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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nobody Trusts a Warriner...


I am almost beside myself with excitement because I have finally written my first series. Well almost.
I’m still writing book four, but the rest are done and will soon all be released into the wild- which is apt because they are called The Wild Warriners. Four sinfully handsome, down-on-their-luck brothers ostracised from society thanks to the antics of their troublesome ancestors.

The first in the quartet- A Warriner to Protect Her- came out a few weeks ago and is doing really well. The reviewers seem to like it (thank goodness!) and there has already been a bit of a buzz about book two, A Warriner to Rescue Her, which doesn’t come out till July. I suppose I could waffle on about what it’s about and what my inspiration was, but instead I thought I’d share with you a little taster…

Jack strode on to the landing, only to be confronted by the sight of Letty looking deliciously sleep rumpled at her door. She had only opened the door enough to poke her head around, but Jack saw the tantalising glimpse of a female leg where it poked beneath the hem of yet another one of his shirts and the sight irritated him. The blasted woman was handy with a needle. She had started embroidering little patterns on everything from napkins to pillowcases. Weeks ago, she had begun making a dress—which was still not finished—so why could she not fashion herself a proper nightdress? One that came to the floor and covered all of her soft, silken skin. And while she was about it, she should probably plait the wild, golden riot of curls that hung past her shoulders and tempted him to touch. An ugly nightcap would not go amiss either.
‘What’s happening?’ she asked.
‘There’s a storm. We need to round up the animals. Go back to bed Letty. You’re in no danger.’
‘I can help.’
Jack was in no mood to be tactful. ‘No, you can’t. Go back to bed.’

The storm would take his mind off her; he didn’t need the additional burden of an heiress faffing about and getting in his way when he had a serious job to do. He saw her fine eyes narrow just before she slammed the door shut and he turned away, striding briskly to the stairs. It was just as well. If she had argued with him, he would have bitten back twice as hard. Lack of sleep always brought his temper close to the surface and, as Letty was responsible for the deficiency, he doubted any confrontation would end well tonight. Not after their splendid chat in the barn earlier, when she had thanked him for being so sensible about not pursuing their mutual attraction, then blithely gone about her day as if the words he had wrenched out of his gut and choked hollowly out of his mouth had not sounded the death knell on all his secret hopes of a miracle.

She might have argued then, as she was prone to when she heartily disagreed with something, and perhaps given some credence to the idea that their two worlds could merge if they both wanted them to. But of course she hadn’t. Only a tiny part of him had expected her to—a part which he hadn’t even realised existed until he had categorically listed for her all the reasons why there was nothing except lust between them. Even as he said the words he knew them to be false. What he felt for Letty was more than just desire. He genuinely admired her tenacity and her sunny disposition. Her indomitable spirit. The woman never let anything beat her, whether that be kidnappers or roasted chickens. And since the very first moment he had found her frozen and terrified in the road, a part of his jaded, wary, Warriner heart would always be hers. Yearned to be hers. Maybe those rash feelings were due to his customary and ever-present sense of responsibility—but if that was entirely the case, why, when he had held her chilled body in his arms that night, had her presence in them felt so very…right?

If only she had been a random, ordinary girl of no consequence instead of The Tea Heiress. Then maybe he would have stood a chance and taken a gamble. It didn’t help knowing, thanks to hours of rifling through Jacob’s collection of newspapers when nobody was looking, that when the newsmen wrote the words Tea Heiress they were always put in italics, as if she were so special, so above everyone else, that only a select few in society were on a par with her. Now he knew her, he realised they were right. Letty was an incomparable…and so very far out of his reach as to be laughable.

Unfortunately, that same tiny part of him which had held out for the miracle earlier was now disproportionately grieving the inevitable loss of her in his life, even though he never really stood a chance of her remaining in it. He had also read about her life in those same newspapers and it was a life he could never hope to give her. The finest clothes, balls, jewels and a prominent and revered place in society. The moment Jack had reminded her of her wealthy Duke, she’d nodded and smiled and immediately switched her thoughts to getting home to Mayfair. Which had been his intention. Because any hope of a future between them was ridiculous. Wasn’t it? So he should be happy he had been the sensible one.

But he wasn’t.

‘We need all the ropes we can carry.’ His three brothers were assembled in the kitchen, the lanterns already lit. ‘The river has burst its banks. If one of us has to venture into it, then we’ll be tethered to something first. If we drive the sheep to the west pasture, they will be safe. Jamie—check on the horses, then the cows. See that none of them have injured themselves.’
His brother’s face clouded with barely suppressed fury. ‘I am not a blasted invalid, Jack. I’ll help you three with the sheep first. The horses and damned cows can wait!’
‘I’ll see to the horses and cows.’ Jack spun around to see Letty marching towards him in a greatcoat that swamped her and wearing an expression of complete and total defiance. Jamie nodded and handed her a lantern, clearly delighted not to be relegated to lighter duties because of his injuries.

