Thursday Thoughts: Turning of the wheel

Tomorrow is my most favoritist holiday of all time, Halloween. I’m a little bit behind the 8 ball when it comes to having the house in order for my party and the mini haunted house/garage thingy with scary stuff that is mostly cheesy, but I’ve requested the day off and am filled with excitement at having friends over to celebrate the night with. We’ve moved to a new neighborhood and I’m hoping there will be enough children for the hoards of candy I always buy. I’m also hopeful that there will be enough babies in costumes to give me my fix of a new generation enjoying the holiday. I’m also keenly aware that though I celebrate this day as a secular folk holiday with countless others, it is an actual spiritual day for many.

Having grown up in a multi-cultural environment its easy to incorporate bits and pieces of beliefs and rituals of the people around you. I’m not a practicing pagan, but this year for Samhain, I find myself reflecting on those bits and pieces I’ve collected over the years and weaving them into the fabric of my own beliefs and rituals. I’ve used Halloween as a time to honor the dead, saying a special prayer for those I loved and have lost, but this year as the wheel turns, I’m also going to look at what the next year will bring for me. There are plans and ideas that bandy about in my head constantly, and promises are made to see them into fruition, but promises are only worth something if they are kept. Therefore, while I may eat, drink, and be irreverently merry tomorrow, I’m keenly aware of those dark nights that are coming and how I plan to fill them. There may even be some lists involved. Ha!

So all that is left for me to do is wish you all the happiest of Holiday to you and yours and a most warmly intended Blessed Be!

Excerpt Monday – The Perfect Storm by Rhonda Laurel

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Blurb ~

Sometimes you have to tear everything down and start over…

Private security specialist Samantha Jane Carson gets the surprise of her life when she arrives at Blake Enterprises for the annual security audit. Instead of her usual contact, she’s greeted by the company president himself, the sexy and elusive J.J. Blake. It’s her job to know everything about the Blake family, and J.J.’s recent divorce is the talk of the town. Women are lined up to become the next Mrs. Blake, and who wouldn’t want to be? J.J.’s gorgeous, rich, and has stormy green eyes that hold women captive.

J.J. Blake is making some major changes in his life. Freshly divorced from ex-wife Eden, he’s building a new house, coming to terms with the injury that ended his NFL career, and is ready to start fresh—without romance complicating things. His friends and family encourage him to get back into the dating pool, but he’d rather not be sucked into those rough waters again. Work is the obvious diversion, and he opts to handle the security audit himself for some good old-fashioned guy/tech work. But when Sam Carson walks into his office, J.J.’s brought up short. The “Sam” he was expecting turns out to be Samantha—beautiful, smart, and a tough-as-nails ex-cop in a polished, professional package. And she’s just the kind of woman who could drag him under…

Excerpt ~

J.J. Blake woke to find his bed empty and a note from Eden on the pillow saying she didn’t have it in her to say goodbye. He stared at the ceiling, wishing he could stay in bed for the rest of the day with the memory of the heady, lust-filled night with his ex-wife. He’d danced with her at Seth and Morgan’s wedding. Four dances later, they’d swiped a bottle of champagne and retired to the house for one last night of passion. As soon as J.J. opened the door, years of angst let loose like a broken dam as they stripped each other and made love into the wee hours of the night. It was the perfect way to end their otherwise disastrous marriage. Sex was only time the two of them weren’t at each other’s throats.

He roamed around his living room, taking one last look at the place. After two weeks of scouring the house he was pretty sure he’d removed anything of sentimental value. A picture of Eden and him on their wedding day sat on the mantle. It hadn’t been there yesterday. She must have brought it with her. He picked it up and smiled, thinking how happy and clueless he’d been back then. Still, it had no place in the house anymore, so he snagged it and put it in the kitchen trash. Satisfied, he went outside to put a few things in his truck.

“Mr. Blake, we should be ready for phase two in about a half hour.”

He nodded at the foreman. “Thanks, Jesse.”

