Archive for April, 2014

Military Tuesday: Private Maneuvers

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Happy Tuesday! This Tuesday I’m continuing to spike your interest in military characters with the third story in my Hot Zone series, Private Maneuvers. You can find information on Private Manuevers on my webpage with all the links to get your copy!

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Sometimes a woman craves what she shouldn’t want…

Marisa Clyde wants nothing to do with the soldier who is acting as a temporary bouncer in her uncle’s tavern. Stoic and over six feet of smoldering masculinity, the hunk helped rescue her during a tour gone bad in Mexico. During those few short moments after she first met him, the tension between them screamed off the charts. A devastating hurt in the past blocks her willingness to surrender to him. If she can wait him out now, he’ll only be in town a month and then he’s out of her life.

Sometimes a man wants more than a woman is willing to share…

Jake Sullivan watches Marisa like a hawk, well aware his need to protect is messing with his mind and making him care for Marisa way more than he should. Priding himself on clinical detachment in the game between man and woman, he figures once he’s slept with her, she’ll be out of his system for good. But that’s before he experiences her on a deeper level and learns she just might be in danger again.

* *

The second Marisa Clyde saw the soldier she knew he was trouble.

He took Marisa’s hand as she stepped off the old tour bus. Huge fingers and a big palm wrapped her much smaller hand. Her body shivered as warmth flickered in her stomach. In fact, her entire body quaked.

He looked like rescue.

He looked like safety wrapped up in one sexy, strong, powerful package.

She could blame it on the events of the last twenty-four hours. Danger and fear could rattle a person. Or just perhaps, it could be this man and the power he emanated.

Maybe the long, thick lashes framing the onyx eyes staring down into hers influenced her senses to scatter. She was nuts to go completely ga-ga over the man standing in front of her when she refused to find a military man attractive ever again. Maybe she could blame her reaction to him on the heat wavering upward from the washboard surface of the road and the relentless sun beating down. Or perhaps the humidity level coming from the Mexican jungle all around them had steamed her brains. Of course, the fact that her ribs had taken a bit of beating didn’t help. Every time she breathed, a dull ache radiated outward from her left side.

Not what she expected to experience on a vacation, but she’d made it through worse and lived to tell about it.

As her Uncle Dexter back in Clarksville, Wyoming would say, the pucker factor for the last day had escalated way off the charts. She had a right to feel disoriented, hungry, and exhausted. A smear on her glasses irritated her, but she didn’t bother to try and clean it. Face it, a smear was so not that important when she’d just survived what would amount in the news to an international incident.

Her ribs panged, and she winced.

“Are you all right, ma’am?” the soldier asked, his deep voice a husky sound that brushed along her senses like a feather tickling all her erogenous zones.

She couldn’t answer him. Through her tiredness, her hormones registered that he stood around six three or four, his muscular build apparent through the camo wear. He wore no rank or insignia that could identify him.

His military short obsidian hair gleamed with blue highlights under the fierce sun. He topped the charts into unbelievably gorgeous. No. Not exactly. Dark and dangerous, a huge cliché, didn’t explain the unique mix-and-match hardness in his features that added up to one handsome visage. Yet dangerous certainly described his aura, a kick-butt-and-don’t-bother-to-take-names presence. His angular face defied description—his jaw formed a solid frame around his hard mouth. His nose was a smidgen crooked. Those intriguing, mysterious eyes didn’t hide anything. Did he know how his feelings gleamed so starkly in his gaze? Probably not. Right now his eyes narrowed, as if he wanted to read her mind and excavate answers.

When she didn’t answer him, his gaze turned dark, serious and concerned. “Ma’am?”

“Poor dear is a bit shocky,” Ida Hambly said behind her. “She’s had quite an ordeal.”

“I’m fine,” Marisa said. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

“Right. Nothing wrong. You’ve just made it through a bombing, a robbery, and a broken down bus. All in a day’s work for an accountant?” Ida leaned heavily on her cane, and when the soldier saw Ida hesitating on the bottom step of the bus, he released Marisa’s hand and helped the elderly woman down and over to where Marisa stood. “And then the cavalry rides in on white horses and saves our butts. I’d say that’s enough to rattle your sweet young cage.”

Marisa smirked. “Ida, your sense of humor kept me sane.”

That, and maybe Freddie Bodine. Freddie stood clasped in the arms of her boyfriend, another one of the soldiers who’d come to the rescue. Apparently he’d traveled from the U.S. after putting together this team of army men to look for Freddie when the tour bus went missing and didn’t report back to the hotel.

Freddie’s head pressed against her boyfriend’s shoulder, and his hand cupped the back of her head. He touched his lips to the top of Freddie’s head in a tender gesture. He looked drained with relief. What would it feel like to have a man love me that much?

 

Excerpt 2: Double Threat Take Two!

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Hey everyone,

I was out of town for the last part of last week, and I’m trying to get into the swing of things again. 🙂 I’m starting you off with another excerpt of Double Threat (Love Under Fire #3) which is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave. Enjoy!

* *

Book three in the Love Under Fire series.

As a therapist, Lena has worked with damaged vets—and never wants a relationship with one. As a result, her lust at first sight with sexy Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Rick Frasier is off the fulfillment menu, no matter how intriguing she finds him.

Rick has never shied from danger or risk-taking but the overwhelming attraction he feels for Lena sends him into a tailspin. As they escape a gunman intent on mayhem and battle their feelings, they’ll find there’s a firestorm of desire inside them as furious and intense as any threat.

Inside Scoop:  The couples in the Love Under Fire series find love through the crucible of a mall shooting event.