‘Go back to bed, Letty! It’s dangerous out there.’ And Jack could already feel the beginnings of a knot of worry at the thought of her out in that storm. The last time she had been exposed to bad weather she had almost died. ‘This is no place for a woman like you.’

She marched fearlessly in front of him and stuck out her chin, not the slightest bit intimidated by the angry way he loomed over her. ‘I am not some silly, spoiled, empty-headed fool.’ Her finger prodded him firmly in the chest. ‘And whilst your brothers might well listen to your orders, you are not my master Jack Warriner. Or my husband. And you never will be. So don’t expect me to obey you. I am helping. Deal with it.’ She spun on her heel and stomped stubbornly towards the back door. Without a backward glance, she flung it open and flounced into the raging tempest...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Famous in a Small Town by Kristina Knight

Home is where the heart is. I’ve seen about a million samplers, pillows, cross-stitch pieces, coffee mugs, mousepads…you name it, I’ve probably seen that phrase on it. I’ve always loved that phrase, but not because it brings up memories of the house where I grew up.

Because it brings up memories of my best friend and I cruising around our small town on Friday nights, just looking for something to do.

Because it brings up memories of a road trip taken with some college buddies, in which we got turned around and wound up in Arkansas instead of Oklahoma.

Because it brings up memories of singing Ricky Martin waaaaaaaaaaay off-key (and into the two-way radio unit) with my best friend while we were reporters at a small TV station in Nebraska.

Because it reminds me of RadioMan, and the cottage cheese a friend put in our wine glasses at our wedding (it’s an inside joke).

Of the first time we saw bebe – all tiny and wrinkled and smelling like a hospital and needing a bath.

Home can be a million different things to a million different people, but I think what it holds in common for all of us is a feeling of safety. Of belonging.

For the first seven years of her life, my heroine, Savannah, from Famous in a Small Town, didn’t have those feelings. It took most of her childhood and quite a bit of her new-adult-hood to get to the place where she felt worthy of both of those feelings. The struggles she faced are similar to the struggles faced by foster children all around the world, those adopted by families, and those who age out of the system. In many cases, they are so wounded by what happened before coming home, that they always wonder when home will be ripped away from them.

We’re (as in, me and my family) are doing something special with this release - a portion of the proceeds from the Slippery Rock series will go toward providing Sweet Cases from TogetherWeRise to foster children. Most children going in to foster care have nothing but the clothes on their backs. Sweet Cases are duffel bags given to children coming in to care, and once given, the bags remain with that child, giving them a sense of home and, hopefully, a sense that they aren't alone. Each duffel includes a warm blanket, a teddy bear, hygiene kit, and art supplies.

I’m also hosting a giveaway with lots of fun goodies, including some Mary Kay products, a Philosophy pouch, an autographed copy of my book, First Love Again, and more! You can enter here.

Kristina Knight's latest book, Famous in a Small Town, releases May 1 from Harlequin Superromance; it is the first book in her new Slippery Rock series. 


Lifestyles of the small-town famous 
Forced to leave Nashville after a scandal, Savannah Walters has come home to Slippery Rock, Missouri, with a bruised ego and her singing career in jeopardy. As if that isn't humiliating enough, on her way into town she's rescued by her swoon-worthy childhood crush, Collin Tyler. 

His hands are full running the family orchard and dealing with his delinquent teen sister, so Collin doesn't need to get involved with someone as fiery and unpredictable as Savannah. But the intense attraction between them can't be denied. And when disaster strikes, they'll both be surprised by who's still standing when the dust settles.

Buy Famous in a Small Town: Amazon  B&N

You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lara Temple: Dreaming up books …Or how realizing my dream squished my daydreams

Last spring my first book was published by Harlequin Mills&Boon. This month my third book, The Duke’s Unexpected Bride, has hit the shelves and I still can’t quite believe it. Becoming a published writer has changed my life in quite a few ways, mostly for the better.

First off, I’ve cut back (drastically) on my other career and now spend an obscene number of hours at the kitchen table, writing. I have a work study but in my mind that is associated with my other job and doesn’t do much for my creative juices. My kitchen overlooks the garden and the fruit trees and the green and quiet are perfect for writing.

Then there’s the internal/external image change. When people ask me what I do, I no longer tell them about my ‘other’ job. I actually say – I write books. Would you hazard a guess if that evokes a different response than ‘business consultant’? Whether the response is positive or negative (yes, there are those, of course), it’s never neutral.