A truck headed toward them on the road. He could see his mother’s red hair peeking over the steering wheel. She parked and cut the engine.

J.J. helped her get out of the vehicle. “Good morning, Momma.”

“Good morning baby. Is Eden here? I saw you leave with her last night.” She looked around for her daughter-in-law’s car.

“She left hours ago. Did you want to say goodbye?”

“No, we said our goodbyes. We had a long talk last night.”

J.J. furrowed his eyebrows. “You did?”

Teri-Lyn touched his arm. “I told her that I’m sorry things turned out the way they did and I wished her the best.”

“Wow. Thanks for saying that Momma.”

“Just because the two of you didn’t work out doesn’t mean there isn’t true happiness out there for each of you.”

“If this relationship has taught me one thing, it’s that I’m just not cut out for marriage.”

“You can’t mean that.”

“Yes, I do. It took seven years to figure that out and I will not go through it again.”

“Promise me you’ll think about it some more before you cast that die into the universe.”

The rest of the family was beginning to arrive. J.J.’s brother Seth pulled up and was helping his wife Morgan and their kids out of their truck.

Morgan came over and kissed him on the cheek. “Hey, J.J.”

“Can’t wait to see this surprise you have for us.” Seth laughed as he balanced his twin boys Connor and Colby in each arm.

“Just a little spring cleaning.” J.J. scooped his Jake nephew into his arms.

It was time to begin anew and it felt right to have his family with him when he did it. The rest of the family began pulling up. John Jacob, Tyler and Channing arrived together in his dad’s truck while Tate and Isabelle came riding up on horseback. J.J. scanned the Blake clan, who were all assembled on his front lawn. Morgan’s mouth gaped open when she spied the button in his hand. He winked at her and she nodded back, apparently she understood what he was trying to tell her. She gave him the inspiration, after all. He’d laughed for a half hour when he’d found that steamy romance novel she’d snuck into his briefcase during his visit to Philadelphia, but when he’d read it, he’d realized what was missing in his world.

“Thank you for coming out this morning as I bid goodbye to the past.” J.J. pressed the button and felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders when the house began to crumble. He’d gotten the idea to start over with a literal clean slate while he was traveling for business. He visited a prospective property for a land deal and was overtaken by the serenity of the open space with nothing but the blue sky and luscious greenery all around. When he saw the blueprints Morgan’s brother Jared had drawn up for Jake’s tree house, he knew he’d found the right architect to help him design his new home.

No one really knew what to say; the look of shock and awe was plastered on their faces. Finally his brother Tate started clapping. The rest of the family, including the twins, Connor and Colby, joined Tate.

“Uncle J.J., your house go boom.” Jake clapped.

“It sure did. Now I get to build a new one that will have a great room for you, Connor and Colby.”

“Yay!” Jake clapped harder.

“Is this your way of announcing your separation?” Channing raised an eyebrow.

“Eden and I are divorced. It was finalized last month.”

“And you waited a month to tell us because…?” Seth asked.

“I didn’t want to disrupt the festivities of your wedding,” J.J. replied.

Tyler raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t you two leave together last night?”

J.J. shrugged. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Well, I wish you the best on to the next chapter in your life,” Channing quipped.

“All I ever wanted was for you to happy.” Tate patted his shoulder.

“Me too. So what now?” Seth added.

“It’s time to rebuild.” J.J. looked on as the construction men started clearing debris.

Link : https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theperfectstorm-1652392-149.html

Saturday Free Reads

Product Details

A Moment (Moments Series Book 1) by Marie Hall and Anne Victory

A Moment…

I killed myself tonight. 

Or at least I tried. But a woman I do not know refused to let me die. Liliana Delgado wrapped me up in her slim arms and told me things would be okay. But she doesn’t know the demons I live with. The things that have happened to me. Every morning is a struggle just to get out of bed, and the nights are even worse. But the way she smiles at me… I feel something I’ve never felt before. Hope.