A Romantica® erotic romantic suspense from Ellora’s Cave

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“Oh my God. We fell asleep,” she said.

He glanced at his watch. “Yep. An hour.”

“That’s not the goal with mindfulness meditation.”

“Well, I think we can give ourselves a break. After what we went through I think it’s reasonable.”

She rubbed the back of her neck and sighed. “So…” She swallowed hard. “How did that feel? The meditation, I mean.”

“Amazing. I think I might be able to do it.”

“Really?” Skepticism colored her voice. “After one session?”

“Well…I always admit when I’m wrong.” He leaned closer, a mischievous smile on his lips. “I can always learn something new. Maybe even to be on time.”

She couldn’t resist his smile this time, and the glow spreading through her burned to a new high when he drifted closer to her.

He blew her away. “Really? You aren’t pulling my chain?”

“Would I do that?”

“I think you would.”

One side of his mouth quirked up in a smile but just as fast it dropped away. “Yeah. On some days. But not this minute. Not right now. What we went through tonight…” He shook his head. “It was deep. As deep as it gets.”

“We weren’t in the thick of it like the others. No one shot at us.”

He shook his head. “Damn, you never give yourself credit, do you?”

“What do you mean?”

His eyes went soft…soft as she’d ever seen them today. “You’re a damned strong woman and I admire that. But you don’t have to pretend. You’re safe with me, Lena. I’m not going to laugh and point. I won’t think less of you if you show who you are. What you’re thinking right now. What you need.”

“What I need? I’m not even sure what I need.” God she hated admitting that.

As if he’d read her mind he said, “Talk. What did you feel when you heard the gunshots?”

Could she tell him without breaking down? Could she trust him to listen without judgment?

“Fear. Of course,” she said, dragging her gaze from his intense eyes and staring past his left ear at a spot on the wall. Her thoughts crawled inward as sensations and memories from those minutes revived.

“And?” he said.

Her gaze fell on his thigh, encased in denim. She wanted to be like that thigh. Strong. “There were a few seconds, probably after I realized what I was hearing…I thought I was going to die. That was it and I’d be dead soon. I couldn’t tell which direction the sounds came from. I felt frozen.”

“But you weren’t frozen and you took action. That’s good. What else?”

She swallowed hard. “We realized…the rest of the people in the group and I…we couldn’t get out the back door.” She shook her head then cupped her hands behind her neck. “I can’t believe that guy actually chained all those doors and no one saw him. No one stopped him.”

“Yeah.” His voice went rough-edged. “Some heads are gonna roll in security.”

“And I can’t believe that creep was willing to harm people because he couldn’t get a damned job with security!” The words came out sharp and angry and she put her hand over her mouth.

He took her hand and folded it in both of his. “It’s okay to be mad. Let it out.”

She made a small, half-amused snort. “God, I can’t believe this. I’m the freakin’ therapist, not you. I’m the one who should be analyzing you.”

“I’ve been in some life-threatening situations before. How many have you encountered?”

“Zero until now.”

“Let me guess… If you have a problem you don’t ever talk to anyone about it. Because you’d have to admit you’re not perfect.”

His fingers caressed hers and the sensation shot tingles through her palm. Hot, sensual. She would have pulled her hand away but the arousal curling through her stomach demanded more. “Rarely.”

“Damn shame.” He looked sad, as if someone had told him grave news. “How did you get to your age without imploding?”

She quirked one eyebrow, amused. “My age? How old do you think I am?”

“Thirty-five.”

Her mouth opened but nothing came out for a second. “How did you know that?”

“Think about it. We didn’t exactly grow up together but we knew of each other. I knew what grade you were in.”

She hadn’t thought of that. “Of course. And you’re twenty-nine.”

“Don’t say it like I’m the youngest baby in the woods.”

“Maybe not in the woods but in this room right now you are.”

He didn’t release her hand but his eyes narrowed a little. “Wait a minute. You’re freaked because you’re in your house alone with me and you’re a few years older. Like you might lose control and rob the cradle or something.”

She made a little sound in her throat because she was sort of surprised at his audacity. “You’re so sure I want to jump your bones.”

“I don’t mince words, Lena. I think we’ve got a connection and I don’t see anything wrong with pursuing it.”

She hesitated, unsure she knew what he meant and feeling vulnerable enough to be afraid to ask. She did anyway. “As in a dating situation?”

“As in a getting-to-know-each-other situation.”

“We don’t have enough time to get to know each other. We’ve got until when… Sunday you leave, right?”

“Yep.”

“What can we really learn about each other in that short amount of time?”

He smiled. “I’ve already learned a hell of a lot about you just today. Things that make me want to know more. And yeah, if it feels right and it happens, I want to make love to you.”

Her mouth dropped open. Men always insinuated, they always tried kissing her first. His eyes held warmth, intense interest, and the warm fluttering sensations in her body told her she wanted the same thing. His hands still caressed hers and the tingles going through her body raced over her nerve endings and made her want to sing with pleasure. Damn, this man knew how to touch a woman.

Defenses made her say, “You’re really something.”

“Yeah? What am I exactly?”

She closed her eyes and made that sound again, feeling at once inadequate and totally understood. How was that possible?

“Admit it, counselor. You feel off your game after all this happened,” he said.

Not exactly. Well, yes. “A little. I mean…”

“What?”

He wasn’t letting her off the damn hook. “Why is it important that I hash over what happened to us at the mall. Now? Tonight?”