But those are just surface changes. The real changes are internal. I’ve had a few careers in my life but only one vocation – I’ve always known I love writing stories, but I never really believed I would be published or do it for a living (the latter part is still pending – writing, like many creative professions, is financially challenging).

There is always a danger in dreams coming true - they lose the shiny haze of the Potential and take on the hard, elbow grease glaze of the Actual. Writing is just like any profession – it is very hard work, a chunk of which has nothing to do with the creative process. The joys of creation far outweigh the slog, but it is a constant balancing act. Even once you are published you can obviously still fail at any point. Now the stakes are higher than they ever were – if the dream is no longer a potential but an actual, failure would be actual too.

But being a business consultant, I was at least prepared for that part of The Change. What I wasn’t prepared for was a completely different loss – my daydreams.

Until I became a published author a large part of my creative process was daydreaming dreaming. Some people need to read a book before they go to sleep, I needed to write one – or at least imagine one.

Sometimes when I was stuck on a hard project at work I would take a few minutes, make a cup of tea, and daydream away. My mind would slip into an alternate world and all my worries and woes and tensions would melt and fade and so would I. Every night I could sail off in the arms of another of my wonderful heroes into a new adventure, commitment free.

Here is a quote on dreams from the English Patient I knew was ‘written about me’ when I read it: “Moments before sleep are when she feels most alive, leaping across fragments of the day, bringing each moment into the bed with her like a child with schoolbooks and pencils. The day seems to have no order until these times, which are like a ledger for her, her body full of stories and situations.”

But now everything is different – every ounce of my creative juice is conserved for my writing. I don’t intend it to be that way, but I am living and breathing my novels and the moment I close my eyes I am deep in them, tangling with tales, wrestling with plot twists, and milking every second of creative time to refine and deepen my writing. There is a different kind of beauty in these moments – the characters in my novels become dear to me, or frustrating, but always important, and I can’t treat them casually like I used to once indulge in my day-dreams. I miss my no-strings-attached daydreams but accept that they will never be quite the same again.
Maybe it is part of growing up as an author – our dreams mutate with us.


So I will end on another quote, this time from Neil Gaiman: “A book is a dream that you hold in your hands”. I’m holding three dreams in my hands now, all mine, and my head is filled with many more, simmering on the boil and waiting their turn with varying degrees of impatience. So even if my daydreams have been overtaken, it is a small price to pay for living my dream. 



Excerpt from The Duke’s Unexpected Bride (May 2017)

'May I have my sketch back, please?’ Sophie asked.
Something in Max’s dark grey eyes as they moved over her face increased her already significant discomfort. Then his mouth relaxed, bringing to the surface the amused warmth she had glimpsed before.
'Would you consider giving it to Hetty?’ he asked. ‘I think she would love to have it. She is not my wife, by the way, but my sister, hence the resemblance.'
Sophie’s face heated with a sudden burning blush.
'Oh dear, I’m so sorry. I always say more than I ought. Of course you may give it to her. Here.'
She held it out to him, wishing the blush would fade.
He reached for it just as Marmaduke awoke with a snort and she started and the sketch slipped from her grasp. The pug, his eye catching the fluttering page, readied himself to leap but she managed to capture it just as he grabbed for it as well. His hand closed half on the page, half on her bare hand and she drew back, shocked by the heat of his touch. It had only been a second but her skin retained the imprint of his fingers and her body tingled as if it had been dipped in hot water.

Book Buy Links:

Author Contact Links
Twitter: @laratemple1
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2mWin9R


Friday, May 19, 2017

Jenny Gardiner: Royal Romeos, Heat wave and Paris!

Hi there!
Hope you are all well and not too miserably hot from this ridiculous premature heat wave we're having! It's 100 degrees here in Virginia in May--unheard of! Ugh!

We're staying cool inside with my girls' new puppies! They're moving next week so it's a temporary thing but it's been a bit of mayhem with these two---our house is puppy-proofed as if we had a bunch of toddlers under our roof. We've had some sleepless nights watching one of the pups as my daughter is studying for MCATs, which she takes tomorrow. Her pup had a UTI which meant she was waking constantly to pee. Hoping her antibiotic is fixing that now!

We just returned a few weeks ago from a lovely 30th anniversary trip with my husband to Paris. It was such fun—what a fabulous city. And amazingly amazing food. Alas, I am carrying about 15 food babies around still. We ate soufflés out the wazoo! I didn’t think it could ever be possible, but there is the chance that I might officially be souffléd out… Although it’s unlikely, because my one daughter and I love to make chocolate soufflés so I have a sneaking suspicion I still might not turn that down if push came to shove…The good news is we walked so much while in Paris that maybe I didn’t gain a pound on the trip (probably more like I gained 15, womp). Not that I’d know because the scale has been banished from my life… Perhaps not a good thing, but oh well!

