Archive for February, 2009

Finally Finished

February 28, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 4 Comments →

About a week ago I finally finished a book that I was working on. The reason I say finally finished is it usually doesn’t take me that long to finish a book. Now I am not talking about the editing before submission. I mean the first draft of the book. This one took a little longer due to various things seeming to work against me.

After with all the mishaps these last few weeks I was able to finally focus on my current work in progress. Focus and get it done. Put it to bed. It was such an exhilarating feeling. A feeling I never get tired off. Writing the end of the book then sitting back and marveling that what you envisioned is done. The moments right after writing The End is what I revel in the most. I took an idea brought it to life word by word. Page by page. Chapter after chapter through to the end.

Sine I’ve just finished my current work in progress I’ve been taking a sometime off. Soon I know my mind will turn to think of what to work on next but at least for now I’m enjoying that I am finally finished.

McKenna Jeffries
http://www.mckennajeffries.com
…. sensual, edgy, unexpected

Blog: http://www.mckennajeffries.com/blog
Chat Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/McKennaJeffriesList

Conquering Jazz - What’s a woman to do when she unwittingly makes a tantalizing proposition to her best friend?

Be brazen, bold and set some ground rules.
Her offer. One night of carnal bliss. No emotion allowed.

His counter offer. A continued affair to fulfill all their sexual cravings.

His hidden agenda. Conquer to make sure their affair never ends.

Buy here at Liquid Silver Book.

Favorite Authors & the Author in Me

February 25, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger 11 Comments →

As a published author myself, I’ve been asked on many occasions who my favorite author is…who has inspired me most. Time and time again, I have responded—Jane Austen. It seems like an easy response, almost cliché. I mean how many times have you heard this same exact response from several authors?? But let me reiterate—I really love Jane Austen!

When we choose a favorite author, I suppose it is because we love their writing and can’t get enough of it, and as authors wish we were as good as they. That is exactly how I feel about Jane. Miss Austen had a special gift, a talent if you will, not just in writing but in knowing people. Think about it. Here is this prim and proper (though some would argue this point) Regency era woman, unmarried, and coming from the middle of the social pool—and she has this uncanny ability to write the most terrific characters. She wrote characters to hate, laugh at, and fall in love with. Some of the other greats of classic literature also had this remarkable ability—Dickens for instance and Shakespeare. Think of their casts of characters that once read will never be forgotten.

For me, a good book is dependant on well-written characters far more than plot. Yes, we need a telling plot to keep the story going, but it is the characters which take us on the journey.  I have only begun my adventure as a published author, having had my first book published in December 2006 and number ten released earlier this month; but when I come to the end of this excursion, I hope there is someone out there who can say ‘Cindy Green wrote characters that I will never forget..’

If there is one thing I have learned from Jane Austen it is to observe people and try to make my characters as real as possible. Why is it that the likes of JA and Shakespeare are still read and revered to this very day? It’s because they wrote people that are true of the human spirit which will never change. That is the kind of author I want to be when I grow up. I want to make you laugh, make you think and in the end make you remember.

Let me take the time now to introduce you to my latest release, Dilemma of the Heart. Available now from The Wild Rose Press.

Excerpt #1:

Placing her hat on the bench, she removed the golden charm from around her neck and held it in the palm of her hand. She opened it and admired the lock of lovely golden brown hair held inside. She touched the strands of Frederick’s hair, the softness causing deep emotions to stir within her. A hand came to her mouth to stifle the sob forming in her throat. With him, she had formed all her hopes and dreams. All that was gone. Now the future only seemed to spread before her like an empty, desolate land.

Lord, why? Why did you allow Frederick to die? Why did he have to leave me? Why? Huge tears began to tumble down her cheeks.

Snapping the locket shut, she shot to her feet as her hands bunched into fists. These thoughts were a poison to her soul. It was as if she was determined to make herself continue in perpetual grief. Her life had become a vale of tears and she was tired of it. She had to let him go if only to allow her heart to rest. She knew that would only come by allowing God to heal her pain but she couldn’t. If she permitted herself to stop hurting over Frederick, it would be like admitting she had forgotten him.

Excerpt #2:

“Cass, what are you doing here?” Frederick said quite casually, breaking the silence between them. He set the comb in his hand down on a bench and then tousled a hand through his sun-lightened brown hair. Though his eyes revealed no displeasure at her sudden appearance, he seemed unsure of her intent. At this point, she wasn’t sure what she was doing there either. Her stalwart resolutions back at home seemed to be disappearing into the inky dark night. If he had come home hoping to marry her as they had promised, then he sure wasn’t trying very hard to see that come to fruition.

“I…I’m not sure why I’m here.”

A slight smile curved in the corner of his mouth, the type of playful expression which commonly appeared on his features when they were younger. “It’s not like you to be indecisive, Miss Huddleston.” He said her name with a smirk as he leaned against a stall and crossed his arms.

Cassandra closed her eyes and tightly grasped the sides of her dress, trying to maintain her temper. “Will you please cease with the Miss Huddleston. It is becoming quite tedious, Mr. Adair.” She uttered his proper name with as much derision as she could muster.

He began to move toward her, his strides determined and sleek. “And how shall I address you when you’re married?” His voice drawled into a low and provocative tone, making her heart give a little leap.

She made the mistake of gazing into those deep, wonderful eyes of his and forgot to breathe as his eyes, no longer playful, seared into her, down to her beating heart. When she was finally able to gulp some air, her lungs began to pump again. “You may call me Cassandra as you always have…I hope.” Her voice came out breathy and weak.

“Oh, no, I don’t believe that would be proper.” He stepped right in front of her face and touched his forehead to hers. In that moment, it felt as if a dozen butterflies had been released inside her stomach. He grabbed her around the waist, but before he had the chance to kiss her, she returned to her senses. Pushing off from his chest, she moved down toward the stalls, keeping her back to him as she held a hand over her galloping heart.

**********

CONTEST!

Want to win a copy of this title? Send an email to cindy@cindykgreen.com with the subject: Dilemma and you will be entered into a drawing.

Stop by Cindy’s website to read about her other new release—a historical western—The Heart Never Lies.

**********
Cindy K. Green is a multi-published author with degrees in History and Education. Previously a middle school English & History teacher, she now homeschools her own children and writes in several genres: Inspirational, Contemporary, Suspense, Fantasy and Historical romance. Find out more about Cindy and her books at www.cindykgreen.com and http://cindykgreen.blogspot.com/. To join her newsletter email her at  newsletters@cindykgreen.com, and she will send you out all three parts of her FREE READ serial,  “Valentine’s Challenge.”

The Big Secret of Getting Published

February 24, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger 11 Comments →

(Charlotte Hughes is the best selling author of  over 40 novels, although she is best known for her FULL series which she coauthored with friend Janet Evanovich. Her newest release NUTCASE involves Atlanta psychoNutcase by author Charlotte Hugheslogist Kate Holly, who learns that the life of a psychologist is enough to drive you nuts. It launches today, Feb 24th. You can read more about it at her website http://www.readcharlottehughes.com)

When I became interested in writing, some twenty-five years ago, I began taking classes, attending conferences, and reading everything I could get my hands on that would teach me the craft of writing. At the very first conference I attended, I met an author who had actually published – gasp – 14 books! Holy cow! I was in awe. I wanted to wash her feet in Chanel and dry each toe with my hair. Why? Because I wanted to know her Big Secret to getting published.

I gave her the titles of all the how-to-write books I’d read, told her about the class I was attending, and how I’d just joined RWA.

 “That’s nice,” she said, “but you have to write your book.”

“Yes, but how do I know it will sell?” I asked. “I don’t know what editors are looking for, and everybody says the market is glutted. And what if I do sell the book and it’s published and nobody buys it? I can’t afford to promote it. And what if, like some authors have complained about, my editor leaves and my book is orphaned? And what if—”

By this time the writer’s eyes had glazed over. “You just have to write the book,” she repeated.

Oh. Well, easy for her to say, I thought as I walked away. Editors were probably dying to receive her next book, but I was a nobody in the publishing world. And she probably didn’t have a job and young children and a husband who traveled a lot, pretty much leaving me to fill two roles.

Woe was me, for sure!

