Saturday, 31 August 2013

Guest post by Sarah Mäkelä + Giveaway


Story Evolution
by Sarah Mäkelä

I’d first come up with the original idea for Saved by Moonlight several years ago (it had a different title back then) when I saw a neat prompt for a writing contest. At that time, the story was a very short contemporary romance. If I remember correctly, the grand prize was $100. I underestimated what it took to win a contest and had a healthy dose of (over)confidence in my writing abilities.

When I discovered that it hadn’t won or even finaled, I was disappointed, but I didn’t give up hope. I tried sending it to a few e-zines, which I’d been trying to break into back then. No luck there either. After a while, I tucked it away but I never forgot it. I knew it would have its time sooner or later.

A couple years ago, I thought about working on it shortly after Techno Crazed was published, but at that time, I had so many other stories competing in my head to be told. No, I haven’t run out of stories competing for my attention! However, the time to work on it just felt right, but with me now being paranormal romance focused, I didn’t want to go outside of the genre to keep it contemporary. I brainstormed ways to take the initial idea and make it fit where I wanted it to go, which happened quite easily!

Elements of the story clicked into place, and I knew I’d made the right decision to switch genres yet stay true to the original premise and characters.



A werewolf reveals what he is to save the love of his life...

When Sylvi comes home to find someone lurking in the apartment she shares with her boyfriend, she realizes her life is in danger. Lukas arrives in time to defend her from the intruder, but she's shocked to learn Lukas is really a werewolf! Can their love survive his revelation?


Excerpt:

Sylvi turned off the shower and dried herself. She wrapped the large bath towel around her then set off to grab the cordless phone from the living room. There weren't any flashing lights on the phone to indicate that Lukas had called. Disappointment fluttered in her chest before she shoved it away.

He probably had a busy schedule filled with meetings and schmoozing galore.

She headed for the bedroom and paused in the hallway, staring at the closed door. Had she closed it this morning? Lukas couldn't be here since he would have come out to greet her. However, he wouldn't close the bedroom door either. They had no reason to.

She chewed on her lower lip and looked down at the phone. Her thumb hovered over the number nine. Should she call the police? What if no one was there? What if she'd had a strange memory lapse? She'd look like an idiot.

Stop acting like a child, she scolded herself.

Taking a deep breath, she jerked the door open and flipped on the light. Her gaze raked the room. It was decorated in delicate shades of blue and white. She and Lukas had done this together, as a team. The memory brought a smile to her face. Until she saw him...

Demetrius stood by the window overlooking the street, staring into the rainy night. She knew it was him by his overwhelmingly muscular build and shoulder-length brown hair. How had he found her after all these years? They'd experienced a short, wild rendezvous before she'd come to Florida, but it was so over!

"What are you doing here?" Her voice shook slightly. He turned to face her, and she stepped back toward the door.

Tension rose and filled the air.

"Hello to you, too." He stalked over to the bed. His hands splayed over the blue velvet comforter. "Mmm... Soft. You certainly do have superb taste." The bed groaned under his weight as he crawled onto the mattress and stared at her.

"What do you want?" Sylvi shivered and pressed herself against the doorframe. She had to get out of here. There was no telling what he'd do, especially with her being so vulnerable.

Demetrius licked his lips and ran his gaze over her as if willing her towel away. "You."

"That's too bad because --" Sylvi's words cut off as Demetrius jumped at her in a graceful leap.

He closed the distance between them like a predator. "You were saying?" A smug grin caressed his lips.

"I was trying to say I have a boyfriend." She took a step into the hallway, but he grabbed her upper arm and pulled her against his chest. She was five foot five inches, and yet the top of her head barely reached his shoulder. Even when they'd lusted after each other, his towering stature had intimidated her.

"I don't see anyone else here." He glanced around the room pointedly.

She shivered, but not entirely from the cool air conditioning. Tendrils of fear chased down her spine.

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

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

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


GIVEAWAY RULES:

For the chance to win an ebook copy of Saved by Moonlight just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
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Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 6 September 2013!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Guest post by Robin Bielman + Giveaway

You might remember me mentioning the name and books of Robin Bielman a couple of times for the simple reason that ever since I discovered her stories, she has become a new favourite author of mine. Well I am very happy to report that Robin is here to celebrate the release of her latest story: Risky Surrender! Join us as she tells us about how she discovered the romance genre and learn more about her new series! ;-) 


Hi everybody! I am so happy to be back at one of my favorite hangouts to celebrate the release of the second book in my Take a Risk series, RISKY SURRENDER. Stella, thank you so much for having me here today!

