’s cousin, and his world is turned inside out… No matter, he is always: logical (men who follow their hearts are foolish) and reserved (his private life is nobody’s business but his own). And he isn’t: impulsive or in love… maybe… perhaps… possibly…

Can he have what he wants and restore his name? Can she trust him to be the man she needs?

Enjoy an excerpt:

A knowledgeable lady understands that, typically, the best way to make a good first impression is not to fall bottom first into a puddle of mud. Alas, Grace Radclyffe, with her inclination towards unfortunate mishaps, found this knowledge to be generally useless in the reality of her everyday life.

Therefore, despite the uncomfortable feeling of wetness seeping through her gown and the faint-though-nearby sound of dripping mud, she did what any sensible lady of good upbringing would do in less than ideal circumstances. She cursed. With conviction.
“Bloody hell. Not again.”

So maybe she didn’t say that. But it was something she occasionally thought in her mind, though only in her mind.

In actuality, she chuckled lightheartedly (because it’s always best to set yourself and any potential rescuers at ease in awkward situations) and graciously procured the proffered handkerchief dangling over her left shoulder. Then, after clearing the mud from her face so she could actually see and with cheeks tinged only slightly from embarrassment (because, really, that kerchief hadn’t been dangling over her shoulder on its own), she peered up to thank her would-be rescuer and

Gasped. Out loud.

For staring down at her with one eyebrow lifted in question, were a pair of eyes—emerald green eyes to be more precise. The most deeply penetrating emerald green eyes she had ever seen in all of her near twenty-one years.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_WhatTheDukeWantsAmy Quinton is an author and full time mom living in Summerville, SC. She enjoys writing (and reading!) sexy, historical romances. She lives with her English husband, two boys, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to go camping, hiking, and canoeing/kayaking… And did she mention reading? When she’s not reading, cleaning, or traveling, she likes to make jewelry, sew, knit, and crochet (Yay for Ravelry!).

Amy has lived in or around the Charleston, SC, area her entire life. When she’s not home, at the beach (weather permitting), or camping in and around the Great Smoky Mountains (Check out Mile High Campground and Devils Fork State Park!), she loves to visit the United Kingdom. She loves the history, the culture, and the people – hence her love for Scottish and Regency Romances. She especially loves to visit the Isle of Skye – in the Highlands of Scotland; where the scenery is both rugged and breathtaking.

Amy graduated from the College of Charleston, a liberal arts college located in beautiful, historic Charleston, SC. She worked 10 years in the computer industry as a software designer before becoming a full time mom and now, a full time novelist. Contact her at AmyQuintonAuthor@gmail.com

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Buy the digital book at LS Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play, or iBooks.

Buy the print book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or CreateSpace.

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Shadowed Origins by Shyla Wolff – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Shyla will be awarding $25 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.

4_20 BookCover_ShadowedOriginsThe road to freedom is rarely an easy journey.

Following a lifetime of captivity and torture, fate tosses Kyley into a world of freedom and opportunities, danger and espionage. During her inspirational journey, discovery of life’s offerings shores up her determination to conquer the fears that keep her from exploring a world where romance is more than a fantasy. Her continued hard-won freedom hinges on the abilities of the paranormal group that rescued her. Always looking over her shoulder, she knows Roth must reacquire her to complete his plan for mass annihilation and anarchy.

Taylor’s telekinesis and special-ops training granted him seamless passage to work with Kenner’s paranormal unit. When he rescues a young waif from the clutches of her psychopathic guardian, he’s unprepared for the emotional backlash created by their connection.

The knowledge that her emotional baggage includes years of abuse dictates he help her conquer her triggers and fears. Aware she’s not encountered a kind touch, much less any expression of passion, he represses his own desires in order to teach her that not all physical contact includes pain. He longs to free her adventurous streak and inspire her to achieve emotional as well as physical confidence.

Since being adopted by her psychic warriors as a kid from the streets, Kiera’s never doubted her place in life or the direction of her path. Her unusual upbringing included weapons training, unique fighting skills, and how to maximize her paranormal abilities. After pulling Carlin, a computer prodigy, from death’s grasp, she learns you don’t always get to choose whom you love. Her destiny is twofold. Protect Carlin from the monster who wants to destroy the USA and find her mate—a man who will save her life, more than once.

A chance meeting between Kiera and Kyley sets off a chain of events they couldn’t prepare for and might not survive. Can the girls work together and prevent Roth from destroying the ones they love?

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt:

To make matters worse, he held her now while the river’s filth and bacteria bathed her wounds. The extent of her acute injuries weren’t severe. Yet years of enduring Roth’s degradation etched her body with crisscross scars.

Despite the dark chaos swirling in his mind, her body pressed against him provoked his animalistic response. He couldn’t stop a groan from escaping.

“Okay, um, Taylor?”

“Yeah?”

“You doin all right?”

Hell no I’m not. You’re killing me, sweetheart. “Yeah, we’ll get through this and be in a warm car shortly.”

“Um okay, I just thought you’d want to take your cell phone out of your jeans and stick it in your shirt pocket. If it gets wet it’ll be ruined, and it’s kinda jabbing me.”

Hells Bells. Now what?

“Actually, I can’t get to it without losing my balance. It’ll be all right.” This freezing cold water will kill it. “I’m sure I can get another.”

As he spoke, the horse stopped walking and started swimming. Cold water swirled up over their laps. “Damn, this water’s cold.” Thank God.

Soon, her fingers would prune in response to their predicament, as would his twin boys.

Kyley shivered and huddled deeper into the warmth he offered. Warm breath caressed the skin at the base of his throat when she turned her face into his neck. His heart made a valiant attempt to remember what a normal beat resembled. It failed.

Don’t do that! I’m not made of stone. He groaned. “Kyley.”

“You okay, Taylor? Am I too heavy against you?” As if sympathetic to his cause, she tried to lean forward to give him more space. The result seated her tight bottom more firmly against his pain.

