Saturday, 30 June 2012

And this week the winners are...


Hey Everyone!

Another week has gone by and a ton of giveaways ended, so here we go: congratulations to 

The lucky winner of an ebook copy of Somebody Like You by Candis Terry is


Jaye Shields


The lucky winner of an ebook copy of Hounded by Sadie Hart is

Irene Jackson


The lucky winner of an ebook copy of Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye and a signed guitar pick is

Heather


The lucky winner of an ebook copy of What If... by Kelly Rae is

lkish77123


The lucky winner of their choice of book from Lilly Cain's backlist is

acm05


The lucky winner of June's Romance and Me Reading Challenge giveaway and of their choice of book from Kaylea Cross' backlist is

miki


The lucky winner of an ebook copy of Deadly Descent by Kaylea Cross is

MichK


Congratulations winners! I have sent you all an e-mail notifying you of your win, please get back to me within 48 hours or I will have to draw a new winner. Thank you.

Don't forget that a lot of giveaways are still open, so enter while you can, you could win some terrific books! ;-) You can enter them by clicking on their individual links at the top of the blog.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Win a Nook Simple Touch courtesy of Entangled Publishing!


To celebrate the first releases in their new Dead Sexy imprint Entangled Publishing is giving away a Nook Simple Touch!

The new Dead Sexy releases from Entangled Publishing:



Family secrets must be kept, and painful wounds must be ignored.

After an all-out assault by a vicious terrorist bent on destroying her entire family, a former government agent must break the strict rules she has always lived by when she emerges from hiding to reluctantly accept the help of her all-too-sexy ex-lover. Running a deadly race against time, they rush to rescue her kidnapped sister, find her missing father, and bring the notorious villain to justice. But nothing ever goes as planned. Bullets fly, danger abounds, and their passion reignites even faster than the lies are flowing. But their stubbornly held secrets just might spell the end of their rekindled love and hopes for the future…as well as their very lives.



No Hero by Mallory Kane

A darkly handsome New Orleans detective who insists he’s no hero is blindsided by his one-time lover, a sexy investigative TV reporter who exposes his secret troubled past to the whole world…and nearly costs him his job. When the at-risk teens he mentors start turning up dead, his vow to protect the other kids hits a major snag…his only clue to finding the determined killer is held by the one woman he never wants to see again. Compelled to work together to solve the vicious murders before another child dies, their passion reluctantly reignites, and their mutual mistrust slowly turns to respect as she realizes there’s much more to being a hero than outward appearances, and his deeply wounded heart gradually opens to the possibility of love.


Her Forgotten Betrayal by Anna DeStefano 

Remembering will save her life. But will the truth destroy their love forever?

His mission orders: Infiltrate an FBI suspect’s mountain retreat and obtain evidence of her guilt Her doctor’s orders: Recuperate from a vicious shooting, and end her waking nightmares? What he doesn’t know: Is she guilty, innocent, or crazy? Can she ever forgive his past betrayal? What she doesn’t know: Anything about herself or her life before the attack…or if she can even trust the man with whom she is falling in love.


Sacrifice of Passion by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

A tall, dark, single-dad Texas rancher finds himself facing more than his stubbornly silent son when the chupacabra, a supposedly mythical blood-sucking beast, starts killing his livestock—and stalking the town’s newly returned veterinary assistant, the sensual woman who ran from the altar and broke his heart twelve years earlier. Determined to purge his sizzling memories of her from his all-too-vivid imagination, he seeks her help to get to the bottom of the disturbing animal mutilations, only to have her break through to his sullen son…and rekindle the love he’d thought was lost forever. But her refusal to share a terrible secret sends her running straight into the lair of the chupacabra, plunging her back into her worst nightmare, and forcing them both to confront the wrongs of the past—in order to stay alive for the future they desperately want.



To be entered in the giveaway just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 11 July 2012!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 29 June 2012

Interview with Carey Baldwin + Giveaway

Today I am happy to welcome to Ex Libris debut author Carey Baldwin, who is celebrating the release of her first novel, the thrilling First Do No Evil! Some of you may know Carey from the charity anthology Three Weddings and a Murder she contributed to alongside historical romance authors Tessa Dare, Leigh LaValle and Courtney Milan, but today I was curious to discover more about Carey and her writing. So come join me while I interview Carey and you could also win a fantastic prize package!

Stella: Hi Carey, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Carey: Hi Stella. Thank you so much for having me today! I'm basically just a regular girl who has a hard time making up her mind what to do with herself. I've been a professor, a psychologist and now I am a physician. But ever since childhood, I've dreamed of becoming a writer, and I have always enjoyed writing stories for my own pleasure.

Stella: You are a still practicing physician, wife and mother, how or rather when do you find the time to dream up your stories?