So, once upon a time there was this young girl who didn’t read very much. Instead, she was busy playing tennis and doing her homework and watching TV and movies. Then college life and work life and family life took precedence over any type of reading life. She loved reading to her two boys and always found herself gravitating to bookstores, but she’d spend most of her time in the children’s section rather than the grown-up book aisles.

Then something happened. Her freelance writing job led to her buying her first romance novel. Being a girl who only read mysteries when the reading bug struck, she was immediately hooked and wondered why the heck she hadn’t read this genre sooner. Holy moly had she missed out! She went from a girl who read an occasional Tony Hillerman or Sujata Massey novel to a girl who wanted to read romance ALL the time. She realized that what she loved most about any story, whether it was the pages of a book, on television, or in the movies, was the romance between two characters. She loved the sexual tension, the banter and most especially when the hero and heroine surrendered to that first kiss.

That girl was me. ;-)

So in all my books, I try to make that first kiss something special and unique. In Risky Surrender, McCall and Lucy’s first kiss takes place atop a giant five-hundred-year-old fir tree over two hundred and fifty feet high. They’re spending the night there in a hammock. Here’s a peek…

McCall twisted so they were face-to-face. “I have an idea.” His hand found the curve of Lucy’s waist before moving to her ass and bringing their hips closer.

Heat burned a path across her cheeks. “You do?”

His fingers ran through her hair and settled on the back of her head. She shivered with desire so great her body tingled with sensations no other time or place matched. Her body’s surrender confirmed what her mind had been telling her. She wanted McCall.

“I’m going to kiss you.”

“Nice of you to warn me.” She looked at his mouth. Since the first time she’d laid eyes on him she’d thought about it touching hers.

“I’m all about fair play.” His eyes darkened and Lucy wasn’t fool enough to believe he meant that about his site, too.

But whatever this game was between them, Lucy did want to play. She wanted to feel again.

McCall’s nose touched hers and he let his warm breath tickle the corners of her mouth. He teased her mercilessly by hovering just out of reach. Anticipation welled up inside her so much that she thought she’d burst if he didn’t kiss her in the next second.

“McCall,” she moaned, pressing against him, seeking more.

“Is that a yes?” There was a low growl in his tone, attitude in the smile that played at his impossibly frustrating lips.

“Yes, McCall.” She gave him the words he’d promised she’d say one day.

So what about you? What’s one thing you love about romance novels? This reader/writer would love to know!

Robin Bielman lives in Southern California with her high school sweetheart husband, two sons, and crazy-cute mini Labradoodle, Harry Dresden. When not attached to her laptop, she can almost always be found with her nose in a book. She also loves to run, hike, and dip her toes in the ocean. Writing is a dream come true, and she still pinches herself to be sure it’s real.

She is also the author of Worth the Risk and Yours At Midnight from Entangled’s Ever After line. She loves to connect with readers.

For more information on Robin and her books visit



Book #1 in the Take a Risk series

Archeologist Lucy Davenport made a promise to retrieve an elusive piece of history buried in the walls of an iconic Indian village. But when she draws unwanted attention that interferes with her secret plans, she's forced to risk it all with a man who threatens not only her goal, but the walls she's carefully constructed around her heart.

Keats McCall is an environmental preservationist navigating the globe on behalf of heritage protection. When he catches Lucy at his latest project, he suspects she's up to something. She secretive, sexy as hell—and has trouble written all over her. He devises a plan to keep her close so he can keep an eye on her. But what he isn’t prepared for is just how close he wants to get.

Buy at Amazon - B&N

GIVEAWAY RULES:

There is a tour wide giveaway where two lucky commenters will have the chance to win:

1) "Win a $25 GC to the online store of your choice so you can buy something you'll treasure."

2) Name a character in a future Risk It book!

To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and tell us in a comment: What’s one thing you love about romance novels?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 7 September 2013!
Good luck!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Truth or Date by Susan Hatler + Giveaway


Truth or Date by Susan Hatler

Book #2 in the Better Date than Never series

Gina Hall is done with men who won’t commit. Ten years waiting for her ex to propose wasted her time. Never again. When her friend Kristen starts a game of Truth or Dare, she dares Gina to go on a date with Ethan, who’s amazing and total marriage material.

As Gina plans the going away party for office playboy Chris Bradley, she spontaneously initiates a game of Truth or Dare with him. When his turn comes around, he dares Gina to pose as his girlfriend to help get a flirty colleague off his back. Gina finds playing couple with Chris way too much fun.

