Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Guest post by Hailey Edwards + Giveaway


You might remember one of my big blogger revelations: when I read my very first fantasy novel, A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards and I loved it, so much that Hailey Edwards is my go-to author when it comes to fantasy. It is with great love, trust and certainty that I recommend her stories to you. Today Hailey is here, celebrating the release of A Time of Dying, the third book in her Araneae series, and here is your chance to win yourself a copy! :-)

Darken Your Fantasies 
by Hailey Edwards

Dark fantasy is an addiction for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love fantasy in all its flavors. But my favorite novels have got to be dark fantasy (with urban fantasy running a close second). What makes a fantasy dark? Well, if you’ve read any of the Araneae books, then you’ve noticed there are light horror elements. Wiki gives a good definition when it says:

“Dark fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy which can refer to literary, artistic and filmic works that combine fantasy with elements of horror.”

My favorite dark fantasy novels are the Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. My favorite film example of the genre is probably The Dark Crystal. If you give my Araneae Nation series a chance, and I hope you will, I think you’ll spot the darker undertones immediately. To get you started, here is an excerpt from A Time of Dying.

If you share your favorite novel or film, you’ll be entered for a chance to win your choice of title from my backlist in any digital format.
A Time of Dying by Hailey Edwards
Book # 3 in the Araneae Nation series

They just might survive…if they don’t kill each other first.

Once the future Segestriidae maven, Kaidi lived a privileged life. Now she spends her nights haunting cities ravaged by the plague. Spade in hand, she stalks rows of freshly dug graves for corpses…and then she takes their heads.

Her new life is caked in blood and spattered with gore, but it’s hers. At least until—to her fury—she’s caught napping.

A plague survivor by the skin of his teeth, Murdoch risks his neck to solve the mysteries left in its wake. Bodies have gone missing. Guards have left their posts and never returned home.

When he rouses a female dozing among the dead, he’s unprepared for the violence of her response. Or his. Beneath the grime, she’s lovely. Too bad the blood under her fingernails belongs to his clansmen.

He has no choice but to follow this alluring creature deeper into her world of winged beasts and flesh-eating monsters. She holds the knowledge he craves, but the price is high—and they may both pay for it with their lives.

Warning: This book contains one heroine in desperate need of a bath and one hero willing to wash away her sins. Expect threats, swears and general cursing. Love is a slippery slope, and these two are sliding.

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Samhain

EXCERPT:

Freckled skin gave beneath my spade as I angled its honed point at the hollow of some poor female’s throat. Milky eyes bored into mine when I braced my foot on the spade’s tread, shifting my weight, bearing down until the blade sliced through her slender neck, tearing flesh and crunching bone. Her lips parted on a gasp, or perhaps I imagined that flicker of awareness before I snuffed her final remnants. Gods knew I hoped it was only guilt picking at scabs on my weary conscious.

The death of even one innocent would break me, if any scrap of the old Kaidi remained.

Tossing the spade aside, I wiped sweat from my brow and bent to check her pockets, finding them as empty as my own. No coin meant going another day without food. Not that I had much of an appetite after this, but I couldn’t live on stale water for much longer. Soon I would need a hot meal and a safe place to rest, if one still existed.

Gaze skimming the grassy field littered with the corpses of plague victims, I had my doubts.

Exhaustion bore me to my knees. I was too tired to wince when one knee cracked on a loose stone. My chin hit my chest, and my eyes shut. The pulse of pain, of hunger, of regret, lulled me.

One minute lapsed, then two. Any moment I would rise. Any time now…

The press of cold metal against my throat shocked me awake.

“I’ll have your name, female.” The booming masculine voice made my head throb.

“I hope not.” I ignored the blade and rubbed my eyes clear. “It would sound silly on a male.”

More pressure made breathing without cutting my neck difficult. “Tell me your name.”

I rolled around a few choices before saying, “Imani.”

His grunt called me on my lie. Interesting. Usually they couldn’t tell.

He nudged me with his boot. “What’s your purpose here?”

I shrugged. “The same as my purpose elsewhere, I imagine.”

Grasping my upper arm, he hauled me onto my feet and spun me to face him. I stifled a gasp when I met the pitch-black eyes informing me that I had run afoul of a Mimetidae warrior. I had tracked the plague to Cathis, the Mimetidae’s clan home, but had I been in my right mind, a state I barely recalled these days, I would have avoided their borders and continued on to the next city.

Contrary to my actions these past few months, I did not have a death wish.

Thinly leashed anger radiated through his tightened fingers. “You play a dangerous game.”

“You have no idea,” I murmured, while measuring the distance from here to the forest.

His gaze trailed after mine. “You won’t make it.”

“So you say.” I struggled until he released me, then I hit the ground like a sack of stones.

“If you can’t stand, then you can’t run.” He sheathed his weapon, turning to appraise my long night’s work by the dawn’s soft glow. “Care to explain this?” He gestured toward the head-less corpse. “Or those?”

I forced myself to count victims—sixteen females and one male for good measure.

My laugh was rusty. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

His brow creased. “Try me.”

I fisted a palm’s worth of loose dirt. “Well, it’s like this…”

When he folded his arms over his chest, away from that lovely sword of his, and inclined his head, waiting, I exhaled hard and prayed the gods gave my feet wings. His frown cut deeper, lips parting on his next demand, when I gathered my nerve and flung the contents of my hand at him.

“What in the gods’ names—” He staggered back, blinking in surprise.

Shoving to my feet, I bolted past him, snagged my spade and ran for the safety of the trees. His bellow of rage made my heart race and chest tighten. Those were not the sounds of a happy male. No, they were the sounds of a male preparing to rend a female in two, if he could catch her.