He took one hand off her hip and covered his mouth. The painful moan reverberated through his body. The cold water should’ve started boiling.

About the Author: 4_20 AuthorPhoto_ShadowedOriginsLife teaches us many lessons. One of the most important ones Shyla’s learned is to take the time to enjoy family and friends. Our circumstances change on a daily basis. However small the differences may seem, they add up over time. Through a lifetime of various trials and tribulations, she’s discovered the enjoyment of sharing her stories with those that would relish participating in the journey of extaordinary people through their everyday lives.

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Buy the book at Extasy Books.

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Triple Play Curse by Lori Ryan – Q&A and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lori will be awarding a $25 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.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Oh, I have so many that I love for so many different reasons. When I want sexy, fast paced, intense military romance, I go for Toni Anderson or Kaylea Cross. When I need funny, small town that makes me feel good, I go for Jill Shalvis or Terri Osburn. If I want someone to whisk me away to another world, I grab a Bev Petersen and check out the scenes behind the world of race horsing or a Robyn Peterman so I can visit the fantastical places she creates in her mind.

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

The hero in book one is based on the ever-sexy Nomar Garciaparra! I love this man!

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

I’m currently working on a new book in my Sutton Capital Series that involves a sexy, but somewhat awkward computer geek and a former Navy SEAL. The heroine is actually cracking me up. I love the way she has no internal filter when it comes to him. She just says whatever comes to mind!

What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Well, with three kids ages five and under, time is my biggest obstacle right now! But, besides that, I often struggle if I don’t really know my characters. I have to let them sort of play around in my head for a while. I need to listen in on their conversations and see what they like and don’t like and get an idea for their sense of humor or lack thereof. Then, I can really sit down and write!

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

Well, with a two month old, all I do is nurse, change diapers, and try to catch up on my sleep!

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

Yes! And I love it. I’m still amazed every time someone reaches out to me; at my first book conference, I tried to convince everyone who approached me that they were thinking of the wrong Lori. I kept thinking, “Oh, they mean Lori Foster or Lexi Ryan.” I’ve gotten to the point now where I accept the compliments a bit more graciously and don’t try to tell them they have the wrong author now, but it still floors and humbles me every time. If you ever wonder if an author wants to hear from you or cares what you think, they do! We really, really do!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Wonder Woman.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Oh, that is sooooooo not ever getting put down on paper.

The Triple Play Curse
Every member of the Strikers, San Francisco’s professional baseball team, knows about the Triple Play Curse. When one Striker falls in love and gets either married or engaged during the season, two more will fall for a total of three. And, whenever the curse is in play, the team suffers for it. More errors and injuries, lost pennant runs, you name it. No one wants to trigger the curse.

Game Changer (Book One):

Shortstop Rafe Wilson has his routines down to a science. How he ties his shoes, what shirt to wear under his jersey, which foot touches the field first, and how to enter the batter’s box. It works for him. The proof is in his stats. No question; the routine works. Until it doesn’t. When Rafe is left scrambling to figure out what went wrong, he quickly finds the newest addition to his pregame routine. A kiss. And, not just any kiss. Ashlyn Daniels’ kiss to be exact. But, can he convince Ashlyn to be part of his arsenal of “superstitions” that keep his game going? Or will the pregame kiss trigger an even worse superstition? The Triple Play Curse.

Game Maker (Book Two):

Pitcher Aiden Kyle knows the Triple Play Curse has the ability to mess with his life and with his team’s performance. And, now that the curse has been triggered, Aiden also knows he has to do all he can to avoid being its next victim. And that means strippers and hand lotion in the shower for the rest of the season for him. Until Lily Dupree whirls into his world with a crash that puts a kink in his plan. If Aiden can find a way to help Lily and get her out of his life, he just might avoid being the next victim of the curse.

Game Clincher (Book Three):

After two of his teammates fall prey to the curse, Gage Collier realizes he’s got worse things to worry about than the power of the curse alone. He’s got his mother to fear, and the woman is on a mission. When a columnist spills the beans that the curse is in play and there’s only one victim left to be had, Gage’s mother spins a web designed to trap him into being its third victim and give her the grandbabies she’s been wanting. Though the bait she sets is tempting, Gage has no interest in falling in love. With his mother strategizing against him, Gage probably doesn’t stand a chance, but he’ll go down fighting before he takes this hit.

Enjoy an excerpt from Game Changer, Book One

Ashlyn couldn’t believe how nervous she felt, standing in one of the tunnels beneath the baseball field, waiting where the security guard had told her to wait for Rafe. The guard stood at the end of the tunnel, his gaze averted, though she knew he was watching her from the corner of his eye. She wondered how often he’d had to escort a player’s—well this was awkward, wasn’t it? What was she? Not a girlfriend. But, that’s probably what the guard would assume. The guard would probably assume Rafe wanted to kiss his girlfriend before the game. He certainly wasn’t likely to guess Rafe wanted to kiss his good luck charm before the game. A good luck charm he’d cut a deal with to be here.

She’d been relieved to see she wasn’t seated with the wives and girlfriends behind home plate. That would be weird. What would she have said to them? How would she introduce herself? Rafe must have anticipated that she’d feel uncomfortable there and had gotten her a ticket that was every bit as good as the wives and girlfriends’ section, but was just behind the team dugout.

A door opened and Rafe jogged down the deserted tunnel toward her, nodding to the guard as he passed him. Ashlyn couldn’t help but notice the raw power he displayed in his uniform—arms pushing at the edges of his sleeves, thighs filling out the tight pants with muscles that made her mouth water. His hair fell onto his forehead in a way that should have said boyish charm, but on him, it said something more along the lines of lick me.

The ease with which he jogged toward her, completely comfortable and in charge, was sexy as sin. That was her single thought as he approached. Just sexy as sin. He pulled up short in front of her.