…will change our lives

I should not have gone to that burlesque bar on Valentine’s Day, but I did. My life isn’t easy. I had a child when I was only fourteen, now I’m in college and things should have been easier. But they aren’t. My life is spiraling out of control. Then I see Ryan Cosgrove sitting at a table with an empty, broken look in his beautiful blue eyes and something inside of me feels like he knows. He understands what it is to hurt, to struggle. So when I bump into him later that night, bloody, broken, and dying I know I’ll do everything in my power to save him and maybe in the process, I’ll save myself too.

forever…

“Rafe’s first thought was that he wanted to paint her as a Nile River goddess, her shimmering dreadlocks fanned around her head like sunrays.”

Shawna Franklin’s life is challenging… taking care of her teenage brother and working hard in low paying, part-time jobs that barely cover the rent. It’s worth it though. She’s determined Jamie won’t end up like their deadbeat, druggie mother, or worse.
Each month, she earns a few extra dollars posing nude for a SoMa art studio. A proud and stunningly beautiful African American woman, she doesn’t like exposing herself to strangers like that. But it’s legitimate work and she’d do anything for her kid brother.
Rafe Adams has it made. A former marketing executive, he’s a handsome white male who cashed out early and will never have to work another day in his life. It’s all about the finer things in life now, with plenty of money and time to pursue what he loves, including his passion for art. There’s only one thing missing, and money can’t buy it.
When she disrobes in Rafe’s class that first time, Shawna’s grace and mystery grabs him and shakes him to the core. He has to have her, has to know her. He doesn’t know why. He just does.
She’s overcome, too, by her own attraction to this striking man, but suspicious. What’s his true motivation? Will he be just one more jerk who thinks she’s a toy to possess, to play with until he’s bored then tosses it away? Or… could he be the one?
Their worlds are as different as her black is to his white. Is it possible for such differences to come together and make something beautiful? Should she stay proud and independent, or take a risk on love and reach for her dreams?
Of course, choices are never that easy.

Friday’s Featured Cover Art ~ Two Weeks in Geneva

 

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Blurb ~

An unplanned trip could lead to unlikely love…

Quinn Jeffries is having a bad week. After a coworker is injured, she finds herself in Geneva, Switzerland with the fate of her architectural firm, not to mention her own job, resting on her shoulders. All Quinn wants is to save her company and go home. Unfortunately for her, nothing is that simple with the rage-inducing, sinfully handsome Alexander Montague around.

Alexander Montague has plans for his company, and he won’t let anyone—including Quinn, the intriguing American whose curves entice him far more than they should—stand in his way.

Focused on what’s at stake, Quinn and Alexander try to ignore their growing attraction, but the pull between them can’t be denied. For this unlikely pair, can two weeks in Geneva lead to love?

Two Weeks in Geneva: Book One is a 21,000 word contemporary interracial romance, and is the first entry in the three-part serial chronicling Quinn and Alexander’s journey. It features an Alpha hero and curvy African American heroine and is not intended for readers under the age of eighteen.

Link – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-twoweeksingenevabookone-1581323-178.html

Thursday Thoughts: Age ain’t nothing but a number?

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Procsilas Moscas-Flickr

I’m working on re-writing a WIP so it fits nicely into my Destined For Love series, and I’ve got a heroine I’m struggling with to find the right voice for. Okay, here’s the caveat of this statement (or tangential explanation I will give in my usual long winded manner), my heroines are usually women I consider in my closest peer group. Women in their early to mid 30s with voices that are reflective of how I experience this time in my life. I very rarely make them younger because as hip and cool as I think I am (considering I said I was looking at my Tweeter feed the other day, my cool factor is pretty strained) I find it hard to have an authentic 20 something year old voice. I don’t even dare try teens, even with the years I spent immersed in youth culture as an educator, because yeah, see the above comment about “Tweeter”. I’ve only ever gone the opposite end of the age spectrum once, and it was a short that had magical whammy stuff happening that I felt comfortable writing a character significantly older than me. Over all though, I’ve kept a right reign on my age ranges. It could be a cop out of course and if I was really committed to expanding my craft I would blah blah blah whatever it is people say to shame you into trying something you’re not comfortable with but I kept thinking, it just ain’t happening. Until recently that is. This new character is a woman in her early 40s that has fought to hold her own in a male dominated profession of finance. She’s smart, witty, vulnerable, and stubborn, but most of all from a historical perspective would have had a very different lived experience than me because of those 10-12 years she has on me. There are some things that overlap but there is something to be said for the fact that being a teen in the 80s, twenty something in the 90s, and cusping into your 30s at the dawn of the millennium gives you a different world view than someone that was in college during Y2K.