Scenery blurred as I ran harder, faster, until my foot rung a hole and I tumbled onto all fours. I was halfway to standing when the male burst into the small clearing, head lifted, nostrils flared.

“Move,” he warned, “and we’ll see if your head comes off as easy as theirs did.”

Turning my head slowly, I noticed his arms were out, but his sword remained tethered at his hip as if he didn’t want to harm me. Pity. Once I might have appreciated his misguided chivalry. Now I saw it for the weakness it was. I was female, but I was not soft. Not my heart, and not my arms. They were lean and muscled from digging up graves, as firm and cold as the ground where I had buried my mother, my sisters and cousins, all the members of my family but one, my uncle.

I did this for them, as practice for the day we met again and I added their names to my tally.

Can’t kill what’s already dead, I reminded myself.

While my thoughts churned over each other, the male took a step, and I tightened my grip on the spade. Before he got near enough to lay his hands on me, I twisted on my side and swung my weapon. The flat side cracked against his jaw, popping his neck as his head twisted. In a daze, he faced me, eyes whirling. Staggering back, he smeared the blood welling from his smashed cheek.

Scrambling out of his reach, I clawed my way upright, and a heartbeat later I was running. I barely dared to hope I might escape him unscathed when an impact knocked me against a tree. Ears ringing, I clamped my head between my hands and focused on not vomiting as the world lurched beneath me. A second hit from behind sent me tumbling onto the ground and burst my lip.

I wheezed when my attacker collapsed across my back, crushing the air from my lungs.

“I can’t…breathe.” My sight tunneled, turning hazy around the edges.

His low growl rumbled against my spine. “That makes two of us.”

Strong hands grasped my shoulders and flipped me onto my back. Before I brought my knee up to greet his tender parts, the male straddled my legs and sat on my shins, pinning me in place. His fingers dug into my collarbones, and the twist of his lips told me that if he had another set of hands, my wrists would be shackled too. Luckily for me, he didn’t, and I knew what I had to do.

I brought the spade up, but seconds from contact, he noticed. Wrenching the handle from my grasp, he flung it so far I lost sight of it. He lowered his head until his blood dripped on my chin. His breath was hot and hissed between his teeth. His expression sent fear shivering up my spine.

I swallowed hard. “Please—”

His palm sealed the plea in my mouth. “Save your lies for those who might believe them.”

Trapped beneath a snarling male who stood a head taller than me, three times wider than me, I had no choice but to obey. He was battered, his judgment clouded, and I knew I would outlast him.

“Those eyes—that hair—” His gaze narrowed on my left ear. “You’re Segestriidae.”

A name I could falsify. The golden hair and lavender eyes common to my clansmen, those I had no way to alter. Failing those telling signs, there was the clear quartz crystal suspended from my earlobe by a golden strand of Araneidae silk. The expense of that silk confirmed my identity. If their nigh-unbreakable silk made the Araneidae the wealthiest clan in the Araneae Nation, then the craftsmanship of mine made us almost equals in worth. Our skill with crystals was unrivaled.

To possess the appearance of the Segestriidae and indicators of my status was foolhardy.

Vanity kept me clinging to one while desperation made me reliant on the other. At least I had the good sense to travel with the matching necklace concealed. Bad enough to be a lone fe-male on the road. That earned me unwanted attention. But if my fellow rogues had coveted the earring, they would have gutted me for the pendant.

Behind my captor’s eyes, I imagined his mind at work puzzling out my identity. My clothes were heavy and meant for travel, dyed soot black because I hunted my prey after the sun had set.

Briefly, I wished for his midnight hair and eyes. How well he must complement the night.

After a moment’s hesitation, he wiped the blood from my mouth with a cloth pulled from his pocket. When he finished, he inhaled my scent, and dread tightened my stomach. The Mimetidae were trackers, the lot of them. What I had given him was a means of locating me should I escape.

While tucking away his prize, his gaze never left mine. “Why are you on Mimetidae land?”

I mumbled against his hand, and he removed it. “Let me go.”

His eyes crossed. “I asked you a question.”

“Why bother answering when we both know I won’t tell you the truth?”

“I suspected as much, but as you’re female, I thought to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

“Well,” I countered, “as you’re male, I thought honesty and small words were prudent.”

A tic started beneath his right eye. “You’re insulting me.”

The seriousness of his expression made me laugh. “You’re a quick one, you are. Did you enjoy the chase?” I winked at him. “Set me on my feet and we can have another go.”

“I prefer you just as you are…” he shifted his hips, “…flat on your back.”

His words dried the spit from my mouth. All the ways this encounter could end poorly—for me—spun wild through my head. Though the guard’s heavy thighs pinned mine together, he was not aroused. That realization somewhat eased my mind. Now if he would only stay uninterested.

When he slid his hands down my body, then up my waist and over my breasts, I launched my fist at his bloodied jaw, but he swatted aside my arm.

“Calm yourself.” He went still, his face earnest. “I would never harm a female in that way. I must search you for more weapons. Understand?”

I nodded as if I believed that was all he was after.

“What’s this?” His patting had located my necklace. When he fished it from my shirt, his eyes widened. “I’ve never seen such a large crystal. The setting…” he turned it over in his hand, “…it’s solid gold.” He wasn’t asking. He didn’t have to. What would be the point of using such a remarkable stone but denying it an equally elegant setting? He breathed, “This must be worth a small fortune.”

His tone implied I must have stolen it. In fact, it had been a gift from my betrothed, a bauble as beautiful as it was lethal.

Qualities Hishima had once ascribed to me.

“It was a gift from my uncle.” I wasn’t stretching the truth too far. The earring had truly been a gift from Ghubari, a match to the impressive novelty my betrothed had given me. “Please let me keep it. Better yet, let me go.”