“Hi.” His voice was low and quiet, as he leaned into her.

Ashlyn realized she had no idea what they would do. In Anna’s kitchen, the kiss had just kind of happened. There hadn’t been time for her to be nervous or edgy, which was the way she felt now. But, here, in the ballpark tunnels, it was awkward for a split second. And, then, suddenly it wasn’t. Suddenly, Rafe was grinning at her as he cupped the back of her head with one hand, pulling her hip toward him with the other. Her whole body pressed to his and his mouth lowered, capturing hers in a kiss that curled her toes. And, nothing was awkward or uncomfortable about it. It was incredible. And, all too short.

He pulled back and looked her in the eyes. “I’ll see you after the game, Ashlyn.”

And, that was it. He was jogging away and her legs were jelly. Before she knew it, the guard was clearing his throat. She followed him up to the stands where she took her seat and proceeded to watch one of Rafe’s best games ever. Only, her mind was still stuck on the way her lips tingled after that kiss, and she squirmed in her seat every time she looked at him out on the field.

About the Author: 4_20 lori ryan smaller1Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. Her books range from sweetheart to steamy in heat level (for sweeter, read the Evers, TX series.)

She lives with an extremely understanding husband, three wonderful children, two mostly well-behaved dogs, and a lone little cat in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing.

Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and has fallen in love with writing. She is the author of the Sutton Capital Series, the Evers, Texas Series, and will be putting out several novellas with baseball player heroes in Bella Andre’s Kindle World, Game For Love, in late 2014. She loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog.

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Buy Game Changer at Amazon; Game Maker at Amazon, and Game Clincher at Amazon.

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Which Montgomery Brother is Right for You? by Samantha Chase – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Take a quiz to find out which Montgomery Brother is right for you. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to win a Samantha Chase romance book bundle + $50 gift card.

Which Montgomery Brother Is Right For You? With Author Samantha Chase

With plenty of Montgomery Brother books on shelves now (and more coming your way soon) bestselling author Samantha Chase invites you to take this quiz to find out which Montgomery man is right for you.

1. What is your ideal hero’s idea of a perfect date?

a) Wandering the aisles of IKEA – if you don’t break down and start yelling at each other, then you know it is meant to be!

b) Locking yourself in your office to work. Who has time for fancy dates?!?!

c) A pizza picnic at the local arboretum. Ten points to the one who can guess the most species of plants and flowers!

d) Bungee jumping followed by a long, hot soak in a hot tub. The both can provide an adrenaline rush!

2. Which flavor of ice cream do you associate with your guy?

a) Neapolitan because there are just so many different sides to this man.

b) Coffee Mocha Fudge because he is strong and intense and can stay up…all night long.

c) Rocky Road because loving him is a journey with ups and down, but definitely worth it!

d) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough because he is amazingly sweet and indulges your every whim.

3. Where would your perfect man take you on vacation?

a) An isolated ski chalet, including a snow storm that would keep you two alone for days.

b) New York City – plenty to do there, both business and pleasure.

c) A super-private beach resort where you can feel like you’re the only ones there, complete with candlelit dinners and dancing in the moonlight.

d) A nature walk in the woods, a pampering day at the spa, whale watching … it really doesn’t matter to him, as long as you can be together.

4. Your man’s best quality is:

a) His nurturing nature. Once you get past his gruff exterior, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for you.

b) Rock solid work ethic.

c) Independence. He knows who he is and doesn’t let anyone push him around.

d) Deep down loyalty to everyone he cares about.

5. His best physical feature is:

a) His devastatingly strong shoulders – he’s got the body of an athlete.

b) His smile – wicked or sweet, one smile can melt your heart.

c) His hands – he really knows how to use them!

d) His kind, soulful eyes that see the real you.

6. A romantic gesture that he plans just for you is…

a) Having the band play only slow songs so he can continue to dance with you in his arms.

b) Buying you tickets to your very favorite sporting event.

c) Planning a surprise engagement party!

d) Sweeping you off your feet (literally!) to convince you that he loves you and wants you to stay – forever.

***

If you chose mostly ‘A’s, then Lucas Montgomery from Wait for Me is your soul mate. To the world, Lucas seems like a loner, but deep down he’s not. He cares fiercely about the people in his life and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them. He may come off as grouchy, but don’t let his growling get to you because this just hides his big heart. Lucas is not afraid to apologize and admit when he’s wrong and, in the end, he’ll do anything to prove how much he loves you.

If you chose mostly ‘B’s, then you will not be able to take your eyes off of the delicious Jason Montgomery from Trust in Me. Confident, level-headed, and seemingly all about business, Jason is a man of action. He likes to take control of almost any situation and prefers things to go his way. But all this aside, he’s considerate of those around him and pays close attention to details – a person’s likes and dislikes – and incorporates them into the relationship. Whether it’s business or pleasure, Jason is a man who takes notes and remembers exactly what it is that will mean the most to you.

If you chose mostly ‘C’s, then James Montgomery from Return to You is the hero of your dreams. James is a very hands-on type of man. He enjoys working with his hands and his love language is primarily all about the touching. He puts his heart and soul into everything he does – he loves deeply and hurts just as much. His pride and his need for privacy may get in the way at times, but the lucky woman in his life will know that she is everything to him because he loves so completely.

If you chose mostly ‘D’s, Meant for You’s Ethan Reed will have you melting like butter. While he may not be a Montgomery, he has been in the family for years as a best friend and confidant. There is nothing boring about Ethan! The woman in his life had better enjoy a well-rounded lifestyle because Ethan offers it all – romance, adventure, passion. He knows his limitations and his sense of loyalty to the people that mean the most to him may have him hesitating in going after what it is that he truly wants, but in the end, he’ll make it worth the wait!

