Things I Like Doing When I’m Not Writing by Hope Ramsay – 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 the entire print set of Hope Ramsay’s LAST CHANCE books.

Things I Like Doing When I’m Not Writing

I am a person with too many hobbies and not nearly enough time.

First of all I’m a knitter. I can’t sit in front of the television without something in my hands. I guess I’m just antsy or something. I have a ridiculous stash of yarn, a collection of knitting books that’s taking over my bookshelf, and more knitting needles than I’ll ever need in a lifetime.

I also love music and I play the guitar. I learned to play when I was thirteen and I’ve been pretty serious about playing guitar ever since. In my twenties I was in an all-girl folk-rock band that played gigs all over the Washington, DC area. At that point in my life I was writing music and seriously pursuing the dream of becoming a singer-songwriter. But, unfortunately, the band broke up, and believe me when a band disbands it’s as emotionally draining as a divorce. I needed a little alone time after that happened, so I decided to take a few months off from the music to write a novel.

Yeah, well, the rest is history.

7_3 ramsay BassI also garden, and sew, and play golf, and avidly root for the Washington Nationals baseball team. But my newest interest may be fly fishing. The Georgia Good Ol’ Boy (AKA the dear husband) is a fly fisherman, and he’s determined to teach me. Not too long ago he took me out to a lake in Pennsylvania where I managed to catch an itty-bitty large-mouth bass. The Good Ol’ Boy insisted that we capture the moment for posterity.

7_3 Ramsay_Last Chance Hero_MMRoss Gardiner has had his fill of difficult relationships. Returning to Last Chance after a rough divorce, the town’s handsome new fire chief just wants safety and stability-a tall order given his dangerous job and the way he has the attention of all the single women in town. All except Sabina Grey, the girl who stole his heart when they were teenagers. Sabina knows a lot about playing it safe. Always the good girl, she’s now responsible for her antiques store and caring for her sister. But having Ross in town brings back the memory of one carefree summer night when she threw caution to the wind-and almost destroyed her family. Now that they are both older and wiser, will the spark still be there, even though they’ve both been burned?

Enjoy an excerpt:

She wore a pair of faded blue jeans that clung to her hips and butt like they were part of her. Her green tank top looked like something she might have found at a tag sale. The slippery, clingy fabric was covered in Oriental flowers, and it was almost see-through.

Not to mention that it exposed her shoulders, which had freckles on them. As usual, Sabina had pulled her hair back into a ponytail. And as usual, wisps of hair had escaped around her face. He wanted to cross the room, pull that damn rubber band out of her hair, and bury his hands and his nose in all those amazing curls.

Oh yeah, and his hands itched to touch her breasts through that silky fabric. Which is why he balled them into fists and jammed them into his pockets. Then he pretended that his feet were set into concrete.

A man could get hurt by lust like this.

And that didn’t even count the damage his feelings for Sabina might do to Lucy or Henrietta or even the folks in Last Chance who were all invested in him marrying Lucy.

He didn’t want to feel this way.

About anyone.

Lust like this was just crazy. It made a man do stupid things, and he had been there and done that. He much preferred the cool, calm feeling he had for Lucy and her lists.

Sabina stood there staring at him for a moment, her lips soft and parted. The afternoon sun coming through the dusty window, lit up her hair. Her voice sounded squeaky when she started talking, and she stammered, which was not like her at all.

“Uh . . . I . . . Uh. I got a call from Bubba Lockheart. I gather y’all moved the trunk down from the attic?”

“Oh, yeah, you came for the trunk.” He had the twin sensations of being relieved and disappointed all at the same time.

She nodded.

“It’s in the living room. Let me get the hand truck.” He hurried out onto the back porch and snagged the dolly and wheeled it into the living room.

Sabina was waiting for him.

“So, did you search through it? What else is inside?” She tilted her head, and for an instant, she resembled a little kid on Christmas morning, so excited to be unwrapping a present.

“Uh, no. We were kind of busy today.” He kept his words sharp and short. He shoved the dolly under the trunk and tilted it back. Then he wheeled it all the way out to the porch and down a make-shift ramp that had been set up over the front steps. Sabina followed him and opened the tailgate of her van.

“Can you lift it yourself or do you need help?” she asked.

“I can do it.” He wanted her to leave. Fast. But the trunk was awkward and he almost tilted it sideways when he tried to lift it. Before he could stop her, Sabina bent down and grabbed one of the handles and helped.

Together they got it up into the van. But in the process they ended up side by side and their shoulders touched.

He’d never been burned by a fire. He was practically religious about keeping his gear in topnotch form. But that touch scalded him. It would have been normal to jump back from all that heat. After all, he’d been trained to know the danger of uncontrolled fires.

But his training went right out the window, along with his common sense. Instead of running like hell, he turned toward her. She looked up at him, the fire dancing in her eyes. Oh, man, this was so wrong.

And so right.

“Ross,” she whispered, her voice so damn sultry.

His mind told him to stop. But his heart had a completely different idea. His heart had been waiting decades to kiss Sabina Grey. And there she was, right in reach, and her mouth looked so ready to be kissed that he couldn’t help himself.

He leaned down and pressed his mouth to her lips, and even though this wasn’t exactly the hands-on, bodies-pressed-together, hot and heavy kiss he’d once fantasized about, the heat of the moment still swept through him.

He wanted to pull her close. He wanted to explore her mouth a little deeper. He wanted to do a lot more than dance with her.

