Forevermore: Scotland and Reincarnation

With the popularity of Outlander on television lately, I was inspired to post an excerpt from a paranormal romance I wrote many moons ago. Forevermore was inspired entirely by a dream I used to have as a child. As I grew older the dream didn’t happen as often, and when I visited Ireland in 1983 the dream stopped. But that is a paranormal thing for another discussion…maybe during my October Halloween Spooktacular! I set Forevermore in Scotland and it was the first and only romance I’ve written in first person. Here’s a tidbit!

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Sometimes one lifetime is not enough…

American Mae Sutton travels to Scotland to investigate tormenting dreams that have plagued her since childhood. Once in the shadowy, misty land, she discovers a brooding Highlander—and a secret that threatens her very existence.

A dark castle ruin haunts her nightmares…

Mae discovers Moor Castle is the same ruin in her nightmares, and knows she must learn why she’s been drawn to Scotland and the crumbling castle that whispers her name. She experiences an intense and immediate attraction to Aidan Ramsay, conservator of the evil castle. She’s shocked to find out she is the spitting image of a Ramsay ancestor, and that maybe her nightmares are past-life memories.

Mae and Aidan have lived before, and the dark legacy that destroyed them once, may destroy them again…

**

As I stared at the pile of stones high on the hill, familiarity tickled at my memories. I’d seen Moor Castle as an eighteen-year-old exchange student nine years ago. More than once I’d been drawn to the castle, but something always held me back.

Fear of something primitive and raw. Wounding and evil.

Now I had to take that first step toward showing myself that my dreams remained unreal. That I had made up horrible images in my mind that had no basis in fact.

I got out of the car and pulled my trench coat close about me. A compulsion drew me a few steps forward. Soon I’d discover the cold walls of Moor Castle held nothing baneful. Something stronger than apprehension, though, stopped me again.

Dread.

Why had this place haunted my dreams for so many years? Somehow, somewhere, there had to be a reason, a meaning behind the demons that possessed my nights.

I’d taken a leave of absence from my job to investigate Moor Castle for myself. Maybe I’d find peace exploring this dilapidated ruin.

I forced myself up the hill. Daylight faded as rain fell like an icy blanket.

I pressed on until I reached the top, a wide mesa somewhat naked and barren, the scraggly trees surrounding it in need of tending to bring them back to life.

I noticed how light seemed to disappear into the arched entrance without means of escape. Suddenly the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Taking a deep breath, I pressed on, even though the trek up the steep hill had quickened my pulse. Or was that fear?

When the huge arch loomed above my head, cold penetrated my sweater, oozing into my bones with a chill, arctic and numbing. Trembling, I peered into the darkness, and as the rain lessened, shafts of weak light speared from a hole in the roof high above.

I proceeded. Up above, in the crumbling stonework, a fluttering sound echoed. I thought of the creatures of nightmares, flying on wings and snatching me away to dark lairs. A screech echoed all around me and I whirled, my apprehension escalating. Seconds later, a large black bird gave flight, turning away from the castle walls and sailing into the air until it looked like a tiny dark dot against the sky.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a bird, not a bat…or…” I whispered.

I glanced around me nervously. Yeah, right. Big, brave Mae. What would Aunt Ethelfreda think of me now? I could see her crinkled brow and piercing blue eyes condemning me for cowardice. Since I was three and Aunt Ethelfreda had adopted me after my parents had died in a car accident, I’d endured her belief that I somehow wasn’t “worthy.” I fell short, continually, in her estimation. I fought back frequently, though my ego took a nasty blow. Many dents still remained. Deep inside I hated myself for trembling like a frightened pup. A litany ran in my head, the same thing unkind children had yelled at me in grade school: Scaredy cat, scaredy cat. Mae is a scaredy cat!

I shoved aside disturbing childhood memories. Those children weren’t here now. My aunt wasn’t here now. In some ways this journey to Scotland proved those children and my aunt wrong. I could and would conquer these fears. Strength filled my limbs as I glanced around at the haunting beauty of the castle.

I hadn’t gone far into the grand foyer when I knew someone watched me.

I turned, my heart thumping with renewed alertness.

The man stood several yards away, almost hidden in a shadowy doorway. He stood with arms at his side and feet planted apart. His white poet shirt opened at the throat, giving me an enticing view of muscled chest sprinkled with dark hair. Snug black breeches were tucked into tall black boots and molded his legs. His wide mouth firmed into a tight line. A brisk wind blasted through his cascade of long, wavy black hair. Welded to the spot, I stared with unabashed curiosity at the strong planes of his face.

I took a breath, ready to call out to him in greeting. But I didn’t have a chance because suddenly he looked straight at me. His gaze turned sultry, hot, and welcoming. The moment drew out, long and surreal.

Behind me a crack like a gunshot sent me spinning around, my heart leaping. I threw myself sideways as a large stone missed me by inches, bouncing away to break into smaller pieces. My heart pounded as I looked back to the mysterious man. He’d disappeared.

“Hello!” I listened to my voice echoing in the cavern of the castle, but no answer came.

I walked about, certain he must be somewhere close. Within a few minutes, though, I had to wonder how he could have vanished so completely. A thought slipped into that part of my mind reserved for negative thoughts. Had I imagined him? Seen a ghost?

I could almost see Aunt Ethelfreda’s disapproving moue reprimanding me for even thinking I’d spotted a ghost.

“Pfft. Bug off, Aunt Ethelfreda.” I gave a nervous chuckle, realizing that if anyone heard me now they’d think I’d turned nuttier than walnut pie.

Or, perhaps, a sane person would heed the pervading gloom and leave before whoever or whatever appeared.

The wind picked up again, whistling around the walls like the demented wailing of a banshee, her grief so deep it etched into the castle walls. That pain knifed into me, and unaccountable tears rose to my eyes. Sorrow filled these ruins, soaked with harsh deeds and horrors I couldn’t bear to ponder.