“If I did, where would you go?” He glanced up, then back at me. “What would you do? Find another field of bodies to desecrate? Loot more poor souls bound for the Above?” His expression mirrored his repulsed tone as he shoved the pendant back into my shirt. “Have you not a decent bone in your body that you violate the dead?”

“You don’t know me.” My morals had been abandoned for the sake of survival.

“I know enough.” He pushed to his feet and took me with him. “Come on. Let’s go. You can keep the necklace until my paladin says otherwise.”

My palms turned sweaty. “Where are you taking me?”

“Has it slipped your recollection that you’ve mutilated our dead? That offense is punishable by five years imprisonment, and assaulting one of the city’s guards has earned you another five.”

“They were dead.” At least they were as far as he knew. “What does it matter to them?”

“They have family that will come to pay their respects and find their loved ones hacked into pieces and the silver tokens placed upon their eyes pocketed by the female who did the cutting.”

Shame prickled my skin, but I held my head high while he dragged me toward the city. Near the bodies stood a second male, whose short blond hair was so filthy it almost matched his mud-brown eyes. His frame was heavy with muscle, his shoulders as wide as the ursus northlanders rode.

He paused in his deliberation and jerked his chin my way. “Did that little thing do all this?”

My captor rubbed his discolored jawline. “All that and more.”

The blond smirked. “You taking her to Vaughn?”

“No.” His grip on me tightened. “The paladin has weightier matters on his mind.”

Paladin Vaughn? No, that couldn’t be right. The maven here was his mother, Isolde. She had ruled the Mimetidae since the death of her husband, since before I was born. Unless the plague…

“That’s the truth of it.” The blond male scrubbed a meaty hand over his head.

“Finish up, then check the perimeter.” He tugged me closer. “Her kind rarely travels alone.”

He was right about that. Most future paladins, especially Hishima, refused to let their future wives leave their clan home unguarded. What would this male say if I presented my necklace as a token from my once-beloved as proof of what my kind was? How would he react once he real-ized that I was the future maven of the Segestriidae? His scowl made me believe that neither the scrap of parchment bearing Father’s crest nor Hishima’s letters tucked into my pocket would sway his determination to see me punished, so I studied my captor and our surroundings as the males wagged their tongues.

“Get on with you, then.” The blond knelt and resumed whatever task we had interrupted.

A hard tug on my arm sent me stumbling. “Are you trying to yank my arm from its socket?”

The brute loosened his grip a fraction. “Stop dragging your feet.”

Out of spite, I was tempted to dig in my heels and make him haul me every step into Cathis. But I wanted freedom more, so I hurried along while slipping a hand into my shirt to grasp the pendant. With a firm jerk, I broke the silken chain’s metal clasp then shoved my hand into my pocket. My fingernail slid along the topmost edge, where the stone met its metal setting. A push of my thumb broke the seal and left me holding the crystal sheath while the petite dagger it had concealed dropped into my pocket. Careful of the blade’s razor edges, I grasped the short hilt in my palm.

“What will you do with me?” Sad to say, I had some idea. “Will it involve seasoning salts?”

He glanced back, his eye twitching again. “We do not partake of the flesh of our prisoners.”

Hit a tender spot, had I? Perhaps I ought to jab harder to prod a reaction from him.

“Ah. Well, that’s a comfort. I had heard Mimetidae consumed the flesh of their enemies. I’m relieved you said even my kind is exempt from your kind’s indelicate predilections for eating—”

He whirled around so fast, I yelped in surprise. Grasping my shirt, he reeled me hard against him. “What else have you heard? That we find the screams of helpless females intoxicating? Or a favorite of mine—how we peel the skin from our victims, dry the meat in strips to savor it later?”

I blanched when our chests bumped and his head lowered. I had what I wanted—his reaction was whip-sharp and furious. Riling him proved he was as far removed from Segestriidae males I had known as the moon was from the sun. He was no gentle craftsman. He was fierce, a warrior.

My knees quaked, but I stood my ground. “I don’t believe everything I hear.”

“In this case…” his eyes glittered, eager for truth to burn my ears, “…perhaps you should.”

By the time a scornful retort had readied itself, he had given me his back. I let my gaze slide over him while I deliberated, the broad expanse of his muscled shoulders coaxing my eyes lower.

No time to be squeamish. While he was distracted, I had to strike. I had to break free of him.

Tightening my fist around the dagger’s hilt, I slipped it from my pocket. Its tip wavered as if it were a divining rod, angling toward his weak spots. I had never sunk a blade in a living person.

But since he had no intention of granting me freedom, I would seize it for myself.

Death awaited me in Cathis. If not in the teeth of his clansmen, then at the hands of mine.

Steeling my nerves, I brought my arm across my body. My wrist rested on my shoulder for a moment before I used all my strength to bury the blade deep in the tender meat above his left hip.

My captor howled, and I struggled to break his grip on one arm while twisting the knife with the other. When pain brought him to his knee, I shoved him, retrieving my dagger and toppling him to the dirt on his back.

Guilt and relief made me lightheaded as I pocketed the blade and sprinted for the forest. The fallen male’s furious shouts would set his friend on my trail for certain. I had to hurry. I had to—

Bones popped in my shoulder when a wall of muscle slammed me against a tree. Thick arms banded about my waist and cut off my air. Gasping, I squirmed and kicked, but the blond giant held tight. He lifted me, tucking me under his arm as if I were a bedroll. With my arms pinned, I threw my leg to trip him. He caught that too and swung me high on his hip as he would a child.

