Thursday, 22 January 2015

Guest post by Jeanette Grey + Giveaway

Please give a warm welcome to Jeanette Grey, who is here today not only to tell you more about her latest release, Through the Static, but to also discuss a not easy topic: atonement and forgiveness. Share with us one of your memories, what was the hardest thing to forgive or atone for and you could even win an ebook copy of Through the Static by Jeanette!  :-)

Atonement 
by Jeanette Grey

I've been thinking a lot of late about the idea of atonement—and not the James McAvoy / Keira Knightley period film.

To atone is to make amends for the wrongs you've done. It has a number of religious connotations, too, but what fascinates me involves examining it on a personal level. Deciding to atone involves acknowledging one's own complicity in something that has happened. It doesn't necessarily require shirt-rending theatrics or wallowing in guilt, though sometimes those things come along for the ride.
To tell a story about a hero who is atoning for his sins involves delving into the mind of someone who has done terrible things and who knows it. Someone who has decided in his own mind to carry on. To take responsibility. And to do what he can to make it right.

It's a hell of a heavy burden to bear.

In my new novel, Through the Static, the hero, Jinx, has spent the last few years of his life as a mercenary. His memories of how he ended up in that position have been erased, so he's not sure how he got there, and he hasn't had much say about what he's done. What he does have is the memory of exacting violence on people he's not sure deserved it. He has a tiny voice of doubt trying to speak to him through the static of his tampered memories, trying to tell him that what he's been compelled to do is wrong. And he has a hell of a lot of guilt.

When he meets Aurelia, the woman who discovers the secret to freeing him from the forces who've been controlling him all this time, his guilt makes it difficult for him to be close to her. How dare he touch her with hands that have been covered in so much blood?

Pushing through that guilt and into a place where he can begin to try to atone for what he's done—by protecting Aurelia and taking down the organization that savaged his memories—isn't an easy road. But it's a necessary one, and along the way, more secrets are revealed about the nature of how he was coopted into the kind of life he was forced to lead.

The truth of his past is difficult to accept. But such is the case with atonement. In theory, making up for one's wrongs eventually has to end. There is such thing as enough.

But deciding enough is enough? Accepting that forgiveness is possible—or even that forgiveness might never have been necessary in the first place?

Sometimes, that can be even more difficult than the atoning.


The only way to save him is to let him into her mind…and her heart.

When cybernetics researcher Aurelia Locke is attacked, she instantly recognizes her assailants as a Three—a mercenary unit made up of a trio of soldiers whose minds have been cybernetically linked, their pasts erased, their wills subsumed.

By the skin of her wits, she escapes to an abandoned house, where she hacks its security system in her desperation to find refuge.

Jinx is already on high alert when his Three notices something isn’t right with their safe house. But he never expected to find a woman wounded and bleeding out in his own bed, or that his visceral reaction to her would begin to awaken his lost past from a years-long haze of violence.

In a mad gamble to escape, Aurelia frees Jinx from his Three by severing his neural connection to them and tying his mind to hers. The power of their link shocks them both, manifesting not only in shared thoughts, but in an intensely passionate physical connection.

But dangerous forces pursue them, intent on reclaiming Jinx and silencing Aurelia’s knowledge. Her only chance of saving him is to risk everything—her research, her heart, and her life.

Warning: Contains manipulation of a person’s memory without his consent and brief episodes of mind control, as well as a smart girl on the run, a high-tech soul-bond, and telepathy-enhanced sex.

Buy at  Amazon - B&N - Samhain

Jeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support, and advertising. When none of that panned out, she started writing. In her spare time, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. She lives, loves, and writes in upstate New York. 

Connect with her at her website - Blog - Twitter - Facebook



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Jeanette has generously offered a e-copy of Through the Static to a lucky commenter!


To be entered just leave a comment and tell us: what was one of the hardest things to forgive or ask someone to forgive you for?  

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 31 January 2015!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

New Release: Impulse Control by Amanda Usen + Giveaway

You know what a huge foodie romance lover I am, so I am very happy to share with you the happy news that pastry-chef-and-romance-writer Amanda Usen just released her latest novel, Impulse Control!
 
