author interview

>Cynthia Eden and ANGEL OF DARKNESS Interview & Giveaway

>Super special guest today **VBG** Cynthia Eden, my fellow Kensington Brava author with her uber-sexy upcoming release, ANGEL OF DARKNESS!

And Cynthia is also giving away a copy of the book! Whoo-hoo! Open Internationally!
ANGEL OF DARKNESS

As an angel of death, Keenan’s job is to collect the souls on his list. He’s carried out his duty for two thousand years and never faltered once. Until he meets Nicole St. James. When the moment of death comes, Keenan hesitates, and instead of taking Nicole, Keenan touches the vampire who’s attacking her.


Cast out of heaven for disobedience, Keenan plummets to earth. Six months later, he finally manages to track Nicole to a bar in Mexico. He’s stunned to discover that the woman he remembers has undergone a dramatic change—she’s become a vampire. And when he realizes that she’s the target of all manner of enemies—other vampires, demons, even shifters—he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her, even if all hell breaks loose…

Cynthia, tell us about your upcoming release.
ANGEL OF DARKNESS tells the story of an angel who falls for a vampire. Literally. Poor guy—he doesn’t know what’s happened until it’s too late…angels don’t handle lust—or love—very well.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

My hero is a virgin. Yes, that’s my favorite thing. I’d been wanting to write a virgin hero for a long time now—and here he is! In my “world” angels don’t feel emotions or human needs until they fall, so my angel knows nothing about lust. Lucky for him, my heroine is happy to teach him a few things.
What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

Ah…well, my hero, Keenan, is an Angel of Death, so that means his job is to take souls from this realm to the next. At the beginning of my book, Keenan is supposed to take my heroine’ soul (i.e., kill her), but he doesn’t. He can’t. So he falls because he was tempted, and he didn’t carry out his duty. If Keenan wants to get his wings back—and earn his way back to heaven—he has to complete his original mission. He has to kill my heroine. That’s their big conflict.

Why did you put these two together?
I like to work with opposites when I write. My hero (an angel) and my heroine ( a vampire)—they’re definitely opposites. On all kinds of levels.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I like to create a villain who is…good. Wait, let me clarify. He’s bad, of course, he is, but can’t bad people also have good parts? No one is 100% evil, just as no one is 100% good. So when I crafted my villain, I wanted to show that there could be some redeeming qualities in him. Those qualities just might be buried very, very deep. And who knows? Sometimes, villains can later turn into great heroes.

What do you love most about this book/series?
These books are set in New Orleans, and I was able to incorporate a lot of real locations in my story. I’m a frequent visitor to New Orleans (maybe too frequent?), and it was so much fun to put some of my favorite spots in the stories. I actually went back to New Orleans recently, and I filmed from those locations. I’m making videos so readers will be able to “see” those spots, too.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, redemption can be possible, for anyone. No matter what we do or what happens to us, hope will always exist.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me!! It’s been a pleasure!

Order Cynthia’s new release here:  Amazon

Cynthia is also giving away a copy of ANGEL OF DARKNESS to one lucky winner!!
Enter below — Open Internationally!

Cynthia Eden is a national best-selling author of paranormal romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and her novel, DEADLY FEAR, was named a RITA® finalist for best romantic suspense.



NYT Bestseller Anita Clenney Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway!

>Today, I welcome NYT and USA Today Bestseller Anita Clenney! Anita’s celebrating the release of her second book in the Highland Warrior series, Embrace The Highland Warrior. And we have a giveaway of a copy of the book and 5 custom handmade bookmarks. Simply comment to enter!

Anita, tell us about your upcoming release.

Here’s a blurb:

 Cody MacBain let the woman of his destiny slip away. A member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, he grew up beside Shay Logan as her secret protector, but his heart compelled him to become more. Until Shay’s true identity was revealed, and the fated pair’s chance was gone…

But danger will drive them back into each other’s arms…

Shay fell for the boy next door, suspecting nothing of the ancient secrets he guarded. After a stinging betrayal, she’s determined to banish the memories of her first love forever. But the past can’t let go, and the boy she once loved has returned to her a warrior determined to protect her from the unspeakable evil fate has planned…

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
I love the emotion between Cody and Shay, the powerful connection they shared, and I love watching them try to reconnect now. They’ve changed so much, but the elements of their past are still there. I also love having all the warriors from Awaken helping them out. In the midst of turmoil and confusion, it gives a feel good element.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?
A dream.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
A terrible betrayal, and secrets that will make your heart ache.

Why did you put these two together?
These two just seemed so natural. They belonged together, then all the secrets got in the way and messed up a good thing.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I love my villains, one of them in particular. In fact, he’s so great I want to make him a hero. It’s either that or go back and do a prequel. His backstory is just wonderful. I don’t know how I come up with them. I can’t explain it. They’re just there. And I have so many of them. I love it.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Love scenes. I’m never sure how far I want to go.

Tell us something unusual about this book (i.e. in its creation, execution, production).
This second book was the first manuscript I ever wrote. It was originally a romantic suspense. I started writing the first book in this series, what is now Awaken, about six months later. When my agent saw Awaken, she said this is the one. She was right. She always is. I knew this had to be a series, and I realized that the first manuscript was the perfect second book of the series. So the first became second and the second became first.

What do you love most about this book/series?
I love this series. The warriors have become like family members to me. I love hidden treasure and secret things, old keys and graveyards and all those eerie things. They’re all in here. And I absolutely love that connection between a woman and a man that defies the universe to stop it.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are some underlying messages. Evil doesn’t come up and say, “Hello, I’m evil.” But mostly, when readers pick up my books, I want them to laugh, cry, gasp, maybe even scream.

Does your novel have a theme? How did that come about?
I’m rotten at figuring out themes. It’s about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil, and Destined Love. The series started with a dream and a very vivid imagination.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose…Elizabeth Peters who wrote the Amelia Peabody series.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I think the stories I loved influenced me. I read, I felt, and I wanted to do it myself.

How does your family view your writing career?
They’re very supportive and proud of me. My husband is waiting for me to get rich and buy him a ranch.

What entity do you feel supports you most in your writing career outside of family members?
My critique partner, Dana Rodgers is amazing. She’s such a help to me.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
Mostly email. It’s so great getting emails. That was something I wasn’t quite prepared for. What a thrill.

What is in your TBR pile?
I get a headache just thinking about it.

What would you like to tell readers?
Please buy my book…oh, you were serious. I adore this series, and I hope you do too. There are so many wonderful writers out there, that I cherish every reader who spends their hard earned money and time on me.

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?

I have varied tastes ranging from romance to mysteries. I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and I also love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
If motherhood counts, I have two! I spend a lot of time with my hubby and kids, but I do write full time.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I was staying home with the kids for a few years, but prior to that I worked in real estate, and I was an administrative assistant. I’ve also booked shows and traveled with Aztec Dancers.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good storytelling, really nailing down the characters and the emotion.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started writing?
The importance of writing faster.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
No formulas. I get an idea (this series started with a dream) then I mull it over and as the story unfolds in my head I make lots of notes, and then I start writing. I usually have a synopsis before I start actually writing the story.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Only an imagination and some method of getting it down. Typewriter, computer, notepad.

How would you best describe your books?
Mysterious, suspenseful, romantic, adventurous, sprinkled with humor. I love blending genres.

What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write?
I love this series, and I also love mysteries. I’m working on two mystery series now.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?
I love brainstorming, creating the plot twists for a story. Least like…promotion. I adore meeting readers, but I don’t like feeling as if I’m pushing my books.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written? Awaken is the story of my heart, but I also love Embrace. I don’t know. That’s sort of like asking which child you like better.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
It’s been amazing to see my book on the shelf.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
I find it hard to write if I’m not motivated.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Other than spending time with my family, I’m usually on some kind of obsessive kick. It might be collecting candle holders or mirrors. I can devote an unhealthy amount of time to those things.

What are your current projects?
This series, a paranormal romantic mystery series, and a cozy mystery series.

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?
I can smell a TJ Maxx from a mile away. I’m like a TJ Maxx bloodhound.

Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I have a lot of the same characteristics, but now they’re molded in different ways.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Depends on the day, usually half full.

Favorite Midnight Snack?
Whatever is the quickest.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Introvert who loves people.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Window.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
I like both, but I probably lean toward long.

Ever Hit A Jackpot On A Slot Machine?
No. I’ve never been gambling. I spend all my time and money at TJ Maxx.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Uncomfortable.

Do you prefer your mattress soft or hard?
Soft.