Blood heated my cheeks when he smirked at me. “Nice try, but I’m one tree you won’t fell.” To prove his point, he trapped both my ankles at his hip with one hand while the other supported me by crushing me so tight against his side his lungs might have been supplying the air for mine.

“Shouldn’t you see to your friend?” I twisted my head, the only part of me I could move, but I saw no sign of the male I had stabbed. The field was littered with bodies, but none of them his.

“Murdoch?” The behemoth grinned. “He’s not my friend.” He chuckled at something behind me, and I dreaded what lurked past my shoulder. “Female, I don’t think he’s your friend, either.”

“I’ll take her from here, Lleu,” a familiar voice grated near my ear.

“You sure?” The giant squeezed until I gasped. “Shouldn’t you get sewn up first?”

“I’m sure.” Murdoch wrenched my arms behind my back. “Do you have your hawser?”

A tense pause stretched between them. “Always.”

Murdoch held out his hand. “May I use it to secure the prisoner?”

“Use this instead.” The blond tossed him a length of black thread that made Murdoch frown.

He ran the thick, knobby silk rope through his fingers. “You’re a male of many talents.”

His friend waggled his eyebrows at me. “So the females tell me.”

After binding my wrists, Murdoch smoothed his thumb over the stump of my missing ring finger. I cringed when he touched it. The first two joints were missing, and his caress of what remained felt too intimate somehow. I was grateful he showed me the small mercy of not asking about it, but resumed his task. He pried my legs from Lleu’s grip and crossed my ankles to hob-ble me before he knotted the rope. Lleu was all that held me upright while Murdoch searched me. This time his efforts produced the bloody dagger and its crystal sheath, which he kept.

Assured I was unarmed, he slung me over his shoulder. My face hit a wet spot on his lower back, and I recoiled from the blood turning his worn shirt brown. The wound splashed crimson over his tan skin, and the stain kept growing.

He must be in terrible pain. I wasn’t being wholly facetious when I offered, “I can walk.”

“Very fast,” he said, “and in the opposite direction of where I want you to go.”

Huffing hair from my eyes, I glared at his arse, figuring it was the same as arguing to his face. “Release me.” When he grunted, I promised, “I’m more trouble than I’m worth, Murdoch.”

His shoulders tensed at my use of his name, but he continued on without comment.

“You will regret this.” We both would if Hishima got word. “Put me down, please.”

“There.” He winced when he set me on my feet. “You’re down.” He reached into his pocket and produced the cloth he’d wiped my face with earlier. “Open your mouth.” He waited. “Now.”

My eyes rounded. “You can’t be—”

He crammed the cloth into my mouth too fast for me to even bite him. After hefting me over his shoulder again, this effort costing him a muttered oath, Murdoch lumbered on toward Cathis.

Chortling sounds made me lift my head. Lleu sauntered past me, a grin splitting his face. He tipped his head when our eyes met. I narrowed mine, which appeared to amuse him all the more.

Let him smile.

If Hishima found me at long last, his retribution would be no laughing matter.

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Samhain

Born in the Deep South, Hailey is a lifelong resident of Alabama. Her husband works for the local sheriff’s department and her daughter is counting down the days until she’s old enough to audition for American Idol. Her doxie, Black Ilex, helps Hailey write by snoozing in his recliner in her office.

Her desire to explore without leaving the comforts of home fueled her love of reading and writing. Whenever the itch for adventure strikes, Hailey can be found with her nose glued to her Kindle’s screen or squinting at her monitor as she writes her next happily-ever-after.

You can find out more about Hailey and her books at her website / blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Hailey is gifting a digital copy of A Time of Dying to a lucky commenter!


To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and tell us in a comment about your favorite novel or film.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide, ends on 4 August 2013 and the winner will be notified via email by Lit Connect.

For more chances to win, follow the blog tour HERE.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Cover reveal: Yours, for Now by Siren Allen


The question: "Would you like to try BDSM with me?"

Elizabeth Kemp never thought she'd ask friend and colleague, Preston Lancaster to be her submissive. Even more surprising, he agrees – on one condition: she has to return the favor. Her two weeks as his Domme end with a dramatic climax she wasn't prepared for – she's hopelessly in love and terrified he'll break her heart.

Dr. Preston Lancaster has been in love with Elizabeth since the day they met. His two weeks with her are more than he ever imagined, but when the tables are turned, she refuses to make good on her promise to reciprocate. Preston isn't giving up without a fight, but he's not fighting for two weeks of dominance anymore. He's fighting for forever.

Can Preston convince Elizabeth that her heart is safe with him – or will two weeks be all he has?

Release Date: 23 September 2013

About the Author

Hi, my name is Siren Allen. I’m a writer and lover of all things erotic and romantic. I reside in southern Mississippi where I write steamy romances that are guaranteed to make you blush. When I’m not listening to the characters in my head and jotting down their adventures, I am busy working as a Clinical Laboratory Technician.

I love to travel, preferably with my husband, so he can do all of the driving. I enjoy time with my family, who are just as silly as I am. I have no children…yet, wish me luck! My hobbies are reading, writing and shopping, though I hate trying on clothing. If I wasn’t a writer or a Laboratory Professional, I would probably be a Secret Agent. But that’s the beauty of being a writer; you can create your own world and be whoever you want to be. In my imaginary world, I am Queen and my siblings are my minions.

Connect with Siren Allen at her website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

It's Monday, What Are you Reading? (#118)


It's Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books to be finished this week.

