Archive for May, 2016

Excerpt: Treacherous Wishes

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Hey everyone! Hope your weekend was fabulous. Today I’m teasing you with an excerpt from my upcoming reissue of Treacherous Wishes (Taggert Security Team #2) which comes out June 6. This story, along with the first book (Dangerous Intentions) are true books of my heart. I wrote these romantic suspense novels a long time ago and enjoyed it tremendously. The bad guy in Treacherous Wishes remains one of my scariest characters and I loved every minute of creating him. This excerpt features some of the flirty dialogue you’ll see from the hero and heroine in Treacherous Wishes. Enjoy!

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Just when you think the danger has passed…

Just when you’ve stopped looking over your shoulder…

Evil finds a way…

Tammy Carter lost her psychic abilities in the aftermath of tragedy. Now, years later, her power resurrects when evil returns to her town. She was secure in her job, her life, and lack of complications. Now everything in her comfort zone is disintegrating and she doesn’t know what to do next or who she can trust.

Bodyguard Kyle Hawthorne doesn’t believe in the supernatural or in Tammy’s psychic gift, but when her life is threatened he’ll do anything to protect her. Professionalism demands a platonic relationship with his co-worker at Taggert Security Team, yet the sizzling connection he feels for Tammy demands exploration every time he’s near her. Deep down Tammy has always found Kyle a stable force in her world, even though she’s harbored lightning-hot fantasies about him for years. Suddenly their sexual desires and emotions are too powerful to ignore, which starts a chain reaction of events that may bring them together or allow the evil to consume them.

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The phone rang again.

The breather had called three times in ten minutes, and that last connection had almost fried her senses. She hesitated.

She should say “Taggert Security Team.” She should take a deep breath and stay calm.

Screw it.

She picked up the phone on the third ring. “Listen, you jerk, this is a business. Stop calling us!”

Silence on the other end shocked her. Finally the person spoke. “Tammy?”

She recognized the male voice and a blush flooded her face. “Hawthorne? Damn it, I’m sorry.”

“Hey, babe, are you all right?”

His silky, husky voice sent a wild fluttering into her stomach. Tammy swallowed hard. Bodyguard Kyle Hawthorne might be the most handsome man she’d ever met, but that didn’t mean she needed to dissolve into gelatin. The jibes, barbs and teasing they’d traded for the last year meant nothing. Employees at Taggert Security leaned toward the wild side—their dangerous jobs made them less willing to follow convention. Hawthorne was no exception. He played the role of flirtatious, handsome charmer all the way. More than once, a friend of Tammy’s had speculated about his love life. But she tried not to imagine Hawthorne holding a woman in his arms. It gave her a headache.

“Tammy?” he said again, concern deepening his tone.

“Sorry. I … uh … I just thought you were someone else.”

He chuckled. “What’s the matter? Art forget to pick you up for a date?”

Leave it to Kyle to remember the one time Art Childress had forgotten a date with her. “He’s working tonight. We had to cancel.”

“Again?”

“What do you mean again? We’ve been out three times in two months. I’d say that’s a record.”

“If you were my woman, I’d make sure we came together several times a week.”

With impeccable timing, her heartbeat accelerated, and her mouth went dry. Babe? His woman? Came together? It sounded primitive. Some might say chauvinistic. Yet she knew this man too well to believe he meant any irreverence toward her. He believed in equality of the sexes. Flirting was second nature to him. His woman indeed. Still, the way his voice vibrated over her already heightened senses sent pleasant shivers through her body and caused her belly to flutter.

It was like that every time he was near her. He spoke, she pretended not to notice how sexy he was. She’d tried over the time she’d known him to disregard this disturbing realty—Kyle Hawthorne sent her libido into overdrive.

Came together.

Whether he meant the words to sound erotic or not, the husky velvet in his voice seduced her senses. Rich and deep, his voice always stirred her profoundly in a way she couldn’t control.

The subtext in those words sent her heart into a frantic pace and within her feminine core, her body moistened, clenched, and longed for the sensation of hard masculinity. She visualized, with stunning clarity, their bodies naked on a bed and writhing as their loins came together. Hot steel into soft wetness. Her breath hitched as her face went hot.

Holy shit, Tammy. Now is not the time.

“Better watch out, Hawthorne. I could break your neck for saying something that suggestive and sexist.”

“Chauvinistic?”

“Don’t play dumb with me. Your woman? Hell, why not go all the way and call me wench?” His laugh soothed her skittish nerves. She sighed and rubbed the tight muscles in the back of her neck. “What are you doing calling the office at this hour?”

“What are you doing at the office at seven o’clock at night?”

