Archive for March, 2011

Excerpt: Sins & Secrets

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Today I have an excerpt from one of my older books for you. 🙂 Sins and Secrets (Ellora’s Cave) came out several years ago. The cover isn’t exactly one of my favorites because I don’t care for pod people covers, but I love the story. It’s set in my SIA series (Special Investigations Agency). Hope you enjoy the blurb and excerpt!

**

Geeky, cheeky, and not the least sexy.

Tara Crayton figures she knows everything about her cubicle buddy, Marcus Hyatt. Not the type of man she’d want for a date, much less a long-term relationship. Yet at night, a fearless lover tantalizes her dreams and makes her realize how much she needs the love of a man.

Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

Special Investigations Agency operative Marcus Hyatt knows Tara thinks he’s the dullest dude on the block, and he wants to keep it that way. For if she knew the truth, her life could be in danger. Yet at night, a daring lover touches his dreams and makes him realize how he longs for true companionship.

When Tara receives a series of death threats, the only man she can turn to is Marcus, and the only way he can keep her safe is to never tell her the secrets he holds.

**

Shivers darted along her skin and she rubbed her arms.

She needed help. She could call the police. Then she remembered the vision of Marcus. When she had visualizations about people, they were never wrong. He might be a word processing clerk right now, but at one time he’d been a combat warrior of some kind. If he couldn’t protect her, no one could.

Impulse sent her racing down the hall to her bedroom. She grabbed her purse from where she’d dumped it by the bedside table. She fumbled through the pockets until she found the card with Marcus’s phone numbers on it, then grabbed her cell phone from her purse at the same time. She punched in his home number and realized her hands shook. Another deep breath didn’t seem to make a difference. Her entire insides quivered like gelatin.

Get control. Harness the fear.

Red digital numbers on her bedside clock said eleven o’clock. Marcus picked up the phone on the second ring, his voice clear, deep and strong. He didn’t sound like he’d been asleep.

“Hello?”

“Marcus.” Even to her own ears, her voice sounded quivery, filled with rampant emotions so strong she couldn’t contain them. “This is Tara.”

“Hey.” He sounded almost happy, then his voice deepened with undeniable worry. “Everything all right?”

“No. Drake called me and he’s saying crazy things. I’m afraid he might be right outside my apartment.”

“Are all your doors and windows locked?” His voice took on an immediate hard edge.

She looked up at her large bedroom window, thankful for the heavy honeycomb shade. “Of course.”

“Stay right there. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Regret immediately overran some fear. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea. I’m sorry I called. I mean, I shouldn’t have imposed on you because Drake is playing games.”

“He isn’t playing games, Tara, and you know it.”

She did know it, deep inside where her instincts lived.

“Don’t hang up,” he said. “I’m going out to the car now.”

She heard him moving through his house and the quick jangling of keys. Just having him on the phone and hearing his husky voice gave her renewed calm. Her heartbeat eased and her breathing steadied. With that reassurance came the worry she’d overacted. Drake always did like to scare the crap out of her, and maybe that’s all he meant to do now.

Still, prickling awareness said her ex-husband could be waiting outside. Even though she’d told Marcus the doors and windows were locked, she scurried around the house and made certain every lock was secure.

She heard an engine starting and the sound of a car pulling away at a quick pace. Reality sank in. “Marcus?”

“I’m here. Are you all right?” He sounded anxious.

“I’m checking the doors and windows again. Everything’s locked. Maybe you shouldn’t come over. If Drake is out there, he could hurt you.”

“He can try.”

His words, spoken in a completely indomitable tone, said if Drake tried, he’d fail.

Wow. In the midst of the fear lingering around the edges, a tiny, illicit thrill stirred in her stomach. A primitive wave of heat surrounded her. Marcus was willing to risk injury for her.

She’d never known a man willing to put his life on the line for her. The reaction it set up burned in her mind and body like wildfire, momentarily erasing apprehension and replacing it with inappropriate sexual arousal.

As he drove to her house, he kept her spirits uplifted with some stupid jokes he’d heard within recent months. She giggled, then realized she’d let her guard down with him more than any man she’d known since Drake. Disturbed, she tried to rein back her enthusiasm a little. She couldn’t afford weakness.

“I’m driving up now,” Marcus said.

“Marcus—”

But he’d already hung up. Fear renewed, tightening her muscles so much her jaw ached. She heard tires crunching in the driveway and rushed to a window overlooking the front yard. She recognized his car. As he left his vehicle, she kept watch, afraid she’d see Drake rushing out of the darkness, ready to attack. Despite Marcus’s take-no-prisoners statement that Drake could try taking him out, part of her wondered if Marcus wasn’t a little too cocky. The world was populated with macho men who thought they could take on anything.

Marcus left his car and strode up the walk to the front door, his gaze vigilant and his mouth a firm line. He walked quickly toward her door, and in darkness obliterated somewhat by the porch light, she saw he wore a tank top and jeans.