Take a look (and not just at the yummy cover ;-p), read the blurb and don't forget to enter the numerous giveaways at the end!  :-)


He can't resist a challenge. She can't resist a dare...

Survivalist Russ Donovan is the toughest man in America, with a reality TV show to prove it. Now he’s been strong-armed into filming a new show with dainty lifestyle expert Susannah Stone. But while “At Home in the Wild” could mean millions for his family’s charity, Russ plans to put Little Susie Homemaker to the test—in the Adirondack Mountains in the dead of winter. And there's no way she'll be able to hack it...

Susannah is tougher than she looks. She's had to fight her way through life, and there's no way she'll let a bossy mountain man show her up. When she gets him on her turf, he’s in serious trouble. But now she's run into a bit of problem. Because no one—least of all Russ and Susannah—expects sparks to fly both on camera and off. And now everyone will see their risqué rivalry break all of the rules...

Buy at Amazon - B&N

Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast, and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. They live in Western New York with their three children, one gerbil, four fish, a tortoise, and a beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing sexy contemporary romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found reading a book and trying to get out of cooking dinner.

Connect with Amanda at her website - Facebook - TwitterGoodreads

 
GIVEAWAY RULES:
 
Daily #giveaways and 1 Grand Prize up for grabs during the blitz for IMPULSE CONTROL, an Entangled Indulgence novel by Amanda Usen!

To celebrate IMPULSE CONTROL, there will be daily #giveaways on each day of the blitz!
 
Each day THREE winners will receive a signed print copy of one of Amanda’s backlist titles (international winners will receive a digital copy).
 
Daily drawings will be held at 4:00pm EST and winners will be announced on Amanda’s Facebook page and on Twitter.

And wait, there’s MORE!
 
The grand prize winner, chosen at the end of the blitz, will #win a digital copy of each new release in the Men of the Zodiac Series, as they release each month, for a total of 12 books over the year! Winner will be announced on Amanda’s Facebook and Twitter at the end of the blitz.

Winners will need to contact Amanda with their preferred digital book, email address and shipping address at amanda AT amandausen DOT com.

To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 17 November 2014

Excerpt: Where There's a Will by Stacy Gail + Giveaway

The colder weather is here and there's nothing better to do on these early dark days/nights than to curl up with a great heart-warming, soul-warming book and a cup of hot cocoa and loose yourself in the story. So read on and discover Stacy Gail's brand new release Where There's a Will, book #4 in her Bitterthorn, Texas series! :-)

Where There's a Will by Stacy Gail

Book #4 in the Bitterthorn, Texas series

Miranda Brookhaven returned to Bitterthorn, Texas to fix the past. Years ago, her father used her teenage romance with Coe Rodas to steal the prototype for a groundbreaking new automotive invention. Now her father's dead, and thanks to the convoluted will he left behind, she's stuck in town until she rights the wrong that lost her the man she loved.

Coe learned early on that life never goes according to plan. His dreams of hitting it big vanished when Miranda all but invited her father to take the only thing of value he ever had. But now the once-pampered princess is holed up in a condemned trailer on the edge of town...and everything he thought he knew about her—and about what happened between them back then—seems completely wrong.

Miranda's determined to give back to Coe all that he lost. If she can do that, maybe she can move on from the past. But Coe seems to be more interested in their rekindled passion than claiming what she thinks he deserves. She's got sixty days to convince him to cough up evidence that he's the original inventor—after that, the only way to transfer the patent rights over to him would be to make him part of the family, and she's not sure her heart can take another hit.

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Kobo


Excerpt

The moment he came within reach, she dug her fingers into the rough wool of his coat and tugged him into a kiss. A world of revenge was packed into it—a need to tantalize with the alluring stroke of her tongue, determined to make him remember all that he’d thrown away by kicking her out of his life. She wanted him to suffer—to lie awake tonight and yearn for her, all the while knowing she was lost to him forever. She wanted to punish him with a lush pleasure that could never be his again.