But Sabina pushed back.

“We can’t do this.” Her look was stunningly sober.

“Right,” he said on a deep exhalation. “Right.” He repeated the word because his mind had sort of checked out for a moment. “I’m sorry.”

She didn’t accept his apology. She just gave him one of those female looks that were so hard to decipher. This one was pretty bad ass.

And then she backed away, ran to the driver’s side of the van, and took off, sending the gravel on the driveway flying.

About the Author:7_3 RamsayHope

Hope Ramsay grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you’ll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. She’s a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart and is married to a good ol’ Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar.

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

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Marilyn Pappano’s Strangest Experiences – 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 the Tallgrass Series.

Marilyn Pappano’s Strangest Experiences
I’m a magnet for odd things.

1. My office was fried by a lightning strike just minutes after I walked out. (The only electronic device to survive was a decade-old cheap boom-box.)

2. Whenever an angry, ranting, delusional, stalking person is looking for someone to be crazy with in public, he always picks me.

3. When my dog Jack and I went for a walk one day, we ran into an ostrich. In the woods. In northeast Oklahoma.

4. I’ve had more encounters with copperheads than I can count and have never met a horse who didn’t try to bite me.

5. One time, while in my own yard minding my own business, a bird flew over and pooped. On my head. Coincidence? More like calculated, bird-brain plan to add one more incident to the weirdness of my life.

7_2 marilyn Pappano_A Promise of Forever_MMSergeant First Class Avi Grant’s return to Tallgrass, Oklahoma is a long-deferred wish come true. With her final tour in Afghanistan over, Avi can focus on her future-a job here at home and a family of her own. There’s just one thing she has to do first: visit her beloved commanding officer’s widow and share her grief. The last thing she expected was to feel an instant attraction to the woman’s son. Too bad the sexy surgeon is impossible to ignore . . . and even harder to resist.

The sting of his parents’ divorce still niggles at Ben Noble. So when a warm, funny, and beautiful young sergeant arrives, mourning his stepfather’s loss as strongly as his mother does, Ben can’t help but feel conflicted. If his parents taught him anything, it’s that love doesn’t last-especially with a career soldier. But try as he might to keep his distance, Ben begins to see that Avi-and the spark she brings to his life-is the stuff forever is made of. As Avi’s leave ticks away, can Ben convince her to take a chance on forever with him?

Enjoy an excerpt:

Outside, the sounds of children playing were louder, the splashes indicating that the kids across the street were enjoying one of the last swims of the summer. Avi and Ben walked silently to her car, parked in the driveway.

She nestled the pie plate into the passenger seat, tucked her purse around to hold it in place, then closed the door before turning to him.

So . . . Would he ask for her cell number? Offer his? Make firm plans to see her again before driving away?

For the first time in a long time, the answers mattered.

Linking his fingers with hers, he pulled her to the driver’s side of the car, then stood, invading her personal space. She liked it.

“Do you have any plans for tomorrow night?”

Yes! “Not a single one.”

He combed his fingers through his hair. “Would you like to go out to dinner?”

She wanted to blurt out the affirmative as quickly as it had echoed in her head, but he went on. “You would have to drive to Tulsa. Tuesday is surgery day, so if I come here, I can’t get here before seven, and I’ll have to head back before nine.”

Drive to Tulsa? An hour or less. No big deal. She’d had commutes between apartments and forts that took longer, and that was just to work. An evening with Ben was such a nicer payoff. “I don’t mind.”

“I usually get out of clinic around six. We could meet at my house around six thirty?”

A smile spread across her face. “I can handle that.”

“Good.” He wasn’t smiling, but his eyes showed something just as encouraging. Relief, maybe, or satisfaction. Hmm. She could show him satisfaction.

He leaned closer, just slightly, and lowered his voice. “I’d kiss you good night, but we have an audience.”

Glancing over her shoulder toward the house, she caught just a glimpse of Patricia before the blinds at the living room window settled. Looking back at Ben, she smiled. “Kiss me anyway.”

He closed the last of the distance between them, lowering his mouth to hers, giving her a sweet, gentle, tender kiss that set her blood on fire. It was impressive and surprising and just a bit scary, considering she’d had tons of kisses that were a whole lot more passionate and evoked a whole lot less of a response.

When he lifted his head, her fingers curled, wanting to wrap around the back of his neck and pull him down again. Her heart skipped a beat or two, and something deep inside her felt deprived.

In the dim light, Ben looked impressed and surprised and a bit scared, too. For a moment, he stared at her, all intense and searching, then he gave a rueful shake of his head. Stepping back, he asked for her cell phone, input his number, and texted it to himself to get her number.

“Six thirty,” he said when he handed it back, his voice rough-edged. “I’ll send you the address.”

“I’ll be there.”

About the Author: 7_2 marilyn Pappano, MarilynKnown for her intensely emotional stories, Marilyn Pappano is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly eighty books. She has made regular appearances on bestseller lists and has received recognition for her work in the form of numerous awards. Though her husband’s Navy career took them across the United States, he and Ms. Pappano now live in Oklahoma high on a hill that overlooks her hometown. They have one son and daughter-in-law, an adorable grandson, and a pack of mischievous dogs.

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Favorite Desserts by VK Sykes – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publishers. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a copy of Summer at the Shore.