Even though Gina and Chris are pretending, their relationship begins to feel painfully real. Fearing she might be falling for another fly-by man, Gina must focus on Ethan so she doesn’t make the same dating mistakes all over again.

Buy at AmazonKindleB&N - KoboiTunes

Susan Hatler is an international bestselling author who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too.

Connect with Susan at 



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Susan is giving away an eBook copy (gifted through Amazon or B&N) of Truth or Date to a lucky commenter!


To be entered just leave a comment and tell us: What was one of your most memorable Truth or Dare?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 30 August 2013!

Good luck!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Celebrate Entangled's BLISS turning 1! And Happy Birthday to Me! ;-P

Today's my birthday :-) And I'll sure be celebrating with my friends and family, but when I heard that one of Entangled's beloved imprints will also be celebrating turning 1, I wanted to celebrate the happy events together, so join me in the fun that is #BlissBall and you could even win some great prizes! ;-)


When Entangled's Bliss imprint appeared I was already a big fan of their Indulgence and Brazen titles, and yet I was wary. Why you ask? Well because Entangled's Bliss books are described as sweet, tame romances, and I like my steamy scenes a lot. So at first I thought this line wouldn't be for me, but as more and more titles emerged and their cute covers and exciting blurbs tempted me I had to give in and try them. And the biggest surprise came when I discovered that a romance can be pretty satisfying with closed doors and love scenes fading to black. Since then I don't discriminate, and I have read many Bliss titles like Jane's Gift by Karen Erickson, Kissing Kendall by Jennifer Shirk, The Practice Proposal by Tracy March and my personal favourite: Kissing the Maid of Honor by Robin Bielman! *happy sigh*

So if you are looking for a romance that touches your heart, makes you sigh and then laugh, you can't go wrong choosing a Bliss title.

And now to celebrate its 1 year anniversary you can get most of the Bliss books for only 0.99 USD! Grab them while you can! ;-)


GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered to win 

a "Blissfully Sweet Gift Basket" that includes goodies for those with a sweet tooth, ebooks of our first three Bliss releases: Three River Ranch by Roxanne Snopek, Lucky Break by Kelley Vitollo and Sugar Rush by Rachel Astor and a $25 Amazon gift card 

just fill out the Rafflecopter form below: 

(If the winner is from outside the U.S. they will get a $100 Amazon gift card and ebooks of our first three Bliss releases.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 17 August 2013

And this week's winners are...


Hey Everyone!

Before I left for vacation I remembered to draw winners, so congrats to

the lucky winner of an ebook copy of Outside the Lines by Kimberly Kincaid is

erinf1


the lucky winner of an ebook copy of Tempted by Her Boss by Karen Erickson is

Ada


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

There are still some giveaways you can enter, just click on their individual links at the top of the blog.

Have a lovely weekend/vacation/summer everyone! I'll be back next week :-)
 

Friday, 16 August 2013

I'm on vacation!

Hey Everyone!

Just wanted to say a quick goodbye and let you know that I'm away on vacation! We went away to the beautiful Croatian seaside, so I'll be spending the week soaking up the sun and reading away on the beach during the day and sipping cocktails at night! ;-)

Source: Bracodbk

So see you all when I get back, and until then have fun and enjoy the summer! :-)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Guest post by Victoria James + Giveaway



I am extremely happy to welcome back to the blog the lovely Victoria James, because we have cause to celebrate: Victoria's latest novel, The Best Man's Baby, Book #2 in her wonderful Red River series (where I LOVED A Risk Worth Taking For) just bgot released! Woohoo! So I was curious as to her experience of penning Book #2 in a series: was it more daunting than writing the first, or to the contrary was it more like slipping under a comfortable and warm familiar blanket, go back and 'meet' again the characters she had created for Book #1? And luckily for us, Victoria answered my noisy question, so please give her a warm welcome and read on! :-)


It was definitely like slipping under a nice, warm blanket to revisit the characters from Red River! I love small-town settings, so getting to visit Red River again was so nice. While I didn’t exactly know what Claire and Jake’s story would be while writing A Risk Worth Taking, I had a very clear idea of what their personalities were. When I started writing The Best Man’s Baby they sort of took off-they had immediate chemistry and the sparks were there. Jake is the bad-boy with a true heart of gold, and he has a secret past that still makes my heart ache when I think about it! And Claire is the girl who always tried to do the right thing, but has some deep scars from adolescence. Together they bring out the best in each other, and by the end of the book are truly transformed.