Return To You

James Montgomery has achieved everything he’d hoped for in life…except marrying the girl of his dreams. After a terrible accident, Selena Ainsley left ten years ago. She took his heart with her and she’s never coming back. But it’s becoming harder and harder for him to forget their precious time together, and James can’t help but wonder what he would do if they could ever meet again.

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Meant For You

Summer Montgomery wants to be taken seriously almost as much as she wants her brother’s best friend, Ethan. But with a long resume of seemingly random career choices and a protective brother on watch, those things are nothing more than pipe dreams…

Ethan Reed would like nothing more than to live by his own rules. Not wanting to disappoint his best friend Zach, or any of the Montgomerys, Ethan’s had to push his long-denied feelings for Summer aside. But it only takes one night away from watchful eyes to make impossible dreams come true…

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Wait For Me / Trust In Me Duo

Wait for Me

Former NFL superstar Lucas Montgomery is perfectly fine in his self-imposed solitude until sweet, sexy and completely off-limits Emma Taylor comes crashing into his world…

Trust in Me

With a make-or-break business expansion in the works, the last thing Jason Montgomery needs is a hands-on assistant who wants to get her hands on him…

Buy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iBooks.

About the Author: 4_17 Samantha ChaseNew York Times and USA Today bestselling romance writer Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40’s to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.

When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

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A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter to win one of five Susanna Kearsley prize packs.

4_14 SusannaFor nearly three hundred years, the cryptic journal of Mary Dundas has lain unread. Now, amateur code breaker Sara Thomas has been sent to Paris to crack the cipher.

Jacobite exile Mary Dundas is filled with longing—for freedom, for adventure, for the family she lost. When fate opens the door, Mary dares to set her foot on a path far more surprising and dangerous than she ever could have dreamed.

As Mary’s gripping tale is revealed, Sara is faced with challenges that will require letting go of everything she thought she knew—about herself, about loyalty, and especially about love. Though divided by centuries, these two women will be united in a quest to discover the limits of trust and the coincidences of fate.

About the Author: 4_14 Susanna_Kearsley_NEWNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley is known for her meticulous research and exotic settings from Russia to Italy to Cornwall, which not only entertain her readers but give her a great reason to travel. Her lush writing has been compared to Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, and Diana Gabaldon. She hit the bestseller lists in the U.S. with The Firebird (a RITA winner) as well as, The Winter Sea and The Rose Garden (both RITA finalists and winners of RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards). Other honors include National Readers’ Choice Awards, the prestigious Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize, and finaling for the UK’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Her popular and critically acclaimed books are available in translation in more than 20 countries and as audiobooks. She lives in Canada, near the shores of Lake Ontario.

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The Billionaire’s Suite Dreams by Lori Ryan – Spotlight and Giveaway

 


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lori will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble 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. NOTE: This book is available for FREE!

Her Secrets Are All About to Come Out

Pop star PJ Cantrell’s life and career are threatened when an angry blackmailer uncovers the truth about her hidden past. PJ knows it has to be someone close, someone she trusts. She turns to long-time friend Gabe Sawyer for help, but finds more than she bargained for. As she quickly discovers she wants more from him than friendship and support, she has to wonder what he’ll think of her when he finally learns the truth.

Gabe Sawyer built a successful chain of luxury hotels by focusing on one thing and one thing only – his work. And, he’s now discovering, that just isn’t enough in life. He’s loved PJ from afar, but he’s never felt the time was right for a deeper relationship. When he discovers a blackmailer is threatening her life, everything changes as he struggles to keep her safe and end the threat to her life and to the career she loves.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Gabe set the salad down and went about plating the burgers and scooping heaps of mashed potatoes onto the plate. He looked down at the heaping plate then up at PJ’s tiny frame.

“Oh, you probably can’t eat all this, can you?” he asked and turned to scoop some of the potatoes back. He’d served her the kind of portion he might hand to Jack or Andrew for a first round.

PJ stabbed at his hand with a fork. “Back off my potatoes, mister,” she said and pulled the plate from his hands. “Mine,” she said, twisting to guard the food with her body as she eyed him suspiciously. He couldn’t help but laugh.

“Something to drink?” Gabe’s face heated. With her history of alcohol addiction, he shouldn’t offer her anything alcoholic, he thought quickly. Why hadn’t he considered that earlier? He had no idea how his caretakers had stocked the fridge, and he hadn’t thought to ask for nonalcoholic drinks. “Water? Coke? Um––” He looked toward the small fridge in the outdoor kitchen, not sure what was there.

“Water’s great,” PJ said as she sat at one of the chairs. She didn’t seem to notice his discomfort about what to offer her. Gabe grabbed two bottles of water and shut the fridge with his foot. He retrieved his plate from next to the grill and flicked a light switch with his elbow. Flames danced to life as he lowered himself into the chair next to PJ’s.

PJ moaned again, her mouth filled with the bacon, blue cheese concoction he’d cooked up for them and Gabe felt his whole body still. If she didn’t knock off that adorable habit she had of moaning when something good crossed those lips, he wouldn’t make it through the week without a lot of cold showers and hand lotion.

“It’s okay if you want to drink,” she said in between bites, and Gabe’s first thoughts jumped to whiskey. Shots of whiskey might help him get through this alive and moderately sane without too many fantasies…about other ways he could make her moan, or what she might sound like when he took her soft nipple into his mouth and made it peak under his tongue.

He shook his head instead, half in answer to her and half in an attempt to banish thoughts of PJ’s breasts from his mind. “I’m good with water. Burger okay?” he asked.

“More than okay. It’s amazing. Maybe that’s what you should do now. Become a chef. Or open a chain of restaurants. World-class restaurants with nothing but comfort food.”

Gabe laughed as PJ took another big bite and then followed that with a forkful of mashed potatoes.

And, another moan. Dear Lord, woman. Gabe wanted to lean across his chair and swallow those moans of hers in a kiss. But, that was the last thing she needed and he wouldn’t do that to her now. He’d be what she needed: a friend.