 Nevertheless, I went home, sat down at my typewriter, only to suffer an anxiety attack at the sight of the blank page before me. Again, I was assailed with doubt. No way could I write an entire book!

But. . .

I could maybe write one page per day. Or maybe three pages per day. I could aim for writing a chapter! Breaking it down into smaller goals was less overwhelming. And I had to stop worrying about rejection because I would never be able to write if I thought about that!  

I began writing the book. What else could I do? I had characters clamoring to tell their story, and they weren’t going away. 

 It wasn’t easy. There were a lot of stops and starts and interruptions. Sometimes it felt as if the whole world was trying to steal my precious writing time. There were days that I could only write half a page, but I kept going because I was determined not to let anything stop me. I wrote and rewrote. I revised and then I revised some more.

Because I was so bogged down in my story, I had no idea that I was learning one of the Big Secrets that all professional writers knew. While conferences, classes, how-to-write books, critique groups, and the such, are invaluable tools, the real test is disciplining yourself to actually write. Nobody can do that for you.

Eventually, the words turned into sentences that turned into pages that turned into chapters until – gasp – I held a completed manuscript in my hand!         

The bad news? My book was rejected. Sure, I cried. I wanted to toss my typewriter into the nearest Dumpster and never write again. But there was a whole new cast of characters and a story unfolding in my head. I had to pick myself up and start all over again.

Thus, I learned another Big Secret that professional writers knew. Perseverance. You can be the most talented writer in the world, but if you can’t get your story down on paper it doesn’t count.

The good news? I sold the second book to Bantam’s Loveswept line. TOO MANY HUSBANDS arrived on bookshelves in 1987, and I went on to write almost 30 books for them before I moved from category romance to single titles.          

 My sons are now grown, and I write full time; but each day I have to draw on what I learned early on – again, those words, discipline and perseverance. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written one book or one hundred, those two ingredients are absolutely necessary to carry you through because even bestselling authors will tell you they have starts and stops, anxiety and doubt, and that the business of publishing can be as topsy-turvy as a carnival ride.         

For those who dream of writing or are just starting out, I would offer this advice. You may have read similar suggestions, but it never hurts to be reminded. 

Set up a Time Budget. Just as we have to budget our finances – yeah, right, like I can keep a financial budget – we have to budget our time. Look closely at your schedule. You may have to give up things you like in order to make time for writing. Once you set up your writing schedule do everything you can to stick to it. Some writers work a certain amount of hours per day; others set a quota of pages they must write before they turn off their computer. Do what works for you. I’ve heard it takes 21 days to form a habit. Create good habits.  

Put your goals, short- and long-term on paper and read them daily. Make sure your goals are achievable.  

Learn the trade. While you can’t learn how to write until you start writing, it is important to have guides. Read the types of books you want to write and check books out at your library so you can learn the fundamentals of writing. 

Join a writer’s organization or a critique group. Writing is one of the most solitary jobs that exist. I know because I’m pretty much a recluse. It’s not healthy. Also, please don’t give your first chapter to your best friend or your mother to read. They love you and they’re going to love what you write. You won’t learn what you need to learn if you don’t interact with other writers. Now, this is where I get on my soapbox. If a published author decides to read and critique your work or give you a quote for your newly published book, please remember to show your appreciation. One way you can do that is to go to his or her book signing. Even better, grab a couple of friends and take them with you.  

Keep a notepad handy. When you create, you generate more ideas. Jot them down before you forget them because they may come in handy later. 

Buy a bulletin board and pin affirmations to it. Again, writing is very solitary. There are no pats on the back at the end of the day. It is easy to become discouraged, and even depressed, when your writing isn’t going well. 

Don’t talk about your ideas – write! Talking about ideas won’t get you published. 

Believe in yourself! Everybody has heard about the laws of attraction. If you think positive thoughts you’ll draw positive energy. If you’re filled with negativity and a lack of self-confidence, that’s what you’ll draw. Even if you have to fake it for a while, fake it, but never stop believing. 

Do NOT let anyone steal your dreams! I once read that a now famous author handed her story to an English professor and asked this person’s opinion. The professor told the aspiring writer she had no talent. Excuse me? You have talent or you wouldn’t be          writing in the first place. Fortunately, the new writer ignored the professor and became a star! 

Don’t worry about the market. The market changes constantly. Write your book.

Let nothing stop you. Most, if not all writers have received rejection slips. Toss them in the trash and keep writing! 

Lastly, never begrudge another writer’s success.  Sure, it’s natural to feel envious when your friend sells her book for a ton of money or makes a list. Some writers do strike gold on their first book, making the of rest us, who have ‘paid our dues,’ so to speak, groan. Don’t let envy turn to jealousy turn to bitterness. While it is okay to have a competitive spirit, make sure it’s healthy. The surest way to draw in negativity is to resent another author’s success. We’re all in this together. Celebrate that author’s good fortune because it’s much easier to write your own book if you’re not harboring ill will toward another colleague. Besides, you might just be the next bestseller! 

        Now that you have more advice than you’ll probably ever need, put my suggestions away and, you guessed it, write your book!

(Charlotte’s Virtual Book Blog Tour VIRTUALLY NUTS is just getting started.  Leave a comment on this post and you’re entered in a drawing for a free autographed book. For more information visit her blog GROUP THERAPY at http://blog.readcharlottehughes.com)

Happily-ever-after coming your way!

February 23, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 16 Comments →

Greetings Everyone! First, I have to thank the gals at Romance Junkies for allowing me to tell you about my new novel. It is such a thrill to be entering the marvelous – and sometimes scary – world of publishing. As a debut author it is especially comforting to be given the opportunity to share my vision at a place where the aim is to promote and support romance. Because, if it is romance you want, I got it for ya!

My name is Sharon Lathan and thanks to the amazing crew at Sourcebooks I am privileged to present Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One. Probably easy to figure out that it is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but rest assured that my version offers something different.

Lathan bookcoverBack Cover Blurb~~~~

A Honeymoon can last a lifetime… Beginning on their wedding day, Pride and Prejudice’s Darcy and Elizabeth are two people who are deeply in love with one another and are excited to begin their marriage. Their courtship was tempestuous; misunderstandings and misgivings nearly tore them apart. But now that they’ve seen each other without prejudice, their trust, attraction, and delight in each other grows with each passing day. Both are inexperienced and innocent, sharing moments of shyness and boldness as they discover the kinds of intimacies that a newlywed couple shares. As their love story unfolds, they reveal their innermost secrets and feelings, embracing each other in a marriage filled with romance, passion, humor, and drama that will keep you spellbound.

Right from the beginning I suppose I was ‘doing it wrong’ according to the standard romance-writing formula. Ages before I was inspired by P&P and wrote this story I was continually curious about what happened after the final page, after the screen faded to black, after the kiss. Imagining the couple as they dealt with life together and lived the happily-ever-after of the fairy tale intrigued me. I always wanted more and was never content to let the magic wane as I spun scenes in my head. I rejected the idea that it had to be boring. I also rejected the idea that it had to be tragic! Why not find joy and be in love forever? And heck, life can be fun!

The why and how of my taking these random dreams from this particular story and creating a series of novels can be read in depth at my website – The Darcy Saga. In a nutshell, I still am not sure why! Timing and divine providence, I guess. Whatever the case, I believe I have proven my convictions: Two people can become one soul and have terrific fun in the process.

Sharon LathanFitzwilliam and Elizabeth offer hope that marriage can be wonderful and special. They are human, of course, and far from perfect! But don’t we read and write romance novels because we want to believe that the elusive true-love exists? That the fire of passion can persevere and flame hotter? I think so!

Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One is volume one in my Darcy Saga series. It is a tale for Austen fans. It is a tale for romance fans. It is a tale for history fans. It is a tale for believers in love. Are you one of those?

Here is a small taste from the wedding night. Hopefully it will whet your appetite for more!

“All in due time, Mrs. Darcy. First, I have a wedding present for you.” He took her by the hand and seated her on the sofa. He went to the armoire and pulled out a square box wrapped with blue paper and tied with a thick blue ribbon. He returned to her and placed it into her lap, kneeling before her. “For you, my wife, always to remember this day, the happiest day of my life.”

Elizabeth was slowly shaking her head and tears filled her eyes. “William, you should not have. You have given me so many wonderful gifts already! All I need to remember and mark this day is you … only you.”