More than anything, she wanted him to know the torment she’d carried inside for seven long years.

A rough sound growled deep in his throat, and she couldn’t tell whether it was a sound of warning or of pleasure as she nuzzled her lips against his to perfect the fit. His flavor was even better than she remembered, and for a heartbeat it transported her to a past where the world was perfect and the people in her life loved her as unstintingly as she loved them. That had been a beautiful life, but it had never been reality. It never would be, no matter how desperately she ached to bring that time back.

When she felt Coe’s arms lift to gather her closer, she hardened the heart he and her father had crushed so long ago, and pushed him away. And when she raised her eyes to his, she hoped he only saw icy fury there, and none of the bittersweet anguish she’d opened herself up to when she chose to punish him with a kiss.

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Kobo

A competitive figure skater from the age of eight, Stacy Gail began writing stories in between events to pass the time. By the age of fourteen, she told her parents she was either going to be a figure skating coach who was also a published romance writer, or a romance writer who was also a skating pro. Now with a day job of playing on the ice with her students, and writing everything from steampunk to cyberpunk, contemporary to paranormal at night, both dreams have come true.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered to win one of the gift cards just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 24 November 2014!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Excerpt: Spy Fall by Diana Quincy + Giveaway

By now you must all know what a big fan I am of Diana Quincy's historical romances! They are witty, charming and so lovely! Each and every time I read one I'm left with a happy sigh and good feelings for days after finishing the novel, so I couldn't be happier to share with you the great news that Diana's latest release is not "just" a historical romance, but a spy story as well! Yum, I love some excitement in my romances!! So read on and pick up your copy, I'm sure you don't want to miss out on it! ;-)

Spy Fall by Diana Quincy

Book #1 in the Regency Spymasters series

When a fiery French parachutist lands on a drunken Lord Cosmo Dunsmore, he surmises she’s an angel sent from above. But is she a spy after something far more sinister than his debauched soul?

A fearless parachutist is out of her depth …

Mari Lamarre is gaining fame for her daring aeronautic endeavors, but her riskiest adventure begins when she collides with the darkly charismatic son of the Marquess of Aldridge. If her mission succeeds, Cosmo’s father will be ruined.

A rakehell falls for a dangerous woman …

Surrendering to a fierce passion, the two embark on a torrid affair, even as Cosmo vows to protect his family at all costs. But in doing so, will he risk losing the captivating beauty who’s swept into his life and made off with his heart?


Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Diana’s reporting background is probably the reason many of her books are inspired by true-life events.

Growing up as a foreign service brat, Diana visited many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. When not bent over her laptop or trying to keep up with laundry, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dreams of traveling much more than her current schedule (and budget) allows.

Connect with Diana at her website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads

Excerpt:

They reached the hot air balloon, where a stable groom stood waiting to assist her. She stooped to untie one of the thick cables tethering the contraption to the ground.

“What I have in mind will give you great pleasure,” she said quietly.

His inky eyes went alert. “Is that so?”

“Release that cable, if you please,” she called to the groom.

He tipped his cap. “Yes, miss.” And proceeded to do just that.

Gesturing toward the other cable, she said to Cosmo. “Untie that, will you?”

“Whatever for?” He glanced at it before frowning back in her direction. “If you completely untether it, the balloon will fly away, as you well know.”

“Exactly.” She leapt into the wicker boat. “Allons. Let us go.”

“Go where? You want me to go up in that?” He took a step back. “I most certainly will not.”

She leaned over the edge of the gondola. “Pour le plaisir, remember?”

Shaking his head, he backed away. Switching to French so the groom wouldn’t understand, he said, “This is most assuredly not the sort of pleasure I meant.”

“You can show me what you do have in mind,” she said in the same language, as she bent over to retrieve and throw sand-filled ballasts out of the gondola.

“Come away from there and I gladly will.”

“I prefer that you come in here.” She offered him the most wickedly sensual smile in her feminine arsenal.

He blinked. Then swallowed. “Angel, you will be the death of me.”