“It’s been my experience in the Coast Guard that if a person lets their fears fester inside, their feelings, it boils up. It becomes a sore that bleeds and drains and never stops irritating. It’s an itch you can’t scratch. It mutates until the only thing left is the fear. It becomes something you don’t understand anymore and can’t put a label on it. You’re outmaneuvered and outgunned.”

“Are you happy now?” she asked, tugging her hand from his grip. “I’m bleeding all over the carpet. Are you sure you’re not the counselor? What’s your degree?”

“Life. I don’t have a bachelor’s degree yet. I’ve been thinking about some options, though. Maybe psychology.”

“You’d be good at it.”

“Thanks for the endorsement. Now don’t try to deflect. You didn’t finish telling me your experience at the mall. What else did you feel?”

“Nothing else…” Had she? She closed her eyes again. “Gratitude. Gratitude that I was alive. Glad you were there to help me.”

“I’m glad I was there too.” His voice rumbled softly, low and sincere.

When her eyes opened he sat too close but not close enough. His masculine scent was potent musk and man, a mystery and an aphrodisiac.

“You don’t have to hide anything from me,” he said.

She drew in a slow, deep breath and allowed his wisdom to wrap her securely. Warmth swept over her, a vulnerability she couldn’t ignore as badly as she wanted to pretend it didn’t exist. This wave of need was raw, alive–and as real as it ever got. Turmoil erupted inside her, along with an aching urgency to bury her fear somewhere it couldn’t nibble at her, where no one could see her as anything less than strong.

His eyes didn’t deceive her. Gone was all teasing. Understanding and a willingness to take her seriously became clear in his eyes. “What are you thinking?”

“That you’ve turned things on their head, Frasier. You’ve given me too much to think about in a short time.”

He didn’t shift back, his attention still solidly on her, wrapping her in a warm cocoon of understanding she hadn’t expected at any level.

His eyes went hot and he leaned in closer. She couldn’t mistake what he meant to do, what he wanted to do.

“Maybe we should stop thinking,” he said. “Tell me to kiss you, or ask me to leave.”

 

 

Military Tuesday: Unconditional Surrender

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Hey all! Today is military Tuesday, and I’m introducing you to the second story in the Hot Zone series at Samhain Publishing. For more information on this story, please be sure to check it out on my website. 🙂

UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER

(Hot Zone book 2)

She’s archaeology, he’s Special Ops, and both of them teeter on the edge of stepping into the HOT ZONE.

She wants the adventure of a lifetime and isn’t willing to sacrifice it for any man…

Archaeologist Fredricka “Freddie” Bodine returns to her hometown for her twentieth high school reunion, unaware that her old crush, Keith Wallace, has blown back into town. A single memory is etched deeply on her brain—the high school prom where she shared an emotionally revealing dance with him. They’d both left town after graduation, feelings unresolved and teen angst firmly in place.

All he wants is to keep the girl he loved and lost safe, even if she hates him for it…

Keith doesn’t want her to travel to Los Diablos, an area near ancient ruins where his sister was killed years ago. As they grapple with family pressures and the exploding passion between them, their battle of wills may just lead them to the truth living in both their hearts.

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“Freddie?”

She almost came out of her skin. She whirled to the left. Standing at the very end of the aisle, Keith Wallace stared at her with a furrowed brow.

“Oh—um, hi.” Her voice cracked and she cleared her throat. “I didn’t know you were here. Or even in town.”

“I didn’t know you were in town.” His voice, deep and overlaid with a sexy huskiness, had always melted her insides like the most delicious combination of peanut butter and chocolate and stirred feelings she didn’t want to have.

As he sauntered toward her, she sighed. The gods could not be so cruel. Or maybe they could. The changes in him had only increased his attractiveness. Boy, oh boy, howdy, he’d matured like a fine Merlot, rich with nuances that made her mouth go dry and her heart do a silly two-step. At thirty-eight he defined disgustingly gorgeous man with a capital G.

When she’d left this town twenty years ago, she’d never considered that he’d still have this effect on her. She recalled his attractiveness at eighteen, mature for his age, brooding and intense. At eighteen she’d wanted to date happy-go-lucky guys with uncomplicated backgrounds. Sure couldn’t say that about Keith. Still, nature had matured his physique in all the right ways.

At six feet and probably two inches, he made her five feet five inches feel small. The navy blue T-shirt stretched over his broad chest and wide shoulders. Muscles rippled in his biceps and forearms. Jeans defined his hips and muscular thighs and made his legs look miles longer. His work boots looked well used and scuffed. Always rugged, his face had matured into angles and planes that screamed danger and forbidden sensuality. His mahogany hair wasn’t the tousled boy anymore, but clipped military short. Without strands flopping over his face, nothing hid the thoroughly masculine lines that screamed the proverbial dark and dangerous.

Her heart did a flop, a flip, and started thumping away so hard she felt the pulse in her ears. Okay. So that reaction hadn’t changed in twenty years either.

When Keith hovered over her, staring down with those dark chocolate eyes, his frown showed genuine concern.

“What brings you here?” she asked.

“Came to pick up a book for my mom. Ernestine said you were here.” He crossed his arms, and then nodded at her huge book. “I heard you cursing. What’s wrong?”

Embarrassment heated her face. “It’s nothing significant.”

He came closer. “Oh yeah?” His lips quirked, and rare humor danced in his eyes. He glanced at the book lying open on the desk. “Sure it’s nothing?”

Freddie frowned. “I never was good at lying to you. This is—was—my favorite book in the library.”

“Was?”

“I used to check it out every once in a while when I was a kid.”