Darcy smiled, “Thank you, dearest. You shall always have me. Now you shall also have this meager token as well. Open it.”

Elizabeth untied the bow and pulled the wrapping away. Inside the box, lying on a bed of dark blue velvet, was a vanity set … brush, comb and mirror … made of mother-of-pearl with Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy engraved on each handle. The craftsmanship was exquisite. She was overwhelmed.

“William, I do not know what to say. They are beautiful! I have never owned anything equal. Thank you so very much!” She leaned over and kissed him soundly.

Darcy beamed at her obvious pleasure. “You would have enjoyed the spectacle, my dear. I have come to realize how lacking my education is in the area of feminine requirements. I have, in fact, studiously avoided the subject in the past. Recently, I have discovered myself extremely fascinated by all the mysteries related to the fairer sex, or more specifically related to you. I scoured my extensive library and found not a single book that could answer the questions I had. I surmised that the only sure avenue open to me was to enter the shops in London that cater to the needs of women.”

Elizabeth could picture it clearly and the vision did make her smile. He went on, “I was most relieved to find that I was not the only gentlemen present in the establishments, but I certainly was the most ignorant! Fortunately the proprietors were remarkably sympathetic and willing to further my education. So, I learned numerous incidentals, which I am certain will aid me in being an understanding husband. As for this particular gift, considering how ardently I admire your beauty and especially your lovely hair, it seemed fitting.”

“William, you are too good to me. I truly do not deserve you.”

“Nonsense,” he replied gruffly, “I love you and enjoy giving you gifts.” As he spoke, he absentmindedly reached up under her gown and began running his hand along her right calf. Time stood still for both of them. Instantaneously their mutual desires were awakened and their thoughts became riveted to their need for each other.

Gazing into her eyes with a deep intensity, Darcy took the box off Elizabeth’s lap, laid it on the floor, and then rose onto his knees, bringing himself level with her. He slowly ran his hands along the tops of her thighs and around her bottom, pulling her to the edge of the sofa. Her knees parted and he moved closer to her body as his hands leisurely caressed their way up her back, eventually entwining in her hair as he brought her lips to his and kissed her passionately.

****For more excerpts and information, please visit my website: The Darcy Saga

LOVE, ITALIAN STYLE

February 22, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 6 Comments →

Italy has long been a popular romantic destination for travelers. Whether it’s Firenze or Roma, no matter where you go in Italy you’ll find reminders of a past that so many writers have considered the foundation of true romance. An Italian man takes amore seriously. He’ll shower you with words of love, and in the bedroom he is a superb lover. He will make you feel as if you are the only woman in the world who matters to him. But don’t let him down. He expects you to be as hot and passionate as he is.

Because Italian is a romance language, what better way to start Valentine’s Day than with a lesson on relating how you feel toward your loved one…in Italian. The following is a very short list of how to express amore. This list was compiled by Francesca di Meglio, a writer who contributes to many Italian-American publications and online sites about “Growing up Italian.”

Ti amo (tee ahmoh) – I love you. This phrase is reserved for your soul mate, the person with who you want to share your life, the person for whom you are passionate

Amore (ah mor eh) – Love. This can be used as a pet name for your beloved or your kids. Or it can be used to express love as in “peace and love” or “pace e amore”. One word is really all you need.

Bacio (bacheeoh) – Kiss. This word is often used to sign off on a phone conversation or letter. It can be made plural by eliminating the final o, which is pronounced bahchee. If you say “dahmee uhn bahcheeoh”, you are saying “give me a kiss”. How sweet! The chocolates of the same name are yummy and a welcome Valentine’s Day treat.

Abbraccio (ahbracheeoh) – Hug. This word is often used with the word bacio as a sign off. It too can be made plural by eliminating the final o. You would write or say, “baci e abbracci” or “kisses and hugs”.

Stringimi (streengeemee) – Squeeze me. You would say this to your lover when you want to be held close and tightly.

Vuoi uscire con me? (vewoi usheereh cawn meh) – Will you go out with me? Use this when you want to court someone and show them a good time. Just think how impressed this new person will say when you ask him or her out in Italian! There’s no way you’ll hear no as a response.

San Valentino (Sahn Valenteenoh) – Saint Valentine. The saint that is responsible for the most romantic day of the year. His feast day is Feb. 14.

I had the privilege of growing up Italian. My pride for my heritage has led me to become involved in the Order Sons of Italy in America. It also has been a major influence in the stories I write. My latest book takes place in the Po Valley of Northern Italy in 1425. It’s the first book of a trilogy about three psychic sisters.

 

A new historical romance from

Jannine Corti Petska

CARINA AND THE NOBLEMAN

Book One from the Sisters of Destiny Trilogy

Forced to the streets after her mother dies, Carina Gallo is desperate to survive and find her long lost sisters.

Consumed with locating his missing brother, Count Luciano Ruggero has forsaken his needs.

When Luciano catches beautiful and vulnerable Carina stealing from him, he takes pity and cares for her until she’s strong enough to work off her crime. Carina is forever grateful to Luciano, yet fears he will learn of her wicked secret and condemn her to burn.

Will Luciano and Carina find a way to feed the mutual passions they share, or will heresy and obsession with lost family destroy them both?

ebook available at www.eternalpress.ca

ebook: 978-1-926640-59-4print: 978-1-926647-35-7 (print release date tba)Excerpt:After Carina steals food from his tavern, Luciano rescues her from starvation and takes her to his home to get healthy and to work off her crime. This is the first meeting where he tries to learn who she is. His manservant has fallen ill, and his upstairs maid is also showing signs of becoming sick.

 

  “Did you come here to ply your trade?”

    “And what trade might that be, my lord?”

    He forced himself to remain rooted to the floor else he’d throttle the

outspoken wench. “Are you a strumpet?”

    His directness caused her to blush. She wasn’t unshakable after all.

    “I fear you have misjudged me, Count Ruggero.”

    “Then from where did you come? And I’ll have a straightforward

answer.”

    She dropped her hands to the folds of the silk gown. To hide her

nervousness over speaking of her past? Luciano wondered.

    “I worked for the Baldovini,” she replied.

    His eyes bore into her. Carina read his suspicion.

    “If you do not believe me, send someone to the Baldovini to inquire

about me,” she openly challenged. “I spent the whole of my life on their

lands, working the fields these four years past.”

    He set his goblet down gently and moved closer. “You were a

laborer?”

    She nodded but couldn’t speak with the count standing but a long

stride away. His imposing presence commanded attention. Were she not

a pauper and he a count, she’d assuredly lure him into a kiss, as

improper as it might be. It wouldn’t be an unpleasant experience, she’d

wager. The only kiss she’d ever received from a man had been from the

lecherous, slobbering Signor Baldovini. He had cornered her and tried to

snatch more than just a kiss. Miseria! She still cringed from the horrible

memory.

    “The Baldovini employ only men and boys to work their fields,” the

count pointed out.

    “Signora Baldovini did not allow me to work in her private

residence.”

    He stepped closer. So close, Carina smelled the clean scent from his

morning bath and the faint fragrance of wine on his breath. Her heart’s

pace quickened.

    “Why would the signora forbid you from her home?”    “Truth be told, Signor Baldovini had an eye for me. The signora told

my mother I tempted her husband. Mamma knew better, for Signor

Baldovini has an eye for all women and has many bastard children.”

    The count’s cheeks lined with shallow dimples when he suppressed a

smile at her directness. Carmine Baldovini’s illegitimate children were a

well-known fact, one his wife continually denied.

    “Did you tempt him?”

    Carina cocked her head and tightened her mouth.

    “I will take your silence as an affirmation.”

    “No!” she exploded, unduly put out by his judgment of her character.

“I did not tempt him, and I am not a strumpet. I am still a vir—” Her lips

slammed together.

    Pleased to hear her virtue remained intact, Luciano took another step

forward. His pulse hastened and suddenly he desired to touch Carina’s

cheek, to know if it was as preciously smooth as it looked. “Why are you

no longer working for the Baldovini?”

    He was not prepared for the sadness flooding her features. He

gentled his demeanor.

    “My mother died four months past. Signora Baldovini demanded I

leave at once. I had no where to go but the streets.”