When he rang the doorbell, she left her cell phone on the coffee table and headed for the small foyer. She rushed to snap on the light and the bulb went out with a pop. Damn.

Relief washed through her at thought of him being here. She opened the door immediately and stepped back for him to come inside. She quickly relocked the door. As she turned back to him, she brushed against his tall body and took in his reassuring, masculine scent. He clasped her arms gently and her hands landed on his chest.

“Are you all right?” he asked, concern blazing in his piercing eyes and a frown grooving lines between his eyebrows.

“Yes.” She clutched at his biceps, her vehemence transferring in her grip. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you to come here.”

His gaze darted around the foyer and toward the living room, as if he searched for hidden enemies. “You already said that once.”

“It’s true.”

His frown looked nothing like a geeky office boy. No siree. Marcus Hyatt had transformed into a reassuring, testosterone-filled presence. “Well, get that idea right out of your head now. I’m glad you called me.”

“Did I wake you?”

He shook his head. “I’m a night owl.” His mouth softened the slightest bit. “You’re safe now.” His fingers slipped over her arms until he cupped her face with one hand. “You’re shaking.”

A shiver worked over her body as the heat and caress from his fingers tantalized her senses.

“I am,” she said breathlessly. “I don’t know why.”

“Damn it, that bastard has you scared out of your wits.” His voice went rough and angry.

To her horror, unexpected tears welled in her eyes and threatened to spill over. Mortified by her weakness, she sniffed and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be—” She broke off abruptly, her voice quavering under the strain.

“It’s all right.” His voice, soft and rumbling, reassured her like nothing else.

He drew her close, tucking her head onto his shoulder, his fingers buried in her hair. His arm tightened around her back, and security and safety suddenly didn’t seem so far away anymore. She slipped her arms around his waist, allowing his embrace to comfort and release the trepidation one second at a time.

She registered several things at once. All of them made her breath catch. She wore nothing but a long fuchsia nightshirt that reached to mid-thigh, and a pair of skimpy matching pink bikini panties. She’d been meaning for the last two weeks to buy another robe. Her last robe had gone beyond the call of duty and ripped up a side seam. She’d tossed it in the trash.

Marcus’s big frame sheltered her with tensile strength. Tara’s heart stuttered, skipped and then rammed into overdrive. Her belly fluttered with intoxicating need rivaling any feeling she’d encountered around him before. Cradled in muscular arms and pressed against his hard chest, her emotions whipped from one extreme to the other.

Watch out, Tara. Just because he’s one hell of a nice guy, and he’s come to your rescue doesn’t mean he feels beyond ordinary compassion for a friend. Don’t make this into anything more emotional or more physical than it is.

She could explain away these feelings as unadulterated appreciation for his willingness to help. Even the kisses they’d shared earlier in the day didn’t mean anything extraordinary.

He eased her back and out of his arms. “Sit down and take it easy. We need to talk.”

Feeling shell-shocked by what happened tonight, she settled onto the couch. She curled her legs to the side.

“I’ll check the house,” he said gruffly and stalked away from her.

Check the house? Her discomfort with the situation peaked. She’d already gone all over the entire home. What more could he check? Tears of frustration and anger slid down her face. She quickly wiped them away.

A few moments later, he strode back into the room, that unconquerable gritty determination on his face. Her mouth popped open and she stared like the village idiot. Marcus might be forty years old, but he easily looked ten years younger.

A body-hugging navy blue tank top clung to his torso, lovingly embracing tight pecs and the ripple of a six-pack stomach. Chest hair peeked above the neckline and tantalized her. She didn’t understand a woman who couldn’t appreciate chest hair on a man.

His wide shoulders and long arms showed evidence of supreme physical strength. Jeans curved over his muscled, mile-long legs.

The man worked out big time, but his musculature said he could be mean in a fight rather than hampered by bulky power.

He wasn’t wearing his glasses, and the thickest eyelashes she’d ever seen on a man ringed his incredible eyes. Thick strands of wavy hair gleamed with healthy shine and fell about his shoulders. Now his nose looked regal rather then thin, and the long line of his jaw softened a little by the hair tumbling around his face.

Everything Tara and the other women in the office once thought about Marcus Hyatt was blown away in one stunning revelation. He possessed that dangerous, take-me-or-leave-me edge few men could pull off without seeming ridiculous. Simply put, he oozed sex and sins and secrets. Earlier in the day at the mall, he’d looked yummy.

Tonight he made her mouth water, her heart pound, and everything feminine inside her take notice.

Oh, God. I am in trouble now.

 

 

 

Finished, Finished At Last & Operation Auction For Fatin!

Monday, March 28th, 2011

So how does an author celebrate after finishing a book? I finished one this afternoon. AHHHHHH. Yes. It’s the second book in a trilogy, and I think I’ll take off at least the rest of the week to give my brain creative rest before plunging into the last book. Who am I kidding? I’ve already started it. But, I do have some plans. Perhaps a whiskey. Or maybe two. And this Friday I plan to treat myself to a movie out…Source Code. It looks really good.