Carey: LOL. I actually do dream them up. My motto is I'm not sleeping. I'm plotting. I may have stolen that from a facebook post. Not sure. I frequently awaken at night and get up to write down the story in my head.

Stella: I am curious as to how or when did you realize you wanted to become a writer? Was it something you indulged in all your life besides your medical studies/training or a passion you discovered more recently?

Carey: I've always been a voracious reader, literally since I could read. My parents couldn't get me to put down my book to play or sleep. And I always wanted to create wonderful stories like the ones I read.

Stella: You have two new recent releases: one of them is your romantic suspense novella in the anthology Three Weddings and a Murder a common project of yours with Tessa Dare, Leigh LaValle and Courtney Milan, would you like to tell readers about the anthology, your Bodice Rippers team and your novella?

Carey: Thanks for asking, Stella.

First of all, the Bodice Rippers team came before the anthology. Tessa, Leigh, Courtney and I wanted to do something together, as friends, to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. Once we decided on the Avon Walk, we needed a way to raise money. Since we are all romance writers, and since we all admire one another’s work and have been critiquing together for years, a charity anthology seemed like a good way to raise money. I'm very proud of THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER, and I believe in each story. While the first three stories are historical romances, mine of course, is a contemporary romantic suspense. So readers should be prepared for murder and mayhem. A HEA is, however, guaranteed. All profits from THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER go to the Avon Breast Cancer fundraising walk. The anthology will only be available until the walk.

Stella: And on June 26th your first full length novel, First Do No Evil was released, congratulations! Can you tell readers what they can expect of this story? Any good teaser excerpt/scene you’d like to share (or just some titillating lines)?

Carey: Thanks, Stella! FIRST DO NO EVIL is a romantic thriller that centers around the development of a breast cancer vaccine. I was inspired, in part, by the development of the HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer. I couldn't help wondering what other cancer vaccines would come next, and how they would be received by the public. Here's the blurb for FIRST DO NO EVIL:

One killer is in her blood. The other is in her house.

There’s a killer lurking in Dr. Skylar Novak’s family tree: the gene for breast cancer. That's why her brilliant brother invented the Bella vaccine. But even if the miracle drug protects her from the cancer that took her mother's life, it can't save Sky from the flesh and bone evil stalking her in secret.

When the killer strikes, detective Daniel Benson finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. The bold detective manages to save Sky's life…just in time for her to return the favor. Survival leads to seduction, and Danny risks everything—his career, even his life, to keep Sky safe. But will the buried sins they uncover cost him her heart?

Danny’s strong arms may hold her close, but only Sky can stop the terror that's coming next…

Stella: Can you introduce to us the hero and heroine of First Do No Evil?

Carey:

Detective Daniel Benson:

Distinguishing marks: Devastatingly handsome. Cleft lip and palate- repaired. Killer smile.
Background and character: Widowed father. Decorated cop. Will (and does) take a bullet to save complete strangers.

Dr. Skylar Novak:

Distinguishing marks: Soaring blue eyes and skin that looks like she washed her face in a mountain stream. At least that's what Danny says…
Background and character: Family physician. Lost her mother to breast cancer and her father in a violent crime. Devotes herself to the nonprofit clinic she built from nothing. Doesn't eat much. Doesn't sleep much. Definitely doesn't flirt much…until she meets Danny. He has a most astonishing effect on her.

Stella: And if First Do No Evil was made into a movie and you could have your dream cast, who would play the leads (or any other secondary characters)?

Carey: Can Leigh LaValle play Sky? I used her as my physical prototype.

And Danny- I'd go with Hugh Jackman, though he's a little older than Danny, Yes, I'll overlook that. Let's go with Hugh.

Stella: The heroine of First Do No Evil, Dr. Skylar Novak is a doctor just like yourself, how much of your own experience did you incorporate in Skylar’s character?

Carey: My experiences as a physician came into play in writing an authentic version of her character. But I think Sky is more who I aspire to be than who I am. I gave her a lot of admirable traits I strive for in my own life. I'm no Sky Novak, but I'd like to be :-).

Stella: And we can’t not mention Daniel Benson, the delicious hero of First Do No Evil *sighs* Is there a line/scene you’d like to share to show readers what kind of hero Danny is?

Carey: I think I'll just tease a little here and tell you that if you wind up reading the book, check out the scene where Danny makes waffles. That says more about him than any other scene, in my view.

Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read First Do No Evil?

Carey: Danny. Danny. Danny. Did I mention Danny?

Stella: Can you tell us any behind the scenes secret related to First Do No Evil? (either to the writing process, or some tidbit about the characters that didn’t end up in the final version)

Carey: There was quite a lot waffling about when to reveal the villain. In the original version, he was revealed in the opening scene. I had input from some well-respected suspense authors, and of course, they each advised something different about when to reveal. That's because there really is no one right way to tell a story. In the end, I opted to allow the reader to wonder initially, and to focus on Danny and Sky. But I reveal the villain quickly because that person is a major character in the book, and you cannot get to know that person without the reveal. This is much more a suspense than a mystery. I think there are still plenty of plot puzzles to solve. Who done it takes a back seat to Why done it.