    The directness of her gaze captured his. Not weak in courage by any

means, she hadn’t looked away when she replied. Gesu, how could he

allow her to pluck his heartstrings as she did? He felt her sorrow and

wished he could comfort her. Sorrow he knew all about. But where did

the need to hold her come from?

    “And still a virgin. You are fortunate.”

    “Mayhap.” She shifted her stance. “I am certain you did not bid me

here to discuss my virtue.”

    His gut constricted again. “Maiden, you’d do well to mind your place

in my presence. And that includes your impulsive tongue.”

    “, my lord.” Contrite, but nonetheless acceptable.

    “I shall leave you in Sandra’s care. Once you have attained a more

substantial…a healthier look about you,” he said carefully when her

head tilted, “you’ll tend to my chamber.” So much for keeping her at a

distance. “That means seeing to my laundry and cleaning my chamber

and reading room, the same in which you sleep. You will also mend my

garments. Marcello carries my meals up when I am in no mood to dine

downstairs. So too, he lays out the clothes I wish to wear and sees to my

grooming.”

    “Your pardon, count. Am I to clean your chamber pot as well?”

    His tone clipped, he replied, “I use the garderobe.”

    “And your bath?”

    She wouldn’t ask if she knew the road his mind drifted down. The

scrawny wench teased his lust into awakening yet again, and the day

was still new. “That, angel, I shall take care of myself, with help from my

manservant.”

    Was that relief he saw flitter across her face?

    “Then I agree to the duties you have stated.”

    “Agree?” He couldn’t hide his disbelief. “Agree?” he repeated,

closing the gap between them. Looming above her, forcing her to tilt her

head to see his face, he wondered if she was a fool or just naïve. She

didn’t even attempt to move away. Any other woman would have

cowered back.

    “Sì, agree.”

    “There is naught for you to agree to. You are working off a debt. Your

service to me is your punishment for stealing.”

    “It is, my lord.”

    She relented. Luciano became suspicious.

    “How long must I work to pay my debt, for I barely ate enough to

warrant a lengthy punishment. And I did lose it all, do you not recall?”

    Her reasoning askew, he realized he could reprimand her until the

morrow and she’d not tone down her carelessly spoken words. Had she

lost sight of the fact she had committed a crime? It mattered not how

much she stole. Or that she’d lost it shortly after eating.

    A firm knock interrupted their meeting. Agitated, Luciano barked,

    “Enter.”

    Sandra rushed in, her cheeks flushed, her face wrought with worry.

“Beg your pardon, Count Ruggero. Please forgive me for not

accompanying Signorina Gallo.”

    He nodded, though he was concerned. Except for the warm color on

her cheeks, she appeared as if standing was a chore. Her rapid breathing

confused him, and he would have addressed her health if he knew she

was prone to illness. But Sandra and Marcello hadn’t been sick a day

since they came to work at the manor.

    “Our meeting is over,” he said and slid his gaze to the wench. “Get to

the kitchen for food. The first order will be to fatten you up. For that I

shall add a new debt for you to work off.”

    He glared at her to keep her from speaking another cursed retort.

    “I do not run a room and board here.”

    “Count Ruggero—”

    “Not another word.”

    “But I must—”

    He clamped his hand over her mouth but her lips continued to move,

tickling his palm. “Be damned, woman. Must I tie a cloth around your

mouth to silence you?”

    “If you must…” She swept past him, her head held erect, and glided

toward the open door. Her gracefulness contributed to the appearance of

her floating on air. No commoner had he ever seen walk as regally as she

did.

    His fingers twitched, his entire body tensed. As he watched her walk

away, a strange feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. About to turn his

back to her, he paused when she called his name and faced him with a

tantalizing grin, which renewed the tingling in his groin.

    “You cannot fatten me up, count. I am thin by nature.”

    Blasted wench! He slammed the door then miserably adjusted the

swell in his hose.

You can find the first chapter on my website: www.jcortipetska.com

I’d like to thank Janet for allowing me to share San Valentino with her readers.

baci e abbracci

Character Intro from Surrender Love M/M Scifi Romance

February 21, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger No Comments →

The heroes of Surrender Love are Luc Saint-Cyr and his younger hero, Izzorah “Rah” Ceeow. Let’s start with the cover by Anne Cain. Izzorah is the one in back.  (You can click the link below to go to my publisher’s page for a small pic if the link I used here doesn’t work, or try my books page where you can see a much larger one. http://kayelleallen.com/Books.html

http://www.loose-id.com/prod-Surrender__Love-887.aspx

<a href=”http://s129.photobucket.com/albums/p206/kayelle_allen/?action=view¤t=Kayelle_Allen_SurrenderLove_coverin.jpg” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p206/kayelle_allen/Kayelle_Allen_SurrenderLove_coverin.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Surrender Love”></a>

======================

Sometimes the best way to see a character is through his own actions. Fletch is Izzorah’s cousin, and both males are of the Kin species, a human/cat mix with velvety skin that feels like the soft plush of a cuddly toy, a manelike pelt of fur across the upper chest, fangs, cat’s eyes, and claws that hide beneath human-looking nails. Their ears are pointed like a cat’s, and near the top of their heads. They use those ears to express every emotion, and Luc soon learns to tell when a question is coming from the overly curious “Rah”, just from the set of his ears. It takes Luc a lot longer to discover exactly how well his 20-something lover can keep a secret.

I’ll let the following scene in the opening of Surrender Love say the rest.
 

======================

Setting up the scene: Izzorah Ceeow is a drummer for the group Kumwhatmay. He’s traveled for the last year with them and a couple other rock groups in the Lucsondis stable. They’re in Tarth City to sign a new contract. Trouble is, Izzorah has a few secrets, any one of which could cost him his career, his friends, and possibly even his life. If ever he needed a hero, it’s now. Note: ****** denotes beginning and end of fantasy / flashbackDi Consueto DistrictRenyoj BuildingHis room in the Renyoj Building sounded cavernous. Lucsondis Entertainment put them in posh places wherever Kumwhatmay toured, always top of the line. Izzorah Ceeow flung himself onto his bed and spread arms and legs wide. “This bed’s huge!” He ducked as his cousin landed next to him. “Sure is.” Fletch threw himself across Izzorah and scraped knuckles against his head. 

Laughing, Izzorah shoved him and rolled off the bed to bounce away. Fletch immediately gave chase and Izzorah went down in a flying tackle. He heard the lamp pitch off the table and stretched his body, flung out both hands and caught it before it hit the floor. 

“Good catch!” Fletch crawled over to him, breathing heavily with exertion. 

“You almost broke it!” Izzorah sat up, knelt, and lifted the lamp back to the table. 

“Did not.” Fletch gave him a playful shove.  

“Did.” He shoved back.  

After a moment, Fletch poked him. “S’up, keet-sah? Nervous about tomorrow?” 

“Can’t help it.” Izzorah dragged the claws of both hands back through his hair. “This time, our contract-signing will be with Luc Saint-Cyr himself.”  

“The Man, huh?” Fletch sat on the other bed. “I hear he has android eyes.” 

“Nah. Solid black contacts cover his whole eye. I met Wulf Gabriel last year, when we signed our first contract, and he told me.”  

“Who’s Wulf?”  

“He runs Lucsondis for Mr. Saint-Cyr.” Izzorah peeled down the covers and crawled underneath. He punched the pillow and pulled it under his chest. “They were lovers until a few weeks ago. Everybody’s talking about it. It’s all over the news. I feel sorry for both of ‘em. They get no privacy.” 

“I’m gonna take a shower.” 

Izzorah covered a yawn and listened to the water running. It finally shut off, and the door opened, shut. Footsteps crossed the floor and Fletch climbed into the other bed. The light dimmed. 

Fletch’s voice came out of the dark. “Kumwhatmay know you like guys yet?” 

“No. I don’t get involved with fans. We don’t talk about sex.” 

“How about the other thing?” 

“Which one?” 

Fletch rustled the covers as he turned over. “Your eyes.” 

“No clue.” Izzorah lifted his head and angled his face toward his cousin’s voice. “Which is why you’re here. They can’t find out, Fletch. Not after all I’ve been through.” 

“You’ve hidden it two years. Maybe ya oughta tell ‘em.”  

“No. There are nights when all I think about are the ways I could screw up. I go over every detail of the set, every part of the stage. Meeting new people in a new place — I can hardly breathe.”  