Second, you may have heard about Operation Auction for Fatin. Dozens of authors are joining in this worthy cause. You can find out all the details by heading over to Lauren Dane’s blog at www.laurendane.com which also has a direct link to the auction. So be sure to stop by at the auction. My contribution is offering a critique of the first three chapters of a manuscript.

Okay, I’m off to recover from finishing the book! Talk to you all in a day or so after my brain is fresh. Have a great week.

 

 

 

Hot Zone Trailer!

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Hey everyone here is the new, very hot trailer for my Hot Zone series at Samhain Publishing. I hope you enjoy it. It features the covers of all of the books in the series, including Hot Pursuit which comes out on April 12. Enjoy and let me know what you think.


Military Characters, Dark Romance, & And Miscellaneous News

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

HOT PURSUIT releases April 12 at Samhain Publishing

Good morning or afternoon or evening. I had a heck of a time trying to decide what to call this post. Where to start? I have several things going on these days, but when don’t I? Like most authors I’m pretty busy. Writing the books, researching the books, posting to this blog, posting to Facebook, posting to Twitter, doing edits, you name it. I was going to make this a video blog but this seems to be one of those months where I just can’t seem to get a video blog together. Here is what is coming up soon.

 

Coming April 12 is the last book in my Hot Zone series, HOT PURSUIT (Samhain Publishing). I hope to have a trailer for you soon.  You can preorder the book at Samhain or at Amazon!  As you may have guessed, the Hot Zone series features military characters. I’ll admit that I’ve written quite a few of these military characters.

I’m working on my Asylum trilogy. I’m about 63,000 words into the second book. Writing this trilogy has been an experiment because I’m creating three books straight through without a pause. Trying to define these books is difficult, but I’m not worried. I’d call them dark romance. They definitely have paranormal elements and they hit on some subjects you don’t often see in romances. They are not erotic romance. They are sensual but not as hot as some of my other books. We’ll see if I change that when I revise.

I completed edits a couple of weeks ago on BEFORE THE DAWN, my June release at Samhain Publishing. The cover is awesome, so I hope to  have that for you soon. When I was reading this book again (and it had been a while), I had one of those warm fuzzy feelings. This is definitely a favorite book of mine. I loved writing it and I think it shows.

I just started an experiment. I’m using Scrivener software for writers, and I think I really like some of the features. I’ll let you know for certain. Even though I am a pantser this software helps me keep my research together. I love to write on my Alpha Smart, but the full screen feature on the Scrivener program helps with the distracting desktop problem I face when writing on the computer.

That’s enough for now. Later this week I’ll have a blog on writing for yourself and what I believe that really means.

 

Haunted Souls: Ronan The Irish Vampire

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! For your reading enjoyment, I’m posting an excerpt from the third book in my Deep Is The Night series at Ellora’s Cave. The book is called Haunted Souls and features an Irish vampire that has become a favorite among some of my readers. This story isn’t for the youngsters…it’s an erotic romance. Hope you enjoy!

* *

Excerpt From HAUNTED SOULS

Book 3 in the DEEP IS THE NIGHT series

As Halloween approaches friends will band together to defeat an evil more potent than anything they could have imagined.

A last battle is brewing…

Clarissa Gaines remembers Pine Forest as a sedate, creepy little town of her childhood. Determined to add Pine Forest to her book of haunted places, she wanders the night in search of the supernatural. Vampire Ronan Kieran has fought the ancient one and knows he must make a mortal woman fall in love with him in order to defeat the world’s oldest vampire.  While necessity and overwhelming desire bring Ronan and Clarissa together, she fears the powerful emotions she is starting to feel for him.  And Ronan finds he will do anything to protect her, do anything to make her his as a battle between good and evil rages around them.

* * *

The drip, drip of water landed on Clarissa’s forehead like Chinese water torture.  A jumble of impressions bombarded her.   She only knew she must flee the darkness and the horrible choking sensation that clawed at her throat and stole her air.

Succubus?  Incubus? A demon of unfathomable hate?

Jumbled words floated through her mind.

Must get out of the darkness.  Must.

How much time passed she couldn’t be sure. A dull pain in her head persisted.  Impressions returned with distressing slowness as she realized she lay flat on her back.  She reached up for her camera and discovered when she’d tumbled into the abyss she’d lost it somewhere.

Her mouth tasted like it had been stuffed with cotton and she licked her dry lips.  She trembled as cold seeped through her parka.  As she opened her eyes she couldn’t see much in the gloom.

Light shimmered down from the hole she’d fallen through.  Instead of full sun the light was watery.  She wondered if Jim had gone for help; if she’d been unconscious for long assistance might be on the way.

“Jim!” She waited, hoping for an answer.  Nothing.  “Jim, I’m down here!”