Stella: You are a romantic suspense author. Why did this subgenre appeal to you, what attracted you to this special combination of thrill and romance? And do you remember how you discovered it?

Carey: My two favorite genres are romance and thrillers. So one plus the other = what I write.

Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule? Will there be more books in these series? Or any new project you’d like to tell us about?

Carey: I do have a second book planned for this series, Blood Secrets. Right now book two is tentatively titled DUTY TO WARN. It features Aunt Faith from FIRST DO NO EVIL. She's moved to New Mexico now that Danny and Katie no longer need her (here's a secret- she's always been in love with her brother-in-law, Danny) and now she is focusing on making a new start. She's a wet-behind-the-ears, Yale-educated psychiatrist, and she's got her hands full with a serial killer patient.

Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?

Carey: I used to be afraid of hypodermic needles. I have a tendency to seek out situations I'm afraid of.

Carey Baldwin is a mild-mannered physician (still practicing full time ) who happens to write edgy romantic thrillers. What’s a nice girl like Carey doing writing scare-you-silly thrillers? When you’re a former clinical psychologist, writing about psychopaths comes naturally, and when you’re a hopeless romantic…, well, you do the math!

Carey’s debut novel, FIRST DO NO EVIL, releases June 26th, 2012 from Samhain Publishing.



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Carey has generously offered a fantastic prize for one lucky commenter:

 

an ebook copy of Three Weddings and a Murder,
an ebook copy of First Do No Evil
and a $25 USD gift card to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon!

All you need to do is leave a comment regarding the interview or answering Carey's question: Danny is an extremely handsome man with a repaired cleft lip. How do you feel about romance heroes who have physical flaws? Are there any specific characteristics, physical or emotional, that turn you on or off to a hero?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 13 July 2012!

Good luck!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Guest post by Jaye Frances + Giveaway

My guest today will take us all on a memorable (even if just virtual) cruise thanks to her new novel The Cruise – All That Glitters, which is a funny romantic comedy/chick lit. So please welcome Jaye Frances and take your life vests and sunglasses, we'll be on our way!


Thank you, Stella, for hosting me today on Ex Libris with my new adult romantic comedy, The Cruise – All That Glitters. I really appreciate the opportunity to give your readers a sneak peek.

The World According To Dean

Lust at first sight. Admittedly, not the preferred foundation upon which to build a strong, lasting relationship—unless you’re Dean, a cocky, self-assured single guy in search of a romantic encounter with the perfect woman.

Driven more by his carnal urges than rational perspective, Dean heads to the high seas, hoping to find a bevy of beautiful and receptive females. But his fantasies are turned upside down by two very different women, both of whom make him reconsider his irreverent and unconventional assessment of life in the raw lane.

The Cruise-All That Glitters is a humorous romp down the admittedly bumpy road of adult romance. So fair warning to the naïve, overly-sensitive, or easily offended reader: My man, Dean, is a piece of work, and confidently takes broad liberties—and no prisoners—in defining the world as he sees it.

In the following excerpt, Dean has spent a full day on board the ship, and his fruitless search for a boatload of sexy, responsive women has left him frustrated. With the ship approaching its first island destination, he heads to the tour desk to explore his options while in port. When he catches sight of the woman of his dreams, he can hardly contain his excitement—or his hormones.

Here’s an excerpt:

I decided to check out the shore excursions, to find out what options were available while we were docked in St. Thomas. At the very least, I could get recommendations for the best beaches and resorts. Certainly there would be hard-bodies on a Caribbean beach.

The tour office was a simple affair; a small counter where cruise personnel answered questions, sold excursion tickets, and processed reservation forms. About twenty people were standing in line, a few asking each other questions about which tour they liked best, and generally complaining about the cost.

I scanned the rack of flyers and pamphlets, looking for anything having to do with a beach. I quickly decided this was going to take some serious study. While many tours offered a beach stop, it came only after hours of bussed sightseeing with detours for shopping. With information in hand, I decided to return to the dining room and review my options over a pot of coffee and a Danish.

I headed for the elevator. And then, in a way so simple and random, and perhaps for no other reason than because fate makes it so . . .

I saw her.

She looked mid-twenties, yet radiated that rare kind of flawless beauty that transcended age. Her angelic features were framed by sparkling sun-blonde hair flowing soft and silky across bare sun-kissed shoulders. Her white, backless sundress hugged the curve of her waist without fold or wrinkle. And a couple of inches below her bottom, the thigh-high hemline revealed shapely, muscular legs, their deep tan contrasting against the light fabric in such a way that questioned her need for clothing at all. She was surely the creation of some godly sculptor, who had no doubt brought her to life as a full-grown woman, ready and willing to delight in everything sensual.

