Excerpt Monday – The Arrangement by Thayer King

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Blurb ~

For Ariadne Morris, it was enough that her boyfriend dumped her for her cousin, but then she finds out that they plan to announce their engagement at the annual family reunion. Spending time at the beach with friends seems like the perfect getaway. Unfortunately, Asher Hollister, her high school nemesis, shows up.

Asher Hollister enjoys riling up the ever so proper Ariadne. When he learns about her situation, he offers her a solution–marry him. The marriage will help him repair his reputation before his father runs for governor. He tells Ariadne that the marriage will be temporary, only Asher already knows that he never wants to let her go.

Excerpt ~

Masculine laughter floated from the direction of the kitchen. Hearing the voice of Ted Flynn, the husband of her best friend, was no surprise. But the other male…Asher Hollister.… She’d know that laugh anywhere though she hadn’t seen him since the annual Flynn New Year’s Eve party six months ago. Asher’s laughter was rich and husky and rolled over the listener like a sensual fog. Ariadne stiffened and froze in the process of entering the beach house, the sliding glass door open only a few inches. What the hell was he doing here? She whipped around to glare at her best friend Erika Flynn. Crossing her arms over her chest, she said, “You promised me he wasn’t coming this year.”
Erika winced. “Ted invited him, but he turned down the invitation. He must have changed his mind.”
Ariadne sighed. She wondered if she could sneak up to her room, pack her bags and leave without him noticing. This was supposed to be a much needed vacation for her. The last thing she needed was to have to deal with the animosity that existed between her and Asher. She’d intended to stay for two weeks. She doubted the two of them would last that long before weapons were drawn.
That they would cross swords was inevitable with only the four of them inhabiting the house. She avoided him when possible, but that was difficult since they often traveled in the same circles. Sometimes she felt like she lived in a soap opera town inhabited by a limited number of citizens. But the funny thing was that Asher seemed capable of getting along with everyone with the exception of her. Everybody loved him. Especially women. For some unknown reason, he had been an ass to her since high school.
“Might as well get it over with,” Erika said, laying a comforting hand on her arm.
Ariadne glanced down at herself. The two of them had been lying around on the beach while Ted went out to grab dinner. The purple one piece she wore was dry. Only a small amount of sand clung to her legs and ankles.
She opened the door the rest of the way and the two of them skirted the dining table and entered the den. It was a large open area separated from the kitchen by a curved bar. Ted leaned against the kitchen counter, bags of takeout behind him. His long legs were stretched out in front of him. His shaved head and goatee gave him a tough guy look though he was one of the nicest guys she’d ever met. Asher sat on a barstool facing him. The two men had been friends since elementary school. The same could be said for her and Erika. Prior to Erika marrying Ted two years ago, her run-ins with Asher had been minimal. After the marriage of their best friends, she really had to work to avoid the odious man. Whether he was avoiding her or not, she wasn’t certain. He seemed to relish their encounters. It was just another reason to hate him. She liked her life on a calm even keel. Some might calling it boring, but she’d choose ennui over calamity any given day.
Asher grinned at the sight of them. His lips tipped up on the left first before spreading to the other side. It was a slow, calculated move. His pale green eyes lit up in wicked delight. Ariadne’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. She just knew he was thinking of some cruel taunt as his gaze flicked over her from top to bottom. “Well, if it isn’t my sweet belle and Miss Prim and Proper.” She didn’t have to guess which one she was.
Erika rushed forward and received a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Ash, it’s good to see you.”
Ariadne hugged her beach bag to her chest. “Ash,” she said with a nod. It was as much of an acknowledgement as he was going to get out of her.
“Ari,” he murmured, knowing she’d never given him permission to use that abbreviation of her name. Only friends and family called her Ari. He was neither. “You look supremely overdressed for the occasion.”
Her swimsuit was conservative. It was true. It had a modest scoop neck and rose up high to cover her back. There was even a ruffle skirt that hid the tops of her rounded thighs. Erika had commented that it would have been better suited to a five year old. That was different. Erika was a friend. She was allowed to criticize her wardrobe. Bristling, she replied, “I shopped for a string bikini but the stores sold out to your cadre of busty girlfriends.”
He arched a dark brow before bursting out in laughter. “Well, you do have the impressive upper endowments I so adore.”
That was another habit of his that she hated. Her insults never seemed to hit their mark. He always laughed it off. It didn’t help that he had the sexiest laugh known to man. The man was infuriating. Ariadne growled. “You-”
“Come on, guys,” Ted interrupted. “Don’t get started. Erika and I don’t want to spend two weeks listening to you bicker. Ash, you promised to be on your best behavior.”