How many pillows do you like to sleep with?
Lots.

Do you believe in snipes?
Only if they’re named Wesley.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?
Snowy.

What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Pepsi or Coke.

Are You A Heavy Or Light Sleeper?
Light.

Do You Have Any Phobias Or Fears?
Goofy ones. I don’t fear the real things that I should be afraid of.

Are you a night or a morning person?
NIGHT!!!

At The Beach Would You Rather Play In The Sand, Or Play In The Water?
I’ll dig in the sand for lost jewelry. Did I mention I love jewelry?

Do You Have A Recurring Dream? What Happens In It?
I do have recurring dreams, a few of them. It would take far too long to explain them since I don’t fully understand them.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Promptly 5 minutes late.

Where can we find you online?
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Goodreads
Redroom

About the Author

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Anita Clenney writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory and a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, and has been a secretary, executive assistant, and a real estate agent. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia. To find out more information, please visit http://www.anitaclenney.com/, follow her on Twitter @anitaclenney, or like her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/anitaclenneyAUTHOR.

Some places Embrace can be purchased:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Booksamillion
Apple

We’ll leave you with an excerpt from Embrace:

Cody sighed. Might as well get it over with. He removed the shackles, returned them, and bent over her. “Shay, wake up.”

Her eyes flew open. She planted both hands against his chest and shoved, knocking him on his back, then sprang on top of him. “How dare you handcuff me to a bed?” she yelled, punctuating each word with a shake that rattled his brain. He didn’t fight back. She had to get it out of her system, and he didn’t blame her. He’d be more than pissed if someone shackled him.

She landed a fist into his stomach, and the breath rushed out of him. Okay, enough was enough. He captured her hands and rolled, trapping her under him.

“Get off me, you oaf.”

“I’ll get off when you stop beating the snot out of me.”

She let out a war cry and lunged for his throat, teeth bared. Intrigued, he hesitated a second too long, and she sank her teeth into his neck. A jolt of desire shot straight to his groin. He’d never been one for the rough stuff, but damn! He pulled back before she could do more than leave a bruise. He trapped her legs with his and held her hands above her head, letting his full weight press her into the soft mattress. She still struggled but could move only enough to get him excited.

“I’m sorry, Shay. I had to do it. It was too dangerous to let you go traipsing through the woods. I had to keep you safe.”

“What if he was hiding in one of the other bedrooms and sneaked in here while I was handcuffed to the bed? You left me so I couldn’t even protect myself.”

“Lach heard him out in the woods, but that’s why I locked the door, just in case. If this guy had broken it down to get to you, you would’ve screamed, and I would’ve come running. I was never far from the house.” He’d heard every name she called him.

Her eyes still flashed fire, but her breath was steadier, and she kept glancing at his mouth. He thought that was a good thing. He wondered if she’d calmed enough not to hit him, because he should move. She had to notice the effect all the wiggling around was having on him. He felt her hips push against his, and he groaned. He relaxed his grip and lowered his head, letting his lips touch her chin. He kissed his way to her mouth, and she head butted him in the nose.

While the stars exploded in his head, she shoved him aside and bolted out the door. He jumped up and went after her as she pounded down the stairs. He caught up with her outside. She was swinging her purse like a whip, headed for the car.

“Where are you going?” he demanded.

“Get away from me.”

“You can’t leave.”

“Watch me.” She opened the door. “I’m tired of people hiding things from me. I thought you were going to stop. Now you’re handcuffing me to the bed.”

“I explained it to you.”

“Don’t touch me,” she said, jerking away when he grabbed her arm.

“You’re not leaving.”

Shay straightened her shoulders. “You can’t stop me.”

He grabbed her, tossed her over his shoulder, kicked the car door shut, and stomped up the steps.

“Put me down!” Shay kicked and twisted, cursing at him. He dumped her on her feet inside the door.

She blew her hair out of her face, and as soon as she could see, she threw a punch at his chin. He deflected it and grabbed her arm. “Stop hitting me.”

“How dare you throw me over your shoulder like some kind of caveman,” she spat, trying to wrench her arm free. It didn’t work, so she used her knee.

“Ah, not there.” Cody trapped her knee. “I made the mistake of letting you leave here nine years ago without listening to me. By God, I won’t do it again. You’ll listen if I have to sit on you,” he growled.

She drew back her other arm, and before she could throw the punch, he had her on the floor and was sitting astride her, pinning her wrists to the floor. She bucked and twisted, but he held her down. “We can do this all night if you want, but you’re going to listen to me this time.”

“Listen to more lies? You’re still hiding things from me. Like the fact that you have Nina’s entire house under surveillance. Like the fact that you’ve got a Bat Cave in your basement. Like the fact that you were in Scotland when the stalking started.”

“You think I’m your stalker?” he yelled. “Me! I’m trying to keep you alive. We’re all trying to keep you alive. That’s what the clan’s been doing your whole damned life, trying to keep you alive! And just like always, you’re making it hard as hell. Your father wasn’t a bloody spy, and that thing in your living room wasn’t a man!”

Anita’s publisher will give away one copy of Embrace the Highland Warrior, US and Canada only, please.  We’re also giving away 5 custom bookmarks!
The question is, besides reading, what’s your favorite thing to do?

>NYT Bestseller Anita Clenney Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway!

>Today, I welcome NYT and USA Today Bestseller Anita Clenney! Anita’s celebrating the release of her second book in the Highland Warrior series, Embrace The Highland Warrior. And we have a giveaway of a copy of the book and 5 custom handmade bookmarks. Simply comment to enter!

Anita, tell us about your upcoming release.

Here’s a blurb:

 Cody MacBain let the woman of his destiny slip away. A member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, he grew up beside Shay Logan as her secret protector, but his heart compelled him to become more. Until Shay’s true identity was revealed, and the fated pair’s chance was gone…

But danger will drive them back into each other’s arms…

Shay fell for the boy next door, suspecting nothing of the ancient secrets he guarded. After a stinging betrayal, she’s determined to banish the memories of her first love forever. But the past can’t let go, and the boy she once loved has returned to her a warrior determined to protect her from the unspeakable evil fate has planned…

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
I love the emotion between Cody and Shay, the powerful connection they shared, and I love watching them try to reconnect now. They’ve changed so much, but the elements of their past are still there. I also love having all the warriors from Awaken helping them out. In the midst of turmoil and confusion, it gives a feel good element.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?
A dream.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
A terrible betrayal, and secrets that will make your heart ache.

Why did you put these two together?
These two just seemed so natural. They belonged together, then all the secrets got in the way and messed up a good thing.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I love my villains, one of them in particular. In fact, he’s so great I want to make him a hero. It’s either that or go back and do a prequel. His backstory is just wonderful. I don’t know how I come up with them. I can’t explain it. They’re just there. And I have so many of them. I love it.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Love scenes. I’m never sure how far I want to go.

Tell us something unusual about this book (i.e. in its creation, execution, production).
This second book was the first manuscript I ever wrote. It was originally a romantic suspense. I started writing the first book in this series, what is now Awaken, about six months later. When my agent saw Awaken, she said this is the one. She was right. She always is. I knew this had to be a series, and I realized that the first manuscript was the perfect second book of the series. So the first became second and the second became first.

What do you love most about this book/series?
I love this series. The warriors have become like family members to me. I love hidden treasure and secret things, old keys and graveyards and all those eerie things. They’re all in here. And I absolutely love that connection between a woman and a man that defies the universe to stop it.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are some underlying messages. Evil doesn’t come up and say, “Hello, I’m evil.” But mostly, when readers pick up my books, I want them to laugh, cry, gasp, maybe even scream.

Does your novel have a theme? How did that come about?
I’m rotten at figuring out themes. It’s about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil, and Destined Love. The series started with a dream and a very vivid imagination.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose…Elizabeth Peters who wrote the Amelia Peabody series.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I think the stories I loved influenced me. I read, I felt, and I wanted to do it myself.

How does your family view your writing career?
They’re very supportive and proud of me. My husband is waiting for me to get rich and buy him a ranch.

What entity do you feel supports you most in your writing career outside of family members?
My critique partner, Dana Rodgers is amazing. She’s such a help to me.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
Mostly email. It’s so great getting emails. That was something I wasn’t quite prepared for. What a thrill.

What is in your TBR pile?
I get a headache just thinking about it.

What would you like to tell readers?
Please buy my book…oh, you were serious. I adore this series, and I hope you do too. There are so many wonderful writers out there, that I cherish every reader who spends their hard earned money and time on me.

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?