Now this is when I try to sooth myself with thoughts like, “The majority of your female friends are her age” and even I have to admit that in any other context the, “But some of my best friends are…” sounds offensively trite. I also have to acknowledge as well that I over think things to such an extreme degree when it comes to writing (honestly, I’m way more chill with regards to other things in my life) that I’ve possibly inhibited myself from completing a large chunk of writing over the years. Mostly because I’m quick to discard prose that doesn’t feel as I mentioned earlier, “authentic”. Slightly neurotic (possibly more but I’m working on being kinder to myself when it comes to writing), but I can’t seem to work my way out of that place. That is until while perusing my FB timeline I saw the following quote by Rumi, “The lamps are different, but the light is the same.”

When I described my heroine earlier as I stated she’s smart, witty, vulnerable, and stubborn, and all of those things are shaped by her age. Yet, I’m seized with this fear that it will just be a number on a page as she speaks with this early 30s voice. Her experiences told from the perspective of someone that has only ever window shopped at life. Remember I mentioned that neurosis, yeah, it’s crazy making. So I’m going to keep this quote by Rumi tacked somewhere visible, helping me to remember there are universal truths to the human experience that I should focus on, and hopefully when I’m all done, I’ll look at this heroine I’ve created and think, I can’t wait to be her.

Wednesday’s words – One readers review of Ensared by Charisma Knight

I like alien books, call it what you will but they are my favorite. When I see one released I don’t hesitate to but it and like a heavy set kid in a candy store my mouth waters and my palms itch in anticipation. I must find a quiet corner to bask in the words I am about to take in. Ensared is a good book. It is a little long winded but the parts do pick up. I should also mention that I am a fan of Charisma night so I am just a tad biased. All in all I enjoyed the read but everyone is different. Blurb and link are posted below I’ll let you form your own opinion.

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Blurb~

Naturally feisty Charlie Marine plans for an extended vacation on Mars in spite of all the abductions in her area. When she misses her shuttle, a strange Xuldarian man claiming to be a pilot approaches her. Against her better judgment and eager to start her vacation, she takes him up on his offer and discovers she’s been abducted and to be delivered to a Vaakulsian Commander–Rhyker Aluhira.

Rhyker knew from the first time he laid eyes on the tall, dark, and beautiful Earth goddess that he was in for the long haul–only, he didn’t know just how much of a fight she’d put up to preserve her identity. Unlike submissive Xuldarian and Vaakulsian women, Charlie is brave and defiant. Rhyker fears her outspoken ways will soon place her in danger. Can Rhyker and Charlie meet each other half way or will they continue to butt heads in a world where women are expected to be subservient?

 Link ~
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-ensnared-1616843-340.html

Excerpt Monday ~ Bewitching the Vampire King by Selena Illyria

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Blurb ~

A stubborn witch vs a vampire king…who will win on Halloween?

Bridget is a witch who has been given a sweet deal—nab a rogue vampire and score a big payday, but she must deliver him within twenty-four hours. She’ll need help from Joe, the local vampire liege, to find the rogue vampire fast. Joe agrees to give her the information…if she agrees to play a few hands of poker with him. For each hand, she must reveal a bit about herself. And for each hand she wins, he’ll answer any question she asks. But Bridget isn’t sure she can keep things objective—not when Joe gives her that seductive grin.