Hey Everyone,

Last week was just as full of wine parties and outings with friends and the weeks before, so still haven't much caught up on sleep or reading ;-) But here is what I have read last week (while I was travelling on the bus, seriously this is why I love the commute):

Books I completed


Once I finally got around to read Protecting What's His by Tessa Bailey, I couldn't stop! So I read


His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey

Book #2 in Tessa Bailey's Line of Duty series and when I still craved more I continued with



Book #3! All three stories feature possessive, intense, hot, cop alpha heroes that will melt you with their dirty words mmm.... ;-) lol Anyway I caught up and now I can't wait to read more! So dear Tessa Bailey, when can we have our next fix? ;-)


Book I'm currently reading

Best of Three by Erin Nicholas

I LOVE Erin Nicholas' stories and her brand new Counting on Love series is delightful. Best of Three is the third book in the series and tells the story of Emma, the loudest and wildest of the Dixon sisters ;-p If you haven't read this series yet, pick up She's the One, the first book in the series, that I loved so much! Speaking of, maybe I'll just re-read it... ;-)


Book I can't wait to start

 Run to You by Charlotte Stein
Amazon

This book landed on my radar when I saw Mandi from SmexyBooks rave about how smexy it was, especially the very hot and intense HUNGARIAN hero! Having heard that, I knew I had to read it. I mean there are plenty of Italian, French and Greek heroes, but Hungarians not so much, so I'm curious! And can you believe I haven't read any Charlotte Stein novels yet?

And what are you reading this week?

Monday, 29 July 2013

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon 8.0 Starts Soon! Join the fun!


Bout of Books

In 2 weeks the 8th Bout of Books Read-a-Thon will start so if you haven't tried it yet read on and join the fun or if you are a seasoned BoB veteran mark your calendar and don't forget the big day!

You were going to read that week anyway, right? Read with us.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

- From the Bout of Books team

So ready steady, go!

Or at least soon, until the event starts think through what books you'd like to tackle from your TBR pile and what will be your Read-a-Thon goals (doesn't need to be anything daunting can be a simple: "Have fun and read at least 20 pages per day!").

I know I'll be at the starting line, will you? Hope to see you there!

Guest post by Karen Erickson + Giveaway

I love reading about passionate hot blooded Italian heroes and when that is combined with a boss-employee romance I'm a goner. So please join me in giving a warm welcome to the lovely Karen Erickson, who is celebrating the release of Tempted by Her Boss, the first book in her brand new The Renaldis series about how three very hot Italian brothers find love! In today's post Karen shares with us an exclusive, never before seen excerpt of Book #2, Kidnapping His Bride and by leaving a comment you could win yourself a copy of Tempted by Her Boss!


*Thank you Stella for having me as a guest on your blog today!*

I’m so excited to be writing my new series, The Renaldis. Linked to my Worth It series, these books are fun, glamorous stories set in exotic locations. With alpha heroes and the women who make these strong men fall madly in love with them.

The series kicked off with my free novella TEMPORARY ARRANGEMENT. Matteo and Paige’s story continues in my most recent release, the USA Today bestselling book (squee!) TEMPTED BY HER BOSS.

I’m excited to share with you an exclusive excerpt from TEMPTED BY HER BOSS with you today. I’m also super excited to share a never before seen excerpt from the second book in the series, KIDNAPPING HIS BRIDE, which comes out October 22nd!

Tempted by Her Boss by Karen Erickson

Business? Meet pleasure…

The Renaldis, Book #1

Paige Stewart has committed the ultimate nanny sin—she’s fallen in love with her boss. She adores Matteo Renaldi’s sweet, precocious son. Who wouldn’t? But it’s torture going about her day-to-day tasks, catching fleeting glimpses of the boy’s enigmatic father. Chastising herself for fantasizing she’s in the Renaldi master bed…

It’s ridiculous, pointless. After all, soon little Matty won’t need her anymore and she’ll move on.
Matteo has no interest in dating. He’s consumed by work, his son…and his son’s nanny. She’s everything he’s not: young, carefree, trusting, maybe a little naïve. She deserves better than an embittered widower. Yet when she accidentally falls into his arms, he can’t resist drawing her in for a kiss that quickly spirals out of control.

As they travel to his family’s home in Italy and slowly fall in love, the whispers start. And when one particularly ugly story blows up in their faces, their reputations might escape unscathed, but their hearts may not…


Tempted by Her Boss exclusive excerpt:

How he wished he could give it all to her. Everything she could ever want. She was young and vulnerable and a believer in fairytales and he absolutely was not.

At this very moment, he wished he were a believer. So he could give this beautiful, sweet woman everything she ever dreamed of.

“Come here,” he said gruffly, reaching for her so he could pull her into his arms. She sobbed against his chest, her tears dampening his shirt, and he let her cry. Running his hand over her silky-soft hair, breathing in her intoxicating scent, he remained silent, offering her comfort, wishing again he could give her more.

“You drive me crazy,” she mumbled against his chest. “I should hate you.”
“You should,” he agreed.

“I shouldn’t go with you.”

“No, that’s where you’re wrong, bella.” He slipped his finger beneath her chin and tilted her face up, staring into her beautiful, shining with tears eyes. “You absolutely should go with me.”

“Why?” she breathed, closing her eyes, as if she couldn’t look at him any longer.

“Open your eyes,” he commanded. She did so quickly, pleasing him at how easily she obeyed. “Because I want you, Paige. I want you there, at my side, with my son, with my family. Please.”

His chest ached. He shouldn’t have said that. His words would give her a false hope he had no business offering her. But it was all true. Having her with him in Italy, in the country of his birth, at his childhood home, perhaps something could happen.
Perhaps he could relax and let her in.

Completely.


Kidnapping His Bride by Karen Erickson

Catch her if you can…

The Renaldis, Book #2

Rafael Renaldi is a modern man with an old-fashioned secret—an arranged marriage. Though it was an informal agreement, made when they were children, Rafe has always been a little in love with the beautiful, passionate Catalina Campioni. And assumed that the single, searing kiss they shared years ago sealed the deal.