One thing that did change from my original version was the beginning of the book. It was through the revision process that I added the prologue. I can’t even take credit for that idea-it was my editor’s brilliant suggestion! I love her input-and as soon as she mentioned that, it made so much sense. And I know that readers who were attached to Holly and Quinn would love to have a glimpse of their wedding day. It was also the perfect introduction to Jake and Claire, their attraction, and what led them to finally give in that one night….

Here’s a glimpse of that attraction on the night that started everything…

“I never had you pegged as a whiskey drinker,” a deep voice said close to her ear. Her body and mind recognized that voice at the exact same time. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

He’d come back. Jake was the only man who could fill the void that was threatening to consume her tonight. She could feel the heat emanating off his body. He was standing directly behind her, close enough that if she leaned back an inch or so, she would be against Jake Manning’s hard chest. She slowly turned around, heart hammering, senses buzzing, and looked up into his blue eyes. Try to be cool, Claire. Sultry. “And what kind of drink do you think I would have ordered?”

A leisurely smile graced his handsome face, revealing straight white teeth. “A Shirley Temple.”

Her mouth dropped open. The man thought she was a child. “Thanks,” she muttered, determined tonight she would change his opinion of her. “I bet you your Harley you don’t know a thing about me.” She finished off the remains of her whiskey and licked the moisture from her lips. Jake’s gaze went from her mouth to her eyes, and then he took a drink. He placed his empty glass on the counter, his arm brushing against her bare shoulder.

“Can I buy you another one?”

“It’s an open bar, but I guess old habits die hard. Woman at bar. Buy drink. Score,” she said, tapping her finger against his hard chest.

“I’ll have you know it takes a lot more skill than that,” he murmured, his voice low and delicious, each syllable resonating inside her body.

“I’ve seen the women you hang out with. I’m sure it doesn’t.”

“I wasn’t aware you were keeping tabs on me.”

Stella, thank you so much for having me back! I absolutely love your blog and visiting!

The Best Man's Baby by Victoria James

Book #2 in the Red River series

Florist Claire Holbrook has always played by the rules her entire life, but breaks them to spend one night with sexy lone wolf Jake Manning, a man she’s adored since she was a teenager. Six weeks later, things get complicated when she discovers they created a bond that will last a lifetime

Jake has never played by the rules. Getting Minister Holbrook’s daughter pregnant wasn’t part of any life plan, but he won’t run from his responsibilities. He’ll step up and be the best man he can, even if he doesn’t have a clue where to begin. The more time he spends with Claire, though, the more he wants her, and the harder it is to get close, because that would mean sharing the one thing he hasn’t with anyone–the truth and his heart.


Buy at Amazon - B&N - iTunes

Victoria James always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples) and a cardboard cover and did all the illustrations herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.

In high school she fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened her own business. After her first child, Victoria knew it was time to fulfill the dream of writing romantic fiction.

Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after's for her characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but she's quite content living in suburbia with her husband, their two young children, and very bad cat.

Victoria loves connecting with readers, you can find her online at



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Victoria will be awarding a $50 Starbucks GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

So tell us, do you prefer to read the first book in the series or the second and later books once the author has had time to delve deeper into the universe and develop the characters in more detail? 

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 30 September 2013!

Good luck!

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

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Guest post by Nina Croft + Giveaway

I am happy to welcome back to the blog Nina Croft, who is celebrating the release of her latest novel, Losing Control, a steamy bodyguard romance published in their Brazen line, so you know you are in for some hot smexy scenes ;-) Join us as Nina introduces to us the new series and Jake and Kim, the hero and heroine of Losing Control!


Babysitting Billionaires…
by Nina Croft

I love bodyguard stories and I love stories with strong heroines. So I decided to combine the two and write a series about women who work as bodyguards and spend their days keeping their men safe. Not that the men involved are always appreciative, but it’s great to see an alpha male struggling to accept that his woman is strong enough to protect him.

In the case of Kim, the heroine from Losing Control, she isn’t actually a bodyguard just yet, but she really wants to be. Unfortunately, Jake Knight, her best friend and boss, isn’t quite so keen on the idea.

Four years ago, Jake gave her a job as receptionist at his security company after he’d helped her leave her abusive husband. But right from the start, Kim was fascinated by the actual security work. In fact, she has this daydream of coming across her ex-husband, and flooring him with a smooth kung fu–like kick. So, she’s studied and trained until she’s pretty good, better than most of the guys, but Jake still won’t let her do the dangerous work.