She was earthy. Sexy. Perfect.

I realized I was staring. Had anyone seen me? I quickly looked right, then left. I was safe. In fact, most of the passengers were looking at her. Even some of the women seemed awestruck, marveling at such rare genetic handiwork.

She was reading one of the tour brochures. I had to get closer. The small cappuccino counter on my right would cut the distance in half. I took my place in line, as if waiting to order. Although she was still ten feet away, I had the strange sensation I could actually feel her—her sexual vibrations so strong, she was surely activating seismographic chart recorders on nearby islands.

She glanced up and looked directly at me. Her bangs fell softly forward to touch dusty blue eyes as a smile gently parted her lips. I felt blessed—like waking up after some great catastrophe and finding I had survived, whole and healthy. I started to return her smile, but her attention was already back on the pamphlet.

If it was going to look spontaneous, it had to be done now. I turned, as if changing my mind about the coffee and began walking directly toward her.

Halfway there. She could look up at any time.

Just a few more feet. Get ready to say something.

I can almost touch her. Say it or keep moving. Say something now.

“Have you decided which shore excursion to take?” My voice sounded hollow, impersonal, as if I were a crewmember making obligatory chitchat.

She offered a quick, compulsory smile. Her curious eyes scanned my face, reaching deep, as if deciding whether or not to answer. “I’m not sure,” she said finally, a tiny flash of pink tongue peeking from between brilliant white teeth. “Do you have any suggestions?”

We were talking.

“Well, most people enjoy the sailboat trip and the rafting excursion.”

She nodded thoughtfully. “Have you been on either one?”

Careful. Don’t be pushy. Don’t say anything that will give her the impression you’re trying to hit on her. “Yes, I was down here last year and took the rafting trip.”

“Did you like it?” She leaned toward me. She smelled like my second grade teacher—the first woman I had ever loved.

“It was pretty boring. There really wasn’t much to see.” I’d never seen a raft, much less ever been on one.

Just below the fall of her thick satiny hair, tiny straps crossed light and easy over her shoulders, revealing the absence of a bra.

“Oh, so you recommend the sailing?”

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be really great. Relaxing.” I reached out, offering to support one side of her brochure.

Our arms touched. The contact tightened my chest, and I fought the urge to gasp for air.

“I suppose I could stand a little relaxation,” she said. “But I’ve also heard some of these tours can be a lot of hassle, with late starts and lots of waiting. We only have seven hours in port, and I don’t want to waste a single minute.”

Her nails glistened from a coat of clear polish, setting off the smooth sheen of tiny, nearly invisible blond hairs just above her wrist. I wanted to slide my arm around her and pull her close. I wanted to trace her face with my fingers. The thought of tasting her mouth left me feverish.



It’s love on the high seas for Dean, a thirty-something bachelor taking his first cruise, hoping for a shipboard romance. On the prowl for the elusive hard-body, he quickly becomes disillusioned, wondering if his expectation of a boatload of beautiful sea nymphs is something found only in travel brochures.

Until he meets Angel.

She is the girl of his dreams, brought to life as a bewitching goddess, ready to engage in every sensual delight. Quickly lured into submission by Angel’s seductive charms, Dean is ready to surrender his heart and soul to this provocative beauty.

Until he meets Marcie . . .


Jaye Frances is the author of the paranormal-occult romance novel The Kure, the first book in The Kure series, and The Possibilities of Amy, a coming-of-age story of high school romance. Her upcoming work, scheduled for a Summer 2012 release, is titled The Beach, a sci-fi fantasy about a man who is given the opportunity to receive his ultimate wish and lives to regret it. She is also a featured columnist for the NUSA SUN magazine. Born in the Midwest, Jaye readily admits that her life’s destination has been the result of an open mind and a curiosity about all things irreverent. When she’s not consumed by her writing, Jaye enjoys cooking, traveling to all places tropical and “beachy” and taking pictures—lots of pictures—many of which find their way to her website. Jaye lives on the central gulf coast of Florida, sharing her home with one husband, six computers, four cameras, and several hundred pairs of shoes.

For more information, visit Jaye at her website, blog, Facebook and Goodreads.


The Cruise – All That Glitters is available nowin kindle eBook from Amazon for only 99 Cents!

(You can also download the book to your cloud reader, computer, Smartphone, and tablet with one of Amazon’s free reading apps.)


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Jaye is giving away a Kindle copy of The Cruise-All That Glitters to a lucky reader!


And how you can enter? There are several ways: just do one or as many as you like and leave a comment saying what you did.