Link ~

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thearrangement-1868497-168.html

Friday Featured Cover Art ~ Loved by The Sheikh by Eve Jordan

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Blurb ~

Loved by the Sheikh (The Billionaires’ Society) by Eve Jordan – Romance>Contemporary

Jenny’s been burned. Bad.

So when she starts dating Sheikh Sadiq Zahin, she vows to protect her heart and just have fun while it lasted.

But once Sadiq has her in his bed, he has no intention of ever letting her go!

Link~

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-lovedbythesheikh-1841100-149.html

The Right to Love and Race.

“We are not  born for hatred but raised to to believe in it.” This quote was made anonymous.  To me that is one of the saddest commentaries I have read. Over the years some people have fought for the right to love whomever be they different races or gay/lesbian or hell, alien purple people eaters. And that freedom should belong to each individual person cause last time I checked there was no one in any position to  judge another. Doesn’t stop some but hey I thought I should throw that out there.

The right to “mix” has slowly bleed into the literary world and books are starting to reflect the diversity of life. More and more sites are popping up with images and discussions flipping gender roles, and love interest. Personally this makes my heart burst with joy. Still there are a few that don’t like the way the world is evolving and do their best maintain an antiquated status quo.  I am thankful to see that slowly change…now change doesn’t happen over night. It is a slow process that crosses many a hill and valley but it comes.

It was not my intention to go so deep this early in the day but I was on a roll and  this is a hell of a introduction into a sub-genre of books that have caught my interest. It one of those things that make you go hmm. But what happens when a man raised to hate falls in love with the person he was taught to despise.  The take on this question is different and oh so interesting. If my question caught your interest, here are a few books to  check out. AND if you get a minute – let me know what you think.

http://www.amazon.com/Rising-Kassanna-ebook/dp/B01467DOVO/ref=sr_1_19?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440501455&sr=1-19&keywords=Kassanna

http://www.amazon.com/Incarcerated-Letters-from-Inmate-92510/dp/B00SO6IHKW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440502935&sr=1-1&keywords=incarcerated

http://www.amazon.com/Word-Race-Redemption-Tiana-Laveen/dp/1516800583/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440503008&sr=1-1&keywords=n+word

Fridays Featured Cover Art ~ Finding Faith by Reana Malori

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Blurb ~

Cooper Branson wasn’t ready to move on. His life was just fine the way it was and no one could make him change. At least, not willingly. He wore his Widower badge with honor and forced himself to live his life only for his daughter, Madison. Falling for his attractive neighbor was not in the cards for him. It didn’t matter that she was the first person he thought of in the morning, or the last voice he needed to hear before falling asleep at night. Loving someone and running the risk of losing them again was not a risk he was willing to take.

Faith Douglas was ready to reinvent herself. After a hurtful betrayal by her closest friend, Faith was determined to live life for herself. The first step to her new outlook on life was doing something she would have never done before. Walking across the lawn and saying hello to her new, hunky neighbor was the bravest thing she had done in a long time. How was she to know that the man would become her world and his daughter would steal her heart? What she never expected was to stand in the shadow of another woman while the man she loved looked right through her.

Finding out who you are, while ignoring the expectations of others, is the toughest path anyone can take. Cooper and Faith have to decide if they’re able to move on from the hurt of the past to find their future.