It wasn’t fair—she was the best shot in the company. Jake knew that, but he still refused to promote her to that last elusive grade, the grade that would allow her to carry a gun and do the more dangerous work. Instead, he’d set that damned test: break into his office and steal the contents of his safe, and then he’d consider it. Unfortunately, Jake used his office to test out new security gadgets…

The series is also about women who need to be in control of their own lives. Kim has been in one abusive relationship when she was too young to know how to cope, and it has left her with a fear of losing control. Now, she’s determined never again to hand over control of her life to a man. Any man, even her best friend.

Which is unfortunate for Jake.

Jake can’t believe he’s fallen in love with a woman who believes —“love is for dickheads.” But he has, and he wants the whole deal. Love, marriage babies… Up to now, he’s kept this hidden from Kim, as he knows it will send her running. But he also knows that things are changing, and if he doesn’t make his move soon, he might lose her completely.

He’s willing to give Kim everything she wants, except the more dangerous jobs:

…bodyguards had to be willing to take a bullet for the people they protected, and no way would he allow Kim that option.

But when the need arises, he offers her a very special bodyguarding position—protecting him from a stalker ex-girlfriend. It’s not quite what Kim had in mind, but if it will prove the point…

Jake is pretty certain Kim wants him and he’s quite willing to use sex to get her to realize she can’t live without him. He also knows she’s scared of losing control and does his utmost to prove to her that he’s willing to relinquish the control in their relationship (well occasionally anyway!) even if that means allowing her to tie him up…

“Control is a two-way thing, Kim.”

Her eyes widened as though his words weren’t what she expected. “Is it? I don’t feel like I have much control over you.”

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of control you could exert over me if you wanted.”

She pursed her lips and tugged on the end of her ponytail—he could almost hear her mind work. Then a sly expression entered her eyes, and she smiled. “Really?”

He had a moment of misgiving. She was planning something. But what?

“Don’t you trust me, Jake?”

Against his better judgment, he gave a slow nod.

Her gaze flickered to the posts at the top of the bed, and the crimson cords that bound the hangings, and then back to him. “You ready to prove that?”

Why did he suspect that his plans for the evening were about to take a drastic turn?

“Are you willing to give me control, Jake?”

He wasn’t sure he liked the idea. But if it helped her come to terms with what she felt for him, then he’d give it a go. “What did you have in mind?”

Sex with Jake is out of this world, and briefly, Kim believes that maybe she can have sex and stay friends. She soon realizes that won’t be the case, and despite the mind-blowing orgasms, Kim will not risk Jake’s friendship for something that can only ever be temporary.

So what would it be like being in a relationship or even—God forbid—being married to Jake?

Jake was a control freak. He liked his own way. So did she. He’d try to tell her what to do, and they’d clash continually, and in the end, he’d realize what she’d been trying to show him—that they weren’t suited like that.

But by then, it would be too late. And it would hurt, and they’d fall out and not be able to get their friendship back.

The book follows Kim’s increasingly frantic efforts to keep Jake firmly in his best friend role while fighting an overwhelming and totally inconvenient sexual attraction. Slowly and surely she’s losing control…

Books 2 and 3 follow the stories of two more female operatives. Dani and Jess were both in the army with Jake, and now work for him at Knight Security. And they both have control issues of their own.


Four years after escaping her abusive ex-husband, Kim finally believes she’s in control of her life and her emotions and she's determined to never risk either again with a man. She has a great home, a job as a security specialist which she loves, and Jake for a best friend. But things are a tad lonely in the sex department, so she decides to embark on a no-strings-affair with one of her hot co-workers. And who better to help her remember how to lure a man than her best friend?

Jake has wanted Kim from the moment he first saw her, but four years ago, she was too young and too damaged. So he kept her close and he kept her safe, offering her a job in his security company and the training to feel safe again, and he bided his time. But now, after the long wait, if she imagines he’s going to stand by while she seduces some other guy… Never going to happen.


Buy it at Amazon - B&N - Kobo - iBookstore

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Nina loves hearing from readers, you can reach her at her website, Twitter, Goodreads and on Facebook.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Nina has generously offered a $25 USD gift card to a lucky commenter!

To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and tell us: do you like bodyguard romances? Have any favourite book or movie/TV series featuring this trope?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends on 31 August 2013 and is open worldwide!

Good luck!