- tweet about the giveaway (use the Tweet buttons)
- share on Facebook (use the share buttons)
- Like Jaye's Facebook page here
- add the book to your Goodreads to-read list here
- like the book on Amazon here

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 13 July 2012!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Guest post: Independent heroines and how to keep them accessible by Elyse Mady + Giveaway


Today I am happy to welcome back to Ex Libris Elyse Mady who is here to celebrate the release of her latest novel The White Swan Affair, a historical romance not like any other! Elyse stops by to tell us more about Hester the heroine of The White Swan Affair and share with us what in her opinion makes a heroine independent and interesting. Please give her a warm welcome and don't forget to enter the giveaway, you could win one of Elyse's novels!  


Independent heroines and how to keep them accessible
by Elyse Mady

I read and write historical romance to escape. To explore worlds that have disappeared and visit societies that no longer exist.

But that means being presented with a real conundrum when it comes to the heroines in historic settings. Reality is that the expectations and behaviours that were acceptable two hundred years ago would be very difficult for many of us to accept today. (Don’t believe me? Check out this post I wrote about ‘proper’ Regency manners and see how many you could achieve. I flunked! )

Balancing the behaviours and mores of the past with the expectations of the present is especially important when talking about the heroine because that’s who the reader usually connects with first. Too wishy washy and you risk alienating the reader. Doormats don’t make for great characters. Too gung-ho and stay-burning though and you risk distracting from the historical setting. That might work in a time-travel novel, where the disjunction is purposeful, but in a Regency setting, it’s jarring.

So here are three things that I do to write strong, independent heroines in my novels.

Strength of Purpose

It’s not enough that a heroine be emotionally strong but I think for readers to connect, the heroine has to have a goal we can connect with. Hester Aspinall’s goal in “The White Swan Affair” is to free her brother, Robert, who is facing the death penalty because he has been charged with sodomy.

That threat motivates Hester. She’s lost her family; her brother is her only remaining member. She braves a crowd of rioting Londoners to preserve the family; she choses to accept Thomas Ramsay’s utterly unorthodox offer of help, even though it will mean her ruin, because it means she will be better able to help her brother. Her purpose is crystal clear

When I’m writing a character, I always ask myself ‘Why’? Why is a character acting this way? If it’s just to meet a good looking duke, then ho-hum. That’s a very superficial reason. But if the character’s purpose or goal is clearly motivated and worthy, then I think it inherently increases the interest and makes a situation that will naturally draw the reader to the heroine because they become invested in the outcome.

Robert’s hands were clenched. Even in the dim light, Hester could make out the whitened knuckles, stark and taut.

Without allowing herself to reconsider, she stripped off her gloves and took his tight fist between her palms. She stroked his skin, letting her fingers trace the back of his hand.

One fingertip traced a scar that meandered across his knuckles. It was fresh, still tender, and she wondered what misadventure had prompted the injury. She massaged his long fingers and ministered to the tender, pink skin beneath his iron manacles. These nimble fingers, that could transform cloth into works of art, that had always been so neat and kempt, now sported ragged fingernails, the dirty half-moons testifying to his life behind the thick stone walls of Newgate.

These were her brother’s hands. She had held these hands, touched them, seen them her entire life. Yet had she ever really looked at them?

These were the hands that had clutched her own childish one as they’d torn over the wild downlands. And when she’d cried, “Wait, Robbie, wait. You’re too fast!” these were the hands that had swept her onto her back and carried her, with boyish strength, across the fields, while she’d clutched at his neck and laughed with delight at her brother’s speed and daring.

These were the winter-chapped hands that bobbled countless hot conkers, snatched from glowing coals, peeling back the scorched skins before offering up the tender nutmeat. “Here, Hessie, a treat for you.” On how many nights had they sat thus, telling tales and laughing? Too many to count.

These were the gloved hands that had led her through her first bourées and country dances. He’d coaxed and encouraged her, made her laugh when she’d stumbled or made a wrong turning. He’d been an apprentice then, and she’d never questioned his appearance but now she knew how much effort it must have taken for him to secure those free evenings.

These were her brother’s hands, and she knew them as she knew her own.

And soon, in a fortnight or so, these were the hands that would be clenched round the prisoner’s rail, awaiting the judge’s verdict. These were the hands that could very well clutch and claw at a hangman’s noose, for the crime he had committed was one that could not be forgiven or overlooked.

At least not by the courts.

“I will be there, Robert. At the trial. Every minute of it, I will be there.”

“I don’t want you there.”

“I know, and I love you for that. But I will be there all the same.”

Vulnerability

Life isn’t always easy and while the purpose of a romance is to offer a ‘happily ever after’ at the end, I always find the stories that balance the sweet and the painful more poignant. After all, very few of us get to live without suffering in real life. The difficult times serve to make the happiness that much more important.