Favorite Dessert recipes for VK Sykes (picked by Vanessa)
1. Apple Pie – starting with Randy’s favorite. It’s all about the pastry. A tender, flaky piecrust is a thing of beauty. When you find a good recipe, you stick with it.

2. Chocolate cake – My favorite. First of all…chocolate. And second, because there are just so many different variations on chocolate cake. You can never get bored!

3. Blueberry crisp – simple ingredients that bake into the perfect summer dessert. And you can even convince yourself it’s (sort of) healthy.

4. Salted caramel gelato – okay, not really a recipe, but we both love it. An insanely good comb of sweet, salty, and creamy.

5. Lemon bisque – a lemony, mousse-like dessert with a graham cracker and pecan crust. This was my favorite dessert when I was a kid, and I often asked my mother to make it instead of cake (see #1) for my birthday. Now when I have lemon bisque, it reminds me of my mother and my childhood!

7_1 VK SummerAttheShoreJUST A SUMMER FLING?

Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family’s bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can’t let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire-and with one irresistible kiss, she’s swept away.

Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he’s not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn’t allow him to leave a woman in distress-and she’s in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights . . .

About the Author: V. K. Sykes is a wife/husband writing team -Vanessa Kelly and Randall Sykes – who write romantic suspense and single-title contemporary romance. One of the great things they appreciate about being writers is that they can work anywhere so Vanessa and Randy split their time between Ontario, Canada, in the summer and Florida in the winter. Both locations have shores just as beautiful as the imaginary Seashell Bay.

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Lily’s Most Embarrassing Moments by Jill Shalvis – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter to win a copy of Second Chance Supper.

Most Embarrassing situations that my heroine Lily got herself into during Second Chance Summer
1. Ran outside in her skimpy pjs to grab some wood to start a fire and plowed into hero. She ran up the stairs back inside before she remembered that her pjs have “kiss it” across her butt.

2. When she buys the local convenience store out of junk food and the cashier guy asks her if she’s high, or just been dumped.

3. When she sees sexy Aidan for the first time in ten years and backs into a display in the store trying to get away. Stealth, she is not.

4. When she thinks about maybe running the smug Aidan over and he just smiles at her, knowing she won’t do it because, dammit, she likes him too much.

5. When he realizes that she loves him before SHE realizes she loves him, mostly because she hates when he’s right…

7_1 Shalvis_Second Chance Summer_MMCedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it’s the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there’s an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Come here,” he said.

“I’m right here.”

“Closer.”

She walked into his arms. He pulled her in and kissed her. He kissed her until he knew he’d taken it as far as he could without tearing off that pretty sundress right then and there, and only then did he lift his head.

“Oh,” she breathed, staggering back a step, clearly trying to play it cool—which might have worked if her eyes weren’t dilated and the pulse at the base of her throat wasn’t going apeshit crazy.

He gave a slow smile and pulled her back in, not hard for him to do, since she already had a grip on his shirt like he was her lifeline and she was going down for the count.

She cleared her throat. “So you showed up all Captain America to save the day, and now what? I jump into bed with you? Was that your plan?”

“Yeah,” he said, “but in my version we didn’t talk this much.”

“A full-service rescue then,” she said evenly.

He tried a cajoling smile. “I’m really good at full service.”

“Do you really think this is a good idea?”

He laughed softly and let his mouth brush over her temple and then her ear, which caused her to shiver. “Of course it’s not a good idea. Or we’d have gone for it already.

But sometimes the bad ideas turn out to be the best ideas of all.”

“Yeah?” she asked. “Name one.”

“Bringing out your keys from the convenience store after the postcard display demolition.”

She let out a soft laugh and fisted her hands in his hair.

“So what now? We really going to try this out?”

Were they? He’d promised himself he wouldn’t give her a chance to devastate him again. But somehow over the past few weeks he’d lost sight of keeping his heart safe and moved onto wanting to heal her heart. “I’m game.”

She hesitated so long he took a step back from her and prepared himself to leave. But her hand came out and gripped his. “You’re wearing too many clothes,” she said softly.

About the Author: 7_1 JillShalviscroppedNew York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Buy Second Chance Summer at Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, or BAM.

 

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Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher as Ride Steady is released today. Enter to win one set of the Chaos series: FIRE INSIDE, OWN THE WIND, and RIDE STEADY via the Rafflecopter below.

6_30 Ashley_Ride Steady_MMThe ride of her life . . .
Once upon a time, Carissa Teodoro believed in happy endings. Money, marriage, motherhood: everything came easy—until she woke up to the ugly truth about her Prince Charming. Now a struggling, single mom and stranded by a flat tire, Carissa’s pondering her mistakes when a vaguely familiar knight rides to her rescue on a ton of horsepower.

Climb on and hold tight . . .
In high school, Carson Steele was a bad boy loner who put Carissa on a pedestal where she stayed far beyond his reach. Today, he’s the hard-bodied biker known only as Joker, and from the way Carissa’s acting, it’s clear she’s falling fast. While catching her is irresistible, knowing what to do with her is a different story. A good girl like Carissa is the least likely fit with the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Too bad holding back is so damned hard. Now, as Joker’s secrets are revealed and an outside threat endangers the club, Joker must decide whether to ride steady with Carissa—or ride away forever . . .