He moved nearer yet, leaning his hand on the side panel of the desk to look at the book. “A ripped page?”

She closed the book cover so he could see the photo on the front. “Archaeological sites in Mexico. Tikal. Or what my archaeology professor at Western used to say, Chicken Itza.”

He laughed, the low, rumbling sound sending vibrations through her stomach. She clenched her legs together in reaction. Holy, holy crap. A hot pulsing gathered in her loins. Talk about a record time to get turned on. Her mouth watered as her gaze traveled quickly over his chest.

“I’m sorry some asshole wrecked your favorite book. Why don’t you buy a copy for yourself and keep it so you can look at it any time you want?” he asked.

She sighed and opened the book again. “You always were a practical kind of guy, Keith. But I liked the ritual of coming into this quiet library occasionally and flipping through the pages undisturbed. Besides, the book is now out of print.”

He nodded, that slow grin creeping over his mouth again. “I get it. With your brothers and sisters running around that old house, I can see why you used come here for peace.”

Memories of twenty years ago flooded her mind, some of them good, some of them not so good. She swallowed hard as the impact hit her. She looked down at his boots.

“What brings you to town?” he asked.

“For the twentieth class reunion. Twenty years. Can you believe it? How about you?”

“Visiting the ranch.”

She couldn’t help smiling at him again. “When I arrived the other day, I wondered if you ever came back to town.”

He shrugged. “I don’t very often. Been too busy.”

She’d heard rumors, but didn’t want to blurt out what. Small towns really were chock full of bullshit sometimes. “Doing what?”

“I’m in the military.”

She nodded. “I heard the Army.”

“Yep.”

Oh, yeah. There it was. He had that brooding, intense look she’d never forgotten. Now that he’d reached thirty-eight years old, the gloominess appeared far more serious than it had before. Gloomy, hard, and oh so sexy.

“So you had time off?” she asked.

“My unit was sent back from an overseas deployment two weeks ago. I had some leave coming and decided to get away. While overseas I managed to get hurt, and since I have thirty days I need to use or lose, Mom and Dad asked me to come out to Clarksville.”

Concern twisted her stomach, and her gaze cruised over him quickly. “What happened? I mean, how were you hurt?”

A disturbance flickered in his eyes. “A bullet. It hit me in the left thigh.”

“Oh God, Keith.” Worry braided through her midsection and made her stomach muscles clench. She stood automatically, and squeezed his shoulder. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Thanks.” He winked, and his mouth turned up in a teasing grin. “It’s just a flesh wound.”

She returned his smile, not wanting to think about him more seriously hurt.

“Our unit will probably go back in six months.”

“Damn,” she said softly.

He didn’t react to her quiet statement, and when his eyes shuttered, she knew she’d lost the lightness of their earlier conversation. A heaviness wrapped around her she couldn’t deny.

“You’re still an archaeologist?” he asked.

“Yep. Got my Ph.D. and I’m working at Western College starting this fall.”

His eyebrows winged up. “You chose to come back to this town? When you left I thought you said you were never coming back permanently.”

She nodded. “Yeah, but what you say when you’re eighteen doesn’t always stick, does it?”

“No. No it doesn’t.”

Was he remembering that last dance they had? The one she’d cherished all these years? Her face heated with the memory. God, she didn’t know if she wanted Keith to remember. The evening hadn’t ended quite so well as that slow, sensual turn about the floor she replayed in her fantasies on lonely evenings when it rained. Rained just like it had at the town hall dance on prom night.

“Are you going to the class reunion?” She tried not to sound hopeful. “It should be fun.”

He snorted. “Right.”

She threw him a dirty look. “Come on. Here’s our chance to show off to those cheerleaders and football players that we made something of ourselves. And I hear cheerleaders and football players have a tendency to get fat and lose their hair after high school.”

His grin widened. “You don’t really care about that, do you? Half the time I can’t remember any those putzs’ names.”

“Of course I don’t care that much. But don’t tell me you aren’t like everybody else and don’t wonder occasionally what happened to those people. And it’s nice to relate to some of them on a mature level instead of teenage hormonal imbalance.”

“You’re assuming some of them don’t still have a hormone imbalance.”

“Hmm, well… It’s good to have the proof, even if it’s just for one selfish second, that you did make it in the world even though you weren’t the most popular guy on the block.”

His brow furrowed. “That’s for sure.”

“I didn’t mean to insinuate…”

“It’s okay. I wasn’t popular. It’s no big deal.”

“Come on. You didn’t feel that natural twinge every teen does when they aren’t popular?”

He gazed at the floor, his eyes shuttered. “Not really.”

“Well, I was so glad to escape high school I couldn’t see straight,” she said. “I wasn’t popular either.”

Keith shook his head. “Can’t understand why not. You were so pretty.”

Her mouth did fall open then, and she wondered if the shock would kill her. She managed to find her voice…just barely. “Um…thank you. That’s sweet of you to say. I don’t know how braces, unruly as hell hair, and poor fashion sense made me pretty,
but—”

“I saw you.” His gaze cruised over her now, warm and searching and way too intimate. She felt his attention like a sensual caress. Admiration burned in his eyes. “Just because you couldn’t afford all the trendy crap the cheerleaders were wearing doesn’t mean you weren’t pretty.” Once more his attention glided from her hair, over her face, and then with unrepentant precision straight over her breasts and back up again. His voice, when he spoke, was low and husky. “And now you’re beautiful.”

 

Cover Reveal: Meet Me At The Castle

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Behold what came in my mailbox today! The final rendition of the cover for Meet Me At The Castle, a historical/paranormal novella which releases May 12. I’ll have the blurb for you tomorrow or Monday but in the meantime enjoy this lush cover and dream away!