I have varied tastes ranging from romance to mysteries. I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and I also love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
If motherhood counts, I have two! I spend a lot of time with my hubby and kids, but I do write full time.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I was staying home with the kids for a few years, but prior to that I worked in real estate, and I was an administrative assistant. I’ve also booked shows and traveled with Aztec Dancers.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good storytelling, really nailing down the characters and the emotion.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started writing?
The importance of writing faster.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
No formulas. I get an idea (this series started with a dream) then I mull it over and as the story unfolds in my head I make lots of notes, and then I start writing. I usually have a synopsis before I start actually writing the story.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Only an imagination and some method of getting it down. Typewriter, computer, notepad.

How would you best describe your books?
Mysterious, suspenseful, romantic, adventurous, sprinkled with humor. I love blending genres.

What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write?
I love this series, and I also love mysteries. I’m working on two mystery series now.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?
I love brainstorming, creating the plot twists for a story. Least like…promotion. I adore meeting readers, but I don’t like feeling as if I’m pushing my books.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written? Awaken is the story of my heart, but I also love Embrace. I don’t know. That’s sort of like asking which child you like better.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
It’s been amazing to see my book on the shelf.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
I find it hard to write if I’m not motivated.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Other than spending time with my family, I’m usually on some kind of obsessive kick. It might be collecting candle holders or mirrors. I can devote an unhealthy amount of time to those things.

What are your current projects?
This series, a paranormal romantic mystery series, and a cozy mystery series.

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents?
I can smell a TJ Maxx from a mile away. I’m like a TJ Maxx bloodhound.

Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I have a lot of the same characteristics, but now they’re molded in different ways.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Depends on the day, usually half full.

Favorite Midnight Snack?
Whatever is the quickest.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Introvert who loves people.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Window.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
I like both, but I probably lean toward long.

Ever Hit A Jackpot On A Slot Machine?
No. I’ve never been gambling. I spend all my time and money at TJ Maxx.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Uncomfortable.

Do you prefer your mattress soft or hard?
Soft.

How many pillows do you like to sleep with?
Lots.

Do you believe in snipes?
Only if they’re named Wesley.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?
Snowy.

What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Pepsi or Coke.

Are You A Heavy Or Light Sleeper?
Light.

Do You Have Any Phobias Or Fears?
Goofy ones. I don’t fear the real things that I should be afraid of.

Are you a night or a morning person?
NIGHT!!!

At The Beach Would You Rather Play In The Sand, Or Play In The Water?
I’ll dig in the sand for lost jewelry. Did I mention I love jewelry?

Do You Have A Recurring Dream? What Happens In It?
I do have recurring dreams, a few of them. It would take far too long to explain them since I don’t fully understand them.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Promptly 5 minutes late.

Where can we find you online?
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Goodreads
Redroom

About the Author

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Anita Clenney writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory and a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, and has been a secretary, executive assistant, and a real estate agent. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia. To find out more information, please visit http://www.anitaclenney.com/, follow her on Twitter @anitaclenney, or like her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/anitaclenneyAUTHOR.

Some places Embrace can be purchased:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Booksamillion
Apple

We’ll leave you with an excerpt from Embrace:

Cody sighed. Might as well get it over with. He removed the shackles, returned them, and bent over her. “Shay, wake up.”

Her eyes flew open. She planted both hands against his chest and shoved, knocking him on his back, then sprang on top of him. “How dare you handcuff me to a bed?” she yelled, punctuating each word with a shake that rattled his brain. He didn’t fight back. She had to get it out of her system, and he didn’t blame her. He’d be more than pissed if someone shackled him.

She landed a fist into his stomach, and the breath rushed out of him. Okay, enough was enough. He captured her hands and rolled, trapping her under him.

“Get off me, you oaf.”

“I’ll get off when you stop beating the snot out of me.”

She let out a war cry and lunged for his throat, teeth bared. Intrigued, he hesitated a second too long, and she sank her teeth into his neck. A jolt of desire shot straight to his groin. He’d never been one for the rough stuff, but damn! He pulled back before she could do more than leave a bruise. He trapped her legs with his and held her hands above her head, letting his full weight press her into the soft mattress. She still struggled but could move only enough to get him excited.

“I’m sorry, Shay. I had to do it. It was too dangerous to let you go traipsing through the woods. I had to keep you safe.”

“What if he was hiding in one of the other bedrooms and sneaked in here while I was handcuffed to the bed? You left me so I couldn’t even protect myself.”

“Lach heard him out in the woods, but that’s why I locked the door, just in case. If this guy had broken it down to get to you, you would’ve screamed, and I would’ve come running. I was never far from the house.” He’d heard every name she called him.

Her eyes still flashed fire, but her breath was steadier, and she kept glancing at his mouth. He thought that was a good thing. He wondered if she’d calmed enough not to hit him, because he should move. She had to notice the effect all the wiggling around was having on him. He felt her hips push against his, and he groaned. He relaxed his grip and lowered his head, letting his lips touch her chin. He kissed his way to her mouth, and she head butted him in the nose.

While the stars exploded in his head, she shoved him aside and bolted out the door. He jumped up and went after her as she pounded down the stairs. He caught up with her outside. She was swinging her purse like a whip, headed for the car.

“Where are you going?” he demanded.

“Get away from me.”

“You can’t leave.”

“Watch me.” She opened the door. “I’m tired of people hiding things from me. I thought you were going to stop. Now you’re handcuffing me to the bed.”

“I explained it to you.”

“Don’t touch me,” she said, jerking away when he grabbed her arm.

“You’re not leaving.”

Shay straightened her shoulders. “You can’t stop me.”

He grabbed her, tossed her over his shoulder, kicked the car door shut, and stomped up the steps.

“Put me down!” Shay kicked and twisted, cursing at him. He dumped her on her feet inside the door.

She blew her hair out of her face, and as soon as she could see, she threw a punch at his chin. He deflected it and grabbed her arm. “Stop hitting me.”

“How dare you throw me over your shoulder like some kind of caveman,” she spat, trying to wrench her arm free. It didn’t work, so she used her knee.

“Ah, not there.” Cody trapped her knee. “I made the mistake of letting you leave here nine years ago without listening to me. By God, I won’t do it again. You’ll listen if I have to sit on you,” he growled.

She drew back her other arm, and before she could throw the punch, he had her on the floor and was sitting astride her, pinning her wrists to the floor. She bucked and twisted, but he held her down. “We can do this all night if you want, but you’re going to listen to me this time.”

“Listen to more lies? You’re still hiding things from me. Like the fact that you have Nina’s entire house under surveillance. Like the fact that you’ve got a Bat Cave in your basement. Like the fact that you were in Scotland when the stalking started.”

“You think I’m your stalker?” he yelled. “Me! I’m trying to keep you alive. We’re all trying to keep you alive. That’s what the clan’s been doing your whole damned life, trying to keep you alive! And just like always, you’re making it hard as hell. Your father wasn’t a bloody spy, and that thing in your living room wasn’t a man!”

Anita’s publisher will give away one copy of Embrace the Highland Warrior, US and Canada only, please.  We’re also giving away 5 custom bookmarks!
The question is, besides reading, what’s your favorite thing to do?

Laura Bickle Interview & Her New Pocket Release: SPARKS

>My guest today has a fascinating background — one perfectly suited for fiction!! We’re talking about her new release from Pocket Books, SPARKS, book #2 in her Anya Kalinczyk series.

Laura Bickle has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she’s never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses.

Writing as Laura Bickle, she’s the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket – Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she’s the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.

More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: http://www.salamanderstales.com/

Laura/ Alayna’s blogs
http://www.salamanderstales.blogspot.com and http://delphisdaughters.blogspot.com

She’s a proud member of Word Whores.

She’s at Facebook, and Fangs, Fur, and Fey.

WITHOUT A TRACE…

Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.

Laura, tell us about your upcoming release.
My current release is SPARKS, from Pocket Books. By day, Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department. By night, she’s the rarest kind of spiritual medium, a Lantern. While other mediums allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, Anya incinerates them. With the help of her fire salamander familiar, Sparky, and a ragtag group of ghost hunters, Anya chases down unseen threats to her city.

In SPARKS, Anya’s investigating a rash of spontaneous human combustion cases. With the reluctant assistance of a soul collector from the Underworld, she must track down the supernatural source of the fires and keep Sparky’s newly-hatched newts safe from a malicious psychic.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
The beginning is the most intimidating part of a book for me to write. The blank page is a scary place, full of doubts and ‘what if’s.’ Procrastination is my greatest enemy at that stage.