“Hey, I got you.” Fletch knelt between the beds. “I’m not lettin’ nothing happen to you.”  

Izzorah let out a long breath. “Thanks, keet-sah.” 

“You haven’t called me keet-sah since you learned the Etymis word was cousin.” 

“Sorry, popped out.”  

“Felis is your cradle language. You’re Kin. Not like you could hide pointy ears, claws, and fangs. Why hide your language?” 

“Not tryin’ to be human. I wanna blend in. Hate being stared at.” Izzorah punched the pillow as he snuggled into the bed. “Thanks for coming with me.” 

“Is Tark bringing his family?”  

A pang of sadness made Izzorah sigh. “Nah. His divorce went through while we were on the last leg of the tour.”  

“Oh, man. Suuuuucks!”  

“Yeah. You’re the only family who’ll be there.”  

Fletch made a sound from across the room, and Izzorah snapped his head toward him. He hadn’t heard Fletch move. Water splashed into a glass, gulping and a belch followed, then the clink of glass. Footsteps padded back to bed. 

“G’nite, keet-sah.” Fletch lay down. “Tomorrow’s gonna be a great day.”  

Izzorah turned onto his side. How much longer can I keep this up before the group figures out I’m almost blind? I can’t even keep track of one person that I know, let alone a roomful of strangers! He braced an arm across his churning stomach. Have to sleep. Gotta be my best tomorrow. He squeezed his eyes shut, fists clenched. Sleep, Izzy! Sleep! 

After a few minutes, Fletch mumbled in his sleep and started snoring.  

Sighing, Izzorah sat up and hung his head in his hands. What’s the use? I’m way too wound up. He headed for the shower. 

Izzorah slicked his hair down with shampoo. On the road, there was never time to pick up Kin stuff that didn’t have smells in it. Hotel generic-herbal stuff stank, but it was usually all he had, unless one of his cousins stayed with him or sent a care package. 

He turned up the heat and turned his back, head tilted down so the hot water could soothe the tension in neck and shoulders. He lathered shampoo into his pelt, a thick band of fur covering the upper part of his chest above his nipples and up to the collarbone. 

Human girls loved to play with it, but other than enjoying cuddles and kisses, he went no farther with fans. Let the others take on as many females as they wanted; no way Izzorah was letting on to Kumwhatmay he preferred guys. On his homeworld, the simple admission would get him killed. Maybe it was no big deal on Tarth, but if it got out to his Kin fans… He groaned and shook his head. 

I’m no freer here than I was back home. Maybe if I let myself be seen with another guy in public… Yeah, right. Half the followers of Kumwhatmay are Kin. If I screwed up the group, then where’d I be? A drummer with no band. Great. He lifted his face to the water and let it wash away the sting forming in his eyes. 

He rinsed, smoothing his hands down his body. He wrapped one hand around his sahm. Cock, he corrected himself, forcing the Etymis word into his mind. 

They were on Kelthia after the last concert, and while the rest of Kumwhatmay partied, Izzorah hid out in his dressing room, claiming jump lag. He leaned against the door and slid down to the floor. 

Alone. Again. Still. What I really want, I’ll never have. Humans want dominant Kin lovers, not a submissive one. The images he’d seen on Kin sex vids, of humans being taken — not in cruelty, but with power, with concern — yet taken, used, and toyed with like a precious, valued pet, made Izzorah groan, aching for a human lover who’d take him like that, if only for a night. ******  Out of nowhere, a human male gripped both Izzorah’s arms and pulled him to his feet in one move, pinioning him to the wall like a trophy, hands at shoulder level, one massive thigh between Izzorah’s. Snarling, Izzorah released claws and bared fangs, but the man stayed out of reach. It was dark, and none of his features showed. Against this kind of strength and at such an angle, Izzorah had no defense. He forced his claws fully from their sheaths, but could not reach skin. Grunting with effort, he growled like a warrior. 

“I won’t hurt you.” A whiff of mint revealed the human’s amusement at his efforts, but there was no scent of enjoyment. Whoever he was, he meant no harm. 

With abrupt resignation, Izzorah ceased fighting and rested his head against the wall. He gulped air. 

“Very, very good. Obey, and you have nothing to fear from me.” A hint of bread baked with cinnamon wafted into the air.  

Contentment? Why? ‘Cause I stopped resisting? I obeyed? Naked, helpless in the man’s hands, Izzorah shivered despite heat roaring through his body. He heard himself panting, felt the stretch of his cock thickening, balls heavy. He lowered his ears in submission, gaze down in respect. One did not meet a Kin warrior’s gaze without permission, and what was this man if not a warrior? “Hands above your head.” The deep timbre of the man’s voice sounded the way velvet felt on the fingertips. The man gripped his wrists while Izzorah slid his hands upward. It opened his chest, spread him flat against the wall, and arched him toward the human. Like most Kin, Izzorah’s skinfur was golden-hued, and the thick, almost mane-like swath of the pelt on his chest matched. His chest rose and fell, a cross between fear and desire making him pant. The man held both Izzorah’s wrists with one hand, and hovered the other over his chest. At last, he pet Izzorah’s thick pelt. “Kitten soft.” The man’s scent deepened to paper so hot it smoldered; his lust bordered on pain. “Seeyoo, te ahsgah tsoh.” He spoke like a native. “Teehh ke tu kahta vahss.” 

Hearing his own language spoken, Izzorah jerked up his head. Good, my male beauty, the man had said, using a formal term no rapist would use, and then, give me your eyes here. Does he mean “look at me?” 

Izzorah obeyed, but darkness hid the man’s eyes, as if they were solid black against black skin. 

The man linked their fingers and leaned into Izzorah’s body. Black gloves covered the hands holding him captive. The fabric of the man’s coat and pants felt smooth yet rough at the same time. Big, big man. Tall as a Kin and muscled like one. 

“Show me your fangs.” 

Flashing fangs at a Kin was an insult; didn’t humans know? Izzorah bared them, licked the sharp points, which usually scared off bullies. 

Not this man. “Seeyoo, good. You have perfect fangs. You could bite and make me feel it.” 

Izzorah opened his mouth wider and hissed a warning, but the man’s scent of lust deepened, and he merely flexed his fingers. 

“Seeyoo. Seeyoo, te tsoh dhoksi.” Good. Good, my beautiful lover. 

Wrinkling his nose, Izzorah drew in this man’s scent. Clean, sweet truth. He really thinks I’m beautiful? He wants me for his lover? 

“Now your claws, dhoksi. I want to feel them against my hands. Pierce the gloves.” 

Even a human should know better. In battle, a Kin’s claws penetrated bone. He let them out of their sheaths and obeyed. Gently. 

The man hissed with pleasure; desire emanated from every pore. 

It brought Izzorah’s cock to full readiness, drew up his balls, and sent a flush of heat throughout his body. He made no attempt to free himself. He was safe with this man. But why? How can I be safe when I’ve been assaulted, held captive, imprisoned between the wall and my attacker? 

Because the man’s scent held passion, joy, and no menace or threat. 

“Stand on tiptoe and give me your mouth.” The deep voice caressed, soothed. “I’m going to taste you.” 

Izzorah tilted back his head and rose on tiptoes to obey. He pulled back his tongue at the smoothness of the human’s, not barbed and scratchy like a Kin’s. 

The man released his hands, cupped both of his around Izzorah’s face, and bent forward, angling his head to slant his mouth over Izzorah’s. A kiss of power. Relentless energy. Savage in need, but not in the way he kissed. The softest mouth, bold, taking, claiming every part of him, yet tender, as if he feared Izzorah would break if he kissed too hard. 

Gripping the man’s jacket, Izzorah dug in claws to pull him closer, used one hand to open the coat and bring their chests together. Silk against wet skinfur. At the feel of ripped muscle beneath the shirt, Izzorah pulled the cloth up and out of the pants, ran both hands over smooth, human skin, the ridged abs, hard and defined. No velvet covering like a Kin — only a crisp tangle of short curls in the middle of his naked chest, trailing downward to pants and a belt. 

The man wrapped both arms around Izzorah and cupped his hands beneath thighs, lifting and pulling him close. “Wrap your legs around my waist. I want your cock against mine.” 