Again, nothing.

As full consciousness returned so did pain.  She felt battered and bruised.  She groaned and touched her temples with her fingers.  Her skull might fall off and then she’d be a ghost like Anne Boleyn, wandering this subterranean hell moaning and looking for her head.

Now I know I’m okay.  I have my sense of humor.

She groped in the semi-darkness for her fanny pack and rummaged for her cell phone.  She turned it on but when she tried dialing 9-1-1, static buzzed in her ear.  She tried two more times, but the phone wouldn’t cooperate.  The display lit up, so maybe the signal didn’t reach down here.  If the walls acted like a cave, she doubted anyone could hear her unless she kept shouting.  Glancing into the blackness around her, she realized light disappeared, swallowed up not far in either direction.

“Drat.”

After stuffing the phone back in the pack, Clarissa shifted her fanny pack from around her stomach to around her back.

“Stay calm and everything will be all right.”  She tried once more.  “Jim, can you hear me?  Jim!”

Nothing.

Sighing, she decided she couldn’t sit there and wait for rescue.  There had to be something she could do.  She stood and leaned against the rocky wall.  Refusing to panic would keep her alive and kickin’ one way or the other.

“See if I ever go into another crypt without a flashlight.”

Seconds later she heard a strange noise, something like an exhale, but not quite.  She waited, her hearing zeroing in on the sound lingering in the air.  An echo? She took a shuddering breath.  Keep calm.  The way to make it out of here is to stay tough.  Anything less is foolish. Drawing a cleansing breath, she tried to think about what she could do to get the hell out of there.  Damp, dark, and smelling like earth, the chamber was cold.  Glad for her long parka, gloves and stocking hat, she decided standing would be preferable to lying or sitting on the hard packed earth.

Rather than leaning against the wall, she stood within the circle of pale light streaming down from the hole above.  Clarissa paused, searching her intuition for answers.  While no one in their right mind would like this place, she felt vulnerable here.  As if something or someone watched her from a spot too dark for human eyes to detect.  This place seemed odd, out of sync.

Come on.  It’s just a hole.

A dungeon.

No.  A strange crawling sensation heralded rushing emotions that didn’t belong to her.  A few whispers touched her ears.

Then she felt it.  People had been down here before, searching for someone else, though she couldn’t say how long ago.  With reluctance she allowed her senses to accept and catalog, to discover what resided here in the blackness.  For no one would ever stay here, if they valued sanity.  She didn’t dare close her eyes while experiencing the heavy emotions caressing the edge of her senses.  Like a lead weight negative feelings touched her, starting first with panic, despair and disbelief.

It made sense in the grand scheme of things. Anyone who’d been trapped here for long might know all these thoughts.  She didn’t have to worry about approaching any of these emotions.  Jim wouldn’t leave her down here to die.  Seconds later came a wave of repulsion.  This time she couldn’t say if the feeling came from her or from another soul that had once tread this dark corridor.

No matter what happened, she wouldn’t allow insecurity to take over.  Drawing another breath deep into her lungs, she plotted how to escape this nasty place and pushed away the disturbing feelings.

After she shivered she realized her hands felt cold.  She located her gloves in her coat pockets and slipped into them.

She heard a strange popping noise not that far away from her, and she jerked in surprise and alarm.  The same sound she’d heard in the graveyard last night when—

Ronan stepped out of the blackness, his eyes ablaze with yellow fire.

Her mouth opened, but she couldn’t say a word, her surprise more than profound.  She didn’t have to respond, he moved forward with purpose, his gaze filled with fury.  His unhappy expression made her shrink back against the rock.  Her fanny pack jabbed into her back.

For an unguarded moment she thought he meant to harm her.

“Are you hurt?” When he spoke his voice sounded rough with worry, strained by emotion, taking her by surprise.

Trust took a backseat to fear, though, and when he took another step toward her she inhaled quickly.

“You.”  Her voice warbled and trembling suddenly wracked her body.

His brows creased together.  Faster than a blink he stood directly in front of her.  Shocked by the lightning-quick move, she let out a small cry.

Radiating warmth and tenderness, his eyes held her captive.  He clasped her head gently between his palms.  “You’re hurt.”

“I’m…no, I’m fine.”

“Never mind the headache?”

“How did you know—?”

“Your brow is furrowed.  You’re in pain or frightened.” When she looked up into his eyes and didn’t speak, he continued. “You didn’t panic, Clarissa.”  His voice held a soothing quality laced into liquid seduction.  “Sure, and with all that’s down here, that’s surprising.”

“What’s down here?”

His voice whispered in her head. Darkness.

His lips hadn’t moved, and her fear renewed.  “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.”

Although she knew her brain should be operating at full throttle, she couldn’t quite focus. Instead she sank into those fire-filled eyes and felt alarm return. “But how…how did you know I was here?”

His warm breath touched her forehead as he leaned in close.  “Instinct.”