Monday, 12 August 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (#120)


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 slooow. Maybe because I spent every single afternoon and evening out with friends, getting home late and getting almost no sleep. I progressed really slowly and only read 1 book:

Books I completed


I have been a long time fan of Sierra Dean's Secret McQueen series, so when I heard she's having a new contemporary sport romance series (the Boys of Summer series), featuring baseball player heroes I couldn't wait! I'm happy to say it was wonderful! Sweet, sexy, fun and so enjoyable! (And I'm saying that knowing absolutely nothing about baseball since I'm European!) So pick it up and enjoy! ;-)



Book I'm currently reading

I haven't started a new book yet as I just finished Pitch Perfect by Sierra Dean this morning.


Books I can't wait to start

Wednesday I'll be leaving on an almost week-long vacation to the beach, yay! Which you know exactly what that means: sun, sea and reading! So I'll put together a reading list and what books to take along and devour :-)


And what are you reading this week?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Guest post by Jody Wallace + Giveaway

You know what a big fan I am of wedding romances so it comes as no surprise that as soon as I heard about Jody Wallace's new release Kiss the Bride, I couldn't wait to read it! Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Jody, who shares with us one behind the scenes secret: namely what she likes to do when not concocting stories! ;-)


When I'm not writing, my favorite "leisure" activity is hooking.

What??? Hooking???

I mean, crocheting! In particular, amigurumi.

Amigurumi is, according to Wiki, "the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures." I like to make animals, people, and small critters like gnomes--with smaller projects being more attractive than larger ones. I also like to make gifts for friends (zombie wedding cake topper!), family, and industry professionals who visit our local RWA chapter.

Zombie wedding cake topper

Lately I've been trying to learn to crochet jewelry, with and without beads. It's very different from amigurumi in that you crochet with tiny, squinty crochet thread instead of yarn with hooks the size of pins. Let's just say my love of crocheting prompted me to get my first pair of bifocals!

Crochet necklace

I first started when my grandmother taught me some basic crocheting when I was a kid. I made a scarf. And half of a poncho. But the fact is, I'm lazy and a mini-project takes so much less time than an afghan or a sweater. The first amigurumi I ever made was a tiny, evil gnome, also a character in one of my romance novels. I like to crochet hats, too, and have helped costume some local children's theater productions -- I crocheted helmets and a dragon head for a production of Disney's Mulan Jr.

Crochet hat
Crocheting is like writing in that a lot of tiny, methodical stitches end up becoming something else entirely--like words and sentences become a story. Sometimes you have your plot or pattern ahead of time, and sometimes you free-hand your project until you're satisfied with the end result. I find that the skills of writing and crocheting are quite complementary and only wish I had more time for both!

Crochet gnome

Jody Wallace grew up in the South in a very rural area. She went to school a long time because there was always something new to learn and ended up with a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. Her resume includes college English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, web designer, and general all around pain in the butt. She currently lives in Tennessee with her family: 1 husband, 2 kids, 2 cats. One of her many alter egos is "The Grammar Wench", which should give you an indication of her character. She is a terrible packrat and likes to amass vintage clothing, books, Asian-inspired kitchenware, gnomes, and other items that threaten to force her family out of the house. She also likes cats. A lot.

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


Herman Edward Heckley knows all about drywall, concrete, and nail guns. So what's he doing fighting off taffeta in a bridal salon? He’s maid of honor for his best friend, Caroline Oakenfeld, in her wedding to a pencil-necked geek. But the closer he gets to the ceremony, the more he wonders if he's been missing out all this time.

Caroline has been missing out, and she knows it. She’s been in love with Heck forever, but frittering her life away until Heck wises up isn’t part of her life plan. She’s agreed to marry her boyfriend so she can move on with her life. But the closer she gets to the ceremony, the more she realizes she has to resolve her feelings for Heck.

For better or for worse.


Buy at Amazon - B&N

GIVEAWAY RULES:

Jody is offering an acorn necklace and earring set - this nature inspired jewelry set features mocha brown shell pearls which are capped with exquisite finely detailed antique brass acorn caps, antiqued brass spacer beads, antiqued brass chain. The necklace measures 17" + 2" extender & finished with a antiqued brass lobster clasp. ~~Gorgeous Set includes matching earrings.


To be entered to win it just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

Giveaway is open to US shipping only and ends on 12 August 2013!

Good luck!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Guest post by Kimberly Kincaid + Giveaway

You all know how much I LOVE cooking and eating, and I just love reading culinary romances as well. I am happy to welcome back to the blog the lovely foodie romance author Kimberly Kincaid, who is back celebrating the release of her third Line novella, Outside the Lines, a story about a sexy serious doctor and a though and feisty restaurant manager heroine ;-)  Please give Kimberly a warm welcome and you could even win a copy of the book if you answer the question at the end!