Link ~ Amazon – http://amzn.to/1Pkuhl1
All Romance Ebooks – http://bit.ly/1K4wCAW

 

Thursday Thoughts: Friends become lovers?

I love me a good romance trope; secret babies, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, etc. I’ve created an entire series on the premise of friends to lovers called Destined for Love. I think what I enjoy most about this type of trope is I get to be the observer, I’m in on the experience, and I know that eventually when the dots all get connected, I can feel ever so slightly smug at how the characters never saw what was right in front of them. It’s also a satisfying trope for me because the characters know each other, and have built an intimacy between them that can smooth the rough edges of linking oneself with a possible partner. It’s also adorable when those characters have to negotiate evolving the intimacy they already share into something deeper, and more sexual in nature. The leap between I really dig you to I really dig you is so squee worthy because depending on the author it can be hilariously entertaining or gut wrenchingly beautiful.

So when I get to see it play out in real life I get a little tingle of excitement. Recently, I’ve discovered that a good friend of mine may have a friends to lover situation on her hands, and my mind is buzzing with the possibilities of them as a couple. I haven’t made shirts or anything, but let’s just say I’m very much, “Team” them together. I want this Happily Ever After dammit and I’m committed to putting the work in to make it happen. I’m the zany friend in this story of course, plotting away situations in which they (or at least him, because my friend is now on this bandwagon with me) can have their “ah-ha” moment and get the job done. It’s all perfectly plotted in my head, that there is a strong possibility this will end up in a story.

Yet, there is a real couple here, with years of experience of “just” being friends. I don’t actually know what either of their internal dialogues are, and the back story of their relationship won’t be spread out in detail for me to see the connections that need to be made between them. This is reality of course, and honestly, as exuberant I am at the possibility of playing matchmaker, there is no clear indication these friends will become lovers. It was this sobering thought that made me appreciate the world of romance I’ve lived in for so long. I enjoy stories that are plausible, and housed in reality, but at the end of the day I really want everyone to be happy. I want there to be trouble and strife, but love should conquer all in romancelandia, providing me with a nice respite from reality. Although, I’ve also learned that hope can transcends both the worlds I inhabit, and now that the cast has been set, I’ve crossed my fingers that “The End” in this newest story of life will be as good as anything I could ever write.

Please Welcome Afton Locke in Hotspot Tuesday

JamaicanTemptation200x300 *What do you find the most difficult to write? Dialogue? Back story? Emotion?

I find dialogue and plot the easiest to write. I do those during my rough draft. However, I layer in more depth to my stories during my edit phase. Here, I refine the character arcs, make physical attraction characteristics consistent, and add mannerisms, clothing, research, and more details, if needed. I also enhance love scenes that I might have rushed through during the first draft.

*Have you ever found that you didn’t like your Hero or your Heroine? If so, what did you do to change that?

Cali’s Hurricane, Book 4 in the Oyster Harbor series, features a former villain as a hero. Making him lovable was a huge challenge. If I don’t love him, the readers won’t. So I really got into his head and explored his passionate, alpha side as well as his vulnerabilities. Now I’m really excited about writing about him.

*If you were to start again, with the knowledge you have now, what would be the first thing you do?

I would have started writing series. When I wrote Plucking the Pearl, the first book in the Oyster Harbor series, I had no idea there would be a sequel. To my surprise, I’m working on Book 4, which I swore would be the last, but now there will be a Book 5. Who knows when it will stop. Readers like series because they get invested in the characters and setting.

*Do you write full time, what is your schedule for the day? Or do you have a full time job, if so, when do you find the time to write?

I only write on days I have off. When I do write, I try to do a whole chapter in one setting. I’ve been lucky enough to force some full-time day jobs into 32 hours a week. Now I’m back to the drawing board with a full-time schedule and long commute too. It’s frustrating to cut back on my writing career, but the bills have to get paid. I’m trying to use my time wisely, spending more on writing than promotion.