Deliberate, unbidden apprehension pushed me forward and I rushed out of the castle and down the path at a jog.

I didn’t look back.

 

Cooper’s Haven: A Little Side of Romantic Suspense

Like a little side of suspense with your romance? Cooper’s Haven definitely has that.  Here’s a tidbit of Cooper’s Haven. Enjoy!

**

Ten years ago Jilly Warren and Cooper Hawkins shared a night of devastating losses that almost brought them together. Now a new threat brings them together again in a fight for love and survival.

The man starting at Jilly Warren at the courthouse is up to no good and every instinct tells her to run far and fast. Instead she turns to marine reservist and sheriff’s deputy Cooper Hawkins. Cooper, who never forgot the comfort of Jilly’s embrace, knows that the only place she’ll be safe is in his arms.

**

She strode into Redemption Ridge’s premier bakery with a full-on need for sweets. After a long day at court nothing would taste better than her once-a-month treat. No one was at the front counter and usually Maggie Logan and her assistant Gayle Tracher were there. Jilly glanced at her watch. Only ten to five. The ladies didn’t close the bakery until six on a weekday. Jilly groaned and rubbed her lower back. She’d sat in that damn chair far too long today, both in court and later translating her work.

“Thirty-five and you’re already falling apart,” Jilly said.

The door swung open a second later and Jilly started. She turned around just as Cooper “Hawk” Dawson entered. Jilly’s mouth popped open in equal measures of surprise and pleasure.

Cooper looked disconcerted for a split second before his usual grin appeared. “Hey, Jilly. Didn’t expect to see you here.”

She swallowed hard, her mouth suddenly drier than the desert. She echoed him. “Didn’t expect to see you here.”

Cooper hadn’t changed a lot in the last few months since she’d last seen him at a city social function. He’d always been fit but now his wide shoulders looked even broader under his dark parka. His close-cropped mahogany hair revealed his military background but his jawline was darkened by a day or two of beard growth. His soulful cinnamon-brown eyes had always intrigued her and now they held distinct interest. Attraction jolted through Jilly and created a sweet, tingling pull low in her stomach. Damn. No matter how many months he was away, every time he returned from war she felt this incredible pull to this big, strong man.

“What’s it been?” he asked. “Five months?”

“At least. Are you…are you on leave?”

“I’m done with the Marines for now.”

“For now?”

“Unless I get called up again, I’ll be back with the Sheriff’s Department in a month. I’ve had three deployments to Afghanistan. I think they’re tired of seeing my ugly face there.”

She laughed softly and he joined her. Ugly? No way. His face wasn’t handsome in a conventional, pretty boy way. His nose had a slight dent at the top from a bike accident as a teenager and the rest of his face proved too angular for anyone to call him cute. No, he was a raw, masculine presence all the way. A little too rough-and-tough-looking, he had a dangerous edge that had always called to her.

She realized she was staring and he stared right back. Heat filled her cheeks. Oh crap. Now she was blushing. She had all the sophistication of a cheerleader pining over the football player.

* *

You can find Cooper’s Haven at:

Ellora’s Cave

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Before There Was You & Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Frequently authors who’ve been around a while are asked, “How do you decide what to write?” As an author of over sixty books, I still sometimes find that question difficult to answer. Most of the time…probably 99.9 percent of the time I create from simply getting an idea that pops into my head and just says in big bold letters WRITE ME. Often it is an event that propels me to write the book, something that happened in history that grabs my attention and won’t let me go. Sometimes it’s a situation I’ve seen or experienced or heard about. I don’t go looking for ideas because they come to me. As a result, I rarely fear that I’ll one day run out of ideas. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying if the idea is marketable. For me that isn’t the main focus of my writing. For example, when I wrote BEFORE THERE WAS YOU the idea for the book hit me like a ton of breaks and it screamed WRITE ME so loudly that I was able to write a full sized novel in a fairly quick fashion. First draft of course. The story morphed into BEFORE THERE WAS YOU, a story featuring a marine with PTSD and the heroine with PTSD. I had a great time writing this story. Here’s a blurb and an excerpt to give you a taste. In this excerpt, the hero makes a big step in recognizing some things about himself with the heroine’s assistance.

So if you’re writer, where do you get your ideas?

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Kidnapped in a foreign country, Lana Burns’ faith in herself and the world has been shaken to the core. Once home, she finds her world mangled into nightmares and depression. Refusing to give in to fear and torment, she searches for answers. Now she must escape a dark mental place before it swallows her whole.

Former Force Recon Marine Aaron MacPherson made it through war without a scratch, but he doesn’t count thick scars carved into his mind, threatening to unhinge his happiness forever. His equilibrium teeters on the edge, his battle moving from combat to everyday life. One wrong word from a total stranger sends him on a path to destruction.

Both Lana and Aaron have seen hell, and group therapy might show them the way out. Forging a link between them could prove perilous to their hearts. When danger strikes without warning, Aaron and Lana must use their bond to create a way to survive the night.

**

He rarely drank, but tonight he decided a glass of whiskey wouldn’t hurt. He went into the kitchen and found the unopened whiskey in a cabinet. The bottle had been there three years, a birthday gift from Cruz who couldn’t think of anything else to get. Cruz’s words went through Aaron’s head.

Drink it to celebrate something or to mourn something.

He quickly opened it, found a glass, and poured a couple fingers of whiskey. After one sip he carried the glass with him and headed to the computer and sat down. He stared at the glass in his hand for a full thirty seconds. Which was it? Celebration or mourning? Maybe both. Celebrating that he’d recognized the big event that had made him so damned fucked up. Fillman’s suicide. Mourning his fellow marine, and maybe his parents’ divorce if they couldn’t work shit out. If it was both, he might need two glasses of whiskey. He snorted a laugh and put the glass on a coaster.

