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26. Guest Post and Giveaway: Mira Lyn Kelly, Author of Touch & Go

Please give a warm welcome to Mira Lyn Kelly!  She dropped by the virtual offices to share a top 5, and there’s also an awesome giveaway for you to enter!

Hey everyone, thanks so much for having me over and helping me to celebrate the release of TOUCH AND GO (Dare to Love #2)– Yay!!

Okay, so let’s get going… 5 Things You Would Never Find In Sam’s Bathroom:

1 – Axe Body Spray. The last thing Sam needs is more women attacking him in elevators and dark alleys. With his worn denim blue eyes, construction built body, and easy going smile, Sam’s never faced a shortage of female attention. Which has been pretty handy up until now, since he’s not much of a relationship guy. Why bother when the only woman he wants to go home to is his best friend Ava, and the last thing he’d ever do is screw that kind of perfection up by bringing sex into the mix. (Good luck with that, Sam!)

2 – A scale. Sam’s been working construction since Ava’s dad got him his first job in high school and while he owns his own company now, he’s still a heavily hands-on kind of guy which keeps him in top shape. Not that he’s the type to pay much attention to his looks, but Ava? Well she’s been keeping a close eye on Sam’s physique for as far back as she can remember. After all she’s been secretly in love with the guy since she was seven. Can you blame her?

3 – Clutter. Sam grew up in less than ideal conditions with an abusive, alcoholic father who couldn’t take care of his own son, let alone deal with the trash piling up around his derelict home. Flash forward twenty years and Sam’s got an immaculate apartment sure to wow his occasional guest, only he’s never really felt at home in it. Not the way he does in Ava’s cozy apartment anyway—which is why he pretty much spends all his waking free time upstairs in her place instead of his own.

4 – Sam singing in the shower. Sure he’s been known to partake in other recreational pastimes within those tiled walls, but singing? Not so much.

5 – Hustler Magazine. And not because he’s got some objection to spank bank material either…it’s just that his tastes tend to be a little more specific and a lot more taboo. Like the picture of Anne Hathaway in her Cat Woman getup…looking way, way too much like another fair skinned, dark eyed, sexy mouthed, brunette he has absolutely no business thinking those kinds of thoughts about.

So there you go… five things you would never find in Sam’s bathroom. But here’s a little taste of what you will find in Sam’s head…From TOUCH AND GO:

Jesus, his switch had flipped but good. Because this was Ava. And nothing in his admittedly vast and varied past had ever come close to burning him up the way she was.

How the hell was it even possible they could be like this together and still have managed to make it twenty years without giving in once or twice before?

A dark corner of his barely functioning rational brain knew.

Because it was Ava.

Because he’d never been willing to risk the most important person in his life for some casual screw.

But that wasn’t what was happening here.

They weren’t risking anything. This was just the culmination of a series of events that would never occur again. Stalker Steven needing a blunt intervention. A chemical reaction neither of them had expected when they came into contact. An unanswered question between two friends—two adults—who knew exactly what they were getting into, and who were solid enough in their relationship for a single night between them to be just that. A single night, granting a depth of intimacy that hadn’t been there before. One that would make them stronger.

Another breathless cry and Ava bit at his bottom lip, sucked it into her mouth as she rode his hand.

In the hallway. Of the apartment building her brother owned. Because he couldn’t stop.

Seriously, I loved writing Sam & Ava’s story, and hope you’ll give these two a read :-)

((Hugs))

Mira

BUY LINKS for TOUCH & GO (Available Now):

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

And for more about me, my books and whatever else we’ve got going on, lol—don’t be a stranger…

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

Touch & Go
Dare to Love # 2

By: Mira Lyn Kelly

Releasing February 17th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

USA Today bestselling author Mira Lyn Kelly cranks up the heat for two lifelong friends whose most secret longings come true in every delectable way.
Vivacious and successful, Ava Meyers is living her dream life, except for one thing: Ever since childhood, she’s been in love with her best friend . . . and she’s never admitted it. Back then, Sam Farrow was a damaged young man with a tough past. Now he’s supremely confident, super-sexy, and totally untouchable—until the night when Sam pretends to be Ava’s boyfriend to save her from some unwanted attention. In a moment of weakness, Ava finds out that a long friendship is no match for blistering sexual chemistry.
After years of denying his own feelings, Sam finds that one amazing night with Ava isn’t enough to chase away all the pent-up fantasies. So he proposes they spend a few weeks driving each other wild, exhausting their every desire, and then return to their perfect platonic relationship like nothing ever happened. But Sam’s plan has one fatal flaw: the part where they give each other up. Because the more they let go of their inhibitions, the more they’re tempted to never go back.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/touch-go-dare-to-love-2-by-mira-lyn.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22471033-touch-go

Series on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/series/130579-dare-to-love

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Mira Lyn Kelly grew up in the Chicago area and earned her degree in Fine Arts from Loyola University. She met the love of her life while studying abroad in Rome, Italy, only to discover he’d been living right around the corner from her back home. Having spent her twenties working and playing in the Windy City, she’s now settled with her husband in rural Minnesota, where their four beautiful children and naughty dog provide an excess of action and entertainment. When she isn’t reading, writing, or running to keep up with the family, she loves watching movies, blabbing with the girls, and cooking with her husband and friends.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller and Loveswept Mug)

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Mira Lyn Kelly, Author of Touch & Go appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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27. Giveaway: Manwhore by Katy Evans

Today I have a giveaway for Katy Evan’s Manwhore!

Is it possible to expose Chicago’s hottest player–without getting played?
This is the story I’ve been waiting for all my life, and its name is Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint. Don’t be fooled by that last name though. There’s nothing holy about the man except the hell his parties raise. The hottest entrepreneur Chicago has ever known, he’s a man’s man with too much money to spend and too many women vying for his attention.
Mysterious. Privileged. Legendary. His entire life he’s been surrounded by the press as they dig for tidbits to see if his fairytale life is for real or all mirrors and social media lies. Since he hit the scene, his secrets have been his and his alone to keep. And that’s where I come in.

Assigned to investigate Saint and reveal his elusive personality, I’m determined to make him the story that will change my career.
But I never imagined he would change my life. Bit by bit, I start to wonder if I’m the one discovering him…or if he’s uncovering me.

What happens when the man they call Saint, makes you want to sin?


Author Bio: Katy Evans is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Real series.

The first book in her adult contemporary series, Manwhore, is to release in March 2015.
To find more, please visit www.katyevans.net

US addresses only, please

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The post Giveaway: Manwhore by Katy Evans appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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28. Book Review: The Selection By Keira Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a

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29. Spotlight and Giveaway: Soulbound by Kristen Callihan

I’m thrilled to have Kristen Callihan drop by the virtual offices this morning to answer the following question:

You have been granted the use of a super power for one week. What power would you pick, and why? 

You know, I went through all sorts of possibilities: invisibility, flying, mind reading. But then I got practical. I choose Mary Poppin’s ability to have a room clean itself just by singing. Heh. 

What would you do with it? 

Sing my ass off. Seriously, this would be heaven. No more crazy house mess when I’m on deadline (or any other time, honestly). I’d just write and sing.  And maybe a little bird would perch on my window sill and join me in a sing along. Sweet. 

About SOULBOUND

Once two souls are joined . . .

When Adam’s soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled-and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone… Their hearts will beat together forever

No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn’t stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted-by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam’s kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken…

About Kristen Callihan

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book, Firelight, received RT Book Reviews’ Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

Kristen’s social media

@Kris10Callihan

http://www.KristenCallihan.com

http://facebook.com/KristenCallihan

https://www.goodreads.com/Kristen_Callihan

Buy links

Barnes & Noble — http://bit.ly/1D0xGQ1

Books-A-Million — http://bit.ly/1BlN7Cm

IndieBound —http://bit.ly/1z03aIr

Amazon — http://amzn.to/1Emi3D9

iTunes — http://bit.ly/1Ajkdmi

Kobo — http://bit.ly/1vDwIEU

Excerpt:

Eliza sat back on her heels, while Adam merely stared at her as though he had all the time in the world. “Fine,” she said. “Three weeks. I free you and you help me.” She gave him a warning look. “I’ll need your word that you will help me, that this” she waved her hand between them, “isn’t merely a way to trick me into freeing you.”

“This business was your idea, woman,” he said with affront.

“Nevertheless, I’ll need your word.”

The demon’s nostrils flared with a sharp exhalation. “My word then.” Eliza did not look away from him, and he glared back in obvious exasperation. “What now?”

“I’m merely considering if I ought to trust your word,” she said.

A low growl rumbled in his chest as he bared his teeth. “I keep my word, whether I want to or not. My word is my bond. Honor, Miss May. Unlike you, I have it.” 

“How dare you—” 

“How dare you?” He craned forward, the muscles along his shoulders bunching. “Not so long ago you broke your promise of fealty. To me!” 

“Oh, yes, how quick you are to remind me.” Eliza leaned close, grinding her teeth to keep in a shout. “You enjoy being quick, don’t you?” 

His thick, dark brows furrowed. “What in the bloody blazes are you talking about?” 

“You gave me all of ten seconds to make a choice.” Eliza’s fists ached from clenching them. “And what a choice. I was dead, my body sliced open, my blood on the ground. I would have done anything, anything,” she thumped her fist to her chest, “to get back my life.” 

“So that makes it better?” he snapped back in outrage. “Desperation gives you leave to go back on your word?” 

“No. That is not what I meant.” 

“Then you agree that you bloody well have no honor—” 

“You never explained what was involved. You never said I’d be chained to you, like some animal, for the rest of my days,” Eliza shouted. “I was told I would be a GIM. I was ready to serve you in that manner. You knew full well that’s what I believed. If anything, you swindled me!” 

All at once, he sagged, though he still eyed her with resentment and distaste. Well, she had a healthy helping of those feelings for him too. 

“Tick, tock, Eliza,” she mimicked. “You rushed me because you didn’t want me to think things over.” 

When he broke eye contact, his hard jaw twitched. 

“I’m correct, aren’t I?” Ire and a red rage surged up within her. “And you have the brass to sit on your high horse and talk of honor. Well let me tell you something, demon. There is little honor in forcing a person’s hand. Or using your power to coerce those weaker than you.”

A black scowl twisted the demon’s face as he glared at some distant point. “Fine. May I continue, or have you more complaints to heap upon my head?”

“Please do continue,” Eliza granted.

His golden gaze flicked back to her. “I want to kiss you.”

“No.” The word burst out of her with force. “Absolutely not.”

Unfazed, Adam shrugged. “Unless you have something to offer in exchange for your freedom, Mellan and Mab will, as you say, merely hunt us down, and you’ll be back to where you started.”

“Then I shall find out what he wants.” Eliza straightened her back. She could do that. She must. Like hell was she going to kiss this demon.

Adam simply gave her a slow, wicked half-smile. “Fortunately for you, lass, I already know what he wants. What they both want. More than controlling you. More than torturing me, even.”

“Then why in blazes haven’t you used it to secure your own freedom?” Eliza blurted out.

“I’m only alive because they cannot break me into revealing where this item might be.” The belligerence burning in his eyes was gone in a blink, replaced by a look of pure cunning. “However, I might be persuaded to help you use the knowledge. All I require is— ”

“Fine,” she snapped, irritation getting the best of her. “I’ll kiss you.”

Silence fell, and Adam stared at her with those eyes of his. Devil’s eyes. Eyes that made a woman forget herself. Heat rose up over her breasts and crawled along the back of her neck. Eliza grasped her skirts, her fingers twitching. She would kiss him. Kiss a man who had brought her nothing but irritation. Maybe she’d bite him to boot.

His chest, gleaming with sweat, rose and fell in a soft pattern. A bead of perspiration broke free from the top of his shoulder and ran down along the firm rise of his pectoral muscles, straight toward the dark nub of his nipple. All this time arguing with him, she’d forgotten his state of undress. Not so now. She’d have to press up against those hard muscles, touch his skin. Eliza wrenched her gaze back to his face, and his sinful lips curled in a knowing smile.

“You know,” he said casually, “I believe I shall pass for the moment. I’d rather it be when you aren’t wearing such a sour face. Kills a bloke’s ardor, you realize.”

Eliza blinked. And then his meaning hit her. “Why you…rutting…cheap, trickster…”

He laughed, a flash of even teeth. “Come now, Eliza, fret not.” He stopped then, that obnoxious smile growing and heating with promise. “I’ll take that kiss soon enough. ”

She rose to her feet in a rustle of skirts. “And I’ll be sure to bite that wicked tongue when you do!”

She marched out of the cell, slamming it behind her, as he began to laugh again. Bastard. She might just leave him here to rot after all. His laughing taunt echoed through the dark. “Now that I know tongues are involved, I’ll be sure to collect.”

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Soulbound by Kristen Callihan appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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30. Interview and Giveaway: Elizabeth Harmon, Author of Pairing Off

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Elizabeth!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Elizabeth Harmon] Creative, energetic, sociable, easily-distracted, short

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Pairing Off?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Absolutely! A great way to describe my debut novel, “Pairing Off” is that it’s like “The Cutting Edge” with a Russian twist. It’s the story of a pairs figure skating duo who team up to train for the Olympics and fall in love in the process. What makes it different from TCE is that it’s set mostly in Russia and the hero is Russian.  He’s also a champion pairs figure skater, rather than a hockey guy recruited at the last minute. Anton did play hockey as a kid though, and was proud to have the best double toe loop jump of any goalie in the youth league.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Elizabeth Harmon] One of the most romantic scenes is when Carrie and Anton skate on a moonlit pond in Moscow’s Gorky Park. Their relationship has deepened but they’ve not yet crossed the line from friend-zone into something more.  I love the romantic setting, the sexual tension between Carrie and Anton, and also the details about the cold night, tinny music and the little crowd who applauds after watching this champion-level pair skate together.  Watching skilled pair skaters do their stuff live is really amazing, especially when it’s impromptu, as this skate is.  I also love Anton’s little comment to Carrie at the end, when he says, “guess we’re pretty good.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Getting to know Russia and Russians, both through my own research and with the help of a Moscow-based blogger and his wife, who proved to be an invaluable resource. As an American, we don’t always get the most favorable impressions of Russia and it was great to be able to connect with two Russians who were so generous with their time and excited to see the city they love used as the setting for a light, fun romance.  Corresponding with them also helped me create the cadence of Anton’s speech, and helping them edit an English-language cookbook gave me some insights into Russian home-cooking. The descriptions of fish pie and syrniki in Pairing Off were inspired by their family recipes. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Something to read, because you never know when you’re going to be stuck waiting, as well as something to write with and on, because you never know when inspiration is going to strike.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Elizabeth Harmon] Pictures of my family, today’s to-do list, and my cat, who loves to lay (and walk!) on my laptop.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Elizabeth Harmon] For late night writing, nothing beats popcorn– NOT the microwaved stuff, but the real kind cooked on the stove, and tossed with butter, parmesan and salt.  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Just one day? Probably an average person living in either ancient or medieval times. I think it would be fascinating to experience these worlds, but not live there long term, especially not as a woman.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Elizabeth Harmon] There are a lot of powers I’d love to have, but surrendering them after a week would be so hard! I would choose teleportation, the ability to travel anywhere instantly. I’d make a list of all the places I’d love to visit, but are difficult to actually travel to and hit all of them during that one week. As a writer, this would be an amazing experience.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Elizabeth Harmon] Fiction-wise, I loved “The Haunting of Maddie Clare,” which was beautifully written, and scary– kind of “Downton Abbey” meets “The Ring” if you can imagine that.  I also enjoyed “ICE Blue,” a Chicago-set romantic suspense novel by Susan Rae. It’s the second book in her DeLuca family series and the latest installment is on my TBR list.