“Perhaps just a little death.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. La petite mort was the French term for the peak of sensual pleasure. “Is that a naughty French reference? Or are you teasing me?”

She laughed aloud, exhilarated at the thought of soaring into the clouds with him. “You shall have to fly with me to find out.”


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Diana has very generously offered a lucky commenter one ebook copy of Tempting Bella by Diana Quincy!


To be entered just leave a comment and tell us about one of your favourite spies or spy stories (be it a movie, series or book)!

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 9 November 2014!

Good luck!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Guest post by Regina Kyle + Giveaway

I have a special treat for you: today's guest is not only the author of a deliciously sizzling romance, but also an insider to the theatre world! That is how the lovely Regina Kyle, author of the newly released Triple Threat, will tell us about some behind the scenes superstitions theatre folks have. And if you tell us about any of your superstitions, you might even win her novel! So take a seat, this will be fascinating! :-)

It’s Bad Luck To Say Good Luck (And Other Theater Superstitions)
by Regina Kyle

Greetings, fellow romance lovers, and thanks so much to Stella’s Ex Libris for having me here today. I’m celebrating the release of my debut novel, Triple Threat, which came out in paperback on September 16 and just yesterday in e-book. The title has a double meaning: tall, dark and devastating action film star Nick Damone is definitely a threat to budding playwright Holly Nelson, body, heart and soul. But “triple threat” is also a theater term meaning someone who excels equally at singing, acting and dancing. Appropriate, as much of the book’s plot revolves around the production of Holly’s newest play – with Nick as its star.

The theater world is one I know well. I was bitten by the acting bug at age ten and have been performing in school and community productions ever since. I got a whole new perspective on the business when my daughter started acting professionally at age ten, eventually traveling the United States playing a lead role in a Broadway national tour.

One thing I learned is that theater folk are a very suspicious lot. I mention a few of these time-honored superstitions in Triple Threat. But there’s a long list of things you can’t do or should do in order to guarantee success on performance night, each with its own particular history. Here’s a list of the top five theater superstitions (according to me, at least) and their origins:

1. The Scottish play (Macbeth) – This superstition has a few alleged origins. Some say that Shakespeare got the witches’ chants in the play from real witches, who were less than pleased with how they were portrayed and cursed the show. Others say it’s just because there’s so much violence in the play it’s easy for something to go wrong. Whatever the source, if you say “Macbeth” in a theater, the only way to reverse the curse is by going outside the theater, spitting and turning around three times before begging to be let back in.

2. Break a leg – The worst thing you can do is say “good luck” to an actor right before a show. So instead, theater folk say, “Break a leg.” The most popular explanation for this superstition is that, in Shakespearean times, stages were supported on thin wooden legs. A spectacular performance would cause such a tremendous ruckus that a leg would break. Another possible origin involves the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln. When John Wilkes Booth, the actor turned assassin, leapt to the stage of Ford’s Theater after the murder, he broke his leg. There’s no proof of a connection between this event and the substitution of “break a leg” for “good luck,” but it sure makes for a good story.

3. Ghost light – It seems like practically every theater has a resident ghost. The ghost light is a light that is left onstage, always on, to ward off any ghosts lurking after hours.

4. Bad dress….good show! – Lousy dress rehearsals aren’t uncommon, especially because it’s often the cast’s first real chance to run through the show. My worse dress rehearsal was for a production of Oklahoma! There was a point in a musical number where one cast member was supposed to point a gun at another (playing my father) and say, “Sing it, Andrew.” We were using cap guns, and she pointed it at him and accidentally pulled the trigger, “shooting” him with a loud popping sound. The poor actor who was “shot” didn’t know how to react, and the rest of us burst into hysterical laughter, stopping the show. Our director said it was the worst dress rehearsal she’d ever seen, but opening night was fantastic.

5. Whistling – Whistling on or off stage is considered bad luck. This is probably because, before the invention of walkie-talkies and intercom systems, the crew coordinated their actions using whistle signals. If someone whistled onstage, it could be misinterpreted as a cue for the stage crew, creating havoc.