Hester faces loss. Her parents. Her unborn child. Her standing in society when her brother, Robert is arrested. She is threatened by a mob angry at her brother’s ‘deviant’ behaviour. These things all combine to make the outcome less certain and her position more fraught.

Strength and vulnerability aren’t mutally exclusive, either. Hester has doubts, like we all do, about choices she’s made or not made. Experiences that she’s lived through and that have changed her. The point about having a character be vulnerable is not to make her weak or door-mattish but to offer a possibility for the hero to connect in a way that will go deeper than mere attraction. Attraction isn’t enough to create an authentic life long bond.

When she and Thomas finally succumb, not by disregarding those difficulties, but by overcoming and accepting them, it makes their love story that much more substantial.

The dispute had attracted a crowd of onlookers. There were jeers and muttered deprecations when Hester followed Stroud into the street. In her anger, she’d forgotten the state of her clothes but now she was mortifyingly conscious of them. She darted to and fro, trying to recover her brother’s stock but was rebuffed again and again.

She tried one last time to persuade Stroud to reconsider. “Please, sir,” she begged, heedless of what it might cost her, thinking only of the need to preserve the means of her brother’s release. “You will condemn him to prison, with no means of support, if you take these things. You will condemn me to a life without a livelihood. Please, I am begging you, sir.”

Her pride decimated, she pleaded without shame. The catcalls escalated but she closed her ears to their insults. All of her energies were for the man before her, who held her small family’s future in his hands. “If you have any mercy in you, if you have the slightest spark of human goodness in you, please do not do this.”

Stroud shook off her hand with an irritated gesture. “We are done here,” he announced. “You and your brother deserve every punishment that will be meted out to you, in this world and the next. I take no leave of you. You do not deserve any such notice.” He stalked towards the heavy cart, giving curt directions to the driver. Around her, the crowd grew noisier and she heard their slurs.

Jezebel.

Whore.

Molly’s piece.

There were no friendly faces. She took a slow step back and then another, her arms wide in supplication. A clod of dried dung hit her shoulder, shattering on impact. Another missile—a turnip?—narrowly missed her head.

She reached behind her, groping for the comfort and reassurance of Jeremy’s arm, but she felt nothing. She turned in a panic and saw that the young apprentice had fled. Why had he left her now? She wanted to cry out. Fear, real and black, churned her gut. She was all alone. There was no one to help her.

Sense of Self

If your character doesn’t know who she is, how will the reader? I wanted to make Hester’s back story more complex than the standard Regency heroine. She’s not a virgin. She and her late fiancé were intimate, once, shortly before his death and it results in a pregnancy. She lost the baby and ever since, has reined herself in, unwilling to risk herself again. But that doesn’t mean Hester doesn’t know who she is. She is presented with the opportunity to ‘sell out’ her brother several times. It would make her life easier, certainly.

But she doesn’t. And even when she’s with Thomas, she doesn’t simply abandon her viewpoint. He’s rich. He could keep her in ease. But she doesn’t take the easy path there, either. Because at her core, she has a certain set of values that can’t be chipped away. I think that this sense of self if perhaps the most important aspect of a character. This is what distinguishes the fictional creations that live and breath from those that just lie on the page. The heroine needs a sense of self that is as full and as robust as the author who is writing her has. They’re not carbon copies, obviously, but that authenticity will resonate and help inform so much of the story’s narrative.

In the ordinary course of things, Hester would never have found herself contemplating engaging in a relationship of the most irregular nature.

But nothing in her life was ordinary anymore.

She could continue as she had, circumscribed, dissatisfied and proper. Doomed to never taste Thomas’s kisses again. Certainly, it was the safest course and one that would shield her from a goodly degree of censure.

Or she could forge a different path.

Today, waiting in Newgate for her brother to appear, she had realized something vital about herself.

She could live without many things but she could no longer live without passion. And it was passion that Thomas offered her. In her shame and her grief, she had cut herself off from so much of her own nature. Worst of all, she had almost convinced herself that it was enough.

It was not enough.

She wanted more.

But more importantly, she deserved more. She had asked her brother to trust her to make the right choices for him but she had not extended that same trust to herself. She and she alone was the person who could decide her fate. Happiness was entirely a matter of chance. She had to make a decision for herself in this matter. No one else’s could count.

Thanks so much for having me to visit today! I hope you enjoyed my examples on what makes a great independent heroine. What makes for a memorable heroine in your view? Have you read any books that have a particularly memorable lead?


Elyse Mady is the author of historical romances “The White Swan Affair” and “The Debutante’s Dilemma” and two contemporary romances (“Something So Right” and “Learning Curves”) with Carina Press. Upcoming books include the Regency novella “The Debutante’s Desire”. She blogs at http://www.elysemady.com/. You can also find her on Twitter at @elysemady, Facebook and Goodreads.