Master’s Degree application or writing the freaking letter? Which one to start first? Get a life. How the hell did you survive a war when you can’t make a decision?

He turned on the desk lamp and fortified himself with a slow sip of the amber liquid. He put the glass down and stared at the drink. He could slam it down. Maybe it would make relaying this shit easier. Yeah, it probably would. But he’d never used alcohol as a crutch, and he sure as hell wouldn’t start now.

Fuck, who am I kidding? He was using it as a crutch right now. He stared at the blank screen, fingers over the keys. He hovered. He took another small sip of whiskey. Yeah, go girly on the whiskey until you can get this puppy written. In a flash of clarity he understood if he didn’t write this with a clear mind, he wouldn’t tell the truth. He’d gloss it over. He’d pretend. He’d say what he thought others would want to hear. God forbid he freaking got dramatic.

Do the Masters application first. So he did.

He filled in the application and then started the process for having his Bachelor’s Degree transcripts sent to the program. Paperwork didn’t bother him. The military had improved his patience for filling out paperwork because God only knew the military loved freakin’ paperwork. He was refreshed and feeling good that he’d cleaned the house and was now working toward obtaining a Master’s Degree.

Finally he couldn’t avoid the letter.

He opened his word processing program. His fingers hovered over the keyboard. He didn’t know where to start. He decided to just jump and allow a stream of thought to take over. Stream of thought was always more honest.

I seriously considered not writing this letter. The skeptical part of me says this is stupid. The marine in me demands I follow through and not give up. I’ve never been much of a touchy-feely man, so this experience…this whole group therapy thing, is like fingernails over a blackboard. I’ve finally discovered, as I write this letter, what my biggest problem is. The thing that fucked my shit up—

Nope. He couldn’t be that honest. He typed a new sentence.

The thing that broke me and made me crave the need to beat the man in the restaurant.

Tears welled in his eyes. Ah, shit. Okay, this was going to be hard. As gut-wrenching as anything he’d done. He thought of Lana and what she’d say. The comfort she’d give him as he wrote it. Maybe the big bad marine needed a modicum of help. His cell phone was on the charger on his desk, and he snapped it up. Without giving more thought, he called Lana. The phone rang twice before she picked up.

“Aaron.” Her voice held sweetness and welcome. “How are you?”

Oh, hell yeah. There was that soothing, sin-filled voice making him want to kiss her, to lay her down and make love to her for hours. He cleared his throat. “Am I interrupting anything?”

“I’m grading some papers. Nothing that can’t wait.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Aaron, you sound a little funny. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah. Well, okay, that’s kinda a lie.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m sitting here trying to write this damned letter for therapy.”

“Oh.” The oh was filled with complete understanding. “It’s tough. I’ve already written mine, but I had to keep coming back to it. I wrote it yesterday.”

“I just got home and tried to start. I’ve written an entire paragraph.”

“Good. Don’t be hard on yourself.”

“I’m not sure I even understand how not to do that.”

“Start now.”

Longing hit him and tenderness hollowed out his gut. “You’re bossy, Miss Burns.”

She laughed softly. “Oh, I’m pretty good at telling other people what they need to do. Not always so good at taking my own advice.”

“Ditto.”

“Did something else happen today to make it worse?”

“Maybe. I visited with my parents today and some excrement has hit the fan.”

“Is your Dad all right?”

“He’s good. I guess the doctors think he didn’t do as much damage to his stomach as they first thought. But he’s on medication, and they’ve told him to lower his stress level or else.”

Another laugh came over the line. “Let me guess. He’s not listening.”

“Mom says he isn’t. She gave him an ultimatum.”

“Ultimatum? That doesn’t sound good.”

“She’s going to leave him if he doesn’t do something about his stress.”

“Oh, no. No.”

“Yeah.”

“That must feel…” She drifted off.

He filled in the blank. “It feels like if my parents’ divorce, that’ll be one more crack in the family. Craig dies, I get arrested, they get divorced. At this rate I’ll turn into a drama queen.”

She laughed, and this time it was full of volume. “Aaron, there is no way you could turn into a drama queen. You’re just human. Sometimes I think you forget.”

“Marines aren’t human, Lana. They’re marines.”

“Oh, please.”

“All right, I’m exaggerating. It’s just the training. Sometimes it bleeds over into the rest of our lives.”

“Of course it does. Transition to the civilian world from the military is hard enough, and then the experiences you had in war make it doubly hard to sort out. But you’re getting there just like all of us are. Step-by-step. The letter is just one more piece.”

“You’re right. As always.”

“What have you written so far?”

He read the short bit to her. “Maybe I should erase that.”

“Why? It’s what you feel, right?”

“Yep.”

“Then keep it. Write what you feel. All of it.”

“Is that what you did?” he asked.

“Yes. Wadded up a few tissues too.”

“I’m not going to cry.”

“Uh-huh. Well, even if you don’t, you might need a catharsis afterwards.”

“Such as?”

“Exercise? Have you exercised already today?”

He stared at the whiskey glass. “Yeah. But I could do some more.”

“Do you…do you want me to stay on the line while you type it?”

Oh, man. “Yeah. Would you mind?”

“No. Go ahead and put me on speaker and type away.”

So he did. One agonizing word at a time. He checked once in a while to make sure she was there.

“I’m still here. Grading papers,” she said once.

Soon the words wouldn’t stop coming and he typed faster and faster. One tear made a track down his face, but he wiped it away and cursed it internally. So he increased the speed of his typing. If he could get this bad boy written up quickly, he could ignore the tears now flowing steadily down his face. The typos were racking up, but he could fix those later. Finally, he stopped. There was no more to tell. No more. He stared at the black letters on the white screen, but couldn’t read a fuckin’ word. It was blurred.

“Aaron? I don’t hear typing. Are you done?”

“Yeah.” His voice was hoarse. Fuck that too. Another tear rolled down his face. “Shit.” Okay, so there went his vow not to curse in front of women. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. Did you say all you needed to say?”