God, his touch felt so good, his presence engendering security and wild fear.  Her throat felt dry and hoarse.  “What are you doing?”

His fingers gentled, warm and reassuring.  He slipped his fingers over her cheek, then fingertips to jaw.

Close your eyes.

His lips hadn’t moved again, and she wondered at her grip on reality.  She placed her hands over his as his thumbs caressed her skin. “No.”

Close your eyes. His voice echoed in her mind again.

Eyelids growing heavy, she fought to keep them open and couldn’t.  As her eyes shut, she struggled against his relentless influence.

He possessed her.

Took control.

Banished her will.

Ronan eased her against his body, gathering her tenderly against him.

He pressed her head against his shoulder as he whispered in that sensuous, stirring voice. “You are safe.  I won’t allow you to be harmed.  Trust me.”

As his soft plea reached her ears, she relaxed.  She’d never felt this safe in a man’s embrace before. How he’d known she was down here didn’t seem to matter.  Only staying in his arms had any significance.

Slowly the ache in her head retreated, inch by inch.  Seconds later he moved her back a bit so he could look into her eyes.

“Feel better now?” he asked.

“Yes, I’m better.” She looked up at the hole in the crypt above. “How do we get out of here?”

The Irishman did something she didn’t expected.  He winked.  “We fly.”

His grin held megawatts of pure charm.  His eyes sparkled and the effect set her heart racing.

You’re insane. You’re trapped in a subterranean hell hole with a dangerous man and you’re getting all goo-goo eyed over him?

Grateful beyond belief that he stood nearby, she closed the small distance between them.  She placed one gloved hand on his chest. “Thank you.”

An undeniable glow of orange fire punctuated his gaze.  That uncanny glimmer that once frightened but now intrigued. “Thank you for what?”

“For calming me.”

His fingers drifted over her forehead with a strange caress.  His attentive gaze touched her lips.  “If you don’t stop looking at me like that…”

She felt free, dangerous, and willing to do almost anything to keep this strange exhilaration going in her blood. “What?”

He edged nearer until she brushed against him.  Even through her coat and sweater she enjoyed the touch of his body against her breasts.  She made a soft, sharp inhale at the exquisite feeling.

“I know what you want.” His voice filled with unrestrained passion.  Darkly seductive, his tone promised endless delight.  “Now is not the time to fulfill your needs, but later I will give you everything you want.”

Puzzled, she frowned.  “What are you talking about?”

“You’ve thought about our kiss.  What it did to you.”  He brushed his hand over her cheek, cupping her face in warmth.  “You want me inside of you more than you want to breathe.”

She shivered against his warm touch as lightning arousal mixed with embarrassment. Mortified that she’d given away her innermost thoughts and yet astonished he could read her, she muttered, “You’re insane.”

She backed away and the movement made her dizzy.  She swayed and he took her arm again.

Yanking from his grip she said, “Don’t touch me.  I don’t—”

Ronan’s mouth captured hers, a low, almost purring growl coming from his throat.  She shivered as the kiss went supernova.  Without preliminaries he tugged her closer, his arms unbridled steel around her waist and back, his mouth twisting over hers relentlessly.  His tongue took immediate charge, plunging deep and devouring.  As his tongue rasped over hers again and again she moaned into his mouth and responded.  Entering the dance, she forgot where she was and how she came to be there.

She was in the bowels of a crypt, but the man holding her would protect her against evil.  Clarissa knew he would guard her with his soul, his heart and mind.

 

A Little Irish

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Someone asked on Twitter today if anyone had a good Irish novel to read. Ah, yes! St. Patrick’s Day is soon. Well, I do have Irish characters off and on in some of my books. Love From The Ashes is set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, and Irish hero Nathaniel Dempsey is a favorite of mine. Here’s a little excerpt to show you his wit and the society heroine’s sass when the two come together.

**

From the Ashes of Hell itself…

During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire privileged Grace Wyne and Irish immigrant Nathaniel Dempsey desperately try to rescue LOVE FROM THE ASHES.

Grace and Nate seek freedom and a new life in San Francisco but society, her family and forces of Nature, wage war against them.

Nate is torn by the death of his family in Ireland.  Yet he finds Grace’s spirit and strength a balm for his soul. She joins a suffragette organization, but when she encounters scorn and violence, Nate vows to protect her.

She is determined to marry for love, and now is stunned by her feelings for a man far beneath her social status.  There is more than one danger to face–for the earth is unstable and their forbidden love is a sure formula for disaster.

When the earth trembles and breaks apart, only Nature knows who will live to love again… and who will die.

**

Grace stepped out the back door of the kitchen and headed toward the gazebo, drawing in a deep breath of cool sea-scented air. A soothing few minutes in the mild sunshine might revive her. Last night she’d had a horrendous dream where the walls of the mansion tumbled all around her, and the earth bolted and shook.

“Too many tall tales from Mary,” she said out loud.