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Yo!” I heard Snapper call and I looked to him to see he was looking beyond me. I turned around and saw Tabby was heading toward me and Snapper. “I’m takin’ Carissa out on my bike. You wanna look after her purse or put it in Shy’s room or somethin’?”
At his request, Tabby’s gaze immediately cut to the pool tables. When she took them in, for some reason, her face got hard before she softened it and looked back toward us.
“Not a problem,” she said, stopping at us. “Go. Ride.”
“Never been on a bike,” I told her and her face split in a big smile.
“Then go. Ride.” She leaned in to me. “Beware, wind in your hair, moon on your skin, you’ll fall in love.”

I wasn’t sure that was a good thing. I’d fallen in love with something I couldn’t have, and if I fell in love with the wind in my hair and the moon on my skin, without someone to give that to me, I couldn’t have that either.

But to heck with it.

Maybe this would be the only bike ride I’d I’d have in my life.

And maybe the kiss Joker gave me was the only fabulous kiss I’d ever get.

And maybe my dream of having a family or the other dream of getting behind the steel guarding Joker’s eyes was lost to me.

But I was still breathing.

So I’d take what I could get.

Tabby put her hand on my purse, which was lying on the bar. “Got this. Have fun.”

“Thanks,” I whispered.

She winked at me.

I looked to Snapper. “Let’s go.”

“Meet you at the end of the bar, babe.”

“Right!” I chirped, jumped off my stool, threw Tabby a smile, nabbed my jacket that I was sitting on and bounced to the end of the bar.

When I got there, Snapper had pulled on his leather jacket. He grabbed my hand and guided me out the door and to his bike. Then he got on his bike before instructing me on how to do the same.

The bike roared, he backed out on an angle, and we glided over the tarmac of Ride.

He pulled out onto Broadway and I got it.

The wind in my hair.

The moon on my skin.

The leather of his jacket in my nostrils.

The solidness of him under my hands at his waist.

We got close to the onramp of I‑25 and he shouted, “Hold on!”

“Sorry?” I shouted back.

“Hold on!” he yelled, taking one hand off the grip and using it to pull my hand from his waist and around to his stomach.

He put his hand back on the grip and we turned up the ramp, going faster, faster, faster, the wind whipping my hair and biting into my skin. I curved my other arm around him, put my chin to his shoulder, drew in air and leather, and I got it.

Instantly.

That it being why this was the life for a biker.

No encumbrances. You wanted to smoke pot, you smoked it. You wanted to wear a tube top, you wore it. You wanted to drink shots, you drank them. You wanted to make out hot and heavy on a couch in a room filled with people, you did it.

You wanted to live, you lived.

You wanted to be free, you got on your bike and rode in the moonlight.

You did not drink martinis you didn’t like. You did not take a job your mother‑in‑law thought you should have. You did not take guff from your ex, not ever.

You did what you wanted.

You were free.

In all that was happening to me, all that I was feeling, all the disappointment of that night and the bizarre devastation I felt that the first time this happened, me on the back of a bike, I would have preferred it be with Joker . . . right then, for that moment, I let it all go.

I let it go, held on to Snapper and I let myself feel it.

Feel something rare and beautiful and overwhelming.

Feel something I knew for certain I hadn’t felt in my whole life.

Free.

About the Author:6_30 AshleyKristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

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Side Swiped by Lia Riley – Spotlight and Giveaway

6_30 lia Sideswiped-Print-Release-Blitz

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a copy of Sideswiped by Lia Riley. She stopped by today to answer a few questions:

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

At this point I’ve written ten, nine which you’ll be able to read by end of 2015. The first shall never leave my computer. Choosing a favorite is like picking a child–can’t do it. They each have a special place in my heart in their own way. Some were easier. Some hard. Some made me laugh. Some made me cry in bed out of frustration. But they each have been a part of my writing journey.

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

I have two Facebook reader groups and interact a lot on social media. I love hearing from readers and we can talk about everything from Australia, to future releases, to how hot Michael Fassbender looks in the new Macbeth trailer.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Truth? A writer. Or a professional book reader :-)

How do you do research for your books?

I buy research books on Amazon, visit places if it allows (I was lucky enough to be back in Australia while drafting Sideswiped and made the most of it), and my old friend…Google!

What is your most embarrassing moment?

You want me to pick one…because that would be impossible. How about the time in a state of newborn exhaustion I drove to the grocery store with my shirt open and nursing bra unclasped and didn’t realize until (wait for it) the dairy section. Oops.

Thanks so much for having me on your lovely blog!

6_30 lia Riley_Sideswiped_TPIt was only meant to last the summer . . .
Talia Stolfi has seen more than her share of loss in her twenty-one years. But then fate brought her Bran Lockhart, and her dark world was suddenly and spectacularly illuminated. So if being with Bran means leaving her colorless SoCal life for rugged and wild Australia, then that’s what she’ll do. But as much as Talia longs to give herself over completely to a new beginning, the fears of her past are still lurking in the shadows.

Bran Lockhart knows that living without the beautiful girl who stole his heart will be torment, so he’ll take whatever time with her he can. But even though she has packed up her life in California and is back in his arms for the time being, she can’t stay forever. And the remaining time they have together is ticking by way too fast. Though fate seems determined to tear them apart, they won’t give up without a fight-because while time may have limits, their love is infinite . . .

Enjoy an excerpt:

An hour later I’m zipping the back of Talia’s wet suit at the edge of the tide line. Moonlight glimmers on the black water. The waves line up perfectly, peeling clean. I breathe deep, savoring the air’s briny tang and the musty smell of decomposing kelp. My awareness is sharpened by anticipation, the five senses amplified by the dark.