Marriage? Babies? Not now—not yet. After growing up witnessing her mother’s devastation over her father’s cheating, Cat has no intention of settling down anytime soon. She plans to live life to the fullest before marching down the aisle—and it definitely won’t be with womanizing, lethally charming Rafe.

When Rafe realizes his bride-to-be wants nothing to do with him, he does what a crazed man might do—he kidnaps her. But not to force her to the altar. She wants adventure? He’ll show her adventure, and show her life with him will never be dull.

But even as they fall in love, someone close is desperate to keep them apart and will do whatever it takes to ensure they won’t marry. Anyone. Ever…

Kidnapping His Bride excerpt (first time ANY excerpt from this book is shared!):

The dream felt enticingly real. Big hands rested on either side of her head, flattening her pillow, and she turned, felt the sting of her hair pulling against her scalp. He had her pinned, his fingers in her hair, his body pressing closer, closer…

Cat’s eyes flew open and saw the man—a very real man hovering above her in the darkness. She couldn’t make out his face, had no idea who it was and she parted her lips, her lungs seemingly frozen since no sound came out.

But she recognized the scent of him, the feel of him…

“Rafael?” Her voice squeaked, disbelief filling her and she struggled against him. “Wh—what are you doing?” she asked, her voice rising.

“Sshh.” He rested his finger against her lips, silencing her. “I don’t want to wake anyone in the house.”

Of course he didn’t. Talk about causing a scandal. “Why are you here?” she whispered fiercely.

Could she admit that it gave her a thrill, having him somehow sneak into her room, sitting with her on her bed? Yes, she’d split with him. Yes, she didn’t want to marry him.

But there was something extremely exciting about having a man in her bedroom in the dead of night. A man she’d imagined in her bed more than once.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you.” His voice was soft, his touch softer as he drifted his fingers through her hair.

“How did you get in?” Her bedroom was on the second story. Yes, she had her window open, but had he actually scaled the wall?

“I have my ways.” Her eyes had adjusted to the darkness and she could make out the flash of white teeth when he smiled. Her heart tripped over itself at first sight of his wicked grin, her breath stalling in her throat, and she swallowed hard.
His answer was proof enough that he’d done something so extremely reckless as scale the wall of her family’s home just so he could slip inside her room. Was he crazy?

He had to be. He also needed to leave. If they were caught together in her room in the middle of the night, her mother would freak. Her sister would demand retribution. And her father would most likely force her to marry Rafe. She couldn’t have that.

Cat frowned. Had he come here on purpose? To force her hand into marriage? God, she hoped not. She thought less of him enough already. She didn’t want to believe he would be so purposely cruel as to trick her and her family like this.

“You should leave,” she said, her voice firm as she tried to sit up. But he pressed his hand against her shoulder, holding her firm and she had no choice but to lie there and wait for his next move.

Damn him and his masculine strength.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he murmured, his deep, sensual voice rippling along her nerve endings. He sounded dangerous, dark and mysterious. Leaning in, his face was in hers, his warm breath wafting across her lips, making her tremble. “Did you really think I would let you go so easily?”

Bestselling romance author Karen Erickson writes what she loves to read — sexy contemporary romance and sensual historical romance. Digitally published since 2006, she currently writes for Samhain Publishing and Carina Press. A native Californian, she lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and three children.

Where you can find Karen:



GIVEAWAY: RULES 

Karen has generously offered an ebook copy of Tempted by Her Boss, the first book in The Renaldis series to a lucky commenter!


To enter just leave a comment and tell us: do you like foreigner heroes? What kind/nationality is your favourite: a Greek magnate? An Italian playboy? A British aristocrate? A French artist? Or someone else?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 9 August 2013!

Good luck!

For a second chance to win enter Karen's giveaway at the Book Lovers Inc as well.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Guest post by Emily Quinn + Giveaway


Behind the Scenes
by Emily Quinn

Researching settings for One Wicked Night was lots of fun. I wanted the story to be fun but I also wanted to ensure it felt real using places anyone could go to. There are a couple of scenes in the story that take place at a trendy restaurant in Downtown L.A. Here’s the inspiration for those.


For the main part of the story I wanted to add a bit of glamour and mystery and why not have Angel and Fernando fly to Capri, Italy? If this isn’t breathtaking then I don’t know what is :-)




Then, I wanted to end the story at a chic place in Malibu, CA (near where the characters live). Isn’t this fun?


(all photos courtesy of Emily Quinn)

Emily Quinn writes sexy contemporary romances with irresistible bad boys, feisty heroines, a bit of conflict, humor and a dash of spice.

She loves books and falls in love with every hero she reads. She lives in sunny Southern California with her husband, two kids, and her dog.

Emily loves hearing from her readers. You can find and contact Emily at:




Angel Jones is a career-driven woman at the top of her game with a big problem: a wickedly handsome boss. It is impossible to get him out of her mind, so her friends talk her into using someone else’s invitation to an exclusive dating service. It’s a dare she can’t resist.

Fernando Durante knows lusting after someone at work is not an option. He has managed to avoid direct contact with her for years, but thanks to a recent promotion, the witty goddess reports directly to him. When a friend emails him an invitation to an exclusive dating service, Fernando accepts against his better judgment.

Will Angel and Fernando let their hearts guide them?

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Kobo - Smashwords

Excerpt from One Wicked Night by Emily Quinn

Steam rose as hot water covered his body from head to toe, and Fernando’s thoughts wandered back to her. He needed to get Angel Jones out of his head. Lusting after someone at work wasn’t an option, though his dick begged to differ.

