Writing Fiction When You’re a Nonfiction Writer by Christina Elliott – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Christina Elliott will be awarding 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.

Writing Fiction When You’re a Nonfiction Writer

Many acclaimed novelists have started their writing careers as journalists. Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Graham Greene to name but a few. But writing nonfiction is a different skill than writing fiction. To be sure, there are many similarities, but there are also key differences – namely one is restricted to truth and the other enjoys the panoramic realm of imagination. There are others that are less obvious, as I was to find out when I started writing fiction in earnest, trying to fulfill my childhood dreams of writing novels.

I’ve been a print journalist for thirty years. I’d written fiction on and off since I was a child. In fact, I won a prize when I was six years old for “writing interesting stories.” So becoming a journalist was a natural step for me. It’s been a career that I’ve loved but ultimately I also felt restrained by. It was always about writing someone else’s story. Fiction is your own story, of your own choosing, and I was eager to undertake this challenge, but in order to develop my fiction I had to “undevelop” several journalistic habits.

The key hurdle in writing fiction for journalists is emotion. Journalists are trained to be neutral observers, impartial witnesses, to present a balanced picture of the facts. Emotion, in your average news story, does not factor in the equation, although it does to a greater degree in narrative fiction. Emotion, however, is the cornerstone of good fiction. Novelists need to portray the range of emotion their characters feel in order to evoke emotion in their readers. There’s no need for balance or impartiality. Indeed, the less of that stuff, the better.

Those elements stand in the way of portraying emotion, and why, in my opinion, many reporter/novelists gravitate toward writing plot-driven stories, such as detective mysteries, where there’s more of a “just the facts ma’am” feel to that type of fiction. Mysteries, for example, generally involve little emotion or emotional arc in the characters.

When I was writing the first draft of my first novel, I got about 170 pages in and I realized what I’d written read like a reportage. I chucked it and started again. It actually took many more drafts before I found myself loosening the reins and letting that emotion come through. And when it did, it gushed out.

Something that really helped me in this regard was acting classes. Acting is all about depicting emotion. Once I gave myself license to do that physically in either scene work or exercises designed to reach and draw out inner emotion, it became much easier to do that on the page with my characters. I also understood better how emotion works in dialogue and scenes, how to show it more than tell it.

I firmly believe, however, that journalism is great training for novelists. Reporters instinctively know what a good story is. They know how to research, how to interview. They know that details can make a story come alive and how to construct sentences that make sense, and structure and order a story. They are exposed to all types of people, issues, lifestyles, experiences. As I like to say, I’ve interviewed bums to billionaires, presidents to prostitutes. All that makes great grist for the novelist’s mill. Maybe, most importantly reporters are used to sitting down in a chair in front of a blank computer screen and filling it with words—on deadline.

I would never exchange my background as a journalist for, say, an MFA. Yes, it may take some work to switch from one to the other, but many have done it, including myself.

Amid a sweltering Miami summer, a serial killer is haunting the city. Reporter Ingrid Sorenson is assigned the story and her primary source is brusque detective Rick Gonzalez. The pair clash, but sparks of passion ignite. They risk their jobs to give in to their desire, but mistrust of each other’s career motives wedges them apart. Then Ingrid gets a tip that leads her into the killer’s lair. She and Rick must choose between saving themselves or rescuing their love.

Enjoy an Excerpt

As Ingrid opened the door, Rick thrust a bouquet of white roses at her. “To make up for being out of touch,” he said.

She was touched by his thoughtfulness. “You didn’t have to do that, but thanks. They’re lovely. I’ll put them in a vase.” They entered and she disappeared into the kitchen.

“It was either flowers or chocolate,” he called as she disappeared into the kitchen. She filled a glass vase with water and set the roses in them.

“Good choice. I love chocolate, but I try to stay away from it,” she said, exiting the kitchen to place the vase in the center of the dining table.

“I figured. Chocolate can be a double-edged sword, but you can’t really go wrong with roses.”

“White’s an elegant color, too.”

“You’re an elegant lady.”

“You know all the lines.”

“I wish it was as simple as knowing lines.”

“It’s not, is it?” She gave him a bemused smile.

“You got that right. So how am I doing so far?”

“Mmmm.” Folding her arms, she tilted her head and squinted her eyes in a mock-study of him. “B-plus.”

“What? I thought I deserved at least an A-minus.”

“There’s always room for improvement.”

“Whoa, she’s tough, ladies and gentlemen.”

She laughed. “So, you ate pizza already.”

“I was starving and believe me, you don’t want to be around me when I’m hungry, but we can get you something to eat.”

“So you can do surveillance on me as I chow down?”

“You’re a feast for my eyes.”

Ingrid groaned. “Let’s get going before your lines make me lose my appetite.” She grabbed her purse.

“Sorry, I couldn’t resist.” He held open the front door for her. “I know a great empanada place in Coconut Grove. We could get a couple of them and go eat by the marina at a picnic table,” Rick said as he drove. “We can even sit side-by-side so I don’t have you under surveillance.”

“I love empanadas,” Ingrid said. “Definitely one of the best things I’ve discovered in Miami.”

“So am I up to an A-minus now?”

She laughed, suddenly feeling carefree and totally in the moment. “Yes, I’ll give you an A-minus for that.”