Since I’m in the midst of turning my National Novel Writing Month first draft into the third book in the Red Hot Russians series, I’ve been reading my favorite writing books which I always turn to at revision time. One the best is James Scott Bell’s “Revision and Self-Editing,” which takes the big scary revision monster and turns it into something manageable, as well as offering great ideas to develop characters and setting. Writing isn’t an easy job, but so much fun, because you’re always learning and improving.

Pairing Off
Red Hot Russians # 1

By: Elizabeth Harmon

Releasing February 2, 2015

Carina Press

Blurb

A scandal-plagued American figure skater’s last chance at gold means pairing up with Russia’s sexiest male skater…who happens to be the first man she ever loved.

“The Cutting Edge” with a Russian twist.

American pairs figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in America, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is reunited with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to see her again…never mind skate with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real between them, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country, and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/pairing-off-red-hot-russians-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23440537-pairing-off?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/141555-red-hot-russians

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iBooks | Kobo

Author Info

I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I’m a happy girl.

I read a variety of genres– romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.

When I’m not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 Excerpt:

This is it…I’m going to die.

Carrie clutched the back of the sticky vinyl seat and braced for the end. She hadn’t imagined she’d meet it speeding down a Moscow highway in a small, vomit-scented taxicab.

“Slow down!” she shouted, but it was useless. The driver spoke almost no English. She knew three words of Russian. Desperately, she tried to remember one. “Pozhalujsta! Please! Slow! Gooo sloooow!” She gestured with raised, outstretched hands.

The driver glanced back. “Chto?”

Thank God, he’d understood. “Yes! Slow!”

Instead, she was thrown back against the seat as he darted into a tiny gap between an 18-wheeler and a sinister, black Lexus SUV with tinted windows. The Lexus honked its displeasure. Wind whipped through the open windows, blowing her hair into her eyes and mouth. As they rocketed past the warehouses, office buildings and apartment blocks that lined Kashirskoe Highway, Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky blasted from the rear speakers.

When I die and they lay me to rest…”

Nice music. What was next, Death Cab for Cutie? From behind, a shadow loomed. She turned to see the Lexus bearing down.

The cabdriver saw it too. Yelling, he gestured out the window with a raised middle finger and shot back into the center lane, just missing the front bumper of a cement mixer. More horns honked. She yelped and covered her eyes. It was best not to look.

She could have waited for a legitimate cab, but her flight landed late, Customs took forever and the line at the taxi-booking desk inched forward at a glacial pace. When two German-speaking business types left the official line and gravitated toward the motley fleet of private cabs parked outside, she’d followed. The driver, a friendly guy in a faded Beatles T-shirt and Yankees cap, promised in very broken English to get her downtown by 3:00, or 15:00 as it was known here, no problem.

She should have mentioned that alive would be nice too.

She was rocked by another wild swerve, followed by more horns and Russian swear words. Then, the cab slowed. She peeked between her fingers. They were on an exit ramp. The tense knot between her shoulders relaxed, and she glanced at her watch. Two forty-five. Miraculously, she’d survived, and was right on time to meet her new coach.

A little smile tugged at her lips. For the first time in a long time, things were looking up. They parked in front of an old red brick building in an industrial area near a river. A concrete medallion of a hammer and sickle loomed above the door, but the geranium-filled urns flanking the front steps were a nice touch.

The driver turned in his seat and tugged his ragged ballcap, ready for his fare. Carrie reached into her purse, her fingers brushed against the clasp of her wallet. At the airport, they’d agreed on one hundred U.S. dollars, but that was before he’d almost killed her. She shifted her gaze from his expectant, gap-toothed smile, to the dirty windshield. The peeling dashboard. The items attached to the sun visor with rubber bands. A pencil and notepad. A packet of tissues. School photos of two little girls.

The driver pointed to the pictures and his smile grew wider. “Moi docheri.”

His daughters. The pride in his voice required no translation. This man supported a family with his beat-up, smelly taxi. She counted out five twenties, and added an extra as a tip. “Spasibo,” she said. A Southern girl always knew the words for please and thank you.

As the driver carted her bags inside, she reread Galina Borisova’s email, shaking her head in wonder. American skating had shunned her, fans had turned their backs, yet here was the official paperwork confirming that someone—a Russian coach of all people—still thought Carrie was worthy of her time.

In the rink’s lobby, she bit back disappointment. This looked more like a neighborhood hangout than an elite training facility. Why was she surprised? Galina was a minor coach who’d gotten lucky and discovered Olga Zelenskaya, one of skating’s stars in the making. After winning silver at Worlds in Halifax this spring, Olga and her partner, Anton, had no doubt left to train with a top-level coach, leaving Galina to cast her net for new skaters. That she was willing to take on the pariah of American figure skating proved how desperate she must be.

Good thing Carrie’s expectations were modest. Since no one in North America would partner with her, she’d team up with a reasonably skilled Russian leftover, and find something low-profile to fill the days—maybe a cruise ship ice show—while she figured out what to do with the rest of her life.

In one corner of the rink’s lobby were wooden benches and day lockers, in the other, a shuttered blade-sharpening counter. At the rear of the lobby was a concession stand, also closed. The faint, fried aroma that hung in the air brought a memory of corn dogs. And just like that, she was ten years old, gliding across the oval at the Sweetspire Ice Palace.

“Momma! Watch me land a toe loop!”

At the boards, Momma chuckled and shook her head. “You’re gonna crack your skull, baby girl.”

Not that it would have mattered. She would have been back on the ice the minute the bandages came off. Skating once made her so happy. Dare she hope that it might again?

She pressed her fingers against her lips. She wasn’t asking much, just to find the joy she lost somewhere between landing that first jump, winning—then losing—the U.S. Championship, and arriving at this run-down Moscow rink, hoping for a fresh start.

She wiped perspiration from her brow and took a zippered makeup pouch from her purse. Her hair was a snarled disaster, but she tugged out most of the tangles and dabbed powder on her shiny cheeks. She slicked her lips in Succulent Peach, dabbed on enough Calvin Klein to mask any trace of the Vomit Comet and straightened her travel-wrinkled linen skirt and silk top.

She glanced at the swinging doors that led to the rink and took a deep breath. Time to face the future.

She’d seen Galina Borisova at competitions, but they’d never been introduced. Galina looked to be in her fifties and her thin neck, sharp features and spiky bleached blond hair, tinted pink on the ends, brought to mind a flamingo. Her dark eyes and brows suggested neither blond nor pink were her natural shade.

“It is well to meet you. Flight was agreeable, yes?” Galina’s accent was so heavy, Carrie struggled to understand. The ancient Zamboni rumbling past on the ice didn’t help.

“Yes. Spasibo. As I said before, I want to reimburse you for the airfare. I know it was very expensive.”

Galina waved the offer away. “Money is made to be spent. I consider investment. I wish you had let me arrange pickup car.”

“Really, that’s fine. You’ve been more than generous.” The Russian coach’s willingness to pay for and arrange everything now seemed too good to be true. Didn’t Dad always say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?” She had the feeling she’d just flown six thousand miles to see him proven right. “I’m excited to begin training. I was a big admirer of your work with Zelenskaya and Belikov.”

Galina gazed wistfully at the departing Zamboni and the glistening ice left in its wake. “Olga and Anton were once-in-lifetime pair. Every coach should have good fortune to work with skaters so talented.”

Carrie offered a sympathetic smile. Losing her longtime students must have been heartbreaking for Galina. “Well, I’m no Olga Zelenskaya, but I’ve also been quite successful.”

Galina thinned her lips. “In your way. But we all must move forward, not live in past, yes?”

She bobbed her head, as her cheeks grew warm. Just how successful she’d been was the subject of ongoing debate. From the corner of her eye, she spotted someone doing warm-up stretches on the opposite side of the rink. “Is that my new partner? Your emails didn’t provide much information.”

A tall, dark-haired man skated out. Fast and athletic, he stroked halfway around, then cut toward center ice, launching himself into a double axel. After a confident landing, he glided into the far corner and did a camel spin, rotating with perfect form, his muscular body in flawless, T-shaped alignment over the ice.

Carrie caught her breath, but it wasn’t his beautiful skating that made her heart race. “Oh. My. God.”

“Yes, this must be good news for you. Antosha!” Galina waved, beckoning him over.

Carrie grasped the rink board to ground herself in reality, shaking even more than in the cab. This couldn’t be happening. But incredibly, it was. Her new skating partner was Anton Belikov, World silver medalist…and the first man she’d ever made love to.

He gave a polite nod, but didn’t smile. “Hello, Carrie. Welcome to Moscow.”

How could this be? He belonged with Olga, training at a top rink with a top coach. Not here, with a second-rate coach and skating with…her! She gaped and shook her head. “What are you doing here?”

His brows lifted in surprise. “You don’t keep up with news of your sport?”

Under normal circumstances yes, but these past months she’d avoided as much contact as possible with the outside world and especially the skating world. Galina crossed her arms. “Olga has teamed with Valentin Egorov. You are to be her replacement.”

She grasped the board tighter, as her out-of-control life spun into orbit. “That’s impossible.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Galina said. “You will train with me, and partner with one of world’s top male pair skaters. I cannot see how this is bad thing.”

Well gosh, for starters, she knew how he looked naked. Damn good, if memory served. Though seven years had passed since that night, this wasn’t an ideal start to a professional partnership. Even if he and Olga no longer skated together, she assumed they were still an off-ice couple. She searched his eyes for any sign of recognition. There was none. Was she relieved, or disappointed?

And how was it that Galina had simply decided to pair her with Anton, without even a tryout? Skaters were matched after weeks of evaluation, like dating before you were engaged. This felt more like a quickie Vegas wedding. She shook her head, as if that might clear her addled brain. This was ridiculous. They couldn’t possibly skate together. “We’re very different,” she began. “Olga’s delicate and artistic. I’m more of a jumper. An acrobat.”

Anton nodded. “You and Olga are different. But with right coach…and right partner, you could be champion again.”

His smile was much too attractive. Straight, perfect teeth gleamed against tawny skin dusted with the shadow of late afternoon stubble. She flashed back to that smile shining brightly in a stranger’s dim bedroom, as Anton gazed down and gently stroked her face. She crossed her arms over her chest as her cheeks burned hot and she let out a harsh laugh.

“Well, bless your heart.” The damn drawl slipped out, the way it always seemed to when she was nervous. “This is all very flattering but I’m afraid we can’t compete together. I’m an American. I’m not eligible.”

Galina spoke up. “Under international rules, you are eligible by permission to compete for us one year after date of your last competition for United States. Since you never skated at World Championship, your last competition was U.S. Nationals and this year, Russian Nationals begin exactly three days after one-year date. Our skating federation has contacted yours and both are willing to grant permission.”

Wasn’t that nice of them? Normally, a top-tier skater wouldn’t be released to compete for another country so easily. American figure skating was clearly anxious to be rid of her.

“As for citizenships,” Galina continued, “you can be both American and Russian. Becoming citizen here normally takes long time, but our government can be most accommodating when dreams of gold medals are at stake. Now then, shall we get to work?”

Carrie stared. Her hands fell to her sides. These two weren’t talking cruise ships. “Lake Placid is in less than seven months! You can’t be serious.”

But the Russians looked dead serious. Anton shrugged. “Not ideal situation, but neither of us is beginner. I am World medalist. You were U.S. champion.”

“Only because my partner slept with a judge!”

“Is that what you think?”

She gave a bitter laugh. “What difference does it make? Everyone else thinks so.” “Maybe you have something to prove, then?” His deep, exotic voice sent a shiver up her spine.

God, it was tempting. She’d been so close to her dream of competing at the Winter Games, only to see it snatched away. Here was another chance. Maybe, if she could salvage her career and restore her reputation, she could finally hold her head up. The public would forgive her. Dad would forgive her.

Was this the opportunity of a lifetime…or a disaster waiting to happen?

Just as she had skating dreams, Dad had political dreams; to win Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat this fall…then in a few years, maybe run for president. The Cody scandal had embarrassed him, and as much as it hurt that he’d done nothing to defend her publicly, she understood. His political opponents had slobbered over images of Les Parker’s cheating daughter like dogs with new bones.

Imagine how they would react to her turning Russian so she could compete in Lake Placid.

And suppose Anton suddenly remembered their night in Amsterdam? True, she’d had jet-black hair at the time, and been hidden behind those silly sunglasses she and the other Silverettes wore when they snuck out after curfew. Back then, she’d still talked like Scarlett O’Hara too. But hey, it could happen. How would he feel about skating with a girl he’d deflowered, even if it meant nothing? Nothing to him, anyway.

Besides, who was she kidding? She didn’t belong here. The Russians ruled figure skating—especially pair skating—like the popular kids ruled the school cafeteria. She’d been the queen of that lunch table in high school, and if you didn’t belong there, you didn’t try to sit down. She’d lost her seat in spectacular fashion and now the quarterback wanted to take her to prom.

This was too weird for words, and she’d had enough weird to last a lifetime.