Tammy fiddled with the small, brown plastic stegosaurus on her desk. “Answer my question first.”

“Burke still working on the Alexander case?”

The stegosaurus tipped over, and she let it lie on its side. She stared at its underbelly. “No. He went home an hour ago. He thinks he’s coming down with the flu as well.”

“Great. At this rate Mrs. Taggert will have to quarantine the office.”

She groaned. “I don’t even want to think about it.”

“Okay, so why are you still at work and who did you think was calling?”

“Today was hellish and I fell behind. And I thought you were the breather. He’s called three times in the last ten minutes. When the phone rang, I lost it.”

“Obscene phone calls? That’s a first at the agency. It must be your sexy voice.”

“Right, Hawthorne. My voice is about as sexy as an elephant sneezing.”

He laughed. “Did this creep say anything?”

“No. He wasn’t original enough. Just a lot of heavy panting.”

“Are you about ready to leave?”

“Just put away the last file. I need a cup of caffeine for the road.”

“Stay put. I’m almost there.”

“What?” She accidentally knocked the pencil cup over and writing instruments rolled across her desk.

“I’m calling on my cell. When I get there I can walk you to your car.”

“You don’t have to do that.” She hated the shaky, nervous quality in her voice. Tammy righted the pencil cup and started dropping pens and pencils into the brilliant red holder.

“I don’t have to. I want to. See you in a few minutes.”

Stunned, she kept the phone to her ear for a moment before she realized he’d hung up. She slipped the receiver back into the cradle.

 

Disaster Junkie: What Does The Earthquake Feel Like To The Heroine?

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

When I wrote Love From The Ashes about seventeen years ago, I’d never experienced an earthquake. So how was I going to understand what the heroine in the book felt in 1906 San Francisco? I’ve got an enormous imagination so that obviously helps. Second, I researched and studied about earthquakes for quite some time before writing the book. Here’s a snippet of what the heroine, Grace Wyne, experiences when of the biggest earthquakes in U.S. history happens in 1906.

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As Grace stepped out of the boarding house and walked the few steps to the Studebaker, she took in the sounds of early morning. Few people were up at this hour. She saw the lone figure of a man walking down Valencia Street away from her and toward Market.

The air was still, but cool.

Grace paused, listening.

She heard dogs barking, and the whinny of an agitated horse. Brushing away an odd, inexplicable uneasiness, she turned the ignition on the auto, then moved to the front and cranked the Studebaker to a start. As Grace climbed into the auto she thought about everything that had happened in the last few hours. Another strange apprehension came over her.

Would she ever see Nate again?

She couldn’t regret making love with him. Taking his body into her had brought her a joy she never could have imagined. But Grace couldn’t force Nate to love her, any more than she could force herself to love Chauncey.

More than once she had almost said the words to Nate as his body had come into her again and again.

I love you.

How long had she denied intellectually what her heart had known? Perhaps she was a coward for running away while he lay sleeping.

As she pulled away from the Bijou Boarding house, the auto jumped ahead, coming up behind a team of four horses pulling a wagon. Yet her impatience had nothing to do with wanting to get home. No, Grace planned on driving about the quiet city until the bustle of the new day propelled her back to Nob Hill. She needed time to think.

She glanced toward the Berkeley hills to the east and saw the sky lighten to a clear blue. It looked like it would be a beautiful day.

Suddenly the streetlights dimmed and went out.

Grace slowed the auto in reaction, though the morning light was enough to see by without the streetlights and the headlamps of the Studebaker.

The wagon in front of her slowed and the horses whinnied, shying to the side.

Curious, Grace glanced at the clock on the side of a barbershop as she passed. Five twelve precisely.

A second later she heard the rumble, like distant thunder growling and growing under her feet, menacing above the noise of the automobile engine. She looked up Valencia Street toward Market Street, confused. Were there train tracks close to the area?

No. None.

At first Grace thought she’d become dizzy, for the auto swayed under her grip, the steering wheel wrenched from her hands for a horrifying second.

As the terrible thunder roared in her ears, she saw the street ahead undulate like a snake, rolling up with great violence like waves off the ocean. The shuddering earth danced, wrenching sidewise, then back with a demented motion that increased with every second. Then the insane earth changed direction, swaying the automobile on its tires. Over the noise of rending and tearing and tormented ground, she heard a church bell pealing. Grace thought she might be caught in an endless nightmare where the earth bucked and shook like a wild horse.

The horses screamed as the wagon driver tried to control the frenzied animals. The automobile’s forward momentum had slowed considerably, but had not stopped.

She was going to hit the wagon.

As Grace slammed on the brakes, the violent tremor came to a sudden halt.