About the Author:Christina Elliott is a former Miami newspaper reporter and editor. She now writes spicy romantic suspense novels from Los Angeles, where she’s glad to report there are far fewer bad-hair days but sadly far less Cuban coffee. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

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Beyond Danger by Kat Martin – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Kat Martin who is celebrating the upcoming release of Beyond Danger. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Into the Whirlwind (print, kindle, or nook – US only).

Beyond Danger is Beau’s story. Mega-rich, black-haired, and blue-eyed, Beau is gorgeous to look at, and flashy. He was an amateur race car driver, sort of a Texas Paul Newman, before he left the racing circuit. Beau loves fast cars and fast women.

He is also wanted for murder.

That’s where private investigator, Cassidy Jones, comes in. She’s smart and she’s no pushover, exactly the woman for Beau. Best of all, she’s determined to prove his innocence.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Beau could hardly believe it. His father was sixty years old! The girl sitting across from him in a booth at the Pleasant Hill Café looked like a teenager. A very pregnant teenager.

“Everything’s going to be okay, Missy,” Beau Reese said. “You don’t have to worry about anything from now on. I’ll make sure everything is taken care of from here on out.”

“He bought me presents,” the girl said, dabbing a Kleenex against the tears in her eyes. “He told me how pretty I was, how much he liked being with me. I thought he loved me.”

Fat chance of that, Beau thought. His dad had never loved anyone but himself.

Shoving a hand through his wavy black hair, Beau took a steadying breath. He had always wanted a baby brother or sister. Now at the age of thirty five, he was finally going to have one.

Beau felt a surge of protectiveness toward the young woman carrying his father’s child.

He looked over to where she sat hunched over next to her mother on the opposite side of the pink vinyl booth. “Everybody makes mistakes, Missy. You picked the wrong guy, that’s all. Doesn’t mean you won’t have a great kid.”

For the first time since his arrival, Missy managed a tentative smile. “Thank you for saying that.”

Beau returned the smile. “I’m going to have a baby sister. I promise she won’t have to worry about a thing from the day she’s born into this world.” Hell, he was worth more than half a billion dollars. He would see the child had everything she ever wanted.

When Missy’s lips trembled, her mother scooted out of the booth. “I think she’s had enough for today. This is all very hard on her and I don’t want her getting overly tired.” Josie reached for her daughter’s hand. “Let’s go home, honey. You’ll feel better after a nap.”

Beau got up, too, leaned over and brushed a kiss on Missy’s cheek. “You both have my number. If you need anything, call me. Okay?”

Missy swallowed. “Okay.”

“I should have called you sooner.” Josie’s eyes teared up. “I didn’t know how I was going to manage the bills all by myself. Thank you, Beau.”

“Everything’s going to be okay.” He watched the women head for the door, the bell ringing as Josie shoved it open and she and Missy walked out of the café.

Leaving money on the table for his coffee, he followed the women out the door, his temper climbing toward the boiling point. His father should be the one handling Missy’s pregnancy. He’d had months to step up and do the right thing. Beau figured he never would.

As he crossed the sidewalk and opened the door of his dark blue Ferrari, his temper cranked up another notch. By the time the car was roaring along the road to his father’s house, his fury was bubbling just below the surface.

Unconsciously his foot pressed harder on the gas, urging the car down the two-lane road at well over eighty miles an hour. With too many tickets in Howler County already, he forced himself to slow down.

Making the turn into Country Club Estates, he jammed on the brakes and the car slid to a stop in front of the house. The white, two-story home he’d been raised in oozed Southern charm, the row of columns out front mimicking an old-style plantation.

Climbing out of the Ferrari, one of his favorite vehicles, he pounded up the front steps and crossed the porch. The housekeeper had Mondays and Tuesdays off so he used his key to let himself into the entry.

On this chilly, end-of-January day, the ceiling fans hadn’t been turned on, leaving the interior strangely silent. The ticking of the ornate grandfather clock in the living room seemed louder than it usually did.

“Dad! It’s Beau! Where are you?” When he didn’t get an answer, he strode down the hall toward the study. He had phoned his father on his way here from Dallas. Though he’d done his best to keep the anger out of his voice, he wasn’t sure he had succeeded. Maybe his father had left to avoid him.

“Dad!” Still no answer. Beau continued down the hall, his footsteps echoing in the quiet. As he reached the study, he noticed the door standing slightly ajar. Steeling himself for the confrontation ahead, he clamped down on his temper and shoved open the door.

His father wasn’t sitting at the big rosewood desk or in his favorite overstuffed chair next to the fireplace. Beau started to turn away when an odd gurgling sound sent the hairs up on the back of his neck.

“Dad!” At the opposite end of the desk, Beau spotted a prone figure lying on the floor in a spreading pool of blood. “Dad!” The handle of a letter opener protruded from the middle of his chest.

Beau raced to his father’s side. “Dad!” Blood oozed from the wound in his chest and streamed onto the hardwood floor. He had to stop the bleeding and he had to do it now!

He hesitated, praying he wouldn’t make it worse, then with no other option, grabbed the handle of the letter opener, jerked it out, gripped the front of his dad’s white shirt and ripped it open.

“Oh, my God! What are you–”

Beau glanced up to see the woman, Cassidy Jones, standing in the doorway. “Call 9-1-1! Hurry, he’s been stabbed! Hurry!”

The shapely brunette, his father’s newly hired personal assistant, didn’t pause, just pulled out her cell and dialed the emergency number.

Beau’s hand shook as he checked for a pulse, found none. The wound was catastrophic, a stab wound straight to the heart. No way could his father survive it.