 Rafflecopter Giveaway (5 eBook copies of PAIRING OFF)

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31. Spotlight and Giveaway: Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Break Sky, a new YA sci-fi by Cori McCarthy.  Check it out!

Meet the Elite Teen Fighter Pilots of the United Star Academy

  Full Name: GARRET POWERS

Call Sign: RIOT

Position: RIO (radar intercept officer)

Height: 6’1

Hair Color: Brown

Eye Color: Blue

Age: 18

Originally from: St. Paul, Minnesota

Plane name and description: PEGASUS, Streaker Jet Prototype 2

Years in the service: 4

Personality strengths: Good kisser, and that’s about it

Personality weaknesses: Punching mirrors, loudmouth

A Teaser:

“Nyx!” Riot bounded through the rec room. He leaped over the rope and wrapped Chase in a crush of a hug.

“I went to your room to catch you. Pippin said you were in Kale’s office.” His face pressed to hers in a way that made her want to pull away, but she gave him a quick squeeze instead.

“We thought you guys were going to die,” he said. “Didn’t we, Sylph?”

Chase let go. “Not even close,” she lied.

Riot was the tallest in their class but on the thin side for flight crew. He had an annoying habit of putting his chin on the top of her head, and yet he was quirky cute with kissable, full lips. “We tried to fly back out to you, but—”

Sylph elbowed him out of the way. “Keep it in your pants, Riot.”

Breaking Sky

Sourcebooks Fire

March 2015 ? ISBN: 9781492601418

Hardcover/$16.99 ? Ages 14+

Fly to the last drop of fuel. Fight to the last drop of blood.

Showoff. Reckless. Maverick. Chase Harcourt, call sign “Nyx”, isn’t one to play it safe. In the year 2048, America is locked in a cold war – and the country’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy. Chase is one of only two daredevil pilots chosen to fly an experimental “Streaker” jet. But few know the pain and loneliness of her past. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There’s a third Streaker, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. And Chase doesn’t play well with others. But to save her country, she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.

CORI MCCARTHY studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. From a military family, Cori was born on Guam and lived a little bit of everywhere before she landed in Michigan. Learn more about her books at CoriMcCarthy.com.

Praise for Breaking Sky:

“Strong characterizations, action, adventure, and emotion combine to produce a sci-fi novel that is more than just the sum of its parts.” —School Library Journal STARRED Review

“Smart, exciting, confident—and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” —Kirkus Reviews

“McCarthy deploys breath-stopping depictions of high-stakes piloting with enviable ease, and the in-your-face personal confrontations are nearly as taut.” —Publishers Weekly

Buy Links:

Great Lakes Book & Supply – Cori McCarthy’s Local Indie! Pre-order here and receive a personalized signed copy.

Amazon

Apple

BAM

B&N

Chapters

Indiebound

Kobo

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32. Guest Post and Giveaway: Meet Me at the Beach by V K Sykes

This morning I have a fun guest post from the husband and wife writing team VK Sykes.  Check out the excerpt and enter the giveaway below, too!

5 things you would never find in Aiden’s locker by VK Sykes

Junk food: okay, Aiden will make an exception for Dorito’s Ranch-flavored chips. Hey, a guy has to have a few bad habits, right?

Pin-up pictures of models: because that is just crass and disrespectful. His mother taught him better than that.

Family pictures that include his father: Aiden does have a picture of his mother and brother in his locker. But his dad? No way.

A little black book with women’s phone numbers: see number #2. Yes, Aiden likes women but there’s no need to act like an arrogant ass about it, even if he is a pro ballplayer and a celebrity.

Letters from Lily Doyle: which, from Aiden’s point of view, is a damn shame.

About MEET ME AT THE BEACH

When Lily Doyle spots her high school crush Aiden Flynn on the inbound ferry, she knows trouble is about to dock in Seashell Bay. And not just because he’s more handsome than ever. If Aiden’s in town, the rumors must be true about his family’s plan to sell their coastal land to the highest bidder. But Lily will do whatever it takes to convince the hottest guy on the beach to protect their idyllic island home.
Gorgeous Lily Doyle was the only thing Aiden missed after he escaped from his hometown to play pro baseball. Now all Aiden wants is to wrap up the business deal and get back to his life, not relive a past that still haunts him. But as memories rush in about the night of passion he and Lily shared long ago, everything else washes right out to sea-everything except the desire that still burns between them.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ASkezs
B&N: http://bit.ly/1qgmcpy
iTunes: http://bit.ly/1Eoqttz
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1LaWisc
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1A5VYJh


About VK Sykes

V. K. Sykes is a wife/husband writing team-Vanessa Kelly and Randall Sykes-who write romantic suspense and single title contemporary romance.  One of the great things they appreciate about being writers is that they can work anywhere so Vanessa and Randy split their time between Ontario, Canada, in the summer and Florida in the winter. Both locations have shores just as beautiful as the imaginary Seashell Bay.

Website: http://www.vksykes.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VKSykes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VKSykesBooks

Excerpt:

“You know this isn’t your fault, Aiden. Don’t you? None of this is your fault.”

He gave an absent nod, almost as if he wasn’t really listening. “A big part of me just wants to sell my land and head back home. That way Bram will get the money he needs, and I’ll never have to lay eyes on the old man again.”

She tugged on his hand, exerting just enough pressure to let him know she wanted him to turn and face her. Some instinct whispered that he wasn’t yet ready to give up on Seashell Bay and that he needed her to help him work it through.

“But what about the other part of you?” she asked softly.

Though Aiden didn’t say anything, he did turn to look at her.

Lily rested her other hand on his chest, just for a moment, before dropping it to her side. “I hope you don’t go. I really, really hope you don’t.”

There, I’ve said it.

Aiden’s gaze roamed over her face. Even though it was so dark, her vision had adjusted, and she thought she saw yearning in his expression and a hunger that hadn’t diminished over the years.

Then he gently released her hand. “But you know I have to,” he said in a low voice.

That short, brutal exchange summed up everything. Impulsively, she’d taken the risk and put her feelings out there, but his answer hadn’t changed.

Clearly she was an idiot because instead of stepping away from him, instead of taking her cue from the gentle rejection, she moved closer and slipped her arms around his waist. It was the dumbest thing she could imagine doing, but she did it anyway.

Because it was Aiden, and it was a beautiful, summer night in Seashell Bay. It was their past and their present all coming together in a tangled web of starlight, pushing her to claim the moment they’d been too afraid to grasp that long-ago night.

“Stay for a little while anyway,” she whispered.

For several agonizing seconds, it seemed that fate held them in the balance. Then Aiden let out a huge breath and folded his arms around her, holding her tight. “For a while,” he murmured, brushing his lips across her temple. His masculine stubble softly chafed her skin, making her shiver.

Torn between heartache and relief, Lily turned her face up. Aiden captured her lips in a kiss that went from tentative and sweet to hot and passionate in the space of a few heartbeats, as she’d known it would. The feel of his mouth on hers, his tongue sliding inside to claim her with a fierce, almost desperate possession, transported her back to that night when they’d finally said yes to each other. It felt wild and new and yet so familiar in the best possible way. The years between them dropped away, almost as if he’d never left.

Just like riding a bike.

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33. Tigers Promise: Tigers Curse Novella by Colleen Houck

Before the curse, there was a promise. A prequel to the bestselling Tiger’s Curse series, this much anticipated novella recalls the beginning of Ren and Kishan’s story. Before Kelsey there was a girl, raised by a villain, whose love for a hero changed the course of history.  Trapped under the thumb of her abusive and powerful father Lokesh, Yesubai struggles to keep her own magical abilities

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34. Review: The Promise of Rain by Rula Sinara

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I didn’t read any further in the blurb than “elephant research and rescue camp” before I added The Promise of Rain to my TBR.  Imagine my delight when the library actually acquired a copy so soon after the release date!  It’s one of the first novels in the Harlequin Heartwarming line that I’ve read, and while I enjoyed the story, I have mixed feelings about certain aspects of it.

Anna Bekker’s life revolves around two things: her four year old daughter, Pippa, and the elephants she’s studying.  When the head of the research department back in the States starts exerting pressure on her about expenses and results, she knows that her funding is in danger.  When she’s told someone will be visiting the camp to audit the books, the last person she expects is Jackson Harper, her former best friend and the love of her life.  He’s also Pippa’s father, a fact that she’s kept secret from him.  Jack is beyond pissed that he’s been kept in the dark about his daughter, and he thinks a wildlife camp in the middle of the Serengeti is the last place she belongs.  It’s dangerous!  There are wild animals! Snakes!  GERMS!  Yes, Jack is a germaphobe, but  that’s not the biggest reason I couldn’t connect with him.  He’s also manipulative, emotionally stunted, and clueless. So, yeah, I didn’t much care for Jack.

Anna, on the other hand, I loved.  She’s dedicated to her daughter and to the elephants she’s researching, and the thought of losing her funding is keeping her up nights, sleepless and worried.  Having her future rest in Jack’s hands is galling, especially when he’s so angry with her about Pippa.   When it turns out that he’s keeping quiet about a conflict of interest regarding her funding, she thinks the chasm between them can’t get any wider.  Then Jack threatens to fight for Pippa’s custody, and she realizes just how wrong she was.

The romance didn’t work for me.  Jack is too anal and too uptight, and if there was any chemistry between Jack and Anna, I didn’t see it.  While they both have trust issues, Jack just didn’t seem like he would ever be capable of being the kind of partner Anna needed.  If I hadn’t liked Anna, the elephants, and the secondary characters so much, The Promise of Rain might have been a DFN for me.  Instead, I loved the details of Anna’s work and the descriptions of the camp and the wildlife preserve. The romance, unfortunately, fell flat for me.

Grade:  C+

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

He wants to take her child out of Africa…

The Busara elephant research and rescue camp on Kenya’s Serengeti is Anna Bekker’s life’s work. And it’s the last place she thought she’d run into Dr. Jackson Harper. As soon as he sets eyes on her four-year-old, Pippa, Anna knows he’ll never leave…without his daughter. 

Furious doesn’t begin to describe how Jack feels. How could Anna keep this from him? He has to get his child back to the States. Yet as angry as he is with Anna, they still have a bond. But can it endure, despite the ocean—and the little girl—between them?

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35. Interview with Lynda Aicher, Author of Game Play and Giveaway

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Lynda!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Lynda Aicher] Driven. Direct. Loyal. Analytical. Serious.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Game Play?

[Lynda Aicher] Game Play is the first book in my new Power Play series and follows the Glaciers professional hockey team. Young, professional hockey player, Dylan Rylie, meets his match in Samantha Yates, a hockey star in her own right. The heat between them is as hot off the ice as it is on, but her career is at a forced end and his still rising which is hard for Samantha to accept. Dylan has to win her over while still allowing Samantha to follow her own path.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Lynda Aicher] Ooh… The office sex scene ranks pretty high for me. Lol. But I also like the quieter moments when they’re really learning about each other. I love seeing them both open up to each other.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Lynda Aicher] I had to learn A LOT about the details behind the game of hockey. I do enjoy learning new things though, so that was both arduous and fun. I can now say I know more about the details behind the sport than I ever thought I wanted to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Lynda Aicher] Excedrin Migraine. Seriously. I get bad tension headaches and two of those will stop a headache before it gets awful.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Lynda Aicher] Slim Jims. Water bottle. Thank you cards (I still have to fill out from Christmas).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Lynda Aicher] Beef Jerky and Mountain Dew. Newly added to the list is Dried Roasted Spicy Seaweed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Lynda Aicher] ??? I have no clue. None. Sorry. I guess I like being me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Lynda Aicher] It would always be teleporting. I would go everywhere and see as many different places as possible.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Lynda Aicher] The Wrong Man by Lane Hayes; No Place That Far by L.A. Witt and Aleksandr Voinov; The Jock Auction by Alex Pendragon; The Way Things Are by A.J. Thomas. I’m reading exclusively Male/Male right now, just so you know.

Game Play
Power Play # 1

By: Lynda Aicher

Releasing February 16th, 2015

Carina Press

Blurb

One night, one time, nothing more. That’s all it was supposed to be. They’d agreed their first night together would be their only night together—and Minnesota Glaciers defenseman Dylan Rylie was fine with that. Giant hickeys and claw marks on his ass had never been his style, even if the very memory of Samantha Yates’s merciless sexual energy gets him hard within seconds. He needs to focus on getting a better contract, not mind-blowing orgasms.

One night, one time, nothing more. Fresh off representing the US at the Games and with nowhere else to play, Samantha gave in to one night of frantic passion with the Glaciers’ brawny hotshot. She couldn’t get hurt—not if she controlled the outcome. And she planned to leave Minnesota soon, anyway. She didn’t expect to be recruited to coach Dylan after they’d gotten down and dirty.

When brutal on-ice workouts lead to kinky locker room sessions and “one night” falls by the wayside, Samantha insists on keeping things casual, despite Dylan’s quiet hope for more. But when Dylan goes down—hard—and his career is in jeopardy, Samantha is the first one by his side. What will it take to keep her there after he’s healed?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/game-play-power-play-1-by-lynda-aicher.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23289990-game-play?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | Kobo | iTunes

Author Info

Lynda Aicher has always loved to read. After years of weekly travel implementing computer software into global companies, she ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties as a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, volunteer, cleaner and mediator. Find her at: http://lyndaaicher.com

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt

Timing was everything, and she waited for her moment to kick up some fun on an otherwise blasé event. The charity that donated hockey equipment to kids from military families was a great cause that would benefit from a little show. At least, that was what she told herself.

“Don’t be stupid,” Meg warned in her ear.

“Why not?” Sam asked. “What do I have to lose?” Absolutely nothing. She’d never do anything to smear her name, but it wasn’t like she had a hockey career to worry about. Or a coach she was accountable to.

Or a reason to behave.

Rylie was spending as much time tipping his trademark worn brown cowboy hat at the passing women as he was paying attention to the kids looking for pointers. The ends of his brown hair curled over the back of the gray hoodie he’d worn under his jersey and seemed to match his hat color almost perfectly. Too perfectly.

Nicknamed Cowboy within the hockey world, he was dubbed Pretty Boy as well. The second label was coined his rookie season by a sports announcer and as far as Sam had heard and seen, the man cultivated both brands equally.

“Hi, Rylie,” a group of teenage girls dressed in skinny jeans and overdone makeup chorused as they skated past. Rylie shot them a nod and grin that somehow managed to be appropriate for the age of the girls.