Talia shuffles at my side, getting antsy.

“You sure about this?”

“Yes. Well, sure enough.”

Another set breaks. The conditions are choice. If she changes her mind, I might need to have a ride—a quick one.

Maybe two, tops.

“What’s that noise?” She stills. “There it is again. Can you hear it?”

I concentrate and smile when a sound like a wheezing donkey drifts from beyond the breakers. “Fairy penguin.”

“Shut up! There are penguins around here?”

“Sure. In the summer they build burrows in the scrub along the coast. If you stand outside a colony right after sunset, things get pretty noisy.”

“Penguins.” She almost whispers the word. “That’s so cool.”

The wash races over the sand and breaks across our toes. I figure out a plan of attack. “We’ll paddle to the left shoulder where the wave’s less steep. Stick with me, okay?” No one else is out and my voice feels extra loud even though I’m speaking quiet.

“Have you ever been to Rome?” She takes my hand.

“No, not yet.”

“Me neither. But I can’t imagine the Sistine Chapel being more amazing than this.”

Besides the moon, there’s zero light pollution. The Milky Way arches in a dazzling band across the sky’s apex. Individual stars are indistinguishable in the brilliant haze.

“You ready?”

She squeezes my hand in reply.

We paddle out.

“Whoa!” She pushes her chest up to better peer over her board’s tip. Around us the water casts a luminous green-blue light.

“Phosphorescence. Cool, eh? It’s blooming phytoplankton, caused by this marine species of dinoflagellates releasing enzymes that—”

“That’s enough, Sid the Science Kid. Let me retain this fairy kingdom illusion a little while longer.”

“Science is cool, Captain.”

“I never said— Oh, crap!”

Instead of duck-diving under the incoming wave, the water wall pounds her in the face. She breaks through the other side, coughing out a lung.

“We can head back to shore, don’t have to—”

“I’m fine. Please. There’s a wave coming. I can feel the pull. Can you?”

“You want it?”

“It’s all yours.”

I take off on a left break and fly down the smooth face. For a few perfect seconds, I’m right here in the moment. Rational thought is eclipsed and with it the aggravating confusion of having everything: Talia, Tasmania, honors, and still hungering for more like a greedy bastard. I paddle back to her.

“You looked great.”

“That was good.”

She sits, bobbing lightly. “It’s not as freaky out here as I imagined.”

“Fucking hell, Captain. You said you weren’t scared.”

“No, I never did. I’m scared by everything. But I want to do this.”

We’re quiet. A few more waves come but I let them go, happy to be with my girl, the stars, and the radiant water.

Hard not to believe in magic on such a night.

She clears her throat. “About what happened back at the house…if this is going to work, you can’t shut me out. You’re not just a you anymore; we’re an us. We have to be there for each other.”

I bob on my board and drag my fingers through the water. The phosphorescence lights from my touch. Finally I speak. “Karma’s got this mate; he’s on the crew of a Sea Alliance vessel. There’s an opening for a gig, with voyages to Japan and Antarctica.”

“You want to go for it?” I can’t decipher her expression.

I almost say no, but honesty’s easier in the anonymous dark. “Yeah, kinda. But I want to be with you more.”

“Oh, Bran, that’s way too much pressure.”

“What do you mean?”

“Imagine coming home in a few months and I’m all vegged on the couch, watching awful reality television. Will you think to yourself, ‘I could be gallantly defending the high seas but instead I’m attached to this boring anchor’?”

“Life with you is bound to be a lot of things, but boring isn’t the first depiction that springs to mind.”

“But life isn’t always night surfing. I…I can’t compete against a fantasy.”

“I never said you had to.”

“Isn’t supporting the other’s goals a fundamental part of the good girlfriend/boyfriend job description? I mean, say I always wanted to volunteer in Africa? Join the Peace Corps.”

“Do you?”

“I used to toy around with the idea. Now? I’m not sure but I don’t want to close myself off to opportunities.”

“We can travel through Africa someday.”

“Peace Corps is one of my dreams, not yours. I want you to have the freedom to pursue your own happiness.”

“You make me happy.” I strike my words like flint before sucking in a rough breath. “Look, I’m not a guy cut out for the long-distance thing. I hated every second we were apart the last two months.”

“Bran…” She reaches out her hand and I take hold. “I won’t let go.”

“Me neither.” I scrutinize the sky, heart clanging. Everything appears so deceptively still. In reality, the Earth careens through space. Talia and I, we’re little specks of cosmic dust in the grand scheme. It wouldn’t take much to blow away from each other.

“But in the future—”

“I hear what you’re saying and I appreciate the support. But the only future I’m willing to discuss is the one where it’s me and you—together.”

Better to orbit far away from black holes.

About the Author:6_30 Lia Riley_Photo Credit Kitti Homme2After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

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Favorite Writing Snacks by Tiffany Snow – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. One randomly drawn reader will receive a copy of Power Play. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post.

Favorite writing snacks
My favorite writing snacks really varies depending on how close my deadline is. A typical day with a deadline approximately two weeks away will look like this:

Morning:

7:30 am – Brew a pot of coffee, sit down to have a cup while taking care of email and social media.

8 am – Pour another cup of coffee and open my manuscript. Reread what I wrote yesterday to be inspired for today.