“I think so.”

“That’s wonderful.”

Her voice had turned even more soothing, a quality that wrapped around him.

“Lana Burns, you’re one hell of a therapist.”

“I was hoping I was one hell of a friend.”

He laughed and realized he wasn’t sad. Not one damned bit. It was if the dam had broken and washed away the sins, the gnawing hurt that had pawed away at him for ages.

“You’re amazing, Lana, that’s what you are. I’m getting a handle on this crap once and for all. I’m trying to decide whether to celebrate with this glass of whiskey on my desk. Like I said before, I’ve already exercised for the day.”

“I thought you exercised all the time.”

“I used to. Maybe I’m over that too.” He grinned. “It gets even better. I cleaned up this sorry excuse for an apartment.”

“Wow. I’ll have to see that.”

“I wish you would. Soon.”

Silence hung in the air for a moment before she said, “Maybe next week.”

He closed his eyes, and this time when the tears came, it was out of happiness.

“Aaron?”

“Yeah.”

“Drink the whiskey, marine. It’s time to celebrate.”

So he did.

A Little Side of Scottish Highlander Please

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So how many of you have watched the first episode of the new Outlander series? So far it is pretty yummy. I’ll fully admit I only read the first two novels a bazillion years ago and got sidetracked after that.

Watching Outlander this weekend gave me an idea. Time to design a new Twitter postcard for my time travel novel, Bridge Through The Mist. Many moons ago Bridge Through The Mist wasn’t as hot as it is today. When it was originally published about fifteen years ago, I hadn’t started writing erotic romance. Bridge Through The Mist had two covers with two different publishers before it found a long time home at Ellora’s Cave and after I’d turned it into an erotic romance. Normally I wouldn’t turn a book into an erotic romance unless it was the type of novel that screamed erotic possibilities and this one certainly did.

One of the cards I designed is too large a jpg, but I do have the image I used. Awesome, isn’t it? Here’s a snippet excerpt for you! Sorry on the formatting of the snippet, I’m afraid it wouldn’t cooperate.

 

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When Alenna Carstairs is hurled through time into 1318, Scotland’s medieval world brings her face to face with hot, sexy Tynan of MacBrahin. Infuriated with his barbaric manners, and yet sensing vulnerability within him, she vows to discover the heartbreak that has scarred his soul.
World-weary knight, Tynan of MacBrahin lost two loves to the brutality of other men. He can’t forgive himself for failing to protect the women who depended on him. When Alenna saves his life, her independent spirit stirs desires so strong within him he can’t resist her. A depraved baron soon wants Alenna for his own, and Tynan must find a way to conquer this powerful man to save her. Alenna struggles with soul-staggering desire for Tynan, but most of all, she must convince Tynan his love is not lethal, and she is the one who can bring shine to his armor again.

* *
Most women would run in fear from him. A few inches over six feet, his sheer size swallowed the small room. Did a man this outrageously feral have a concept of tenderness? Of restraint? He looked ready to spring, to dominate. His brutishly handsome face arrested her. Time slowed, and all the fantasies she’d harbored about gorgeous men over the years dissolved, overwhelmed by the sheer male animal presence in front of her. Unfastening the broach at his shoulder, he allowed his heavy brown cloak to fall open. Under the cloak, he wore a dark shirt of rough material open at the throat. The gap revealed a bit of muscled chest sprinkled with dark hair. Broad of shoulder, his powerful frame demanded attention. His black trousers revealed just enough with their cut to suggest strong thighs and calves. She licked her lips involuntarily. His gaze landed on her mouth and stayed for one stomach-dropping second, then glided over her body with a mix between curiosity and pure male appreciation. His hungry appraisal sent a coil of heat deep into her loins, and a blush to her cheeks. She couldn’t speak and she almost couldn’t breathe.
Taking off the cloak, he settled it over a chair. Crossing the room, he stood next to her makeshift pallet. “Are ye deaf, then, lass? Or mayhap a mute?”
“No,” she said softly, her throat feeling as parched as if she’d crossed the Sahara. His strange questions threw her, and she couldn’t think of a first-class retort.
His brow crinkled, and she noted a deep scar ran down the right side of his forehead, as if he’d suffered a severe blow at one time and never had it stitched properly. He shoved a hand through his inky black hair, and it fell about the top of his shoulders in thick waves.
Turning to the skinny boy, he said, “Clandon, ye had best get back to yer duties. And visit yer sister at the donjon to see how she fares.”

Sizzling Summer Nights Blog Hop Aug. 1 to 3! Win A Kindle Fire!

Welcome everyone to the Sizzling Summer Nights Blog Hop! In order to participate and possibly win a prize (including a Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire), please click on the animated banner  at the end of the blog to hop from author to author. Also, in order to be put in the queue to win an ebook of  Within His Sight, the first book in my Heart of Justice series, please comment below. I recently mentioned my Heart of Justice series SWAT series in a blog. I’d like to share an excerpt of Within His Sight for your reading pleasure! Enjoy!

Within His Sight

Women respond to a man’s testosterone without any thought…
Mary Wickes didn’t want to acknowledge that ex-marine, now SWAT team member Dace “Hard Man” Banovic could draw her in with one smoldering, purely male look. Yet working with him for six months at the sheriff’s department proved her hormones didn’t care what she thought, only what she wanted. Now she needed to boogie out of Gold Rush, Colorado before he wore down her resistance. Tainted by bad memories of past betrayal and trust, she knows getting involved with him would be a big mistake.
Men respond to a woman’s softness without any thought…
Dace Banovic is puzzled by Mary’s avoidance tactics, and although he’s tried to ignore the powerful attraction he feels for her, he can’t help wanting to learn everything about the woman he’s desired for six months.
When danger comes, sometimes it takes a special man and woman to see it through to the end…
When a hostage situation brings them to a razor sharp edge of danger, only their determination will prove to them the true meaning of the feelings they’ve tried so hard to deny.