The easiest part for me is the last quarter of the book. Then, I can see how all the factors come into play and the plot threads begin to tie up. It’s sort of like running downhill – exhilarating and exciting.

Tell us something unusual about this book (i.e. in its creation, execution, production).
Research is one of the pleasures of being a writer. And I got to research spontaneous human combustion for this book. I was really amazed at the number of theories about how this works…including the theory of the ‘phosphenic fart.’ In this idea, digestive gases gather and catch fire in one’s digestive tract.

Yeah, I know. Bizarre. But fun to see if I can get the heroine to mention that in the story. And if I can get my editor to laugh, that’s an additional bonus.

What do you love most about this book/series?
Sparky, Anya’s fire salamander, is a lot of fun to write. Sparky is a composite of all the pets I’ve had. He’s snuggly, petulant, protective, and snarky. As a fire salamander, he can affect electrical fields and fire…he’s been known to chew on cell phones, blow up microwaves, and set of sprinkler systems in the crime lab.

He has a favorite toy that he cuddles with at night…a Glow-Worm. I had a Glow-Worm toy as a child. I was terribly afraid of the dark, and it really helped. I still give them as gifts for baby showers.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think that my books tend to really focus on how the heroines balance their inner lives with their outer lives. My protagonists tend to have hidden lives with supernatural powers that they must keep secret from their day jobs.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
My background is in library science and criminal justice. I worked in criminal justice for more than ten years, and recently made the switch to working in a public library. Being surrounded by books and chasing down the answers to research questions is a special kind of bliss.

So, I guess you could say that I’m a part-time writer. Maybe someday it will become a full-time occupation.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
I think my favorite is ROGUE ORACLE – which I wrote under my pseudonym, Alayna Williams. Tara Sheridan survived an attack from a serial killer that left her scarred for life. She’s withdrawn from her professional life as a criminal profiler into a self-imposed exile that’s both physical and emotional. In ROGUE ORACLE, she’s working to unravel a series of murders that has its roots in the Chernobyl disaster and resolving her relationship issues with an enigmatic federal agent.

I like working with broken heroines because people are flawed in real life. The story also forced me to face some of my own fears about vulnerability in relationships, which was a really scary and exciting experience.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
Wonder Woman helps me write. Seriously. My Wonder Woman collection is on the shelves beside my desk. I’ve been collecting Wonder Woman since I was a kid, and she always reminds me to try out new ideas, to think outside of the box.

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents? If So, What?
My husband and I are amateur astronomers. I also belly dance a bit…but not in public. Nobody needs to see that, trust me! 😉

I initially became interested in belly dancing because I wanted to help overcome my shyness. Since I spend so much time in my head, it helped me think of my body a bit more, get outside of myself. I still wouldn’t dance in public, but it’s a lot of fun to get together with a group of women to laugh and shimmy.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
Short. I could never be with a guy who has better hair than I do (which, admittedly, is not hard).

How many pillows do you like to sleep with?
Two. One usually winds up on the floor, and I usually wake up with a cat wrapped around my head.

Are You A Heavy Or Light Sleeper?
Light sleeper. I hear all the things that go bump in the night, and then worry up stories to go along with them.

Where can we find you online?
Website: http://www.salamanderstales.com/
Blog: http://salamanderstales.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurabickle
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Laura_Bickle

Thanks for being with us today Laura!

SPARKS is available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

>Laura Bickle Interview & Her New Pocket Release: SPARKS

>My guest today has a fascinating background — one perfectly suited for fiction!! We’re talking about her new release from Pocket Books, SPARKS, book #2 in her Anya Kalinczyk series.

Laura Bickle has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she’s never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses.

Writing as Laura Bickle, she’s the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket – Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she’s the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.

More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: http://www.salamanderstales.com/

Laura/ Alayna’s blogs
http://www.salamanderstales.blogspot.com and http://delphisdaughters.blogspot.com

She’s a proud member of Word Whores.

She’s at Facebook, and Fangs, Fur, and Fey.

WITHOUT A TRACE…

Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.

Laura, tell us about your upcoming release.
My current release is SPARKS, from Pocket Books. By day, Anya Kalinczyk is an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department. By night, she’s the rarest kind of spiritual medium, a Lantern. While other mediums allow spirits to use their hands and voices to communicate, Anya incinerates them. With the help of her fire salamander familiar, Sparky, and a ragtag group of ghost hunters, Anya chases down unseen threats to her city.

In SPARKS, Anya’s investigating a rash of spontaneous human combustion cases. With the reluctant assistance of a soul collector from the Underworld, she must track down the supernatural source of the fires and keep Sparky’s newly-hatched newts safe from a malicious psychic.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
The beginning is the most intimidating part of a book for me to write. The blank page is a scary place, full of doubts and ‘what if’s.’ Procrastination is my greatest enemy at that stage.

The easiest part for me is the last quarter of the book. Then, I can see how all the factors come into play and the plot threads begin to tie up. It’s sort of like running downhill – exhilarating and exciting.

Tell us something unusual about this book (i.e. in its creation, execution, production).
Research is one of the pleasures of being a writer. And I got to research spontaneous human combustion for this book. I was really amazed at the number of theories about how this works…including the theory of the ‘phosphenic fart.’ In this idea, digestive gases gather and catch fire in one’s digestive tract.

Yeah, I know. Bizarre. But fun to see if I can get the heroine to mention that in the story. And if I can get my editor to laugh, that’s an additional bonus.

What do you love most about this book/series?
Sparky, Anya’s fire salamander, is a lot of fun to write. Sparky is a composite of all the pets I’ve had. He’s snuggly, petulant, protective, and snarky. As a fire salamander, he can affect electrical fields and fire…he’s been known to chew on cell phones, blow up microwaves, and set of sprinkler systems in the crime lab.

He has a favorite toy that he cuddles with at night…a Glow-Worm. I had a Glow-Worm toy as a child. I was terribly afraid of the dark, and it really helped. I still give them as gifts for baby showers.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think that my books tend to really focus on how the heroines balance their inner lives with their outer lives. My protagonists tend to have hidden lives with supernatural powers that they must keep secret from their day jobs.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
My background is in library science and criminal justice. I worked in criminal justice for more than ten years, and recently made the switch to working in a public library. Being surrounded by books and chasing down the answers to research questions is a special kind of bliss.

So, I guess you could say that I’m a part-time writer. Maybe someday it will become a full-time occupation.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
I think my favorite is ROGUE ORACLE – which I wrote under my pseudonym, Alayna Williams. Tara Sheridan survived an attack from a serial killer that left her scarred for life. She’s withdrawn from her professional life as a criminal profiler into a self-imposed exile that’s both physical and emotional. In ROGUE ORACLE, she’s working to unravel a series of murders that has its roots in the Chernobyl disaster and resolving her relationship issues with an enigmatic federal agent.

I like working with broken heroines because people are flawed in real life. The story also forced me to face some of my own fears about vulnerability in relationships, which was a really scary and exciting experience.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
Wonder Woman helps me write. Seriously. My Wonder Woman collection is on the shelves beside my desk. I’ve been collecting Wonder Woman since I was a kid, and she always reminds me to try out new ideas, to think outside of the box.

Do You Have Any Undiscovered Or Hidden Talents? If So, What?
My husband and I are amateur astronomers. I also belly dance a bit…but not in public. Nobody needs to see that, trust me! 😉

I initially became interested in belly dancing because I wanted to help overcome my shyness. Since I spend so much time in my head, it helped me think of my body a bit more, get outside of myself. I still wouldn’t dance in public, but it’s a lot of fun to get together with a group of women to laugh and shimmy.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
Short. I could never be with a guy who has better hair than I do (which, admittedly, is not hard).

How many pillows do you like to sleep with?
Two. One usually winds up on the floor, and I usually wake up with a cat wrapped around my head.

Are You A Heavy Or Light Sleeper?
Light sleeper. I hear all the things that go bump in the night, and then worry up stories to go along with them.

Where can we find you online?
Website: http://www.salamanderstales.com/
Blog: http://salamanderstales.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurabickle
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Laura_Bickle

Thanks for being with us today Laura!

SPARKS is available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Author Sarah Grimm Interview + Giveaway!

>

Sarah Grimm is here talking about her new release After Midnight, and we’re giving away 5 custom handmade bookmarks AND an Ecopy of After Midnight! Simply leave a comment to enter. Open internationally.

Sarah, tell us about your latest release.
She wants to forget her past.

He wants to reclaim his.

Sometimes the moment that changes everything comes After Midnight.