The (Other) F-Word
by Kimberly Kincaid

Confession time: I’m a gigantic foodie (what’d you think the F stood for?!)

When I tell people I write contemporary foodie romance, their eyebrows inevitably go up. The contemporary part, they get. The romance part, self-explanatory. The foodie part? Baffles them every time.

The Reader’s Digest explanation is that all my stories revolve around characters and settings that have a direct relationship with food. Chefs in traditional restaurant settings are my go-to, but I’ve also written about caterers, wine experts, restaurant owners and personal chefs. Not everyone is professionally trained or fancy. In fact, Jules, the heroine in my latest release, is the manager at Mac’s Diner, and her specialty is comforting people through comfort food. The truth is, foodie love can be found in lots of places (even off the pages and in your own kitchen!) if you know where to look for it.

But before I dive into where to cultivate the yum, let’s take a second to talk about why I do it in the first place. First (and most obviously), all characters eat. It’s a naturally occurring scenario for characters to be in, which can be appealing in that it makes them seem “regular” (read: easy to identify with). There’s a scene in my upcoming Christmas novella (in The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap) where my heroine is bleary-eyed and in need of a caffeine fix the morning after a long night of work. When she finally gets her coveted cup of coffee (made by the hero, of course), she’s blissfully happy. Is that a scene with which you can identify? Likely yes, even if coffee isn’t your go-to. My goal was to establish that A) my heroine was a “real” person in a familiar situation and B) the hero used food to comfort her.

Which brings me to reason #2. Food is the perfect chance for me to show readers who the characters are. Picture this: A hero in a book sits down in a bar and grille and orders a burger and a beer after a long day. A different hero frequents an Italian restaurant after his work day is over, and orders chicken Piccata and a glass of Chablis. Can you “see” these heroes in your head even though the only way I’ve described them is by what they’re having for dinner? I’m willing to bet you can—and your readers will be able to do it, too (and yes, those are two of my upcoming heroes who do exactly that in each of their books!) You don’t have to know all about food to get a good picture of who each of those characters “is”.

I feel compelled to mention that I am not a chef, and I have no extensive formal culinary training. I do love to cook, and I definitely love food, which is why I jumped both-feet-first into writing foodie romance to begin with. But research is key. I go to lots of restaurants, and I check out the flavors that go together in the dishes on the menu. I’m a recipe hog, and really big on trial and error (emphasis on error sometimes!). The recipe for stuffed French toast (see below) went through three versions before I put it into Outside The Lines. But experimenting with food is like experimenting with what I put on the page. Drafting, editing, testing… it’s all a part of being a foodie, just like it’s part of the writing process.

Just be forewarned. Getting hungry as you read my books is an occupational hazard. So snack often, and don’t read hungry!

Jules’s Stuffed French Toast

Ingredients:

2 eggs
¼ cup milk (not skim, but 2% is okay)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8-oz. package cream cheese (not fat free! Trust me on this, it doesn’t set up properly), softened
1 Tablespoon honey (I used orange flavored, but any will do)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (plus more for sprinkling)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ cup orange marmalade (I just go from the jar and don’t quite measure this— it’s more to taste)
One loaf brioche, preferably a few days old, cut into an even number of one-inch thick slices
Cooking spray for the griddle

Directions:

Spray a griddle or non-stick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat, but no higher. While it warms, whisk eggs, milk and vanilla in a shallow bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, honey, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sugar together until combined. Spread about 2 Tablespoons (-ish, you can eyeball this, really, but you want a good layer) of cream cheese mixture on one side of a slice of brioche. Repeat process with one Tablespoon (again, approximate, but as long as the ratio is about 2:1, you’ll be great) orange marmalade on another slice of brioche. Put both slices together like a sandwich (cream cheese facing marmalade). Repeat with remaining bread, cream cheese mixture and marmalade.

Just before cooking (and I do mean just!), dip each side of the “sandwich” in egg mixture to coat the outside of the bread completely, without soaking it through. Place immediately on the griddle. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the bread is golden-brown and firm to the touch, and the cream cheese in melted through. Repeat with remaining “sandwiches”. Sprinkle with a dusting of cinnamon. Serve with fresh fruit or maple syrup. Makes approximately five “sandwiches”.

Feed to the one you love, preferably as breakfast in bed!