Cassidy ran over and knelt on the floor beside him. “Here, use this to seal the hole.” She seemed amazingly in control as she handed him a credit card then ran to the wet bar and grabbed a towel, rushed back and handed it over.

Beau pressed the towel over the credit card on top of the hole, all the while knowing his father was already dead or within moments of dying. Whoever had stabbed him knew exactly where to bury the blade.

Cassidy reached down to check for herself, pressing her fingers in exactly the right spot on the side of his father’s neck. She had to know it was hopeless, just as he did, must have known Stewart Reese was dead.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

Sorrow slid through him, making his chest clamp down. Or maybe it was sadness for the kind of man his father was, the kind who had wound up the victim of a killer.

He felt Cassidy’s eyes on him, assessing him with speculation–or was it suspicion?

Beau looked down at his father, his eyes closed, his face slack in death. Stuart Reese was dead and Beau wanted answers. He vowed whatever it took, for as long as it took, he wouldn’t stop until he found the man who had murdered his dad.

About the Author: New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.

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Top 5 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Was Published by Z. Allora – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Greetings! I want to thank Long and Short Reviews for the opportunity to share a little bit about me, things I wished I knew before I was published, and my new release The Great Wall. To celebrate I’ll be doing a giveaway: 3 e-books of Secured and Free, 5 e-books of Finally Fallen and a $20 gift card to Dreamspinner. (Details about the giveaway are below.)

Top 5 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Was Published

1) I needed beta/critique partners.

I sent my first draft to publisher. (I know I know…) I was isolated in China and had NO CLUE on how many times you should re-read, edit, re-read a draft before you hand it off to a beta/critique partner to do the same. Then work through their feedback, re-read and do it all again before you even think about sending your work in.

2) Scrivener

This is a writing program, and at this point I don’t think I could write without it. I plot and have an outline but I have a constant rush of ideas when I’m not “writing” (aka working on the story) Scrivener gives me some place to put those notes. It allows me to label and shuffle chapters easily. It keeps everything on one screen for easy access (all my chapters, research, character sketches, world building, notes, summaries, POVs, etc.).

3) Character Sketches

These usually include: physical description, background, family situation, milestone experiences, internal motivation, external motivation, conflicts, relationships to others, and other basic information. Understanding the characters is a no brainer but a character page allows you to keep all the little details straight if you write another book with the same character. I live with characters sometimes for years but I like knowing their birthdates, eye color, and internal conflicts at a glance.

4) Publishing is more than writing

When a publisher invests in you there are things you can do to help ensure they see a return on their time and money. You need to maintain a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Redbubble, etc. (Facebook and Twitter are no problem for me). Having a blog and a website helps you interact with readers and allows them to find out more about you and about your work. (This takes blood, sweat and tears for me to do this one). Then there’s promotion which is tough to do because it feels like you’re saying buy my book again and again, which you are but I’ve learned to do is really share pieces of myself, the story, my process, and extras that have gone into beloved characters. You need to consider attending conventions, writing retreats, festivals, Pride, etc. so people can meet you in person. The writing part is easy… it’s the sharing that can be work.

5) Branding

My love describes Z. Allora as who I am when I’m my absolute self. Meaning a 13-year old boy who loves penises, bunnies, sex, and a beret wearing LGBTQ warrior ready to throat punch at a giggle’s notice. When a reader picks up a Z. Allora book they know it’s going to be a yaoified romance with lots of sex, fluffy deliciousness, and a happily ever after. I think branding who you are is essential because buying a book is a contract between the reader and the author. You want know if you’re on the same page with someone or not. Branding gives that information.

Destiny will be decided by a battle between heart and mind….

Jun Tai “Styx” Wong loves two things: playing the drums and his best friend, Jin. But being a good Chinese son means he can’t have either—he’ll have to marry a girl of his parents’ choosing and settle into a traditional job. His move to the bigger city of Suzhou is both a blessing and curse, as living with Jin makes it harder for Styx to suppress his desires. Nearly dying while trying to eradicate his feelings serves as a wake-up call for Jin, who takes extreme measures to keep Styx safe from harm.

When given a second chance at life and happiness, will Styx be able to claim the future he wants with Jin, his bandmates, and his music? Can love and hope grow with the constantly looming threat of Styx’s parents ordering him home? Great things await—if Styx finds the courage to break down the wall that stands between him and everything he wants.

To Enter the Giveaway: Leave a comment telling us what your brand is. Maybe you’re a reader who wants to cry their eyes out but better get a happily ever after. Or someone who writes thrillers with a thread of mystery weaving through your work. Perhaps you’re a mother who will cut you if you side eye any of her babies. Or someone seeking a life of peace and serenity. What’s your brand?

Many hugs, Z.

About the Author: Z. Allora believes in happily ever after for everyone. She met her own true love through the personals and has traveled to over thirty countries with him. She’s lived in Singapore, Israel and China. Now back home to the USA she’s an active member of PFLAG and a strong supporter of those on the rainbow in her community. She wants to promote understanding and acceptance through her actions and words. Writing rainbow romance allows her the opportunity to open hearts and change minds.
To contact Z. Allora: E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press.

Heaven’s Watcher by Kayden Claremont – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kayden will be awarding a $10 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.