Whistling isn’t the only thing that’s bad luck on stage. Wearing the colors blue and yellow will make actors forget lines. Wearing green is unlucky. Peacock feathers inside a theater are bad news. No real flowers, mirrors or jewelry should ever be used on stage. Why? No one really knows. But isn’t that what superstitions are all about, doing something strange for some unexplained reason?

What’s something you’re superstitious about and why?


Author Bio:

Regina Kyle knew she was destined to be an author when she won a writing contest at age ten with a touching tale about a squirrel and a nut pie. By day, she writes dry legal briefs, representing the state in criminal appeals. At night, she writes steamy romance with heart and humor.

A lover of all things theatrical, Regina lives on the Connecticut coast with her husband, teenaged daughter and two melodramatic cats. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely singing, reading, cooking or watching bad reality television. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and treasurer of her local RWA chapter.

Connect with Regina at her website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads

Triple Threat by Regina Kyle

The Theater of Temptation presents Sabotage…and Seduction!

The Playwright: It’s emerging playwright Holly Nelson’s big break. Broadway. Having survived her traumatic marriage and divorce, Holly is now aiming for success, not love. And any naughty dreams about Nick Damone—the gorgeously dishy star who was her crush back in high school—must remain a fantasy.

The Star: For Nick, Broadway is a chance to go from big-screen-eye-candy to serious actor, and to explore the lust blazing between him and Holly. But life-threatening accidents will force a chain of events that could bring down the curtain on the whole production…or give Nick and Holly a chance to finish the sexy something that started fifteen years ago!

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N

Excerpt:

Here’s a little teaser from Triple Threat when Nick discusses theater suspicious – and the recent accidents plaguing their production of Holly’s play – with his impressionable co-star:

“Excuse me, Mr. Damone?” Marisa Rodriguez stood next to him, nervously biting her lip. With him and Malcolm on board, the producers had taken a chance on the young, relatively inexperienced actress for the pivotal role of the abused wife. From what he’d seen so far, their risk was going to pay off. She had a wonderful, natural quality that couldn’t be taught in any acting class. “Can I ask you something?”

Nick snuck a glance at Holly and frowned. Ethan, her self-appointed bodyguard, had once again glued himself to her side. They sat together, shoulders touching, heads bowed over a copy of the script.

Jesus. The guy was like her freaking shadow. Nick wouldn’t be surprised to find out they went to the damn bathroom together. At first he thought maybe they were a couple, with their constant chatter, light touches and little laughs. That illusion had been blessedly blown to bits when Ethan’s boyfriend showed up to meet him after rehearsal.

Still, Ethan needed to get accidentally locked in the prop room for a good half a day.

Overnight would be even better

Nick turned back to his impressionable costar and flashed her a grin that he hoped was reassuring. “Of course.” He patted the chair next to him, and Marisa sat down. “But I keep telling you, call me Nick. After all, we are married, in a matter of speaking.”

She blushed and ducked her head, her mane of long, dark curls covering her face. “Okay, Mr.…I mean, Nick.”

“Now that we’ve got that settled, what can I do for you?”

“I’m just curious.” She peered at him through her bangs. “You’ve done stage productions before, right?”

“It’s been a while, but yeah.”

“Are you nervous?”

“Not really,” he lied. “It’s like riding a bike. And nothing beats performing in front of a live audience. The instant response. The connection.” The chance that any minute you could forget your lines or your blocking. No one to bail you out by yelling, “Cut.”

“No, I mean because of the—” She stopped and looked around as if to make sure no one else was listening. When she spoke again, her voice was a whisper. “Curse.”

He rubbed the back of his neck. “The what?”

“The crew says we’re cursed. Because of all the weird stuff going on. You know. The bomb threat. The food poisoning. The blackout.”

Nick nodded, finally understanding. Of course Marisa would be worried. It was her plane that was grounded by a bomb threat in Toronto, where she was wrapping a film, making her miss the first read-through. Then half the crew got food poisoning from some bad sushi. And yesterday the power went out at Pearl, costing them half a day’s practice.