He shifted his plate in his lap. It wouldn’t look great for her to see exactly how much she affected him. She’d probably run and hide if she knew the kind of thoughts he had about her.

“No?” she asked, seemingly unaware of the effect she had on him. “Don’t like the restaurant idea? Hmmm. A cooking show! I bet all the housewives would watch you cook. You know, jeans and an apron? Nothing much else?” PJ said with a mischievous grin. “I bet if you demonstrated how to make a bowl of cereal with no shirt on it would be a hit.”

Gabe turned to look at her as she laughed next to him. Her whole face lit up when she laughed, and desire flew through him hard and fast and demanding.

To hell with it.

He leaned across the space between the two Adirondack chairs and swept her mouth with his, quickly. Just a taste. Just the taste he’d been dreaming about for years. He pulled back and looked into her stunned eyes.

Shit.

“I’m sorry,” he said, but didn’t move away as his eyes locked with hers. “I just wanted to see what that felt like. What you taste like.”

About the Author:

Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. Her books range from sweetheart to steamy in heat level (for sweeter, read the Evers, TX series.)

She lives with an extremely understanding husband, three wonderful children, two mostly well-behaved dogs, and a lone little cat in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing.

Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and has fallen in love with writing. She is the author of the Sutton Capital Series, the Evers, Texas Series, and will be putting out several novellas with baseball player heroes in Bella Andre’s Kindle World, Game For Love, in late 2014. She loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, or Kobo — FREE!

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Must Have Experience or Need Not Apply by MK Schiller – Guest Blog and Giveaway



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding three separate prizes: a $20 Amazon or B/N GC, a $10 Amazon or B/N GC, and an ecopy of Variables of Love, to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Must have experience or need not apply
BY MK Schiller

I’ve always loved romances. Possibly, this has to do with being a child of the 80’s. Almost every movie produced in that era had auto angst, a great soundtrack, fallible heroes, strong heroines, and of course, the required grand gesture. How could I not fall in love with this genre? Between purchasing jelly shoes, hoop earrings, and legwarmers, I was busy watching the great dramatic offerings of my generation.

People often ask me where I get my ideas. The way I construct a novel is much like creating a dish from scratch (although as of late, my kids think I’ve forgotten how to cook). I take snippets and stories from my life, find character traits I enjoy, add spice, and stir well. Of course, I always set it on a low simmer until I’m ready to heat on high.

My first foray into romance happened when I was sixteen. I wrote a short story…really it was just a few paragraphs with no beginning or end. The scene was that pivotal black moment, although at the time, I wasn’t familiar with that term. In truth, I had no idea this is what I was writing. But I can tell you this…I loved writing it!

The hero tells the heroine good-bye, caressing her cheek. He divulges that he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to stop loving her or love her forever. He channels all his sorrow and frustration into a heartfelt speech, trying desperately to change her mind. She’s stoic and calm, but her insides are a quivering mass of emotions. He storms out, leaving her alone in the chaos of her thoughts. She sits and stares at the ceiling, clenching her hands, welcoming the physical pain to distract her from her emotional turmoil. If she allows her caged grief any freedom, it will destroy her. She waits in silence, trying to block out his words, because she knows she’ll go after him. So she closes her eyes, and takes deep breaths until the distance between them is too far for her legs to carry. Only in that moment, when she’s sure the time has passed to call him back does she break down, allowing her anguished screams and salty tears full invasion of her facilities until she reaches the point of exhaustion.

I no longer have this piece of writing, but I remember being very proud of it. I showed it to a friend of mine. Her reaction was that I shouldn’t write about experiences I didn’t have. I have to admit, the critique (the first of many) hurt. I wondered if every writer must have experience or need not apply? The feedback didn’t stop me from writing, but life sure as heck did. Enter, college, a real job (as my parent’s like to say), marriage, kids etc. Then one day, I happened upon a very popular book written by a new author. Well, it definitely hijacked my mind for many hours. A good book gives us freedom. After all, it’s the only form of stationary travel, and the only socially acceptable means of voyeurism.

I couldn’t stop the ideas from flowing after that. My mind was a mash-up of plot points and character traits. So I started writing, if only to relieve myself and create some much-needed head space. A year later, I became a published author.

I disagree with my childhood friend. After all, sci-fi, historical, and Steam punk writers probably don’t have exact experiences to draw from either. Sympathy is the ability to feel for someone else, and I think every good writer has to have a healthy dose of it to create the ideal journey for the readers. I feel for my characters, the predicaments I put them in, and their emotional responses to it. I can do all this because the human experience bonds all of us.

I wanted to share my journey with you. To once again, emphatically state I have an awesome job, penning romantic tales for a living – one that doesn’t necessarily require experience. However, I do think there are some character traits every author should have. Writers must have intuition, admiration for others, and a healthy dose of compassion. You must be willing to let plot points take over your head, and work long hours. You must roll out the welcome mats for the frequent, odd voices talking to you. You must accept critiques with grace, and learn from them. It is not a job…it is a passion.

When I wrote Variables of Love, I had to draw on these traits to create honest, relatable characters and the difficult situation they were in. This is a story about trauma, forgiveness, and the beautiful fall and catch that goes into every love story. Variables of Love is a very personal story for me. It’s what happens when cultural expectations and personal convictions collide. I’ve borrowed from my own life experiences and culture to create this novel. It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for some time, and I’m humbled by the opportunity to share it. As a child of the 80’s, I had to add a few grand gestures, a rocking soundtrack, and a heaping pile of angst. I hope you’ll check it out, and I’d love to hear about what other traits you think a successful writer should have.