Leather-wearing, motorcycle riding PI Heaven Vaughan is working undercover in a Las Vegas casino for the DA. She must find the evidence to convict the casino boss of ordering her brother killed, but the tall, dark, sex-on-a-stick head of security is constantly watching her. Just knowing he’s got his monitors focused on her makes her hot, and she can’t help but make sure he has something as equally arousing to look at.

Straight-arrow Darius Turner has one job—to safeguard the people in the casino. The feisty redhead dominating his viewing pleasure is playing havoc with his duties and with his libido. All he wants is to take her up on her teasing invitations, but he can’t let her get too close. If Heaven discovers his true identity, there’ll be hell to pay.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Heaven paused at the office while he opened the door and walked into his lair. Behind the desk, monitors filled the wall.

For a second, she stopped. Every part of the casino and hotel were displayed. She pointed at the wall.

“You watch all of these? At once?”

Darius chuckled as he passed her. “I have a team who views them.”

The corner of his lips turned up. “I check up on things from time to time.”

He lugged out the chair in front of the desk. “Please.”

Heaven sat down. “So, you enjoy watching?”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she heard the innuendo.

His eyebrow rose as devilment danced in his eyes. “You could say that.”

“I didn’t mean…” Heat crossed her cheeks. How unprofessional to blush. She’d never been the teenager with a crush on the quarterback. She was a professional private investigator.

“So why did you bring me here?”

He sat down behind the solid, mahogany desk.

“To talk.”

Her whole essence quivered. With arousal or fear? She cleared her throat. “About?”

He placed his fingers in front of his mouth as if hiding the truth.

“I’m concerned about what just happened to you.” His thumb twitched. “Does it happen often?”

Heaven held back a gasp as relief rushed through her. He didn’t know about her job with the DA to gather evidence against the boss.

“Yes.”

Darius grimaced. “I see.”

“We’ve established that.”

She pointed toward the bank of monitors behind him.

About the Author: Kayden loves sexy, well-crafted stories of lust and love. Her sensuous style drives the characters in lustful romps. When she is not crafting erotic romantic stories, she can be found crocheting or making jewelry.

Kayden is a member of Romance Writers of America, Toronto Romance Writers, and Writing Community of Durham Region.

She hopes you enjoy her other books, Hell’s Bounty, Timeless Passion, Red Hot and Tartan Temptation, all published by The Wild Rose Press.

Kayden loves to hear from her readers.

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Crossing Quinn by Gail Koger – Spotlight and Giveaway


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

Quinn Jones is a formidable Coletti warlord. His mission is to capture Xenia and bring her back to Tanith to be mated with a warrior the Overlord has chosen. Problem is, Quinn finds himself falling for the beautiful Farin. Her unusual “psychic powers, combat training and berserker abilities” make her the perfect mate for him. How does he convince Xenia and the Overlord that she’s meant to be his?

Xenia and her parents are relic hunters who just discovered the fabled home world of the Nabateans. She isn’t about to leave the greatest find of the century to hook up with some Coletti. Not happening. Ever. No matter how many threats the Overlord makes or that he’s sending his best hunter to apprehend her. Okay, she’ll admit she’s drawn to the handsome warlord and she loves the way Quinn’s heavily muscled body fills out his black battle suit, but the egotistical jerk is about to get his ass handed to him.

When the galaxy is threatened with annihilation, Xenia and Quinn join forces to stop the murderous Tai-Kok. Fate has brought them together and nothing will stand in the way of their victory or their love.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I closed the door and turned to face the warrior. The direct approach was usually the best option when dealing with Coletti warlords. I took one look at the Coletti’s arrogant expression and decided to have some fun. “What did you say your name was again? Troublesome?” I shook my head.

“No. That wasn’t it. Sorry, I’m not good at remembering the names of Zarek’s servants.”

“My name is Quinn Jones. I am Zarek’s hunter and I hold warlord status,” he responded with a dangerous glint in his eyes.

“Whatever.” I hid a smile. The egotistical ass really didn’t like my dismissive attitude. He had expected me to be in awe of his amazing good looks and the fact he held the prestigious rank of warlord.

About the Author: I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the Glendale Police Department and to keep from going totally bonkers – I mean people have no idea of what a real emergency is. Take this for an example: I answered, “9-1-1 emergency, what’s your emergency?” And this hysterical woman yelled, “My bird is in a tree.” Sometimes I really couldn’t help myself, so I said, “Birds have a tendency to do that, ma’am.” The woman screeched, “No! You don’t understand. My pet parakeet is in the tree. I’ve just got to get him down.” Like I said, not a clue. “I’m sorry ma’am, but we don’t get birds out of trees.” The woman then cried, “But… What about my husband? He’s up there, too.” See what I had to deal with? To keep from hitting myself repeatedly in the head with my phone, I took up writing.

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Her Rodeo Masters by Anya Summers – Spotlight and Giveaway


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

Ivy Phillips is on a mission. She’s an investigative reporter for the Pasadena Tribune, and is hoping to write the story of the century by infiltrating Pleasure Island claiming to be a submissive. Except, when she gets there, she inadvertently finds herself auctioned off for charity and now has two hunky cowboys who want to own her body and soul.

Dax Johnson and Nate Banks have been a rodeo team – and lovers – for years. But they’ve yearned to add a sweet submissive to their union. When they meet Ivy, Dax knows she is the one for them, and the duo set out on a seductive campaign to win Ivy’s affection.

But when the truth is revealed, will their newfound relationship survive? Or will the two cowboys ride off into the sunset without her?