Izzorah gave a moaning whimper, unable to resist whatever this man wanted, whatever he demanded, whatever he wished. 

The powerful human braced both knees between Izzorah’s thighs and kept on kissing as he ground their cocks against one another through his clothes. The merging of their mouths and sliding cocks filled every thought, every sense, every aspect of Izzorah’s being, sheltering him in a cocoon of pleasure. 

Izzorah nibbled the man’s mouth, tasted blood drawn by fangs, sweet and buttery with desire, passion a honeyed cream. Izzorah couldn’t catch his breath. He’d never dreamed it would be so good. 

The man stepped back and let him down. Curling one knuckle beneath Izzorah’s chin, he bent to kiss him. “I’ll see you soon.” He added another small kiss and turned to go. 

“No!” Izzorah gripped his hand. “Don’t leave me. Who are you? How can I find you?” 

A glimmer of even, white human teeth flashed in the darkness. “I’m your destiny. Your warrior. I’ll find you.” He stepped back, disappearing into the darkness. 

****** 

“No!” Izzorah pushed open the shower door. The brightly-lit room had filled with fog. “But…but it was so dark…” Had he been asleep in the shower? Three quick raps made him jump. “Who is it?” 

“Who do you think? It’s Fletch.” His cousin knocked again. “Come on, keet-sah. Kory’s bitching about it’s time to leave, and I need to pee.” 

“Leave?” Izzorah ran both hands through his hair. “Hang on a minute.” He turned the water off, flipped the door switch, and grabbed a towel. 

“‘Bout time. I was dancing out there. You been in here forever. Whatcha doin’, keet-sah? Ohnahmeeyana?” The toilet flushed.  

“No, I’m not whacking off.” His cock felt as limp as if he’d already come. Could a fantasy make me…? 

“You get any sleep?” 

“Practicing.” Izzorah hid his face and ruffled a towel through his hair. “Just got in the shower.”  

“Some day, you’ll pull an all-nighter and miss a show.” 

“Never missed one yet.”  

Fletch double-checked his smooth chin in the mirror. “I’m going to the lobby. Turn right when you come out of the room and the elevator’s ten steps on the right. I’ll watch for you.” 

Wah doh. Thank you.” Izzorah toweled himself dry and ran fingers through his black hair to straighten it. It hung over his eyes and he flung it back. Close to the mirror so he could focus, he slid a finger across his mouth. His lips were as swollen and dark as if he’d really been kissed. With a shiver, he left the room and began to dress. 

==============

Kayelle Allen
Unstoppable heroes, Uncompromising love, Unforgettable passion
Book one of a scorching M/M SciFi Romance trilogy - Surrender Love Available at Loose Id
His friends think it’s rebound, his ex swears it’s jealousy, but his heart knows, this time, with this lover, it’s surrender.

Guest Author Cheryl Brooks

February 19, 2009 By: mammakim Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 13 Comments →

Hello to all of you Romance Junkies out there! My name is Cheryl Brooks, and I’m here to talk about my latest release, the third installment in The Cat Star Chronicles series of erotic science fiction romance, Rogue. 

What makes an author smile the most? Big advance checks? Sales beyond all expectations? Talk of movie rights and megabucks?

Nope, that’s not it—though these things are wonderful, to be sure. What makes an author smile is the same as for anyone involved in a creative occupation: Appreciation for the work. No one likes to hear that the project they’ve put months of time and effort into isn’t worth the time or the money for a reader to spend. No, what we like to hear is “Run, don’t walk, to your local bookstore and see for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss seven bucks goodbye!” This is what makes it all worthwhile. It’s the ooh’s and ahh’s over the shiny new cover, the smile on a friend’s face when they hold their own copy in their hands for the first time, the gasps and giggles as they read, the sound of pages anxiously being turned, the obvious absorption in the story and the frustration they display whenever they are interrupted, the laughter, the tears, the wide-eyed blush during the love scenes, and, best of all, the right emotion at the end, whether happy or poignant. These are the things a writer enjoys the most. Bad reviews will hit you in the chest with the impact of a coronary, but good ones are like getting a shot of joyous energy. I’m already getting reviews and emails from readers who are loving this story, and, needless to say, it makes me feel very happy.

Now for a peek at the book! Imagine daily life inside a palace on an alien world where guards, princes, slaves, mercenaries, and politicians all thrown in together—and most of them are reptiles. There’s the usual good natured banter and bickering, palace intrigue, political unrest, and, of course, romantic liaisons. So what happens when Kyra Aramis, a young piano teacher from Earth arrives to teach piano to the Princess? One thing is certain, nothing will ever be the same, especially for Tychar and Trag, the two gorgeous Zetithian hunks who are the favorite slaves of the Queen. They’ve been pampered pets for twenty years, but Kyra’s presence changes everything.

In the first book in the series, Slave, I just wrote it, not caring about what others would think. It was my story, and I let my desires, imagination, and sense of the absurd run wild to write the book of my heart. Since it was published, I’m told I need to consider what my readers want, but something tells me they want the same things I do: fun, excitement, and sizzling romance with a little action thrown in.

I’ve had great fun with the books I’ve written, and Rogue is no exception. I think reading should be fun. I don’t want a story that leaves me feeling drained and depressed; I want one that will make me smile, stimulate my imagination, and leave me dreaming of passionate, enduring romance. This is what I set out to do with every book I write, and I hope I’ve succeeded. But you be the judge. After all, it’s your opinion that matters the most!

What’s in a Strong, Sexy, Male Name?

February 18, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Contests, Guest Blogger, Latest News 41 Comments →

Hello everyone! It’s fun to be here at Romance Junkies to visit with you today.  I’m Elizabeth Amber, author of an erotic historical paranormal romance series for Kensington Aphrodisia called The Lords of Satyr. The 4th book in the series, Dominic, releases in a few days.

Okay, let’s get right to it. I need a name—a strong, sexy, male name. And I’m hoping you can help. You’ve likely already had experience choosing names in your life, perhaps for your baby, pet, doll, car, or maybe a FaceBook page. When making those choices, you considered your own preferences.  When naming the heroes in The Lords of Satyr series, I do to. But I also consider what that name says to readers, especially since the name of each hero is also the title of each novel: Nicholas, Raine, Lyon, and Dominic.

I chose the first three of those names, and they sailed through the Kensington editorial and marketing departments without difficulty. The original name I suggested for book 4 didn’t fly, so I wrote a short list of suggestions, and we all liked Dominic.

This week, I signed off on contracts to write two more novels in the series.  Yay! These will tell the tales of two full-blood satyr brothers, who fled the ElseWorld wars as young men and entered EarthWorld, where they fought to revive two thousand year old olive groves of the ancient satyr in Tuscany, Italy. They’re alphas who’ve been wounded emotionally in different ways in their youth, but they’ve matured into strong, sexy males. So I need to name them accordingly. The name of one brother has been decided—Dane (book 5, coming in 2010).

Here’s my current short list of names for his brother (book 6, also 2010): Quinn, Seth, Sebastian, Bastian, Rafael, Pierce.

I have a theory that strong consonants make strong male names, as in the “K” sound in Dominic and Nicholas. I also think long vowels sound strong, as in the “A” sound in Raine and Dane. But since I’m already using those names, I’d like to stay away from the long “A”, so no Jason or Jacob; and I’d like to stay away from the “nic” sound since I’ve already used it in Nicholas and Dominic.

This is where you come in, and where you get a chance to win an autographed copy of my new March release, Dominic, The Lords of Satyr.  Just leave a comment here indicating which of the names on my list above are your first and second favorites. Please also offer a third suggestion of your own that’s not on my list if you have any favs of your own.  Romance Junkies will randomly select a winner on Sunday, March 1st, so you have over a week to post. I’m looking forward to hearing all of your thoughts and suggestions! (Don’t forget to check back on March 1st to see if you’ve won.)

Thank you so much to Romance Junkies for having me here. Hugs to all.

~ Elizabeth

www.elizabethamber.com

Excerpt from DOMINIC, THE LORDS OF SATYR:

Chapter 1

Temple of Bacchus
ElseWorld, 1837

“Her name is Emma.”

The Facilitator’s voice echoed off the ancient stone walls, lending his words authority as he directed Dominic’s attention to the large, mirrored disk positioned prominently in the middle of the temple’s bloodied floor.