 

Meet Me At The Castle Release Date May 12

Meet Me At The Castle
Release Date May 12

Gorgeous Covers Day!

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Okay, this is the blog authors put up when they are lazy! I’m feeling Friday lazy. Many of you have already seen some of my gorgeous covers, but there are some covers that I just absolutely think are wonderful and I thought today I’d share just a few. Enjoy.

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 One of my all time favorite covers ever belongs to my Roman Britain historical romance, For A Roman’s Heart.

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A stunning more “traditional” looking historical romance cover for Before The Dawn.

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Another delicious cover for my 1906 historical Love From The Ashes.

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Dark, Deadly Love has the proper scary feel for a historical set during the 1888 Jack The Ripper murders!

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Many ladies really like this cover from Major Pleasure!

Those are just a fraction of my covers, but some of the big stand outs for me in conveying the tone of the book and also having visually stunning work.

With that I bid you a happy day and talk to you again soon. 🙂

 

Military Tuesday: Male Call

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Howdy all,

I’ve decided that if I can keep it up for a few weeks I’m going to regale you with some excerpts from all my stories featuring military characters. Every Tuesday there will be a new excerpt. Some excerpts will be juicy, some downright naughty. Some will be sexy but not explicit. Others will feature different aspects of the story. So I hope you’ll enjoy coming back here every Tuesday! What’s on the menu today? The first story in my Hot Zone series called Male Call. Male Call is contemporary erotic romance. Another warning…this story features people writing paper letters rather than email. The novella was published in 2007 but even then email would have been the way most people would communicate in the situation in this story. Why did I have them write using good old fashioned letters? I wanted to. Beware, this is a very, very spicy excerpt. You’ve been warned!

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Her sexy letters are his only lifeline in his dangerous world…

Successful computer software engineer Eve Carmichael melts under yet another hotter than hot letter written by Reserve army soldier Sean O’Callahan. Yet Eve can’t take the thought of his life in danger overseas, and she resolves to get a sex life—and a life period. That means forgetting Sean before anything bad can happen to him. To celebrate her thirty-fifth birthday, Eve plans a trip to Male Call, a male review club. Still, she worries about Sean. She hasn’t received a letter from him in too many weeks. And oh, how she longs for those flirtatious, hot letters. Sean finds Eve’s letters to be the only lifeline in his increasingly chaotic world. As their feelings grow hot and heavy, he can’t wait to return home and kindle that pure firepower. When Eve receives a letter from Sean saying he’s been wounded, her fears are realized. But fate and a little mischievous planning by her friends will serve up the greatest surprise of all.

* *

Sean,

Glad I could float your boat. You’ve paid me a great compliment. I doubt any man before you has had that reaction to my photograph. What did you do with all that pent up sexual need after you saw my photo? I wish I had a photograph of you. Something in uniform and macho, if you please. Anyway, I had a dream last night, and I’m blushing right now as I recall it. I was lying on this silky white king-sized bed. Lying on it utterly naked. Okay, I wasn’t totally naked. All I had on was this skimpy red bra and tiny thong panties. A filmy purple and red gauze material draped over the four-poster bed. But the ceiling above the bed is mirrored. The beautiful room is Victorian, with dark wood and green velvet. There is soft flower scents, rose and maybe lavender. Some parts of the dream were beyond hazy, as all dreams are. This one felt special. Anyway, I’m off track. That black dress lay on the foot of the bed. I should have been cold, but the room felt comfortable on my bare skin. I was really excited and frankly, horny as hell. Okay, I’ll admit it. I knew you were coming to see me. How I knew that, I don’t know. Then the bedroom door opened, and you stood there. Naked. Honestly, since I don’t know what you look like naked…oh, wow, I can’t believe I’ve told you about this dream. I’d better quit now before I say something ultra incriminating and you decide to stop writing me.

Hugs,

Eve

 

She sighed, still somewhat embarrassed by the letter. Then she remembered she hadn’t phoned Male Call.

She’d promised to make reservations and something held her back. Maybe she should find it exciting to watch male strippers dance half naked for her, but the only thing her imagination could conjure was a half-clad Sean performing an erotic two-step. She slipped off her athletic shoes and stretched out on the bed so she could enjoy reading his letters. Suddenly, she felt way too warm. She unbuttoned her shirt slowly and unfastened and unzipped her low-rise jeans. Ah, that’s better.

 

Eve,

You’re killin’ me here. I’ve enclosed the picture you wanted, though I got the razzing of my life when two of the guys found out why I wanted them to take it.

 

His photo fell from the envelope onto her lap, and she quickly retrieved it. Oh, oh, man. When Eve had seen the photograph for the first time, it had floored her. Stunned her. Turned her on like no other picture of a man she’d seen before. She’d seen plenty of attractive men in her life, and she’d always thought Sean could be cute in a nerdy way. This picture blew away her conceptions about Sean belonging to geek city.

Decked out in desert battle dress uniform pants and boots, but without a shirt, he held an automatic weapon in front of his chest in a rough and ready pose. The grin on his face was cocky but charming. His espresso eyes held an intense, badass gaze. His military short, silvery blond hair defined his high cheekbones and made his perfectly cut jaw more prominent. And oh, his chest and arms. Sean owned well-muscled arms and a gorgeous chest sprinkled with dark blond hair that trailed down over his six-pack stomach and into his waistband. Oh, my, my. He was delicious, but in a rough, sharply angled way that shouldn’t have turned her on like this. Most women at the office talked behind his back about his tousled messy hair and too-big shirts. Maybe those too large shirts had been hiding this kick ass physique all this time.