Publisher’s Note: This is the ninth – and final – instalment of Anya Summers’ bestselling Pleasure Island series. While we recommend all the books, it can be enjoyed on its own.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“The bull pen meeting is about to start. You planning to attend?” Kevin Donnelly asked, looking every inch like he’d just stepped off the pages of Vogue magazine. He had movie star good looks, and fashionably cut, beach blond hair. He was wearing the latest skinny jeans and a hipster dress shirt in a silver gray. It was too bad the five foot seven, moderately buff and toned man was gay. Otherwise they’d be perfect for each other.

“Yeah, just give me a minute,” Ivy replied, refolding the paper in her hands. She shoved the letter and envelope into her massive tan leather shoulder bag that was essentially her life. There was room enough for her iPad, her makeup, tampons, condoms—although she hadn’t needed any of those in a while—wallet, keys, even a small yappy dog if she were so inclined. She carried everything in it. You name it, she carried it with her. Which worked out well for Ivy since she always seemed to be on the move.

“So, how did the other night go? You never mentioned your date, and I live to hear about my co-workers’ love lives,” Kevin simpered, giving her his full attention. This was one of the reasons Ivy loved him. The man was a consummate flirt, and knew just how to get a girl to spill all her secrets. How many times over the years had they done yoga and brunch on Sundays, where he would magically get her to tell him all her troubles? They were the best therapy sessions in the world.

“You and Chad are still not talking to one another, I take it,” she replied.

Kevin put his hands on his hips and did the gay male equivalent of tossing his hair back. “Please, honey, the man wishes he still had me. Nope, I’m moving on and into the market. Which means I don’t currently have a sex life and must live vicariously through you. So, no deflecting. I want all the juicy tidbits.”

She removed her iPad from her bag and said, “Yeah, well, good luck with that.”

“So the date the other night was a no go?” Kevin asked, his light ice blue eyes twinkling with interest.

“It’s fair to say I left as early as I could. When the crying started, there was really no point to saving the night,” she said. And wasn’t that just the kicker. Every single date she’d been on over the last eight months had been an absolute dud. She was in a relationship—just with her vibrator and her favorite Chardonnay.

“You cried?” Kevin asked aghast, a hand against his chest and his eyes wide with horror at her perceived faux pas.

“Nope. My date did. Going on and on about his ex. Clearly the guy wasn’t ready to get back out into the meat market. After listening for two hours about how much he loved Kelli with an ‘i,’ I was done,” she replied.

About the Author: Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Anya grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Anya never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.

Anya is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance under the name Maggie Mae Gallagher. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

Pleasure Island Series

Her Master & Commander, Book 1
Her Music Masters, Book 2
Their Shy Submissive, Book 3
Her Undercover Doms, Book 4
Her Lawful Master, Book 5
Her Rockstar Dom, Book 6
Duets & Dominance, Book 7
Ménage In Paradise, Book 8
Her Rodeo Masters, Book 9

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Hearts of Fire by Amanda Bouchet – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Amanda Bouchet as she celebrates the recent release of Hearts of Fire, the riveting conclusion to The Kingmaker Chronicles! Enter to win a bundle containing A Promise of Fire and Breath of Fire, the first two books in Amanda Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles!

GODS. I’M AN IDIOT.
Without Griffin—and apparently a few meddling Gods—to push me along, I’d still be telling fortunes at the circus, lying about my past, ignoring my future, and living as far away from my tyrant mother as humanly possible.

True understanding thuds into place. Hope isn’t just an abstract concept; it’s me. Flesh and blood me. Griffin knew it all along. Probably everyone did. I’m an idea in human form.

I have the power of the Gods at my fingertips.
The only thing ever stopping me has been me.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Griffin’s hand tightens on my arm.

I roll my eyes. “I’m not going to fall in, you know. The cliff is all the way over there.”

He loosens his hold. Sort of.

I glance up at him, trying to tame my sudden smile. Domineering and overprotective doesn’t even begin to describe my husband. There’s also deliciously jealous, but that’s another subject all together. The black stubble framing his mouth makes his full lips look impossibly kissable. It’s been hours since they were last on mine. And I love to kiss the hawkish curve of his nose. So strong and masculine. I adore that nose. And the rest of him. His powerful body. Muscle. Sinew. Bone.

I gaze up at him, nearly sighing. “I love you.”

Griffin stops dead in his tracks and glares down at me. “That’s it. We’re leaving.”

I blink. “What? Why?”

“You think something terrible is going to happen.”

“No, I don’t.” I frown. “I don’t think so.”

His eyes narrow, wariness hardening his expression. “You do.”

“What are you talking about?”

He scowls at me.

“Well, something terrible could happen,” I concede. “But that’s always true, no matter where or when. Tomorrow, I could trip over my own feet and break my neck for all I know.”

Judging by the look on Griffin’s face, I don’t think that helped.

“You only say you love me or you’re sorry when you’re scared or almost dead. You’re not almost dead, so what’s scaring you?” he demands.

“I say I love you all the time!”

“When we’re in bed. When I’m so deep inside you that you can’t feel anything but me. Not when we’re about to knock on a stranger’s door. What’s scaring you?” he demands again.

I huff. “At the moment? The way your jaw is popping like it’s alive.”

Griffin crosses his arms. “I want honesty. Right now.”

“Right now, Your Imperialness?”

His nostrils flare. His hard look is spectacular.