*What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

To be honest, the hardest part of my writing career is that it does not support me financially. I’ve been at it for many years, so the odds are pretty slim at this point. Still, I can’t give it up because I enjoy writing. I can’t not write. Promotion is not easy either as it can get repetitive and boring really fast. But when I connect with a reader on Facebook or during a party, it’s great!

*Do you have a book coming out? If so what?

My next release is Deeper Than Perfect, an interracial time-travel romance set in the 1970s. Release date: 11/7/15.

Desi Warner is ready to end her life after an accident disfigures her face and destroys her modeling career. Instead, she goes back in time to 1974 to meet her destiny—R&B superstar Bernie Benson. Although her scars vanish, she and Bernie only have one month before a car accident will supposedly claim their lives.

The enigmatic singer ignites her senses, but her restored beauty is an illusion she can’t trust. Abandoned by his mother in childhood, Bernie has his own trust issues. Obsessed with completing his album, he’s just as hooked on his perfect singing career as Desi is to modeling.

Although they open each other’s eyes to different paths, change is not easy. When the fated day of the crash arrives, they must choose between life and perfection. A love that is deeper than perfect may be their only key to survival.

I’m also working on Book #4 in the Oyster Harbor Series.

SadiesSurrender200x300*What do you do to relax?

I have a glass of red wine and read a good book. I also like to listen to music and watch old TV shows. Needlepoint calms me down when I’m upset. And wine. Oh, did I mention that already? And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

*Are there any other genres you’d like to try your hand at?

Maybe suspense. I’m not into stories about cops or military, but I love to read nail-biting, page-turning, can’t-put-it down suspense, especially with a Gothic flair. Or maybe I’ll try women’s fiction again. As great as romance is, sometimes less is more.

*How do you pick your setting? Do you pick from areas you’ve lived in or do research other areas?

Both. The Oyster Harbor series is based on the Maryland waterfront where I grew up. It’s part of who I am, so breathing that life into books was an amazing experience. I visit there every year to refill the creative well. For other books, like the two I wrote for the Black Hills Wolves series, I write about places I haven’t been like South Dakota. But even then, I incorporated Yellowstone into my stories because I have been there.

*What are your networking links so readers may find you?

Newsletter: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thelovechronicle/

Web site: http://www.aftonlocke.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AftonLockeAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/aftonlocke

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Afton_Locke

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/aftonlocke

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aftonlocke

Google+: https://plus.google.com/116628639090888717019

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Latest Release: Sadie’s Surrender

After her husband leaves her for another woman, Sadie Johnson feels unattractive. Unable to face a dreary future of shucking oysters and living with her critical mother, she dreams of being a businesswoman. But in 1936, opportunities for women of color in Oyster Island are limited.

An oysterman at heart, Henry Rockfield would rather sail than run the local branch of his brother’s oyster company. He’s not happy about belonging to the town Klan either, but he’ll do anything to keep the peace and help his family.

When sassy Sadie proves she can run the plant, he can’t resist putting her secretly in charge so he can return to the sea. But when desire resurrects a tragic mistake from his past, he learns business and pleasure are a dangerous mix. When racial conflict hits home, forcing them to choose between love and duty, will Sadie surrender?

http://www.aftonlocke.com/Sadie.html

Oyster Harbor Series: http://www.aftonlocke.com/OysterHarbor.html

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/pzAlXVjO-xI

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sadies-Surrender-Oyster-Harbor-Book-ebook/dp/B00X1JZ03Y/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25471132-sadie-s-surrender

Playlist

No Tell Lover – Chicago

 

Strength, Courage and Wisdom – India Arie

 

I’m Goin Down – Mary J. Blige

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt Monday ~ Hearts & Diamonds by Nichelle Gregory

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Blurb ~

Passion sparks the moment Nia unknowingly meets federal agent Rios.

Nia Sanders knows diamonds. She appreciates the heart-felt emotions of her customers buying them. When federal agent, Quin Rios saves her life in the middle of a violent jewel heist, she finds herself attracted to the sensual possibilities beneath his uber professional, self-contained persona.