Sam shook her head and chuckled at his easy charm. The guy had it all. Talent, looks, personality—he was a star in the making. One full of potential if he didn’t get distracted by the fame and parties he seemed to enjoy.

Walters smacked the puck toward Rylie, and Sam broke through the kids to swoop across the ice and steal the puck from the preoccupied man. A cheer went up from the kids when she circled the pro player, puck firmly in her control. The air chilled her cheeks and laughter rang in her ears as she sped away.

A quick glance over her shoulder showed Rylie chasing her, the determined pull of his brows blending with a full smile that somehow managed to put a matching one on her face. She caught sight of Meg and passed the puck off before she stopped then took off in the direction she’d just come from.

The circle of kids widened as Walters got into the play, tailing Meg. She swooped around a group of unsuspecting adults, using them as a pick to cut off Walters, and she smacked the puck back to Sam.

“Think you’re hot stuff, do you, Yates?” Rylie was at her side, jabbing his stick at the puck with no effect. She was under no illusion the man knew who she was. Her name was printed in big letters across the back of her jersey.

“Just having some fun.” She cut a sharp circle and faced off Rylie, who skidded to a quick stop.

He tapped his stick on the ice, an indulgent half smile on his lips. “Come on then.” He glanced over his shoulder. “You and me to the net.”

Her stomach did an unwanted flip when his eyes landed back on her. An interesting mix of brown and green, they seemed to dance with the same excitement that flooded her. The challenge was exactly what she’d wanted and his proposition was the best offer she’d had in months. On or off the ice.

“You are so on,” she said, grinning.

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36. Spotlight and Giveaway: Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston.  Check it out!

Diary of an Accidental Wallflower
Seduction Diaries # 1

By: Jennifer McQuiston

Releasing February 24th, 2015

Avon

Blurb
Pretty and popular, Miss Clare Westmore knows exactly what (or rather, who) she wants: the next Duke of Harrington. But when she twists her ankle on the eve of the Season’s most touted event, Clare is left standing in the wallflower line watching her best friend dance away with her duke.


Dr. Daniel Merial is tempted to deliver more than a diagnosis to London’s most unlikely wallflower, but he doesn’t have time for distractions, even one so delectable. Besides, she’s clearly got her sights on more promising prey. So why can’t he stop thinking about her?
All Clare wants to do is return to the dance floor. But as her former friends try to knock her permanently out of place, she realizes with horror she is falling for her doctor instead her duke. When her ankle finally heals and she faces her old life again, will she throw herself back into the game?
Or will her time in the wallflower line have given her a glimpse of who she was really meant to be?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/diary-of-accidental-wallflower.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22401001-diary-of-an-accidental-wallflower?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/129823-seduction-diaries

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal. Jennifer can be reached via her website at www.jenmcquiston.com or followed on Twitter @jenmcqwrites

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt

DIARY ENTRY #3:

May 16th, 1848

Dear Diary,

I cannot believe I ever thought Daniel Dr. Merial a gentleman.

Geoffrey and Lucy were sorely put out to have missed him, although I confess, I could not find the courage to tell them why he left so quickly, or that he would not be returning. But what else was I to have done? I have entrusted my brother’s moral character to the care of a scoundrel, and heaven only knows how much damage has been done. The gall of the man is endless, lecturing me on what makes a proper marriage and then kissing me in so barbaric a fashion. It was an unconscionable breach of trust.

And worse, it is a scene I cannot stop replaying in my mind.

Try as I might, I cannot imagine suffering such a disturbing kiss from Mr. Alban.

Which, of course, only proves why he is the right choice.

–Clare

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37. Interview and Giveaway: Jessie Evans, Author of Hot Texas Days Box Set

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Good morning, Jessie! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Jessie Evans] Silly, kind, sensitive, weak-in-the-presence-of-chocolate, determined

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your Hot Texas Days box set?

[Jessie Evans] Yes! The Hot Texas Days Box Set features the first three books in my sweet and sexy Lonesome Point series. Inside you’ll find a cowboy biker, a sweet country singer who’s a bad boy in the bedroom, and a professional baseball player ready to reconnect with the only woman he’s ever loved. These men are hot, handsome, and devoted to their women and I am so excited to have them all together in one steamy box set.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think cowboys make such appealing heroes?

[Jessie Evans] Cowboys are American legends. They are the original heroic tough guy, the men who weren’t afraid to go where the world was still untamed and wild. They’re masculine, determined, and sexy as heck. (I like cowboys. Can you tell? Lol.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Jessie Evans] My phone, in case my kids get into trouble at school and need me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Jessie Evans] A lucky cat, a pile of notes written on various scraps of paper, and a giant water bottle because I love water hard.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Jessie Evans] Sour patch kids.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Jessie Evans] A professional surfer. I’d love to know how it feels to rock a wave the way they do. I’m such an amateur.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Jessie Evans] I have the power to heal any disease and I go kick the ass of the cancer trying to take my friends away from me. Also depression and weird brain disorders and anything else messing with the people I love. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Jessie Evans] I loved Lili St. Germain’s “Seven Sons” series even though it was WAY darker than what I write. I also love anything by Lauren Blakely. She writes the hell out of a sexy hero!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jessie Evans] I prefer message in a bottle, but since I don’t actually live next to the ocean that might be difficult. So try me on Facebook. I’m there more often than I’m anywhere. Or email is good too! (jessie.d.evans@gmail.com)

Thanks so much for the interview and I hope y’all enjoy the box set!

 

Hot Texas Days Box Set
Lonesome Point, Texas, Books 1 – 3

By: Jessie Evans

Releasing February 16th, 2015

HOT TEXAS DAYS BOX SET

Hot Texas Days, Hotter Texas Nights…

Three full-length hot, suspenseful novels by New York Times Bestselling author Jessie Evans, featuring rugged, alpha cowboys and the women feisty enough to tame them. Welcome to Lonesome Point!

LEATHER AND LACE

Cowboy bikers, fireworks, and romance, oh my…

Wild girl, Mia Sherman, has a secret—she isn’t as fearless as she pretends. Descended from Lonesome Point, Texas’ founding family, Mia grew up hearing tales of an ancient Irish curse that followed the Shermans to America. The first-born daughter of every generation is cursed to lose her husband on her wedding night, which is one of the many reasons Mia has sworn off relationships. Until the fateful day rancher Sawyer Kane rides his Harley into her life …

Can true love conquer all, even a centuries-old curse? Mia and Sawyer will be the first to find out.

See On Goodreads

SADDLES AND SIN

Even sweet cowboys have a sinful side…

Robert Lawson—Bubba to his friends—is six feet, four inches of tall, dark, and handsome cowboy, with a panty-melting voice and a face made to launch a country music career. But when his family’s ranch hands go down with the flu, Robert cancels his high-profile auditions and returns home to help out. Marisol Medina has been looking for her golden ticket since she became a country music manager, but she refuses to mix business and pleasure, even if it will be hell, resisting temptation while spending a week at the Lawson family ranch with her star client.

But as Marisol and Robert grow closer and the passion between them ignites, Marisol must decide if a chance at forever is worth breaking all her rules.

See On Goodreads

DIAMONDS AND DUST

The home run neither of them expected…

Pike Sherman is a legend in Lonesome Point, a hometown boy who made it to the big leagues. Literally. Professional baseball acquired one hell of a pitching arm and it’s latest celebrity bad boy when the gifted Pike was drafted seven years ago. Pike’s broken heart came along for the ride, too, but he kept that private. Tulsi Hearst knows she should stay far away from the brooding man her summer love has become, but she can’t resist a dance with the only man who ever made her blood rush.

After a few days back in Lonesome Point, Pike can’t imagine life without the girl he left behind, but when Tulsi’s secret is revealed, his heart is broken all over again. The only thing worse than losing Tulsi, is losing six years with the daughter he didn’t know he had.

See On Goodreads

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/hot-texas-days-box-set-by-jessie-evans.html

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/132677-lonesome-point-texas

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Google+

Author Info

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jessie Evans, gave up a career as an international woman of mystery to write the sexy, contemporary Southern romances she loves to read.

She’s married to the man of her dreams, and together they’re raising a few adorable, mischievous children in a cottage in the jungle. She grew up in rural Arkansas, spending summers running wild, being chewed by chiggers, and now appreciates her home in a chigger-free part of the world even more.

When she’s not writing, Jessie enjoys playing her dulcimer (badly), sewing the worlds ugliest quilts to give to her friends, going for bike rides with her house full of boys, and drifting in and out on the waves, feeling thankful for sun, surf, and lovely people to share them with.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt from LEATHER AND LACE:

Sawyer searched Mia’s face in the glow of the moon, the soft light making her look even sexier than she had in the yellow bulbs strung above the farmer’s market. “I really like you. A lot.”

“I like you, too,” she said, her full lips curving at the edges.

“But I meant what I said before, about not being ready for anything serious.” The words tried to stick in his throat, but Sawyer forced them out. He owed Mia honesty, and he wanted to make damned sure they were on the same page before things went any further. “I want to make sure that’s still okay. I wouldn’t ever want to hurt you.”

Her smiled faded, but her eyes remained soft, unguarded. “You won’t hurt me.” She ambled down the stairs, stopping on the stair above his, putting them face-to-face and their lips inches apart. “I’m fine with a night, or a week, or the summer…however long feels right. And when it stops feeling right, we go our separate ways, no anger, no regrets.” She lifted her arms, twining them around his neck, sending arousal surging through his body. “This is exactly what I need, Sawyer. You are what I need, and I can’t wait to touch you. Everywhere.”

Any hope of resisting vanished as that last word feathered between her tempting lips. Sawyer closed the distance between them, claiming her mouth as his arm wrapped tight around her waist, crushing her body to his. Her breasts flattened against his chest and her body heat caressed him, making his pulse spike and a moan sound low in his throat. He wanted this woman—badly. And he was past ready for them to be alone in a room with a bed, a door, and a lock to keep the rest of the world out.

Sawyer lifted Mia off her feet, carrying her through the shop entrance before kicking the door shut behind them.

“Up the stairs,” she whispered against his mouth. “Bedroom’s up there.”

Excerpt from SADDLES AND SIN

“I don’t know about the women you date,” Marisol continued. “But I’m not that kind of girl.”

“What kind of girl are you?” Bubba aimed for a casual tone, but his voice came out strained.

“I’m not,” Marisol said, her expression sobering. “As far as you and I are concerned, I’m not a girl. I’m a businessperson. I will use every weapon in my arsenal to get your career moving. I will flirt with club managers and be your arm candy at events until you find a cute little thing to take home to your mama, but that’s where it ends. As long as you’re my client, it’s business between us.”

Bubba swallowed hard, fighting the urge to tell her that he was fine with ripping up their contract, right here and now. He’d rather have the Marisol who kissed him like she’d been dying for everything he wanted to give her than a business partner any day of the week. He’d had several managers approach him after the open mic night, but he hadn’t felt this drawn to a woman since he and Casey broke up a few years after high school.

Still, no matter how much he wanted to let his heart—and cock—do the talking, he had a meeting tomorrow morning with Wendy Dann and her people. Wendy wasn’t country music royalty just yet, but she was a major star. The chance to open for an act like hers, while her original opener was out of commission for vocal node surgery, was a once in a lifetime opportunity. If he landed this job, he could tell his asshole boss at the electric company to go fuck himself, and put his five-year career as a lineman behind him. He’d been relieved to be spared his older brothers’ fates as slaves to the family ranching business—he loved his family and spending long weekends at the ranch, but he’d never felt the call of the cows the way John and Cole did—but it wasn’t his dream to maintain overhead transmission lines, either.

No matter what the rest of the Lawsons had to say about it, music was in his blood. He never felt more alive, more at home, more at peace and generally right with the world than when he had a guitar in his hands and his lips inches from a microphone. Singing was the only thing that had ever lit a fire inside of him, and he didn’t want to risk losing his shot to transform his passion into a career because he was too hot for a woman to focus on the big picture.

So, with a deep breath and a brittle smile, Bubba swallowed the words on the tip of his tongue and said, “Just business is fine with me.”

“Good.” Marisol smiled, but Bubba would swear she sounded disappointed. “Then go get some rest and I’ll pick you up at six-thirty tomorrow. We want to be sure we’re on time. They’re making an effort to squeeze in this meeting before Wendy gets on a plane to Nashville for her week off, and we need to be there bright and early to show how appreciative we are.”

Bubba nodded, plucking his new, three-hundred-dollar cowboy hat off his head and running a hand through his hair, still feeling a little strange wearing a hat for stage dressing. Back in Lonesome Point, you wore your cowboy hat so your nose wouldn’t burn off by the end of a long day working outside. He was definitely out of his comfort zone in the designer hat Marisol had picked out for him. So far, almost all the money he’d made at his gigs had gone right back into clothes and headshot photographs and half a dozen other things he hadn’t realized he needed to launch a country music career. He couldn’t afford to derail things now, when he was so close to making good on his investment.

But as he swung into his truck, and Marisol crossed the parking lot to her vintage Spider convertible, Bubba couldn’t help wishing things could be different. For the first time in his life, he was defying his family’s party line and looking for a life outside of Lonesome Point. If he met someone special right now, it wouldn’t have to end the way things had ended with Casey, with a sad goodbye because most girls want to grow up and leave a small town behind, not settle in and raise a fifth generation of Lawsons with their high school sweetheart.

In Bubba’s gut, he knew he’d return to Lonesome Point eventually, no matter where his new career might lead, but in the meantime he had the chance to see what it was like to date someone he wouldn’t have to run into at the supermarket every other day, someone he hadn’t known since elementary school, and whose mama wasn’t friends with his. But so far, he hadn’t met anyone who intrigued him, let alone made him think about what it might be like to fall in love again.

No one but Marisol, the one woman who was off limits.

“Just my luck,” Bubba mumbled as he started the truck and drove across the nearly abandoned parking lot, doing his best not to peek into his mirror at the convertible behind him. Marisol had made it clear they were never going to be more than friends and colleagues, and Bubba had learned his lesson about pining for impossible things a long time ago.

Still, he couldn’t resist one last glance in his rearview as he pulled out onto the deserted street—wondering how long he’d be able to honor his “all business” promise with a woman who was everything he wanted, wrapped up in one irresistible package.