Meena Kapoor knows what life has in store for her. She’s in her senior year at Stanford where she’ll graduate summa cum laude, and then she’ll begin her interviews…her marriage interviews. Meena is Indian, and she’s never questioned that she’ll have an arranged marriage like all the generations before her. Not until she meets gorgeous math major Ethan Callahan. Ethan’s sense of humor and free spirit stir feelings in Meena she didn’t know were possible outside of Bollywood movies. It doesn’t hurt that he’s charming and has the uncanny ability to make math sound like poetry, but Meena knows their equation makes no sense in the real world.

Ethan finds himself intrigued by the mysterious, beautiful girl, whose big, brown eyes reflect great pain. His goals are small at first – to make her smile and then to laugh. But he soon wants more, and though Meena is adamant they have no future, he convinces her to share the present. Ethan believes every problem has a solution, but with cultural expectations and family duty among the variables, they will struggle to solve the ultimate equation to find happiness.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“It is kind of cool…the mating for life thing. There are so few species that mate for life.”

I turned and stared at him, feeling my heart flutter by his very close presence. His hand twitched a bit, like it wanted to grab mine. Was he feeling the same charge of electricity I was? I wanted to be honest with him. After I told him, he would probably rather hang out with a swan.

“That’s why I love them. They are just like me.”

He didn’t seem frazzled by what I’d said. He was quiet, soaking in my words. Rachael told me statements like this were the fastest way to get a guy to leave you alone, but Ethan didn’t even seem surprised. “You mate for life, Meena?”

“My people do”

“Economists?” he asked with an amused grin.

“Very funny.”

“Are you saying there are no Indian divorces?” His question sounded genuine.

“There are exceptions to every rule, but we do have the lowest divorce rate in the world.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“It’s culturally discouraged.”

He nodded. “Maybe, it should be here too. But is that really the only reason? It makes it sound like it’s very difficult to get yourself out of a bad situation.”

“It’s difficult, but usually not impossible. That’s not the only reason. I think the marriages, in general, are stronger and more stable.”

“What makes them stronger? Religion? Culture?” I was quiet for a moment, contemplating my response. “Come on, the answer to the Western woes of wedlock could be solved by this very conversation. Surely, you have a theory.”

“Two words—arranged marriage.”

His eyebrows shot up. I had finally surprised him, but he didn’t hesitate with his next question. “People still do that?”

“It’s not as common as it was, but it’s not uncommon either. Most Hindu marriages are the result of an arrangement.”

“I don’t know anyone who would want to get married like that.”

I sucked in a deep breath, but didn’t let my eyes waver from his. “Yes, you do.”

About the Author:

I am a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. I have a full time life and two busy teenagers, but in the dark of night, I sit by the warm glow of my computer monitor, reading or writing, usually with some tasty Italian…the food that is!

I started imagining stories in my head at a very young age. In fact, I got so good at it that friends asked me to create plots featuring them as the heroine and the object of their affection as the hero. You’ve heard of fan fiction… this was friend fiction.

I hope you enjoy my stories and always find The Happily Ever After in every endeavor.

I love hearing from readers so please write to me!

Website | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Personal Page | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Goodreads

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Favorite Couple to Write About by Brooklyn Ann – Guest Blog and Giveaway

4_8 brooklynnannbadge_PRINT


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. The author will be giving away 3 Scandals that Bite Book Bundles via Rafflecopter.
Who was your favorite couple to write about?
Oh, that is not a fair question! I loved all three for different reasons.

I loved writing Ian and Angelica in BITE ME, YOUR GRACE, because it was fun to mix such a quirky, naïve human with an orderly and urbane vampire. I also wrote that one as a bit of an homage to Judith McNaught’s WHITNEY, MY LOVE, putting my own spin on some of my favorite McNaught-isms.

Of all my heroines, I must say that Angelica had the most character growth at the end, but my goodness she could be a brat sometimes. 

Lydia and Vincent were also special to write because it was my chance to play with the guardian/ward trope. I like that trope because…

1.) The aspect of the forbidden: The hero is responsible for the heroine’s well-being and often it’s his job to ensure she has a successful marriage…to anyone but him. Delicious!

2.) The characters often get more “screen time” alone together and have the opportunity for more intimacy…and hilarious hijinks.

3.) Some readers like older men. (I think that’s part of why I like vampires.)

I put a twist on it by having the ward pursue the guardian. And Vincent was a sweet hero who stole my heart. And their poignant longing for each other was absolutely heartrending.

Rafe and Cassandra were a blast because they’re both so serious with their individual goals that their interactions ended up having a unique comical touch.

I loosely based Cassandra on Dr. Temperance Brennan from the TV Show BONES. I had lots of fun countering her cool, analytic mind with Rafe’s surly temper and barely checked passion. Also, I got to write perhaps the first pot-smoking vampire (Cannabis was used back in the 19th century to treat muscle spasms). It made for an amusing scene.

Also, the stakes are a lot higher in this book and made for more world-building and some darker moments that I lightened up with some quirky humor.

4_8 brooklyn ann book coverHer interest is purely scientific

Cassandra Burton wants to study medicine, surgery, healing, and everything related to the human body and its mysteries—and she’s willing to rob graves to do it! But a lady can meet dark and dangerous characters lurking around the cemetery. And who could be more fascinating than Rafael Villar, Lord Vampire of London? If she could study his physiology, she could learn so much that would help humans. After all, he’s immortal—and Cassandra is now his prisoner…

Until she gets close enough to touch

As if Rafael didn’t have enough to worry about, with a rebellion brewing and his allies out of reach, now he’s confronted by a beautiful, fearless lady who wants to heal the scars he’s borne for centuries. He can’t keep her, and he can’t let her go, and worst of all, he’s every bit as intrigued by her as she is by him.

Scandals with Bite series:
Bite Me, Your Grace (Book 1)
One Bite Per Night (Book 2)
Bite at First Sight (Book 3)

Enjoy an excerpt:

28 September 1823
St. Pancras Cemetery, London

“If one desires a task accomplished correctly, one must do it herself.” Cassandra Burton, Dowager Countess of Rosslyn, repeated the litany as she pulled the rickety little wagon through the moonlit aisle of tombstones.