I’m not intimidated. It makes me hot. Then again, so does just about everything at the moment, but not in the same way.

“If you must know, the magic around here is a little intense and…disturbing, but it’s not scaring me. Not really. It’s probably just something coming from whatever is down there in that God Pit,” I say, waving toward the cliff. “I’m a shade nervous. That’s all.”

His eyes stay flinty and unconvinced. “That’s all? That’s not generally cause for a heartfelt declaration, at least not from you.”

I toss my hands in the air. “Fine. I take it back. I looked at you, found you incredibly desirable, and my body got all hot and tingly. I blame pregnancy for an excess of sentimentality and…and…urges!”

Griffin stares at me. Then his mouth splits into a grin that makes me all kinds of angry. He reaches for me again, his grasp lighter this time.

“Incredibly desirable?” Looking smug, he threads his fingers through mine.

Scowling, I poke him in the chest with my free hand. “Well, you do have that whole overbearing warlord thing going on. Plus, plenty of muscles in all the right places, some good ideas, and, you know, a really big sword.”

A laugh cracks out of Griffin, and my heart swoops like an off-balance bird. He’s rarely free with humor these days, or maybe there’s just not enough of it in our lives anymore. The happy flutter that wings through my chest takes any lingering irritation away with it.

Gah! Talk about mood changes!

Griffin captures my other hand and then pulls me in to him until I’m standing between his legs. “I love you, too, Cat.”

He kisses me, his mouth pressing softly against mine. Warmth rolls straight from his lips to my toes, which curl in my boots.
“Tell me again,” he coaxes.

I shake my head, our noses brushing.

“Say it,” he demands against my mouth.

“I don’t think so.”

“Last chance,” he warns, gently nipping at my lower lip.

“Big sword.”

Chuckling, Griffin swats my bottom. “There’s more where that came from.”

I look up at him through my lashes. “I sure hope so.”

He grins. “I think you just managed coy.”

“Good Gods! Has the Underworld frozen over?”

“Next, Centaurs will fly.” He brushes his lips over mine again, not lingering, and when he lifts his head, his black hair ruffling on the faintly sulfurous wind, the teasing gleam is already absent from his eyes. “You’re sure there’s nothing else?”

“Nothing besides our baby wreaking havoc on my moods?” I shake my head. “But I wanted you before. I want you always.”

He lifts his hand and brushes his thumb across my lips. Then his fingers fall away, trailing lightly down my arm until I shiver.

“You’re the air I breathe,” he says without a trace of humor in his voice.

My whole chest clenches hard, squeezing a tight, almost painful beat from my heart. “I admire you,” I reply. “I need you. I love you with all my heart.”

Griffin offers me a different kind of smile this time, small, lopsided, gentle, and so entirely genuine. It fades almost immediately, though, and he straightens to his full, imposing height, abruptly pinning me with his warlord stare. “If you feel anything off here, we leave, with or without the potion we came for. You’ve got great instincts, Cat. Trust your gut.”

I nod. I will. I always do.

About the Author: USA Today bestselling author AMANDA BOUCHET grew up in New England and studied French at the undergraduate and graduate levels, first at Bowdoin College and then at Bowling Green State University. She moved to Paris, France, in 2001 and has been there ever since. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children, who will soon be correcting her French.

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Heart of the Wolf, Anniversary Edition by Terry Spear – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Terry Spear who is celebrating the recent release of the 10th Anniversary edition of Heart of the Wolf, the first book in her Heart of the Wolf series. Enter to win a copy of Between a Wolf and a Hard Place by Terry Spear!

Celebrate Ten Years Of Paranormal Romance From Beloved Author Terry Spear

Bella, a female red werewolf, was adopted by a pack of gray wolves as a pup. Now grown up, the alpha of the pack tries to make her his mate against her will—Bella knows she has no choice but to run away.

She makes her way as a lone wolf until childhood friend, Devlyn, comes to bring her home. On their journey back, they get tangled in up in unimaginable danger and must apprehend a werewolf murderer while keeping their identity secret from humans. The chemistry between them sizzles like never before…but they both know if they mate, Devlyn will have to fight the pack’s wicked alpha…and it’s a fight to the death.

As a companion to Bella and Devlyn’s story, this edition includes an exclusive, brand new novella that brings the story of the lupus garou family full circle.

Enjoy an Excerpt

But Devlyn had to make sure. She could have been any one of a number of lone red lupus garou females all across the States. Or not. Because such a shortage existed, he sure as hell hoped Argos was right—that she was their stubborn Bella.

When Devlyn saw her in the pen at the zoo, he knew. He couldn’t be angry with her for having run away—but for her to risk proving to the world that lupus garous existed? That was irresponsible and unforgivable. At least that’s what he told himself, though his heart ached to hold her close again, only this time to claim her for his own.

Devlyn stalked toward the door of his hotel suite. “All right. Let’s break our little red wolf out of jail.” The notion that she was theirs, though, struck a chord. She wasn’t theirs. She belonged to Volan. Fire burned in Devlyn’s veins with the thought. Ever since Devlyn had rescued her near the river, the wildfire in hot pursuit of her, Volan had wanted her, too.

For years Devlyn had pinned her to the ground in their wolf states, avoiding her retaliatory bites, playing with her as young wolves frolicked. He still wanted to tackle her to the ground, to force her reaction, to have her pay attention to him. But the burning desire to have her for his mate drove away any notion of having another female.