The image of a woman, who existed somewhere in a neighboring world, was reflected on the disk’s surface like a living portrait. Her countenance was serene, oblivious. For she was unaware she was being watched.

Carved from polished obsidian as black and impenetrable as the night, the six-foot mirror was encircled by nine more disks of lesser circumference. Each was convex and had been shaped from a disparate exotic stone intended to represent one of the lunar phases. All were set at an angle meant to capture the moonlight streaming in through an aperture in the roof and to direct it toward the central mirror where the woman was on view.

“You expect me to rape her,” Dominic stated, his voice flat.

The woman’s hand moved, and a page flipped. She was reading.

“We expect you to do what is necessary. As always,” the Facilitator replied, speaking for himself as well as the two silent Acolytes, who flanked him.

At first glance, the woman appeared to be plain, unremarkable in every way. Dominic judged her to be a quarter of a century old like himself, perhaps a little older. Except for the occasional movement of her hand, she was utterly still. Her head was bent intently over a tome entitled The Fruits of Philosophy, which lay before her upon a polished desk.

She wore spectacles, and her profile was half turned from him, so that the shape of her delicate cheek was limned by flickering candlelight. Tendrils of ash brown hair curled along a vulnerable nape.

The garment she wore was stiff and lengthy, and it almost completely hid her body from view. He’d heard that EarthWorld females sheathed themselves in swaths of fabric impermeable to the masculine eye, but until now had believed this to be only a rumor. Her breasts were full and her figure shapely. Why did she hide it?

“You’ll bow to Our Will in this matter?” prompted the Facilitator.

Dominic grunted a grudging assent. His hard, quicksilver gaze flicked over the woman again. He’d been required to do worse in his life. And he had little choice.

From the corridor behind them came the swishing sound of the votaries’ brooms. Solemnly, they swept the sacred remnants of what had been a colossal statue of Bacchus into vessels that would later be placed in reliquaries.

Rage simmered in him. This hallowed sanctum—his home—had been brutally attacked. And to think that just hours ago he’d been out fighting the very beings, who had taken advantage of his absence to defile it!

He resided here, alone for the most part, sleeping in an alcove with few creature comforts. Like a bird of prey, he swooped down on the enemies of his people by night and returned to the relative protection offered here in the temple to roost by day. But this attack had altered his schedule.

“Seven were killed in the strike here last night,” the Facilitator informed him, though he hadn’t asked. “And the amulet in the statue has gone missing. We can only thank the Gods that the time involved in its removal prevented our enemies from reaching these mirrors.”

“Our enemies,” Dominic mocked, shooting him a cynical look. The stench of demons was everywhere, yet the Facilitator adamantly refrained from referring to them directly as if doing so might somehow raise them in the flesh.

“They weren’t prevented,” he informed his elderly companion. “They came here with specific intentions. They destroyed the statue, but painstakingly hacked its genitals and right hand off. The fact that they left only those pieces undamaged and to be discovered by us in this mess was no accident.”

It had been a message directed at him, for those were his susceptible points.

The Facilitator’s placid gaze didn’t alter.

“It’s widely known that these scrying mirrors allow us to see into the adjoining world,” Dominic persisted. “They were purposely left intact so that we might continue to do so.” He jerked his jaw toward the woman in the mirror. “Let me postpone this new duty until I can find out the reason behind this attack. Until I can hunt down the demons who were responsible.”

The two Acolytes on either side of the Facilitator stirred for the first time, murmuring in distress. Whether in response to his suggestion of postponement or to his profanity in calling the demons by name, he neither knew nor cared.

The Facilitator calmed them with the lift of a hand, then shook his head at Dominic. “No. You will do as We have directed.”

Dominic heaved a frustrated breath and stalked away. Standing in the arched entrance of the chamber, he watched the votives at their work. The twelve marble statues that ringed the room regarded him coldly, unspeaking. Accustomed to their unwavering, brooding gazes, he ignored them.

Slamming the side of his fisted, gloved hand against a limestone column, he felt the familiar bolt of lightening zap up his arm, a cruel reminder of his duty. Free Will was a luxury he had not enjoyed since the age of ten. The three males behind him ruled his sect and he would obey their directive.

“How am I to get through the gate?” he gritted after a moment.

“Ingratiate yourself with her husband. Cajole him into offering you safe passage. He’s one of the EarthWorld Satyr, but he serves here in our regiments.” Dominic’s brows rammed together and he whipped around toward the female in the mirror.

“She’s wed? To one of our fighters?” he demanded. “And you would have me usurp his rights with her?”

Another page flipped under the touch of a feminine hand, reclaiming everyone’s attention. Gold flashed on the woman’s finger. She wore a wedding band.

“She’s not of our blood,” he was hastily assured, as if that would render the unsavory task he’d been assigned perfectly palatable. “Her sister is King Feydon’s offspring. One of the infamous half-Human, half-Fairie brides wed to the three EarthWorld Satyr lords. But this one–” He tapped the mirror with a gnarled finger causing the woman’s image to undulate for a few seconds. “This one doesn’t share the deceased king’s blood.”

“How strong is the blood of her husband?”

“Him? He’s hardly fit to call himself Satyr,” the Facilitator scoffed. “He boasts that he’s a quarter blood, but We believe him to be less. And he doesn’t fight as you assume. No, he serves himself up to the other soldiers in a base manner, as one of the cinaedi. You’ll find him in the regiment camped closest to the gate. He chose to be stationed there so that he might easily return to his world regularly, at Moonful.”

“To fuck his wife,” Dominic conjectured. “As you would have me fuck her. Why?”

The Acolytes whispered again, gently rebuking his plain speaking. The Facilitator overlooked it, preferring as always to gloss over the more sordid details of the sequential duties that made up Dominic’s existence.

“She’s newly plowed. Her husband lay with her last evening,” the elderly man remarked significantly.

At that, Dominic returned to stand before the woman, his eyes dropping to her waist. He opened himself to her for the briefest of intervals, learning what he could.

Her belly was not yet rounded, but even with a world of distance between them, his instincts quickly informed him that she did house another man’s seed within her womb–seed planted there only last night.

On the heels of that realization, another struck him with the impact of a giant fist. He staggered back from the mirror, his accusing gaze flying to his companion.

“Yes,” the Facilitator affirmed, refusing to meet his eyes. “She’s with child.”

A heartbeat of silence passed. Then another and another.

“Not just any child, though, is it?” Dominic demanded with soft menace. His right hand vibrated as if the evil that dwelled in its palm had been agitated by his suspicions. He raised the hand between himself and the other man, and carefully flexed it within its silver-threaded glove.

The Facilitator shifted uncomfortably. Darting a glance at the glove, he subtly distanced himself from it. The Acolytes began to hum. Nervously, they cupped their long-fingered hands together, catching the rays of the moon overhead in their palms—an act believed to ward off demons.

Dominic’s lip curled, cruelly voluptuous. His lashes lowered to shadow the slits of his eyes. And for just a moment, he savored the latent power that made others—even these influential beings–fear him.

“As you . . .” The Facilitator cleared his throat in a rare display of uneasiness. “As you’ve no doubt guessed, the child will be a Chosen One. Your successor.”

A chill crawled up Dominic’s spine. He stared at him, thunderstruck.

“This can come as no surprise,” the Facilitator rambled on. “You were aware your replacement would be selected one day.”

Yes, he’d known. But he’d been too engrossed in the never-ending hunting and killing that comprised his nightly routine to dwell on the matter. This news had taken him completely off guard. Did it imply that his death was imminent?

“Now then, you have four weeks,” the Facilitator informed him crisply. “With the coming of another Moonful, it will be imperative that you mate her in order to endow her child’s powers. Four weeks–is it time enough to find her husband and secure an invitation to his world?”

Dominic nodded slowly, his fascinated gaze returning to the mirror where it resettled on the woman. On the delicate blush of her cheek. On the inviting slope of her shoulder. On her flat belly.

Like his own mother, she would have no inkling she was to bear a Chosen One. Wouldn’t be informed of her child’s destiny until Dominic’s eventual death. His own predecessor had been unknown to him, for the demonhand—quite literally a hand that held demons—didn’t pass to a successor through bloodlines. It selected its hosts seemingly at random, one after another. Only once in a generation was a single child given the power—the curse—that had been bestowed upon him as a boy. A mirrored palm.