Determined to keep her safe as he solves the case, Quin can’t let his attraction to Nia distract him. The heat of their fiery passion consumes them as they both struggle to control their emotions…neither are prepared to lose their heart.

Excerpt  ~

“Are you almost finished with your count, Tess?” Nia asked as she locked the sapphire and diamond display case.

“Just counted my last ring, how ’bout you?” Tess tucked a brunette strand of hair behind her ear and grabbed the bottle of glass cleaner.

“Almost.” Nia glanced down at the platinum gold diamond rings gleaming under the spotlights. “I saved the best for last.” She stared at the sparkling stones, which seemed to twinkle along to the merry beat of the holiday music playing overhead in surround sound.

“I’m hoping Santa will bring me one of those three karat solitaires we just got in.”

“It is quite beautiful.” She took the opulent ring out of the case and slid it on Tess’s ring finger. “Why not ask for the four karat while you’re sitting on his lap.” The brilliant fire within the stone caught the light and danced as her friend wiggled her finger in utter adoration.

Tess giggled. “I haven’t been nice all year, I don’t wanna push my luck.” They both laughed as she took the ring off and placed it back in the plush tray going into the safe.

“Do you think he’s going to pop the question before Christmas?”

Her employee broke into a smile brighter than the diamond bracelets she counted.

“I think he’s going to do it tonight after dinner.”

“Oh, Tess, that’s so exciting!” Nia predicted she’d be planning a wedding by spring and she was right. “Why don’t you go? I’ve got this.”

“No worries. I told Scott to meet me here, but I do need to change.”

“Which dress did you choose?”

“The red one.” Tess grinned. “Wait until you see it.”

Nia shook her head as her friend practically skipped toward the back office. Tess had met Scott at the store and soon the two of them were head over heels in a whirlwind romance.

How did some people get so lucky in love?

Nat King Cole crooned her favorite holiday jingle and she hummed along as she finished taking inventory of the expensive glittering stones. She hadn’t given up on love, but she was so sick of the dating game. Her last one had been a total disaster, ending with a kiss so sloppy, she was happy to be single for the moment. Besides, she didn’t need romance to enjoy the holidays, just a comfortable pair of heels. With a small moan, she slipped out of her increasingly uncomfortable pumps and flexed her toes on the soft, carpeted floor behind the display cases.

“Where’s Roger? I don’t wanna give the ole guy a heart attack.”

Roger had been the security guard for the store since it opened. Nia turned around and whistled as she looked at Tess.

“So what do you think?”

“Very sexy.”

“Really?” Tess pivoted, showcasing the open back design of her party dress. The soft material hugged her slim frame in all the right places.

“Really. Scott’s not going to know what hit him.”

Tess winked. “Exactly. That’s the effect I was going for.” She flicked a glance at her gold watch. “Almost closing time. I can’t believe this is the last weekend before Christmas.”

“I know.” Nia replaced a four-karat diamond bracelet in the glass case. “It’s going to be crazy around here.” She loved the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Nothing made her happier than making sure her employees helped frantic shoppers find the perfect gift for somebody special.

Tess rolled her eyes as she slid into her strappy black heels. “Impatient customers, no lunch breaks—” She let out a delighted squeal. “Here comes Scott.”

Bells hanging from the door handle jingled as he walked into the store. He always reminded Nia of a surfer dude in disguise with his easy-going personality, rugged blond good looks.

“Hey, Scott.”

“Hi, Nia.” He smiled as he wiped the snow from his coat. “Man, it’s getting cold out there.” His attention shifted to Tess as he moved toward the glass counter. “My, my, my, you look beautiful. Thank goodness, its closing time.”

“Perfect timing,” Tess said with a devilish grin.