Joe has always had an interest in the little witch. She defies his expectations and surprises at every turn. But despite his natural inclination to help her, he decides to make her work for the information she needs in the most delicious ways. With a little bit of seduction and a little bit of bondage, he tests her resolve to play the game…and tests his own self-control to contain the blood beast inside him. The stakes are sky-high, for both of them. But on Halloween, the most powerful night of the year, which one will be the winner?

Excerpt ~

Bridget knew she’d made a mistake.

Joe led her into the room, pulled out her chair, and touched the small of her back as he pushed her seat forward. There had been no need for the touch, but the electric shock traveled through the layers of her leather jacket and her thin sweater. The current trailed lazily up and down her spine to buzz around her pussy and fill her body with heat and awareness. The tips of her ears burned and her face flushed. She licked her bottom lip and tried to focus on the danger that sat across from her.

Joe took his seat with easy grace, his features bathed in golden light from the overhead chandelier and the lit candelabras. Bridget took in the neatly groomed five o’clock shadow, his navy blue eyes outlined with dark lashes, the barbell piercing that cut through his thick right brow. Despite his undead status, he had a light tan that only enhanced her fascination with him. Where the hell did vampires go to tan that wouldn’t cause them to burst into flames? She shoved away her question and focused on the silver studs in his ears. A smirk graced his mouth. She wondered what it was he knew that made him smile that way.

She’d heard the rumors, knew the older vampires could read things in a single touch, even through layers of clothing. What he got from her she wasn’t sure and didn’t want to know, but that damn smirk seemed to mock her. Her body twitched with unused energy as the thrill of contact with him continued to circulate. Her blood buzzed with awareness and her skin tingled.

She licked her bottom lip again and fought to focus on something else, anything else. Her stare trailed from the red-oak flooring to the framed posters of comic book covers, each one singed by author and artist. A pang of envy filled her as she spotted a Batman: Year One cover signed by Frank Miller. For a moment, she wondered what kind of security system he had and if she could sneak it out without him knowing.

His steady, unblinking gaze settled on her like a weight, making her hyperaware of just how tight her nipples were and just how long it had been since she’d gotten laid. This was why she went out of her way to avoid the living hell out of Joe. She knew nothing about him, but he managed to pull and tug at things deep in her body she didn’t want to think about.

She focused on the bat-shaped bulbs of his chandelier and wondered what could compel him to buy something so ugly. It was at odds with the simplicity of the room.

Joe cleared his throat and Bridget turned her attention back to him. He still had that smirk on his lips. Her palm prickled with the urge to smack him and make him stop. At least her magic hadn’t been activated. “What?”

He shrugged. “Nothing.”

She gritted her teeth. “What?”

He picked up the cards and held them up. “Rules are simple. You win a round, I answer whatever question you ask. I win, you answer me. Deal?”

“That’s why I’m here,” she managed to get out, suppressing a growl.

He raised an eyebrow. “To play poker and enjoy the pleasure of my company?”

“For answers, asshole.”

He opened his mouth wide enough that she saw his tongue stud. She squirmed on her chair. She’d heard all the rumors about what men with that kind of tongue piercing could do. This was no time to think about it.

Joe chuckled, a dark sound that seemed to have nothing to do with poker and everything to do with sex. Did all vampires learn this laugh or was it just the old ones?

He dealt out the cards and settled back in his chair. Bridget picked up her cards and looked down, unsure whether or not she had a good hand. She had never played poker in her life. She figured two aces were good but what about two eights?

What the hell had she gotten herself into? Damn you, Fritz!

Link~

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-bewitchingthevampire-1631500-147.html

Saturday Free Reads

London Lust by Renee Wyckoff

Victoria is living the good life that any woman would want and that includes; being the owner of Illinois Soothing Day Spa, and marrying the love of her life who just happens to be the owner of a fortune 500 business called Fine Craft. So where did she go wrong? How did she go from vacationing in London and planning to go to Paris with her husband, to having her heart broken? How far will she go to exact revenge for the hurt and deceit done to her by the very ones she called her friends?