8:22 am – My coffee needs heating up. Quick break to do that and top off with more coffee.

9 am – I’ve written twenty-five words and I’m a little hungry. Some breakfast will help get the creative juices flowing.

9:37 am – An egg, piece of bacon and another cup of coffee. Okay, now I’m ready to write. Bacon fixes everything.

10:43 am – More coffee. Is there something sweet around here? *rummages through week-old muffin tin*

11:35 am – It’s lunchtime! A legitimate time for a break. There must be cold-cuts in the fridge…with a side of Cool Ranch Doritos and Pepsi.

12:02 pm – NOW it’s technically lunchtime, but I’ve already eaten. Time to get back to work.

1:15 pm – Vaguely hungry again and don’t know what happens next in my manuscript. Think I’ll have a snack and brainstorm.

1:35 pm – Snack pack of Cool Ranch Doritos chased with snack pack of Cheetos later and still don’t know what happens next. Pour a glass of white wine and decide to change location to the porch. A fresh view will help.

1: 58 pm – It’s hotter out here than I thought and the sun is bright. Back inside.

2:46 pm – Wine is gone but feels a little naughty to pour another glass. Let’s have something sweet instead. I think there are some Oreos in the pantry…

3:24 pm – It’s almost “happy hour,” so another glass of wine is totally fine. But it should be civilized, with food, so time to dig out the water crackers and cheese. Now it’s not wine-in-the-middle-of-the-day but a very French snack.

4:40 pm – They have tea time in Britain so I can do that here. I may even have some Earl Grey. How very Continental of me. And they have biscuits, too, which means cookies and hey, I still have Oreos. This works…

5:28 pm – Look at me, working late! That deserves a cocktail! After all, it was Hemingway who said “Write drunk, edit sober.” Granted, I’m no Hemingway, but still. Time for that margarita. And you can’t have a margarita without chips and salsa so let’s dig those out, too. I can totally get some more word count in with this.

6:12 pm – Quitting time! And time to make dinner for the family. Weird that I’m not even hungry. I’ll just have a glass of wine while I cook.

6_29 tiffany book coverTHIS KIND OF BUSINESS CAN ONLY BE PERSONAL

Sage Reese lives for her job. More precisely, she lives for her debonair boss, Parker Andersen. Sage handles everything for Parker, even as she fantasizes about the one thing that isn’t in her job description: him. But when a high-stakes account crosses the line from shady to deadly, a tough cop starts giving Sage the attention she wishes Parker would . . .

Detective Dean Ryker couldn’t be more different from Parker. While Parker wears expensive suits like a second skin and drives a BMW, Ryker’s uniform is leather jackets and jeans . . . and his ride of choice is a Harley. While Parker’s sexiness is a reserved, slow burn, Ryker is completely upfront about what-and who-he’s after. And Sage tops his list.

Now, as Ryker digs deeper into the dark side of Parker’s business, Sage finds herself caught between two men: the one she’s always wanted-and the one who makes her feel wanted like never before . . .

About the Author: A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Tiffany Snow earned degrees in Education and History from the University of Missouri-Columbia, before launching a career in Information Technology. After over a decade in IT, she switched careers to what she always dreamed of doing – writing. Tiffany is the author of romantic suspense novels such as the Kathleen Turner Series, which includes No Turning Back, Turn to Me and Turning Point. Since she’s drawn to character-driven books herself, that’s what she loves to write, and the guy always gets his girl. She feeds her love of books with avid reading, yet she manages to spare time and considerable affection for trivia, eighties hair bands, the St. Louis Cardinals, and Elvis. She and her husband have two daughters and one dog.

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Ten Things You Don’t Know About Writers by Amy Impellizzeri – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Amy Impellizzeri will be awarding a signed copy of the book (US Only) and a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

10 Things You Don’t Know About Writers

1) They read reviews.
Even if they say they don’t. They do.

2) They LOVE to read. The best writers read a lot. All genres. Every genre. In fact, they have to actually – and reluctantly! – take a hiatus from reading when they are in the throes of a writing project.

3) They need thesauruses.
In an early version of Lemongrass Hope, my editor found 147 instances of people
“whispering.” PLEASE NO MORE WHISPERING she wrote in exasperation. I’ve heard
similar stories from writers whose characters can’t stop sighing, glancing, gasping, and more!

4) They would still write whether or not anyone actually reads their work.
(But they like it better when you do!)

5) They don’t do it for the money.
Very few authors get crazy rich writing books. (This does not apply to E. L. James or J. K. Rowling.)

6) They do often work in their pajamas.
Or in my case, in my never-actually-been-to yoga pants.

7) They have day jobs.
Emerging and new authors often have to supplement income with freelance writing, copy-editing, or day jobs that have nothing to do with writing at all. The day I stepped down from my VP position at the start-up company I loved, to write full-time, was bittersweet, but also a HUGE gratitude moment for me.

8) They eavesdrop.
Fiction writers – especially when in the middle of a work-in-progress – are almost always living with characters in their head. When they overhear some funny or juicy piece of conversation in the coffee shop, you can be sure I (ahem, they!) are jotting down notes to incorporate into their work at some point.

9) They change (and sometimes forget!) character names.
In Lemongrass Hope, Celeste had about three different names in the initial manuscript before I settled on Celeste. I was constantly “finding and replacing.”

I’ve heard many stories of writers forgetting the names of the characters and switching them inadvertently halfway through the initial manuscript before the editors get hold of it.