Outside the Lines by Kimberly Kincaid

As an ivy-league ER doctor who eats double shifts for breakfast (and lunch…and dinner), Blake Fisher has little appetite for anything other than work. Being on the staff at Brenstville Hospital means taking care of people, a need Blake understands all too well from losing his brother to cystic fibrosis eight years ago. When he’s asked to coordinate a carnival fundraiser for the cause, he jumps at the chance to help others with the disease…until it lands him side by side with the one woman he never thought he’d see again: his ex-fiancée.

Streetwise and rough around the edges, Jules Shaw is no stranger to earning a living through hard work. But when her job as the restaurant manager of Mac’s Diner puts her shoulder to really broad shoulder with Blake Fisher, she nearly balks. She’d rather dodge and deflect than admit the real reason she broke things off, but the catering contract for the carnival means big business for Mac’s, and feeding people is Jules’s lifeblood.

As Blake and Jules join reluctant forces, they quickly rediscover the spark between them. But the possibility of a future together hinges on coming clean about the past, with potentially devastating consequences. Can Blake and Jules overcome their drastically different backgrounds and learn to love again, or will they always be outside the lines?

Buy at Amazon or the whole trilogy boxset for only $3.99

Excerpt of Outside the Lines

Blake’s eyes flashed, the same stormy green as the ocean in a thunderstorm, and he pinned her in place with his stare. “I don’t want you to say you’re sorry, Jules.”

“Oh.” The word collapsed from her lips in more of a throaty sigh than the stubborn affirmation she’d intended, and she swallowed hard. “You don’t?”

“No.” Blake lowered his attention to their hands, the calluses on his thumb sliding roughly over her knuckles as he blanked his expression and let her fingers go. “I didn’t come here for that. In fact, I’m here for something that has nothing to do with you and me.”

“Okay,” Jules said, extending the word by several syllables to form a question as she belatedly recovered her wits. “What’s that?”

“The Brentsville Hospital Carnival For A Cure.” He pulled a crisp, dark blue folder from the laptop bag he’d propped over the bar stool next to him. “I’m the event coordinator, and Mac’s is the catering restaurant. I came to see your boss so she and I can get a tentative schedule set since it looks like I’ll be working pretty closely with her for the next six weeks.”

Jules white-knuckled the edge of the apron around her waist, her heart doing its level best to vault clean out of her ribcage. She was so far past this-can’t-be-happening, and yet…“You…you’re the event coordinator for the Carnival For A Cure?”

“Yeah.” Now it was Blake’s turn to draw the word into a question. “Why?”

“Because I wrote that proposal. I’m in charge of all the catering and planning for that event on our end.”

Jules shifted her weight to stand as tall as her five-foot-nine frame would allow, her palms going slick with realization as she finished, “You won’t be working with Serenity for the next six weeks, Blake. You’ll be working with me.”

Buy at Amazon or the whole trilogy boxset for only $3.99

Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene mounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She is thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Her first full-length novel, Turn Up the Heat, will follow in February 2014. Kimberly resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.

Where you can find Kimberly:



GIVEAWAY: RULES 

Kimberly has generously offered an ebook copy of Outside the Lines to a lucky commenter!


To enter just leave a comment and answer this question: What food/food combination/menu would describe you as a person?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 15 August 2013!

Good luck!

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

Monday, 5 August 2013

Claimed by Stacey Kennedy + Giveaway

Stacey Kennedy has a new scorching novel released by Random House, so take a look and enter the giveaway at the end:


Book #1 in the Club Sin series

A novel of erotic discovery and forbidden desire that goes beyond Fifty Shades of Grey.

Presley Flynn is ripe to experience her secret fantasies . . . and Dmitri Pratt wants nothing more than to fulfill them. Once inside the elite Club Sin in Las Vegas, Presley is nervous but excited—and determined to surrender to her every desire. Dmitri is her Master, and his touch is like fire. With each careful, calculated caress, he unleashes her wildest inhibitions, giving her unimagined pleasure.

Presley is different than the other submissives Dmitri has mastered. The BDSM lifestyle is new to her, and so are the games they play at Club Sin. From the start, Presley stirs emotions in Dmitri far beyond the raw purity between a dom and the perfect sub. For the ecstasy they share goes beyond the dungeon, igniting a passion that claims the very depths of the heart.

Claimed is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

Buy at Amazon - B&N

Stacey Kennedy is an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and sensual worlds. She loves in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who gave her a happily-ever-after. Together, they have two small children who can always make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read Mommy's books. If she's not plugging away at a new story, you'll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Sons of Anarchy, Supernatural, True Blood and Lost Girl.

Stacey welcomes comments from readers. You can find her at:


GIVEAWAY RULES:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 11 August 2013!

Good luck!

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