But all shows hit rough waters, and Nick wasn’t about to let Marisa drown in them. These were hiccups, not the Titanic.

“Nah,” he assured her. “Theater people are suspicious by nature.”

“Really?”

“Sure. That’s why we say ‘break a leg’ instead of ‘good luck.’ And leave a ghost light on onstage. And, most importantly, never, ever say or quote from Macbeth in a theater.”

Marisa tilted her head, looking confused. “What do you call it then?”

“You don’t.” Nick chuckled. “Or if you must, it’s the Scottish play.”

“That’s silly.”

“Yep. Like believing we’re cursed is silly.”

“I guess so. Thanks, Mr.…Nick. Sorry.” She stood and stretched, showing a wide expanse of her flat stomach that, in another lifetime, one before Holly reappeared, would have had him itching to see more. Now he wasn’t interested. He ran a hand across his face, trying to erase the unfamiliar feeling.

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N 

Giveaway Rules:

Regina has generously offered an e-book of Triple Threat to a lucky commenter!


To be entered just answer her question in a comment: What’s something you’re superstitious about and why?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 13 October 2014!

Good luck!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Excerpt: Deconstructing Lila by Shannon Leigh

Deconstructing Lila by Shannon Leigh

She’ll bring him to his knees…

Preservationist Lila Gentry returns to her small Texas hometown to restore the famous Chisholm Trail whorehouse where her great-great-grandmother was a madam in the 1880s. On her agenda is winning back Jake, the one that got away. But how do you rope a man who doesn't want to be wrangled?

Jake lives by one creed: Keep it simple. His ex showing up in town complicates his life and makes him think about things he'd rather forget.

When Lila's restoration project is threatened before it even begins, she turns to Jake for help. Working together stirs up old feelings, but while Lila and Jake always sizzle between the sheets—or wherever the moment takes them—it will involve some sweet-talking and finesse to bring these two together.

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N - Entangled

Excerpt:

Jake watched in his rearview mirror as Lila smiled. And then the weight from ten years of resignation hit him like a hammer. He’d fought the urge to reach out and drag her into his arms. To feel her pressed up against his chest. He wanted to know if she still smelled like summer sun and flower gardens.

And because he was tired today from a late-night planning session with a new client, he did stupid-ass things, like stand in the middle of the Grab & Get lot on the hottest day of the goddamn summer and ogle old exes, as if he were ready to drive back to his place and jump in bed.

Very bad idea, thinking of the two of them together in bed. One thing they were always good at, even up to the very end, was sex. And lots of it. At various times of the night and day. In exciting body-bending positions. Hands down, his favorites were the sessions at 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N - Entangled


Author Bio:

Growing up in Hell’s Back Forty, Shannon Leigh developed a fierce loyalty to all things Texas and pledged to share the romance of small town dance halls and the flavor of brisket BBQ with readers. Currently, she lives in Fort Worth with an extensive cowboy boot collection, a red and white, ’67 Chevy pickup and a mission to find the best taco stands in the city.

She’s been writing since Jesus was a small boy, but recently found a home with the uber wonderful folks at Entangled Publishing.

When she’s not writing fiction, she writes features for local magazines, sells real estate, and runs around with a particular 11 year old known as “The Boy.”

Connect with Shannon at her Website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Guest post by Sarah Mäkelä + Giveaway

You all know how much I love to travel, so I am extremely happy to share today's guest post with you: please give it up for Sarah Mäkelä who on her blog tour celebrating the release of Jungle Heat, book#1 in her Amazon Chronicles series, will share with us her top 10 places in the world she cannot wait to visit! Let's join her on this virtual globetrotting and take a peek at these gorgeous places ;-)



Top Ten Places I Most Want to Travel To
by Sarah Mäkelä

I’m probably a little different from most people in my choices. I’m not crazy about beaches or hot weather. I’m entirely fascinated with snow and Scandinavia and Russia. With that out of the way, here we go...

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

10. Yellowstone National Park – I went as a child, but I’d love to go again now that I can really enjoy the beautiful scenery.