10) They grow sour cherries, pears, and grapes on the side.
(Ok, that one might just be me.)

Layout 1 (Page 1)Set in the past, and present, LEMONGRASS HOPE is a captivating and unpredictable love story, with a dose of magical realism and time travel. LEMONGRASS HOPE weaves together ordinary lives and events to tell an extraordinary tale of connection, loss, renewal, and of course, hope. As Kate Sutton’s decade-long marriage to Rob erodes and unravels, Kate fears that the secrets she guards from the world, including Rob’s emergency room proposal, and a whirlwind love affair from her past, have always doomed her fate. When Kate unwittingly receives a glimpse at what her life could have been had she made different choices all those years ago, it is indeed all she could have ever wanted. A confirmation of her greatest hope … and her greatest fears. Read the book hailed by New York Times Best-selling authors and reviewers, including Jacquelyn Mitchard, Oprah’s very first book club selection author.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“It seems you did not actually read my amazing piece on all of this in Time Travel, Inc.”

Kate laughed. “Is that for real? The real name of your magazine?”

“Well, yes. Seems it caused a bit of confusion with my Botswanan guide, as well. He saw me faxing some notes back to my editor and asked if I was really writing about time travel.”

“So you told him yes, naturally.”

“I actually did.” Ian looked only mildly sheepish when he said this.

“Anyway, that Botswanan guide invited me to drinks the next day. They make a drink down there from the fruit of the marula tree. It’s known to cure disease and do all sorts of things. So, over this decadent marula tree booze, my guide told me a story of a mystic in the delta who swears that through some combination of the fermented marula tree fruit and Botswanan agate, he can make things happen.”

“What things?”

“Well, time travel, of course.”

For a moment, Kate thought Ian was mocking her, or perhaps was a complete lunatic, but then he burst out laughing. “I know, crazy right? That’s what marula drink will do to you. At any rate, I have spent the last six months trying to convince my editor that there is another story down there in the delta – something about the mystic and the agate and the marula. And I’ve finally succeeded. If nothing else, I’m going to treat myself to one helluva marula drunk.”

Kate stopped eating and blinked hard at her plate of curry. She could not help but wonder what it would be like to drink marula booze in the Botswanan delta with this handsome man who seemed like he just might believe in time travel.

And who was making her want to believe as well.

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About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_LemongrassHopeAmy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, and best-selling author. In 2009, she left her 13-year litigation career to write and advocate for working women, later joining the executive team of the award-winning website, Hybrid Her (named by ForbesWoman as a “Top Website for Women” in 2010 and 2011). Through her work at Hybrid Her, and as Vice President, Community & Content, for its later re-brand, ShopFunder, Amy worked closely with hundreds of creative and inspiring entrepreneurs and fundraisers, writing and marketing their stories to new audiences.

In October 2014, Amy transitioned to full-time writer, with the publication of her first novel, Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014), which debuted as an Amazon best-seller (Romance/Fantasy and Romance/Time Travel). Oprah’s very first Book Club Selection author and New York Times #1 Best-Selling Author, Jacquelyn Mitchard, has called Lemongrass Hope a “fine and fresh thing – a truly new story.” Lemongrass Hope was featured by Library Journal and Foreword Reviews Magazine, and has been a favorite with Book Clubs and numerous Book Bloggers (including as the #1 favorite reviewed selection in 2014 by The Literary Connoisseur). Lemongrass Hope was recently selected as an INDIEFAB 2014 Book of the Year Finalist (Romance) by Foreword Reviews Magazine.

Amy’s first non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015), is due out Summer 2015. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, ABA Law Practice Today, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, Skirt! Magazine, among more.

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Killing Time by Ingrid Nickelsen – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

MediaKit_BookCover_KillingTimeDeath is the ultimate heartbreak. Evangeline never expected it to break hers after she died. No one should have to choose between their husband and their first love, but it is that choice that shatters her spirit.

She makes her choice, choosing not to transition, and finds that death can be vengeful too.

The world of the dead is far more complex that she ever knew, and facing the consequences of her actions might be the hardest obstacle yet, Fighting to survive in a world she doesn’t understand, she seeks the help of the wanderers. Time is running out as winter grips the land and her companions help her search for Will. Perhaps, if she keeps her eyes open and believes in her love enough, she will make her way back to him before the Hunters find her first.

Unexpected reunions, impossible choices, and long-hidden secrets will fill her journey with joy and sadness. It is Hunting season and Evangeline will have to fight for those she loves while remembering that cheating death always has a price.

Told from a dual perspective, Killing Time brings the For Better or for Worse series to a heart-stopping continuation in every sense of the word

Enjoy an excerpt:

The snow is burning my skin. I know it. But I can’t feel it, not really. It doesn’t hurt that much, I guess.

I don’t know how to move anymore, lying here on the cold white ground like a dead body. I feel dead.

Guilt weighs on me, and now it’s simply too hard to fight it. I can’t fight it. I stare numbly at the empty sky above me, utterly disoriented. I hear his voice calling me over and over again, desperately willing it to stop. That’s what hurts most. The pain in his voice, piercing the darkness. Piercing me. I close my eyes to silence my tears.

Please, stop. I’m so sorry.