* *

Mary gazed at her hamburger. She’d eaten her enormous burger and fries with complete, guilt-free relish. She’d craved iron all day, well aware her “eat it before it gets away mentality” was motivated by exhaustion and working overtime for a week. It explained her snarky reaction to the television psychologist, her ’tude about work, and her bone-aching desire to head home and rewrite her resume. It also explained her compelling desire to toss one certain man right on his gorgeous ass and tell him to find a life that didn’t include annoying her with his sexual vibes. Prowess. Whatever the heck the psychologist on television had said.

She shoved aside her plate, satiated with red meat, and sipped her wine. Nothing like an alcohol jolt to substitute for bravery. She needed courage if she hoped to look for a new job soon. Spending part of her weekend designing a spiffy new resume didn’t qualify as enjoying herself. Still, she must do it. Had to leave Gold Rush before his testosterone proved Amanda Prather absolutely right.

And my willpower in the toilet.

Once out of Gold Rush, she could design a new life unhindered by male complications. She could forget that this certain man had turned all her well-honed defenses on their ear.

Her luck didn’t last.

In walked her living, breathing definition of sex on a stick. The bane of her existence. The reason she needed to run and run fast.

Dace “Hard Man” Banovic.

She almost groaned. She didn’t want to notice him, but she did anyway. Dace didn’t swagger, but danger defined his walk, and confidence radiated from him. His muscular, rock-hard form held all these qualities, and he didn’t have to say a word. Tall, dark, and handsome described him superficially. No, he was all of those things and none of them, a dichotomy of textures and uniqueness she’d find difficult to describe to anyone who asked. As he came closer, she drank in over six feet of broad-shouldered masculinity. His pitch-dark hair had started to thin at the temples, and this probably motivated him to keep it military short. This took nothing away from the striking symmetry of his nose and penetrating grey eyes. A scar, just noticeable above his right eyebrow, added a tough man look women seemed to find fascinating. As he headed toward Mary, she knew he’d seen her. She couldn’t run from the law.

SWAT had come to take her away.

As he walked by tables, women looked up and admired, tossing glances at him and smiling. Of course they’d notice him. After all, he defines all those things the television psychologists harped about, doesn’t he? Still, a woman should be able to restrict her responses, control her physical urges, by God.

Finally, Dace stood at her table and glared. He bristled with energy in his long-sleeved SWAT uniform minus all the heavy-duty combat-like gear. But his gaze pinpointed on her, and she glared back. As she opened her mouth to make a smart comment, he slipped into the opposite seat. What reason would he have for glaring as if she’d committed murder?

She brought the merlot to her lips and took a leisurely sip. “What brings you here?”

“Coreen said you’re leaving Gold Rush.”

“You should never believe anything she says.”

His nose wrinkled, which didn’t flatter its aristocratic length one bit. “Coreen is a good dispatcher.”

Mary’s teeth ached, thinking about the woman. “She can also be a bitch. She’s gorgeous, twenty-five, and thinks you’re seriously hot. Which you’re not … of course.”

“Now who is being the bitch?” The amusement in his eyes belied his words.

God, she hated it when he smiled, because two small dimples appeared in his cheeks and all that kick-ass-and-take-names attitude morphed into a devastating combo she never could ignore. How could one man contain that much testosterone and that much charm in one package? It isn’t fair.

“She shouldn’t have told you,” she said in defense.

“Then I guess you should have known better than to let her in on your plans.”

“I didn’t. I think Hetty George in personnel spilled the beans.” She reached into her purse and placed money on the table for her wine and dinner.

Dace grimaced as a new song blared over the speakers. “Damn it, how do you hear above this shit?”

She smirked and touched her right ear. “What? I can’t hear you?”

“I said—damn it, never mind.”

Before she could take the last gulp of her wine, he stood. “Come with me.”

“Why?”

“Because we need to talk.”

Curious and a little annoyed, she slid from the booth. To her surprise he took her arm. His grasp assured she’d follow, but he tempered his strength–his grip didn’t hurt. She grabbed her purse and wool coat, and trotted along with him, trying to keep pace with his long-legged strides. Unfortunately, people in the bar watched her and the cop exit the restaurant in a hurry. They probably thought he’d placed her under arrest. Charming.

Once outside in the parking lot, he marched her straight past his car, which happened to have “El Torro County Sheriff’s Department” plastered on the side.

“Am I under arrest, Officer?”

He steered her around a corner of the building under a not so bright streetlight. “No.”

Her boots hit a patch of ice and, with a startled gasp, she went down on her ass with a thump.

“Ah, shit!” Dace squatted next to her, his hand on her shoulder. “God, honey, are you hurt?”

Honey? He’d never called her that before, and the concern in his eyes took her off guard. When she didn’t speak, he cupped his hand around the back of her neck and peered into her eyes, worry narrowing his gaze. “Mary, are you hurt?”

His flesh against hers, something that she’d never experienced before, startled her into silence. Unexpected heat generated in her belly, her breath coming quicker. Flustered by his attention, she scrambled to her feet and out of his grasp. She dusted snow off her cold rump and leaned over to reach for her purse and coat. “I’m fine.”

“Sure?”

“Peachy.”

His gaze sharpened, more assessing than ever.

She backed up against the brick wall, irritation and something far more potent and unpredictable trembling in her belly. “You could have talked with me in the restaurant. Now everyone is going to think I’m under arrest.”

 

TV Series & My Mixed Tastes

Howdy, this is a drive by blog because August 1 is the start of the Sizzling Summer Blog Hop which goes until August 3.