In addition to her writing commitments, Elyse also teaches film and literature at a local college. With her excellent writerly imagination, she one day dreams of topping the NY Times Bestseller’s List and reclaiming her pre-kid body without the bother of either sit-ups or the denunciation of ice-cream.

The White Swan Affair by Elyse Mady

London, 1810

After the tragic death of her beloved, Hester Aspinall vowed never to be ruled by her passions again. Still, she is drawn to her landlord, handsome adventurer Thomas Ramsay–but she doesn’t fool herself that a man of his station would look twice at a poor tailor’s sister.

With the sea for a mistress, Thomas has no intention of entering into matrimony. And yet, he can’t get the plain-spoken and desirable Hester out of his mind, even though she’s never tried to secure his attentions as other women do.

Everything changes the night Hester’s brother is arrested during a raid on a gay brothel, the infamous White Swan. With no one else to turn to, and terrified Robert will hang for his crime, Hester accepts Thomas’s offer to bear the cost of the defense. A true gentleman, Thomas expects nothing in return–but Hester is no longer able to deny her own desires…

She may offer her body eagerly, but can she protect her heart?



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Elyse has generously offered an ebook copy of Something So Right, Learning CurvesThe Debutante’s Dilemma or The White Swan Affair winner's choice to a lucky commenter!


All you need to do is complete the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 2 July 2012!


For more chances to win follow Elyse on her tour:

Monday, June 18th – Peace, Love, Books
Tuesday, June 19th – Endlessly Bookish
Wednesday, June 20th – Unwrapping Romance
Thursday, June 21st – I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Friday, June 22nd – Romance Book Junkies

Monday, June 25th – Librarian Mouse
Tuesday, June 26th – Sweeping Me
Wednesday, June 27th – Ex Libris
Thursday, June 28th – Books Are Magic
Friday, June 29th – Romancing The Darkside

Monday, July 2nd – That’s Swell!
Tuesday, July 3rd – My Reading Room
Wednesday, July 4th – Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Thursday, July 5th – A Bookish Libraria
Friday, July 6th – Books and Things

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Guest post: Sci-Fi Action by Lilly Cain + Giveaway

Today marks Lilly Cain's last stop to Ex Libris in her blog tour through space and galaxies as Lilly celebrates the release of the 3rd instalment of her Confederacy Treaty seriesUndercover Alliance was released yesterday by Carina Press! So before you go off to grab a copy, read on to discover another tidbit about the series (and if you missed Lilly's previous posts you will find them here and here).


Sci-Fi Action
by Lilly Cain

Thanks for having me back again, Stella! Yesterday, my third book in my The Confederation Treaty series from Carina Press, Undercover Alliance, released in ebook format and as an audiobook.

I write erotic sci-fi romance. Sometimes I deal with exotic locations, sometimes with strange mental powers and unusual cultural differences, sometimes with high level technology. In Undercover Alliance, where the heroine is a warrior on her way out from active duty and the hero, her last protective assignment is actually an undercover spy, I felt the need for action, and there is a lot of it, not all of which happens in bed, LOL! Check out the opening scene:

“You’ve got company,” Davis’s tense voice called through the comm unit.

“No shit.” Starforce Special Agent John Norton glanced down at the hull of the ship. The metal still glowed red where it had been struck by laser fire only a few feet away from his position.

John tracked the small fighter skimming close to the long hull of the Starship Osprey. Its dark metal body nearly matched the blackness of space. It was coming back for another shot. Twisting, John fired his hand laser. It sheared through the vacuum of space and pierced the edge of the attacker’s hull. Dodging return fire, he leaped for the communication array pod at the far end of the ship and hoped like hell his aim was good and his magnetic boots would clamp, or he’d be hurtling into space like garbage. Since no one was going to admit he was even on board, there was no chance of rescue. His heart pounded, his breath rasping loudly inside the confines of his polarized helmet. He turned and fired again. This time the laser hit a crucial spot, and the small craft peeled off from its attack course.

John released the laser, allowing it to dangle from his wrist strap, and gripped the ship as his boots hit and clamped tight to the edge of the array. Leaning into the small amount of shelter provided by the communication pod, he scanned above him. Only one sleek, little fighter had gone for him, its design confirming what he’d already been told. There was more to the terrorist group Terran Purity than a ragtag group of human racists. The fighter was too sophisticated to be of Earth origin. The Osprey hadn’t picked it up, or Davis would have caught that on the online chatter. That meant the attacker had some serious shielding. The terrorist shouldn’t have detected John either—a single moving figure on the exterior of the massive human Starship Osprey, his suit designed to deflect not only the coldness of space but any heat or ultrasonic detection. At least, that was the plan.