About the Author: Ingrid is a 23-year-old French girl, college student, and dreamer. She currently resides in Paris, where she spends most of her time going to museums and the movies. Despite the romantic atmosphere in Montmartre, or even the fancy cafés in the Champs Elysées, she would easily trade it all for a nice walk in the woods with her schnauzer, Golden. She is always craving adventures, and finds that books are the cheapest way to travel to far-away lands. She is inwardly convinced that words have the power to heal the worst blisters on our hearts, or at least can make us forget about them for a little while. And sometimes, it is just enough to face another crazy day.

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Why I Write Paranormal/Fantasy Romance by Debbie Peterson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

*****

“So,” many people have asked, “why did you choose to write paranormal/fantasy romance? Why not just write mainstream contemporary or historical romance and leave the otherworldly out if?”

Since the question is asked so often, I have spent a lot of time thinking about that answer. First and foremost, I have to tell you that I love making an impossible love quite possible after all. However, some of my strangest experiences are very likely, a major factor as well. Whether consciously or sub-consciously, they’d have to be. Right?

I think at one time or another, we’ve all been creeped out. You know what I mean… that feeling that you’re being watched or something isn’t quite right about a specific place and you just want to leave. Most of us have experienced hair standing up on the back of our neck or arms…

I’ve had that…but I’ve also seen a few ghosts as well. Laugh if you will, but I have seen them. My first experience happened in the old house my grandparents bought and were moving into. My family drove down to help them move and as might be customary in a small town, several of the neighbors showed up to help as well. Keep in mind this happened in the middle of a pleasant, warm summer day. The sun was shining. The only thing on my mind as a young teenage girl was getting the trucks unloaded so I could go and do something fun.

About halfway through the load, I picked up a box labeled “upstairs.” Cool. I wanted to see what the second floor looked like anyway. So, up the stairs I went. When I arrived at the top, I could see three rooms. One to my left, one to my right and one straight in front of me. In that center room stood a man. He looked about fiftyish, and wore a plaid shirt underneath his denim overalls. He also wore an old hat and a pair of glasses. I thought he was one of the neighbors who had come to help and direct traffic, so I said, “Where do you want me to put this box?”

He said NOTHING in response. He simply stared at me for several very uncomfortable seconds. I didn’t quite know what to do. Should I put the box down where I stood? Ask again or… While I was trying to decide, the man simply disappeared. Yes he did… Right in front of my face. Without taking my eyes off of the spot he had occupied, I put the box down and kind of kicked it in the direction of the bedroom. I turned around and rushed down the stairs as fast as I could. From that point on, I avoided all boxes that were supposed to go upstairs.

I never saw him again, though we visited the house many times. Nevertheless, we could hear him. And when I say we I mean my entire family. During our visits we all slept downstairs in the living room, on floors, couches, chairs or wherever. The minute we were all settled, the ghost would begin to pace. He would begin at one end of the second floor, walk all the way to the opposite side and then retrace his steps–over and over again. Even my very skeptical father admitted that nothing but someone walking in a pair of heavy boots could make that sound.

He’s not the only ghost I’ve seen. I have seen others, but we’ll save those experiences for another way. I will tell you this: the ghosts I’ve seen were not in any way transparent. I couldn’t see through them and that’s why I assumed that each of them were real people until they disappeared before my very eyes. Very disturbing to say the least…

How about you? Have you ever seen a ghost?

MediaKit_BookCover_CourtoftheHawkEpigraphist Dr. Essie DeSpencer travels to an ancient Welsh castle in order to decipher an Ogham inscription discovered by the handsome and enigmatic, Garreth ap Daffyd. But the journey is not what she expects. She doesn’t plan to fall for the Lord of the castle, or to find herself deeply entrenched in legends, myths, and magic. Real legends, and real magic, that have devastating consequences.

Garreth didn’t plan for Essie to stay any longer than it took her to decipher the pictograph. Instead, he finds himself falling in love for the first time in his very long life. Now the Lord of
Llys y Gwalch must find a way to attain the heart of his soul mate and keep her safe from the dangers that threaten them both.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“How old are you?” She held her breath and waited. In fact, she waited so long she wondered if he’d answer the question at all.

Finally, he dropped his gaze and returned a slow nod. He made the gesture more in response to an inner resignation than directing it toward her. “First, if I might ask, what gave rise to your curiosity?”

She combed the windblown hair away from her face and shrugged. “Does it make any difference as to how you’ll respond?”

He considered that for a time before he spoke. “No, I suppose it doesn’t. Still, I’d like to know.”

“All right, I don’t have a problem giving you the answer.” She cleared her throat. “The quake disturbed several portraits hanging along the hallways. I found one of them on the floor after leaving my room. So, I picked the antiquated thing up with every intention of replacing it, but the subject stole my attention. You see, if asked under oath in a court of law, I would swear you posed for the portrait at least two, maybe even three centuries ago.”

“And you didn’t stop to consider whether or not the man in the painting might be a distant ancestor to whom I bear a great resemblance?” he asked.

She extended a finger to his face, gently traced the scar that did naught but enhance his looks, and shook her head. “Not when the artist painted him with this.”

About the Author Debbie is an author of paranormal and fantasy romance because she has a soft spot for fairy tales, the joy of falling in love, making an impossible love possible, and happily ever after endings. She loves music, art, beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and thunder storms.

When she is not busy conjuring her latest novel, Debbie spends time with the members of her very large family within the lovely, arid deserts of southern Nevada. She also pursues her interests in family history, which she also teaches, mythology, and history.

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