She shivered under her velvet cloak. Her fingers had long since gone numb with the effort of navigating the dratted conveyance over uneven ground and across slippery, damp grass. Shovels and pry bars clanked across the wagon’s worn pine boards. The winch rattled on its frame.

Something flickered across the corner of her vision.

Cassandra jumped. She stopped and rubbed her gloved hands together for warmth, surveying the graveyard. The area was still and silent as…well, a tomb. Yet the chill in her spine refused to abate. A scornful frown turned her lips at such irrational behavior. Ghosts were an illogical figment of uneducated imaginations, and no one could possibly have business out here at this hour…except herself.

“Worthless curs,” Cassandra whispered in as haughty a tone as she could manage.

If only the men to whom she’d offered a more-than-generous sum to perform this troublesome task had done their duty, rather than disappearing. She shook her head. If not for their unreasonable negligence, she would now be comfortably ensconced in her laboratory unraveling the secrets of the human body…not out in this cold, dreary place, jumping at shadows.

Surveying the newest graves, she read the dates to decide which would be the best specimen. The mysterious disappearance of her hired hands nagged at her. Could a murderer be on the loose? She shook her head and pulled the folds of her cloak tighter. No, by now the authorities would have found their bodies and the news would be sensationalized in The Times.

They were cowards, but she was not. To prove her lack of fear, Cassandra halted her wagon and fetched out a shovel. Her hands trembled nervously as she grasped the wooden handle.

Removing the dead from their graves was illegal. If a constable caught her, she’d be sent directly to Fleet Prison. A fresh surge of trepidation curled in her belly.

Exhuming a corpse was quite a different matter from having one ready on her operating table. As objective as she tried to be, the prospect of removing the body from its carefully arranged resting place by winching it out of the ground and loading it onto her cart was undeniably gruesome. However, gruesome or not, Cassandra needed a specimen to continue her work. And she would acquire it, no matter how much her nerves protested.

Despite being barred from official education as a physician because of her sex, Cassandra was determined to learn the skills required to become a doctor. That included studying human anatomy, and for that, she required cadavers.

Returning to the graves, she made her selection. Alfred Lumley, born September first, 1801; died September twenty-sixth, 1823. Two days ago Alfred had been a living twenty-two-year-old man, three years younger than herself. Whether or not he’d been healthy, she would soon determine. A pang of sorrow struck her heart. His soul is in heaven, she reminded herself. A mere shell remains. A shell that will help me to aid the living.

She raised the shovel, ready to plunge it into the soft soil. “I am not afraid. I am not.”

“You should be.” A sinister, accented voice pierced her consciousness.

The shovel fell from her nerveless fingers, thudding onto the cold ground.

Cassandra knew that voice; it had the rich, dark cadence that had haunted her dreams since the night she’d first met him. She spun around, the hood of her cloak falling to her shoulders.

Rafael Villar stepped out from behind a mausoleum. The shadows embraced his bronze skin, obscuring the scars on the left side of his face while moonlight highlighted his exotic features on the right.
Known as “the Spaniard,” Villar had been an infamous pugilist in Cheapside despite having only one functioning arm. The eccentric and wealthy Duke of Burnrath was his sponsor. Cassandra had often encountered Villar at Burnrath House when attending the duchess’s literary circles. Right away she’d suspected that there was more to the relationship between Rafael and Their Graces. And she’d been utterly and completely fascinated by him.

When the duke and duchess departed for the Continent to travel, Villar had leased Burnrath House. By all accounts he was rich as a nabob. For the remainder of the Season, Don Villar was all the ton could gossip about. But when months passed without the Spaniard making the slightest attempt to join Society, he was forgotten. Cassandra would have forgotten him as well, if it weren’t for those damned dreams. Now he stood before her in the most unexpected place and at the most inconvenient time.

Good Lord, will he turn me in to the authorities?

She opened her mouth to ask the reason for his presence, but the words caught in her throat when she saw that his amber eyes were glowing like a funeral pyre. His sensuous lips—lips she’d unreasonably dreamed of kissing—drew back to reveal white, even teeth…with two gleaming fangs for incisors.

Before she could scream or flee, Don Villar’s fiery gaze widened, then narrowed in recognition. “You! You’ve been the one disturbing my people?”

“Y-your people?” Cassandra stammered, staring raptly at those sharp fangs. She’d certainly never seen those during their previous encounters. Her heart leaped into her throat in dawning horror. This man was not human.

His lips curled back in a sneer, puckering the scars on the left side of his face. “Don’t play coy with me, Countess.” The word was filled with disdain. “Some of my subordinates reported hunters disturbing their lairs.” He gestured at the mausoleum behind him. “It is hard to fathom that you’re behind this, though I should have guessed. Is that why you befriended the Duchess of Burnrath?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea what you are going on about. I came here to… Well, it is no concern of yours.” A wave of indignation bolstered her courage. How dare he speak of her most treasured friendship in such a manner? How dare he accuse her of duplicity when he stood before her sporting unnatural teeth and luminescent eyes? And of what exactly was he accusing her? “What does Her Grace have to do with this?” Cassandra took a shaky step back. “And, in the name of heaven, what are you?”

In a blink of an eye, Rafael stood inches from her. With the same impossible speed, he grasped her shoulder, pulling her close against him. Dizziness swarmed her mind at the feel of his firm heat and his intoxicating scent of forbidden spices. His crippled left arm moved lightly around her waist, his fingers delicately brushing across her lower back. The heady combination of rough and gentle made her tremble.
His eyes locked on hers. “I will show you, Countess.”

Then his mouth was on her neck, firm lips caressing the sensitive flesh, somehow more intimate than anything she’d experienced during her ill-fated marriage. Cassandra melted against him, tangling her fingers in his silken hair.