Quickly he flipped open the closest access panel and toggled the manual relay on the communications pod. Two more minutes and he would have the fourth and final bug in place. Not that he could rely on the listening devices any longer. No one in Starforce should have known he was here, let alone the Purity assholes. Someone could be aware of the surveillance equipment he was planting as well. Any information he got from them would be suspect at best. He pulled the bug from his forearm pocket and pressed it against the console. He felt it dissolve into the circuitry through the pressure-sensitive fingerpads on his suit and suppressed a shudder. It never failed to revolt him the way the damn bugs could work their way through anything electronic, and he vowed again to refuse the microcircuit brain implants the brass had been pushing on all upper-level agents.

And the intro to my heroine, alien Inarrii warrior, Sarina Tariim.

Soryen Sarina Tariim slammed a fist into the oral port of her charging attacker. The lean alien went down in a graceless collapse, only to be replaced by another, and another. They swarmed her, their stinking, slimy skin repulsive as they tried to push her to the soggy ground and rip her limb from limb. She grabbed one creature’s arm and slammed him into the next, kicking a third in its midsection. Still more of them darted toward her. All they had to do was pull her breather from her face and she’d be dead in minutes. Around her other Inarrii fought hand to hand against the Archat swarm. Lasers were useless and actually dangerous to fire in the methane-rich atmosphere of this world.

She’d lost her first set of dash’tet knives and now reached for her second, grabbing for the hilts strapped to her calves. The movement cost her; two more Archat were on her in seconds but she rolled with their attack, using their momentum to skewer them through on her long dash’tet.

A long hooting howl sounded as she pulled her knives from their bodies. The unprovoked attack on the Inarrii scout party was now a retreat. Inarrii all around her raised their voices in a ragged cheer, and she laughed aloud.

Too soon, the feeling of exhilaration melted away. Her grin faded. This was useless. There was no real victory. She didn’t know the Inarrii warrior who had battled only a few feet away. He wasn’t her teammate and this wasn’t real. With a decisive slash of her dash’tet, still dripping with alien gore, she shut down the battle simulator and stepped out of the holo unit. Her battle gear faded as she exited, but the bruising she’d received inside the simulation remained painfully real.

There are laser gun fights, space walks, starship battles. I had a lot of fun writing this, sort of imagining a James Bond in outer space (and not one of the old hinky James Bonds, LOL).

Do you enjoy action scenes? I’ve carefully balanced my action with emotion and, of course, since I am an erotic romance author, sexy love scenes. Do you think the action or the romance made 007 such an iconic figure? I think it was a combination of both.

I’m hosting a little giveaway, one lucky commenter will receive an invitation to review all the books in my ‘New Releases’ page on my website and chose any book they’d like to have in ebook format. Enjoy!

ps. Don’t choose Return to Me – it’s free this week on Amazon!

Lilly Cain


The Confederacy Treaty Series:

Undercover Alliance (released on June 25th)

Undercover Alliance by Lilly Cain

Book #3 in The Confederacy Treaty series

Sarina is scarred. Her L'inar, the curving nerve lines that enable Inarrii to experience their full sexuality, were severed in battle and she can no longer reach completion. Until she accepts a job as bodyguard to the human ambassador John Bennings, and is astonished to discover that they share a mental bond--a mirrored pathway of thoughts that will allow Sarina to climax.

When John's the target of an attack and they are forced into hiding, he's not sorry to be in close quarters with the compelling Sarina. They explore their erotic connection, and John is happy to demonstrate that humans have more sexual skills than Sarina thought.

To prove that she is whole and rejoin her Inarrii clan, Sarina needs John to bring her to climax in public in accordance with tradition. With a roomful of Inarrii and humans watching, will John be willing to perform as Sarina needs--and will their public display make John vulnerable to another attack?

The Confederacy Treaty Series:

Undercover Alliance (released on June 25th)


Lilly Cain is a wild woman with a deep throaty laugh, plunging necklines and a great lover of all things sensual - perfume, chocolate, silk! She never has to worry about finding a date or keeping a man in line. She keeps her blond hair long and curly, wears beautiful clothes and loves loud music. Lilly lives her private life in the pages of her books.

Lilly lives in Atlantic Canada, although she spent eight years in Bermuda, enjoying the heat and the pink sands. She returned to her homeland so she could see the changing of the seasons once again. When not writing she paints, swills coffee and vodka (but not together), and fights her writing pals for chocolate.

When not living up to her pen name, Lilly is a single mom who loves reading and writing, dabbling in art and loving and caring for her two daughters. She loves romance and the freedom erotic fantasy provides her imagination. She loves the chilling moments in her novels as much as the steaming hot interludes. Her stories are an escape and a release, and she hopes that they can give you that power, too.

You can reach her at her website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Lilly has generously offered an ebook copy of winner's choice of any of her books on her New Releases page  to a lucky commenter!


All you have to do is leave a comment answering Lilly's question: Do you enjoy action scenes? Do you think the action or the romance made 007 such an iconic figure?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 1 July 2012!

 

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