Thirteen years—that’s how long Isabeau Montgomery has been living a lie. After an automobile accident took her mother’s life, Izzy hid herself away, surviving the only way she knew how. Now she is happy in her carefully reconstructed life. That is until he walks through the door of her bar…


Black Phoenix singer/front man Noah Clark came to Long Island City with a goal—one that doesn’t include an instant, electric attraction to the dark-haired beauty behind the bar. Coaxing her into his bed won’t be easy, but he can’t get her pale, haunted eyes nor her skill on the piano out of his head.

Can Noah help Isabeau overcome the past? Or will her need to protect her secret force her back into hiding and destroy their chance at happiness?

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
That even though Izzy views herself as damaged, through Noah’s love she rediscovers that she’s beautiful.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Teenage fantasies about meeting and marrying a rock star, combined with the maturity to know that a twenty-something musician is not happily-ever-after material. Add to that the picture in my mind of a woman alone in a bar, playing the piano. That picture spawned a series of ‘what if’ questions which led to After Midnight.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
Music. It’s what brings them together as well as threatens to tear them apart.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Isabeau’s childhood was so tragic all the scenes that dealt with it were extremely hard to write. But the most difficult was the scene where her step-father (for lack of a better name) sits Noah down and tells him about losing Izzy’s mother in the car accident, followed by immediately losing Izzy in a court battle, and how these events shaped Isabeau into the woman she is today. I can’t really get into it too much without giving away any spoilers, but it is a traumatic scene that was emotionally draining for me to write.

How does your family view your writing career?
They accept it as a normal part of who I am and are proud of the fact that I have achieved my goal of becoming published.

What is your writing routine?

I do my best writing in the morning when the rest of the house is still asleep. I wake up around 4:30 seven days a week. Not necessarily by choice, my internal alarm clock just goes off at that time. If I don’t sit down and write in the morning, chances are good I won’t get any writing done that day. I’m too easily distracted by the million other things I need to get done – grocery shopping, the day job, orthodontist appointments, or house cleaning.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
My all time favorite way to chat with readers is face to face. Unfortunately, I don’t get enough of that with my hectic work schedule, so I settle for keeping in touch with readers through my blog, online chats, and email. I love to hear from readers and encourage them to email me at sarah @ sarahgrimm.com.

What are you reading now?
Rafe’s Redemption by Jennifer Jakes, and Jezebel’s Wish by AJ Nuest

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?
Contemporary romance. A close second is contemporary romantic suspense.

Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
Besides being the mother of two teenage sons, three mini schnauzers, a guinea pig, a rescued kitten in need of a home, and three orphaned mice—whew, that’s a lot to type—I’m the bookkeeper for my husband’s boat repair business and work full time as the bookkeeper for a local farmer.

How would you best describe your books?
I write sizzling, dangerously sexy contemporary romance and romantic suspense.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Definitely After Midnight. Every author I’ve ever spoke with has one story they truly believe is THE story of their heart. After Midnight is mine. Isabeau Montgomery is the owner of Izzy’s Bar, a child prodigy, piano phenom—a woman who is hiding behind a lie of her own making. She’s just so very tortured, her past so full of tragedy… She deserves a happy ending and Noah is just the man to share it with her.

What are your current projects?
While writing After Midnight, one of the secondary characters kept telling me he needed his story, so I’m writing that one now. Midnight Heat is a reunion romance, and although I had no plans to make it so when I started, it looks like it may become a romantic suspense.

Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I am much different. I’m still a dreamer and impulsive, but I’ve learned to control the impulses and think before I speak.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Half full.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Extrovert.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Window. I want to see where I’m going.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
Short.

What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Coke.

Are you a night or a morning person?
Morning.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Early.

Where can we find you online?
Website: http://www.sarahgrimm.com
Blog: http://www.authorsarahgrimm.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SGrimmAuthor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SarahGrimm.Author

Sarah lives in West Michigan with her husband, two sons and three miniature schnauzers. Between mom’s taxi service, parts runs, and answering the phone for the family marine repair business, Sarah can be found curled in her favorite chair, crafting her next novel.
Comment to enter for 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks AND an ecopy of After Midnight!
Open internationally.
**MUST** leave contact email to WIN!

>Author Sarah Grimm Interview + Giveaway!

>

Sarah Grimm is here talking about her new release After Midnight, and we’re giving away 5 custom handmade bookmarks AND an Ecopy of After Midnight! Simply leave a comment to enter. Open internationally.

Sarah, tell us about your latest release.
She wants to forget her past.

He wants to reclaim his.

Sometimes the moment that changes everything comes After Midnight.

Thirteen years—that’s how long Isabeau Montgomery has been living a lie. After an automobile accident took her mother’s life, Izzy hid herself away, surviving the only way she knew how. Now she is happy in her carefully reconstructed life. That is until he walks through the door of her bar…


Black Phoenix singer/front man Noah Clark came to Long Island City with a goal—one that doesn’t include an instant, electric attraction to the dark-haired beauty behind the bar. Coaxing her into his bed won’t be easy, but he can’t get her pale, haunted eyes nor her skill on the piano out of his head.

Can Noah help Isabeau overcome the past? Or will her need to protect her secret force her back into hiding and destroy their chance at happiness?

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
That even though Izzy views herself as damaged, through Noah’s love she rediscovers that she’s beautiful.

What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Teenage fantasies about meeting and marrying a rock star, combined with the maturity to know that a twenty-something musician is not happily-ever-after material. Add to that the picture in my mind of a woman alone in a bar, playing the piano. That picture spawned a series of ‘what if’ questions which led to After Midnight.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
Music. It’s what brings them together as well as threatens to tear them apart.

What was the hardest part of this book to write and why?
Isabeau’s childhood was so tragic all the scenes that dealt with it were extremely hard to write. But the most difficult was the scene where her step-father (for lack of a better name) sits Noah down and tells him about losing Izzy’s mother in the car accident, followed by immediately losing Izzy in a court battle, and how these events shaped Isabeau into the woman she is today. I can’t really get into it too much without giving away any spoilers, but it is a traumatic scene that was emotionally draining for me to write.

How does your family view your writing career?
They accept it as a normal part of who I am and are proud of the fact that I have achieved my goal of becoming published.

What is your writing routine?

I do my best writing in the morning when the rest of the house is still asleep. I wake up around 4:30 seven days a week. Not necessarily by choice, my internal alarm clock just goes off at that time. If I don’t sit down and write in the morning, chances are good I won’t get any writing done that day. I’m too easily distracted by the million other things I need to get done – grocery shopping, the day job, orthodontist appointments, or house cleaning.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
My all time favorite way to chat with readers is face to face. Unfortunately, I don’t get enough of that with my hectic work schedule, so I settle for keeping in touch with readers through my blog, online chats, and email. I love to hear from readers and encourage them to email me at sarah @ sarahgrimm.com.

What are you reading now?
Rafe’s Redemption by Jennifer Jakes, and Jezebel’s Wish by AJ Nuest

What is your preferred genre to read for pleasure?
Contemporary romance. A close second is contemporary romantic suspense.

Do you have a second career? (Yes, motherhood counts!)
Besides being the mother of two teenage sons, three mini schnauzers, a guinea pig, a rescued kitten in need of a home, and three orphaned mice—whew, that’s a lot to type—I’m the bookkeeper for my husband’s boat repair business and work full time as the bookkeeper for a local farmer.

How would you best describe your books?
I write sizzling, dangerously sexy contemporary romance and romantic suspense.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
Definitely After Midnight. Every author I’ve ever spoke with has one story they truly believe is THE story of their heart. After Midnight is mine. Isabeau Montgomery is the owner of Izzy’s Bar, a child prodigy, piano phenom—a woman who is hiding behind a lie of her own making. She’s just so very tortured, her past so full of tragedy… She deserves a happy ending and Noah is just the man to share it with her.

What are your current projects?
While writing After Midnight, one of the secondary characters kept telling me he needed his story, so I’m writing that one now. Midnight Heat is a reunion romance, and although I had no plans to make it so when I started, it looks like it may become a romantic suspense.

Are You The Same Person You Were As A Child, Or Much Different?
I am much different. I’m still a dreamer and impulsive, but I’ve learned to control the impulses and think before I speak.

Do You Believe That The Cup Is Half Empty Or Half Full?
Half full.

Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert?
Extrovert.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Window. I want to see where I’m going.

Do You Like Short Or Long Hair On A Guy?
Short.

What is Your Favorite Beverage?
Diet Coke.

Are you a night or a morning person?
Morning.