He hurried his four younger male cousins out to the SUV with Argos at his side in the freezing drizzle. The black-haired, amber-eyed quadruplets, twenty-two years of age, all itched for a fight as they clenched their fists and steeled their square jaws.

Devlyn slammed his door. “If we wait much longer, she’ll have changed and be half frozen in this weather.” He’d rescue her again. He had to. Not for Volan, but for his own greedy desires. But what to do with her afterwards? He knew what he wanted to do with her. Make her his…forever…his mate for life.

But with Volan still living, how could Devlyn hope to take her for his own? That question had plagued him every minute of the day since he’d learned she still lived.

***

Backed into the confines of the wolf den, Bella spread her arms out, slowly, in her crouched position, to make herself appear larger. “Back off, Big Red.”

He continued to snarl. She took a step forward, and shivered, but it wasn’t the chill in the air that made her tremble. The notion that the zoo staff would catch her in the wolves’ den in human form forced concern to worm its way into every pore.

Big Red held his ground.

She took another step in his direction. Her eyes remained locked onto his. He didn’t back down.

Wrinkling her nose, she bared her not-very-scary human teeth. Anything to show him she wasn’t intimidated by his posturing.
After what seemed like an eternity of an old western gunfight showdown, he turned, and trotted out of the den. She took a deep breath, then quickly followed him out. The icy drizzle coated her skin. Hoping to make her escape easily, she crossed the pen to the keeper’s door.

Locked.

Her stomach muscles tightened with irritation. Heading for the water trough, she thought to use it as a step in the moat. But it was filled to the brim with water, and she couldn’t budge it. Her frustration level mounted, but her body temperature dropped rapidly with the chilly wet breeze swirling about her.

What she wouldn’t have given for her wolf’s thick undercoat—the dense second coat of fur virtually water¬proof, a thermal insulator so effective even snow falling on her back wouldn’t melt.

She hurried to the edge of the moat and considered the height of the wall across from the pen. Big Red watched her from a corner of the pen, but never made a menacing move toward her. She’d probably confused the hell out of him. She smelled like a wolf in heat, the same one he wanted to mate, but she didn’t look like one in the least bit now. Poor fellow.

She sat on the edge of the concrete, the substance icy and rough on her bare bottom. After twisting around, she clung to the edge with frigid fingers, then dropped into the moat. It was about a six-and-a-half-foot drop and, with her five-four height, easy to make. But when she turned to consider the other side her heart filled with alarm.

Whether the wall rose eight feet or ten…didn’t matter. She didn’t see any way to climb the rough concrete without foot or hand holds. She turned back to the other side. Her heart fell. She wouldn’t be able to climb out that way, either.

The cold had already affected her mind, slowing her ability to think. The shock at turning into her human form earlier than she’d planned had compelled her to panic.

Great. Just great. The next morning, the zookeepers would find a half-frozen, naked woman in the moat. She jumped at the shorter side, but couldn’t reach the top edge.

After several tries, she did what went against every instinct for survival—she gave up and yelled for help.

About the Author:USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over sixty paranormal and medieval Highland historical romances. In 2008, Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world and is raising two Havanese puppies. She lives in Spring, Texas.

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Earl Interrupted by Amanda Forester – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Amanda Forester who is celebrating the recent release of Earl Interrupted, the second book in her Daring Marriages series. Enter to win a copy of If the Earl Only Knew, the first book in Amanda Forester’s Daring Marriages series!

After restoring his fortune as a notorious privateer, Captain Robert Ashton, Earl of Darington, goes to London in search of a bride. Instead, he finds unexpected dangers and unknown assailants. He is shot and left for dead. Life on the high seas was far calmer.

Enter Miss Emma St. James. She may appear sweet and demure, but she quickly proves herself to be equal to any challenge, including saving Darington’s life. Just when Darington is sure he has found his perfect bride, she reveals she’s betrothed to another.

Now things REALLY start to get complicated…

Enjoy an Excerpt

Heroine takes a stand excerpt from Earl Interrupted by Amanda Forester

Emma watched in horror as her protector fell to the ground. She raced to him, kneeling in the mud beside him. She lifted his head out of the icy sludge and rested it in her lap. She drew back his greatcoat, searching for injuries. She did not have to go far before she found a large stain of dark-red blood on his waistcoat.

She put a hand to his chest and was relieved to find him still breathing. He appeared to have lost a good deal of blood, and Emma surmised the wound was not fresh. The man was a gentleman by the quality of his clothes. She surmised he must have fallen prey to her vile attackers earlier that day, though how he had come to be entangled with such company and what connection, if any, he had to her step-brother was a question for later. The most pressing need was to save his life.

“Sally, bring the luggage. My medicine kit is inside.” Emma glanced up at Sally, who appeared frozen in place—her eyes wide, her mouth open in horror. “Sally!” Emma repeated, allowing a rare sharpness into her tone. “Bring the luggage immediately.”
Sally blinked. “Yes, miss.” She ran around to the far side of the coach, where the luggage had been tied to the top.

Emma shuddered in the cold of the night. Their attackers’ coach remained on the road, the horses’ breath visible in the pale light of the coach lantern. She needed to get her injured protector inside and somehow drive them all to the next hamlet to get help. To do any of this, she first needed to revive the gentleman.

“Here, miss.” Sally returned with all the luggage, dragging Emma’s large trunk and carrying her own small bandbox.