Angel’s name alone gave him a hard-on every time. He wrapped a hand around his cock and stroked his length. She’d lived in his dreams for the past three years.

It had been a long while since he last dated or bedded anyone. Truth be told, ever since he’d crossed paths with Angel, she’d remained present in his mind. He placed a hand on the shower glass for support, his other hand stroking his cock faster. Whenever he closed his eyes, her stormy, ice blue eyes, black cherry hair, and her voluptuous, baby pink lips came to mind.

It had been easier when she didn’t report directly to him, but thanks to his boss’s latest organizational restructuring, she did now. Being in the same room with her was pure torture. The way she narrowed her eyes at him when she didn’t agree with something, or how she bit her lip when a new idea came to mind, did him in every time. It took all of his will power not to walk up to her, pull her into his arms, and have his way with her. No matter how much he wanted to do that, he wouldn’t. Sexual harassment litigation wasn’t part of his career goals.

Regardless, he couldn’t ignore the attraction much longer. Fernando wanted to feel her soft body against his, her legs wrapped around his waist, and her muscles clenching every time he drove into her tight, slick channel. He’d make her take all of his length until she shuddered and surrendered to him. With a growl, he let his own orgasm take him.

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Kobo - Smashwords


GIVEAWAY RULES:

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of One Wicked Night. One winner will win a 15$ gift card from Amazon and 5 other winners will each win 1 e-copy of One Wicked Night by Emily Quinn.


To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 4 August 2013!

Good luck!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

ABC of Me

I loved it when in high school those chain mail surveys were a trend, it was a fun way to learn new things about your friends, so when I saw this survey at The Cooking Actress (a food/dessert blog I follow) I thought I'd share it with you! So here it goes, learn the ABC about me :-)

A. Attached or Single?

Single. This summer has been all about friends and dating ;-)

B. Best Friend?

My two high school best friends are Dotty and Dori, we have been friends for more than 15 years now, and I still talk to them daily (usually even more than once a day)! :-)

C. Cake or pie?

Pie, I just love them! :-) 

D. Day of choice?

Friday and Saturday! Don't think that needs any explanation, right? ;-)

E. Essential Item?

Hm, phone? And my Kindle!! 

F. Favorite color?

Black, red, brown, purple, as you can see I can't choose just one :-)

G. Gummy bears or worms?

Both! I love Haribo, be it the sour cherry, the frog or gummy bears, I love them all! 

H. Home town?

Budapest, Hungary. I've travelled quite a lot and lived in 4 other countries to this day but I still love living in Budapest, it is a beautiful city. (For more photos and a little virtual sightseeing tour check out this post.)

The Castle and Chain Bridge in Budapest

I. Favorite Indulgence?

Reading until dawn. Eating. Desserts. Staying out late with my friends.

J. January or July?

July. I hate winter!

K. Kids?

Don't have them yet, only a 4 year old god-daughter. I'd like them someday, 3 or 2, we'll see, and I'd definitely like a daughter :-) 

L. Life isn’t complete without?

Laughter. Friends, family and love. Reading.

M. Marriage date?

Lol, no idea, somewhere in the future, maybe in May or August.

N. Number of brothers/sisters?

2 little sisters. The older one is 2.5 years younger than me, while my lil' sis is 7 years younger than me. But we get along wonderfully, we're like two peas in a pod ;-)

O. Oranges or Apples?

Both, depending on my mood. Love the tartness of both fruit. 

P. Phobias?

Don't have them, just the general: losing the people I love, people I love getting hurt. 

Q. Quotes?

A day without a smile is a day wasted. And live your life without regrets. I try to live by both :-)

R. Reasons to smile?

Could be anything: that the sun is shining, that I'll eat pie for breakfast, that it's Friday, that I'll meet my friends after work, that I saw an adorable puppy. I smile and laugh a lot :-)

Source: Holger
S. Season of choice?

Autumn! I love it when it's still sunny, warm and the leaves are so colourful! Summer used to be my favourite when I was younger, but I don't like the too hot weather anymore.

T. Tag 5 People. 

Tag… you’re it! Tell me some stuff about you in a comment :-)

U. Unknown fact about me?

Hm you probably don't know that but I eat a lot (my best friend Dori constantly teases me how can I eat all the time and stay slim) :-) I'm also the Procrastinator Queen, I leave everything until the very last minute. I also have plenty of déjá vu dreams.

V. Vegetable?

Love them. Especially broccoli, cucumber, tomato and lettuce. Oh and asparagus. And peas! :-)

W. Worst habit?

Procrastinating, leaving everything until the very last minute. Staying up sooo late. 

X. Xray or Ultrasound?

I've only had a dental Xray so far, it was fun seeing my teeth and bones that way :-)

Y. Your favorite food?

Couldn't pick just one. If I had to pick a favourite type of food it would be desserts! 

Z. Zodiac sign?

Leo ascendent Libra. I generally think the Libra describes me better. Well depends... ;-)


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Guest post by Susannah Scott + Giveaway

I LOVE shifter heroes, there is something about them that makes them irresistible to me. They can be werewolves, werelions, werepanthers or dragon-shifters, I love them all! So when I saw that one of the latest Entangled Covet releases featured dragons I couldn't have been more excited! So please give the warmest welcome to Susannah Scott, author of Luck of the Dragon as she shares with us some dragon-love! ;-)


Thank you to Stella for having me on Ex Libris today for the final post in my Dragon Hunt story! If you are just joining us, I am celebrating the release of my fun, paranormal romance, LUCK OF THE DRAGON, by detailing the true story of how I got in BIG trouble in the remote Ozark Mountains trying to buy an amazing eight-foot tall dragon sculpture.