Are You Usually Late, Early Or Right On Time?
Early.

Where can we find you online?
Website: http://www.sarahgrimm.com
Blog: http://www.authorsarahgrimm.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SGrimmAuthor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SarahGrimm.Author

Sarah lives in West Michigan with her husband, two sons and three miniature schnauzers. Between mom’s taxi service, parts runs, and answering the phone for the family marine repair business, Sarah can be found curled in her favorite chair, crafting her next novel.
Comment to enter for 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks AND an ecopy of After Midnight!
Open internationally.
**MUST** leave contact email to WIN!

>Review of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Sylvia Day Interview + Giveaway!!

>I’m excited to have Sylvia Day here today! The first book I ever read of Sylvia’s was Pride and Pleasure, her February historical romance release. I was beyond entertained; I was impressed. So much so that I wrote a detailed review of Pride and Pleasure on Savvy Authors. As many of you know, I’m a lover of craft, and was thrilled to find not only how much stellar craft Sylvia utilizes in her writing, but how she manipulates those elements to take her storytelling to the highest level.

I was excited (though not surprised) to find that same level of mastery in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON. Really fabulous books are always more difficult to review, not unlike they are to write. All the elements intertwine and play off each other to weave an intricate tapestry of plot and subplot, emotion and intellect, character and setting. I toyed with the idea of making this a two-part review, but decided to spare you my blathering and hit the high points of what I loved most about A TOUCH OF CRIMSON.

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks

A TOUCH OF CRIMSONAn angel with immense power and insatiable desire, Adrian Mitchell leads an elite Special Ops unit of the seraphim. His task is to punish the Fallen–angels who have become vampires–and command a restless pack of indentured lycans.

But Adrian has suffered his own punishment for becoming involved with mortals–losing the woman he loves again and again. Now, after nearly two hundred years, he has found her: Shadoe, her soul once more inhabiting a new body that doesn’t remember him. This time he won’t let her go.

With no memory of her past as Shadoe, Lindsay Gibson knows only that she can’t help being fiercely attracted to the smoldering, seductive male who crosses her path. Swept into a dangerous world of tumultuous passion and preternatural conflict, Lindsay is soon caught between her angel lover, her vampire father, and a full-blown lycan revolt. There’s more at stake than her love and her life–she could lose her very soul…

My Review:
A TOUCH OF CRIMSON begins with action and intensity–my favorite way to get things going. Immediately, I recognized the depth and number of characters. As this is the first book in a paranormal series, the ground work must be laid. This is often a difficult task, and in the hands of a lesser writer, would surely confuse, if not lose, readers. But Sylvia creates a world filled with various species, the Sentinels, the Lycan and the Fallen, and rules governing those species’, yet never makes the complex complicated.

This also shows how Sylvia trusts her readers, how she respects their ability to follow her threads, pick up her clues, utilize their intelligence to soak up all the information she’s offering. I respect an author who believes her readers are sophisticated and intelligent and writes to that audience.

With her lyrical prose and fresh description, Sylvia guides the reader expertly through each group’s description, culture, powers and conflicts. She deftly illustrates how each species is both at odds with and in need of the others, outlining a tight web of conflict, all while moving the story forward with action and spicy dialogue.

When you look below at Sylvia’s answer to the question on creating villains, you may understand why I found the villains in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON so gripping. They felt more developed to me than most villains. A familial-type group much like the Sentinals or the Lycans, the Fallen have suffered immensely – the head of the family, a fallen angel, has lost his wings at the hands of Adrian, who himself says it was wrong to take them. And Syre’s son, Torque, who losses his wife at the beginning of the story, again at Adrian’s hands. Their loss and suffering make them sympathetic villains – my favorite kind.

The heroine in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Lindsey, is as wounded as the rest of the crew, though you’d never know it with her kick ass attitude. She never backs down, but is driven to hunt by memories of her beloved mother slain by vamps when she was a child. There is something deep inside that tells her she has an obligation to utilize her given abilities to right this tragic wrong, all of which made her very empathetic.

Adrian, the hero, is suffering penance for his history of wrong-doings by losing the love of his life–Shadoe in Lindsey’s body with no memory of Adrian–over and over again. He is fighting her father, the villain, for her love, an age-old conflict that tugs at heartstrings. Each man believes he’s doing the right thing for her, each says he is doing it out of supreme love for her, yet each hold their own private agenda – it’s like a train wreck from which you can’t look away, hoping to see survivors emerge from the wreckage.

The complexity of species and cultures crossing in this novel makes for many unexpected twists and turns during the course of the story. And while the questions for A TOUCH OF CRIMSON are answered within this book, many others remain, dragging the reader’s interest to future books. Numerous well defined secondary characters and intriguing story lines make this first of the series rich in its own right, while priming the reader for the series as a whole, because after reading A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, you won’t be able to stay away from the remainder of the trilogy.

Sylvia’s Interview:
What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Really, the idea was sparked by a combination of an editor and my existing Marked series. The editor sent a note to my agent saying that if I wrote a paranormal romance series with alpha heroes, she wanted to see it. My Marked series is where I’d introduced my Dominion world, which encompasses the entire hierarchy of angels. The Marked series focused on the lowest sphere and I always knew I was going to explore the other spheres and ranks at some point. The editor’s prodding had me thinking along paranormal romance lines and the story of the Watcher angels struck me. Angels who fell from the heavens for lust and love. How could I not write about that? It’s just too awesome. In the end, the editor who prodded me forward with the idea isn’t the editor who won the auction for the series, but I’m grateful to her all the same and always will be. The idea was there in my mind, but she gave me the impetus to get it down on paper now rather than later.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I’m not sure I have a strategy, but I try to see my villains as complete characters, like my H/h. Unless they’re mental defectives, they’ll have facets of their character that aren’t horrible. They’ll have things they care about, things they’ll fight for. They can cry and feel pain, they have dreams and disappointments. Ideally, I like to understand their motivation—maybe even relate to it—even if their means doesn’t at all justify the end they’re going for.

Tell us something unusual about the creation/execution of this book:
The Renegade Angels series is a trilogy. Now, a trilogy can either be a set of three individual works that are connected by characters and/or theme, or it can be a single work divided into three parts. The latter is what the Renegade Angels series is–one story, divided over three books. That’s been a rocky road to travel, because I have to answer some questions in each book, but not all. Each book features a different couple and their romance, with each couple picking up the baton from the couple before as they all race to the finish. I have to set up each book so that a reader could pick up #2 or #3 and get the gist, but since it took an entire book to tell Act #1 and Act #2, I don’t have the room to rehash what’s already happened in detail. And all three heroes are also antagonists, which means there are shades of heroism and villainy in each one.

What do you love most about this book/series?
The characters are so many shades of gray. They surprise me all the time. And it’s a challenge to write. I’ve never tackled anything with this type of construction before.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Aisle. I don’t like having to ask someone to get out of my way, because then I’m dependent upon them to be polite and do so. Plus I don’t care what’s out the window; my nose is in a book and I’m not looking anyway.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Yes, I am. *shudder*

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
International
**MUST** leave a contact email to WIN

Author Bio:
Sylvia Day is the national bestselling, award-winning author of over a dozen novels written across multiple sub-genres — contemporary, fantasy, historical, futuristic, science fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy — under multiple pen names: three! A wife and mother of two, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence.

Sylvia is a lifelong California resident who loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her to Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and all over the United States. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in Orange County (the O.C.), and later lived in Monterey, Oceanside, and the Temecula Valley.

She is a Japanese-American who enjoys the many Japanese cultural events in Southern California as well as frequent family jaunts to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Sea World. Her childhood career aspirations were few — become a dolphin trainer at Sea World or a bestselling novelist. Obviously, the dolphin trainer career took a back seat.

Review of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Sylvia Day Interview + Giveaway!!

>I’m excited to have Sylvia Day here today! The first book I ever read of Sylvia’s was Pride and Pleasure, her February historical romance release. I was beyond entertained; I was impressed. So much so that I wrote a detailed review of Pride and Pleasure on Savvy Authors. As many of you know, I’m a lover of craft, and was thrilled to find not only how much stellar craft Sylvia utilizes in her writing, but how she manipulates those elements to take her storytelling to the highest level.

I was excited (though not surprised) to find that same level of mastery in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON. Really fabulous books are always more difficult to review, not unlike they are to write. All the elements intertwine and play off each other to weave an intricate tapestry of plot and subplot, emotion and intellect, character and setting. I toyed with the idea of making this a two-part review, but decided to spare you my blathering and hit the high points of what I loved most about A TOUCH OF CRIMSON.