"Murder Lake" in Transylvania

9. Transylvania – I’ve been to other parts of Romania, but I’d love to visit Transylvania and see Bran Castle. There’s so much history, and well... Vlad Tepes (aka Dracula).


Kieperteller - Source: Knieperfuchs

8. Germany – My mother was born there. Plus, I really like German food.


Hawaii - Source: Momarzia59

7. Hawaii, USA – I’d love to see some of the sites there. Volcanoes, WWII battleships, and okay... maybe the beaches.


Viking Boat House

6. Norway – I’ve had the pleasure of going, but I’d love to go back, especially to Oslo. There’s so much Viking history, and it’s absolutely a beautiful country.

Grand Canal Venice

5. Italy – It’s Italy; what more can I say? I’d love to see Venice and Florence. Also, I really like Italian food, and there’s so much history. Yes, I’m a history buff.

Alaska

4. Alaska, USA – I’ve always wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise. It’s so pretty with its snow and mountains.


Geysir Eruption Source: Andreas Tille

3. Iceland – I’d love to visit. It’s a Nordic country, and it looks so beautiful and exotic too.


Kymenlaksoo Landscape - Source: Mitte

2. Finland – I’ve been many times, but I absolutely love Finland. If I could live anywhere but the USA, I’d live there.

St. Petersburg Church - Source: Dionysos

1. St. Petersburg, Russia and Moscow, Russia – I’ve always wanted to visit Russia since I’ve had a fascination with it and its history and culture ever since I was young.

Jungle Heat by Sarah Mäkelä

Book #1 in the Amazon Chronicles series


An Amazon Princess and a weretiger must find love enough to heal their peoples’ painful history.

The Amazon Rainforest still contains a few secrets. One of these secrets is a hidden village of women whose history is filled with the horror of conquering men.

Adara Rukan, princess of the Amazons, ventures away from her village to find something waiting for her. Andrei "Rei" Makarov is a weretiger and a biologist on assignment. Can Rei and Adara find love enough to bridge their two separate worlds?

Buy at Amazon - B&N - iBooks - Google Play - Kobo - ARe

Excerpt:

Adara raced over the dense forest floor, trying to escape the shadow closing on her heels. Fear pumped adrenaline through her body as she ran toward her village through the darkness. Panic tangled with the sheer need to survive. If only I'd listened. What was I thinking, coming out alone?

She shot a glance over her shoulder. Her foot smacked against a tree root in the moment of distraction, pitching her body forward. The fall came in slow motion.

Cursing under her breath, she rolled onto her back. Dry leaves clung to her blonde hair. The subtle, musty scent of slow rot rose from the rich soil, mixed with something coming from behind her. The dark shadow loomed. Her gaze rose to take in her pursuer, wondering if the beast would be her doom.

The tall, broad-shouldered creature towered over her. Watching. It wasn't human or animal. The village wise woman had warned her of beings like this, but they'd seemed like fables. How could something so fantastical be real?

Even as she trembled with fear, this creature captivated her. The black and orange stripes covering his shoulders and arms evoked a distant memory, yet the design was uncommon in the Amazon.

His hair hung in straight, black strands like a human's, but his face had the nose, mouth, and eyes of a feline. His muscular, naked body reflected a splendid combination of both species. Sweat-shiny skin glistened through the inch-long fur that covered him. His white chest intrigued her, all the way to the patch of fur barely covering his groin. Leaves and branches framed his face with a lush green background. He crouched over her. His piercing golden eyes focused solely on her. His stare reminded her of a cat from her village staring at a small rodent before pouncing.

As he leaned down, she grabbed her kris from the garter on her thigh and pushed it against his stomach. She didn't want today to be the day she died. Her people needed her. She wouldn't let this beast deny them their princess.

The animal cocked his head at her. He brushed his lips over her throat, whiskers tickling her chin.

Her body stiffened. What is he doing? Bewilderment spread through her as his feline lips touched her neck. Instead of biting her, his canines grazed lightly, gently, from just below her ear down to her shoulder, almost as if exploring her flesh, instead of seeking to rip open her throat.