*****

For the next couple of days I stewed. I had nightmares of Country Bob riding the chained-down dragons in endless circles around the oak tree, hurting them. I tried to write, but my fictional dragons hit the page with a scary, evil font.

“How is your writing going?” My husband asked about a week later.

“Lousy.” Emotion choked my voice. “I can’t write about dragons anymore.”

“But you still want the sculptures?”

“No.” I was surprised when the word came out of my mouth, but my heart steadied and my emotions leveled with rightness. As beautiful as the sculptures were, they were tainted with Bob’s ugly spirit. I couldn’t bring then into my home, even if he decided to sell them.

I waited until a quiet moment and dialed Bob’s number. “Hello,” a woman, of all things answered. I thought about warning her about the six—er five, ex-wives—but good grief, she had to have seen the horrific yard sculptures.

“Hi,” I said. “We came over last week and saw Bob’s sculptures.”

“Oh yes,” she said, pleasure in her voice. “Bob checked up on you. He wanted me to let you know we would drop by your house—”

“No. No.” Anxiety twisted my stomach at the thought of him “dropping by” my safe place. (If you’ve followed from the beginning, you know how ironic this is.) “I’ve changed my mind about the dragons. I can’t have them. Please let Bob know that I can’t buy any of his art.”

“Oo-kay.” The woman’s voice soured, and she stretched the word into two surly syllables.

“Bye.” I disconnected. Loss and sadness engulfed me, but I knew it was the right decision. I was letting go of one thing to have another, more important thing.

The next morning when I sat down to write, and the words came easy.

*****

*Bonus scene*

The dragon pushed his wings through the air leaving turbulence behind. He surged above the clouds, then dove, tucking his wings and spinning, thrilling in his decent. At an open field, he slowed and scanned the ground for prey. Nothing, not even a bird to spook. He snorted and leapt back into flight.

The rushing cross currents sang in his ears: Freedom. Power.

Around him, the grey sky changed to seething clouds and lightening crackled, sending electricity through the air like a web. His scales stood on end, making him feel alive. Dangerous. Crashing thunder followed, vibrating his bones, shaking him like a fist.

Now when I think of the dragons, I only wish I had taken a picture. Even chained to the tree, they were so amazing, and powerful, and regal. I can’t have them. Not now, not ever. They will rust in the rain, hoarded by a man—whom I feel certain is not their true creator—but their captor.

All my best,
Susannah Scott

P.S. You can check my website, for all the post stops on my blog tour. You can also follow me on Goodreads, Facebook or Twitter.

SUSANNAH SCOTT lives in the Missouri Ozarks and is the lone female in a very loud household of males ranging in age from 4 to 40. While she jokes that the extreme levels of testosterone inspired her to write romance, it is really the love of creating an excellent story, and the occasional dreams of twenty-foot dragons, that wake her and send her to the laptop before the chaos of daily life ensues. Susannah loves to hear from her readers.


Luciana de Luca has a PhD in sass and gemology—and a problem. Her twin brother’s gambling debts have gotten out of hand, and a mob enforcer is blackmailing her to rob the latest, greatest mega-casino on the Strip. Although Lucy has worked her whole life to get away from her family’s grifter past, to save her brother, she dons three-inch heels and a sluts-r-us dress and struts into Alec’s Gerald’s casino, determined to put her long-forgotten thieving ways to the test again.

Alec Gerald, a shape-shifting dragon, has built the Crown Jewel casino to provide sanctuary for his people amongst the flash and awe of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the sexy little thief trying to rob his gem exhibit turns out to be his mate, and he must woo her before he loses his dragon form forever. With enemies in every corner, and the all-important mating ceremony looming, Alec and Lucy must learn to trust each other, before time runs out for Alec and the rest of the dragons.

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Kobo


GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered to win a fantastic gift pack just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 26 July 2013!

Good luck!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Giveaway: W*n the Highlander Guards series by Monica McCarty!

One of the very first historical romance novels I discovered and loved was a Highlander romance: Monica McCarty's Highlander Untamed. I loved it so much that Monica McCarty became one of my favourite Scottish romance writers and an autobuy author for me. So I am very happy to share with you this fantabulous giveaway the lovely people at Random House have organized to celebrate the release of The Hunter by Monica McCarty, book #7 in her Highlander Guards series: 2 US winners will win the first 6 books in the Highlander Guards series! Yay! :-)


Book #7 in the Highland Guards series

The war for Scotland’s freedom continues as King Robert the Bruce battles on. At his command is an elite army of trained warriors, soldiers dedicated to their king, their country—and to the remarkable women they love.

Prized for his unbeatable tracking skills, Ewen “Hunter” Lamont accepts a dangerous assignment: locate a missing undercover courier. But this is no ordinary target. Ewen has met his prey before as “Sister Genna,” a fiery, forbidden woman forever etched in his memory after one stolen, sinful kiss. Now that he knows her real identity, he’s more determined than ever to keep her safe. But without the protection of the veil between them, fighting the allure of the beautiful lass may be the toughest battle this extraordinary warrior has ever faced.

After her ill-fated attempt three years ago to rescue her twin sister, Janet of Mar has found salvation acting as a royal messenger—until she surrenders to a darkly handsome warrior whose rough, sensual kisses stir feelings the woman in her can’t deny. But when betrayal leads to danger, and a crucial communiqué is put in jeopardy, Janet has no choice but to put her faith in the hunter who can find anything—perhaps even her heart.



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Random House has very generously offered books 1-6 of the Highland Guard series to a 2 lucky US winners!


To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is only open to US addresses and ends on 31 July 2013!

Good luck!

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