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks

A TOUCH OF CRIMSONAn angel with immense power and insatiable desire, Adrian Mitchell leads an elite Special Ops unit of the seraphim. His task is to punish the Fallen–angels who have become vampires–and command a restless pack of indentured lycans.

But Adrian has suffered his own punishment for becoming involved with mortals–losing the woman he loves again and again. Now, after nearly two hundred years, he has found her: Shadoe, her soul once more inhabiting a new body that doesn’t remember him. This time he won’t let her go.

With no memory of her past as Shadoe, Lindsay Gibson knows only that she can’t help being fiercely attracted to the smoldering, seductive male who crosses her path. Swept into a dangerous world of tumultuous passion and preternatural conflict, Lindsay is soon caught between her angel lover, her vampire father, and a full-blown lycan revolt. There’s more at stake than her love and her life–she could lose her very soul…

My Review:
A TOUCH OF CRIMSON begins with action and intensity–my favorite way to get things going. Immediately, I recognized the depth and number of characters. As this is the first book in a paranormal series, the ground work must be laid. This is often a difficult task, and in the hands of a lesser writer, would surely confuse, if not lose, readers. But Sylvia creates a world filled with various species, the Sentinels, the Lycan and the Fallen, and rules governing those species’, yet never makes the complex complicated.

This also shows how Sylvia trusts her readers, how she respects their ability to follow her threads, pick up her clues, utilize their intelligence to soak up all the information she’s offering. I respect an author who believes her readers are sophisticated and intelligent and writes to that audience.

With her lyrical prose and fresh description, Sylvia guides the reader expertly through each group’s description, culture, powers and conflicts. She deftly illustrates how each species is both at odds with and in need of the others, outlining a tight web of conflict, all while moving the story forward with action and spicy dialogue.

When you look below at Sylvia’s answer to the question on creating villains, you may understand why I found the villains in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON so gripping. They felt more developed to me than most villains. A familial-type group much like the Sentinals or the Lycans, the Fallen have suffered immensely – the head of the family, a fallen angel, has lost his wings at the hands of Adrian, who himself says it was wrong to take them. And Syre’s son, Torque, who losses his wife at the beginning of the story, again at Adrian’s hands. Their loss and suffering make them sympathetic villains – my favorite kind.

The heroine in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Lindsey, is as wounded as the rest of the crew, though you’d never know it with her kick ass attitude. She never backs down, but is driven to hunt by memories of her beloved mother slain by vamps when she was a child. There is something deep inside that tells her she has an obligation to utilize her given abilities to right this tragic wrong, all of which made her very empathetic.

Adrian, the hero, is suffering penance for his history of wrong-doings by losing the love of his life–Shadoe in Lindsey’s body with no memory of Adrian–over and over again. He is fighting her father, the villain, for her love, an age-old conflict that tugs at heartstrings. Each man believes he’s doing the right thing for her, each says he is doing it out of supreme love for her, yet each hold their own private agenda – it’s like a train wreck from which you can’t look away, hoping to see survivors emerge from the wreckage.

The complexity of species and cultures crossing in this novel makes for many unexpected twists and turns during the course of the story. And while the questions for A TOUCH OF CRIMSON are answered within this book, many others remain, dragging the reader’s interest to future books. Numerous well defined secondary characters and intriguing story lines make this first of the series rich in its own right, while priming the reader for the series as a whole, because after reading A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, you won’t be able to stay away from the remainder of the trilogy.

Sylvia’s Interview:
What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Really, the idea was sparked by a combination of an editor and my existing Marked series. The editor sent a note to my agent saying that if I wrote a paranormal romance series with alpha heroes, she wanted to see it. My Marked series is where I’d introduced my Dominion world, which encompasses the entire hierarchy of angels. The Marked series focused on the lowest sphere and I always knew I was going to explore the other spheres and ranks at some point. The editor’s prodding had me thinking along paranormal romance lines and the story of the Watcher angels struck me. Angels who fell from the heavens for lust and love. How could I not write about that? It’s just too awesome. In the end, the editor who prodded me forward with the idea isn’t the editor who won the auction for the series, but I’m grateful to her all the same and always will be. The idea was there in my mind, but she gave me the impetus to get it down on paper now rather than later.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I’m not sure I have a strategy, but I try to see my villains as complete characters, like my H/h. Unless they’re mental defectives, they’ll have facets of their character that aren’t horrible. They’ll have things they care about, things they’ll fight for. They can cry and feel pain, they have dreams and disappointments. Ideally, I like to understand their motivation—maybe even relate to it—even if their means doesn’t at all justify the end they’re going for.

Tell us something unusual about the creation/execution of this book:
The Renegade Angels series is a trilogy. Now, a trilogy can either be a set of three individual works that are connected by characters and/or theme, or it can be a single work divided into three parts. The latter is what the Renegade Angels series is–one story, divided over three books. That’s been a rocky road to travel, because I have to answer some questions in each book, but not all. Each book features a different couple and their romance, with each couple picking up the baton from the couple before as they all race to the finish. I have to set up each book so that a reader could pick up #2 or #3 and get the gist, but since it took an entire book to tell Act #1 and Act #2, I don’t have the room to rehash what’s already happened in detail. And all three heroes are also antagonists, which means there are shades of heroism and villainy in each one.

What do you love most about this book/series?
The characters are so many shades of gray. They surprise me all the time. And it’s a challenge to write. I’ve never tackled anything with this type of construction before.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Aisle. I don’t like having to ask someone to get out of my way, because then I’m dependent upon them to be polite and do so. Plus I don’t care what’s out the window; my nose is in a book and I’m not looking anyway.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Yes, I am. *shudder*

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
International
**MUST** leave a contact email to WIN

Author Bio:
Sylvia Day is the national bestselling, award-winning author of over a dozen novels written across multiple sub-genres — contemporary, fantasy, historical, futuristic, science fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy — under multiple pen names: three! A wife and mother of two, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence.

Sylvia is a lifelong California resident who loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her to Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and all over the United States. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in Orange County (the O.C.), and later lived in Monterey, Oceanside, and the Temecula Valley.

She is a Japanese-American who enjoys the many Japanese cultural events in Southern California as well as frequent family jaunts to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Sea World. Her childhood career aspirations were few — become a dolphin trainer at Sea World or a bestselling novelist. Obviously, the dolphin trainer career took a back seat.

>Review, Interview + Giveaway with Jody Hedlund & The Doctor’s Lady

>Jody Hedlund is one of the fabulous authors I met on Twitter. I’ve admired her thoughts on writing, the writing life and developing a career as an author. I’ve appreciated the genuine warmth and sincerity that comes across even online.

Leave a comment or question for Jody to enter for one of these prizes:
1) A copy of The Doctor’s Lady
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
Open Internationally

The Doctor’s Lady released early September and I was lucky enough to receive and early copy for review. This is the first novel I’ve read by Jody, but it won’t be the last. Her debut, The Preacher’s Bride, is near the very top of my TBR pile. And I was thrilled to hear recently that we will all be blessed with more of Jody’s talent as she has secured a three book deal with Bethany House. (YAY Jody! Congratulations!)

The Doctor’s Lady

Priscilla White knows she’ll never be a wife or mother and feels God’s call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

Review:
This novel was so much more than I expected.  As inspirational romance is not a genre I read often, I suppose my expectations were a bit out of whack. 🙂  Going off the cover, the cover copy, the genre, the publisher I was ready for a light love story and lots of rich historical fact. 

Boy, did I underestimate!  The Doctor’s Lady went above and beyond my every expectation.

While the cover copy explains the external conflict that fuels the hero and heroine’s cross-country journey and hints at a touch of romance, it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all the depth beneath the cover.  The Doctor’s Lady is filled with characters so real I often felt as if I could reach out and touch them; their struggles so universal, every human being could relate on some level. Their commitment to fulfill their God-given calling while struggling against broken hearts, dashed dreams and dimmed hopes created strong internal conflicts while the untamed Western lands and the hardships they brought created a very real, very threatening external antagonist. 

Click for larger view

The Doctor’s Lady is filled with sigh-worthy moments–those turning points, sometimes epiphanies, sometimes small flickers of revelation, when the hero or heroine would make a self discovery which would bring them closer to the other–a relationship the reader can see is part of the reason God brought them together on this mission, but one neither character is willing to give in to.