He looked dangerous.

Seriously hot.

If the office ladies could see him now…if they even knew what fantastic shape he was in—that his body was this fabulous…

She groaned and jealousy flashed through her. Oh, man. She had it bad.

Even now this photo created a desire that filled her blood with instant sexual attraction. His letters had turned her low-grade intrigue into full-on heat. Her mouth watered. She tore her gaze from the photo with difficulty and returned to the letter.

 

Now that you’ve seen my ugly mug, I hope you’re satisfied. You asked me what else is happening. Hell, there’s a whole lot I can’t tell you and you don’t want to know. We reached Baghdad, and things are dicey. That’s about all I can say.

Let’s not talk about this crazy place, okay? You know that dream you told me about, the one where you’re lying on the bed naked? Sounds fantastic. Want me to add to the dream?

 

 

Double Threat is out!

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Today is the release of Double Threat, the third novella in my Love Under Fire Trilogy. Love Under Fire is contemporary romance with military characters. It starts off with a heavy duty suspense element. Right now you can get your copy of Double Threat at Ellora’s Cave here. It’s on Amazon here and Barnes and Noble here.

I’ll update people here on the blog, Facebook and Twitter as any new buy links become available. Here’s an excerpt and I hope you enjoy it!

doublethreatt_msr

Book three in the Love Under Fire series.

As a therapist, Lena has worked with damaged vets—and never wants a relationship with one. As a result, her lust at first sight with sexy Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Rick Frasier is off the fulfillment menu, no matter how intriguing she finds him.

Rick has never shied from danger or risk-taking but the overwhelming attraction he feels for Lena sends him into a tailspin. As they escape a gunman intent on mayhem and battle their feelings, they’ll find there’s a firestorm of desire inside them as furious and intense as any threat.

* * *

“Lena. Hey, darlin’,” Rick’s deep voice rumbled in her ear. “Are you are hurt?”

Rick’s big hands still cradled Lena close but she didn’t know where she was. Didn’t want to know. She drew in one strangled breath and then another as shame threatened to mix with her panic. In the distance, she heard sirens approaching. Good. Good. The cavalry was coming.

She kept her face buried against his shoulder, her arms tight around his neck and did the only thing she could think of. She cursed. “Shit. Shit.”

He grunted, the sound half amusement. “You got that right. It’s okay. We’re at my truck now. We’re not anywhere near the shooter. Can you stand? As much as I like holding you I need to sit you down and see if you’re all right.”

Her arms tightened. “I can’t.”

“You can’t stand? Where are you hurt?”

She drew in one deep breath after another. Her ribs throbbed and her ankle ached but she told a white lie. “No I’m…I’m not hurt. I just panicked. I’m having a damned panic attack.”

“Okay.” His voice was soothing and strong. “It’s all right. You’re safe now.” His arms tightened. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”

The sincerity of his words cut through her fear. No man had ever reassured her in this way before—certainly never held her this close and promised to keep her from harm.

She tried to bring her mind out of its riot, away from the jagged, sharp feelings produced by the absolute and irrational belief she was about to die. She damn well knew better than to believe the crap her mind was telling her. She could control this. She could. One deep breath and then another eased her tension. Shame finally won out and the shivering fear that still quaked through her limbs started to lessen. Heat returned to her body, as did the realization that a man’s very ripped, totally hot body held her close. Oh yeah. She could feel every inch of his amazing hard muscles against her. She eased her face from hiding and glanced around. Dozens of people stood nearby, including the patrons who had left her on the floor.

Police already swarmed the area, pushing back the crowd starting to gather. A S.W.A.T. van rumbled up to a staging area closer to the action. Rick’s truck was fairly far from the entrance, under a light pole. Night approached, and that would make the events in the mall that much harder to work with. She thought of a former S.W.A.T. team member and the PTSD that had all but crippled him after he’d accidentally shot an innocent boy in a dark alley. Darkness made all of this so much more difficult.

People from the gift shop clustered in a gaggle beyond speaking distance, and that was all right with Lena. After they’d left her lying on the floor she didn’t have the most respect for them right now. Give her a little time and it would be easy for her to remember they’d feared for their lives and that people didn’t always react the way they expected when utter fear gripped them. For a vulnerable moment she became self-conscious about the panic that had overtaken her earlier. She’d never reacted like that before—it wasn’t like her.

“You can put me down now,” she said in defensive reaction.

He released her legs and she slid down his body. He kept one arm around her waist, as if he was afraid she’d fall on her face. When her right ankle took weight, it throbbed. She drew in a breath of discomfort.

“What’s wrong?” he asked gruffly.

She glanced up and met his serious gaze. “When I fell I twisted my ankle. But it’s no big deal.”

His frown deepened as he looked over her head into the distance, his glare so hard he looked like he could easily eat nails for breakfast. “You were pushed down by that scumbag over there. The one in the blue sweater. I’d like to break his face.”

Startled at the vehemence of his vow, she noted the group from the store. Said Blue Sweater Dude was the one who’d questioned her wanting to leave through the front door of the shop.

“He thought I was nuts for wanting to leave the store. We couldn’t get out of the back door,” she said. “It just wouldn’t open.”

His arm tightened around her waist. “Most of the doors are chained from the outside.”

A chill ran over her body. “Oh crap. What the hell is going on? Who is shooting?”

“Wish I knew. Why don’t you sit in my truck and get out of the cold? Take the weight off your ankle. Does it hurt a lot?”