Sharp pain exploded in her throat as his fangs broke her skin. Cassandra cried out and tried to push him away, but his iron-like right arm mercilessly held her immobile. The pain took flight, and drugging pleasure fluttered within her belly. A low moan escaped her throat as she pulled him closer. Liquid desire pulsed between her thighs. Whatever this was, she needed more, craved it with mindless longing.

Rafael pulled away, muttering a foreign curse. “You’re a grave robber?” Lifting his finger to his mouth, he pierced his flesh with one pearly fang and then gently touched the wound on her throat. The soft touch was juxtaposed by his blazing eyes and furious snarl.

She barely heard his words as her eyes locked on those deadly fangs. Cassandra froze as realization shook her to the core. He wiped her neck with a handkerchief. In confirmation of her suspicions, blood spotted the snowy cloth like an accusation.

“Vampire,” she gasped, struggling to breathe. The foundations of her scientific beliefs quaked within her consciousness. Fairy tales were not true, and magic was not real. Yet here he stood, ready to devour her blood and perhaps her soul. Terror gripped her heart like ice.

The creature that should not exist outside of myth nodded. “Yes, but you will not remember the fact.”

His eyes glowed brighter, capturing her gaze. The intensity caused a fresh wave of dizziness, but Cassandra fought it off. The vampire stood like a statue, continuing to stare at her in a most unnerving manner.

After an endless moment, she shook her head and took another wary step back. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Villar blinked and the fire dimmed from his gaze. An explosion of Spanish expletives came out in a growl as he seized her arm. “I apologize, Countess. You’ll have to come with me.”

“C-come with you where?” Cassandra stammered in confusion, trying to pull away. He’d already bitten her and drunk her blood. What more could he want? “Why? And f-for how long?”

“I am taking you to Burnrath House,” Rafael snarled through clenched teeth. “I have no choice but to place you under arrest until I can determine what to do with you.”

***
Rafe bit back another growl. Madre de Dios, why did the mysterious intruder have to be her? The Countess of Rosslyn was the only mortal in over three centuries to have gotten under his skin, and he still did not know why. And why did she have to be one of the rare individuals immune to mesmerism?

He’d wanted a brief moment to punish her for being a nuisance to him yet again. He’d wanted to punish her, to show her the folly in seeking out a monster, before banishing her memory. It was the worst of luck that the first mortal he’d deliberately revealed himself to was impervious to his power.

“Arrest?” Lady Rosslyn struggled in his grip, her warm flesh slipping beneath his grasp on the sleeve of her cloak, drawing his attention back to the vexing situation at hand. “Are you a constable?”

“Constable? Hardly. I am Lord of this city.” He held her fast.

“Lord? Of all of London? Whatever do you mean?” The countess tried once more to pull away. “And what of my wagon?”

Rafe tugged her closer before she could trip over a gravestone. “Damn it, woman. Devil take your wagon! You fail to grasp the severity of this situation.”

Truly, it would have been a simple matter had he succeeded in clearing the woman’s mind of the memory. Hell, it still would have been simple if the woman hadn’t been her. Not when her sweet, rich taste lay thick on his tongue. Not when her intoxicating scent of rose petals and woman engulfed his senses.

“Well, of course I do not grasp the situation!” Lady Rosslyn exclaimed, maddeningly oblivious to the tentative hold he had on his temper. “You have failed to explain it! First, I had no idea that vampires existed outside fiction. Furthermore, I have no notion why one would arrest me for exhuming a corpse for my studies. I am fully aware that my actions are illegal, but the logic eludes me as to how that should mean anything to you.”

Rafe sucked in a hissing breath through his teeth, biting back a stream of curses. Conversing with humans had never been his strong suit, but talking with Lady Rosslyn was always especially trying. “Your morbid hobby is of no concern to me. I had mistakenly believed you were hunting my people. You’re fortunate that my people didn’t take action themselves. That you weren’t beaten bloody by a mob, your house set aflame!”
Rafe closed his eyes, remembering how Ian’s third-in-command and a gang of other vengeful vampires had done exactly that to a prominent surgeon only three years ago. Ian had been apoplectic with rage. If the man’s wife hadn’t been in the country, she would surely have perished. Ian had punished the mob and issued a law that all suspicious mortals were to be handled only by the Lord of London from then on.

“Morbid?” Cassandra repeated, oblivious to the rest of his words. “You drank my blood only moments ago and you call me morbid?” Her sea-green eyes glared up at him from beneath impossibly long lashes. The captivating contact was broken too soon when she shook her head. “Well, if it is a mistake, then why are you arresting me?”

Ah and what a sweet drink it was. Yet somehow her life and memories had been more potent. Rafe usually closed his mind to his victims’ lives when he fed, but in the case of Lady Rosslyn, he had needed to discover what she was up to.

Lady Rosslyn seemed to have been a very busy woman during the last year. She’d had the daring to apply to Oxford, Cambridge, and Saint Bartholomew’s to master the healing arts. All those establishments had turned her away because of her sex. But she did not give up. Instead, she’d set forth with her studies alone, even robbing graves to learn the secrets of the human body.

Rafe sighed. This evening’s events had all been a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, one that could not be rectified. The Elders would not permit her to leave his presence alive.

“It is forbidden for mortals to know of our kind. I attempted to banish your memory of the encounter, but it appears you are immune to my powers. So now you must come with me until…” He trailed off, strangely reluctant to voice the rest aloud.

“Until when?” Her voice emerged in a frightened whimper.

Rafe closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Unexpected sorrow churned in his gut at the consequence this encounter would bear.

“Until it is decided whether I kill you or Change you into a vampire.”

About the Author: A lover of witty Regencies and dark paranormal romance, Brooklyn Ann combines the two in her new vampire series. The former mechanic turned author lives with her family in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.

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“Clutch the pearls, ladies. It’s wonderful.” —Lit Bites

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