The Studebaker slammed into the back of the wagon, flinging Grace headfirst into the windshield. Incredible pain flashed through her head. As dawn threatened to fade into night, she felt the earth revive its demonic quiver, a violent pulse that sent entire walls into the street, crashing all around her. The creaking and roaring of buildings being ripped apart united with rocking earth to form a horrifying symphony.

Tall buildings swayed like insane dancers in a macabre play. Through the terrible cacophony and destruction, she heard screaming, pleas of the dying mixing with the terror of those believing it might be Judgment Day. She had a second to glance at the man in the wagon and saw the panic in his face.

Grace looked up and saw a cornice begin to crack on the five-story building next to her. Part of the building gave way, and she screamed as it fell on the man and his horses, crushing them beneath rubble.

With her last ounce of strength Grace threw herself from the auto as part of the wall descended and hit the Studebaker. Her world went silent and black.

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Disaster Junkie: Excerpt from Blackout

Monday, May 16th, 2016

This week I’m regaling you with an excerpt from my novel Blackout. Enjoy!

A woman rebuilding her shattered life faces a new disaster when a solar flare takes out the grid, and the only thing standing between her and certain death is a U.S. Marshal with a shadowy past, and a haunted house that threatens to destroy them both.

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In this scene the hero and heroine come up against some seriously nasty people in the aftermath of the solar flare.

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With Skinhead’s big body blocking Cassie’s vision, she couldn’t see past him at first. But she’d recognize Griff’s no-nonsense voice anywhere. Relief crashed like a wave over her.

Skinhead levered off of her and stood, and she scooted away. She didn’t try to stand, her body still protesting every move she made.

Griff came into her view as he came closer. He held his weapon out in front of him, his stance self-assured and ready to fire if need be. Cassie’s gaze narrowed to his face, to the coldness in his eyes, and the tight line of his lips.

Griff’s expression was tight with pure anger. “Back away from her.”

“Whoa, now,” Skinhead said. “We didn’t mean no harm.”

“You better get some etiquette lessons, asshole.” Griff’s expression didn’t change, and his voice stayed icy. “It fucking looked like you meant harm when you touched her.”

“This little lady your woman?” Jacky asked.

Griff didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”

“Well, ain’t that fine?” Jacky smiled, ice still in his eyes. He held up his hands and took the steps down past Griff and nearer to his bulky friend. “We’ll just be going then.”

Jacky’s companion reached slowly for the rifle that had fallen to the ground when he’d rolled down the steps.

“Leave it.” Griff’s voice cut like a knife.

“It don’t belong to you,” Skinhead said.

“Too bad.” Griff’s stance didn’t move an inch, his weapon trained on the men.

“I don’t know,” Jacky said. “I think you oughtta teach your bitch some manners at least. She wasn’t the least hospitable.”

Cassie almost told the guy where he could shove his manners.

Skinhead’s ugly smile appeared. “Maybe I should take her from you. She’s a beauty.”

Cassie’s heart shot into her throat in a mix of fear and disgust. “No.”

The word was barely a whisper. A croaking sound. Griff didn’t even flinch.

Skinhead laughed. “Christ. Are you a dumb fuck? I got friends in this town. Maybe we should just come back later and kill you and take her then.”

Griff’s smile held no amusement. “You can try.”

The absolute certainty in Griff’s words made a shiver go through her. She couldn’t take her eyes off him.

Jacky chuckled. “Cripes, Peterson. He has a look about him. Sure you weren’t in a militia or something, bub? A gang maybe?”

Griff’s gaze and his aim didn’t venture from the man called Peterson. “Yep.”

“You were in a gang?” Jacky asked.

“Survivalist camp. Neo-Nazi,” Griff said with perfect conviction.

At this news, a strange feeling of unreality came over Cassie. Griff couldn’t be serious.

“Well, why the hell didn’t you say so, brother?” Peterson said with a smile.

Griff didn’t lower his weapon. “I’m not here for old home week, and you put your hands on my woman. I suggest you leave.”

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You can grab a copy of Blackout at several retailers. Click here to get all the links!

San Francisco 1906: A Disaster Junkie Talks About Perspective & Gratefulness

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Perspective. It’s something we all lose at one time or another. Depending on what our hot buttons are, we can also completely lose sight of the facts. In today’s world we jump quickly to what went wrong with a horrible situation and aren’t too grateful sometimes about what went right. Especially when that situation is a disaster.

Social media is guilty of giving everyone the opportunity to express an opinion (which is a good thing sometimes and sometimes not). We latch onto any situation and turn it into a political playground or a conspiracy. We often play a game called, “In the good ole days things were better.” If you look at the facts, there might be some things that were, but there are usually an equal amount of things that were absolutely not.