What prompted me to talk about television series? It was a weird idea I’ll admit. I watched an episode of Under The Dome and that made me think of other television series I’m currently watching. Okay, so I’m listing what I can recall off the top of my head that I watch…and from the length of the list you’ll probably think I watch too much television. Maybe I do. Here’s my list as I recall:

Under The Dome

The Strain

Swamp Murders

Killer Kids

Falling Skies

Defiance

Ghost Adventures

Ghost Hunters

The Walking Dead

Downton Abbey

The Lost Ship

Hell On Wheels

Crossbones

Scared Straight

The Musketeers

The Dead Files

Longmire

Dark Minds

Chicago Fire

Talking Dead

The Night Shift

Too Cute

Alaska State Troopers

I Survived

Hot In Cleveland

When Calls The Heart

Rookie Blue

The Big Bang Theory

The Haunting Of…

Manhattan

Outlander

**

I don’t consider these all must see programs, in fact I’m starting to get tired of Falling Skies, Rookie Blue, and Defiance. Yep. I am. The shows I consider must see are: The Walking Dead, The Dead Files, Ghost Hunters, When Calls The Heart, I Survived, Talking Dead, Chicago Fire, The Musketeers,  and Downton Abbey. You can see there’s an eclectic bunch there, many of them paranormal in nature. You’ll also notice a lack of what I consider reality television. I’m probably forgetting something, but for the life of me can’t recall it at the moment. I haven’t see Manhattan yet or Outlander, so we’ll see how those work out. So if you watch television, which shows do you like?

Guest Author Marie Harte & Wetwork

Today I’m featuring an excerpt from Marie Harte’s third book in her The Works series. This is a new release so please welcome Marie!

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WETWORK (The Works, book #3)

New Release by Marie Harte

He might command her body, but she owns his heart.

Trevor Doran is trying to fit into civilian life now that he’s no longer working secret missions for the government. But his job as a financial investigator for a security firm doesn’t give him the thrill he needs. With his last love dead from a mission gone wrong, he doesn’t need that kind of life anymore. Does he?

His attention soon turns to the beautiful, shy Emma Clark—a friend of his sister’s who intrigues him. He’s getting a vibe from her that makes him want to know more. Is she as submissive as she seems? When Emma starts receiving unwanted attention from a secret admirer, he steps in to help. Then the case he’s investigating at work gets messy. Danger’s afoot, and it’ll take all his skill to keep Emma safe. And all her patience to get Trevor to open himself up to putting his heart at risk and loving again.

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | ARe

 

Excerpt

So strange to find the shy Emma Clark so perfect for him. Dana had been outgoing, brash, sexy and sure of herself. Emma was shy, funny, and insecure. He knew she didn’t understand her appeal, which made her that much more attractive. Unlike Dana though, Emma was overly caring. She went out of her way to make him feel comfortable, and he had to admit that pleased him to no end.

They connected in so many ways, but they hadn’t connected physically yet. Ever since that last kiss, he’d kept his distance. He’d meant it when he said he wouldn’t rush her. She looked at him with desire, but she didn’t seem ready to embrace her feelings. And with his own self-doubts, he didn’t want to tangle with her yet either.

It made no sense that he should feel such affection and lust so soon for her. Especially not now, when he should have been missing Dana all the more fiercely. Just last week marked the anniversary of her death. Dana, a woman who’d matched him in all ways. A fighter, a killer in high heels who knew which pressure points to use to disable a man. Lethal with a knife or a gun, beautiful, sexy…and dead.

He had to work to see her in his mind’s eye, and that bolstered the grief he wanted—needed—to feel. But then an image of Emma’s soft smile, her shy eyes, her vulnerability tugged at him and made him want to smile.

He swore and shifted in his seat, aroused and no longer surprised by it. The need to own Emma, to control her, ate at him. He wanted so much more than tame sex with her. But would she be able to accept that? Could she obey him, open to him the way he needed her to?

With a frustrated sigh, he turned back to his computer and forced himself to finish working on some financial statements for the firm’s other cases. By five thirty, he’d had enough distance from the woman he couldn’t stop thinking about. He packed up and rejoined Emma at her bakery. With her small staff on alert, everyone continued to look for anyone or anything suspicious.

No one had found anything yet. Which meant he’d need to spend more time protecting her. Sleeping in her house, seeing her, hearing her, breathing her in. He muffled a groan and studied her.

She wore her hair up in a ponytail, a Sweets ‘n Tweets tee-shirt and jeans making her look all of twenty years old. Too young for me, he tried telling himself. But he knew he only had ten years on her, thirty-four to her twenty-four. Not too old at all for what he had in mind.

Two men sat talking quietly while an older woman gathered her belongings and left the bakery.

He gave the men a cursory glance, recognizing John, the computer guy, and Garrett, a regular, close to John’s age, who had a sweet tooth and a fondness for Emma. He seemed innocent enough, though John remained a potential suspect in Trevor’s mind. He hadn’t taken anyone off his list, though, and made a note to go over Garrett’s background again. This time in more detail.

“Closing time,” Garrett said with a wink as he noted Trevor.

The regulars had noticed his presence and teased Emma about it. She’d confessed he was her new boyfriend, following his advice on how to explain his presence. Plus he wanted to see how her secret admirer took the news she was no longer available.

Because she wasn’t. Period.

John nodded to his buddy. “Come on, Garrett. We can continue our conversation at my place.”

Trevor made a mental note of the pair’s closeness, wondering how many other customers spent a lot of time in the bakery. John, Garrett, Mitchell, Thomas, Amelia, Sue. The list went on. Emma had loyal customers, sugar addicts needing a fix.

But for food or for Emma? Hell, Trevor even considered himself one of her many admirers. He sighed as John and Garrett left.

Cat poked her head out from the back. “I’m taking off since Trevor’s here.” She waved at him. “Hi.”

“Hey, Cat. Let me walk you out.”

He went out the back with her and waited until she got into her car and left. Then he returned to Emma, who waited for him while she finished wiping up her baking racks and cookie trays .

“I locked up the front. The tables are clean. We can go.”