The hero, Eli Earnest, has a wonderful character arc.  His stubbornness and preconceived ideas give way to a new perspective and a fresh respect for not only the heroine, Priscilla, but for women in general, seeing them as strong individuals rather than his previous opinion of them as “liabilities” because of their weaknesses.  The reader also gets to watch him slowly fall in love with Priscilla, all while he ignores the signs.

Priscilla starts out strong, but becomes even stronger as the book moves forward.  One of the things I loved about the heroine was the way she could be so very strong, yet never need to overpower or bully or use harshness to show her strength.  She never lost that feminine softness, no matter how rough the road became, as that made me respect her all the more–woman to woman.  I found it especially enjoyable to watch her grow stronger in one aspect of her personality while softening in another to allow Eli into her heart.  A very complex character growth that Jody portrayed artistically.

Through it all, the external conflict never wained.  At every turn in the road, every fork in the path, new conflict arose, testing the characters will, their determination, their commitment all while showing their internal growth. 

I’m a picky reader.  Someone who has to have something pushing me forward to the next page–personal conflict, character growth, plot twists, action.  I won’t hang out for lingering description, although I value beautiful prose.  I’m not patient enough to wade through paragraphs of historical facts, no matter how fascinating.  I need stuff (a highly technical term) to happen–internally, externally, it doesn’t matter.  But something has to happen to get me to move forward.

I couldn’t stop moving forward with Jody’s book.  There were nights I purposely didn’t pick up the book because I knew I wouldn’t put it down and I had to get sleep for work the next day.

Oh, and don’t let the genre fool you…Jody is absolutely fabulous with sexual tension.  The attraction between these two sparks from the beginning and the heat only grows throughout the story.  But one of the elements that makes that desire so strong between them is the development of their emotional bond along the journey.  Their attraction and love for each other is truly a beautiful thing to watch grow in front of your eyes.

And I’m thrilled with the excerpt she chose to post because it’s one of my favorite moments in the book.  I think it’s the moment my heart completely opened to Eli and I knew Priscilla’s would too.  This excerpt is the perfect example of so many passages in The Doctor’s Lady that gave me “Ahhh” moments.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?

I had a lot of fun writing the wedding night scene. Because Eli and Priscilla agreed to a marriage in name only, they have no plans to consummate their marriage. However, nobody else knows their secret. And so after the wedding, Priscilla’s mother and sister help her get ready for her first night with her new husband. They turn back the covers on the bed, brush her hair, and give her instructions on what to expect. While they’re doing this, Priscilla gets really nervous. And a little later when Eli finally comes into the room and sees her in her nightgown with her hair down, he gets nervous too.

I enjoyed exploring the growing attraction between them, the awkwardness of being thrust together in the same bedroom (after only knowing each other for about a week), and then watching them figure out how they’re going to handle the physical aspect of their relationship for the duration of their trip West.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

One of the biggest conflicts is that Eli, the hero, didn’t want to have to take a woman to the West. He thinks it’s too dangerous and would rather go alone. However, in order to start the mission to the Nez Perce (and receive funding for the trip), the Mission Board leaves him with little choice—he either must take a wife or give up his dream of going west.

Priscilla, the heroine, on the other hand, wants to prove that she is strong enough for such a trip and life in the west. She believes she has all of the qualities necessary. However, as the trip progresses, they face one life-threatening danger after another but meanwhile begin to fall in love. Eli’s growing love for Priscilla only makes him all the more determined to keep her safe. He’s even decided to give her an annulment and send her back home if needed. 

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?

If I had to pick one person who has been the most instrumental in shaping my writing career, I’d have to single out my mom. When I was growing up, she facilitated an environment that fostered my love of writing and my creativity. She read a lot to me, allowed time for plenty of free play, believed in me, taught me to work hard, and encouraged me to dream big. Because of that, I grew up knowing I could do anything I set my mind to. Even today, she’s still a huge part of my writing career, cheering me on and encouraging me in countless ways.

What is your writing routine?

Since I have 5 children ranging in ages from 6 to 14, I have often have trouble finding uninterrupted writing time! But usually I try to carve out a couple of hours each afternoon to meet my daily word count goal (or chapters when I’m editing). Whatever I don’t finish during the afternoon, I come back to after my kids are in bed.

I also have a couple of mornings a week where I get a few extra hours of writing time, and I also take the entire day on Saturday to write.

Which do you like more—rainy days or snowy days?

I’m going to have to say rainy days. I love the blowing wind and the way the leaves and raindrops patter against the house. On those dark days, I light scented candles and drink hot tea.

And while I like snowy days too (I am a Mid-Western girl born and bred!), by the end of the winter I get tired of all of the shoveling that we have to do!

Where can readers find you?

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund:

(When Eli knows he has to ask Priscilla to marry him in order to fulfill his dream of going west. He sneaks into the classroom where she is teaching and . . .)

A burst of laughter near the back of the narrow schoolroom finally commanded her return to earth and to her classroom.
“Now, children. You are disobeying our rule for silence.” Her gaze lingered on the board for a second longer before she tore herself away and pivoted to face the class.
The younger children perched in their desks near the front of the room, and the older children sat in the back near the entrance—mostly the girls who weren’t privileged enough to attend Female Academy in Troy where she’d done a significant amount of her schooling.
The students’ wide smiles greeted her, and the sunshine pouring in the large windows lit their faces. She had only to follow their glances to the back row to see the source of their laughter.
Her fingers flew to the cameo at her neck.
With his long legs tucked awkwardly under a desk and his hand raised, Dr. Ernest watched her with a solemn expression that didn’t match the merriment in his eyes.
“Miss White.” He lowered his hand. “I have a question.”
She stared at him speechless, a strange mixture of excitement and apprehension stirring in her stomach.
“Some scientists say that Ceres isn’t really a planet.” He hunched his back to fit onto the small bench, and his knees pushed against the flimsy desk top. “After all, it’s located in the asteroid belt.”
What was he doing back in Angelica? And how had he managed to sneak into the school without her hearing him?
His shirt and waistcoat were crisp and clean. Without his hat, the wild, untamable waves of his hair had rebelled against his obvious attempts to smooth them down. He’d shaven the shadowy layer of stubble, but his smooth, tan skin had a scruffiness he couldn’t shed. He was as well groomed as any gentleman she’d ever met. But for all his efforts, there was still something rugged about him—and something dangerously appealing.
Her hand fluttered to the wisps of hair that floated about her face. Surely he wasn’t back to carry out Mother’s marriage charade.
Even from the furthest row of the classroom, his winter blue eyes caught hers with their intensity. For a long moment she couldn’t breathe. Nor could she look away. He was a flame, and she was the little girl who’d been warned not to touch. Only she couldn’t remember why she ought to stay away, especially when every nerve in her body urged her to reach out.
“And Ceres is too small.” A grin teased the corner of his mouth, almost as if he knew he was getting the reaction from her he’d intended.
She forced herself to start breathing again, calmly. If he thought he could steal into her classroom and flirt with her, then just wait until she joined in. She’d had plenty of practice in her younger days, when she’d been much more carefree. He’d be no match for her ability to beguile.
“Why, Dr. Ernest.” She tilted her head. “You said you had a question. And all I’ve heard are statements.
 “Excuse me, Miss White.” His grin widened. “Course, you’re right.”
She lifted her lips into her sweetest, most practiced smile. “Would you like to try rephrasing your statement and show the children how to ask a proper question?”
“Certainly,” he drawled. “For such a pretty lady like you, how could any man say no?”
The older girls tittered. Their flashing smiles and flushed cheeks were evidence they had already fallen prey to his winsome ways.
She braced herself. He wouldn’t so easily sway her. After all, he’d made it quite clear he wasn’t interested in her.
“So . . . ” he started.
If he wasn’t back because of her, why was he sitting in her classroom intent upon engaging her in playful banter?
“So, my question is this.” A shadow filtered through his eyes and snuffed the laughter in them, making them too serious. And when he extricated his legs from the desk, instead of rising to his feet, he lowered himself into the aisle onto one knee.
She stifled a shiver.
“Miss White?” His gaze found her again.
The intensity sent her heart into wild dash. Her fingers went back to her throat, to the delicate cameo, to the pattering of her pulse beneath.
His eyes spoke the words before he could get them out. “Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
©Jody Hedlund, 2011
Leave a comment or question for Jody to enter for one of these prizes:
1) A copy of The Doctor’s Lady
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
Open Internationally
*MUST* Leave a contact email to WIN!
If you have trouble commenting try :
~ a different browser
~ leaving a comment w name and URL
~ leaving comment as annonymous w email/name in message
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Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher’s Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady released in September 2011.