Excerpt from DIAMONDS AND DUST

Tulsi stewed in her anger all day, and by the time Pike pulled up beside her in his red pickup truck as she was walking back to her aunt’s farm for supper, she was in a truly foul mood.

“Tulsi?” Pike frowned at her through the open passenger side window. “What the heck are you doing here? Did you and Mia come up to watch spring training?”

“No, I’m alone, and I’m working, Pike Sherman,” Tulsi said, losing the last of her cool. “I have a job that has nothing to do with you, your sister, your family, or baseball. I am a person, and I have my own dreams, my own interests, and my own life!”

“Okay, okay.” Pike blinked in obvious surprise. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you.”

“Well, you did,” she said, still so angry she couldn’t seem to control her mouth. “You’ve been insulting me for years.”

His eyebrows lifted. “What? When have I ever—”

The black car behind him on the two-lane country road blared its horn, but instead of driving away, Pike pulled over on the gravel shoulder in front of her and got out of the truck.

Tulsi watched his long, lean form emerge from the driver’s side, refusing to notice how amazing he looked fresh out of the shower, with his brown hair hanging in thick chunks against his forehead and a gray tee shirt molding to his impressive chest. Instead, she focused on the fact that Pike was an entire foot taller than her five feet three inches, and how stupid she was to have spent years crushing on a boy who would have put a terrible crick in her neck if she’d ever actually kissed him.

“Have I done something wrong?” he asked, waiting for her response with a lost expression on his face.

Tulsi rolled her eyes, wondering how a boy on the verge of graduating from college with a three point five could be so stupid. It wasn’t like her crush had been particularly subtle. Even her big sister knew Tulsi had it bad for Pike, and Reece rarely paid attention to anything that wasn’t about Reece, still considered Tulsi a baby, and hadn’t been home to Lonesome Point in years.

“Because if I have, I’m sorry. You know I love you,” Pike continued, his words sending an arrow slicing through her already suffering heart. “You’re like the sweet, less irritating little sister I never had. I really… I care about you.”

Tulsi sucked in a shaky breath, pain and frustration warring in her chest, making her brave enough to step closer and pin him with a hard look. “I care about you, too, Pike, but I’m sick and tired of being treated like your little sister.” His eyes went wide with surprise, but there was something else there, too, a flicker of interest that made her bold enough to take another step toward him and add in a softer voice, “And maybe I’m not as sweet as everybody thinks I am.”

“Is that right?” he asked, brow arching.

“That’s right.” Something wild and brave inside of Tulsi raised its head, insisting it was time to make her stand, to grab for what she wanted before Pike was forever out of her reach. “So, as far as I’m concerned, you have two options.”

He nodded slowly, holding her gaze with an intensity that made her shiver. “I’m listening.”

“Either get out of my way and let me forget you,” she said, adrenaline making her pulse pound in her throat, “or shut up and kiss me.”

Oh, boy. That did it…

Tulsi watched the spark in Pike’s eyes kindle into a flame with equal parts fear and excitement. There was no doubt she’d captured his attention, but when he reached for her, the moment still felt surreal. She’d been fantasizing about Pike taking her in his arms for so long that when he finally did it, it felt like a dream: a scene from a movie she’d watched too many times to believe she would ever play the starring role.

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38. Guest Post and Giveaway: Vicky Dreiling, Author of What A Devilish Duke Desires

This morning Vicky Dreiling stopped by with a Top 5 list.  There’s also an excerpt from What A Devilish Duke Desires for you to enjoy, and a giveaway for you to enter. 

Top 5 complaints from Harry’s household staff about their employer by Vicky Dreiling

1.     The dog fur on the furniture

2.     The lumpy sofa

3.     The erotic literature in his bedsheets

4.     The stench of cheroots when his friends visit

5.     The piles of papers scattered all over his desk.

 

WHAT A DEVILISH DUKE DESIRES by Vicky Dreiling (February 24, 2015; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)

WILL A FEW FLIRTATIOUS STEPS
Harry Norcliffe never wanted to inherit his beloved uncle’s title. The rigidity of the ton, the incessant reminders from his marriage-minded mama that he must settle down with a highborn lady and produce an heir and a spare: it’s all such a dreadful bore. So when his mother asks him to take part in a dancing competition, he patently refuses. The last thing he needs is another chore . . . until a beautiful, brilliant, delightfully tempting maid makes him rethink his position.

LEAD TO A SCANDALOUS SEDUCTION?
Most women would be over the moon to be pursued by a wickedly handsome-not to mention wealthy-duke like Norcliffe. But Lucy will not be any man’s trophy. She could use a friend, though, and what begins innocently soon ignites into desire. As Lucy tries to resist Harry’s scorching kisses, he makes an utterly irresistible offer. Enter the dance contest with him, and win a prize that could change her life forever . . . if falling in love doesn’t change it first.

Buy Links:

Amazon

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iBooks

GooglePlay

Kobo

BAM

About the author:

Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the United Kingdom allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places. She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her Trouble. When she’s not writing, Vicky enjoys reading, films, concerts, and, most of all, long lunches with friends. A native Texan, she holds degrees in English literature and marketing. 

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Excerpt:

Lucy stood behind the table dressed in an apron. A cap covered all but one wisp of her red hair. She handed a glass of lemonade to a matron. When the lady walked away, Lucy lifted up on her toes. Evidently, she was watching the dancers.

He strolled over to her table. “Lucy?”

Her green eyes widened. “What are you doing here?” she said under her breath. A blush stole over her cheeks. “Sorry, that was foolish.”

“No, it wasn’t. I escorted my mother and cousins . . . I didn’t expect to see you here.”

She wouldn’t be here if she didn’t need the coin, but she couldn’t be earning more than a pittance.

“You are working?” he said. Brilliant, you just sounded like a complete idiot.

“Yes, isn’t it obvious?”

He smiled. “Well, yes. You are well?”

“I am,” she said. “And you?”

“A few minutes ago, I would have said tolerably well, but then I saw you and brightened considerably.”

“Flirting again, Your Grace?”

“Who me?” he said, putting his hand to his heart.

She looked over her shoulder and returned her gaze to him. “You had better go.”

He looked behind her.

“What are you about?” she said.

He grinned. “One of your curls escaped the cap.” She attempted to tuck it in.

“Don’t,” he said. “It’s rather fetching.”

“Please go. I cannot afford trouble.”

“No one is paying attention to us. May I have a glass of lemonade?”

“Of course.” She poured and handed the glass to him. He took a sip and puckered his mouth. “It’s terrible, but I should have expected it. Almack’s is well known for its lackluster refreshments.”

“One would think the ton would serve decent food and drink.”

“Believe me, no one comes here for the refreshments,” he said.

“Except you?” she said in a teasing tone.

He laughed. “I saw you watching the dancers. I wish you could dance with me.”

“I’m working.” She glanced over her shoulder again. “You had better leave before someone notices you’re talking to me.”

He glanced out at the crowd. “No one is paying the least bit of attention. Everyone is focused on the dancers.”

“Why aren’t you dancing?” she said.

“I would if you were free.”

“If you wish to flirt, I advise you to choose a lady of leisure. I must work.”

“I wish I could dance the rest of the night with you. I can’t, so I won’t dance at all.”

She shook her head. “I’m not the reason you’re avoiding dancing,” she said. “I know the patronesses changed the rules.”

“Yes, and I narrowly escaped dancing all night with a young lady out in her first season. I felt sorry for her. She couldn’t be a day over seventeen, making her much too young for the likes of me.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Aren’t you expected to dance?”

“I don’t care about expectations.”

She met his gaze straight on. “I wager your family does. I know courtships take place primarily on the dance floor.”

“When I decide to court a lady, I will choose the time and place. I make my own decisions, and I answer to no one,” he said.

She arched her brows. “Perhaps a higher power?”

He smiled. “Or a lower one.”

Her mouth twitched in a slight smile. “Does that make you a devilish duke?”

His shoulders shook with mirth. “Clever.”

A rotund maid walked out. “Lucy, give the gentleman a glass of lemonade and be done with it.”

Lucy winced and poured a glass. “Yes, Mrs. Thompson. I’m sorry.”

“It’s not me you owe an apology.” Mrs. Thompson regarded him. “She’s new, but that’s no excuse.”

He’d made trouble for Lucy, and he’d better undo the damage. “Mrs. Thompson, I beg your pardon.” Harry gave her his best flirtatious smile. “The lady did try to discourage me. I take all the blame. Do forgive me.”

Mrs. Thompson’s eyes grew as round as carriage wheels and her face turned pink. “Imagine me forgivin’ you. Carry on, Miss Longmore,” she said, and walked off.

Afterward, Lucy leaned toward him. “Please go now. I can’t risk losing my job.”

The devil. He shouldn’t have teased Lucy. Her words worried him, because she couldn’t be earning much. That only made him wonder how she was managing.

He wandered past the other tables, stopping occasionally to watch her. She and her grandmother lived in a rough neighborhood. That fact only increased his curiosity and his concern. Most likely, she held more than one job, because she couldn’t possibly survive on whatever pittance she earned serving lemonade.

When she caught him eyeing her, she averted her gaze. A lady approached, and Lucy served her a glass of lemonade. Afterward, Lucy looked out at the crowd as if determined to avoid him.

Once again, he was struck by the contradiction of her. He told himself to walk away and forget her, but he couldn’t. She was a riddle, one that he itched to solve, but that was not all. In truth, that one kiss had only made him want more. He wanted to pull her up to her toes and kiss her senseless. He wanted to hold her in his arms. He wanted her to surrender everything to him, but he mustn’t rush her. That one kiss had assured him she was an innocent.

The orchestra ended the tune with a flourish. The master of ceremonies called for silence. The guests moved closer en mass toward the dais where the patronesses sat.

Three ladies inside the refreshment room hurried out to join the throng. Harry consulted his watch. It was half past eleven. He turned around. Lucy was alone.

When he strode toward her, she eyed him warily. He set the half-finished glass of lemonade on the table and leaned closer to her.

“I want to see you again. Meet me at Green Park tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to know more about you.”

She shook her head. “I do not think it is a good idea.”

“Who will know but us?” he said.

She narrowed her eyes. “What if one of your friends saw me with you? I can well imagine what they would think of me.”

“They’ll be at Rotten Row during the fashionable hour. No need to worry.”

A roar went up within the ballroom, followed by thunderous clapping. Harry turned around and saw his eldest cousin Mina and Lord Everleigh standing on the dais. “I had better go.”

“Yes, go, and please do not jeopardize my job again.”

He grinned. “I will see you tomorrow.”

“You’re awfully confident, but you are bound for disappointment.”

He looked at her over his shoulder, winked, and walked into the ballroom.

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39. Review: Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I don’t read many inspirational romances, but I stumbled upon Karen Witemeyer a while back, and I really enjoyed her writing.  When I saw Head in the Clouds at the library, I thought it sounded cute, so I checked it out.  I could relate to Adelaide, a young woman looking for her very own hero.  Charmed by Jane Eyre and other novels, she longs for a man to protect her and take care of her.  What she finds is even better; she discovers the love of her life, but she also finds the strength to protect and care for herself and her loved ones.

Adelaide has fallen in love with the idea of being in love, so she quits her teaching job and follows her destiny to Fort Worth.  Only once she arrives, she discovers that the man she’s been pining for is married and has a family.  Humiliated and angry with herself for allowing her impulsive nature to leave her without a job or a place to live, she answers an advertisement in the newspaper to be the governess to a sheep rancher’s daughter. Before she can blink, she’s headed to central Texas with two other applicants, to meet both Gideon, the sheep rancher, and his daughter, Isabella.  Talk about a stressful job interview!  It took two days of hard travel to reach her destination, and then she had to vie against two women with more experience and better teaching credentials than she possessed!

After charming Isabella and the rest of the rest of the household, she scores the job.  Now she learns that Isabella hasn’t spoken a word in months, and she’s mourning the death of her mother.  Adelaide is determined to help Isabella out of the shell she’s surrounded herself in, and help her find joy and laugher once again.  Adelaide’s teaching methods, which utilized role-playing and creative play, were fun to read about.  I loved the teacher – student interactions.  Isabella has had an unhappy time, and she’s having a hard time being a kid.  Adelaide slowly and patiently draws her out of her shell, much to Gideon’s delight.

The romance is very sweet, and the biggest hurdle they must overcome is class difference.  Gideon is British, the son of a baron, and he thinks he has to marry someone refined and elegant, two things that Adelaide is not.  Adelaide was raised on a cattle ranch, and she can ride and shoot as well as any man.  Gideon thinks his parents won’t approve of her, so he firmly resists his attraction to her.  Until danger threatens both Isabella and Adelaide, and then he realizes that life is too short to worry about what other people expect of him.

There’s a lot of action in Head in the Clouds, and Adelaide proves her worth in difficult situations.  I liked that she didn’t wait for someone to save her or Isabella, but instead made her own opportunities to save herself.  She’s brave, fiercely protective, and intelligent – how can you not like a heroine with traits like those?

There is a lot of religion in the book, but it didn’t seem intrusive or out of  place because of the setting.  If this had been a contemporary, it probably wouldn’t have worked for me, but I expect that with the harsh surroundings and difficulties involved in ranching in the 1800s, that faith would have a large place in both Gideon and Adelaide’s lives.  I am not a particularly religious person, but the prayers and requests for guidance didn’t bother me, but I will mention it in case that’s not your cup of tea. 

I haven’t read many inspirationals, but I liked Head in the Clouds so much that I want to rush out and try other authors in the genre.  If you read them, do you have any recommendations for me?

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America’s wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn’t uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon–and intrigues him at the same time. But he can’t afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella’s uncle comes to claim the child–and her inheritance–Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man’s evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

The post Review: Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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40. Guest Post and Giveaway: Megan Frampton, Author of When Good Earls Go Bad

This morning Megan Frampton stopped by the virtual offices to chat about her latest release When Good Earls Go Bad.  Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!

Thanks for the chance to stop by here today! I’m excited about the release of When Good Earls Go Bad, my Victorian Valentine’s Day novella.

The novella’s hero, Matthew, has never done that before (you know what I mean), and so I was thinking about things I had never done before that likely most people have.

  1. I have never seen Titanic, ET, or The Sound of Music.

  2. I have never worn yoga pants outside.

  3. I have never understood the Pythagorean Theorem.

  4. I have never driven a stick-shift.

  5. I have never played Spin the Bottle

  6. I have never successfully made pancakes.

  7. I have never seen American Idol.

  8. I have never had a job where I had to wear typical office garb.

  9. I have never read To Kill a Mockingbird

  10. I have never done calculus.

Thanks again for having me today!