“Not really. Just throbs.”

His grim expression didn’t change. “Could still be broken. The S.W.A.T. team should have a medic and ambulances should be on the way.”

He released her and unlocked his big truck.

She latched on to his coat sleeve. “No. They’ll have enough to worry about. I’ll get it looked at later. Maybe.”

His mouth tightened but he didn’t argue. “I’ll look at it.”

“You’re qualified?”

“I’m a rescue swimmer but I know a thing or two… I’m also EMT qualified. If it’s broken you need to get to the hospital ASAP.”

“Hospital?” She shook her head. “I’m not leaving here while my friends are in that mall enduring God knows what.”

“They’ll be all right.”

His infuriating calmness pricked her. “How can you be so calm when your brothers are in there?”

“I’m worried about them but their combat training will help and they’ll do everything they can to protect Melanie and Kathleen. I promise you that.”

The conviction in his voice and eyes told the truth. She knew it in her gut. “I know they will… God, I hope they’re all right.”

He cupped her face and his big palm cradled her tenderly. Heat shot through her at the unexpected and tender caress.

“Trust me,” he said softly, that deep voice filled with raw confidence.

 

Excerpt: Double Threat is out April 11!

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful day. Double Threat comes out April 11 and I wanted to give you an excerpt to tantalize you. 🙂 Hope you enjoy it.

doublethreatt_msr

Book three in the Love Under Fire series.

As a therapist, Lena has worked with damaged vets—and never wants a relationship with one. As a result, her lust at first sight with sexy Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Rick Frasier is off the fulfillment menu, no matter how intriguing she finds him.

Rick has never shied from danger or risk-taking but the overwhelming attraction he feels for Lena sends him into a tailspin. As they escape a gunman intent on mayhem and battle their feelings, they’ll find there’s a firestorm of desire inside them as furious and intense as any threat.

* *

“Lena. Hey, darlin’,” Rick’s deep voice rumbled in her ear. “Are you are hurt?”

Rick’s big hands still cradled Lena close but she didn’t know where she was. Didn’t want to know. She drew in one strangled breath and then another as shame threatened to mix with her panic. In the distance, she heard sirens approaching. Good. Good. The cavalry was coming.

She kept her face buried against his shoulder, her arms tight around his neck and did the only thing she could think of. She cursed. “Shit. Shit.”

He grunted, the sound half amusement. “You got that right. It’s okay. We’re at my truck now. We’re not anywhere near the shooter. Can you stand? As much as I like holding you I need to sit you down and see if you’re all right.”

Her arms tightened. “I can’t.”

“You can’t stand? Where are you hurt?”

She drew in one deep breath after another. Her ribs throbbed and her ankle ached but she told a white lie. “No I’m…I’m not hurt. I just panicked. I’m having a damned panic attack.”

“Okay.” His voice was soothing and strong. “It’s all right. You’re safe now.” His arms tightened. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”

The sincerity of his words cut through her fear. No man had ever reassured her in this way before—certainly never held her this close and promised to keep her from harm.

She tried to bring her mind out of its riot, away from the jagged, sharp feelings produced by the absolute and irrational belief she was about to die. She damn well knew better than to believe the crap her mind was telling her. She could control this. She could. One deep breath and then another eased her tension. Shame finally won out and the shivering fear that still quaked through her limbs started to lessen. Heat returned to her body, as did the realization that a man’s very ripped, totally hot body held her close. Oh yeah. She could feel every inch of his amazing hard muscles against her. She eased her face from hiding and glanced around. Dozens of people stood nearby, including the patrons who had left her on the floor.

Police already swarmed the area, pushing back the crowd starting to gather. A S.W.A.T. van rumbled up to a staging area closer to the action. Rick’s truck was fairly far from the entrance, under a light pole. Night approached, and that would make the events in the mall that much harder to work with. She thought of a former S.W.A.T. team member and the PTSD that had all but crippled him after he’d accidentally shot an innocent boy in a dark alley. Darkness made all of this so much more difficult.

People from the gift shop clustered in a gaggle beyond speaking distance, and that was all right with Lena. After they’d left her lying on the floor she didn’t have the most respect for them right now. Give her a little time and it would be easy for her to remember they’d feared for their lives and that people didn’t always react the way they expected when utter fear gripped them. For a vulnerable moment she became self-conscious about the panic that had overtaken her earlier. She’d never reacted like that before—it wasn’t like her.

“You can put me down now,” she said in defensive reaction.

He released her legs and she slid down his body. He kept one arm around her waist, as if he was afraid she’d fall on her face. When her right ankle took weight, it throbbed. She drew in a breath of discomfort.

“What’s wrong?” he asked gruffly.

She glanced up and met his serious gaze. “When I fell I twisted my ankle. But it’s no big deal.”

His frown deepened as he looked over her head into the distance, his glare so hard he looked like he could easily eat nails for breakfast. “You were pushed down by that scumbag over there. The one in the blue sweater. I’d like to break his face.”

Startled at the vehemence of his vow, she noted the group from the store. Said Blue Sweater Dude was the one who’d questioned her wanting to leave through the front door of the shop.

“He thought I was nuts for wanting to leave the store. We couldn’t get out of the back door,” she said. “It just wouldn’t open.”

His arm tightened around her waist. “Most of the doors are chained from the outside.”

A chill ran over her body. “Oh crap. What the hell is going on? Who is shooting?”

“Wish I knew. Why don’t you sit in my truck and get out of the cold? Take the weight off your ankle. Does it hurt a lot?”