“Okay.” Was it just him, or did her eyes seem even darker today? Tendrils of her hair had escaped the band holding it up, and his fingers itched to stroke the downy softness of her neck. Her bruises had faded, and he had the insane urge to plant new marks…with his mouth. Small stings from his lips to show everyone she belonged to him.

“Trevor?” She licked her lips. “I-I know you said I needed time. But I, well, would you kiss me?”

He’d been hanging on by a thread for days. Now she wanted him to kiss her, in the safety of her store.

Well, hell. “Kiss you?”

She blinked, doe eyes staring out at the big bad wolf. Her gaze traveled slowly down his body, resting on his evident erection. “Oh, er.” She sighed, bit her lip, and met his gaze with a shy one of her own. “I want you to kiss me…everywhere.”


WETWORK
marieharte.com

 

Hot for SWAT (You’re Either SWAT, or You’re Not)

Remember that line from the movie SWAT starring Colin Farrell? Okay, you might not. Why am I mentioning it? It’s time to talk about SWAT or SRT (Special Response Team)…one of those subjects that sometimes sends readers into a frenzy. The allure of hot men in dangerous occupations.

It has been a while since I talked about my SWAT series, so I thought I’d give you a taste! In my Heart of Justice series (see the hero profile page here) we get to meet some of the fascinating men who put their lives on the line for others in hostage or other situations. When I wrote these stories I did a ton of research, but I was also fortunate to have the expert assistance of two SWAT team members who could answer questions and keep me on the accurate track. Here are the blurbs for the series, and I hope you’ll read the excerpts on the special book pages. Enjoy!

 

Within His Sight

 WITHIN HIS SIGHT

Mary Wickes didn’t want to acknowledge that ex-marine, now SWAT team member Dace “Hard Man” Banovic could draw her in with one smoldering, purely male look. Yet working with him for six months at the sheriff’s department proved her hormones didn’t care what she thought, only what she wanted. Now she needed to boogie out of Gold Rush, Colorado before he wore down her resistance. Tainted by bad memories of past betrayal and trust, she knows getting involved with him would be a big mistake.

Dace Banovic is puzzled by Mary’s avoidance tactics, and although he’s tried to ignore the powerful attraction he feels for her, he can’t help wanting to learn everything about the woman he’s desired for six months.

When danger comes, sometimes it takes a special man and woman to see it through to the end…

When a hostage situation brings them to a razor sharp edge of danger, only their determination will prove to them the true meaning of the feelings they’ve tried so hard to deny.

Stop here to read an excerpt!

 

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IN HER DEFENSE

Celeste Rice’s life has been shattered by terrible violence more than once. Violence threatens to creep back into Celeste’s world when her ex-boyfriend stalks her. When Celeste inherits her aunt’s home, she decides to move back into her childhood neighborhood after long years away. Upon her prodigal return, she encounters old friend and long-time object of her desire, Mick MacGilvary and knows that she is finally ready to pursue that heart-stopping attraction. She believes she’ll stop craving him if she has sex with him once and gets it out of her system. She decides to test the wildfire attraction, even though Mick’s violent past and his SWAT position frighten her.

Mick will do anything in her defense…

SWAT cop Mick MacGilvary’s instincts tell him Celeste’s ex-boyfriend has something evil up his sleeve. Mick’s uneasy past with Celeste makes him gun-shy around her. His protective feelings for Celeste have never abandoned him. Ten years ago, Celeste rejected his advances, and he hasn’t forgotten. The heavy-duty attraction he’s always had for her ramps up now that she’s near.

Danger lurks around the corner…

Caught up in a passion neither of them can deny, Mick and Celeste’s strengths and weaknesses are tested when her ex-boyfriend decides if he can’t have her, no one will.

Stop here for an excerpt.

DAG_HOJ_UnderHisProtection

UNDER HIS PROTECTION

SWAT sniper Trey MacGilvary likes his women wild and hot…

Trey’s adventurous streak once served him wrong, now it makes him dangerous to criminals and devastating to female hearts.

Englishwoman Olivia Scott’s quiet life as a librarian is about to fall apart…

With nothing more exciting to cogitate on than which video to rent on a Friday night and which pie to create for the local bake off, Olivia isn’t prepared for violence. When Trey rescues her from a man’s brutal attack, he vows she’ll be under his protection from that point forward. The enthusiasmand unpredictability of his life stirs erotic passions within her that threaten to reinvent the woman she always thought she was.

Trey attraction for the plucky, bookish woman boils sky high but he’s not in relationships for the long term. Still he battles with emerging feelings he never thought he’d have again for a woman. After all, she’s returning to England in six months. There’s no way they can forge a lasting relationship, even if they wanted to.

As a criminal resurfaces with revenge in mind and promises to harm everyone he loves, Trey’s skills as a sniper, a brother and a lover are tested. As danger closes around her, Olivia must find a core of strength she never knew she had, and capture a red hot passion she never hoped to find.

Stop here for an excerpt.

DAA_HOJ_WithinHisEmbrace

WITHIN HIS EMBRACE

 With her job gone and her carefully crafted life plan wrecked, Leigh Strongdecides to take a short vacation from reality before she has to face putting it all back together again. A wild shootout puts her in the sight of SWAT cop Craig MacGilvary, the man she is fiercely drawn to, but that drives her crazy at the same time. She finds his stern, strong and silent personality a tad too uptight and decides he needs to live a little. She’s determined to discover if he’s really stoic, or if under all that starch burns a man of fire.

Craig’s ordered world is interrupted by the extroverted, live-it-up Leigh. Her in-your-face style disturbs his desire to keep things in line, and the feral attraction he feels for her arouses a fierce need to protect. They discover an unexpected and sizzling passion that makes him question his sanity. When her past and his catch up with them, and danger follows hot on their heels, the perils they’ll face apart and together will test all their resolve in both career and love.