When Good Earls Go Bad:

A Victorian Valentine’s Day Novella
Dukes Behaving Badly # 1.5

By: Meghan Frampton

Releasing February 3rd, 2015

Avon Impulse

Blurb

Megan Frampton’s Dukes Behaving Badly series is back, though this time it’s an earl who’s meeting his match in this delightfully fun and sexy novella!

What’s a lovely young woman doing asleep in his bed? Matthew, Earl of Selkirk, is shocked to discover it’s his new housekeeper! She’s a far cry from the gray-haired woman he expected. Matthew is no fan of surprises, and Annabelle Tyne is pure temptation. Perhaps he shouldn’t have had her hired sight unseen.

Annabelle, co-owner of the Quality Employment Agency, is no housekeeper, but she wasn’t about to lose a potential client simply because there was no one to fit the bill. Imagine her shock when the Earl arrives at his London townhome and she’s awoken in the night by the most attractive man she’s ever seen.

Matthew is a man who lives life by the rules, but sometimes rules are made to be broken…and being bad can be very, very good.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/when-good-earls-go-bad-victorian.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22495005-when-good-earls-go-bad?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/127805-dukes-behaving-badly

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info

Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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41. Spotlight and Giveaway: Back in the Game by Lori Wilde

This morning I have an excerpt and an awesome giveaway for Lori Wilde fans.  Check out Chapter One of her latest release, Back in the Game, and then enter for a chance to win a book bundle!

Back In the Game
Stardust, Texas # 1

By: Lori Wilde

Releasing February 24th, 2015

Avon

Blurb

New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde welcomes you to Stardust, Texas . . . where dreams come true and love is always right around the corner

Wanted: ghostwriter. Must be female, a baseball fan, and have a great pair of legs.

Ex-pitcher Rowdy Blanton never saw a woman he couldn’t conquer or a team he couldn’t beat. And now that he’s off the field he’s ready to tell all about when he played the field. So he chooses Breeanne Carlyle to do the job-she’s got the requirements, but more important, there’s something about her that makes him want to be a better man.

Convinced there’s more to Rowdy than a good fastball, a wicked smile, and a tight pair of pants, Breeanne can’t help but be tempted. After all, it’s boring always being the good girl, and Rowdy dares her to be just a little bad. The stakes are high, but win or lose, this time Breeanne’s breaking all the rules playing the game of love.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/back-in-game-stardust-texas-1-by-lori.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22401418-back-in-the-game?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/129829-stardust-texas

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | ITunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde has sold seventy-eight works of fiction to four major New York Publishing houses.

Her first NYT bestseller, the third book in her Twilight, Texas series, The First Love Cookie Club has been optioned for a television movie. The town of Granbury, Texas, upon which her fictional town of Twilight, Texas is loosely based, honors Lori with an annual Twilight, Texas weekend each Christmas.

A popular writing instructor, Lori is a two time RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She’s won the Colorado Award of Excellence, the Wisconsin Write Touch Award, The Golden Quill, the Lories, and The More than Magic.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

 

 

Excerpt:

Available

But stubbornly, against all odds, Breeanne believed in herself. She would make this happen. If it took twenty years, then so be it. In the meantime, her close-knit family had expectations of her. So here she was, going picking.

Smile.

Smiling put the blues on notice. It was her go-to expression for smoothing over everything. No room for bad moods. Never mind that she wasn’t feeling it. Fake it until you make it. She was finally healthy, and had a family who loved her. The writing would eventually take care of itself as long as she kept at it.

On this Sunday morning in May, navy blue night faded into the deep purple of impending dawn. Every expert bargain hunter knew that arriving after first light meant you were already too late for the good stuff.

Breeanne’s oldest sister, Jodi, drove the minivan branded with the name of her business on the back window, Boxcars and Breakfast. Enterprising Jodi bought old boxcars for cheap, and with her mad carpentry skills, converted them into luxurious sleeping accommodations on land that she’d inherited near the state park.

In her role as second oldest, Kasha rode shotgun. Kasha had a PhD, and worked at the VA hospital as a physical therapist.

Breeanne sat in the back with Suki, the baby of the family. Suki ran the Internet side of Timeless Treasures, and had her own jewelry making business on the side.

Normally, their parents would accompany them on their weekly Sunday morning hunt, but their folks were celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary on a romantic getaway to San Antonio.

Bumper to bumper traffic idled up the sweeping driveway leading to the impressive Tudor-style mansion. An attendant, wearing a reflective vest, and waving a light orange signal cone, directed them to an adjacent field.

Marion County’s wealthiest doyenne, Irene Henderson, had died at the age of eighty-five after being thrown from the saddle of her Arabian horse. Breeanne couldn’t help admiring the elderly woman’s fearless spunk. How did anyone get to be that brave?

Jodi parked the van. Armed with tote bags, they all got out.

Kasha paused, and nostrils flaring, tipped her face to the sky still sprinkled with stars. “It’s going to rain.”

“Not according to the weather forecast,” Jodi said, but she unlocked the van, and retrieved two umbrellas. Kasha had an uncanny ability to predict the weather.

A swath of headlights kept coming as more cars pulled in.

“Fierce competition,” Jodi said. “We should split up. I’ll scout antiques. Kasha, you go for the kitsch. Suki, shop for the tearoom, and anything Art Deco. Breeanne, you’re assigned to—“

“Books.”

“Don’t attempt to carry them. Text us if you find any, and we’ll cart them back to the van for you.”

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42. Manga Review: The Legend of De Marco by Abby Green and Sae Nanahoshi

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Occasionally confusing presentation, but I loved the art, so the book gets props for that.  This is a revenge story.  Gracie’s brother Steven runs off with a million of his employer’s euros.  Rocco De Marco isn’t amused.  If news of this leaks to the public, it will ruin his company.  When Gracie shows up looking for Steven, he makes a brash decision; he’ll keep her in his penthouse until Steven turns himself in.  Gracie, after putting up a fuss, realizes that she has nowhere else to stay.  She’s just been fired from her job, and after her landlord made a pass at her, she packed her suitcase and moved out.

Rocco accuses Gracie of helping Steven steal his money, and at first he doesn’t believe that they are siblings.  Gracie decides to prove that he’s wrong, and to make the best of a bad situation.  Rocco’s housekeeper just quit, so he offers Gracie the job.  Thinking that she can keep an eye on Rocco and learn if his people find her brother, she accepts the position.

Despite his belief to the contrary, Gracie and Rocco have a lot in common.  Both come from humble backgrounds, and both were treated horribly by a parent.  While Gracie is still struggling to find success, as well as keep a roof over her head, Rocco has made a fortune, all in an effort to get back at his father, who treated him like trash.  The final feather in his cap, marrying a socialite with a sterling pedigree, will seal his revenge.  Too bad he’s falling for Gracie, a woman with no social cred and someone he doesn’t even trust.

While this wasn’t a complete win for me, the art more than made up for some of the plot’s shortcomings.  Rocco is handsome, whipcord lean, blessed of gorgeous hair and a face to stop the hearts of ladies the world over.  Gracie is sweetly tomboyish, though stunning later in the book when she attends social outings with Rocco and she’s decked out in beautiful dresses. 

The ending wraps up a little too quickly, but I recommend this fast read if you have Scribd account.

Grade:  C+

Review copy read on Scribd

From Amazon:

Her little brother, Steven, has disappeared with a million euros in tow? Gracie, seeking a more detailed explanation of what happened, rushes to the company where her brother works. The president of the company, Rocco De Marco, meets with her to explain that her brother has stolen money from them and disappeared. Furthermore, they are also questioning her as if she is an accomplice to the crime. “You are an important person in relation to the incident. Until Steven appears, we would like you to stay in the company penthouse on the top floor of the building.” Isn’t this imprisonment?

The post Manga Review: The Legend of De Marco by Abby Green and Sae Nanahoshi appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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43. Spotlight and Giveaway: Rough Rider by Victoria Vane

This morning I have an excerpt, trailer, and giveaway for Victoria Vane’s latest Rough Rider.<?P>

Rough Rider

By Victoria Vane

Sourcebooks Casablanca

Contemporary Western Romance

February 3, 2015

ISBN: 9781492601159

Two wary hearts …

Janice Combes has two loves, bucking bulls and Dirk Knowlton. But Dirk only has eyes for a dazzling rodeo queen. How can Janice ever compete while mired ankle-deep in manure? Exchanging playful banter with Dirk is all Janice can expect—until the stormy night he knocks on her door dripping wet and needing a place to crash.

Different Dreams…

Dirk Knowlton is living the cowboy dream. Life should be good—roping, branding, backing broncs, riding bulls, but there’s a void he can’t seem to fill. After getting hung up by a bull, he wonders if this is really the life he wants. Restless and rebellious, he bolts…but there’s a certain cowgirl he can’t forget.

When a battle-scarred Dirk returns to his Montana ranch he’s determined to hang on at any cost. Janice has come back home to lick her own wounds. When old dreams turn to dust, can two wary hearts take another chance on love?

Buy ROUGH RIDER by Victoria Vane here: Amazon | Apple | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

Book Trailer Embed Code:

Praise for Slow Hand by Victoria Vane:

“A “red-hot cowboy tale…their sexual chemistry crackles. Well-paced, scorching scenes and witty banter move the story along while setting the stage for Wade’s war-hero brother to find his own true love in the next installment.” – Publishers Weekly

“SLOW HAND by Victoria Vane is delightful, funny, page turning steamy sexy… I’m beginning to think Victoria could write a phone book and make it sexy.” – Unwrapping Romance

“PULL THE FIRE ALARM & STOCK UP ON FIRE EXTINGUISHERS FOR THIS STEAMY ROMANCE!” – Avon Romance

Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.

Connect with Victoria Vane: Website | Facebook | @AuthorVictoriaV | Pinterest | Goodreads

Excerpt from ROUGH RIDER by Victoria Vane:

He looked abashed. “We didn’t just have to leave the party, we got kicked out of the hotel too.”

“Evicted from your room?”

“Yup. And there aren’t any others available in all of Casper.”

“I know,” she said. “It’s why I’m camped out here.” She paused to digest what he’d left unsaid. “So you and Rachel?”

He shook his head with a scowl “We’re done now. Quits.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. History. Case closed.”

“It’ll blow over.”

“Don’t think so. It was her idea to boot us. Said she didn’t give a shit if I had a room tonight or not. Then I couldn’t even try finding anything outside of town because my asshole brother took my keys so I wouldn’t drive. My next move was to pilfer a blanket and pillow and camp out under the stars in my truck bed, but then it started pouring on me.”

“So you came here. How’d you do that with no wheels?”

“Walked.”

“Three miles in the pouring rain? No wonder you look like something the cat dragged in.”

“Can I crash for a coupla hours? Maybe just camp out in the back seat of your dually? All I need is to get warm and dry again.”

Janice’s mouth went dry as sawdust. Dirk Knowlton. Cold. Wet. Here. Now. Wanting a bed? She’d give her right arm to warm him up. Heck yeah.

Misreading her silence he mumbled a curse. “Sorry, Janice. It’s my damned head. I’m not thinkin’ right. It’s still throbbing like hell. Haven’t been myself all night. M’pologies for being such a dumb-ass and imposing on you—” He turned to the door.

“No! Wait. It’s not that.” She grabbed his sleeve. “I was just thinking of your injuries. You don’t need to make matters worse by sleeping all cramped up in the truck.” She gnawed her lower lip and then blurted. “Y-you wanna just stay here instead?”

“Here? That’s mighty generous but there isn’t a whole lot of room for both of us.” He glanced up at the gooseneck with a frown. “If you’ll just gimme a blanket, I’ll take the floor.”

“You don’t need to do that,” she said. “The bench here flips down over the table and converts into a single. It’s really narrow and not very comfortable, but still better than the truck. Warmer anyway. Besides you need to get dry.”

“You sure about this?” he asked.

“Yeah.” She smiled. “What are friends for? I’m sure I’ve got a shirt for you too.”

“Thanks, Red. That would be great.”

Red? The single syllable rippled warm and tingly, all the way to her toes. He followed up with a lopsided grin that stopped her in her tracks. She turned to the small cabinet that served a dual function as dresser and closet and shut her eyes on a sigh—but the same air stuck in her throat the minute she turned back around.

He’d shed the denim jacket. And the black tee. His bare torso with well-developed pecs and a mouthwatering six pack greeted her. He was drying his face with his discarded shirt. Janice tore her gaze away and cleared her throat. “Here.” She thrust an extra-large Dixie Chicks T-shirt into his hands, a souvenir from their Top of the World Tour. “I—I can get you a towel too.”

He eyed the shirt skeptically. “No thanks.”

“What? You don’t like female musicians?”

“Don’t like their politics. Natalie should just shut up and sing.”

“Ah.” She nodded slowly. The shirt was from the tour that caused the “incident.” A lot of her friends had since thrown out their Dixie Chicks CDs, but Janice still loved their music. “I Can Love You Better” was her favorite. The lyrics, she’s got you wrapped up in her satin and lace. Tied around her little finger…but I can love you better, perfectly summed up all the heartbreak and frustrations of unrequited love; all her secret feelings for Dirk. She only wished she could show him now that he was here. In the flesh. A big strong, blue-lipped and teeth-chattering fantasy come true.

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44. What’s love got to do with it?

‘The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness.’ (Fromm, E. 1957)

The time of year approaches that has gaggles of teenage girls quivering anxiously in school corridors: outwardly bemoaning the late arrival of the postman, while inwardly breathing a huge sigh of relief. At the other end of the spectrum, jaded 75-year-old-long-marrieds dust off last year’s card, re-presenting it safe in the knowledge that (a) it won’t be remembered and (b) he won’t care that much either way. It’s a day that hints at the arrival of Spring, when a question mark can create a frisson of excitement in a recipient or a knowing smile from a long-suffering spouse.

Saint Valentine’s Day, where millions of British pounds are spent on grand, kitsch, or anonymous romantic gestures (chocolate, flowers, lacy underwear, and dinner reservations, not necessarily in that order). It’s become a British industry. It celebrates love or as Samuel Johnson put it, the ‘triumph of hope over experience’.