She tensed. Even with her weapon pressed against the beast's stomach, she still feared for her life. As an Amazon princess, she wasn't easily scared. But this feline made her heart pound. If only she had brought Rubia with her. She wouldn't be in this situation and could've stood a better chance against this feline.

Why does he persist in toying with me? Adara swallowed as a low burn started in the pit of her stomach. These feelings confused her.

A soft sniffing sounded in her ear right before his tongue scraped rough caresses on her skin. Other jungle cats marked their territory. Did this animal believe she was his? She didn't want to find out.

Without waiting for the feline's next move, Adara drove the kris deep into his stomach, meeting resistance as it plunged through flesh and muscle. She forced it further as his blood flowed onto her hands, making the hilt of the kris slick, weakening her grip.

He roared and leapt back with her kris still embedded in his abdomen.

She scrambled to her feet. His scream so near the side of her face made her ear ring. Bringing up a hand to her ear, Adara felt a trail of his wet blood drip along her cheek.

He straightened his spine and strode back to her, her kris still buried in him. It seemed as if it were nothing more than a minor annoyance to him. She clenched her hands into fists and dropped them to her sides.

The reality of what she saw struck her. She froze. How could he act so unaffected? He shouldn't have been able to move around so casually. It wasn't possible. How can I outrun something like that? This can't be happening. Her mother had always warned her to be careful when traveling through the forest. Why hadn't she listened? And how could she feel so drawn to this animal when he intimidated her?

"Who are you?" Gritting her teeth, she forced her voice to resonate with the commanding tones of an Amazon huntress, and fervently hoped it didn't betray the panic racing through her veins. Her people's beliefs restricted them from showing fear in front of strangers. Not that they saw many. But her tribeswomen were survivors in dangerous times. Their history brimmed with reminders.

The feline bared pointed white teeth. "Call me Rei." His husky voice reverberated like a deep growl.

He launched into the air and, before she could react, flattened her to the ground. Air whooshed out of her lungs. Her eyes widened and locked onto his.

He pinned her arms next to her head and pressed his feline lips to hers. His tongue scraped across her lower lip, causing nips of pain to cut through the alluring sensation.

She shook her head hard, breaking the kiss. Her breath rushed out short and quick. Never before had she kissed anyone. His mouth on hers created fiery stirrings within her body that felt almost too good. Her racing pulse only spread the warmth throughout her body that much faster.

Twice a year, her tribeswomen associated with Indian men. The younger girls were forced to stay in a hut during those visits, although Adara had snuck out once with Rubia in a fit of rebellion. She'd spotted one of her kin pressing her mouth against an Indian male's. Could this be what happens?

But men weren't to be trusted. Her kin had learned that the hard way many, many years ago.

Her mind flashed to the tales she'd heard from the wise woman. Horrible reminders assaulted her, memories of the men from long ago, enslaving her kind, killing them ruthlessly with diseases and swords.

She could imagine the cruelty of the conquering, pillaging men as vividly as if she had been there herself, so strongly had the wise woman spoken. It had taken weeks for her to sleep soundly after listening to that story.

Sudden panic swept away the lust that burned inside her. This creature could do the same. He's chased me, after all.

"What do you want from me?" Adara asked, trying to sound forceful, but instead her voice came out husky. She cleared her throat and returned his gaze.

Talking with an animal! Rubia would be jealous. Her tribeswomen would never believe this story... if she survived the encounter.

Rei smiled, warmth emanating from him. "You." His chest rumbled, and he rolled the word off his tongue like an exotic purr.

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About the Author:

NYT & USA Today bestselling author Sarah Mäkelä loves her fiction dark, magical, and passionate. She is a paranormal romance author, but she’s written all over the romance spectrum with cyberpunk, sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy...even a sweet contemporary romance!

A life-long paranormal fan, she still sleeps with a night-light. In her spare time, she reads sexy books, watches scary movies (and Ghost Adventures), and plays computer games with her husband. When she gets the chance, she loves traveling the world too.

Contact Sarah at her website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads


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