“Thank you, that is very helpful.” Emma wasted no time in opening her father’s medical bag and finding a vial of smelling salts, waving it under the man’s nose. The man started and opened his eyes with a gasp.

“W-what? Who—?”

“I am Miss Emma St. James. A pleasure to meet you.”

“I am Dare…” murmured the man, his voice trailing off into something inaudible.

Emma smiled at the man. She was not sure what sort of name ‘Dare’ was, but it did seem an apt description. “I am sorry for the rude manner of your awakening, but you have been injured and we cannot tarry.” Emma spoke plainly and pleasantly, as she had found injured people needed hope and a calm presence.

“Go,” the man croaked. “You need to find safety.”

“I will not leave you.”

“You need to go!” said the man in a stronger voice, his dark eyes blazing with intensity. He had angular features with dark-brown hair tied back in a queue. She might have been afraid had she not been cradling his head in her lap.

“I will not leave you here to die in the road,” said Emma firmly. “What a poor way to repay your kindness. I could never live with myself. So we will either leave together or stay here together.” As she spoke, she grabbed some bandages from her bag and pressed them to his wound, wrapping a bandage around his blood-soaked clothes.

The man inhaled sharply through his teeth as she pressed hard against the wound. “Sorry,” she murmured. “This will stop some of the bleeding, but you need a doctor.”

“Your life is in danger,” the man croaked, rousing himself to a seated position beside her.

“My life? Did my brother send these men to kill me?” Emma gasped.

“Your brother? No, those men are after me.”

“After you? But why would my brother be after you?”

They stared at each other, his eyes mirroring the confusion she felt.

“Can we l-leave n-now?” asked a shivering Sally through chattering teeth.

“Yes, let us get Mr. Dare to his feet. If we can get him to the carriage, I can attempt to drive us to safety.”

Between the two of them and the man’s own efforts, they were able to raise him to his feet. He was a tall man, muscular but thin, which was fortunate in getting him back upright.

“Let us get you to the coach and—”

The man lying near them let out a long, low groan. At the same time, a man cried out from the coach with a string of curses. “That bastard stuck me. Help! I’m bleeding like a stuck pig. Where are you lubbers?”

Emma’s heart pounded in her throat. There was another man in the coach. The man in black, the one she thought her rescuer had shot dead, also groaned and moved on the ground. Sally let out a short shriek that was silenced by Dare, who clamped a hand over her mouth. He looked back at the hedgerows. Emma nodded in understanding. Crouching to avoid being seen, they crept off the road and into the bushes.

About the Author:AMANDA FORESTER holds a PhD and worked for many years in academia before discovering that writing novels was decidedly more fun. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. Amanda lives near Seattle, WA.

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Dark Child by Miriam Newman – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Miriam will be awarding a $10 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.

Born at a royal banquet for King Conor MacNessa of Ulster, Deirdre is predicted by Conor’s own druid to be blessed and cursed with a beauty that will make kingdoms contest over her. He names her “Deirdre of the Sorrows” and urges the king to slay her. But Conor, unwilling to murder a babe, takes her under his protection only to fall prey to the curse when she is nearly grown. Captivated by her youth and beauty, the aging king will go to any extreme to possess her.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Once inside, the king and his guests found beef and mutton and pork…fowl and venison and fine, firm pink salmon borne on ice across the sea from Alba where ice was often to be found. Curds and whey they had, and all else that a dairy might supply. There were breads and cakes, pies and pasties of every sort and great quantities of wine, honey mead and ale both light and dark. Yet so deep went Conor’s unease that he had no appetite for them. Singers, dancers and musicians both foreign and native performed, male and female alike, but the crash and roar of the storm drowned out the sounds of their merry-making. Men marked that never had such a storm visited Ulster. Irishmen all they were and accustomed to the rains and gales of their island, but even Conor agreed it seemed no natural storm and that he, too, had a feeling of doom.

“Nonsense,” Felim insisted stoutly as the king merely nibbled at his food, for he saw all his plans dashed to destruction and the favor he wished of Conor turned to stone. “’Tis but a storm!”

Hardly had the words left the storyteller’s mouth than a terrifying scream split the air, a sound to raise the bristle hair on a hound’s back.

“’Tis only my wife, who labors,” Felim insisted, but the king took not a bite further of his food and sat with a pale and ashen face.

“’Bring her here,” Conor ordered, “that I may see if that is the scream of any mortal woman, for I much doubt it.”

And so the unfortunate woman was required to present herself to the king.

“Tell me true,” Conor demanded, “was it you who screamed?”

Felim’s haggard and trembling wife, fearing for her life, nonetheless shook her head, for she knew her maidservants would give her away if she lied to the great king.

“Nay, my lord,” she replied. “’Tis the child that screamed from inside my womb.”

“This is a thing I have never known!” Conor exclaimed, while beside him his druid Catha stood abruptly to lay a hand upon the mother’s belly, his expression dire.

“’Tis the scream of a girl child,” he predicted, “and her name will be Deirdre, the call of alarm, for she will bring war.”

About the Author: Fantasy poetry driven by myths and legends has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I was published in poetry before catching the romance writing bug. I bring that background to my writing along with a lifelong addiction to horses, an 18 year career in various areas of psychiatric social services and many trips to Ireland, where I nurture my muse. My published works range from contemporary fantasy romance to fantasy historical, futuristic, science fiction and historical romance. Currently I live in rural Pennsylvania with a “motley crew” of rescue animals.

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