Mary had explained that California tossed and turned with earthquakes on a regular basis. Although intrigued by quakes, Grace’s dream disturbed her deeply.

Absorbed by her thoughts, she stepped from behind a hedge and onto a dirt path. She almost didn’t hear the honking of the automobile horn until too late.

Startled, she saw the Studebaker kicking up dirt as it roared down the narrow path like a silver bullet bent on destruction. She didn’t have time to think.

With a cry Grace thrust herself backward, tripped over her hem and landed on her back with a thump and a grunt.

At the last moment the driver swerved around her, twisting the steering wheel in a desperate attempt to avoid running over her.

Dozens of tiny rocks dug into her palms, and she took in a gasping breath. She muttered a word no well brought up young lady was supposed to know.

As the driver brought the automobile to an abrupt halt, only inches from her, a fresh onslaught of rocks flew up from the tires and pelted her.

“You little fool,” the man muttered loud enough for her to hear. Standing up in his seat and tearing off his cap and goggles, Nathaniel Dempsey opened the driver’s side door and jumped out.

She pushed herself to her feet, brushing at the back of her dress with angry strokes. As he strode toward her, eating up the ground with his long strides, he looked incensed enough to chew her into tiny pieces and swallow her.  Indignation rose in her throat and stiffened her back. Grace placed her hands on her hips and stared at the oncoming man with disdain.

“Fool?” she asked. “I assume you’re talking about yourself, Mr. Dempsey?”

His expression didn’t change, and when he grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a tiny shake, she gasped. His eyes sparked with anger, his fingers pressing into her arms and the line of his mouth grim.

“Are you daft? I could’ve killed you. Didn’t your father and mother ever tell you to look both ways before you cross the road?” he asked, his tone low with anger.

Trying to keep her voice steady, Grace stared into his eyes. “Of course. But I’d hardly call this a road, Mr. Dempsey. My father asked you to practice in the circular drive, if I am not mistaken. What are you doing driving the Studebaker back here?”

Nate’s fingers tightened on her arms and his lips curled. “Returning the automobile to the carriage house, Miss Wyne.”

Silence expanded between them, and the moment stretched before she regained her equilibrium. She took a deep breath. As she surveyed him in his chauffeur togs, she noted his black hair stuck up in small tufts. She had the urge to arrange each strand back into proper position.

Instead she said, “I suggest you take your hands off me before someone sees us.”

He released her, clenching his hands at his sides.

“Are you hurt?” he asked, his voice a harsh rasp.

Grace touched the hair escaping her pompadour and looked down at the hem of her white lingerie dress. When the automobile had come to a halt it had thrown dirt onto the material. A small strip of delicate lace had torn from the skirt. She thought she could feel a split in her cotton stockings. Substantial damage for such a small fall.

“This is going to take considerable work to launder,” she said matter-of-factly.

His nose twitched. “I wasn’t asking about your dress.”

The sarcasm in his voice told her she’d hit a nerve. She’d never wanted to see a man out of control before, but she liked the tension that rolled off him in waves. To her surprise, seeing him agitated intrigued her. Somewhere between animosity and attraction, she felt his vigor like a flame, ready to explode at any moment.

Before she could answer, he reached out and touched her shoulder. The soft, gentle heat tingled straight through her arm and into the rest of her body.

How extraordinary.

“Are you hurt?” he asked again.

“I am perfectly fine. Though I may have torn my inexpressibles.”

His expression relaxed, and he let out a bark of laughter and dropped his hand away from her shoulder. “Sure, and has anyone ever told you you’re a corker?”

Raising one eyebrow, she asked, “A what?”

“A corker.”

“Is than an insult, Mr. Dempsey?”

“No. It means you’re one of a kind. A humdinger.”

“Oh.” She still didn’t know whether to be offended or not. “Well, I suggest you keep your insults and your praise to yourself.”

Nate’s lips twitched, as if he held back a strong retort. He didn’t hold back long. “I’d take your own advice.”

She knew she was being horrid, but something about this man made her speak without thinking of consequences.. “I could tell my father what happened and have the expense of cleaning the dress taken out of your pay.”

His eyes narrowed and he took a step closer. Much closer. “You wouldn’t.”

“I would.” She smiled. “If I were a nasty bitch.”

His mouth dropped open. “Bitch, Miss Wyne? Did you learn such language at finishing school, then?”

“Of course. Young ladies are rarely as proper as everyone imagines.”

“Most of the ladies I know are very proper.”

“Irish women?”

“Aye.”

“Well, this is America. American ladies are different.”

“Humph. So I’ve seen.” Nate punctuated his statement with a sweeping look over her entire body. He stepped closer again, until only a couple of inches separated them. “You really shouldn’t talk like this with a man, Miss Wyne. They might think you were offering something.”