I’ve now got to really get cracking on Blue-Blooded Romeo, which I have to have to my editor in early June. Gulp. And get ready for the release of SilverSpoon Romeo , which comes out June 13! I had a lot of fun writing that one.

I hope you'll have a chance to check out my Royal Romeos series, which is a spin-off of my wildly popular It's Reigning Men series--I hope you'll be able to check them out!

Happy reading!


    
  



 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dealing With A Real Life Issue In A Fictional World


Have you ever come up with an idea, moved forward with it—then have it morph into something completely different? I mean, so different, it doesn't even look like what you started with.

Yeah? Me, too. Welcome to my crazy world of writing.

I'm what's known as a pantser: an idea will pop into my head, I'll mull it over a bit, then start writing and see what happens. Do I have a general idea of what's going to happen? Sometimes, in the vaguest sense around. But I don't "plot", not in the way people think of "plotting". It doesn't work for me.

Usually the story will unfold in my mind as I write, taking on a life of its own. And yes, it's usually guided by the characters. Future scenes become a little clearer as the story progresses and I'll make a note or two as I go along. Sometimes there's a scene or two I want to have happen, or some important tidbit I need to include in the story, and I'll note that before I get to it.

It's my process, and it works well for me. I may not have a concrete road plan, but I always have a general idea of where the story is going.

Well, maybe not always.

That's kind of what happened with FACE OFF, The Baltimore Banners #10, which released May 9.

I knew who the main characters were and I knew what the story was about. I knew where I wanted the story to go—in that vague sense I always have when I start a story.

And then my characters revolted. I mean, big time revolted. Yes, it was still going to be a friends-to-lovers story, a tale of best friends discovering that there was so much more to their relationship.

Only it didn't turn out to be quite that simple.



About a quarter of the way in, my female lead character veered off in a direction I never saw coming. A direction I tried to fight because I wasn't sure how to handle it.

And I sure as hell had no idea how it would be taken.

Turns out, she was suffering from severe depression. MDD—Major Depressive Disorder—to be exact. It's estimated that 6.9% of the US population and 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression.


I admit, it gave me pause. For more than solid week, I fought the direction she was leading me in. I didn’t want to deal with it, to the point of deleting and rewriting, fighting, and even thinking of scrapping the whole thing and starting over.

Then I had to ask myself: why? Why was I so set against following my characters' lead, when I never had that problem before?

It wasn't just the fear of readers' reactions. No, I think this one was a little closer to home.


I've had three episodes of what might be called severe depression: once, after being involved in a particularly bad accident; post-partum depression after my second child was born; and again, six or seven years ago. I was fortunate all three times because I had friends and family—a supportive husband—who noticed it, who stood by me. More importantly, they made sure I didn't fall deeper into that black hole of despair and helped me climb out of it.

So yeah. Maybe this one was a little too close to home. Once I realized that, I knew I had a choice to make: scrap the project completely, or let myself fall back into that hole—this time from the perspective of my heroine.

And I admit, it was a hard decision to make. I was afraid to revisit that, even though I think what my female lead was going through was much worse than what I experienced. It took quite a bit of mentally arguing with myself to sit back down and let my characters tell their story, but I did.

And I was scared to death at the end. Scared how readers would react. Scared that I didn't do the problem justice. Just…scared, period. Hitting submit on Face Off was probably one of the hardest things I had to do.

And hell, I'm still scared. So far, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. I've received many emails and messages thanking me for writing the story, all of them emotional, all of them striking an emotional chord deep inside me. One in particular makes me cry happy and sad tears just thinking about it.



And yet, the fear is still there. Maybe it's not really the fear of reactions, but more the fear of people dismissing the very real pain and trauma of depression and how it effects everyone, not just the person fighting it.

Things have changed in the last ten, twenty, thirty years. How we view depression, how we treat it, even our understanding of it. But there's still a stigma attached to it. There are still those who dismiss it as a weakness and who belittle those suffering from it.

Maybe that's what the real fear is.

And maybe, instead of being afraid, I should be angry. Angry at those who refuse to acknowledge its existence. Angry at those who continue to belittle it and dismiss it as a weakness.

Depression isn't a weakness. And it takes more courage, more fight and grit, to deal with it, to get a handle on it, to claw your way out of that dark pit of despair.