Valentine’s Day juxtaposes our desire for romance at its best. At its worst, it exemplifies another defining contemporary human characteristic: consumerism. This Western tradition can be tenuously traced back to Valentine of Terni, martyred circa AD 197, for his Christianity. Another possible origin, Valentine of Rome, circa AD 289, was imprisoned for continuing to wed soldiers after Claudius had outlawed marriage, decreeing armies of single men fought better than those distracted by conjugal delights. Awaiting execution, Valentine is reported to have cured the jailer’s daughter of blindness and fallen in love, his final letter to her signed, ‘from your Valentine’.

Historian Noel Lenski, classics professor at the University of Colorado, has unearthed evidence to suggest an ancient pagan fertility festival on 14th February. Lupercalia, a celebration of love, which saw young Roman men strip naked and use goat skins to brush the backsides of young women and crop fields to improve fertility, followed by a matchmaking lottery where men drew women’s names from a jar. Little wonder card manufacturers have chosen to shift their focus from death, sadism, imprisonment, and swinging, from whence Valentine’s Day tradition is suggested to have sprung.

From a partisan standpoint, as a couple psychotherapist, the idealised romance of Valentine’s Day with its fantasy-laden, unconscious projection onto a ‘love object’ is not necessarily good news. The lover’s notion, that the strength of his emotion will ensure a yearned for relationship metamorphoses into a-glorious-sunset-happy-ending, doesn’t predict a stable, long-lasting, and fulfilling relationship. Come to that, neither does love at first sight or your partner resembling one of your parents. And yet romantic gesture, prolific at a relationship’s birth, is the bedrock of most unions and forms part of their narrative. Just ask a couple how they met.

The romantic notion of reality (two individuals from similar socio-economic backgrounds, attracted by their differences/irritating and lovable idiosyncrasies) becoming fantasy (thinking as one, able to read each other’s mind and anticipate each other’s needs) can be traced back to the Bible, ‘Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Matthew, 19.6).

For the Victorians, love was a periphery consideration. A relationship between a man and a woman was a business contract between two families, with the woman as product and land as prize. Choice in love is a new Western trend. Forced by female emancipation and latterly such freedoms as same-sex relationships, emphasis has shifted away from acreage and towards how to attract a partner, how to fashion yourself as the prize.

Erich Fromm in his seminal work The Art of Loving, advocates love as a skill, to be honed and worked at, requiring knowledge and effort, rather than ‘something one falls into if one’s lucky’. From a consulting room vantage point, the idea of a relationship created between a couple that takes work and attention can come as something of a revelation. There is often real confusion between a falling in love state for couples and the permanent state of being in love. ‘I don’t feel the same about her as when we met and it’s making me depressed,’ is not an unfamiliar complaint.

Falling in love is an exhilarating, almost psychotic experience for everyone that is fortunate enough to feel it. The tragedy is that this new and precious intimacy, triggered by sexual attraction, is impossible to sustain. The infatuation stage, where everything else falls away, is commonly described as a ‘coming home feeling’, where a sense of familiarity nestles amongst the thrill. The bad news is it burns itself out. Nothing except the most dangerous attraction can sustain that undiluted intensity. Who would do the work? Captains of Industry would just stay in bed. Reality must test each new relationship. Can it survive meeting the in-laws? When do the stains on her teeth come into focus – and hopefully not matter. When do the stresses of work and mundane domesticity creep back into consciousness?

Many couples seeking help with their relationship are burdened with the expectation that their love should feel natural; fulfilment of sexual desire, rather like the Holy Spirit, should be around at all times, despite inhabiting a time-pinched world of Internet dating, Viagra, and plastic surgery. They feel that loving should be accompanied by an ease and constant lightness, and so feel cheated or deficient, even deviant in some way when it doesn’t feel like that. Their internal echo of why isn’t every day like Valentine’s Day infuses their relationship with an uncomfortable and unspoken ennui.

So where is the relationship advice at this most quixotic of times? As Valentine’s Day dawns, perhaps Honore de Balzac’s suggestion in ‘La physiologie du marriage’ will resonate: ‘No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.’ Permit a translation. Take it slow, have some fun, keep past relationships in mind, especially that of your parents, and remember, ‘Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.’ (Anouilh, J. 1948)

Headline image credit: Heart. CC0 via Pixabay.

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45. Review and Giveaway: Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor

Review:

I actually wanted to read Worth the Risk before Claudia Connor’s other book, Worth the Fall, was even on my radar.  I saw that the heroine was a hippotherapist, and that’s all I needed to see.  I didn’t even read the blurb beyond “one therapeutic horseback ride at a time.”  Yup, throw a random horse reference in there, and I’m on board.  But then Worth the Fall was highly recced to me, and despite my aversion to all of those kids, I read it.  And loved it.  And I loved Worth the Risk more!  So the author is now on my auto read list.

I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, so I will be purposefully vague about some key plot points.  I figured a lot of them out, but I don’t want to rob the experience of these discoveries from you, so I’ll just give a general background about the story and why I liked it so much.

Hannah works as a therapist, helping disabled and emotionally battered kids with her horses.  She has a fierce passion for her profession; she suffered through unspeakable brutality when she was a teenager, and horses helped rouse her from of the shell she crawled into.  She lives for her horses and her young clients, so she’s stressing about a letter that she received from the city, questioning the ownership of her property and barn. 

After a very bad day, when she had to unexpectedly put her beloved dog to sleep, she meets gorgeous Stephen.  Having been drilled by her brothers to never trust anyone, she refuses to give him her number, but, taking a step outside of her comfort zone, agrees to meet him later for a drink.  Hannah just wants to forget that she’d be going home to an empty house, and she doesn’t want to deal with her suffocating brothers’ sympathy. 

Five years ago, Stephen also suffered from a heinous act of evil, and he’s been running from it ever since.  He’s cut ties with his family, severed ties with his own emotions, and has poured all of his energy into his company.  When he sees Hannah crying in the grocery store, he feels a twinge of curiosity, as well as attraction.  When she refuses to give him her phone number, he’s even more determined to get to know her.  Their drinks turn into a dinner date, but Hannah still refuses to divulge personal information about herself.  He thinks that she’s just being cautious, and sets his sights on getting what he wants – Hannah.

I enjoyed Worth the Risk for many of the same reasons I liked Worth the Fall.  Both Hannah and Stephen needed each other; they are sadly incomplete alone.  They both feel stifled by their caring, and in Hannah’s case, overprotective, families.  They both had a piece of themselves ripped brutally away, and they were and can never be the same as before.  They have trust issues, don’t want to get involved with anyone, and are reluctant to commit. 

To complicate matters, Hannah’s land is in jeopardy, and Stephen’s partner is scheming to purchase it, with or without Stephen’s approval.  Hannah brings some grief on herself here because she wants to take care of her problem by herself, so she can start to feel self-sufficient.  That comes back to bite her in the behind.

Both characters are easy to relate to, and Stephen, despite his own self-loathing, is kind, caring, and considerate.  He senses that Hannah is skittish, and he woos her with care, even if he doesn’t know why he’s doing it.  He’s made a vow to never fall in love again, and it’s a promise he has every intention of keeping.  Reading along as they gently batter down their reservations kept me completely engrossed in the book, and I read it in just a few hours.  It’s a little angsty, moving, and hard to put down.  Best yet,   I like all of the McKinneys and all of Hannah’s brothers, and keep thinking, Yeah!  Who will be the star of the next book in the series??

Highly recommended

Worth the Risk
The McKinney Brothers # 2

By: Claudia Connor

Releasing Feb 3rd, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

When a McKinney brother falls in love, powerful emotion and overwhelming desire are never far behind.

Two hearts locked away . . . Hannah Walker spends her days coaching children through injury and trauma, one therapeutic horseback ride at a time. She knows all too well how violence can change a child and leave scars that never heal. It’s easy for her to relate to the kids; what isn’t easy is the thought of facing her own harrowing past.

Millionaire playboy Stephen McKinney could use a little coaching himself. Five years ago he encountered his most horrible nightmare—and the nightmare won. No matter what he achieves, nothing can make up for that awful night . . . or so he believes.

Both desperate for a second chance . . . Stephen is used to getting what he wants. And he wants Hannah. So when she turns him down, he’s intrigued. What he doesn’t know is that her secrets will lead him to a place he never wanted to go again . . . to a side of himself he’s tried to forget . . . a side that would scare Hannah away from ever loving him. Now his only chance to win her trust is to bare his soul, risking everything he tried so hard to protect.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/worth-risk-mckinney-brothers-2-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22747252-worth-the-risk?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Claudia Connor is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of heartfelt contemporary romance. Claudia attended Auburn University, where she received her undergraduate and masters degrees in early childhood education, and completed her studies in Sawbridgeworth, England. Always a lover of happy endings, she enjoys movies, reading, and travel, but spends most of her time typing out the love stories of the almost real people that live in her head. Claudia lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and three daughters.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller, Loveswept Mug and Romance at Random Nail Polish)

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46. Spotlight and Giveaway: Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid.  Enjoy!

Fire Me Up
Pine Mountain # 4

By: Kimberly Kincaid

Releasing January 27, 2015

Zebra/ Kensington

Blurb

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT…

Teagan O’Malley can handle a crisis. She’s a paramedic, it’s her job. But she never expected to land in the kitchen of her father’s pub, with no notice, no cash, and no room for error. The kitchen is not her favorite place. Lucky for her, she just scraped a bad-boy chef off the pavement after a motorcycle accident—and something about him says he can turn up the heat in more ways than one.

Adrian Holt has had a rough few years, and he’s not eager to get tangled up in anything more complicated than a good risotto. But with a broken arm and a head full of bad memories, he needs a challenge to keep him sane. Teagan’s dare-me attitude and smoldering mess of a bar are just what the doctor ordered. And the two of them together might cook up some even better medicine…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/fire-me-up-pine-mountain-4-by-kimberly.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22043083-fire-me-up?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/112826-pine-mountain

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book.

Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Her digital Line series is all about the hot cops and sexy chefs of Brentsville, New York. She is also the author of the Pine Mountain series, which follows small town singles as they find big-time love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt

The astringent bite of rubbing alcohol reached Teagan’s nose as she tore into the packet in her hand, and she measured the intricate black tattoo on Adrian’s right forearm with a casual glance. Placing a line was more about feel than anything else, but it didn’t make this a cozy jaunt down Main Street, either. Still, procedure was procedure, and she wasn’t about to tell the docs in the emergency department that she didn’t start an IV en route when she knew damn well they were expecting her to do it. Explaining the shoulder thing was going to be bad enough.

Taking her eyes off a guy like Adrian in the first place had been the highest order of stupid. She wasn’t screwing up his care again.

“So how come you’re sticking me, exactly?”

His much-softened tone snagged her attention, and she adjusted hers to match. “Because you need painkillers on board before we get to Riverside. The doctors there are going to give you a pretty good workup. It’s not going to be fun.”

“I’m okay with the pain,” he said, although the thin sheen of sweat on his brow coupled with his skin’s growing pallor said otherwise.

Teagan shrugged. “You need the IV regardless. Might as well let the meds take the edge off.” She sat on the bench seat at Adrian’s side and flipped his right arm palm-side up, running her fingers down the corded length from elbow to wrist in search of a good spot.

“So what language is this, anyway?” she asked, folding his hand into a fist before tracing the thickly scrolled letters spanning his skin from wrist to elbow. Maybe if she distracted him, he’d let her do her job without complaint.

“Italian.” He didn’t elaborate, but he also didn’t balk as she ripped open the IV kit she’d pulled from the med box.

“Oh. What does it mean?” Teagan tapped the pad of one gloved finger against the vein now standing in relief against his skin right above the words vivere senza rimpianti.

“You ask a lot of questions, don’t you?”

The edgy little smile that had caught her so off guard in the middle of the road was back in full force, and it hadn’t lost an ounce of steam in its absence.

Teagan’s cheeks prickled with the unfamiliar sensation of a blush. “Sorry. Little pinch here. Ready?”

He nodded, keeping his smile locked in place. “Whenever you are, Red.”

Right. Because that nickname hadn’t haunted her enough in the third grade. “Just hold still.”

She guided the IV into place with a few deft movements despite the fact her pulse had just taken on all the properties of a freight train. “I’m going to put some Fentanyl in here to ease some of your pain. It works pretty quickly, so you should be able to relax soon.”

“Whatever will get this over with faster.” Adrian looked away, the smile slipping from his face as he shifted his weight against the semi-reclined surface of the cot. It figured he’d go and get all agreeable when they were halfway to the hospital, but truly, Teagan knew better than to complain.

She drew two hundred micrograms of Fentanyl into a syringe and worked it into the IV, doing a visual sweep to make sure all systems were go. “I’m just going to recheck your vitals here and see if we can manage some focus assessment before those pain meds get in the way.”

“Focus assessment sounds like something my high school guidance counselor tried once. Hate to break it to you, but it didn’t work out so well then. Doubt you’ll have much luck with it now.”

Teagan’s laugh popped out before she could swallow it, and she palmed the penlight from her bag. “Don’t worry, it’s not that tough. Look up for me.”

Adrian fastened her with a dead-on stare, and whoa, there was a lot roiling around in those hazel eyes of his. No matter how big and bad, most car accident victims experienced some form of shock or another in the aftermath. Her social skills might not be impeccable—or hell, even good—but it was time to keep this guy as calm as possible.

“So, tell me,” she said, slipping the pulse ox clip over his finger. “What do you do, Adrian?”

His forehead creased, making his surprise a dead giveaway.

“I’m a chef.”

Looked like surprise was catching. “And how long have you been a chef?”

“Since the day I was born.”

The laughter pushing past her lips caught her off guard for the second time in as many minutes. “You’ve been busy, then. You must work at the place in the resort.” That tiny tickle of recognition fanned over her again, but as soon as she flicked her attention toward it, it was gone, like smoke in a stiff breeze.

“What makes you say that?” He canted his head to the side, his shoulders seeming to loosen slightly.

Teagan noted his current vitals before continuing with the exam. “Because unless you count the bakery on Main Street, there are only two other full-service places to eat in Pine Mountain, and there isn’t a chef in either one.”

The thought of Lou, the lanky guy who worked his magic at her father’s bar and grill, working up a hoity-toity dish like on those reality shows was downright laughable. Not that Adrian really fit that mold either, but still. He’d been the one to use the c-word, not her.