The husky inflection in his voice and the light in his eyes told Grace she’d hit danger hard and fast. His proximity sent a hot, unexpected, and unfamiliar shock through her body. Heat knotted deep in her belly, and a flush filled her cheeks. Heaven help her. The way he looked at her … she couldn’t describe it. No words for the way he made her feel would come to mind.

What was happening to her?

When they’d first met Grace thought he might be indifferent to her, but his intent perusal shook that theory to the ground. She’d seen similar, less powerful looks in other men’s eyes before. A deep and ignited lust that filled their expressions when they thought no one would notice. Nate’s attention was more powerful. Incandescence simmered like a blue flame in his eyes, expressing something stronger and more promising than anything she’d known. Mesmerized by his interest and the new sensations snaking through her, she didn’t move, didn’t speak.

“Have you ever been kissed, Miss Wyne?” he asked, his voice thick with a throaty nuance she’d never heard a man use.

**

Love From The Ashes is available on Amazon.com in ebook format and at Smashwords.com in ebook format.

 

 

Random Ramblings: Tragedy and Creation

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Hello Friday. Woke up to news that an 8.9 earthquake and huge tsunami had smashed part of Japan. I knew the tsunami would come to other places.

Back in the 90’s my hubby and I lived in Honolulu and went through a tsunami situation after an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands. It started early in the morning, and lucky for me I hadn’t quite left for work yet when the warning sirens went off. I stayed home, but my husband had to go to work at the military installation. We checked the news and there was a warning. It went on from about 6am to 1pm (my memory is faulty on exact time so don’t quote me). It was an eerie situation. As it was, the tsunami was only inches. Very small. Even in that mild aftermath it was tension-filled and scary. The siren went off about every thirty minutes for hours. We also went through a hurricane brushing about three hundred miles south of the Big Island. Major winds at night rattling the military housing. Not fun! Still, in comparison with what the people of Japan have suffered, it was nothing. Nothing at all. My heart goes out to them, my hopes for rescue for many who may be trapped.

I wrote a book almost ten years ago about another devastating earthquake. The book is set right before, during, and after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Ironically I think it was just yesterday they announced the color photographs that were located showing the aftermath. Currently I’m writing a book set during World War I and the influenza epidemic. I’ve often been asked why I’ve written more than one book set during great times of trouble, and all I can say is that it is ripe with creation for story. I can take a tragedy that happened and give some happy ending to it, no matter what it is. But make no mistake, I understand the difference between reality and fiction. I can only hope there will be some happy endings for families in the current situation in Japan. Tragedy is awful in any form, no matter how it comes. All we can do is live each day to the fullest and do what we can for those who need us.

I learned yesterday about another tragedy that befell a good friend of the romance community this week. Her husband was murdered. A senseless thing. So senseless. Fellow romance author Lauren Dane as well as other authors (including myself) will be organizing an auction for the victim’s family. Please stop by Lauren Dane’s blog www.laurendane.com/blog to get details. As soon as we have things more organized, I’ll post details here on how you can participate.

Time to take a deep breath, be thankful and grateful for all that we have. Hang in there, everyone.

 

 

Centurions & Gladiators, Oh My!

Monday, March 7th, 2011

For A Roman's Heart

Okay, admit it. A lot of you like gladiators, Roman soldiers…come on, you know you do. For  your pleasure, I’m posting a scene from FOR A ROMAN’S HEART, my Roman Britain historical romance. Some of you haven’t sampled this book yet. Let’s see…what might tantalize you? Russell Crowe in Gladiator? Kevin McKidd in Rome? If you enjoyed those characters, you might love my Roman Centurion Terentius, the hero. Though he is not officially a gladiator, he does get the opportunity to try out the ring. Get a taste of what happens here.

**

Within a few short minutes the men closed their mock fight and the crowd roared with laughter and cheers. Both men bowed, and then saluted the crowd on all sides of the circle at least six times. More cheers followed.

Capito took his wife’s hand. “I told you they’d be popular.”

“Let us meet them down below.” Capito urged his wife to stand, and Adrenia followed.

Adrenia watched Victor and Terentius head for the exit. She looked away and heard a shout, then a roar from the crowd. A gargantuan man with armor, helmet and sword rushed into the ring. He jammed into Victor and plowed him flat onto his back. Adrenia gasped and covered her mouth. The ugly beast of a man hesitated as Victor lay unmoving on the ground. Terentius went stock still, arms akimbo, feet braced apart, muscles taut. The big gladiator easily stood a head or more taller than Terentius.

“What is happening?” Adrenia asked.

Capito chuckled. “Aha! A surprise for the men.”

She stared in disbelief at the Capito’s ability to laugh at this turn of events.

Longa clasped Adrenia’s arm for what seemed the hundredth time. “It’s quite all right, my dear. Terentius can handle the man.”

Adrenia’s throat contracted as fear she couldn’t control threatened to choke her. Covering her mouth with both her hands, she watched as the huge gladiator lunged at Terentius. Terentius feinted to the right, quicker on his feet than the gladiator. Though the gladiator stumbled, he righted and turned, ready to fight again. A clang sounded as the men’s swords came together. Even the sword the gladiator held was longer than Terentius’s. With armor, larger sword, and superior height—

No. She couldn’t bare it.