Last week an enormous wildfire scorched parts of Alberta Canada and caused damage to Fort McMurray. Today, I’m putting some of that in perspective. So far we know that:

Two people perished in car accidents during the evacuation of Fort McMurray. On the first day of the evacuation (probably more like two days) around 88,000 people escaped a fire that was so quick, so hot and so dangerous there was every reason to think some people wouldn’t have escaped it. I think the fact they did escape it is a miracle worth celebrating. As of this blog date I’ve heard that somewhere between 85 to 90 percent of the town escaped destruction. Around 2,600 buildings were destroyed. The fact that the downtown area and the hospital were saved is also incredible. Despite the horrendous situation, that’s a real sign of hope for the people who want to return to the area. It’s also a true testament to how modern conveniences saved so many lives and so many buildings.

People were warned by way of emergency systems, cell phones and landline.  Aerial firefighting equipment such as planes and helicopters helped save the town.

These are modern things that made it possible for thousands upon thousands of people to escape. In the past, in the good ole days, can you imagine how much different this disaster would have unfolded? (Look up the Peshtigo Fire of 1871 as an example).

In some ways it is difficult to compare the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire to what happened at Fort McMurray. The 3,000 to 5,000 deaths that occurred in San Francisco are a mixed bag from combining the earthquake and fire. What I do know is that in the good ole days you were more at the mercy of whatever Mother Nature decided to throw at you. Well, okay, sometimes there isn’t anything you can do today if Mother Nature decides it is time to kick ass and take names.

Back in 1906 there were no cell phones, few landlines, not enough firefighting equipment (and not the type of equipment we have now). On that day and for as long as the fires lasted in San Francisco, about 28,000 buildings were destroyed. The limitations of 1906 were tremendous.

Disasters are always hard to compare. But I think one thing we can do is remember that in the good ole days there was a lot we didn’t have that we have now. So for every bad thing that happens today, I think a bit of perspective is a very good thing, don’t you? I am very grateful for so much.

 

 

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Time To Get Out: A Disaster Junkie Tells Her Disaster Story

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Originally planned to give you more factoids about solar flares and their effects on our planet.

A disaster event this week, though, switched my focus. Fort McMurray, a city in Alberta Canada of approximately 80,000 people, had to evacuate when a forest fire that started on Sunday, May 1 turned into a raging firestorm and came into the city on Tuesday, May 3. People barely had time to evacuate. At the date of this blog even more evacuations have been ordered. It’s an ongoing situation.

Why am I bringing this up? Because it brought back memories of making my own escape one day in June 2011 from the Antelope Fire which start on Fort Huachuca, Arizona. My situation was never as dire as what many people of Fort McMurray faced this week, but I can tell you the immediate fear and surprise effected me for months to come. The amount of homes burned already by the McMurray fire has far surpassed what the people here in Arizona suffered during the Monument Fire of June 2011. I won’t ramble…here’s the short and dirty sequence of what happened.

It all begin on June 11, 2011 when the Monument Fire started south west of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Monday the hubby and I were on the way back from a vacation near Phoenix. By the time we headed south toward Sierra Vista we could already see a plume of smoke. We got our dog from the kennel (which later on would escape destruction from the fire) and headed home. The next week would be it’s own special kind of hell.

Over a thousand wild land firefighters and local departments fought the fire in high winds and blistering temperatures. At one point the Monument Fire was the number one fire emergency in the United States because of its proximity to our city. On three separate days the conflagration jumped a major highway. Thousands of people evacuated to other parts of the city, to surrounding towns and even as far away as Tucson. We smelled smoke all day and every day. There was no way to ignore it. From my back yard I could usually see a plume of smoke. When it boiled like a volcano (called a blowup or blowout), it was a constant reminder the fire beast was there. Photo below is from June 14 looking south west. My house is on the left.

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During this fire many houses were destroyed in or close to the mountains. At one point houses across the highway from us were on pre-evac orders. I figured we’d be next.

One day a bulldozer clearing land for a firebreak on Fort Huachuca hit rocks and started a spark. Bam, the Antelope Fire began. My housing development is across a highway that is a boundary line from the fort. I was sitting on my computer looking at Facebook when a page devoted to the Monument Fire suddenly erupted with messages screaming that there was a fire on the fort. I ran outside. Two huge plumes of smoke rose high to the west of me. I could hear dozens of sirens, and as I stood there slurry planes and helicopters already working the Monument Fire were diverted to the fort.