For those who are fighting the battle, stay strong. And know that you're not alone—we're here for you. I'm here for you.

And I understand.

***************

Face Off, The Baltimore Banners Book 10, released on May 9. You can pick up a copy at your favorite vendor by clicking here.



Lisa B. Kamps is the author of the best-selling series The Baltimore Banners, featuring "hard-hitting, heart-melting hockey players" [USA Today], on and off the ice. Her Firehouse Fourteen series features hot and heroic firefighters who put more than their lives on the line. She's introduced a whole new team of hot hockey players who play hard and love even harder in her newest hockey series, The York Bombers.

To learn more about Lisa and her titles, please visit her webpage.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Susan Stephens: I love May!

What a wonderful month is May.  The countryside here on the Yorkshire moors is in its finest survival mode, by which I mean that no sooner have the Spring shoots shown their heads in a burst of sunshine, than icy winds come blasting down from the Arctic to knock them off!

Thank goodness the Bluebells survive...


Aren’t they beautiful? You can just see my faithful companion, Betty, in the background of this shot.

May is an exciting book month for me too, with my new red-hot polo series, Blood and Thunder focusing on ruthless billionaires and the type of stand-up heroines they need.

One reader commented aptly, “Cinch up your saddles, these books are HOT!”


Yep. I think that more or less sums it up. I would just add: with the addition of romance, ROMANCE, ROMANCE!!!

For Harlequin, I have 2 book releases. The Sicilian’s Defiant Virgin available right now, and The Secret Kept from the Greek, which is a July release.



Later in May, I have the wedding of my youngest child in Italy. I can’t wait to share it with you in June, but for now, here is my current favourite naughtiness, AKA The Dress and Shoes. I don’t know about you, but weddings are all excuse I need to go shoe shopping. Come to think about it, I don’t need an excuse to go shoe shopping! I hope you approve my choice. I just love them- and the dress, of course.


Wishing all of you the most wonderful month of May filled with love, friendship and romance.
Love
Susan xx

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Di Marcello's Secret Son by Rachael Thomas

The Secret Billionaires - Book One


On the 16th of May, June, and July, look for interviews with the authors of each book in this fun trilogy about tycoons who go undercover to win a bet and lose their hearts along the way...

How does your hero go under cover?

Antonio Di Marcello returns to his home city, Milan and is told by Sebastien, the organiser of this particular challenge, that he is to become Toni Adessi, a motor mechanic for the duration of the two week challenge.

What does he think when he finds out exactly what the bet entails? (Share a couple of lines if you like)

During his first morning working as Toni, Antonio discovers that Sadie Parker, the woman he’d enjoyed a passionate weekend affair with four years ago, also works there. He is convinced that mending bridges with his estranged parents and seeing the one woman he could have loved if circumstances had been different is his challenge. But then he has a shock. Sadie has a son.

Guilt raced through him. He didn’t need a paternity test to confirm this was his child. Just one look into the little boy’s eyes told him all he needed to know. Leo was most definitely a Di Marcello.
  
Who is your heroine? What does she think of Antonio when she first meets him?

When Sadie first meets the new mechanic Toni Adessi, she is shocked that his dishevelled and bearded appearance reminds her of her son’s father, a man she hasn’t seen since he ended their brief affair so callously. She wonders if this is the reason she is drawn to him despite her resolve not to date.

What situations or challenges does Antonio face that risk exposing him?

When Antonio meets his son, he knows the real challenge is to be the one thing he’d never wanted to be – a father. He has to continue with the challenge until the two weeks are up, having found out about and met his son and heir when all he wants to do is take him back to his home in Rome and make up for the three years he has missed out on.

What does Sadie think when she realizes who he really is?

Sadie’s worst nightmare comes true when Antonio Di Marcello arrives at her apartment. She knows instinctively he wants his son and is convinced that Toni has been his spy, hardly able to comprehend he is the same man.

Share a few lines of her reaction?
‘We didn’t have anything to say four years ago, Antonio, and we certainly don’t now.’ She didn’t move—couldn’t move. The hallway suddenly seemed dark and narrow as he moved towards her, into her home, into her new life. The one she’d built without him for herself and Leo—his son.
Di Marcello's Secret Son is on shelves now or you can buy it at your favourite online retailer. 


AmazonUK | US | iBooks | Kobo | Nook 




Rachael Thomas lives in West Wales, where she and her husband run a farm.

Writing romance has been a long held dream and she can’t believe how lucky she is to be able to escape into the glamorous world of her heroes and heroines as part of her job. 

When she isn’t writing or working on the farm she enjoys photography and visiting historic castles and grand houses. Visit her at www.rachaelthomas.co.uk