The savage fight below sent ice through her veins. Everything inside her coiled in trepidation. Sweat gleamed on both the men, their eyes narrowed and nostrils flared. As she watched Terentius, Adrenia’s stomach lurched and tumbled. Her body trembled, and she wrapped her cloak tighter around her. Capito shouted instructions to Terentius—not that he could hear the man above the shouting, screaming crowd. Adrenia couldn’t stop a few tears from falling, her fear for Terentius so acute she thought she’d be ill.

Terentius grappled, dodged, swift on his feet. As a man he defined poetry in motion, his arms stalwart and rippling with muscle, his legs propelling him without problem over the sandy soil. The gladiator shouted obscenities as he came at Terentius again and again. She wanted to scream as well, anything to vent the horror building inside her. Her pulse fluttered, her heartbeat frantic, her sense of smell acute. Suddenly, with a rapid stabbing movement, Terentius jammed his sword straight through the gladiator’s middle. For what seemed an eternity, the man stayed impaled on the sword, his face frozen in almost comical surprise. Terentius swiftly drew back the sword. The man crumpled at Terentius’s feet. The crowd roared its approval, the cacophony deafening. Adrenia couldn’t join in the cheer as she brushed away tears and relief staggered her.

Terentius didn’t throw his arms up in victory as he had with his mock fight. He threw a hard look at the crowd and crouched over the still prone Victor.

She stood with everyone else, then turned to Capito and Longa. “I have to get away from this crowd. I’ll be outside near the north part of the arena.

“Wait—” Longa said.

“Let her be,” Adrenia heard Capito tell his wife.

Grateful they didn’t come after her, Adrenia made her way through the cheering mob with slow but determined steps. She reached the steps and went down, but it took some time to exit. Contrary to what she’d told Capito and Longa, she didn’t stay put once she reached the north exit. People already filed out, and the jumbled, loud menagerie added to her agitation.

No. There was only one place she wanted to be. To see Terentius. To assure herself he’d faired well and that the gladiator hadn’t harmed him.

Propelled to the opposite side, she worked her way through the thick hoard until she reached the gladiatorial barracks. In the back of her mind, she realized how hasty, how rash this was. Dangerous men dwelled nearby. She didn’t care. The only thing that mattered was seeing Terentius.

She walked through a colonnaded area cut off from the crowds. Directed by pure instinct, she tracked straight toward where she believed Terentius would be.

As she came around one corner, Terentius exited a room and stood at the entrance. He turned toward her and stopped in place. Eyelids at half-mast, lips parted, he looked undeniable, a force as potent as the gods themselves. Elation replaced the gnawing concern she’d experienced since the gladiator had stepped in the arena and challenged this soldier.

Terentius didn’t smile as she expected, but neither did he frown. Droplets of water gleamed on his hair and patterned his shoulders and arms. Without his sword he still projected a lethal force that affected her on every level. A fresh tunic covered his powerful form, the belt around his waist and shoes upon his feet illustrating his soldier existence. He appeared healthy, hearty, and capable of fighting ten more gladiators.

Her heart pumped with excitement, with awareness. Everything that had happened to her over the weeks, the shocking weight of it, all came down to an extraordinary moment. She didn’t feel like the same woman. Terentius stared at her across the expanse, a heightened awareness within his glittering eyes. He stalked toward her, the untamed certainty of a predator in his walk, his features. When he reached her, his lips parted but said nothing. His eyes captured and held hers, and noise from the arena disappeared. She’d never felt this heady, this dizzy with both delight and apprehension.

He towered over her, only inches separating them. She stepped backwards into a shadowy, deep alcove and bumped into cold stone wall.

He took one more step toward her.

Two.

His body touched hers. She reached up and traced the prickle of hair along his jaw line.  Her voice was a thread of sound.  “You’re alive.”

His gaze didn’t soften. Closer, closer, his lips hovered within inches of hers. “Yes.”

Her voice wavered. “I thought you would die.”

“I would only die for you.”

Terentius’s husky confession sealed her fate. From this moment on there would be no other man for her. Were she to lose him to the fates, to the merciless winds of time, no other would find a place within her heart.

Authors Unplugged Radio Show Today with Guest Eileen Dreyer

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Please stop by Blog Talk Radio www.blogtalkradio.com today at 6pm EST to hear our interview on Authors Unplugged with New York Times Best Seller Eileen Dreyer. It’s going to be great!

What A Girl Wants by Selena Robins out in paperback!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

A quick shout out to my good buddy Selena Robins. I’m letting everyone know her fabulous book What A Girl Wants is now available in print at Samhain Publishing www.samhainpublishing.com

Run! Don’t walk! Pick up a copy of this book. You won’t regret it!