All bets were off. I hesitated some, wondering if I was overreacting. I grabbed my to go bag, my dog, and off I went. Cop cars and border patrol agents (I would learn later), rushed into our development screaming for people to leave. They also did so with other housing nearby. Getting out of my housing area took some time, so I can relate in part to what people in Fort McMurray had to endure as they sat on a highway wanting desperately to get away. Eventually I reached a Walmart in the north part of the city. I watched a huge wall of fire and smoke boiling to the east and south as both fires seemed to combine. It was an optical illusion, thank goodness. The fires were far apart. Fortunately the helicopters, slurry planes and other firefighters took down the Antelope Fire in fairly short order.

When I returned home about two hours later I smelled like smoke.

On Father’s Day the fire beast came closer to the city and all hell broke loose again. It crossed a highway and roared straight towards several other homes. Listening to the chatter on Ustream between fire agencies and law enforcement was a hair-raising experience lasting several hours. Fortunately that was the last day the fire beast had such control. You can still see a gallery of photos from the Monument fire at Firefighter Nation by clicking here.

The Monument Fire continued until June 26. Of course the recovery for those who lost their homes took much longer and for some it continues today. In the last few years fire seems to have been after places I’ve lived. The Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed homes in Colorado Springs. The house where I grew up escaped destruction when the Black Forest Fire raged only a year later. Some of us are a bit twitchy now. When heat rises and winds howl, we check the skies for smoke.

Here’s some of the latest on the McMurray fire from CNN. Click here.

May the Fort McMurray fire soon be extinguished, and I wish only the best for all those affected by this disaster. If you want to learn more on how to help the people of Fort McMurray, click here for the Red Cross in Canada.

Military Romance: Elaine Levine’s War Bringer

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Hey everyone! I’m taking a break from disaster junkie posts today to feature military romance author Elaine Levine. Elaine has written a series called Red Team, that if you enjoy military romance (and I certainly do), that you have to check out. She’s also doing a contest today so be sure to stop by and comment! Welcome Elaine!

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Brotherhood…warrior bonds…honor…a purpose in life that’s greater than oneself. And love—the forever kind. That’s what my series, The Red Team, is made of, and it fills the pages of my latest release, WAR BRINGER.

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The series’ heroes are all former members of the Red Team, a black ops unit in the U.S. Army, now working as consultants to the Department of Homeland Security via a private security firm founded by one of their own. The stories continue one after the other, following the adventures of the team as it tracks a group of homegrown terrorists, slowly learning that their mission is so much more than they first thought.

When I started the series, I wanted to build a world where readers could lose themselves in the lives of men who are alpha warriors—discovering their loves, healing their pasts, fighting with honor. The series has evolved into a richer experience than simply reading a book—its become an interactive game of sorts. Readers are so engaged with the over-arcing mystery of the series, that they meet up in the spoiler room of our reader group and propose theories, speculate on character backgrounds, and play what-if scenarios…always striving to figure out the secret of the team’s real enemy. Their level of engagement has made this series a blast to write…and a challenge, because it isn’t easy staying ahead of them!

I would love for you to check out my Red Team series and come play with us. The first installment, The Edge of Courage, is free on iBooks, Kobo, Amazon, and my website. WAR BRINGER is the sixth full-length installment of a nine-book series. Each book completes the story of one couple and often ends with a cliffhanger for the over-arcing mystery.

Here’s the cover blurb for WAR BRINGER:

The Covert Operative…

Kelan Shiozski wasn’t looking for a girlfriend or a wife or any other sort of female in his life, but he found her hiding in his enemy’s home…and he knew instantly she was his soul mate.

Patience has long been part of his warrior ethos—until it meant waiting for his woman to come of age. Now that time is here, and he’s about to spend three days alone with her, away from his team, away from their mission tracking a homegrown terrorist group operating out of the Rocky Mountains. He has three days to show her, with his heart and his body, what it means to be his other half.

But when she’s kidnapped before their celebratory weekend, Kelan must track her into the dark depths of a hidden crime world, which few ever experience or exit alive.

…And the Innocent

At just twenty-one, Fiona Addison has lived a sheltered life that began unraveling a year earlier when her mom and her friend died in two separate car accidents the same week. The layers are peeling away, revealing who she really is, culminating in a truth she cannot accept.

And now, everything she learns about herself imperils the future she hoped to have with Kelan, a man whose fierce warrior nature will not let her go despite the cost to himself.

They’ll either live together or die together…a fate they cannot let be decided by a madman.

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Denise—thank you so much for letting me pop-in to tell your readers about the Red Team. I’d love to give away an ebook (epub or mobi) of choice from my Red Team series to two visitors. Please visit me at Elaine Levine or on Facebook at http://geni.us/2w5d.

 

 

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