© Copyright 2009 by Elizabeth Amber

Five Reasons Why Everyone Should Read Romance

February 18, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 20 Comments →

witchesgravelg.jpg 

Good morning everyone!! First I’d like to introduce myself, I’m Shirley Damsgaard, the author of the Ophelia and Abby Mystery Series from
Avon Books, and I’d like to thank you for inviting me here today. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking what I would say here today and my thoughts turned to why I read romance. (I know I’m preaching to the choir, but please bear with me!!)

First…a little backstory. I love books and I’ve been an avid reader all of my life. I read everything, but my first journey into the world of romance involved our local library and author, Noel B. Gerson, when I was about twelve years old. I discovered his books one day as I was perusing the shelves…I think the first one was about John Smith and Pocahontas…it looked interesting so I checked it out. Boy, was it! And that bring me around to my first reason for reading romance:  

#1. You learn “stuff”! I learned a bunch of things about John Smith and Pocahontas that I’d never read in any history book! After that, I plowed through every one of his books, much to the consternation of our librarians! (I heard them whispering about children reading inappropriate material one day as I was checking out yet another of Mr. Gerson’s books!) But they didn’t realize, thanks to him, I learned about William the Conquer and his wife Matilda, the Bronze Age, and the Trojan War. Now even at twelve, I knew Mr. Gerson had taken historical facts and embroidered them to make a good story, but none the less, they inspired my imagination, and to this day I still love history! 

#2. A good romance can take you away, can let you leave this world and all the problems behind, at least for a little while. And with the state of things today, who doesn’t need an escape now and again?? Really…is there any thing better than curling up with a box of chocolates and a good book on a rainy afternoon and reading until your eyes cross? Or staying up half the night because you just can’t put the book down??? 

#3. What would relationships be like if only men would read more romance? Wouldn’t everyone like their significant other to take few tips from the heroes crafted by their favorite author? Don’t we all have a secret desire to be swept off our feet by passion? 

#4. Reading a good romance restores our faith in love. And it reminds us that relationships take work, whether they are between the pages of a book or in real life. 

#5. They give us hope for our own happy ending! After all someone had to get the inspiration from somewhere, maybe it was from their life. Maybe the dreamy ending we all love carries in it a seed of reality. If so, then there’s a chance for us, too. 

Those are just five of the reasons I read romance, how about you?? Why do you read romance? Post a comment and your name will be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of THE WITCH’S GRAVE! (See excerpt below) 

Again, thanks for having me here today and I’ll look forward to your comments!! 

Best,

Shirley

http://www.shirleydamsgaard.com

Excerpt from THE WITCH’S GRAVE: 

“I don’t know.” I shoved my hands into the deep pockets of my dress. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I’ve had plenty of dreams involving murder or mayhem, but these…” Staring off into the distance, I recalled the dreams. “We’re in this field of wildflowers, and I’m dressed in a long, loose dress. Bees are flitting from flower to flower, and the sky’s scattered with white, puffy clouds. He’s waiting for me at the top of a rise, and it’s like I can’t wait to be with him.” Another blush began to creep up my neck and into my face, and I stopped.

“Go on,” she prodded with anticipation, “what happens next?”

“Never mind,” I said, waving the images away. “Let’s just say for a witch and a psychic, these are pretty good dreams.”

She tapped a foot on the hard, cracked ground in annoyance. “Okay, if you’re not going to give me the details, at least tell me what this guy looks like.”

“He’s dressed in a white shirt, with billowing sleeves…” I paused. “You know like the ones pirates wear?”

Darci rolled her eyes. “Maybe you’ve checked in one too many romance novels and the cover art seeped into your sub-conscious.”

“Listen,” I said in a curt voice. “Do you want to know what he looks like or not?”

“Okay, okay,” she mumbled. “Sorry.”

“He’s blond, tall with wide shoulders, and his eyes are blue—an incredibly deep blue. As dark as sapphires. Eyes that just pull you in…” A softness stole over me as I imagined the man in my dreams. The way he made me feel, the way his arms…I shook myself out of my revelry, banishing the gooiness I felt inside. “That’s about it,” I commented, trying to put a hard edge back in my voice.

“Does he say anything?”

“No, he just smiles a lot.”

“Humph, I bet,” she said with a knowing glance.

I felt my cheeks bloom bright red.

“Okay,” she said, her eyes scanning the crowd. “Tall, blond—”,

“Yes, but,” I interjected swiftly before she jumped to conclusions, “he wasn’t the man arguing with Clair.”

“Okay, so blue eyes, wide shoulders.” Her eyes stopped. “How about the guy surrounded by all the women? He’s tall, has wide shoulders and blond hair, but I can’t tell if his eyes are blue. He’s wearing sunglasses.”

I spun around and followed her gaze to where it rested on a stranger. The man Darci referred to wore dark navy jeans and a bright, white sport shirt. From the side view, he fit Darci’s description—built exactly like the stranger from my dreams, but I wouldn’t know at this distance without seeing his eyes.

Feeling my stare, his head moved in my direction and he removed his sunglasses. A slow smile spread across his face, and, as our eyes locked, my heart almost stopped.
It was him—literally the man of my dreams.

GRAB THE BAR AND HANG ON FOR THE RIDE by Kate Collins

February 17, 2009 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger 2 Comments →

What I love about roller coasters is that rush of exhilaration that comes after a long climb up a hill and a breathtaking few seconds of hovering at the top of a towering peak. Then whoosh! It sweeps sharply downward, taking its passengers with it, completely at the mercy of forces beyond their control. As many before me have said, life is like that, except that the ride downhill is no fun at all. This hit home three years ago, when a nasty virus attacked the nerves in my neck and back, causing headaches, nausea, muscle spasms, numbness, lost of taste and tears, hypersensitive sense of smell, and even an inflamed scalp. Worst of all was that my deadline was coming up fast. 

Having hit the bottom of that roller coaster ride, I had to come to terms with a sudden inability to do the simplest things — smell the aroma of coffee first thing in the morning, read a book, or even sit at the computer to work on the next chapter in my mystery-in-progress. Instead, all my energy went into not moving so I didn’t bring on more pain. My world narrowed to my house, then to my bedroom, then to what was immediately in front of my face, as the pain intensified.  

At first I wept a lot. When that got old, I started focusing on the things I could see in my limited area. Most often it was my husband’s face, as he gazed into my eyes and assured me that he would be there no matter what happened. To counteract the depression that set in, I began to look for even the tiniest signs of improvement. One day, three weeks after the virus took hold, I sneezed. It was a major victory. The next day my eyes watered. I wanted to pop open a bottle of Champagne, except that it would have made my stomach hurt. The day my sense of taste returned was a real cause for joy.  

That was when I realized that on that long upward climb of my daily life I had lost sight of the things that really mattered. They weren’t the new jacket in my closet, the cruise I wanted to take, or even my lovely, comfortable home. First and foremost was my health. Because when I lost it, when pain had a choke hold on me, every moment became an ordeal, for me as well as for those who care about me. Living with that virus also gave me a new appreciation for my loved ones. When was the last time I’d told them I loved them? And then there were the small joys – the aroma of soup simmering on the stove, the taste of chocolate, the thrill of opening a new book and becoming lost in it — all things I’d stopped noticing.  

My very wise grandmother told me long ago, “Thank the Lord for boring days,” and now I understand what she meant. There’s nothing exciting about them, but there’s nothing bad, either. Today, all of my symptoms have disappeared and I’m once again on the climb toward that next hill. My hope is that wherever I am, I won’t lose sight of those important things or worry so much about the inevitable lows and forget to enjoy the moment.  

There’s always a valley after the peak; then again, there’s always a peak after the valley. It’s the rhythm of life. In the meantime, thank the Lord for the boring days.  

Kate Collins

http://www.katecollinsbooks.com

Author of The Flower Shop Mysteries

  • Events Calendar

    November  2014
    Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
       
      1 2
    3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    10 11 12 13 14 15 16
    17 18 19 20 21 22 23
    24 25 26 27 28 29 30
  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Twitter

    • The RSS feed for this twitter account is not loadable for the moment.

    Follow @RJBookReviews on twitter.

  • Archives

  • Polls

    • Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.