Link ~ https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-heartsdiamonds-1851693-149.html

 

 

Fridays Featured Cover Art ~ A Spy is Born by Lexington Manheim

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Blurb ~

A Star is Born (Escapades of an Erotic Spy) by Lexington Manheim – Romance>Historical America

Guns may win a war, but pillow talk can cause you to lose one. That’s the philosophy of 1918’s most erotic secret weapon—Dexeter Foxxe. She’s sexy, shrewd, sneaky, smart, and spins a yarn like nobody’s business when she’s in a jam.

Facing Germany’s greatest offensive of World War I, the U.S. Army employs our resourceful heroine as its own Mata Hari to spy behind enemy lines. Coached and assisted by Lieutenant Faust Ricci, a suave, sharp-tongued Intelligence officer, Dexeter’s mission is to romance German officers and pry from them top secret information to help the Allies.

It’s a job fraught with peril. If she’s caught, she could face the firing squad. If she’s not careful, she could lose her heart. This historical romance novel, mixes eroticism with international intrigue, European locations, and a plot that has more twists and turns than a cabaret dancer’s striptease

Thursday Thoughts: Time on my hands

Too tired for morning walks!

Too tired for morning walks!

I recently made a life transition and quit my job. A lot of thought went into it, mostly because it was my main source of income and mortgages don’t get paid on one income in our household. This leap wasn’t to focus on writing exclusively, but with the direction I’m planning to take my career I’d have more time to write. This week has been the first week of me not going to work, and aside from errands and paperwork for my next employment transition, I’ve had quite a bit of time on my hands. Before the week started, I had plans set out as to what I was going to do.

My To Do List was as follows: 1) Wake up at my regular time and walk the dog 2) Eat breakfast 3) Do paperwork and other things that couldn’t be accomplished while working full time 4) Clean the bathroom 5) Eat lunch 6) Work on Papa Dragon 7) Start dinner.

I was enthused and optimistic on Sunday night as I made plans for how I was going to use my time wisely before my new job(s) had to start. Ask me how much of my To Do List was accomplished. Go on. Well the answer is so-so. I’ve dabbled with parts of things (except walking the dog, we’re both too tired in the morning), but mostly I’ve done nothing. Actually, no that’s not true. I’ve slept and read. I’ve basically turned this into a staycation of sorts and the anxiety to get things done is just on the edges of my consciousness. There is concern that I’m not using this “free” time I have wisely, and once it’s gone I’m going to mourn the loss of it.

It’s a precarious balance I’m trying to reach within myself, where I allow space to let myself shed the stress I’d accumulated from years of work in my field, and the need to be crafting worlds, characters, and stories. It’s Thursday and I haven’t yet reached that balance but fingers crossed it will happen before I have less time on my hands in a few weeks.

Interracial release – Shiftin’ Sassy by T.J. Micheals

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Blurb ~

Derria, like her cousins at Pryde Ranch, is trained to take down the worst shifters imaginable. After chasing her bounty into the Tail of the Dragon, she discovers that this mountain gem is shifter central where they’ve managed to keep themselves off the world’s radar…until now.

Lakota Phillips keeps his status as a S.W.A.T. agent under wraps. No one from Clan Gunn in the Dragon knows what he does when he’s away from this place. But when a fellow agent shows up for reasons that make sense to no one, what is he to do? But that may have to wait.

Kerr Blackwood, the rogue they’re searching for, is a shifter from Lakota’s neck of the woods. And suddenly, Derria’s hunt doesn’t quite pass the smell test.

Warning: This book contains hot alphas, mating heat and women who stroke their guns. Bring it on, baby!

*

I am thrilled to be selected as one of the authors Amazon’s Kindle Worlds launch for Eliza Gayle’s fabulous Southern Shifters series. August 11, 2015, fourteen authors will have our stories, all written in Eliza’s shifter world, hit the stage all at the same time. So go get ’em!

My book is called Shiftin’ Sassy. The heroine, Derria Pryde (a crossover from the Pryde Ranch Shifters) meets the oh-so-fun guys from Eliza’s books. Strap in, it’s time for takeoff!

Link ~

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Shifters-Shiftin-Derria-Novella-ebook/dp/B013PYJLJI/