As if he’d just climbed into her head for an easy looksee, Adrian teased, “Careful making assumptions over there. I ditched the tall white hat as soon as I graduated from culinary school.”

She held up her hands, busted. “Okay. But for the most part, we townies tend to just sling hash and be done with it.” Teagan examined him carefully, and this time the vague recognition darting around in her brain snagged and held. “The restaurant at the resort! You were there last year, when we responded to that call for the other chef. A woman.”

The tumblers and gears of her memory locked into place over the image. They’d been first on scene, and Evan had gone to secure the patient—a nasty facial trauma, if she remembered right. Teagan had been too busy securing the rest of the scene, namely trying to peel Adrian off of Jackson Carter, a local guy she’d known since middle school.

The fight had been short-lived. And Adrian had been boiling-point furious.

“She’s my boss,” Adrian said, dispelling only a touch of the mystery running through her head. “You remember that?”

“Small town. And you have a memorable right hook.”

His eyes flared, in way more panic than irritation. “It wasn’t like that, exactly.” A pause, and it looked like hers weren’t the only gears sliding into place. “Wait, that was you who jumped in the middle of things.”

Teagan nodded, sliding down the bench toward his feet and laying the flat of her hand against the bottom of one monstrous boot. “Securing the scene to administer care is part of the job. Press forward as far as you can.”

He did, and when she prompted, he gave a quick repeat on the other side. “You could get hurt like that, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Said the guy on the gurney,” she said, unable to bite back a wry smile. “How’s your arm feeling?” Now that she’d had more time for a more focused exam, it was clear the broken arm was likely the only injury he’d sustained, and even that looked pretty straightforward. Lucky bastard.

“Pretty good.” He closed his eyes for a fraction too long to be a blink, and that, coupled with his answer, signaled the Fentanyl was starting to kick in nice and hard.

“Good. We should be at the hospital in another seven minutes, give or take. You can close your eyes if you want.”

Another blink, this one shuttering his eyes just enough to be sexy as hell. “That might not . . . be the best idea.”

Concern splashed through Teagan’s chest, and she leaned forward from her perch on the bench seat at his side. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

“Relax.” A lazy smile joined his bedroom eyes, sending an entirely different sensation through her chest. “I’m not going to code on you or anything. It’s just, ah, easier to forget about the pain if I’m distracted, that’s all.”

Oh, buddy. If you only knew. “Okay, but consider yourself forewarned. I’m not sure I’m the best person for the job.” Teagan bit her lip over a pause. “Polite conversation isn’t exactly my forte.”

“Polite conversation is for amateurs,” he said. “Tell me something important.”

A streak of shock popped through her veins. “You want me to tell you something personal?” That Fentanyl must be knocking him sideways if he thought she was going to spill her soul.

“Yeah,” Adrian said on nothing more than a rumble. “Personal. What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?”

More laughter escaped in an unexpected burst, but at least it was a painless question. Poor guy probably was a little loopy from the meds. “Umm, wow. Coffee, I guess.”

“I could see that.” His voice was slow, and it dashed all the way down her spine, lingering only when it reached the lowest point between her hips. Desperate for something clinical to keep her busy, Teagan snatched a few packets of alcohol wipes. She tore one open and leaned in, dabbing methodically at a scrape above Adrian’s eye.

“Ah.” She shook her head, giving the cut a closer look.

“You’ve got a pretty nasty lac here. It’s small, but looks kind of deep. I hate to tell you, but you’re probably going to have to lose this piercing to have it stitched up.”

“Great,” he said, although the sarcasm didn’t quite stick. “You can go ahead and take it out, I guess.”

Teagan made quick work of removing the stainless steel barbell, sliding it into a plastic bag before giving voice to the question in her head. “So how about you?”

“How about me what?” He angled the side of his face so it fit tight into the curve of her hand, and she scooped in a shallow breath at the increased contact.

“What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” she murmured, surprised to find herself actually wanting to know. His eyes went from warm hazel to smoky quartz in the time it took her to exhale, and he dipped his gaze to her mouth.

“Strawberry.”

“And what’s so great about strawberries?” Oh hell. Was that her voice, all breathy and ridiculous?

“They’re perfect.” He curled the fingers of his uninjured hand around hers, pulling her in and reducing the space between them to a mere sliver. With his stare resting right on her lips, he said, “And red.”

Before the word even sank in, Adrian lifted his mouth to hers in a slow stroke. His lips were the exact opposite of the rest of him, soft and accommodating, and Teagan gasped against them. He tasted like cinnamon, spicy and dangerous, and he tightened beneath her like he had every intention of parting her mouth with his own and discovering all of her. Her brain screamed that she should pull back, give him what-for, do something other than just sit there and let him kiss her, but all her good intentions fell prey to one simple fact.

She didn’t want him to stop.

But then, just as quickly as he’d closed the space between them, Adrian pulled away, and the resulting rush of cool air brought Teagan back to earth with a hasty snap.

“Sorry. I . . .” Adrian trailed off, eyes at half-mast. “I’m so tired.”

“Close your eyes.” Thank God she’d at least faked her way back to her normal speaking voice. The sound of it steadied her ever further. “We’ll be at Riverside in a couple of minutes.”

As if on cue, Evan leaned back and aimed his voice into the narrow pass-through, one eye still on the road as he hollered an ETA of ninety seconds. Teagan shucked her gloves and swept up the debris in the rig, double-checking Adrian’s vitals even though her own probably looked like a skyline shot of Mount Everest. His eyes were closed, his chest rising and falling in smooth rhythm. She’d given him enough Fentanyl to knock out a basketball team, so it really wasn’t a shock that he’d gotten a little goofy. He probably wouldn’t even remember kissing her when his eyes opened up again.

The smartest thing she could do was forget it, too.

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Fire Me Up by Kimberly Kincaid appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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47. Manga Review: One Hot Texan by Jane Sullivan and Masako Ogimaru

 

Review:

What a happy day!  I discovered a plethora of Harlequin manga on Scribd!  I love reading these, but I don’t like buying them, because I can read one in less than an hour.  Needless to say, my subscription at Scribd just became even more of a value.  There are tons and tons of these there, so I’ll be contentedly squeezing them into the review schedule.  Just as an FYI, the site just added comics from Marvel, IDW, Dynamite, and others, so if you enjoy comics, check out their selection.  I’m not a collector (anymore), I just want to read them, so the subscription based system works great for me and takes up less room in my house!

After browsing the Harlequin manga, I settled on One Hot Texan because, well, why not?  I was hoping for cowboys and horses, and I kind of got that, just not how I expected.  Cole McCallum hasn’t had an easy life.  His mother walked out on Cole and his father, and then his father was convicted of crimes and sent to jail.  Cole was sent to Texas to live with his grandmother, but he hated the small town and the gossip that followed him everywhere.  He couldn’t wait to leave it all behind him, and when he turned 18, that’s just what he did.  He packed up, left the grandmother who always loved and believed in him, and made it big in real estate.  But then trouble found him again, and brush with the law costs him his fortune.

Back in Texas, he needs to find a wife pronto of he’ll lose the ranch that his grandmother left to him.  While marriage of convenience stories aren’t my favorite, I did enjoy this one.  Cole meets shy Virginia, and he offers her a business deal.  She’s struggling to pay off bills since her mother passed away, so if she’ll marry him for the time required to inherit the ranch, he’ll give her a cash settlement that will pay off her bills and allow her to follow  her dream of attending college.

Ginny has been brow beaten by her mother her entire life, and as a result, she’s quiet, introverted, and longing for a change.  She wants to do something with her life, but her mother’s hateful words haunt her.  She was constantly told that men were evil, and they only wanted one thing, and worse, that she wished Ginny had never been born.  Obviously, Ginny’s mother needed counseling, and so does Ginny!  She keeps Cole at arms length, reminding him time and again that theirs is strictly a business arrangement.  As time passes, she begins to care about him, and she begins to wonder if maybe, just maybe, they can make this into a permanent arrangement, but then reality intrudes, and she sees that it’s impossible. Cole just wants the ranch, so he can sell it and start over with his real estate career.

Overall, I enjoyed One Hot Texan, but I thought that Ginny’s issues were far too complex to believably resolve in such a short comic.  Cole, too, has his trust issues, but he doesn’t really acknowledge them.  I did like how tender and protective he could be, but then he blew that by treating Ginny horribly when he thinks she purposefully did not take her birth control.  Dude!  You have a responsibility to help make sure she doesn’t forget to take them; the fact that she has a prescription does not absolve you of your due diligence.  How did you run a successful business? Oh, wait…you had a lapse of judgment there, too!

Except for the temper tantrum mentioned above, I did like Cole.  He just needed a kick in the pants to help him realize what was important in life. 

Grade:  C

Read on Scribd

From Amazon:

After spending his whole childhood being raised in an unhappy home, Cole McCallum turned rebellious, dating nothing but superficial women and gaining a bad reputation. He was the most despised person in town, except for those women smitten with him. Now, Cole needs a partner for a marriage of convenience and he picks the town’s latest bloomer, Virginia. He’s looking forward to giving this inexperienced virgin girl a night she’ll never forget. After their simple wedding ceremony, Cole kisses her deeply in their shared hotel room while caressing her body—and is met with an unexpected response!

The post Manga Review: One Hot Texan by Jane Sullivan and Masako Ogimaru appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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48. Monday Mishmash 2/16/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Drafting  I didn't get much drafting in last week because I had so many client edits. I think I wrote about 3,500 words and that was all on Friday. This week I'm hoping to write more.
  2. New Agency Sibling  If you didn't hear the good news, DL Hammons announced that he's signed on with my agent, Sarah Negovetich. I'm so happy for DL, who runs the Blog Blitz I'm part of and Write Club. Congrats again, DL!
  3. Editing  I have more edits on my plate this week. 2015 has really been the year of editing for me so far.
  4. Beware the Little White Rabbit Animated Cover  By now, you probably know I'm an editor for Leap Books. Well, I'm editing this amazing anthology that just got an animated cover. Check it out. (If you don't see the animation, click on the image.)
  5. Looking For Love Cover Reveal  Last Friday, I revealed the cover of the final installment in the Campus Crush Companion Series (written as Ashelyn Drake). In case you missed it, here it is:
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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49. A Cybils Bookmark: THE WINNER'S CURSE, by MARIE RUTKOSKI

I'd previously only read this author's middle-grade novels. Her debut with THE CABINET OF WONDERS, was a Cybs contender awhile back, and pretty amazing in terms of detail and overall WOW factor of new-things-per-page. I LOVED that novel, so when I... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on A Cybils Bookmark: THE WINNER'S CURSE, by MARIE RUTKOSKI as of 2/17/2015 7:17:00 AM
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50. Guest Post and Giveaway: Sidney Halston, Author of Below the Belt

Sidney Halston dropped by the virtual offices to share a Top Five.  Check it out, and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Top Five “Walk Out” Songs for Tony by Sidney Halston

There’s certain songs that you hear and they just pump you full of adrenaline and make you want to kick some serious butt—The Rocky Song, for example.

Tony, the hero in BELOW THE BELT, is loud, arrogant, and boisterous. He’s been winning MMA bouts for the last decade. He’s the typical fighter you see on Pay Per View fights who comes out to loud music while wearing flashy shorts. When we first meet Tony in BELOW THE BELT, I envisioned him jogging into the cage in his first fight in vibrant blue shorts with logos of all his sponsors emblazoned everywhere while the crowd cheered to some misogynistic vulgar rap song or maybe an old rock song such as AC/DC Thunderstruck. Then we see him take a huge blow to his ego. The song and his clothes are examples of who he is and how he lives his life: A little crude and a lot arrogant. So when the final fight happens at the end of the book, he’s really made some big life-changing decisions regarding his career and personal life and, even though he is still the loud and boisterous Cuban fighter that everyone loves to hate, the music and the shorts had to go.

What Tony “walks out” to is really telling of the new Tony. I won’t say which song I actually chose and I know it is really cheesy but it makes sense when you read the book. Or, at least, I hope it does. My husband rolled his eyes big time when he read the scene (but he ‘got it’).

Any who…here are the runner ups for the “walk out” songs for the final fight (in no particular order).

  1. Eye of the Tiger or The Rocky Song: Inspirational and classic. Shows that he’s concentrating and matured.

  2. Imagine Dragons, Radioactive

  3. The Final Countdown by Europe

  4. Seven Nation Army by White Stripe. Just because I really love it and because it makes me want to work out. Hee hee

  5. Rusty Cage by Johnny Cash.

What are some songs you think about when you think boxing or MMA?

 

Below the Belt
Worth the Fight # 3

By: Sidney Halston

Releasing February 10th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

In Sidney Halston’s latest sizzling MMA romance, a former title contender turns the tables on his knockout trainer with a lesson in seduction.

Once one of the most sought-after names on the mixed martial arts circuit, Antonio “Scarface” Marino watched his career go down for the count as he chased skirts and made tabloid headlines. Now he’s finally making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to Francesca Silva, a Brazilian bombshell as tough as any of her fighters. But who’s the real Francesca: the trash-talking trainer who rides him hard, or the vulnerable woman who blushes at his touch?

Francesca went to the mat to sign Tony because she believes he still has the potential to bring big success to her gym—if she can keep his head in the cage and out of her personal life. After a short-lived marriage soured her on love, a one-night stand is all she can handle. Now Tony’s kisses are stirring up complicated feelings—especially when he agrees to face her ex in the ring. Francesca’s used to freezing guys out. But Tony’s tempting her to give in to the heat.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/below-belt-worth-fight-3-by-sidney.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22926842-below-the-belt?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Below-Belt-Worth-Fight-Novel-ebook/dp/B00MSRYORI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416696819&sr=8-1&keywords=below+the+belt

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/below-the-belt-sidney-halston/1120679175?ean=9780553390988

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/below-the-belt/id923816322?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/below-the-belt-11

Author Info

Sidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain, or even simpler, “Just Do It” Nike.

And that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red, among four other novels currently in the works, including the sequel to Seeing Red. That first pen stroke sealed the deal and she fell in love with writing.

Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children. She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading… She’s a reader first and a writer second.
When she’s not writing or reading her life is complete and utter chaos trying to balance family life with work, and writing (and reading). But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://www.sidneyhalston.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/https:/www.facebook.com/Sidneyhalston

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sidneyhalston

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6916557.Sidney_Halston

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Sidney Halston, Author of Below the Belt appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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