 

A Thankful Love (A Richards Family Short Book 1) by K. Victoria Chase

 

Divorced. Pregnant. Alone.

Her parents were right about Tyrone, but Maya Richards is determined to prove them wrong about her. She might be divorced and pregnant, but this Thanksgiving will be full of blessings — if she could just get a job.

Jake Rivers has had ten years to prove to Maya he’s a man worthy of her love. However, challenging economic times threaten to destroy the company he’s built. Hiring Maya may save his business, but can he convince her to love again?

Friday’s featured Cover Art – Alpha Male Incorporated – Take Control by Marie Rochelle

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Blurb ~

Vampire Thorsten Irizarry ignored the countless warnings from his cousin Jax to stop dating women who weren’t destined to be his mate. Why should he do it? He was only having a little harmless fun until Raya August came to her senses. She wouldn’t care about his past relationships. He knew his charming ways would win her over without any problems.

However, he was wrong. Nothing he did captured her heart. He was at a lost how to change her first impression of him.

Raya August wasn’t interested in having Thorsten as her mate. In her mind, he was a playboy looking for another challenge to conquer but he wouldn’t find it with her. She wasn’t into playing games and she wasn’t about to start now with him.

If he wanted her heart, he would have to earn it.

Link ~

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-alphamaleincorporatedtakecontrol-1647162-178.html

 

Thursday Thoughts: Patience is a virtue

What I do when I can't make the words fit.

What I do when I can’t make the words fit.

As a writer I often seek validation for the tumultuous experience it is to practice my craft. It’s a surprising need for me because in my other chosen profession, that keeps a roof over my head and food in my belly (and boy does my belly love it some food), I don’t often need external qualifiers of why what I do is so important. There could be a variety of reasons why, that center around insecurities that what I do as a writer is wanted, needed, and/or important. It’s crazy making some times my desire to put the little pieces of my psyche that long to be a coherent tale together on page and yet I push myself to do it almost everyday.

The quote by Dr. Maya Angelou best encapsulates that feeling for me when she said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Poignant wordsmith that she was, those words hold the depth of longing that I often experience when sorting through the words that clutter my mind, and provide the validation to not feel crazy holding this need to get a story or three out. I think it also reflects quite accurately the melodrama that one experiences while crafting a new tale.

Let’s be honest, I will not be physically harmed if the words don’t fit seamlessly together as I hope. As much as a I enjoy what I do, no lives will be lost or countries toppled if one of my smexy romances isn’t completed, and yet that doesn’t make them any less important to me or hopefully the group of readers I’ve collected on the way. This agony becomes an exquisite ecstasy once a story is born and I’m constantly seeking a way to reach that high.

What happens though when the agony of bearing the untold story becomes muted by the wrenching pain of trying to force the words out? If holding the untold story is unbearable, forcing it can be paralyzing. We authors reference writers block, or our muses being stifled, but it isn’t until one is mired in the thick of creative indecision that they feel the full force of not being able to do what you love. It is most disconcerting after experiencing the high of watching a story being born.

As I sought validation of my predicament from Dr. Angelou’s quote to explain what it felt like to create a story, I turned toward the proverbial phrase, “Patience is a virtue” to cope with being stalled. Not because I’m deeply connected to a moralistic perception of myself striving to be a virtuous individual (because clearly, that would be a bit of a fallacy), but more so because if there is a struggle in giving life to a story, there is an equal one in holding onto a story until it’s truly ready to be free. I have yet to master either but each day I commit to making my writing more than just a hobby, I realize that I must develop proficiency equally in both.

This has required me to step back, seek joy in things other than the euphoria of finishing a story, and be confident that though I carry this burden now, with a little patience my waiting will be worth it in the end. After all, I’ve been here before in my process of writing and made it through. I’m quite invincible it would seem. Or at least incredibly stubborn. *wink*