“Not really. Just throbs.”

His grim expression didn’t change. “Could still be broken. The S.W.A.T. team should have a medic and ambulances should be on the way.”

He released her and unlocked his big truck.

She latched on to his coat sleeve. “No. They’ll have enough to worry about. I’ll get it looked at later. Maybe.”

His mouth tightened but he didn’t argue. “I’ll look at it.”

“You’re qualified?”

“I’m a rescue swimmer but I know a thing or two… I’m also EMT qualified. If it’s broken you need to get to the hospital ASAP.”

“Hospital?” She shook her head. “I’m not leaving here while my friends are in that mall enduring God knows what.”

“They’ll be all right.”

His infuriating calmness pricked her. “How can you be so calm when your brothers are in there?”

“I’m worried about them but their combat training will help and they’ll do everything they can to protect Melanie and Kathleen. I promise you that.”

The conviction in his voice and eyes told the truth. She knew it in her gut. “I know they will… God, I hope they’re all right.”

He cupped her face and his big palm cradled her tenderly. Heat shot through her at the unexpected and tender caress.

“Trust me,” he said softly, that deep voice filled with raw confidence.

 

 

 

Writers & The Crazy Idea

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Every writer has those moments where we want to throw up our hands and scream. Very few writers never have this experience. I know I have. The trick is in understanding how to navigate around the resistance we have to creating. This is a huge topic! Several writers have covered writer’s block and other forms of resistance to creating. One author who has a slew of good advice is Steven Pressfield. Steven’s book The War of Art is one of my favorite books on the topic. Steven also wrote a book called Do The Work. Recently I was reading this book again and came across some particularly great parts of the book.

“When an idea pops into our head and we think, “No, this is too crazy.” That’s the idea we want. When we think, “This notion is completely off the wall…should I even take the time to work on this?” The answer is yes. Never doubt the soup. Never say no. The answer is always yes.”

In the romance writing industry there are a lot of authors, probably a majority, who reject the idea above. But I believe in it wholeheartedly. 🙂 Whatever the idea is, there’s a really good chance it has tremendous merit and it’s firing you up to create some great stuff! Don’t ignore the muse!

With that tiny piece of advice, I’m off to be a slug. Maybe if I don’t fall asleep, I’ll write some today.

True Crime & Fiction Author Diane Fanning & Criminal Minds

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Please give a warm welcome to true crime author and fiction novelist Diane Fanning! I had the honor of hearing Diane speak about some of her true crime work recently on Darkness Radio and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Diane is the author of 21 published books: 12 true crime, 8 novels and 1 anthology.  In addition to Chain Reaction, she has two more books releasing in 2014: Scandal in the Secret City, a World War II mystery, and Under Cover of the Night, about the murder of Jocelyn Earnest. Diane has been seen on 48 Hours, 20/20, The Today Show and a wide array on programs on Biography, E!, Oxygen and Investigation Discovery.  Diane lives in Bedford, Virginia, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

ChainReactionCover (2)

A novel is born in many different ways—by character, by setting, by plot by whatever inspires the author.  Something just bites our instincts and holds on for dear life.  With the Lieutenant Lucinda Pierce series, the first thing that came to me was the character.  I wanted a strong woman who bore internal scars.  While I was thinking about her, I ran across a blog about facial disfigurement.  One of the complaints I found was that in television dramas and novels, the person with the damaged face was almost always a bad guy.  And it hit me: what a better way to give an external face to Lucinda’s wounds from the past than with a façade that painted a portrait for the world to see.

I suddenly had Lucinda: a tall, beautiful woman, as tough as dried venison with partially disfigured facial features.  At the same time, I was living in Texas but longing for my old home in the mountains of Virginia.  For that reason, I then decided that is where Lucinda would live and I created her back story.

Then, I needed a criminal case for her.  It had to be murder—I’d been writing about the real thing for quite some time.  Something about it, though, had to be different.  I’d studied and read about a lot of serial killers and that’s where I the twist came.  A killer who took a trophy from a victim and left behind the souvenir he had taken from his last murder.  The concept for the first book in the series, The Trophy Exchange was born.

I did worry a little bit about the plot concept and whether or not it was credible enough.  Criminal Minds put my mind to ease about that when a little more than a year after the release of that book: they used the same device in one of their episodes—not a real life validation but close enough for fiction.

Since then, I’ve written six more books featuring Lieutenant Lucinda Pierce.  The seventh one, Chain Reaction, is out now.  When I describe this book as explosive, it’s not hyperbole.  It opens with a bombing at a high school, a runaway dog and two dead victims on the scene.  In trying to solve the case, Lucinda tangles with grieving parents, faulty stereotypes, a prickly forensic lab administrator and federal investigators—including the recurring character, Special Agent Jake Lovett, who was introduced in Punish the Deed, the second book in the series.

At the same time, she’s trying to help young Charley, who has been a constant present in the series, since the first book when she discovered the body of her murdered mother.  In Chain Reaction, Charley made friends with a classmate experiencing sexual, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend.  Horrified, Charley believes the only person who can resolve the issue is Lucinda Pierce.

Add in personal complications and the political entanglements of her job and Lucinda is challenged as never before.  If she fails on any of these fronts, she may not be able to live with the outcome.

Chain Reaction and the rest of the books in the series are available in hardcover and digital formats.  The first six books in the series are also downloadable audiobooks.

You can find Diane at her blog, Facebook, Twitter.

**

Diane will be giving away a hardback today so be sure to comment! We’ll pick a winner later tonight so be sure to stop by the blog again.