Stop here for an excerpt.

(Side note I have a short story in the back of WITHIN HIS EMBRACE that is an extra for you, and it’s called WITH HIS KISS!)

Whew! Someone hose me down please! Ahem. On to more adventure! I hope you’ll read the HEART OF JUSTICE series and see why I enjoyed writing these characters so much.

Adventure! Snakes, Archaeology & Hogamany

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The weather has been a little more gloomy lately with our  monsoon season and that’s cool. We needed the rain. What it has done is make me long for my favorite season…fall and October! Halloween! Samhain! How I love it. Holy cow it’s July and I’m wishing it was autumn? Okay, maybe not yet. But it did get me to thinking about adventure, and the fact I love to write stories with adventure in them. Does that mean I’m an adventurous person? Well, I am more so than I used to be. I can’t say I’ve had too much adventure other than what I read, watch on the big screen, or create in my books. I’ve always thought the saying “by the seat of your pants” described as much about our daily lives than it did unusual circumstances. With pressures from work, social commitments, family, and cell phones, we can rest assured our blood pressure is high enough. Luckily for me, I don’t have much pressure in that respect, and I’m grateful.

Humans are strange creatures. Very strange. Think about it. We say we don’t like real life danger, yet we spend time in front of the television watching Most Shocking or Most Daring (I do), or we thrill to the danger in an Indiana Jones movie or the psychological scare of Disturbia (love that movie.) Some of us take it a step further and actually sign up for the white-knuckle experience of skydiving, base-jumping, rock climbing, or white water rafting. Truth is that most of us want the excitement to be vicarious. Take me. When I was a little kid, I was a girly girl. On the playground, I would say to the kid hanging on the monkey bars, “You’re gonna fall off that.” What happened? The kid would fall off. I felt vindicated.

It wasn’t until about ’85, when I joined an archaeological society, that I started to have relatively safe adventures, and I loved it. About the worst it could get would be heat exhaustion, sunburn and tangling with rattlesnakes. There was an archaeology trip to Hovenweep, Utah where a late May snowstorm hit with big winds and our tent almost got away. Oh, yeah. And I slept in the car one night because my friend snored so loudly there was no way I was getting any sleep.

One scene in The Mummy Returns parallels my archaeological life. Remember the scene where Evie discovers a snake crawling across her boot? That really did happen to me. I looked down and there was this small dark snake crawling over my boot and my automatic reaction was the same as Evie’s. I simply swung my foot and flipped the snake away. For a minute I thought maybe I’d imagined it, and probably no one would have believed me if they hadn’t seen me do it. Heck, now that I live in the desert Southwest (I was in Colorado when I had the boot slinging snake experience), I have seen more snakes, poisonous and otherwise, than I want to see. Still, the archaeology continued to be awesome in Colorado and was awesome when I found a new group in the Southwest.

One adventure I’ll never forget, though, came when my hubby and I ventured to Edinburgh, Scotland (we lived in England at the time) in the 90’s. We wanted to see New Year’s Eve celebrations (called Hogamany). Now we’re not that fond of big crowds of any type, so we should have realized that 250,000 people in a small space would prove overwhelming. We had a few hours to wander around in the city in the central area including the Royal Mile. That was great except for the cold and the hoards of roaming drunks. Don’t get me wrong. Scottish drunks seem to have less a propensity for outright skirmishes and violence than if you put American drunks in the same situation. Go figure. After the beautiful fireworks display presented from the top of Edinburgh Castle (still the best fireworks I’ve seen to date), we headed down the hill. We’d linked arms securely because of the huge crush of people. We quickly discovered that wouldn’t do the trick. The throng pushed in on all sides but it threatened to separate us. My hubby wrapped his arms around me from behind and held tight as he sort of maneuvered us like a big spider through the crowd. Basically he feared losing me in the mess of people, and I feared loosing him. We could have met up back at the tour bus, but it still would have been intimidating to say the least.

By the way, I’ve had a paranormal experience in Edinburgh that I’ve shared on this blog before, but I’ll share it again next week.

Until next week’s adventure installment, may you have a safe yet adventurous week.

Social Media Diet 2: Creativity & Mental Rejuvenation

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Howdy from the castle. Okay, I’m not in a castle right now, but I can dream, right? After all, I have a pretty vivid imagination.  Today is the start of another social media chill out diet for me. After my last social media diet a few months back, I’ve decided I definitely needed to abandon social media from time to time. By social media diet, I mean not engaging on Facebook or Twitter as often as I normally do. Here’s what I find avoiding social media for a week or more does for me:

1. My creativity jumps. I feel more creative overall.

2. I get even more writing done.

3. Mentally I feel less stressed and less likely to get obsessed reading stuff that serves nothing more than to rile me up.

Plenty of people engage in social media and feel no mental stress and they’re usually very good at brushing off other people’s stuff. I haven’t mastered that technique yet although I’m working on it. As an empath I’m really bad sometimes at sucking in people’s bad juju if I don’t watch out and shield myself.  So I’m taking the easy way out by avoiding social media.

I’m also discovering another wonderful tool that I’m recommending to friends who complain a lot about the negativity on Facebook. I’ve started using Facebook Purity. Now this isn’t some virginal, “I’m lookin’ to turn back the clock to a more wholesome era” scenario. Nah. As a paranormal and suspense author I’ve soaked my head in “unwholesome” plenty of times. No, it’s just an effort to declutter the feed from stuff that doesn’t serve me. With Facebook Purity I can just block out a lot of the political and/or religious stuff that gets posted on Facebook and even a few other things I don’t want to read. So far so good!

With that being said, I’m looking forward to the down time to finish a novella, relax and just reboot the mind. I’ll still check in to Facebook probably every couple of days or so and the same with Twitter (although I’ll retweet some things automatically through my Tribber account). I may even have a blog or two here and there to let you know how the social media blackout is going.

Talk to you again soon!